30 January 2010

Field Mushroom & Artichoke Risotto

We took Cooper out for his first restaurant experience last week. I'm not sure he appreciated it, as you can see, he slept through the whole experience, but it was very enjoyable for the rest of us.

The restaurant we went to was The Glass House in St Andrews and we will definitely be going back again. The whole meal was delicious, the interior was very sleek and modern, with lots of levels, nooks and crannies and the staff were charming.

To start, I had a baked field mushroom topped with garlic butter, grilled goats cheese and a parmesan and herb crumb and then I followed that with more mushrooms, namely the wild mushroom, sundried tomato and artichoke risotto with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. You can see where this is going, can't you? To finish off I managed to make some room for a mixed fruit cheesecake, which was thankfully quite small or I would have popped! I knew I was going to have to have that risotto again soon and so I made it for dinner last night. I left out the sun-dried tomatoes, as I didn't really appreciate them in this dish and I do think the risotto was better without them.




















Field Mushroom & Artichoke Risotto

2 tbsp olive oil
1 fat clove garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 large field mushrooms, sliced
½ jar artichoke antipasti, drained and rinsed and chopped (280g jar)
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups vegetable stock
1 cup white wine
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 knob butter
salt & freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated vegetarian parmesan to serve


Fry the mushrooms in 1 tbsp olive oil until soft and succulent, before adding the artichoke pieces.

In a heavy bottomed pan, saute the onion and garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the rice and mix through until well coated with the oil. Add a ladleful of hot stock and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue in this fashion with the rest of the stock and the wine, until the rice is creamy, but still has a little bite to it.

Add the mushrooms and artichokes to the risotto. Season to taste and then add a knob of butter and mix through until the butter has melted.

Serve with freshly grated vegetarian parmesan and enjoy.

Serves 2-3 (depending on the need for another spoonful)

22 January 2010

Easy as Pie (Pasties)

You can always tell that Burn's Night is on the horizon when the supermarkets start stockpiling haggis on groaningly full shelves. They are everywhere you turn! I really don't mind though, I quite like haggis, well veggie haggis, obviously (I wouldn't eat the timorous wee beastie), but I tend to forget about it during the year, until this not-so-gentle reminder appears.

This year I wasn't stuck for ideas as I threw a couple of vegetarian haggis in my trolley. Back in December Mangocheeks made some truly inspirational Clapshot Vegetarian Haggis Tikkia, which is on my make-soon list and Johanna went haggis-crazy and made nachos, pasties and crepes with her veggie haggis.

I just wanted something quick and easy to make, so I bought some ready made shortcrust pastry and some nachos, salsa, guacamole and sour cream. I didn't really enjoy the haggis with nachos, but I am not a great lover of nachos at the best of times. Graham enjoyed them, so that was the main thing. However, the pasties were fabulous! So tasty, very filling and so quick and easy to make.

Here is my how-to-guide for quick veggie haggis pasties:

Easy Vegetarian Haggis Pasties



















Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6. Roll your shortcrust pastry fairly thinly and cut into discs. I cut mine using a small glass bowl measuring 13 cm/5 inches, but you can make your pasties any size you want depending on your whim.



















Spread mustard across half of your pastry disc. I used wholegrain mustard, a favourite of mine. The mustard is optional, but it works so well with the haggis and potato.



















Spoon some haggis onto the pastry, being careful not to add too much or you will have problems later when you come to seal the pasty.



















Add a few cubes of boiled potato to your filling, then season with pepper. Brush the edge of your pastry disc with milk to seal.



















Fold the pastry over the filling to make a half moon shape and seal by crimping the edge with your thumb and forefinger. Cut slits into the pastry to let out the steam and them brush the pasty with milk or an egg wash for a lovely golden finish.



















Bake the pasties in a preheated oven for 20 minutes or until golden.




















Break open and enjoy while they are still hot, then enjoy the leftover pasties, if there are any, the next day cold for lunch.

These pasties are great made this quick and easy way, but do make your own pastry and haggis, if you have the time. I use Delia Smith's recipe for shortcrust pastry, which is always successful and if I was going to make my own haggis, I would definitely use Johanna's recipe.

Here are a few other recipes to help your Burn's Night go off with a bang:

1 Clapshot and Vegetarian Haggis - Allotment to Kitchen

2 Clapshot Vegetarian Haggis Tikkia - Allotment to Kitchen

3 Haggis with Warm Butter Bean and Spinach Salad - The World Famous Burns Supper

4 Vegetarian Haggis Pakoras - Food Lovers Britain

5 Vegetarian Haggis Nachos - Green Gourmet Giraffe

6 Haggis, Neeps & Tatties Pasties - Green Gourmet Giraffe

7 Haggis, Neeps & Tatties Crepe Stack - Green Gourmet Giraffe

8 Vegetarian Haggis and Winter Tzatziki Wraps - Mostly Eating

9 Baked Onions with Vegetarian Haggis - The Foody

10 Vegan Haggis - Veg World

17 January 2010

Chocolate Fudge Brownies





Well actually it is more like chocolate fondant. This is another brownie recipe from the little Good Food Magazine book - 101 Chocolate Treats.

It didn't work out quite as planned. When I was whisking up the final mixture, I was eyeing the quantity in the bowl and looking at my brownie pan and thinking "no way, is that going to fit!", so I decided to spilt the mixture between a 9 inch/23cm spring form cake tin and a 8 inch/20cm square brownie pan.

I poured most of the mixture into the cake pan, I filled it ¾ of the the way up and poured the rest of the mixture into the brownie pan. The cake I baked for 45 minutes until papery on top and wobbly, this produced the gooey texture of a dessert. I put the brownie in for 20-25 minutes and used a skewer to see if it was ready. When the skewer came out quite clean I took it out and this resulted in a lovely chewy brownie. Two for the price of one.

I will give you the original recipe, with cup measures added and you can decide which way you would like to try it.

Chocolate Brownies

375g/13oz dark chocolate, chopped
375g/13oz butter, diced
500g/1lb 2oz/2 ¾ cups caster sugar
6 medium eggs (I always use large, this might have been why there was so much mixture)
225g/8oz/2 cups plain flour

Preheat oven to 180c/Gas 4/fan oven 160c. Butter and line a 30 x 21cm/12 x 8¼ inch cake tin. Melt the chocolate with the butter in a bowl over a pan of hot water.

Beat the sugar and eggs in a bowl. Stir in the melted chocolate, add the flour and beat well. Pour into the tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top looks papery and feels slightly wobbly. Leave to cool in the tin.

Makes 24 brownies
or my way, 1 deep brownie cake and 1 pan of chewy brownies

The original recipe called for a topping of melted chocolate followed by a dusting of icing sugar, but I didn't bother. To be honest, I forgot. I had visitors while I was making the brownies. Easily distracted, that's me! We had a piece of the brownie the first night and then a slice of the cake today with cream. I think it would be lovely warm with ice cream too.

10 January 2010

New Year's Resolutions- I suck at them!

I was just catching up over at Wendy's blog - A Wee Bit of Cooking. She has some gorgeous photos on today's post, you must go and have a look. Scotland looks so beautiful in snowy weather. Anyway, I digress, I made my way down her last few posts (yes, I know, I know, I am slacking, but I have a very hungry baby) that I had missed and what should I come across but her new year's resolution post. That in turn reminded me that I made some resolutions last year too. And now you are asking "did you keep them?". Hell no! Here they are, feel free to mock me!

New Year Plans January 2009

* Go for more walks

(yes, I did do this, I can truly pat myself on the back for this one. I went out walking with Graham and once a month with my walking group and I loved it! If you head over there, you will see the entries finished in July. I was busy in August and September on walking days and after that I was just too exhausted by the pregnancy and working full time. Hopefully I will get out for some walks with my local pram pushing group, once the weather improves. Not quite hillwalking, but a good stretch of the legs at least.)



* Visit somewhere new in Scotland each month

(Well, I can cover this one up until July with my hillwalking too)

* Master cupcakes

(I made a few, heck no, I only had two attempts and then cast them aside. I made Oreo Cupcakes that were more like muffins and a batch of Maple Cupcakes which were lovely. I wonder why I gave up at this point?)












* Dig out my dusty sketchbook and start using it

(Hmmmm, let me think about it. Nope, it's still tucked away!)

* Have a big clear out of my wardrobe

(I did this at least three or four times over the year, but guess what, it is as packed and untidy as ever!)

* Thin my shoe collection

(If you believe this one, you will believe anything!)

* Spend less money

(That's debatable, if you ask Graham, I am sure he would have a different answer for you.)

* Enjoy 2009

(Yes, on the whole I did, it was a pretty good year and it definitely ended on a high note!)








So my resolutions for 2010. Don't make resolutions! Just enjoy my family and friends with a bit of cooking and baking thrown in. How does that sound?

05 January 2010

Toffee Pecan Brownies


























You are going to like this recipe!

A moist chocolate brownie, with a fudgey caramel layer, studded with pecans and topped with gooey toffee sauce. Need I say more?

I got this recipe from a nifty little book called 101 Chocolate Treats. A tiny, wee book from those lovely people at the Good Food Magazine. I have added cup measures for ease of use.






















Toffee Pecan Brownies

100g/4oz dark chocolate, chopped
175g/6oz butter, diced
250g bag creamy toffees
5 tbsp double cream
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
350g/12oz/2 cups caster sugar
200g/7oz/2 cups & 2 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g/4oz pecan nuts, roughly chopped


Preheat oven to 180c/gas 4/fan oven 160c.

Line a brownie pan with greaseproof paper (I use my round cake tin inserts, they fit when pushed into the corners).

Melt the chocolate with the butter.

Melt the toffees with the cream.

Lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla, stir into the melted chocolate with the sugar. Sieve in the flour and the baking powder, mixing lightly. Stir in the pecans.

Pour half the mixture into the brownie pan and drizzle over ¾ of the toffee sauce. Spread over the rest of the brownie mixture.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until firm to the touch. Leave to cool.

Reheat the remaining sauce and spread over the brownie cake before cutting into squares.

Makes 16 squares

(the original recipe included extra chocolate to drizzle over the brownies at the end, but I think this is overkill quite frankly. The toffee sauce is utterly divine on it's own. I will be using it again for other bakes.)

02 January 2010

News

I would like to introduce you to my little excuse for lame blogging and lack of keeping up with everyone else's blogs these last few months. I think you will agree it is a good one.


















Cooper
Born 1.47am, 31 December 2009
7 lbs 4oz

Our little angel!

01 January 2010

NCR - The Winning Festive Photo













I am a day late posting this, but I will have some news for you about that in my next post. For now I would like to announce and congratulate our winner.

















Coming first place for the second year in a row is Wendy with her gorgeous photo entitled Wee Bird. To see more of Wendy's stunning photography from the Highlands of Scotland and of course some delicious recipes too, head over to A Wee Bit of Cooking.

For January's No Croutons Required challenge, visit Lisa's Kitchen.

Happy New Year everyone!