29 November 2010

Scottish Macaroon Snowballs




































I was on Facebook late one night, probably working on my farm, when an instant chat box popped up from one of my fellow Scottish bloggers, Marie. We often have a chat when we are on at the same time.

Marie blogs over at You'll Have Had Your Tea and runs a wee cafe called the Green Apple Apple Cafe in West Linton, just outside Edinburgh. She posts her daily menus on facebook and they always make me salivate.

Anyway, during this particular chat Marie said she had just finished baking for her 10 year old, who was to dress up in World War II clothes for school the next day and bring along a treat from the time. After speaking to her mum, she settled on making macaroon bars. After our chat, I was desperate to make some too. I have thought about making macaroon bars from time to time, but never got around to actually making any. Marie gave me a rough idea of the recipe, but I took note of quantities as I made mine, so I would know next time. Some of you may be surprised when you discover what the main ingredient is.

I shaped my macaroons into balls instead of bars and renamed them Scottish Macaroon Snowballs, which is quite apt for our weather. Heavy, heavy, deep snow.





















 

Scottish Macaroon Snowballs

1 large potato (150g approx)
4 ½ cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g good quality dark chocolate
1 ½ cups dessicated coconut


Peel your potato and cut it into quarters, then boil until soft. Mash until smooth and then spoon into a large mixing bowl. Leave to cool.

Pour in your icing sugar a spoonful at a time, stirring with a spatula. The mixture will be quite wet and gloopy at first, but eventually it will form a smooth dough. Towards the end, as the dough gets stiffer, it is easier to work with a wooden spoon.




































Once your dough is ready, wrap it in clingfilm and pop it in the fridge for half an hour.

Prepare a couple of baking trays, by covering them in greaseproof paper, then tear of small balls of the macaroon dough and roll into smooth balls. Once you have finished, pop the trays full of macaroon in the fridge, while you move onto the next step.



















Pour half of your desiccated coconut into a ovenproof dish. I covered my dish with greaseproof paper, so the coconut would be easy to remove.




















Toast the coconut under the grill, shaking occasionally until it is golden. Do be careful as it burns easily.

I then mixed some of my toasted coconut with some plain, so I ended up with three bowls of coconut in varying colours. One plain, one mixed and one toasted. However it is entirely up to you. The original bars are coated in toasted coconut.

Next, break your chocolate into pieces and melt in a bain marie.

Take your macaroon balls out of the fridge and set up a little production line. First dip your macaroons in melted chocolate, then roll them in coconut before placing them back on the baking tray. I advise using one hand to dip the balls in chocolate and the other to coat in coconut or you are likely to get into a right mess. Have some kitchen paper at the ready too and baby wipes are very handy at this point.



Once all your macaroons are coated, pop the trays back into the fridge to allow the balls to set.





I made 33 balls from my dough, but amounts will vary according to size.

Enjoy!

Oh and remember they are very sweet.



23 November 2010

Christmas Countdown - 32 days to go

Excitement is building in this household. Only 32 days until our baby's first Christmas. I still have shopping to do and I am constantly on the lookout for ideas. if you are too, then you may gleam some inspiration from this post.















I saw this gorgeous cake stand in a cupcake shop in St Andrews last weekend and instantly coveted it. Isn't it fab and it's a good price too at £9.50.

"Truly Scrumptious cake stand for cupcakes and sandwiches.

It's darling! Take tea with your girlfriends and indulge in a truly scrumptious array of fabulous florals, sherbet colours and vintage chic. Just perfect to pop your cucumber sandwiches and prettiest fairy cakes.

1 disposable, pretty, card cake stand with 3 pretty tiers. Just perfect for scrumptious cakes. Comes flat pack."






















I just love monkeys and sock monkeys are always extra special. These cute little chaps come in at £11 each.

"A great gift for any age, who would not love one of these gorgeous creatures..

The monkeys measure approximately 45cm and come in a variety of colours, contact me if there is a particular colourway that you would like and I will do my best to comply...

The monkeys can be made with felt eyes rather than buttons for children under 3 years. Stuffing is of BS for toys"






















I fell in love with these upcycled hats for children as soon as I saw them (they will make them for adults at an additional cost, hmmmm, tempting :) ). They are so cozy and so individual. A truly unique present. I loved them so much, I bought one for Cooper's Christmas. Don't tell him! *shhhh!* They are $25 USD, (which is approximately £16.13) but they do ship to the UK and there is still time to order.

"Custom upcycled owl HOOT HAT in Orange, Brown and Cream. Freckletree presents a line of hats that are so hip, so stinkin cute, so original . . . introducing hOOtHats, upcycled winter hats that are created from patching sweaters, blankets and scarves into toasty little owls that will warm your wee one all season long."

Next up, some cookbooks. We all love cookbooks and they are such great presents. Why not support one of our fabulous blogger friends and choose one of their books. You know they will be far superior to most other cookbooks.

First up we have A Slice of Cherry Pie from our good friend Julia over at A Slice of Cherry Pie. This sumptuous book is full of the finest rustic food and sprinkled with family snapshots. It is available from Amazon UK for £11.99 and Amazon US for $16.47.


The next book is a great choice if you are buying for the mum and dad of a small child. It is The Great Big Veg Challenge by Charlotte Hume over at The Great Big Vegetable Challenge. Charlotte started her blog to encourage her son Freddie, a vegetable-hater to eat his veg. Charlotte travelled through the alphabet of Vegetables and came up with a plethora of recipes with help from bloggers across the world. I can personally recommend this book as I have a much loved copy sitting on my bookcase. It is available from Amazon UK for £11.04 and Amazon US for $15.45.

My last choice is Sweet Freedom by Ricki over at Diet, Dessert & Dogs. If you have ever been over to Ricki's blog you will know her desserts are amazing. In her baking Ricki uses whole, natural, unprocessed ingredients that are free of wheat, eggs, dairy or refined sugars, but are still the most lush creations you will ever try. Sweet Freedom is available from Amazon US for $27.95.





















My last pick today are the most beautiful coasters from Anthropologie. I now realise I am suggesting all the things I would like as gifts. Oh well! Hopefully you all have the same taste as me. The coasters come in at £16, but I think they are worth it. Just gorgeous!

Onion domes, ikat snippets and folkloric flora make you feel like you're sightseeing at your own coffee table.

SCENIC TRIVET

Set of four
New bone china
Hand wash
9cm diameter
Imported
"


Well, that's it for today. Hope that was food for thought.

19 November 2010

Katie's 'Chuck-It-All-In Chutney'




















This recipe is from my latest cookbook acquisition, which is squeezed into the already tight bookcase. It really is a fab book. I was so excited once I opened it. It is so colourful and quirky and overflowing with photos (a must in my book, no pun intended!). The book is Leon 2 and you just have to buy it. You will love it too, I just know you will!

This is the second book by the Leon Restaurant of which there are now nine in total. I can see why they are so popular, their food is scrummy!

They like to cook seasonally and care about using only the highest quality ingredients, which is a good rule of thumb for all of us, although I must say I do fall down on eating seasonally. I do buy seasonally up to a point, then I decide I want to pretend it is Summer and all that will satisfy is some Mediterranean inspired food. I do like to pretend that Winter isn't lasting all of 6 months here in Scotland. It is self-delusional, I know.

I will be trying out a lot of the recipes from this book, but I decided to start of with a chutney. I do like to have chutney to enjoy with a cheese board or pasties over the winter.






Here are a few others to drool over:

* Roast Carrots & Fennel in Parmesan Breadcrumbs
* Raw Masala Carrot Dip
* Tuscan Beans with Sage
* Dalston Sweet Potato Curry
* Caramelized Pear Flambe
* Upside-Down Apple & Cardamom Tart


And now on to my chutney.

Katie's 'Chuck-It-All-In Chutney'

2kg green tomatoes or ripe red tomatoes
450g onions
450g apples
6 plums
2 fresh green chillies
255g raisins or currants, or a mixture
1 level tablespoon salt
450g brown sugar
6 cloves of garlic
a 5cm piece of fresh ginger
2 cinnamon sticks
10 cloves
1.2 litres malt vinegar, or any other vinegar


1. Chop the tomatoes and onions finely. Core the apples and stone the plums, then chop finely (you can leave the skin on the apples). Deseed and chop the chillies.

2. Put all the chopped fruit, vegetables and chillies in a big pan, along with the raisins or currants, salt and sugar. Crush the garlic and add to the pan. Stir well.

3. Wrap the ginger and spices in a muslin square, or an old tea towel, and tie with string, leaving the ends long enough to tie to the pan handle so that the bundle can be removed easily. (Or you can use a 'pickling basket' if you have one.) Add your spice bundle to the pan with the vinegar.

4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and let the chutney simmer very gently for about 3 hours. Stir occasionally. You'll know the consistency is about right when you can drag a spoon through the mixture and it leaves a trail that doesn't immediately fill up with vinegar.

5. Pour the hot chutney into jars. Cover the chutney with a disc of waxed paper, wax side down, and seal tightly with a lid.

6. Label when cold, and DON'T EAT IT for AT LEAST a month, preferably two. The flavours mellow, and it's much more delicious. It will keep for at least a year, sealed. Once you have opened it, keep it in the fridge.

Makes 6-8 jars depending on the size (I filled 6 x 400g jars and another jar ¾ full)





Disclosure Statement: I received this book free from the publisher to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

14 November 2010

Christmas Countdown - 6 weeks to go

You probably didn't need reminded of that, but if you are anything like me your are in the midst of trying to think up new ideas for gifts. I thought it might be good to list a few ideas.





















My first gift idea is one for children. It's one you may want to give out on Christmas Eve. It's a fab little idea and a steal at £1.50. Magic Reindeer Food.

This wildlife friendly reindeer food contains all the things that Rudolph loves - oats, sugar sprinkles and silver sugar balls! Each bag contains approximately 50g of food and is hand-tied with a pretty festive ribbon. This special poem is printed on the label:

"Sprinkle on the lawn at night,
the moon will make it sparkle bright,
as Santa's reindeer fly and roam,
this will guide them to your home."


















Chocolate is always a good gift and I was lucky enough to be sent a couple of bars from Chocolate and Love to try. It is the most gorgeously rich chocolate. My favourite was a bar called Filthy Rich. It is a bar of 71% extra dark chocolate that is fairtrade, organic, gluten free and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Mmmmmmmmmm! £3.20 a bar and worth every penny.

"Premium quality cocoa from Fairtrade cooperatives in the Dominican Republic and Peru combined with Fairtrade cane sugar from South America and a hint of vanilla. This bar has a deep and intense chocolate flavour."






















Next up a fun piece of jewellery from She Draws. Something a bit different that would appeal to us foodies. A Silver and acrylic tea set necklace. £14.00.

"Britain isn't complete without tea and so this cute little tea set charms hanging from a 18" silver plated chain.

The tea set includes a teapot, tea cup and a spoon all created from lightweight plastic and coated in glossy resin.

Charms together in hanging position measure approx 1"."






















This one I have already ordered to jazz up my gift tags, envelopes and giftwrap this Christmas. A handmade gingerbread man stamp from Skulls and Cross Buns. A small one costs £3.50 and the large stamp is £4.50. A bargain if you ask me. They also have the cutest cupcake stamps, which would be great for stocking fillers.





















Here is a rather cool gift for the home. A Matroyshka Doll Door Stop. £22 from Roses Love Red.

"Matryoshka doll doorstops by Astrid Weigel are made using the designer's own hand printed fabrics. Dolls are further embellished with applique detailing and hand painted touches of colour making every one unique. Spot cleaning is recommended for this item.

Please note that every doorstop is completely individual and may vary slightly to the item pictured.

Height : approx 24cm
Width : approx 12cm
Weight : approx 1kg

Materials : cotton, rice and polyester stuffing"

















I just love this set of handmade bowls featuring a little owl for sale on Etsy, one of my favourite place to go for gifts. The set costs $26.00 USD and I just hope one of my nearest and dearest reads this and feels inspired.

"In this series, pieces are made simply (usually by hand) and with very little decoration so that the process, my finger marks and the clay shows through in the ending product. I enjoy making these because it is incredibly meditative and relaxing.

These little dishes are adorable and precious. When stacked together, they look like seashells...little gems that sit in the palm of your hand. These are made with porcelain which fires to a gleaming white that makes me fall in love with it each time I see it. An owl is stamped in the center of each piece and have been stained with a chocolate brown underglaze. The inside of each piece is covered with a clear glaze and outside is left matte porcelain

These pinch pots are great for decoration or for cooking - set a pinch of this and a pinch of that in each bowl."






















I don't personally drink coffee or tea, but I know some of my collegues walk into work holding a hot cup of coffee or tea, sipping as they go to try and wake themsleves up in the morning and I know they would just love one of these felt cup cozies. A steal at £3 USD.

"These cozies are made from reclaimed wool sweaters. Making them eco friendly. The wool has been felted to make them soft and dense. Whether you hate burning your hands on a hot coffee cup or freezing your fingertips on that chilly can of pop, these will help.

These simply slide onto your cup or can to protect your hands. They are snug to help with grip. Great to keep in the car or your purse. Perfect for stocking stuffers, secret sisters, office gifts, etc."

















And finally it is time for a homemade edible gift. I can personally recommend these as I have made them a few times. White Chocolate Truffles with Crushed Peppermints. The creamy peppermint shards really cut through the sweetness of the white chocolate, which lets face it is very, very sweet.

Why not buy a pack of 50 presentation bags from lakeland for only £2.69 to present the truffles in.

I hope I have given you some inspiration and you have enjoyed looking through my Christmas picks. I will be posting another collection of ideas soon.

12 November 2010

Chocolate Orange Brownies






























I have been meaning to post these fudgey brownies for a while now. They are so very easy and so very quick. This is the perfect recipe for a chocolate fix and when I tell you I got the recipe from Choclette over at the Chocolate Log Blog, you will know just how good they are. That girl really does know her chocolate. If you still need a fix after reading this recipe, you should go over there. You won't be disappointed!
















Chocolate Orange Brownies


100g/1 stick/½ cup butter
100g bar of orange flavoured dark chocolate (I used Lindt's Excellence Orange Intense, which has slivers of almonds in it)
2 large eggs
¾ cup brown sugar
2⁄3 cup plain flour
1 tsp cinnamon
a pinch of salt

Heat oven to 180c/350f/Gas Mark 4.

Melt the chocolate, butter and sugar in a bain marie.

Take of the heat and allow to cool a little, then beat in 2 eggs.

Stir in the flour, cinnamon and salt.

Pour into a lined brownie pan and bake for 12 minutes.

Allow to cool in pan before slicing up and serving.

See! I told you they were easy. How can you resist? I am sure you have all the ingredients in your larder. Go on, have a go, even if you don't have orange flavoured chocolate. You will love them and they will be ready in a flash.

Round of applause for Choclette please!

10 November 2010

Hotel Chocolat Giveaway
















When Hotel Chocolat got in touch with me and said the Christmas Catalogue was out and I could choose anything from it, I was ecstatic to say the least.

It took me a good while to make a decision. There are just so many yummy products to choose from. I looked through the catalogue again and again, changing my mind each time, but I eventually decided I couldn't live any longer without trying their milk chocolate Christmas Tree.

I have to quote you their description so you can truly appreciate how excited I was.

"A thrilling blend of mellow 40% milk chocolate with crunchy roasted almonds, hand cut caramel florentines and the colourful contrast of Christmassy cranberries. Decked out with ultimate baubles – super smooth gianduja truffles."

You are hooked now too, right? It is a hugely thick slab of the most delicious chocolate, so thick and luxurious with lovely chewy cranberries and caramel, then the crunch of almonds. The truffles on top are just an added bonus.





















If you are visiting the site you must have a browse through the Christmas Section, there is such a great range of chocolates to give as Christmas presents. I can guarantee you will be drooling by the time you look through all the luscious photos and read the descriptions. Mmmmmm!

And now comes the exciting news. Hotel Chocolat have kindly given me another Milk Chocolate Christmas Tree to give away to one lucky reader.

If you would like to be in with a chance to win a tree then here are the rules:

1. Only open to residents of the UK (sorry to all my international readers)
2. Become a follwer of Tinned Tomatoes
3. Leave a comment to say you would like to enter
4. If you don't have a blog, please leave an email address, so I can get in touch with you if you win.

Easy Peasy!

The giveaway will be open for the next two weeks until 28 November 2010.

06 November 2010

Flapjack Cookies
















 If you are like me and struggle to eat breakfast before you rush out the door to work, then these are just perfect. Porridge in the shape of a cookie.

Keep the dough in the fridge, turn the oven on to heat while you are getting ready, then tear off enough dough for as many cookies as you want and pop them in to cook, while you continue to get organised. 10 minutes later and a few minutes to cool and voila, breakfast on the run.

Not for every breakfast you understand, but great for those rushed mornings.

Flapjack Cookies

½ cup/115g/1 stick butter, softened
2⁄3 cup demerara sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of(baking)soda
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 ½ cups porridge oats
1 cup raisin
s


Preheat the oven to 350f/180c/gas mark 4.

Cream the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.

In another bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt.

Gradually add the flour mix into the butter mix.

Next add the oats and raisins.

Bring the dough together into a ball and pop in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. You could leave it overnight if making a morning snack.

Roll into golf ball size pieces and squash slightly when you place them on your lined baking tray. Give them a bit of space to spread.

Bake for about 10 minutes until the edges are starting to turn golden. They will continue crisping up as they cool.

Cool on a wire rack.

Serves (well I would love to tell you that, but I forgot to count them. Whoops!)

04 November 2010

Autumn Giveaway Winner

Congratulations Siobhan! My independent adjudicator pulled your name out of the hat. He was a bit reluctant at first, but we got there in the end. So, that's a pound of the best Cane Creek Coffee winging it's way to you once I have your address.

Don't worry if you didn't win this time. I have another giveaway coming up soon and it involves chocolate.