31 May 2012

Clandestine Cake Club Dundee #2

On Sunday we had our second Clandestine Cake Club in Dundee. My co-organiser Becca organised this month's meeting. It was held in the Milton Inn, just a few miles outside Dundee city centre, in Monifieth.

The Milton Inn is a lovely little inn standing in it's own grounds. It is a traditional inn serving cask ale, a selection of Scottish and Continental lagers, over 50 carefully selected malts, a list of 25 wines, all available by the glass and good home made Scottish food, created using locally sourced produce.


A big thanks to the owners Mark & Suzie Barton inviting us to use their premises and looking after us royally, which leads nicely on to our theme:

 

A Right Royal Cake-Up!

30 May 2012

Bookmarked Recipes - May 2012

Bookmarked Recipes

Bookmarked Recipes: a monthly event to encourage food bloggers to revisit the recipes they have bookmarked from magazines, newspapers, cookbooks. websites, blogs, to try them out and post about them.


Read on to see all the entries. If you recreate any bookmarked recipes, you can join in by adding them to the linky at the end of the post for the June roundup.




26 May 2012

National Vegetarian Week - Readers Choice

We are coming to the end of National Vegetarian Week here in the UK and it is time to have a look at all the droolworthy recipes my readers have submitted.

I hope you all enjoyed a few vegetarian dishes this week. If you haven't, there is still time, so why not have a browse through this selection for some inspiration.

23 May 2012

Fettuccine with Creamy Blue Shropshire & Spinach




Long Clawson Dairy was founded in 1911 when 12 farmers from the Vale of Belvoir, Leicestershire, formed a co-operative to produce Stilton® Cheese in the village of Long Clawson. Today the dairy works with by over 40 farms, all from within the Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire area.




Today Long Clawson Dairy produces:
  •  Blue Stilton
  • White Stilton
  • Organic Blue Stilton
  • Blue Shropshire
  • White Stilton mixed with a variety of fruits
  • Wensleydale & Cranberry
  • Cotswold
  • Charnwood
  • Innkeepers Choice
  • Windsor Red
  • Huntsman
  • Cheddar, Apple and Wholegrain Mustard
  • Cheddar, Apple and Cider Chutney
  • Thomas Hoe Stevenson® Aged Leicestershire Red
  • Herb & Garlic Whirl
  • Onion & Chive Whirl
  • Paneer
Phew, what a list! I was lucky enough to be sent a selection of their cheeses, which are now taking up a good proportion of my fridge.

As soon as I saw the Blue Shropshire I knew I had to make a creamy sauce for pasta. I do love Blue Shropshire, it has such a creamy texture and a full bodied flavour. I decided to pair it with spinach and crème fraîche for a luxurious sauce. It was heavenly.

As good as it was, I wasn't able to convert blue cheese hating Graham, but the good news is Cooper enjoyed it, so I at least I have someone to share my blue cheese with.







print recipe
Fettuccine with Creamy Blue Shropshire & Spinach
A creamy sauce made with rich, tangy Shropshire Blue Cheese, creme friache and spinach. Served on Fettuccine. A quick after work dinner.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup/240ml double cream
  • 1 cup/240ml creme fraiche
  • 150-200g Blue Shropshire Cheese
  • ½ cup/120ml white wine
  • 1 large handful baby spinach
  • a good grating of nutmeg
  • a good grinding of pepper
  • enough fetticcine for 4-6 people
Instructions
1. Cook the fettuccine according to the packet instructions. 2. While the pasta is cooking melt the cheese in the cream and creme fraiche. Once it is smooth, add in the wine and spinach and cook until the spinach has wilted3. Season with nutmeg and black pepper. 4. Mix the sauce through the drained pasta and serve. It's as easy and quick as that. 5. Enjoy!
Details
Total time:
Yield: Serves 3-4 

 

If you have a favourite vegetarian dish, please add it to my linky in honour of National Vegetarian Week.

I will be posting a roundup for you all to enjoy on Saturday 26 May 2012.

Disclaimer: Long Clawson Dairy sent me a selections of cheeses to try. I was not required to write a positive review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

21 May 2012

National Vegetarian Week 2012


National Vegetarian Week (NVW) is the UK’s annual awareness-raising campaign promoting inspirational vegetarian food and the benefits of a meat-free lifestyle. This year it runs from Monday 21 May - Sunday 27 May 2012.



I have been vegetarian for 22 years now and I can honestly say, I have never eaten better. In honour of National Vegetarian Week I would like to share with you some of my favourite dishes. Whether you are vegetarian or not, I hope you leave inspired and eager to try some recipes out.

18 May 2012

Asparagus, Avocado, Blue Cheese and Beetroot Salad


I am ever hopeful and with an eye to the summer, I am tucking into a lot of salads and imagining the joy of eating them on a picnic blanket with my loved ones. Beside us is an overflowing picnic basket full of homemade goodies and our happy toddler is running barefoot in the grass, singing and laughing.


 My latest salad is also my entry into the Al Fresco Holiday's Chef of the Year Competition.


A wee bit background:

Al Fresco Holidays are all about holidays for families who want to enjoy luxury outdoor living without splashing out. Splashing about in the pool, bike rides through beautiful countryside, messing about in boats, building the perfect sandcastle, discovering picturesque local villages, or simply relaxing in the sunshine with a good book whilst the kids are off running around with their new friends. Modern holiday homes with two or three bedrooms, air conditioning, power showers,  modern designer kitchens and a decked veranda and enjoy the peaceful natural surroundings.


Their Chef of the Year Competition is calling for foodies to enter their best al fresco style recipe for their chance to win a family holiday. Whether you love picnic treats, or rustling up a feast on the BBQ is more your sort of thing, they want to hear from you.You have until the 31 May 2012 at 5pm to enter.





 

print recipe
Asparagus, Avocado, Smooth Blue Cheese &

17 May 2012

Cupcake Decorating Class - 3D Cakes


I recently went on another cupcake decorating class. My last class was at a bakery called The Scarlet Bakery in Dundee. This time I headed over to Edinburgh for the day to have some fun with Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen and my cousin Claire who blogs at A Kiss of Cookies. Our class was in 3D Cakes in the West End of Edinburgh.

13 May 2012

Lemon Honey & Pear Syllabub


We are in the midst of National Honey Week, well to be accurate we are coming to the end of it, so for my second post today I give you my Lemon Honey & Pear Syllabub.



To celebrate National Honey Week, The New Zealand Honey Company sent me a jar of Manuka Honey with Lemon and a jar of Manuka Honey with Root Ginger.

I decided to put the honey with lemon to good use and make a syllabub. The honey has a real silky quality to it, smoother than manuka honey usually is, it can be quite fudgey in texture sometimes. I thought it would mix well with the cream and I was right.

I usually make syllabub with white wine, but I had read that you can also make it with cider, so today I made my syllabub with pear cider. The flavour of the final syllabub was much gentler than it is with wine. The resulting syllabub was divine. Smooth and creamy with undertones of lemon, honey and pear.

Syllabub:

Syllabub is an old English favourite. It can be traced back to time of the Tudors (1485 until 1603). It was originally made from milk and cider. Cows were milked directly into the cider barrel and the frothy liquid that resulted was left to thicken for a few days and voila syllabub. Luckily it is a much easier and quicker process now.

"Take a quart of thick cream, and half a pint of sack, the juice of two Seville oranges, or lemons; grate in the peel of two lemons; half a pound of double-refined sugar, pour it into a broad earthen pan, and whisk it well; but first sweeten some red wine, or sack, and fill your glasses as full as you chuse; then as the froth rises take it off with a spoon, and lay it carefully into your glasses, till they are as full as it will hold."

Charles Carter The London and Country Cook (London: 1749) 






print recipe
Honey Lemon & Pear Syllabub
A smooth and creamy syllabub with hints of honey, lemon and pear. A lovely light dish to serve at the end of a meal. Not one for the children though as it is made rich with cider.
Ingredients
  • 150ml/¾ cup double cream
  • 4 tbsp manuka honey with lemon (you can use any honey)
  • finely grated peel of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 75ml/¼ cup pear cider
Instructions
1. Whip up the cream, honey, sugar, lemon peel and juice until thick. I used an electric whisk, but you can whisk it by hand.2. Add the cider and blend until smooth and creamy.3. Pour into two wine glasses and chill until ready to serve. It's as simple as that, but absolutely delicious.
Details
Total time:
Yield: 2 syllabubs 

 
New Zealand Honey Co.’s new Manuka ‘Plus’ range is available in Morrisons stores nationwide from 7th May, 2012.

Disclosure: The New Zealand Honey Company sent me two jars of honey for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday Giveaway - 32 Piece Cutlery Set

I don't have any other excuse for this giveaway other than it is Sunday. Now if I had hosted this giveaway three weeks ago I could have said the giveaway was to celebrate Tinned Tomatoes turning five, however today is just a Sunday and so this is just a Sunday giveaway.

So without any further ado, I am pleased to announce that I have a fabulous Judge Durham 32 piece cutlery set worth £39.99 (RRP £80) to offer one lucky reader, courtesy of Palmers Department Store

09 May 2012

Carrot, Banana and Chocolate Chip Flapjacks

I like to make flapjacks for Cooper's lunchbox, but I hadn't made any for a quite while. I had just received a delivery of carrots from Scotty Brand and as luck would have it I visited Allotment 2 Kitchen just in time to spot Shaheen's Carrot & Raisin Flapjacks. I knew immediately that I had to make them. It was such an inspired idea to add carrots to a flapjack. I took the idea from Shaheen's flapjacks and went back to my own go-to flapjack recipe and made a few changes.

The resulting flapjacks were a hit. Soft, chewy flapjacks with lots of flavour. The carrots go slightly carmelly, which is lovely and the banana flavour is there, but not overpowering. I also added some spices to the mix. At the planning stage they were looking pretty healthy. Honey, oats, carrots and banana, but you know me, I just couldn't resist adding some chocolate chips. Mmmmmmmm!

So easy, so quick and such a great sweet tasting snack to give you some energy, but at the same time very satisfying too.





print recipe
Carrot, Banana and Chocolate Chip Flapjacks

Soft, chewy flapjacks, made with oats, honey, grated carrot and banana. It you are feeling naughty, add some chocolate chips.

Ingredients
  • 115g/½ cup butter
  • 5 tbsp runny honey
  • 250g/2½ cups oats
  • ½ banana
  • 1 carrot, approximately 25g/½ cup carrot, grated
  • 100g/ ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
Instructions
1. Heat the oven to gas mark 3/325f/160c/140c fan. 
2. Grease a tray or brownie pan. 
3. In a large bowl mix together the oats, chocolate chips and spices. 
4. Mash your half banana until it is squidgy and soft. 
5. In a small pan, melt together the butter and honey and then mix in the banana and grated carrot. 
6. Leave the melted butter mixture to cool slightly and then mix into the oats. If you pour it in too soon, the chocolate chips will just melt into goo. 
7. Bake for 25 minutes. Take out near the end and test with your finger, it should be slightly springy if you want a chewy flapjack. Leave it in longer if you want a crisper flapjack. 
8. Cut into 16 squares while still warm, then leave to cool in the pan. 
9. Enjoy

Details
Total time:  

Yield
16 Flapjacks

 


04 May 2012

The Great Triple Chocolate Cookie Challenge


When Dominos got in touch with me and asked if I dared take part in their challenge, how could I resist? The challenge wasn't about the pizza it was all about the cookies. In particular Domino's Triple Chocolate Cookies. They are a limited edition and Dominos are feeling mighty proud of themselves.

If I do say so myself, I make pretty good chocolate cookies so I was feeling very confident. Cooper was busy playing with his toys, so I sneakily got on with making my cookies without him. It was quite funny,  Graham walked into the kitchen and said "Oh, you will be in trouble if Cooper catches you baking without him!". He was right too, I would get a right telling off. I know Cooper is only two, but boy can he shake his finger at you and make you feel bad. So I carried on baking, nervously looking over my shoulder occasionally.

01 May 2012

Snickers Cheesecake Loaf


I bet the photo of my cake got your attention. It certainly got my attention when I saw the original in Saved by Cake a cookbook by the novelist Marian Keyes.

(make sure to keep reading, there are photos of wee Cooper helping me bake the cake, at the bottom of the post)


I have probably read all of Marian Keyes books over the years, but the one thing I wasn't expecting from her was a cookbook. I suppose I didn't really know much about Marion, other than that I enjoyed her books and that she was an Irish author.



It seems there has been a whole host of people writing cookbooks, including quite a few actors and a part of me always thinks they are just jumping on the bandwagon. Writing a cookbook seems to be the latest fad, but after reading Marion's book I came to realise pretty quickly that this wasn't the case here. Marion gives a very honest and at times amusing account of how she has been battling with depression and how baking helped get her through each day by giving her a focus. She admits to starting out a novice and picking up skills as she went along, but then isn't that true for all of us? The result is a pretty impressive book filled with mouthwatering bakes.

* Chocolate, Chilli & Cardamon Tart
* No Bake Ginger and Lime Cheesecake
* Tiramisu Macaroons
* Ginger & Pineapple Pavlova
* Coconut Milk Cake
* Chocolate Baklava

Saved by Cake by Marian Keyes
Format: Hardback
Pages: 232
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Date of Publication: 16 Feb 2012
ISBN: 978-0718158897


print recipe
Blokey Snickers Cheesecake Loaf
Chocolate, biscuity base topped with a baked cheesecake filled with chunks of snickers, a fudgey top layer all finished of with a drizzle of toffee and a scattering of peanuts.
Ingredients
  • 150g dark chocolate digestive biscuits
  • 50g salted peanuts
  • 75g butter
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 250g philadelphia or any soft cheese
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200ml sour cream
  • 4 snickers bars, chopped into chunks
  • enough toffee sauce from a squeezy bottle to drizzle over the cake
  • a generous handful of salted peanuts
Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 170c fan/190c/325f/gas mark 3.2. Line a 1kg loaf tin with baking paper, I use inserts, they are much quicker.3. In a food processor, whizz the biscuits and peanuts until they are crumbs, you can leave it a little rougher with some chunks remaining.4. Melt the butter and stir it through the biscuit crumbs. Pour into your loaf tin and press down firmly, then pop in the oven for 15 minutes. Leave to cool then pop in the fridge until you need it, or overnight.5. Before you make your filling, you will need to heat the oven again to the same temperature you used for the base.6. Whip together the mascarpone, sour cream and philadelphia with a wooden spoon, then add the sugar and eggs. Keep whipping until it is well combined and smooth. Add the chunks of snickers and mix in.7. Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base and bake for an hour and a half. Turn the oven off, but leave the cake in. A fudgey topping with develop. Don't worry about how long it needs left in the oven, just take it out when you see the top has browned a little.8. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then lift it out carefully and pop it in the fridge until you are ready to serve it. 9. Before serving, drizzle the cake with toffee sauce and a scattering of peanuts.
Details
Total time:
Yield: 1 loaf cake

 

 

The original cake recipe used milk chocolate digestives, but I prefer dark chocolate digestives, so I used them instead. It also used ricotta. I forgot to buy ricotta, so I substituted it with Philadelphia soft cheese. I also re-wrote the instructions in my own words as Marian's instructions had a lot of chat, which was lovely, but I wanted to give you the bare bones of the recipe. 

I can tell you it really is a blokes cake. My hubby thought it was great, but while I enjoyed it, I would have preferred a simpler cake.

I've also made Marian's Chocolate Fudge Pudding, which is self-saucing.Unfortunately I left it in the oven after I had turned the heat off, as I had no room to put it anywhere, so the sauce sank in, but I can tell you it was still really delicious. I served it with custard, mmmmmmm.

As you can see Cooper helped me to make the Cheesecake Loaf. He is proudly sporting his new apron that the online gift shop, Not On The High Street sent him. They have some really gorgeous aprons for children and adults. He is as proud as punch, as you can see. It's a bit big for him yet, so I just folded it up in the middle and tightened the neck straps.


Here are a few more loaf cakes for you to try:
 
This is also my rather late entry for this month's We Should Cocoa.

Choclette is hosting it this month and the theme is chocolate and cheese. The roundup is already live!

Choclette was so shocked that I actually had an entry that she has agreed to add it. Thanks Choclette.






Disclosure Statement: I received the cookbook and apron free for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.