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2 December 2014

Meringues


I often get leftover egg whites from recipes that only need the egg yolk. Rather than throwing them away or making a very boring breakfast, I’ve started making meringues! I used to think it was difficult to get the recipe right, but it turns out that’s not the case at all! All you need is some sugar, 10 minutes of your time and a decent oven. :)






























Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites 
  • 115g of caster sugar 
  • 115g of icing sugar 

  1. Pre-heat an oven to 100 degrees (fan). It is important to get the temperature exactly right, because if it’s off even slightly the meringues will be ruined. My oven is a dirty, dirty liar and even though it says “100 degrees” it’s not, so I have to heat up mine to 110. I found that out the hard way… 
  2. Place the egg whites in a glass or metal bowl (not a plastic one!). Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they start to stiffen and you get soft peaks. 
  3. Start adding the caster sugar, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, whisking the mixture for about 30-60 seconds between each time, to make sure all the sugar is properly mixed in. It’s important to add the sugar gradually, to prevent your meringues from weeping later. 
  4. Once all the caster sugar is mixed in, add 1/3 of the icing sugar. Using a spoon, gently fold the icing sugar into the egg whites. Now whisk it again for about 1-2 minutes, until it’s completely mixed in. Add another 1/3 of the icing sugar, fold in and whisk. Repeat the 3rd time and whisk until all the sugar is mixed in and the whites are thick and glossy. 
  5. Spoon the mixture onto a baking tray covered with baking or grease-proof paper, forming meringues. Place in the oven and bake for 1h 30 min (1h 45 min if your meringues are larger). You’ll know they’re ready when they start turning from white to very slightly golden colour. 
  6. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and serve to your liking. 




I didn’t have the time to make anything fancy, so I simply put some chocolate spread and jam between 2 meringues and made little ‘sandwiches’.































This is what a meringue looks like if the oven temperature is too low. They leak a sugar syrup, which is still edible, but doesn't look very appetising. If this happens, next time you're making meringues try turning the oven temperature up by 10-20 degrees.


Chocolate Orange Mince Pies


These pies have been seriously popular recently! I had to make 4 batches in just two weeks due to popular demand :) I'm not complaining ;)







Ingredients:

For the pastry:

  • 200g plain flour 
  • 100g icing sugar 
  • 50g cocoa 
  • 150g unsalted butter, cold, cut up into cubes 
  • 2 egg yolks 
  • 1 tbsp of cold water 


For the filling

  • 1 jar of mincemeat (411g) 
  • Zest of 1 orange 
  • 75g or dried cranberries 
  • Milk chocolate (1 piece per pie) 

  1. First, prepare the filling. Mix the mincemeat, orange zest and cranberries in a bowl. 
  2. Now for the pastry: Sieve through the flour, icing sugar and cocoa into a large bowl. 
  3. Add butter and rub together until you get the texture of fine breadcrumbs. 
  4. Add the egg yolks and 1 tbsp of water. Mix together roughly with a knife. Using your hands, knead the pastry until you get a firm, uniform ball. 
  5. Roll out one half of the pastry so that it’s about 4mm thick. You may want to lightly dust the surface with plain flour before you do it, so that the pastry doesn’t stick, but be careful not to use too much flour as it will mix in to the pastry and dry it out. 
  6. Take a muffin or pie tin and lightly butter it. Depending of the size of your muffin tin, this recipe should make between 8 and 12 pies. Heat up the oven to 170 degrees (fan). 
  7. Using a round cookie cutter or a large glass, cut out pastry circles slightly bigger than your muffin trays and line each with the pastry. 
  8. Fill the pies with the mincemeat mixture and place a piece of milk chocolate on top of each. 
  9. Now roll out the rest of the pastry and cut out slightly smaller circles to cover the pies. If you have any leftover pastry, cut out little starts to decorate the pies. With a skewer or a pointy knife, make a couple of small holes in the top of each pie to allow hot air to escape. 
  10. Bake the pies for 15 minutes. 



I had quite a lot of pastry left over, so I cut out more shapes and placed them on a baking tray, to make cookies. I baked them together with the pies. Once they cooled down, I sprinkled them with a bit of icing sugar and put some raspberry jam on them, and made ‘cookie-jam sandwiches’ – delicious!




I also had 2 egg whites left over from this recipe, which I used to make meringues. Click here to find out how.

25 November 2014

Russian chicken and mushroom pie


A chicken and mushroom pie with the addition of sour cream and fresh dill. Much better than the British equivalent, in my opinion. ;) It still has the same, lovely, creamy taste, but with added kick and character. Bon appetit!



Ingredients:
  • 125g long grain rice
  • 50g butter
  • 300g mushrooms, quartered or roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 300ml milk
  • 500g chicken breasts or thighs, chopped into chunks
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 150ml of soured cream
  • a bunch of fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 250g pack ready puff pastry
  • 1 egg beaten with a splash of milk, to glaze

  1. Boil the rice until it's al dente – about 10 mins.
  2. Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Fry the chicken, mushrooms and onion until the meat is browned and the onions are glossy. 
  3. Add the garlic and stir in the flour. Cook for 1-2 mins. 
  4. Now take the pan off the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Put the pan back on the heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time until the sauce thickens. 
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the lemon juice, soured cream and dill.
  6. Spread the rice in the bottom of a pie dish, then spoon the meat and sauce on top. 
  7. Roll out the pastry to the size of your pie dish and cover the pie. Make several incisions for the hot air to escape. Glaze the top of the pastry with the egg wash.
  8. Heat oven to 180C (fan). Bake for about 30 mins, or until the pastry is golden.
The pie is freezable, so you can split it into portions and store in the freezer until needed for a cheeky quick lunch or dinner.







Spcied Pumpkin and Carrot Soup


I'm normally not a massive fan of pumpkins, but this soup it seriously delicious!




Ingredients:
  • 600-700 grams chopped pumpkin
  • 4 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 600 ml chicken stock (made with 1 stock cube)
  • a bunch of fresh coriander
  • 150 ml double cream
  1. Place the pumpkin, carrots, and potatoes in a pot, add ground coriander, cumin, chilli powder and stock, and bring to boil. Simmer for about 45 minutes, or until all the vegetables are soft.
  2. Blend the soup with a hand blender or a soup blender until completely smooth.
  3. Add the fresh coriander and cream and them stir in. Et voila! It's perfect for freezing :)



10 November 2014

Celeriac, blue cheese and white wine soup


This is a brilliant recipe for using up leftover celeriac or blue cheese. It's very simple to prepare, but very sophisticated in flavour. The soup is so rich and thick I would strongly recommend against making it the main course. It is ideal as a starter, though.






Ingredients:
  • 1 large celeriac, peeled and chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4-5 tbsp of sunflower oil
  • 1l of water
  • 300g of blue cheese, broken up into bits (I used Stilton)
  • 500ml of double cream
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 100ml of white wine

  1. Gloss the onions in a large pan with sunflower oil.
  2. Add the celeriac chunks and water. Leave to gently simmer for 40 minutes
  3. Once the celeriac has softened, take the pan off the heat and blitz the soup with a food blender until it's completely smooth. Season to taste with sugar and salt.
  4. Return the pan to heat and bring to a simmer. Add the blue cheese and stir until it melts. Add the double cream and season again if needed.
  5. Add the garlic and white wine and bring back to the boil for a couple of minutes.

21 October 2014

Bread and Butter Pudding


This recipe is quite useful in situations when you have a surplus of bread or an old, stale loaf. Rather than throwing it away you can turn it into a lovely pudding - and if you have *a lot* of it, you can easily cut into portions and freeze for cheeky wee sweet later.

I made this pudding when my other half came home with 8 loafs of bread one night (just couldn't walk past a good yellow label deal...). I used some of it for breadcrumbs, some  of it went into burgers, and some of it ended up like this:



























Ingredients:

  • 700-800g of white bread (fresh, frozen or stale)
  • 500g mixed raisins, candied peels and dried fruit
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 700 – 800 ml milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 150g sugar
  • zest 1 orange
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 100g butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • demerara sugar (for sprinkling – about ½ cup, depending on the pudding surface size)
  • chocolate custard (for serving)

  1. If you’re using fresh bread, tear or cut it up into small bits in a large mixing bowl and add the fruit, spices and milk. If you’re using stale or frozen bread, warm up the milk very slightly (just so that it’s warm) and soak the bread in it until it’s completely soft.
  2. Mix the bread, milk, fruit and spices well together and completely break up the bread, until it has the texture of dough. Add the eggs, sugar and orange zest. Stir well, then set aside for 15 mins to soak.
  3. In the meantime, preheat oven to 160C (fan). Line a 20cm a square cake tin with baking paper AND butter it (otherwise the pudding *will* stick to the paper).
  4. Stir the melted butter into the pudding mixture.
  5. Pour the pudding into the tin, sprinkle with demarara sugar and bake for 1½ hrs until firm and golden.
  6. Serve with chocolate custard. (this part is vital).

20 October 2014

DIY Ghost for Halloween


Really easy and fun to make, regardless of age. :)





























You will need:

  • 2 tbsp of starch
  • 500ml + 1/2 glass water
  • cheese cloth (large enough to make 1 ghost)
  • wire
  • a ball
  • a vase/boottle/tall glass for the body (I used a cocktail shaker)
  • 2 small, round bits of black felt or fabric (for the eyes)
  • glue (any type should do - I used a simple glue stick)



  1. Bring 500ml of water to boil.
  2. In the meantime, mix the starch witch 1/2 glass of cold water. Add to the boiling water and mix until it thickens. Once it starts to thicken, take it off the heat.
  3. Leave it to cool until it's safe to touch and dip your cheese cloth in it. Squeeze out any excess. 
  4. Using the ball for head, the wire for arms and the bottle for body, construct a mould for your ghost. Place it on a flat, washable surface.
  5. Spread out the cheese cloth and place it over the ghost mould (see below).
  6. Allow it to dry overnight, then lift the cheese cloth up - this will take a bit of work as it will likely be stuck to the surface. Don't worry though, you don't have to be too gentle with it. It should still keep its form.
  7. Glue the eyes onto the face. And there you go! You've got your very own ghost. :)


Once Halloween is over, if you want to get rid of your ghost you can simply put it under warm running water and wash out the starch to re-use the cloth next year.

Starch should be easily available in any Polish shop or Polish section in a supermarket, but if you can't get your hands on it you can use fabric stiffener instead, which should be available in any DIY shop.









21 September 2014

Can of Worms and Clementine Pumpkins


Here are some of the other treats I made for Halloween last year.

I cut-up strawberry laces, added some crushed Oreos and used the coconut milk can to make a Can of Worms. :) I recommend serving as a topping for sundaes or other desserts. Otherwise it's a bit dry and uninteresting on its own.





Clementine mini-pumpkins! :)




17 September 2014

Malibu Jello Shot Eyeballs for Halloween.


The. Best. Halloween. Recipe. Ever. Totes amazeballs. See what I did there?




Ingredients:

  • Round Ice-cube molds (duh…)
  • 1 tbsp of oil (eg. vegetable or sunflower)
  • 16 gelatin sheets
  • 400ml (1 can) of coconut milk
  • 400 ml of Malibu (chilled)
  • ½ cup of sugar (or to taste)
  • Black food colouring (for pupils)
  • Blue/green/red food colouring (for irises)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • A small dropping pipette (optional – but very helpful and cheap to buy on ebay)

  1. Soak 4 gelatin sheets in cold water for 5 minutes, until they soften. Then transfer them to 1 cup of hot water and stir until they dissolve. Divide it into parts – 1 part of about 50ml, and split the rest into 3 equal parts.
  2. To the 50 ml part, add enough black food colouring to make it dark enough for the pupils. To the remaining 3 parts add your iris colours.
  3. Put a few drops of oil on a bit of tissue or paper towel and VERY LIGHTLY grease the inside of the ice cube molds.
  4. Using a pipette, a drinking straw, or any other means that work, put a drop of the black gelatine at the bottom of each ice-cube mold. Transfer them to the fridge ale leave to set for about an hour.
  5. Once the pupils are set, use the pipette/straw/teaspoon/whatever to add the “irises”. Again, transfer the molds to the fridge and leave them to set (probably a couple of hours).
  6. Once the irises are set, prepare the “whites”. Pour all the coconut milk into a milk pan and heat up. You want it to be quite warm, but not boiling-hot. Just warm enough for the sugar and the gelatine sheets to dissolve easily. Soak the remaining 12 gelatin sheets in cold water for about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and gelatine sheets to the warm coconut milk, and stir until they’re dissolved. If needed, heat up the coconut milk a bit more.
  7. Leave the coconut milk to cool down to room temperature. Once it’s cooled, add the cold Malibu and mix well together – that’s your “whites” mixture ready.
  8. Fill up the remaining space in the ice-cube molds with the coconut milk and Malibu, and carefully transfer to the fridge to set. This will most likely take another couple of hours, but I strongly recommend leaving it overnight.
  9. Just before serving, pop the eyeballs out of the molds.

NB:

- This recipe requires quite a lot of waiting around, so I recommend planning it around the rest of your day. You could also split it over 3 days – make the pupils on day 1, then add the irises on day 2, and fill up the rest with Malibu the day before serving. I wouldn’t recommend making the Malibu part more than a day before serving though, as the alcohol will most likely evaporate.