Monday, 29 April 2013
I had some fish that needed using up today, and so I decided to make Todd some fish cakes for his tea. He loves fish cakes, and so he was a very happy man.
I mixed some fresh haddock along with some smoked haddock. I find smoked haddock has a nice flavour, but can be a bit strong on it's own, so mixing it with fresh haddock kind of tempers it a bit. Don't use the dyed stuff . . . all that dye is nasty and it just doesn't look very good in my opinion.
To give them a bit of colour I added some finely shredded savoy cabbage and chopped spring onion. Some low fat mayo and grainy mustard add another depth of flavours.
Bound together with mashed potatoes, shaped into little cakes, rolled in bread crumbs and then cooked until golden brown in some butter, these went down a real treat, with a tasty rocket and tomato salad on the side.
*Colcannon Haddock Fish Cakes*
A delicious mixture of fresh haddock, smoked haddock, potato and finely shredded cabbage.
1 pound of baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
salt and black pepper
4 ounces of finely shredded savoy cabbage (1/4 pound)
8 ounces undied smoked haddock, skinned (1/2 pound)
8 ounces fresh haddock fillets, skinned (1/2 pound)
a squeeze of lemon juice
2 TBS low fat mayonnaise
1 to 2 TBS grainy mustard
2 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
2 TBS chopped fresh dill
2 slices of bread made into crumbs
A knob of butter for cooking
Boil the potatoes in a pan of lightly salted water to cover until nearly tender, 15 minutes or so. Add the shredded cabbage and cook for a further 3 minutes. Drain very well. Return to the pot and shake over the residual heat of the burner to dry further, then mash. Season to taste with some salt and black pepper. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7. Butter a large piece of foil. Place on a baking sheet and then arrange the fish on top of the foil. Season with pepper and lemon juice. Wrap the foil tightly around the fish so that none of the juice will excape and then pop into the oven. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until the fish is just cooked.
Remove the fish from the foil, reserving the juices. Break into large chunks in a mixing bowl, discarding any bones. Leave to cool. Stir the cooled fish, along with any juices, the mayonnaise, mustard, chopped onions and dill, and a touch of salt and pepper into the mashed potato mixture. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Place the bread crumbs onto a shallow plate. Divide the mixture and shape into 12 small cakes. Pat the cakes all over in the bread crumbs.
Heat the butter in a nonstick frying pan, just until it begins to foam, over medium heat. Add the fish cakes and cook until golden on the bottom. Flip over and continue to cook until they are heated through and golden on the other side. Serve immediately with some salad.
Sunday, 28 April 2013
It's a well known fact that oats are good for your heart. They are very healthy. They are a very good source of soluable and insoluable fibre.
Insoluable fibre helps to fight cancer. It helps to fight certain bile acids, thereby reducing their toxicity.
Soluable fibre helps to reduce LDL cholesterol. That is a good thing. Soluable fibre also helps to slow down the digestion of starch, which means it helps you to feel full longer. (Also a good thing!)
People who eat more oats are found to be less likely to develop heart disease. That can't be bad either! I'm all for that!
Now when you add all that to the fact that Oats are a good source of protein and full of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin E, zinc, selenium, copper, iron, manganese and magnesium . . . eating oats means you are on to a real winner healthwise!!
So the next time your mother tells you to eat more oats . . . give her this recipe and tell her to get baking! It's guaranteed to encourage you eat your oats every time. In fact . . . you will have a hard time keeping your fingers away . . .
*Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake*
Makes one 12 by 8 inch tray bake
A deliciously moist and scrummy oatmeal cake, filled with chocolate chips and then topped with more chocolate chips and toasted nuts.
100g (1 cup) quick cooking rolled oats
14 ounces ( 1 3/4 cups) boiling water
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
170g (1 cup) packed brown sugar
4 ounces (1/2 cup or 1 stick) of butter, cut up
2 large eggs
245g (1 3/4 cup) plain flour
1 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder (I use an extra TBS of flour as Todd does not like chocolate cakes)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
12 ounces (2 cups) semi sweet chocolate chips
100g (3/4 cup) chopped toasted walnuts
Place the oats in a large bowl. Pour the boiling water over them. Slice the butter onto the top. Let stand for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ Gas mark4 while you are waiting. Butter a 12 by 8 inch tray bake pan and line it with baking paper.
Add the sugar and brown sugar to the oats. Stir until the butter is melted. Stir in the eggs, baking soda, cocoa (if using) cinnamon, salt and flour. Mix well until combined. Fold in half of the choclate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remainder of the chocolate chips and the toasted walnuts ontop.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve.
Friday, 26 April 2013
It has been said that cupcakes are becoming very passe. What a fickle lot we are . . . I expect that the Macaron will be the next thing to go out of culinary fashion . . .
What cupcakes and macarons once were, the Whoopie Pie now is!! These little babies are taking the country by storm!
Coming from North America I am no stranger to the Whoopie Pie. I have been making the chocolate ones for years. They are a typically Amish treat originally used as a thrifty way to use up leftover cake batters. Quite ingenious I think, but then again . . . the Amish are well known for their thrift and ingenuity.
It is said that when the lucky husbands and children of these thrifty Amish housewives opened their lunch pails and spied these little treats inside, they would shout out with loud "Whoopie's!" Hence the name Whoopie Pie.
One thing I love about the British is that they are not afraid to embrace foods of different cultures and make them their own. You can find all sorts of designer whoopie pies showing up in the more up-to-date cafes and bakeries across the land.
This is my attempt to create a truly "British" Whoopie Pie. What could shout out England more than the good old Bakewell Tart! I spent almost all of today working on these and perfecting them. I am really pleased with the results.
These tasty little cakes have all the characteristics of a traditional Bakewell tart . . . an delicious cake batter, containing ground almonds . . . raspberry jam, the almond icing on top and the glace cherry. The only thing that is not traditional is that gorgeous whipped marshmallow filling . . . oh and there's no crust, but to be honest . . .
You won't miss it a bit!!!! I think I'm on the cutting edge of something really wonderful here. I think you will find these . . . very . . . very . . . very . . . moreish!
And that's NO lie! (I'm pretty proud of these. Can you tell??) A bit messy to eat for sure, but oh . . . so . . . scrummy!
*Bakewell Whoopie Pies*
Makes about 20
Delicious double almond cake/biscuits with a filling of seedless raspberry jam and lucious marshallow cream, drizzled with an almond drizzle icing and topped with flaked almonds and glace cherries. Oh my but these are some good. I believe if I opened my lunch bucket and found one of these, I'd be shouting "Whoopie" too! To make perfectly round whoopie pies use a piping bag with a wide piping nozzle.
75g unsalted butter, melted (5 TBS)
1 large free range egg
150g of caster sugar (3/4 cup)
125g sour cream (slightly more than 1/2 cup)
25ml of cold milk (about 3 TBS) Plus 1 TBS if needed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
275g plain flour (2 cups, less 1 TBS)
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g of ground almonds (1/2 cup)
For the marshmallow cream filling:
100g mini or regular marshmallows (18 large ones)
50ml of milk (1/8 cup)
125g of very soft unsalted butter (8 1/2 TBS)
about 4 heaped TBS of seedless raspberry jam, stirred to loosen
For the drizzle:
200g icing sugar, sifted (about 1 1/2 cups)
few drops of almond extract
10 glace cherries, halved
Preheat the oven to180*C/350*F/Gas mark4. LIne some large bakign trays with nonstick baking paper and set aside.
Whisk the egg with an electric hand whisk until light and fluffy. Continue to whisk adding the sugar a bit at a time until thick and glossy. Beat in the melted butter, sour cream, milk, vanilla and almond extracts. Sift the flour and baking soda together and then add this to the liquid mixture, beating it in until smooth. Fold in the almonds and if need be the additional TBS of milk. You want a fairly thick batter, not too runny. Spoon into a piping bag with a wide piping nozzle fitted.
Pipe walnut sized balls onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 1/2 inches between each. (Alternately you can spoon walnut sized blobs onto the sheets) This will take a few batches of baking so don't worry if they don't all fit on the trays at once.
Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, until slightly browned and crisp around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat with remaining batter until it is gone.
To make the marshmallow cream, place the marshmallows and milk in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, over low heat, until the marshmallows have melted and completely amalgamated with the milk Remove from the heat and cool. Add the butter and beat together until smooth and light.
To assemble, sandwich two cookie/cakes together with a layer of raspberry jam on the bottom, topped with a dollop of marshallow cream. Place the sandwiched whoopie pies onto a baking rack. Whisk together the icing sugar, a few drops of almond extract and enough cold water to make a runny drizzle. You don't want it too runny or too thick. Just add it a bit at a time until you get the proper consistency. Drizzle this over the whoopie pies, topping each with 1/2 of a cherry and some flaked almonds before it sets. Allow to set before serving.
These will keep for several hours once filled and iced. Best eaten on the day they are baked! (Not a problem I'd say!!)
I can remember my mother telling me when I was a child that fish was brain food. It wasn't something we had very often actually, although on a rare occasion my mother would buy a frozen block of haddock.
She would carefully cut it into 5 small pieces and each would be drenched in some flour, seasoned with some salt and pepper and then fried in butter, until it was crisp and golden brown all over.
Oh, but that was some good. A rare treat. I can remember thinking to myself that when I got older I would buy big pieces of fish and eat as much of it as I wanted.
We only ever very rarely got to eat out in a restaurant. To eat in a restaurant was another rare treat. We always chose fish and chips and it was so delicious . . . flakey fish in a crisp and tasty batter, crisp chips, salt, a lemon wedge and some coleslaw on the side. It was some good.
When I got into my teens, I developed a tasty recipe for haddock, which consisted of a block of the frozen fish, topped with a tin of tomatoes, some chopped green pepper, onions, salt, pepper and oregano and then baked. Oh, but the family loved this, and still do. Simple and plain and good.
I think fish is so very good, and so very good for you. I don't think we eat nearly enough of it. It can be very pricey, and so remains a rare treat for Todd and myself. As delicious as it is, it deserves to be cooked in a special way which enhances and brings out it's very best.
I believe this recipe does just that. Simple ingredients, simple cooking. There are a few different flavours here . . . the tang of a moreish artichoke pesto, the saltiness of tinly sliced panchetta . . . the mild sweetness of a delicious thick piece of cod . . . delicious enough to serve to even your most discerning of guests.
*Roasted Cod with Pancetta and Artichoke Pesto*
Mild and moist roasted Cod stuffed with a delicious artichoke pesto and wrapped in salty pancetta. Delicious! The recipe makes a lot more artichoke pesto than you will need, but it is delicious on pasta, or bruschetta, and also freezes fairly well.
For the Pesto:
1 (415g) tin of artichoke hearts, drained (14 ounce)
4 ounces of olive oil (1/2 cup)
150g of roasted shelled pistachio nuts (1 1/3 cups)
the juice of one lemon
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled
a large handful of fresh parsley, minced
2 ounces grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
For the dish:
2 300g pieces of chunky, fresh Icelandic Cod loins (about 11 ounces)
2 TBS of the artichoke pesto
4 slices of pancetta
4 large sage leaves
2 tsp olive oil
the juice of one lemon
paprika, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
First make the pesto by putting the artichokes, pistachios, parsley and garlic into a food processor and blitzing until you have a coarse paste. Squeeze in the lemon juice and then add the olive oil, while the motor is running, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. You want a somewhat textured paste. Don't over process. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the parmesan cheese.
Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F.
Take your Cod loins and make a cut along them horizontally almost all the way through so that you can open them up like a book. Open them up and spread 1 TBS of the pesto inside each of them. Cover with the top flap. Lay two sage leaves on top of each and wrap each in two slices of the pancetta, making sure that they overlap on the bottom. Place with the pancetta overlapped side down into a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and some paprika.
Roast for 15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove from the oven. Divide each portion in half to serve. We like to have this with some boiled new potatoes and a steamed vegetable.
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
We had such a beautifully gorgeous day here yesterday. The sun shone all day long into the night and the temperature was wonderfully warm. I even shaved my legs in preparation for summer. (I know . . .TMI!)
Seriously though, it was fabulous. After the long, cold and hard winter that we have just had in the UK, it was so wonderful to be able to finally bask in some warmth and sunshine.
Ahhh . . . England in the springtime. There is no more beautiful place on earth, with the birds singing and mowers mowing . . . and the smell of barbeques wafting through the air. Don't you just love that smell . . .
Hmmm . . . that reminds me. We got rid of our old barbeque when we moved up here as it was too old and decrepit to move and we have not replaced it yet. Time for me to kick the old grump into action and get him to open his purse for a new one! (Barbeque that is.)
Anyways, I digress. It was the perfect day yesterday for a lovely summery type of salad. I had some courgettes that I needed to use up and the tomatoes in the tomato bowl needed using up as well. (Tip here . . . always keep your tomatoes out of the fridge in a bowl on the counter top. They ripen up really nicely after a couple of days and taste soooooo much better!) With a bit of a clearout in the fridge and a tin of butterbeans, I ended up with a delicious salad that was not only filling, but also quite healthy!! Buttered toast went very well with it, but a good and hearty crusty loaf would have been fabulous!
You know . . . to mop up all those lovely salad juices. It went down a real treat nonetheless!
*Butterbean and Fresh Tomato Salad*
Serves 6 to 8
Healthy food for a change . . . although I did serve it with well buttered toast!
420g (14 ounce) tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed
500g (1 pound 2 ounce) cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 small green courgettes (if you have yellow they make a great colour contrast
and work fine as well, or use a mixture of both!)
4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
a large handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
3 TBS olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Tip all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix together well. Cover and leave at room temperature until ready to serve. You can make this the day before and it will taste even better. Just be sure to bring it to room temperature and give it a good stir before serving.
Sunday, 21 April 2013
Lemons are something that I always have in my larder . . . a bit bowl filled with them. They are pretty to look at, smell fabulous and I always have a use for them . . . be it the juice or the zest . . . in something savoury, or sweet. They are one of my top ingredients.
Another thing I always have hanging about is chocolate . . . good quality dark chocolate, in large slabs, with at least 70% cocoa solids and also a good quality milk chocolate. My favourite is Green & Blacks Milk Chocolate as although it is milk chocolate it has a dark quality and rich flavour to it. It's not overly sweet. I don't like it when my chocolate is overly, sickenly . . . sweet.
You might be surprised to know that lemon and chocolate are two flavours that go very well together . . . seriously! Fruits that are tart and sour really balance out the sweet qualities of chocolate, and in particular, delicious loaves and cakes . . . where there is just a hint of lemon and a hint of chocolate. Together they are a sublimely delicious combination.
Never more so than in this deliciously moist loaf cake . . . with it's buttery moist batter, enriched with the light tang of plain yogurt and subtle flavour of fresh lemon zest . . . and lucious little bits of creamy chocolate . . .
Glazed while still hot with a tasty mixture of sugar, lemon juice and orange liqueur, giving the outside of the loaf a slight crunch. There is the option of adding toasted walnuts along with the chocolate, which I normally do add . . . but today alas . . . my cupboard was completely bare of the little dears . . .
This is very good . . . scrummily good . . . moreishly good. Rich and moist. Tangy and sweet. Crunchy and soft.
A little bit of heaven right from the first slice, down to the last bite!
This is a winner . . . pure and simple.
*Lemon Chocolate Chip Cake*
Makes one 9 by 5 inch loaf cake
Wrapped well in foil, and stored in a cool place, this delicious cake keeps for about 3 weeks, not that I've ever had it around that long.
4 ounces butter, room temperature (1/2 cup)
7 ounces caster sugar (1 cup fine granulated)
3 large free range eggs
the finely grated zest of one unwaxed lemon
8 1/2 ounces flour (2 cups)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
250ml of plain yoghurt (1 cup)
6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped into bits (1 cup)
2.25 ounces chopped toasted walnuts (1/2 cup) (Optional)
3 1/2 ounces caster sugar
the juice of 1/2 lemon
2 TBS orange liqueur
(Can use the juice of one whole lemon and leave out the liqueur)
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/gas mark 5. Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf tin. Line with baking paper, leaving an overhang for ease of removal. Butter again. Set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour into a bowl. Remove 2 TBS and add to the chocolate chips and nuts if using. Whisk the remaining flour together with the lemon zest, soda, baking powder and salt. Add at once to the creamed mixture along with the yoghurt. Beat on high speed for several minutes. Fold in the chocolate and nut mixture. Spread into the prepared pan, leveling the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until well risen and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes while you make the topping.
Place all the topping ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour this slowly over the hot cake, allowing it to soak in. Lift out and allow to cool completely before cutting into slices to serve.
When I was going through my pictures I found a little glimpse of this "wee one" of ours peering on in adoration of the lemon and chocolate. I just could not resist showing you. Sadly this cake, because of the chocolate, is one that she must resist as much as it would charm and entice her . . . quite depressingly out of bounds!
Saturday, 20 April 2013
Can a muffin ever be a cupcake? Can a cupcake ever be a muffin?? Hmmm . . . food for thought here.
When does a muffin cross over into cupcake territory . . . and when does a cupcake cross back into being a muffin????
What if the two merge together . . . into some kind of cross breed?? Does it then become a muffcake???
This inquiring mind wants to know.
Plenty of for thought here. What do you think?
In my quest to bake treats for Todd that are not over the top filled with fat . . . in an attempt to get his cholesterol down, I baked some banana muffins today.
When you bake with bananas, you can turn out scrumptiously moist cakes and muffins without having to use a lot of fat. In this case I added some additional crunch and flavours in the way of crushed dried banana chips, chocolate chips and toasted pecans and lemon zest . . .
Did you know that if you rub the sugar you are using in a recipe together with the lemon zest you end up with a gloriously fragrant sugar that smells good enough to eat all on it's own?? I know!! Just a little tip I learned from my good friend Dorie. She's an expert baker and she knows lots of handy hints and tips to make your scrummy home-baked goods taste even scrummier!
In any case, these are fabulous . . . scrummily moreish even . . .
In fact . . . since they are so low in fat . . . you could probably eat two without any guilt at all . . . ahem . . . Why not treat yourself and bake some muffcakes today!
*Fully Loaded Banana Chip Muffins*
Deliciously moist, low in fat and filled with the added crunch and textures of crushed banana chips, white chocolate chips and toasted pecans.
3 ounces dried banana chips
(approximately 1 cup)
5 ounces self rising flour
2 tsp baking powder
the finely grated zest and the juice of one lemon
(I use my microplane)
4 TBS light muscovado sugar (can use soft light brown sugar) packed
5 TBS milk
1 large egg, beaten
2 fluid ounces of sunflower oil
3 over ripe bananas
50g white chocolate chunks
50g chopped toasted pecans
For the Drizzle topping:
4 TBS sifted icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/Gas mark 6. Lightly grease or line a muffin tin with deep paper cases.
Place the muscovado sugar in a bowl. Add the lemon zest and rub together until very fragrant. Break 3/4 of the banana chips into small bits. Reserve the rest to top the muffins at a later time.
Sift the flour and baking powder together in a large bowl. Stir in the lemon infused muscovado sugar, broken banana chips, chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Whisk together the 1 Tablespoon of the lemon juice, the milk, egg and oil. Add the bananas, and mash together well. Fold this into the dry ingredients, only stirring it in until the dry ingredients are evenly moist and no dry bits remain. Divide equally amongst the prepared muffin cases, filling not quite to the top.
Bake for 20 minutes, until risen and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven. Let sit in the pan for a few minutes before scooping out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely.
Once cooled, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in enough of the remaining lemon juice to make a smooth drizzable paste. Drizzle this over the muffins with a spoon. Top each with a whole banana chip.
Psst!! Know what would make these even better??? If you chopped up some glace cherries and added them in with the nuts and choco chips!!