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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A classic panna cotta

I made this on a Sunday for my Grandfather (also know as Elvis) and my Grandmother Di, who I do not see as often as I would like! I wanted to make something to impressive and fun, this was definitely it! Any questions please ask me, it was very simple to make, easy and fun!


For 8 people
For the panna cotta:
  • 6 gelatine leaves
  • 500ml milk
  • 500ml double cream
  • 2 vanilla pod, split lengthways, seeds scraped out
  • 50g sugar
For the sauce:
  • 225g sugar
  • 350ml water
  • 600g raspberries


  1. For the panna cotta, soak the gelatine leaves in a little cold water until soft.
  2. Place the milk, cream, vanilla pod and seeds and sugar into a pan and bring to a simmer. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.
  3. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves, then add to the pan and take off the heat. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved (this will be done quite quickly but if your not sure have a hunt with a fork!).
  4. Divide into 8 ramekins and leave to cool. Place into the fridge for at least an 3 hours, until set (depending on size).
  5. For the sauce, place the sugar and water into a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Take the pan off the heat and add half the raspberries. Using a hand blender, blend the sauce until smooth (do this over the sink as it can get rather messy - as my boyfriend would tell you who had to tidy up the mess).
  7. Pass the sauce through a sieve into a bowl and stir in the remaining fruit (This is a definite must for the dinner party look).
  8. To serve, turn each panna cotta out onto a serving plate, if the wont come out hold the bases in hot water for a few seconds), and then spoon over the sauce...yum.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Birthday Chocolate Cake


For the cake
  • 225g/8oz plain flour
  • 350g/12½oz caster sugar
  • 85g/3oz cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 250ml/9fl oz milk
  • 125ml/4½fl oz vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250ml/9fl oz boiling water
For the chocolate icing
  • 200g/7oz plain chocolate 
  • 200ml/7fl oz double cream

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm/8in sandwich tins.

  2. For the cake, place all of the cake ingredients, except the boiling water, into a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, or electric whisk, beat the mixture until smooth and well combined.
  3. Add the boiling water to the mixture, a little at a time, until smooth. (The cake mixture will now be very liquid.)

  4. Divide the cake batter between the sandwich tins and bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes, or until the top is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely, still in their tins, before icing.
  6. For the chocolate icing, heat the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over a low heat until the chocolate melts. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk the mixture until smooth, glossy and thickened. Set aside to cool for 1-2 hours, or until thick enough to spread over the cake.
  7. To assemble the cake, run a round-bladed knife around the inside of the cake tins to loosen the cakes. Carefully remove the cakes from the tins.

  8. Spread a little chocolate icing over the top of one of the chocolate cakes, then carefully top with the other cake.
  9. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and ice the cake all over with the chocolate icing, using a palette knife.

    Recipe from the BBC website

Sunday, 9 October 2011

How to make chilli and herb infused oils

This christmas I have decided to make some tasty treats for my family and friends. A great gift for any one who cooks (or eats) is infused oils, easy to make and they look great too! Below are my recipes for chilli and basil infused oils.

Chilli Oil

  • 100g red chillies
  • Extra green and read whole chillies for decoration
  • 1 Litre groundnut oil
  • 2 tbsp paprika

  1. Remove the stalks from the chillies and chop them (I kept them quite big as you have to strain them out of the oil after and this made it a bit easier). Add the chillies to a large pan and add the oil.

2. Heat the oil gently until it nearly reaches 120 oC, then simmer for 15 mins (don't let it get any hotter I would definitely recommend getting a cooking thermometer for this!).

3. Remove from the heat, cool slightly and stir in the paprika. Leave to cool completely, then strain with a sift.

4. Sterilise some bottles (the best say to do this is put them on a really hot wash in the dish washer) and fill them with the whole chillies and top up with oil. You can use these straight away for cooking, in soups and salads or just dip some crusty bread in it!

Basil Oil

  • 1 Litre Light Olive Oil
  • 150g Basil

1. Heat the oil gently in a pan until it reaches 40 oc (you will need a cooking thermometer for this!).

2. Lightly bruise the basil and put it into warm sterilised bottles (the best say to do this is put them on a really hot wash in the dish washer). Pour in the warm oil and then seal. This oil will be ready in 3-4 weeks, use within 3-4 months after this the bails will become slimy.

You could also try these oils with rosemary, coriander or thyme with lemon.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Fluffy Fairy Cakes

This recipes is so easy and makes great cakes every time, they look so pretty with the strawberry jam too!

 You will need:

For the cakes
·         150g Softened Butter
·         150 g Granulated Sugar
·         3 Beaten Eggs
·         150g Self-Raising Flour
·         1tsp Vanilla Extract
·         1tbsp Milk

For the decoration
·         50g Softened Butter
·         75g Icing Sugar
·         2tbsp Strawberry Jam
·         Icing Sugar, for dusting

Makes 12 cakes J

1.      Preheat the oven to 180c / 160c fan assisted / gas mark 4.
2.      Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
3.      Gradually mix in the egg, alternating with the sifted flour, then add the milk and the vanilla extract.
4.      Divide into 12 cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and springy. Then transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool.
5.      Mix together the butter and the icing sugar for the butter cream filling, beat until smooth.
6.      Slice the tops off each cake and fill them with the butter cream. Cut each sliced top in half and arrange on the top of the filling to resemble butterfly wings, then spoon a line of strawberry jam in between the wings for the body. Lightly dust in icing sugar and your done!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Heston's Chilli Con Carne With Spiced Butter

This definitely makes the best chilli ever! I love chilli and this has made me like it even more! You can substitute the fragata pimiento peppers for chopped green pepper if you wish, it gives the chilli a really fresh taste. Also if you’re not keen on star anise you can use some cinnamon bark/cinnamon stick instead. This makes a spicy (but not too hot) chilli, make the spiced butter it really makes it special. This recipes states it serves 4 but I can normally get dinner for 4 and a few lunches out of it too! I like to serve this with soured cream, guacamole, lettuce, lime wedges, rice and taco shells.

  • For the chilli:
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 450g Minced beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 green chilli without the seeds and chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • Half a bottle red wine (37.5cl)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 400g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 230g jar Fragata Pimiento Piquillo peppers, drained and roughly chopped
  • For the spiced butter:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp tomato ketchup
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp Marmite
  • 125g butter softened
  1. Start by making the spiced butter. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the cumin and chilli powder for approximately 1½ minutes. Pour into a bowl and add the rest of the spiced butter ingredients; mix together and once cool, place in the fridge until needed.
  2. Add 3 tbsp olive oil to a large sauce pan and heat over a high heat until smoking hot. Add the mince, in batches if necessary, and cook until evenly browned. Remove and drain the meat. Add a little water to the same pan to deglaze it and tip the water and bits in with the drained meat so none of the flavour is lost.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium and add the remaining olive oil. Add the onions and star anise and cook until the onions begin to colour, then add the garlic and green chilli and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato purée, stir and cook for another 5 minutes until everything turns a brick red colour. Add the browned mince and juices, pour in the red wine and allow to reduce by two-thirds. Add the tomatoes and stock and simmer over a low heat for at least 1 hour or until it has reduced to a thick sauce consistency.
  5. Fold the beans and chopped red peppers into the chilli and simmer until they are heated through. Stir in 2½ tbsp of the spiced butter for mild-medium heat (or more if you like it hotter). Remove the star anise. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and serve with rice.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Really Good Shortbread Recipe

We all think our grandmothers are the best at baking.... but my grandmother actually is the BEST baker around, she makes the most amazing quichestarts, biscuits and of course, cakes.  This is our family recipe, and of course it is  in pounds as she's been baking before metric came in! 
This is very easy to follow and I am sure you can all do it... Good luck if you give it a go! 

·         6oz  plain flour
·         4oz softened butter
·         2oz caster sugar
·         Add all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix. Don’t worry at first it will look very crumbly but take it out of the bowl knead it on a floured surface, soon it will look like a dough like consistency.
·         Next, flour your work surface to ensure the shortbread won’t stick. Then roll out the dough to ½” – ¾” thick.
·         Then cut it into desired shapes and place on a greased baking tray.
·         Bake for 15-20 mins at 150 until golden brown.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Amazing Tart Tatin Recipe

I made this for my Dad for his birthday pudding, there was no morsel left after my parents and 3 sisters saw it. It sounds like it might be complicated but it’s very simple and quick to make.

Serves 6 people

• 500g pack of readymade puff pastry
• 5 apples (I use eating apples)
• 100g golden caster sugar
• A vanilla pod or star anise for extra flavour
• 50g butter
Optional a good splash of calvados/brandy instead of water!

First peel, core and slice the apples. I like to put them into a bowl of water with a splash of lemon juice to ensure they don’t go brown.
In a heavy bottomed frying pan (one with a metal handle so it can go into the oven) on a medium heat add the sugar, water and inside of the vanilla pod or the whole star anise. Let the sugar dissolve and wait for the caramel to turn a nutty brown colour, this can take 10-15 mins. Then add the apples and let them soften and coat them in the caramel.
Meanwhile roll out the whole block of puff pastry so it is slightly bigger than the frying pan. Add the cubed butter to the apple and caramel, then place over the puff pastry and tuck in around the sides (like tucking someone into bed!). BE CAREFUL NOT TO TOUCH THE CARAMEL IT WILL BE VERY HOT!
Put the frying pan into a pre heated oven of 190˚C and bake for 25-30 mins or until the pastry is golden brown. Carefully turn the tart upside down on a plate (so you can see that apples) and serve with cream, ice cream, custard, or crème fresh.

There are many variations of this recipe buy using pears or other fruit and different spices, so go on and experiment!