Monday, 29 October 2012

Marshmellow cupcakes.

I purchased two bags of mini marshmallows for 50p a packet from Aldi a few months ago and was set to make some Weight Watchers Rocky roads, but never actually got round to making this. I have been trying to practise my cupcake making skills and thought a marshmallow cupcake would give me another perfect opportunity to use my marshmallows and practise my cupcake decorating skills.
Despite having over 50 cookbooks, I haven't got a recipe specifically for marshmallows cupcakes, so had to use my own initiative I simply followed a recipe for a Victoria Sandwich cake from The Great British Baking book, but I melted 50g marshmallow's in the microwave and Incorporated this into the cake mixture. I think next time I will simply place 3 mini marshmallows in the mixture as working with melted marshmallow's was quite difficult as it was very sticky.
Here is how my marshmallows cupcakes turned out:
marshmallow cupcakes

I made these cakes for a church social, and they went down a treat.
marshmallow cupcakes in box

I first started by creaming the butter, then the sugar, eggs, self-raising flour and vanilla flavouring together.
Victoria sponge mixture

I then melted 50g marshmallows in the microwave for 30 seconds.
Melted marshmallows
I mixed the marshmallows in the cake mixture and put into the cupcake cases.
Cupcakes pre bake
After 20 minutes they were bakes, although the did look a bit odd. But not to worry, a thick layer of pink butter cream would cover up any imperfections.
Baked cupcakes
I usually stick to my favourite butter cream recipe, also from The Great British Book of Baking and I'm sure you have your favourite butter cream recipe that could be used.

Recipe for marshmallow cupcakes.
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 medium free-range eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla flavouring
175g self-raising flour
1 tablespoon milk, at room temperature.

For the Bertram
125g unsalted butter
400g icing sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
pink food colouring
around 48 mini marshmallows

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Put the softened butter and sugar into a bowl and beat with an electric whisk or mixer, or wooden spoon, until very light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time with a rubber spatula.
Beat the eggs and vanilla with a fork until well mixed, then gradually add to the butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour on to the mixture, add the milk and carefully fold in with a large metal spoon.
Divide the mixture into 12 cupcake cases and spread evenly. Bake in the heated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the cupcakes are a light golden brown and spring back when gently pressed. Leave to cool.

For the butter cream
Put the soft butter into a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon, or an electric whisk or mixer until very creamy in colour and texture. Stir the icing sugar into a bowl. Ad the milk and the vanilla until very smooth and thick. Add the pink food colouring and combine.
The icing can be spooned into a piping bag fitted with a star tube an piped in swirls or rosettes. Place the mini marshmallows on top and sprinkle with pink glitter.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Sloppy Joe

Does anyone remember Sister Sister, the teenage sitcom that used to appear on Nickelodeon? I do, it was one of my favourite teenage sitcoms and I particularly remember it for the twins (Tia and Tamera) slating their school dinners of Sloppy Joe's. I briefly remember this meat dish served up as "slop" but was always intrigued as to why such a lunch time meal could be featured throughout a sitcom and have such a negative portrayal.
Well, fast forward 12 years, and with my discovery of cookbooks I have pencilled the recipe given in Nigella's kitchen for barbecued beef mince, which she describes as "a meat sauce sandwiched inside a soft white roll to make a Sloppy Jose or Joe". This recipe was described as a delicious meaty snack nothing like my perceptions having watched Sister Sister. When I made this, it was not planned, I was hungry, had some mince and just fancied this for lunch one day. I did not follow the recipe exactly as it would take 45 minutes to make and I could not wait more than 20 minutes, so I omitted the suggested vegetables.
Here is how my Sloppy Joe turned out:
Sloppy Joe
I spooned the mince mixture and had a squirt of sour cream which went perfectly with the sloppy Joe. 
I usually season my mince for at least 2 hours but due to this being an unplanned meal I seasoned the mince in the packet and then cooked on the stove and added each ingredient.
Seasoned mince in packet

Mince mixture cooking.

Ingredients - Serves 4-8 - but easily halved or quartered - (I halved the mixture and got 4 sloppy Joe)
1 thick celery, cut into chunks (I omitted this ingredient)
3 cloves garlic, peeled       ( I used 1 clove garlic)
2 onions, peeled and halved (I used 1 onion)
150g rindless smoked streaky bacon (I omitted this)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (I omitted this)
2 X 15ml tablespoons vegetable oil
1 X 15ml tablespoon dark brown sugar
pinch ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
500g beef mince.

To make up in a jug
1 X 400g can chopped tomatoes- plus full can water (I used half a can of water)
3 x 15ml tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (I used 2 tablespoons)
3 X 15ml Bourbon
2 X 15ml tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 X 15ml tablespoons tomato puree

To serve soft white rolls

To start the sauce, put the celery, garlic, onions, bacon and carrots in a food processor/
Heat the oil in a heavy-based bottom pan or cast-iron casserole (with a lid) and add the processed ingredients. Cook for 15-20 minutes, over a gentle heat, stirring every now and again, until soft/
While the vegetables are cooking, mix together the liquid ingredients (and the 2 tablespoons brown sugar) in a jug.
Then stir 1 tablespoon brown sugar along the cloves and allspice into the vegetable pan/ now add the mince, breaking it up with a wooden fork as you mix it into the pan of softened, spiced vegetables, stirring until the meat begins to lose its raw colour.
Pour in the jug of liquid ingredients and stir gently into the meat. Put on the lid and turn down the heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes.
Split the rolls and place the mince.

Absolutely delicious.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Low fat and (almost) gluten free carrot cake.

I'm doing well keeping off my weight loss, well done me! I want to keep it that way, but there is a slight problem, the majority of my baking books are laden with recipes that call for butter, which from my own calculations is 600 calories per 100 grams. So, a 220g Victoria sponge would have over 1200 calories just from butter, let alone any other ingredient! That's a lot of calories in a cake, we all know that, but before Christmas I would like to lose a few pounds or two so the majority of my future bakes will be from Harry Eastwood Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache baking book. Now Harry has done a wonderful thing here, using vegetables such as carrot, courgettes and beetroots and use them instead of calorific butter and oil.
The recipes in the book are laid out according to colour and cakes are called unusual names and a story given to each cake e.g "chocolate heartache cake or coffee and walnut courage cake" but if you get past the faffiness then this book is a sure winner. It does take some getting used to, and I had to buy a food processor to ensure I could blend my beetroot for chocolate beetroot brownies properly but everything is low fat.
The cake and recipe I share with you is carrot cake, which Harry describes as "the great aunt of all the cakes in this book" t uses no oil and instead the ingredients are: rice flour, pecans, orange juice, carrots, sultanas, brown sugar and so you can have a couple of slices without feeling too guilty.
For the gluten free element the cake stipulates to 150g white rice flour. I have used all rice flour before in one of the LA cupcakes from this book but was unconvinced as it left a nutty texture that was not . So now when I bake from this book I use 1/4 rice flour and the rest self raising flour.
Here is how my low fat carrot cake turned out, which is only 350 calories per slice:
Carrot cake
I think considering it is low fat the cake turned out and tasted really well.

Slice of carrot cake

I did not follow the method for cake step-by-step as I was quite pushed for time. I first started by soaking the sultanas with orange juice..... but thought I'd grater the carrots as well (I never had the patience to grater finely).
sultanas, orange juice and carrots

I then decided to omit the suggested pecans, which would have to be toasted in the oven and instead used walnuts.

I then whisked the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes and then added the grated carrots and sultanas.
Egg and sugar mixture
Finally, I mixed the rice and self-raising flour, ground almonds, cinnamon and baking powder together and combined with the other ingredients using a whisk.
Ground almond mixture
Carrot cake mixture
I divided the mixture between two tins and left to cook for 1 hour.
Carrot cakes in tins
After an hour I left the mixture to cool and made the butter icing.
Carrot cakes baked

The recipe suggests the use of a cream-cheese frosting, but as I had no cream cheese I replaced the cream cheese with butter and made a butter icing (my favourite).
For 350 calories a slice, this recipe will be made time and time again.

Ingredients - my adaptations are in red.
1 orange (I used orange juice)
150g sultans
80g pecans, roughly chopped (I used walnuts)
3 medium eggs
160g light muscovado sugar
280g scrubbed and finely grated carrot
150g white rice flour (I used 45 g white rice flour, 105g self-raising flour)
80g ground almonds
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing
35g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
200g icing sugar
2 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
35g cream cheese

You will need
two 18cm - diameter x 5cm- deep - loose bottomed tins.

1) Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3 and grease the bottom and sides of the tin. Cut two circles of baking parchment and the same size as the base of tins and use them to line the bases. Grease again.
2) Finely grate the zest of the orange on to a plate and set it aside, then squeeze the orange and soak the sultans in the juice whilst you make up the rest of the recipe.
3) Toast the pecans in the oven whilst you get the rest of the ingredients ready. They shouldn't have time to burn, but set a timer for 10 minutes. Or just use whatever nuts you fancy a la moi and don't bother to toast in the oven!
4) Whisk the eggs and sugar for a full 5 minutes until pale coffee coloured. Add the grated and orange zest before beating again briefly to incorporate.
5) Finally, mix the flour, ground almonds, cinnamon, baking powder, vanilla extract and salt together with the help of the whisk untill all the ingredients are combined.
6) Add the sultanas, along with any orange juice left in the bowl and toasted pecans. Mix with a spatula until they are dotted around.
7) Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins. Place them in the middle of the oven for 1 hour.
8) Remove the cakes from the oven, unmould, turn out  on to wire rack and leave to cool completely, otherwise the icing will run off.
9) To make the cream-cheese icing, whisk the butter for a minute until light and softened. Next, add 100g of the icing sugar to the butter and whisk to a fine breadcrumb consistency. Add the lime juice and whisk again to a paste
10) When you reach this stage, add the cream cheese and the zest of the lime, as well as the remaining icing sugar. Beat by hand with a wooden spoon to combine. Refrigerate for 15 minutes before icing the cold cake.

I am entering this to Made with Love Mondays hosted by Javelin Warrior. This is a blogging challenge that uses no transfat, perservatives and food dyes Take a look at the fabulous fresh food entries. Yum x


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Lorraine Pascale's Quiche Lorraine minus the "twist"

I love quiche lorraine. It was the first tart I ever made, and I probably make quiche lorraine more than any other pie or tart. For the last ten years I followed my nan's Successful Baking cards but I wanted to see whether a new recipe could enhance my loved quiche lorraine. I turned to Lorraine Pascale's Baking Made Easy as she has a recipe for "creme fraiche quiche lorraine". Now I'm not French but I don't think quiche lorraine with creme fraiche is very authentic so I adhered to my staple of double cream. I followed the recipe to the latter but removed the "twist" on a French classic.
Here is how my quiche lorraine turned out:

I would have taken a picture of the slices but I was bringing this to my church anniversary service and wanted to present the quiche whole, uncut.
I first started by making the pastry. Once the flour, salt, butter and water was combined I kneaded into ball and chilled for 30 minutes. I then rolled out the pastry and placed in my flan dish.
Pastry case before being blond baked.

I then blind baked for 20 minutes before adding the filling.

Overall a nice quiche lorraine and as good as my staple recipe. If I were to make this quiche again I would have to reduce the recommended 5 rashes of bacon and use 4 as the dish was a bit too salty for my liking, although my family disagreed.
Recipe for quiche lorraine from Lorraine Pascale's Baking Made Easy.
For the pastry
220g plain flour
125g cold butter, cubed
2 egg yolks
large pinch of salt
1-4 tablespoons water, if needed.

Put the flour and butter in a food processor and blitz to breadcrumbs. If using your hands, rub the butter and flour together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs/ Add the egg yolks and a pinch of salt and stir together with a knife.
Squidge the mixture together into a ball, pop it in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove it from the fridge and let it warm up a ;little (if using straight from the fridge). Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board and use as required.

For the filling
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced.
5 rashers of streaky bacon
430g creme fraiche (I used 200g double cream)
4 eggs, lightly beaten.
Freshly ground pepper.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190C/375F
Blind bake the pastry for 20 minutes. Remove the baking beans and paper from the pastry case, then return to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the oven down to gas mark 2/150C/300F
The filling can be prepared while the pastry is baking. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a low heat, add the onion and fry until soft and translucent with no colour. This can take a good 15 minutes.
Remove the onion from the pan and set aside. Add the bacon to the pan, turn up the heat slightly and cook for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and add half of the bacon to the base of the flan dish.
Place the flan dish on a flat baking tray.
Whisk the creme fraiche (or double cream) and add the eggs together gently in a large bowl, then season with pepper. Stir in the onions. Pour the mixture into the flan dish all the way to the top. Sprinkle the remaining bacon on top of the quiche and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the filling no longer wobbles.
Good to eat hot but best eaten cold giving the mixture a chance to settle.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Cherry Bakewell cupcakes

I, like so many am a big fan of the Great British Bake Off series, and am in awe with the wonderful bakes. I was slightly surprised with this year's winner John, as  though Brendan would have gone all the way, but everything really can come down to your last bake.
I have refrained from buying the latest edition of the Great British Bake Off "Showstoppers" as I have only baked around 20 recipes from the second GBBO book and probably around 7 recipes from the first Great British Bake Off entitled "The Great British Book of Baking".  I have a habit of buying a new cook/baking book and bookmarking several recipes, bake a few and then buy another book. But, I have decided to put a stop to this (for the rest of the year) and return to an old favourite the second book from the Great British Bake Off.
Although series 3 have come to an end, who can forget the lovely Jo, Holly, Mary-Ann, Jason and Uvashi? I certainly do, and the recipe that I baked for my church anniversary service came from the lovely Holly Bell who was a finalist last year. If you love bakewell tart, you will love this cupcake - a sponge batter with the compulsory ground almonds and topped with butter icing with almond flavouring and glaced cherries. I felt it was the perfect showstopper cupcake and not only was it one of the easiest bakes I have made thanks to my free standing mixture, the cupcake tasted delicious. I made 20 of these cute cupcakes, they were gone in ten minutes.
Here is how my cherry bakewell cupcakes turned out:

Cherry bakewell cupcakes close up

Inside my cherry bakewell cupcake
This cupcake mixture is an all one in method. You just place the butter with an electric mixture until creamy and add all the ingredients, except for the jam and combine.
Cherry bakewell cupcake mixture
I placed the mixture into cupcake cases and baked for 20 minutes.
Cupcakes pre baking
I like my cupcakes to look slightly golden, and after they were baked I left to cool completely.
Cherry bakewell baked.
I then combined the ingredients to make a butter icing. The recipe given in the book is for a glace icing, but I thought a butter icing with glaced cherries and cupcake toppers would have more of an wow factor.
Recipe for cherry bakewell cupcakes (to make 12)
150g unsalted butter, very soft
150g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
60g ground almonds
1 tablespoon of milk
4 tablespoons raspberry jam

For the icing (I used a butter icing, but this is the recipe for the icing in the book)/
250g icing sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
12 glace cherries

1 x 12 - hole muffin tray

Preheat the oven to 190c/375F/gas mark 5. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add all the other ingredients for the cupcakes, except the jam, and beat until light and creamy.
Spoon the mixture into the cup-cake cases, dividing it evenly. Level the mixture in each case using your finger tip. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and firm t the touch,  and a skewer inserted into the centre of a cup cake comes out clean. Remove each cupcake from their tray and place on a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.
To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a mixing bowl and work in the strained lemon juice to make a thick, but spoonable and runny icing. Set aside.
Using an apple corer, remove the centre from each cup cake, cutting only two-thirds of the way down. Stir the jam with a teaspoon until it is a little runny, then carefully spoon into the holes in the cup cakes until the jam just reaches the top.
Beat the icing using a teaspoon, then spoon it over the top of each cupcake to flood the surface until the icing reaches the sides of the paper case. Take care that the jam doesn't become mixed into the icing. Add a cherry to the middle immediately and leave to set.

Cherry bakewell cupcakes

Friday, 19 October 2012

Levi Root's Sticky ginger and Guinness cake with ginger fudge icing.

It was my grandad's birthday a few days ago so what better way to say happy birthday then making a   cake. Now, I wanted to make something that would remind my grandad of Jamaica, as he was born there, but with a modern twist. My "modern twist" to a Jamaican cake is lavishing the cake with butter icing, my favourite! Jamaica is known for it's ginger cake, so I thought making a ginger cake would be the perfect cake to make. I, of course, went to my two Caribbean books "Levi Root's Caribbean Food Made Easy and Reggae Reggae cookbook". Only Caribbean Food Made Easy had a recipe for ginger cake "sticky ginger cake with lime icing", but with no picture. Now I know what a ginger cake looks like, I'm sure everyone does, but I wanted a picture for some inspiration, at least for the icing. So, I had a flick through my BBC Cakes and Bakes and found a lovely picture for ginger fudge icing.
I also know my grandad likes Guinness so I researched online to see whether I could combine the ginger and Guinness ....... and of course I can!. I found this recipe as inspiration which had  a combination of the ginger and Guinness and I though this must work. I am not one for recipe building or testing, I usually just follow the recipe to the latter. I used my internet research as inspiration and added 250ml of guinness to my ginger cake.
Here is how my cake turned out:
Ginger and Guinness cake

Guinness and ginger cake
Slice of ginger cake
This is a really simple cake, which has a spicy twang. You can really taste the flavours of the ginger and the Guinness and I think the Guinness beautifully complements the ginger cake. I followed the recipe for the icing to the latter, but the ginger did not really come through. However, most importantly, my grandad enjoyed the cake and that's what's most important, not my culinary preferences.
I first started by making the treacle:
 Once melted I let the mixture cool:
I then made a well and combined the beaten eggs with flour:

I then in-cooperated the wet ingredients to the dry and thoroughly combined and added 200ml of Guinness:
Placed in my cake tin:

Once baked, I left the ginger and Guinness cake to cool and got on with the butter icing.

Recipe for sticky ginger Guinness cake (adapted from Levi Roots Caribbean Food Made Easy).
Serves 8-10
155g butter, plus extra for greasing
115g soft dark brown sugar
115g treacle
55g preserved stem ginger, chopped
225g plain flour, sifted (I used self-raising flour)
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 large free range eggs
2-3 tbsp milk
200ml Guinness

For the ginger fudge icing (from BBC Cakes and Bakes)
4 tbsp ginger syrup, drained from the jar
300g icing sugar
140g unsalted butter
2 tsp lemon juice

1) Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Butter and base line a 18cm (7inch) cake tin. Melt the butter, sugar and treacle into a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Don't let it boil. When it's all melted and well combined, leave to cool a little and add the stem ginger.
2) Put the flour and ground ginger into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Put the beaten eggs and treacle mixture into the well and, using a wooden spoon, gradually mix the dry ingredients into the the wet ones (At this point, add the 200 ml of Guinness and the milk). Be careful to get a smooth batter.
3) Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours. When cooked, a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. Don't open the oven door during cooking or the cake will sink a little.
4) Remove the cake from the oven and leave it in the tin for 15 minutes or so then turn it out to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing
5) Beat together the icing sugar, butter, lemon juice and the remaining ginger syrup, and spread over the cake.
I am entering this cake into the Baking with Spirit a monthly blogging challenge that is organised by Cake of the Week and invited fellow bloggers to make a cake with a chosen alcoholic ingredient. This month the challenge was using beer, and as my cake had Guinness this fulfils the challenge.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Italian traybake from Nigellissimsa

For someone who has stated that Nigellissima isn't Nigella's best piece of work, I have been cooking my way through this book despite my own evaluation of her latest book. The Italian traybake is a really simple traybake, and reminded me of the Spanish chicken and chorizo traybake from her Kitchen book. This traybake, the Italian traybake is somewhat different as it uses key Italian ingredients, hence the name of title: Italian sausages, rosemary and lemon gives this dish the Italian vibe.
I really enjoyed this meal especially as the oven done all the hard work. My only advice is season the chicken in the rosemary (I also added mixed herbs, sage and all purpose seasoning) as this makes the chicken even more delicious.
Here is how my traybake turned out:
Italian traybake

I seasoned the chicken separately for two hours and then cut the potatoes and seasoned with rosemary and then added red onions and Italian sausages.
Italian traybake pre cooking

After an hour the chicken, potatoes and sausages was cooked and tasted delicious. A must recommend dish from Nigelissima ..... you never know this may become my new favourite Nigella book.
Italian traybake cooked

Italian traybake
Serves 4-6
3 baking potatoes (approx 750g total), unpeeled and cut into 2cm chunks
8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
8 Italian sausages (approx 750g total)
small bunch (6 or 7 sprigs) fresh rosemary
zest 1 unwaxed lemon
1 teaspoon salt flakes
ground pepper
4 x 15 ml tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7
Put the potatoes into a large, shallow baking tray and add the chicken thighs and sausages. If using 2 trays, divide everything between them (and also swap the trays over and turn them round halfway through cooking time)
Arrange about 4 sprigs of the rosemary among the chicken and sausages, then finely chop the needles of another 2 sprigs, to give you about 2 teaspoons of finely chopped needles and sprinkle these onto the chicken pieces.
Zest the lemon over everything, and season wit the salt and a good grinding of pepper. Drizzle with the oil and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the chicken skin and sausages are golden and the potato pieces are cooked through.



Monday, 15 October 2012

Weight Watchers Moroccan stew with cous cous.

I have been neglecting my Weight Watchers cook books of late (and the regime to a certain extent), but I realise if I am ever to lose my final half a stone I must get back to Weight Watchers recipes. I must take a stand and stay away from cupcakes/cakes/biscuits/ any naughty goodies. I was looking for perfect recipe to help reignite my need for low fat eating and as I love seasoning, spice and flavour I thought a rich sauce based dish was in order. I previously made some lamb koftas which are widely eaten in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa and wanted to recreate the koftas with a low fat accompaniment.
Weight Watchers Cook Smart Entertaining cookbook has a recipe for Moroccan stew with couscous, which appealed to me due to the variety of spices and ingredients. The recipe in the book is a vegetarian stew but I decided the lamb koftas would make a perfect addition to this stew.
Here is how my stew turned out:
Moroccan stew with couscous

I was impressed with this meal and is only 450 calories per serving, perfect for me getting back on track with my healthy eating. This is a really simple stew and all the ingredients are cooked in one pot. I first started by cooking the carrots and onions.
Vegetables stewing

Once cooked I added the meatballs and let to simmer on the stove for around thirty minutes.
Lamb koftas added

Ingredients - Serves 4
For the Lamb Koftas take a look at my previous blog post
For the stew
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced thinly
2 teaspoons garlic puree
1 large green chili, de-seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tea spoon ground paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 courgette, chopped
400g chick peas, drained and liquid reserved
salt and freshly ground pepper

For the cous cous
200g dried couscous
400ml boiling water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

1) First, start preparing the couscous. Put the couscous in a large bowl and pour over the boiling water. Season. Stir well and allow to cool, stirring occasionally with a fork to separate the grains.
2) For the stew, put the onion, carrot, garlic puree and chili into a large, lidded, non stick saucepan with the oil and 4 tablespoons of water. Heat this mixture until it starts to sizzle, and the cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
3) Remove the cover and stir in the cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon and turmeric. Cook for 1 minute.
4) Add the canned tomatoes, courgette, chickpeas with the reserved liquid and seasoning. Bring the pan to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes until the courgette is tender.
5) Meanwhile, cover the couscous and reheat it in the microwave for 5 minutes. When the couscous is piping hot, stir in the chopped hers.
Serve the couscous with the stew spooned on top.


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Red velvet cupcakes, another Nigella recreation.

I've been a bit late in following the cupcake trend, which I realise now probably have moved on to macaroons and cake pops. But as I have only been baking for two years i'm finally going back to basics with the all time favourite cupcakes. Now I apologise for the lack of decorative piping skills but I made these cupcakes before I discovered the Wilton 1M piping nozzle. Anyway, back to the cupcakes I was of course impressed by the vibrant red colour of the cupcakes once made, and the opportunity to decorate liberally with sprinkles. Although the recipe uses coco powder, once cooked I did not really taste the coco in the cupcakes.
I think this cupcake recipe is perfect for cupcake beginners a la moi and would make a perfect tea time treat. My only advice would be to be quite sparring if you use the food paste, as you will be able to see from my pictures how my hands were covered with red dye.
Here is how my red velvet cupcakes turned out:
Cupcakes boxed for amigos

Inside my cupcake

I first started by creaming the butter and sugar in my free standing mixture. I also placed all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and combined, and added the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture with the addition of one egg with each two tablespoons of dry mixture.

For some reason I thought I did not have enough red dye so when all the ingredients were added together I added more red paste just to be on the safe side!
Red velvet mixture

The red dyes ran out on my hands and got everywhere.

I placed the mixture in the cupcake cases and then once cooled decorated with buttercream and some sprinkles.

Recipe for red velvet cupcakes - makes 24 (My amendments are in red)

For the cupcakes
250g plain flour (I used self-raising flour)
2x 15ml tbsp coco powder
2 tsp baking powder (I omitted this as used self- raising flour)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (I omitted this)
100g soft unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
1x heaped 15ml tbsp Christmas - red paste food colouring
2tsp vanilla extract
175ml buttermilk
1tsp cider vinegar (I omitted this)

Cream cheese Frosting - (I used a butter cream recipe)
500g icing sugar
125g cream cheese
125g unsalted butter
1tsp cider vinegar
Red food colouring

Preheat the oven to 170C/ gas mark 3 and line the muffin tins with paper cases. Combine the flour, coco baking powder and bicarb in a bowl. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar, beating well, and when you have a soft pale mixture beat in the food colouring and vanilla.
Add 1 spoonful of the dried ingredients, then 1 egg, followed by some more dried ingredients, then the other egg, followed by the rest of the dried ingredients.
Finally, beat in the buttermilk and vinegar and divide into the cupcake mixture.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Leave the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack and do not ice with frosting until absolutely cold.

To make the cream cheese frosting.
Put the icing sugar into a processor and whizz to remove lumps. Add the cream cheese and butter and process. Pour in the cider vinegar and process again to make a smooth icing.

Decorate with sprinkles of your choice.

I am entering this to a monthly blogging challenge called Cupcake Tuesday hosted by the lovely liz from hoosier homemade. This is my first entry into Cupcake Tuesday, and I'm sure it will be the first of many


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