Monday, 31 August 2009

A recipe to keep you going....

The redesigning of my kitchen is now well under way which is fabulous but does, however, leave me without a kitchen to call my own at the moment. Fortunately, my parents in-law have very kindly allowed us the use of their house while they are on holiday, which is much appreciated, however I find there is something rather unsettling about trying to cook in someone else's kitchen! Even the simplest of tasks take more time than they should while I search for things that I could find blindfolded in my own kitchen, or suddenly find myself without a particular ingredient that I would usually take for granted. As a result my baking and creative cooking have been somewhat put on hold for the time being.

To keep my little blog ticking over in the meantime I thought I'd post about a recipe I made recently and put aside on the "to blog about" pile. This is a great muffin recipe, one of my favourites in fact. They are pretty healthy, quick to make and, unusually for muffins, they keep for ages. Oh, and, thanks to the energy-giving oats they'll definitely "keep you going" too - I love them for breakfast or as a mid-morning snack.

Feel-good muffins
(from Good Food Magazine February 2003)

175g/6oz self-raising flour
50g/2oz porridge oats
140g/5oz muscovado sugar (regular caster sugar also work just fine)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 egg, beaten
150ml/1/4 pint buttermilk (a mix of half milk and half natural yoghurt works just as well)
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp sunflower oil
175g/6oz stoned prunes, chopped
85g/3oz pecans

1) Preheat the oven to 200c/gas 6/fan 180c. Line a muffin tray with 6-8 muffin cases.

2) Put the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl and mix together.

3) Beat the egg then stir in the buttermilk, vanilla and oil. Lightly stir the egg mixture into the flour.

4) Fold in the prunes and pecans.

5) Divide between the muffin cases then bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden. Serve warm or cold.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

A Symbolic Gooseberry Tart

It's gooseberry season again and I have finally got around to making a gooseberry creme fraiche tart - something that's been on my to-do list for ages.

And why symbolic? Well, this tart is the result of the last proper baking session I shall have in my kitchen in it's present state. In a couple of days some nice men will be arriving to take the existing kitchen away and replace it with a nice shiny new one. So, goodbye annoying tiled worktops, goodbye horrid brown sink, goodbye "farmhouse style" brown units, it's been nice working with you but now it's time to move on.

But back to the tart. This particular recipe, Gooseberry Creme Fraiche Tart, comes from James Martin's Desserts. This is a lovely light, summery tart with lots of flavour from the gooseberries and any sharpness in the fruit nicely counterbalanced by the sweetness of the filling. It's also very straightforward to put together. The pastry, in particular, is a dream to roll out thanks to the addition of the egg.

Gooseberry Creme Fraiche Tart
(adapted from Desserts by James Martin)

For the pastry case - makes 300g
200g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 tbsp icing sugar
100g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp iced water

1) Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mix resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

2) Mix the egg with the water and slowly add to the flour/butter mix. Mix together until it forms a dough (you may not need all of the liquid). Form into a ball and wrap in cling film for about 30 minutes.

To assemble the tart
200g sweet shortcrust pastry (I put the rest in the freezer)
200ml creme fraiche
4 large egg yolks
1 whole egg
100g caster sugar
450g gooseberries, topped and tailed

1) Roll out the pastry and use to line a 23cm, 2.5cm deep, loose-bottomed, greased tart tin. Prick the base all over with a fork and brush with some of the egg white left over from the eggs for the filling.

2) Heat the oven to 190c/375f/gas 5 and put a baking tray in to heat up. Then place the tart tin on the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 180c/350f/gas 4.

3) Whisk the creme fraiche, yolks, whole egg and sugar together.

4) Arrange the gooseberries in the pastry case and pour the creme fraiche mixture over the top. Return to the oven for a further 40-50 minutes or until the tart is light golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Sweet and Simple Bakes - Carrot Cake

This month's Sweet and Simple Bakes recipe is the classic carrot cake. If there is such a thing as a classic carrot cake recipe that is, as this is one of those cake recipes that seems to have endless variations. This particular recipe is certainly different from the one I usually turn to, which requires less carrot but the addition of a tin of crushed pineapple.

My contribution this month was a bit of a rushed affair as I only got around to making it the day before the deadline. No matter though as carrot cake is one of those cakes that doesn't seem to mind too much if you're in a bit of a hurry. No need to worry about creaming butter and sugar or beating the eggs in thoroughly. Apart from a bit of faffy carrot grating you just need to mix together the wet ingredients, add in the dry and there you have it.

And it takes just as little effort to eat it too. This recipe is definitely a good 'un - moist, full of flavour and great texture thanks to the sultanas and walnuts. The icing is lovely too - I was worried it might be too sweet but that turned not to be the case. Thanks S&SB - I'll be making this one again.

You can find the recipe here.