29 August 2011

Plum Torte

I have a tendency to waffle on and distract from the recipe itself, but rather backwardly I love to-the-point lists and facts. People that border on rudely blunt tend to be the ones I gravitate towards, I like to know that what you see is what you get and that I will get a straight answer even if it may not be the most desirable one to hear. But anyway, there I go again - waffling. Sometimes what you need is a factual list - and what better when that list is all about cake, an absolutely awesome cake at that. Here we go:

1. This recipe is the most published and most requested recipe in the entire Times archive. It's been printed pretty much every year in the New York Times for about 15 years due to reader demand - to be honest this is all you reallllyyy need to know! But I will keep going, as a list comprising of just 1 simply ain't a very good list
2. It is stupidly basic, in a totally simple-is-best way. It uses 7 ingredients you are almost guaranteed to already have on hand, then you just nestle some juicy ripe plums into their loving cakey arms and hey presto!
3. There are essentially 4 short steps. No process this, whisk that, alternate this-with-that; just mix arrange sprinkle 'n bake. I almost dare you to take longer than 10 minutes to make it
4. Apparently it freezes like a gem, bonus!
5. It may be basic..but my goodness was I pleasantly surprised. I was kind of expecting it to be one of those crazy easy recipes that is tasty, but more great to have on hand for its simplicity rather than deliciousness. Oh how I regret my pessimism! There is a slightly crisp cinnamon-sugar topping that gives way to a sponge who's perfectly soft texture truly made me stop in my munching tracks (that takes a lot of doing), and the plum's sink in creating these irresistible fruity pockets

24 August 2011

Blueberry Cheese Danish Cake

Let me begin by saying this didn't turn out quitteee like it was meant to...I mean if you check out the original recipe's photos it's an absolute beauty! Mine isn't HALF as pretty, but I ain't complaining my friends 'cos the taste is alllll there :) It is a recipe who's aim is to simulate the flavours of a danish cream-cheese pastry...in a cake...yes please!

The noises my Mum made when she first started eating this cake were, well to put it bluntly, noises i'd rather not hear my mother making. There was so much ooh-ing and aah-ing going on I didn't know whether to just be flattered or to take the cake away from her to save my innocent ears. Quote: 'mmmmm, it's so melt in your mouth! This is definitely to be put on the make again list!' Like I need asking to make this again, I only made it 7 hours ago and half of it has gone...woops

21 August 2011

Apple Almond Tart

My oh my, if there were any words that would convince you to try out this tart then I wish I could find them right now! I didn't have many expectations when it came to trying this recipe, sure I thought it looked nice but it was more a scrummy looking recipe tried out of necessity than one out of long-term lusting. After making the Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake I was left with 6 dinky little egg yolks just begging to be utilised in some comforting sweet. Im not sure why I opted for this one in the end...maybe the pastry addicted gremlin in my brain working its magic, but I truly am so so happy it won out

17 August 2011

Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake

Brown butter seems to have rather a fan club. I'd never had a face-to-face encounter with the infamous stuff before, but all over the food blogging world I'd seen posts gushing about it's ability to transform the most simple of dishes. Well, I am officially one big fat convert and am now a fellow brown butter groupie. If I could drink the magical liquid without looking utterly repulsive and being made an outcast by my real-life friends then I would. I wish there was a scratch 'n sniff panel I could insert right now of the unreal scent of the butter bubbling away on the hob getting friendly with half a vanilla pod, it was quite something

This cake was a whole bunch'a firsts for me; first brown butter experience, first use of a vanilla pod, first ganache - I feel enlightened! One of the main reasons (of many) that I love food blogging is that it pushes you to try new and exciting things which otherwise you may just pass by. Boy am I glad the above 3 things are strangers to me no longer! I loved each separate part, I've definitely been missing out! And this recipe is whole-heartedly more than the sum of it's oh so special parts.

13 August 2011

Peppermint Crisps

Today I have for you a genius little recipe. It's a no-bake, deceivingly impressive, utterly moorish cookie thats perfect for after dinner or, lets be fair, any time! You really must make these right now and then love me forever, seriously.

There is many a recipe out there for homemade after-dinner mints, and even though I am a masssiivee fan of them and their creamy peppermint filling (mmmm), I do like a bit of a crunch in my cookies and as soon as I saw these knew they would be a winner. Im not sure it it's really right to call these a cookie but Im not sure what else to call them! Maybe just lovelies. Minty lovelies.

11 August 2011

Moroccan Chicken

I thought I'd stray from the beloved curry path today and try my hand at something a little different :) Moroccan cuisine is so full of flavour and, although I am not very experienced in it, I love what I have tried. Moroccan couscous appears on my daily menu about 4 days out of 7 in the summer, can't get enough of the stuff! So today I have a Moroccan chicken recipe for you, traditionally made in a tagine (lucky you if you have one!) but is easily replicated in a humble saucepan or skillet, whatever you have on hand :)

9 August 2011

Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte

I've had my eye on this little gem of a recipe for a crazziiilyy long time. I'd never made a cheesecake in any form (unless cheesecake stuffed cookies count :) ) and was dying to pop my cheesecake cherry. The Brown Eyed Baker is one of my favourite food blogs to get lost in with page after page of pure temptation and gorgeous recipes, so when this torte was featured for a second time, now in her Top 10 Favourite Cake list, I knew I just had to make it. Sadly I did not own the correct pan or a springform in any shape or size so simply sat pining after it for far too long. Big news...my house is a springform free zone NO LONGER! I finally went out and invested in my new love, I get irrationally excited about kitchen purchases...I hope this isn't just me and you arn't reading this thinking I'm a total weirdo

Onto the torte, its good. Reaaaalll good. A thick buttery shortbread crust with a fruity jam layer spread over the top which blends into a generous amount of smooth cream cheese filling. There's no skimping in this recipe and that's just my cuppa tea :) However it isn't as sinful as you may think, low fat cream cheese and low fat cottage cheese cut the dreaded calorie count (life's too short to think about such things, but it's always nice if that 3rd hunk of a slice is a little less guilt ridden)

7 August 2011

Walrus Bars

What a peculiar name, if anyone can enlighten me on the reason behind it please do! But for the time being I am quite content with my un-answered question whilst I shovel away these dreamy little walrus's. A deeply chocolaty shortbread base covered in a layer of chewy gooey caramel and toasted nuts....excuse me whilst I go nab another. I make quite a few shortbread based goods but I have to say this choccy shortbread really impressed me, it tastes fabulous and is yummy in its own right. Iv'e made pecan pie bars in the past which were absolutely gorgeous, so when I saw this recipe I knew it was going to be a winner as the components seemed to be veryvery similar. The main differences were the addition of cocoa, the switch of nut and my choice to swap the extract for a nice dash of booze. Boozy treats, you make me joyful!

5 August 2011

A Lovely Blog Award and 7 Facts About Me

A post with a bit of a difference today!  A couple'a days ago I was ELATED to be told Id been given a blog award called 'One Lovely Blog' by Lynne who runs the absolutely brilliant blog Cook and be Merry. Being so new in the blogging world, it was such an unexpected but incredibly gratefully received surprise. 

There are a couple of little rules that go along with the privilege of receiving this award, these being....
1. Post a link back to the person that gave you the award
2. Share 7 random things about yourself
3. Pass the award onto 15 recently discovered blogs
4. Drop them a note to tell them about it

So here are 15 food blogs that I feel are incredibly deserving of this award for their excellent recipes, wonderful photos, just being plain lovely people or most likely a mixture of them all :)

Phew that was hard, there were so many I wanted to put! And now for the 7 random things about me..

1. My nickname at university is squirrel because of my red hair (dyed unfortunately, natural red heads you are lucky beings!) but it's rather fitting as I am total nut-aholic and a compulsive hoarder

2. Im half a perfectionist but I also have an issue with following things through, ie I like things to be just right once finished but most of the time im plain useless and never actually get to the end. Played piano for 7 years, horseriding for 2, violin 2 years, cello 1 year, rowing 1 1/2 years, guitar 1/2 year (and still dabbling)..you see where im going with this. I have a multitude of half finished sewing projects, one thing I am good at is reading though, I get really into a good book. Basically so far this blog is a huge achievement as ive made it a few months and falling more in love with the whole deal every day, hurrah!

3. I have shocking circulation so have funky purple feet most of the time. It's pretty weird

4. I have given up trying to control my worryingly sweet tooth. I eat on average 2 bars of chocolate, a few slices of homemade dessert, a packet of crisps and a packet of hard fruit candy per day. And then I complain that my new facewash must be giving me spots...

5. The thought of the future scares me quite a bit, but it excites me also

6. It was my childhood dream to own a safari park in Africa one day, and it still is

7. I am a pessimist to be an optimist. I think negatively but don't truly believe the negative thoughts, more try to half convince myself of them. This may sound weird, but if I think 'that good thing isn't going to happen, my baking adventure won't turn out as nice as I would like, it is going to rain today' etcetc then when the good thing DOES happen, when people oo, ahh and the treat is too scrummy to put down, and when the sun shines - it just feels so much more wonderful than if I was thinking it was going to be that way all along :)

So there we go! And just so you don't feel cheated by the lack of a sweet treat in this post I promise you there is a totally addictive chocolatey nutty treat coming up veryvery soon, of which I ate far too much before pausing to take photos, pop back if you fancy finding out what it is you should be making in your kitchen in the very near future! :)

4 August 2011

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Pastry = heaven. I have no shame in admitting, more than once, if there was some ready-rolled puff pastry in the fridge and I couldn't be fussed to cook I would happily shove a sheet in the oven and call it lunch. If I didn't start worrying about looking like a block of butter I might have made it a weekly occurrence. And this brings me on to this stupendously awesome recipe. I love pastry. Pies have pastry. I love pies.

Now I've eaten a lot of pies in my time and I've made a lot of them also, I really should resemble a pie, but this...this is the most deliciously summery pie I have ever ever ever made, maybe even tasted. So that's saying something!

2 August 2011

The Perfect Pie Crust

I searched high and low for a trusty basic pie crust recipe for a long while, I am a self-confessed pastry addict, so Im pretty darn picky I have to say! A year or so back I stumbled upon this recipe at the wonderful blog Smitten Kitchen and it's been my fool proof delicious go-to recipe ever since. It was love at first bite :) If you are still on the hunt for a pie crust recipe that will not let you down - please try this one. I honestly put my baking dignity on the line and say that I guarantee you will be happy with the outcome if you follow all the steps

It's an all-butter crust, and although some people swear by the use of lard/shortening or more recently vodka (Cooks Illustrated's invention I think), this one yields the divinely flakey crisp crust that we all yearn for and it never lets me down. So all butter it is!

In this little tutorial I used my food processor to help things along, but Ive used a pastry cutter before (and have to do it by hand if I do a double crust as my machine is too mini!) I would recommend doing it by hand but it works fine either way :) If using the processor then be very careful not to over process, do not wait until the butter is pea sized before adding in the water - by the time it starts to clump you will have completely obliterated those bits of butter and you WANT to be able to see little smudges of butter when its rolled. It's this that aids your quest for flakey perfection. Head on over to Smitten Kitchen to read more in depth about how to create the perfect pie crust, but if you want the quick n dirty version to robotically follow, then just stick with me and I will take you through it! The Key = Cold. Remember this, the colder ingredients are, the flakier your crust. And that is the aim of the game