A-Z Foodie Challenge – H is for … Hazelnuts

HAPPY WORLD NUTELLA DAY!!!!!

I’m delighted to tell you that I especially saved my hazelnut challenge for today knowing it’s World Nutella Day…..but of course I’m lying and it is in fact a very happy coincidence, although I will be celebrating World Nutella Day from now on!

I copied Linda this month and looked on Pinterest for inspiration for a recipe. I was, in all honesty, looking for a savoury recipe but when I found a recipe for The Moistest Chocolate Mug Cake and read the details (Prep Time 1 min/Cook Time 1 min!!!!) I was sold. If you’d like to check out the recipe for The Moistest Chocolate Mug Cake, it appears on the Table For Two blog here. It may have taken a MASSIVE 2 minutes to prep and cook but it took mere seconds for Holly and I to demolish it! I added a swirl of double cream and some crushed hazelnuts just to cover up for my guilt of not using the “real thing” in the recipe!

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Linda’s gone down the microwave path too this time with her Microwave Nut Caramels which were absolutely gorgeous to eat and gave me a real energy boost in the afternoon when I was flagging. Check out her blog to find out all about them – this is they….

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Will add Frances and her culinary creation soon and look forward to I is for Icing next time.

 

 

A-Z Foodie Challenge – G is for Goat’s Cheese

Apologies that it’s been a while – life don’t half get in the way of fun!

“G” was indeed for Goat’s Cheese and, as she was first off the mark, I’m starting with Frances and her gorgeous looking creation which she says is a firm family favourite. It has crumbled hard goats cheese, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, spinach, mushrooms and cream all mixed together between layers of filo pastry. Looks delicious doesn’t it?

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Makes my mouth water just looking at it!

As I’m usually a firm follower of recipes and patterns and don’t end up making a lot using my own brainpower (shame on me!) I thought I’d try something different this time. Having never used goat’s cheese before I was at a bit of a loss, but decided that it sounded like it would go very well with bacon (easy guess work really as most things do!). I placed the sliced up goat’s cheese between 2 layers of back bacon and wrapped it in shortcrust pastry, popped it in the oven for 20 minutes with fingers firmly crossed that the cheese wouldn’t burst out from its casing. I have to say I was pretty pleased with the results. I ate my version hot straight away (well why wouldn’t you?!) and Kev has one cold in his packed lunch today so no doubt I’ll hear how that went later on (even more finger crossing!).

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As for Linda…..she’s eaten her goat’s cheese!! And why not?! Read her whole “confession” on her blog.

Next month we have hazelnuts to experiment with…..

 

 

A-Z Foodie Challenge – F is for Flour UPDATE!

I missed a whole section out of my previous post, so I’d like to put that right as well as adding photos that Frances has let me have for her delicious looking creation using flour.

For my birthday this year my best friend Katherine bought me some “unusual” presents, one of which being a very classy egg separator….

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I won’t insult your intelligence by describing how it works but I just wanted to let Katherine know, despite her assurances that IIMG_2094 could just put it on eBay unused, I have used it and very helpful it was too! The first egg I used can’t have been too fresh as the yolk broke and became “bogey-fied” but second attempt, with a fresh box of eggs, worked perfectly and was indeed very helpful as I’m a bit squeamish about eggs (one of those childhood things that I won’t explain). Thank you very much Katherine!

So, from one section of cobblers to another – courtesy of Frances! Her flour recipe looks amazing and I’ve asked her for the recipe.

Frances says “It’s carrot and butternut squash casserole, slow cooked for 4 hours.  It’s topped off with Stilton cobblers which I browned off in the oven for 10 minutess at the end. Delicious and I’ve now made it 3 times!”

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Linda’s gone for the sweet option for flour with some delicious looking Oaty Cranberry Cookies. Check out her blog post for the recipe and let me know if you have a go at making them!

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A-Z Foodies Challenge – F is for Flour

I really love making bread. There’s nothing like the smell of it cooking and the magic that turns a lump of goo into something light, bubbly and delicious. However, sometimes there just isn’t time to get on and make a loaf (minus bread making machine), or….is that not really the case?

After deciding to have a soup making session I thought the best plan would be to have it with hot, just out of the oven bread. But, I was a bit short of time. Enter those inventive people at Wright’s with one of their very clever bread mixes. All you do is add water and/or oil and follow their very simple instructions to make a fresh loaf or rolls.

On this occasion I chose Parmesan and Sun Dried Tomato Bread Mix and decided to be REALLY hands off by letting my food mixer, with dough hook attachment, do all the hard work instead of standing and doing all the stretching (of the dough!) and kneading, leaving me free to get on with everything else I was trying to do. Could it work? YES, it could! It was quick, easy, very unmessy and still gave the satisfaction of a great tasting bread. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t go back to traditional bread making, but for a quick and easy solution, this was ideal.

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Not sure what Frances and Linda are up to for their flour-y challenge, but will add the details as and when. If anyone else would like to have a link in this post with their recipe using flour, please get in touch.

 

A-Z Foodie Challenge – E is for Egg

Something a bit different this month … we decided to buy a kit, just add an egg and see how different thIMG_2090e experiences of the three of us Foodie Challenge(d!) Feasters turned out to be.

We decided on a Green’s Dreamy Lemon Meringue Crunch kit which Frances had tried before, but Linda and I had never attempted. I think the choice of kit to use was probably my fault as I’d said I’d like to try to make a meringue for the egg challenge but had never made one before. I must have looked at a particularly complicated recipe which described the process as taking 2 days (yes, honestly) and decided I couldn’t possibly commit to that (dahhhhling). This seemed a quicker and easier way to tackle the challenge, just to see how I got on and whether I could find another, none 2 day taking, recipe some time in the future. To be honest, I’d only ever eaten lemon meringue once before too (I know, shockingly deprived!).

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It’s not that flat Frances!

So, Frances tackled the challenge first and said the results were very well received by the family who declared it to be delicious. She did also say she thinks she should have beaten the meringue for longer as it was a bit flat and frothy – but it looks great to me!

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Linda’s Mountainous Meringue

Linda went second and wasn’t too impressed with the lack of satisfaction she gained from the whole experience. Her meringue looks great and you can see what she thinks on her blog.

As for me, well, I’m blaming the equipment!! What should have been a really simple, quick and tasty task turned out to be a bit of a nightmare when my greaseproof paper decided to take my meringue captive and refuse to release my soggy biscuit base! I can only conclude that my measuring of the butter which was added to the crunchy base was wrong. I used old fashioned dial scales rather than electronic and think, given that this was my second baking balls-up of the week, it’s time I joined this century and got myself a new set of scales. Having said that, I did enjoy cooking the meringue, won’t be as scared to have a go at the real thing in the future, have bought another cake kit (red velvet cake) to stick in the store cupboard for “emergencies” and will be using a kit for next month’s flour bake too!

Greaseproof gripped soggy biscuit base!

Greaseproof gripped soggy biscuit base!

 

Quite interesting that we had 3 such different results from 3 identical kits.

 

A-Z Foodie Challenge – D is for Dates

Of course dates had a special offer on them when I went into the shop didn’t they?! So, unable to resist a BOGOF, instead of one recipe this month, I’ve actually tried three of them – and still have a whole bag of dates left over!

With some help from great birthday presents and from Kev’s Aunt Kate, I’ve got a good variety of treats this month.

My lovely daughter bought me the new Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking and a quick look through it brought forth the recipe for Oat & Honey Flapjack Cookies. These contain 100g of dried fruit and nuts…dates being one of their suggested fruits. To this I added pistachio nuts and dried cranberries to make up my 100g. I think they were the most successful thing I’ve made on this challenge so far – well successful apart from the fact I ate a few bits that had fallen off the side straight out of the oven and was a bit stressed by the sound of my tongue sizzling! Lesson learned – til next time!

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Second birthday present to come in very handy was a great little set called The Preserving Kit, a gift from my sister. From that I chose a recipe for Peach & Date Chutney which they suggest will be “a good accompaniment to ripe, creamy Brie, full-fat soft cheeses and roast poultry. Perfect for serving with your cold roast Christmas turkey”. Sounds good to me!

I halved the amount of ingredients used partly because I wasn’t sure if we would like it and partly because I’m quite short of jars at the moment. It resulted in 2 Kilner jars full of great smelling chutney which only have to sit for 2 weeks before we can try them. Bring on the Brie!

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Finally (until I start again with the second bag of dates!) I used the website suggested by Kate to find a savoury recipe – http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/collections/date+recipes  From there I chose Date, Gorgonzola & Prosciutto Tart as I’d always fancied trying to cook something using a sheet of puff pastry. Unfortunately I couldn’t find Gorgonzola cheese in town and had to opt for Feta instead, which didn’t melt as well of course. Had a bit of a panic when the pastry rose in the middle when it wasn’t meant to, but other than that it worked out okay and tasted really good. I’ll look around for the correct cheese and give it another go at some time in the future I think.

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Linda went a bit Nigella had a sticky date herself! Read all about it here http://lindasmakes.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/d-is-for-culinary-alphabet/

 

 

A-Z Foodie Challenge – C is for Chocolate

So we’re a little late, but honestly who feels like chocolate when the weather’s as hot as it was in July? Okay, perhaps don’t answer that. I didn’t feel like chocolate at all when it was hot but, in the spirit of things Googled “world’s easiest chocolate recipes” on 30th July and “cooked” Chocolate Fudge from a very easy (we’re talking a total of 7 minutes including prep and cooking) recipe on the 31st!

It really was that quick….well, apart from having to wait for it to go solid. I’m not a fudge fan but this is actually pretty good. I don’t think it has the texture of traditional fudge, but as that’s the bit I don’t like about fudge, that’s just as well! It is however very melty, hard to cut without leaving fingerprints and needs to be kept in the fridge. Of course this means that every time you open the fridge…..

Linda decided to cool things down a bit (very sensible given how hot it’s been) with her chocolate and banana ice cream – stop her to buy one here http://lindasmakes.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/c-is-for-culinary-alphabet/

So, here it is. Waiting to see photos from Frances and will post them as they’re added. (No, I’m not nagging!). This month’s date is with….dates!

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