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….

linda's nuts

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

 

 

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No new toy for the kitchen :(

At this point I was hoping to tell you about my marvelous new find which I couldn’t live without, but instead I’m here having a good old moan as I reload it into a box and shove it in the car boot sale pile!

This is the offending item – if you have one and have found it to be fabulous, I apologise for my moaning but it’s left me a bit “narked” (to be polite about it!).

IMG_2638Looks great doesn’t it? I bought it in the sale (thank goodness!) at Lakeland. I ordered it online. I don’t think I’d have bought it if I’d seen it in the shop and read the back of the box. Of course I took it out of the cupboard the minute I intended making bread….and then read the care and use instructions. Here we go, ready for this (I might have been a bit naive not to expect this…)

1. Immerse the form completely in clean warm water allowing to soak for 30 minutes (okay, can go away for half an hour and then make bread.)

2. Rub veg oil onto inner surface to coat it entirely.

3. Place in a cold oven and increase the heat to 220 degrees c.

4. Bake the form for approx 25 minutes or until oil has dried completely (hmmm, an hour before I can get the bread in the oven….but then with proving etc that should still work).

5. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely and naturally.

6. Repeat steps 2 to 5 again.

Grrrrr. No bread today then. But I carried out all of the instructions (twice!) and put off the bread making until the following day.

IMG_2644So, up with the lark (ha,ha!) the following day and bread made and in the oven.  One of the attractions of buying this was that it came with two recipes and I’m always happy to try something new. I decided on the Cheddar & Red Onion Flavour Bread. It turned out to be very odd as only the middle roll had any of the onion filling, making it very strongly flavoured, and the others just had a sprinkling of cheese inside and on top.

When it came out of the oven it looked pretty good….but then I tipped it upside down so I could tap the bottom to make sure it was fully cooked….and it wouldn’t move….. After some prising not a lot was happening still…. It was well and truly stuck. Nothing for it but to rip and hang the consequences of pretty unappetising bread – although I guess with hindsight it had been called Tear and Share!

IMG_2647As the form of the rolls had disappeared during cooking I did wonder if my mixture had been too wet and perhaps I had caused the sticking problem? Not wishing to condemn it and never use it again I decided to give it another go the following day using a bread mix, with the thought that if it was “user error” making it stick, that might solve it. The result was exactly the same. I know I followed the prep of the form to the letter (twice!) so can only conclude that me and the flower form are not going to get on. Just to prove to myself that I hadn’t lost any bread making skill I might have ever had, I went ahead and made bread rolls the following week, free forming them into a flower shape and baking them. The results are far better. Erm, so good in fact that the sixth roll mysteriously disappeared before I could take the photo! This is how I will go from now on.

Roll on car boot sale season….unless anyone else fancies giving it a go to prove me wrong?!

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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 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.

 

P is for …. Produce (home made, grown and crafted!)

Many years ago, when Holly was young, I belonged to the local WI Producers Market. When Holly reached “proper” school age I had to leave and get a real job (boo!). Now, however, it feels like time to try something new, or rather to revisit something previously tried.

In the time since I last belonged to the market things have changed. The group is part of the Country Markets scheme and now goes under that title, rather than mentioning the WI. As you’ll see from the Country Markets website, there are around 300 Country Markets across England, Wales and the Channel Islands and their quest is to sell fresh, home grown veg, fruit, flowers and plants as well as baked goods and preserves. There’s also a great range of craft goods – which is the bit I was particularly interested in. I used to sell hand made cards at the market all those years ago and hope to do the same again now that I’ve re-joined (for the handsome joining fee of 5 whole pence!!).

As a testament to what a great group of people they are, many of the producers I knew when I was there nearly 10 years ago, are still there and still producing amazing goods.

Our market is open from 9am to 12pm every Friday in a local hall and the sight of the tables full of great produce before the masses invade and start buying is amazing. Have a look…

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It’s an absolute pleasure to be back amongst such lovely, friendly and creative people and hopefully long may it last.

Perhaps you could use the search button on the Country Markets website and find a group near you to visit or join…or pop along and see us in Honiton!

 

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!

linda meringue

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.