Numerous articles and resources have warned us about excessive consumption of sugar. Taking too much sugar can increase your chances of developing a wide range of health issues – from diabetes, high blood sugar, increased triglyceride levels, and heart disease, to name just a few. We need to decrease our consumption of sugar to help decrease our chances of getting sick. [Read more…]
Sweet, sticky, but not sickly, this dish is very popular at a whole host of events – ranging from Saturday and Sunday morning lie-ins, through to Family Parties and Events.
This dish makes enough for ten slices, and it’ll keep for around two or three weeks if stored in an air-tight container, but not too well if kept out of a container.
To Serve 10
175g Self Raising Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
290g Caster Sugar
3 Medium Eggs
2tbsp Semi Skimmed Milk
Rind of 2 Lemons, finely grated
Juice of 2 Lemons, strained
1. Sift the Flour and the Baking Powder into a large mixing bowl, before adding the Butter, 175g of the Caster Sugar, the Eggs, Milk, Lemon Rind and Lemon Juice.
2. Mix well with a wooden spoon, and beat until smooth.
3. Line a two pound loaf tin with baking parchment or with some extra Butter, then spoon the mixture into the tin, and level off at the top.
4. Bake in an oven heated to 180C, for an hour, or until a knife inserted comes out clean, with no mixture sticking to it.
5. Turn out onto a Wire Tray to leave to cool for a bit.
6. Put the Lemon Juice and the rest of the Caster Sugar into a Saucepan, and heat gently until the Sugar has dissolved, stirring frequently. Whilst the Cake is warm, pour the mixture over the top so that it will soak into the cake.
Try using different shape loaf tins to make a different cake, and decorate with some pared Lemon Rind.
Photo Courtesy of: styro
These Potatoes are great party food and a great starter. This dish is very simple to make, and it’s easy to see why they are very popular. You can easily make a range of these Potatoes with varying levels of heat to them – use Dijon Mustard, Wholegrain Mustard, English Mustard, or add extra Mustard powder if you really want.
To make these more ‘party food’ rather than starters, instead of halving the Potatoes, cut them into quarters – you don’t need to change the quantities of anything!
To Serve 4
4 Medium Baking Potatoes
200g Smoked Salmon Trimmings
2tbsp Flat-Leafed Parsley, Finely Chopped
1tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
1. Pre-Heat an oven to 220C.
2. Cut the Potatoes into halves or quarters, and score the fleshy parts with a criss-cross pattern to help them cook quicker. Bake for thirty to forty minutes until soft through.
3. Heat a grill, and scoop out the cooked Potato Flesh into a bowl, adding the butter and mashing lightly. Stir in the Salmon trimmings, the Parsley and Mustard, before seasoning to taste.
4. Grill for five minutes, until crisp and golden on top.
Sprinkle with some more of the Parsley, or thinly sliced Spring Onions, and serve with small pots of Sour Cream, a Green Salad or with a small amount of cheese melted on top.
Photo Courtesy of: Kat Johnston
It’s Christmas! So what better way to get in the mood than by making a traditional Christmas pudding, it’s best to start making one now, as needs to be refrigerated for anything from two to eight weeks. This recipe has no nuts in as well, but please check on the packaging for anything that you buy (especially for the dried fruit), to make sure regarding allergies.
To Serve 4
150ml Sweet Cherry
175g Brown Sugar
4 Beaten Eggs
150g Self Raising Flour
50g Blanched Almonds, chopped
Juice of 1 Orange
Grated Rind of ½ Orange
Grated Rind of ½ Lemon
½ Tsp Ground Mixed Spice
1. In a large glass bowl, put the Currants, Raisins and Sultanas, and pour the Sherry over the top. Leave to set for at least two hours – more if you can help it.
2. Mix the Butter and Sugar in a bowl, beat the Eggs into the mix and fold in the Flour.
3. Stir in the Fruit and Sherry mix, as well as the Breadcrumbs, Almonds, Orange Juice, Rinds and Mixed Spice.
4. Grease a basin and press it in, leaving a gap around an inch at the top. Cut a circle of greaseproof paper about one and a half inches wider than the top of the basin. Secure with string, and cover with two layers of foil. Place the basin into a pan of boiling water, which reaches two thirds of the way up the basin, and simmer for six hours, topping up with water when needed.
5. Remove from the pan, and leave to cool. Change the greaseproof paper and foil, and leave in the fridge for two to eight weeks. Before serving, steam for two hours (as before – in a pan of boiling water).
To serve, you can light it, making sure you blow it out before serving.
Photo Courtesy of: Anina2007
This dish is an alternative starter to the regular Christmas Turkey Roast Dinner. It’s intended as a savoury option to the classic Bread and Butter pudding – and each mouthful just explodes with flavours.
If you can’t find any Focaccia, white bread serves as a suitable alternative. If you do use the White Bread, add a range of various herbs to add a mix of flavours – a popular combination of herbs to make Foccacia includes Rosemary, Sage, Rock Salt and Olive Oil.
You can either make this dish in individual ramekins, or as a single dish, and serve in a single tray for people to help themselves to.
To Serve 4
2 Red Onions
1 Medium Butternut Squash
2tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
2tbsp Olive Oil
100g Sundried Tomatoes
40g Pine Nuts
2 Whole Eggs
1 Egg Yolk
150ml Double Cream
40g Grated Parmesan
4 Slices Focaccia, cut into 1cm Chunks
1. Preheat the oven to 190 C/ Gas Mark 5.
2. Peel and slice the Onion and peel, deseed and chop the Squash. Toss these with the Thyme leaves and Olive Oil before roasting for thirty minutes.
3. Add the Tomatoes and nuts and cook for ten more minutes.
4. Reduce the Oven heat to 180 C/ Gas Mark 4.
5. Whisk the eggs, cream, milk and three quarters of the Parmesan
6. Divide the Vegetables between four ovenproof ramekins, top with the Focaccia pour the egg and milk mixture, and scatter over the rest of the cheese.
7. Bake on a tray for fifteen to twenty minutes, until Golden-brown on top.
Photo Courtesy of Levork
Mouth-wateringly good, soft, light and not too filling. Great served warm with cream, or cool on it’s own.
To serve 4:
For the Pastry
– 150g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
– 85g butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing the pan
– 35g icing sugar, sifted
– Finely grated rind of ½ lemon
– ½ egg yolk, beaten
– 1 ½ tbsp of milk
For the Filling
– 3 tbsp cornflour
– 300ml water
– Juice and grated rind of 2 lemons
– 175g caster sugar
– 2 separated eggs
1. Sift the flour into a bowl, and mix in the butter with your fingertips, until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Mix in the remaining pastry ingredients and knead briefly on a lightly floured surface, before leaving to rest for 30minutes
2. Heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/ Gas Mark 4, and grease a 20cm pie dish with some butter. Roll the pastry out to 5mm thick, and line the base and sides of the dish. Prick with a fork, line with baking paper and baking beans. Bake for 15minutes then remove from the oven, taking out the paper and baking beans. Reduce the heat to 150 C/300 F/ Gas Mark 2.
3. For the filling, mix the cornflour with some of the water. Pour the rest of the water into a saucepan, and stir in the lemon juice, rind and paste before bringing to the boil, constantly stirring the mixture. Cook for 2 minutes, then lower the heat. Add 5 tablespoons of the sugar, egg yolks and pour into the pastry case.
4. Whisk the eggs in a clean, dry, grease-free bowl until stiff. Add in the rest of the sugar, and spread over the pie. Bake for 40 more minutes, before removing from the heat, allowing to cool and serve.
Because I bake so many different types of things so often, I sometimes feel like I’m constantly moving my oven racks up and down. Depending on what you’re baking, it’s important that it gets the proper heat from the proper sources (above or below) to bake correctly.
Here’s a quick guide to refer to:
Cakes – Center Rack
Cookies – Lower Third
Custards – Lower Third
Pie Dough – Lower Third
Breads (like Brioche) – Center Rack
Croissants / Puff Pastry – Center Rack
Souffles – Lower ThirdOf course, these aren’t necessarily hard and fast rules. When baking Palmiers (a type of cookie), for example, I use the Top Rack. And many recipes are more successful if you rotate your baked goods from the top to the bottom halfway between cooking.
One of our favorite things to do at home is curl up in bed every night with a DVD of a good television show. We’ve been through Rome and Pushing Daisies (so obviously my number one show!), The Celebrity Apprentice and LOST– and now we’re in the middle of the fourth season of Desperate Housewives. Care to guess which of the gals I most enjoy watching?
Of course: it’s Bree. And after watching her visit neighbor after neighbor with basket-fulls of freshly baked muffins, I just had to whip up a batch of that most classic of muffins: Blueberry.
Bree-inspired Blueberry Muffins
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar (I use superfine- makes for a softer muffin)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray muffin pan with baking spray (or you can butter and flour it if you haven’t got any spray). Set this aside.
In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together gently. Use some (just about 2 teaspoons) of this flour mixture to coat the blueberries. Set aside.
In the bowl of your mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, around three minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Mix in the vanilla.
On stir speed of your mixer- or by hand- add the flour mixture very gently, just until combined. Add milk, just until combined. Do not overmix. Fold in the blueberries just until combined. Spoon into muffin tin.
Bake about 30 minutes. Do not overbake!
I like to go all-out Bree and wrap up the still-warm muffins in a large napkin or kitchen towel, and serve in a pretty basket.
Here’s a fun (and yummy!) activity you can do with your kids — a gingerbread house! You can even make your creation the centerpiece of your family holiday celebrations. Try not to eat all the candy, though — it’s for the house, remember? Get decorating ideas and the original recipe.
3/4 cup butter
7/8 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup molasses
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground allspice
6 egg whites
4 (16 ounce) packages confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1. Shape the frame of the house out of cardboard. Measurements are: a side wall, 4 1/2 x 8 inches; an end wall, 4 1/2×5 inches; a triangular gable, 4 1/2x3x3 inches; and a roof rectangle, 4 1/2×9 inches.
2. Tape the rectangular end wall piece to the triangular gable piece.
3. Match the long side of the triangle, 4 1/2 inches, to one of the 4 1/2 inch sides of the end wall.
4. Now comes the baking. Get a large bowl and cream the butter and sugar until it becomes fluffy and light.
5. Throw in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and molasses.
6. Slowly beat in the two eggs.
7. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and spices together.
8. Stir the powdered ingredients above into the creamed mixture.
9. Wrap dough in parchment paper, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
10. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface.
11. Divide the dough into into 6. Two of the pieces must be larger.
12. Dust flour over a table. Roll out the 4 smaller pieces to approximately the size of the side wall and the end wall with gable templates; cut out two of each.
13. Roll out remaining dough, and cut into two rectangular roof pieces.
14. Transfer gingerbread onto greased baking trays.
15. In a preheated 375 degree F (190 degrees C) oven, bake gingerbread for 10 minutes, or until crisp. When removing from the oven, leave the gingerbread on the baking trays for a few minutes to set, then transfer to wire racks. Leave out overnight to harden.
16. In a large bowl, lightly whisk 2 egg whites. Gradually beat in approximately 5 cups confectioners’ sugar. The icing should be smooth and stand in firm peaks.
17. Spread or pipe a 9 inch line of icing onto a cake board, and press in one of the side walls so that it sticks firmly and stands upright. If necessary, spread or pipe a little extra icing along either side to help support it.
18. Take an end wall and ice both the side edges. Spread or pipe a line of icing on the board at a right angle to the first wall, and press the end wall into position. Repeat this process with the other two walls until they are all in position. Leave the walls to harden together for at least two hours before putting on the roof. Spread or pipe a thick layer of icing on top of all the walls, and fix the roof pieces in position; the roof should overlap the walls to make the eaves. Pipe or spread a little icing along the crest of the roof to hold the two pieces firmly together. Leave overnight to set firmly.
19. When ready to decorate, make the remaining icing. In a large bowl, lightly whisk 4 egg whites, and mix in remaining confectioners’ sugar as before. Use this to make snow on the roof, and to stick various candies for decoration. Finish with a fine dusting of sifted confectioners’ sugar.