baking, fEAsting, recipes

fEAsting…baking cookies and comfort food

The aroma coming from my kitchen was gorgeous today after an afternoon of baking.  I wanted to try a new cookie recipe I cut out of a magazine and I wasn’t disappointed they are so yummy, just right with a cup of tea – if you like nuts and chocolate then I can certainly recommend them – the recipe is below.  I had to make a few slight changes to use ingredients I had in my cupboard in place of ones I didn’t have but I don’t think it has affected the taste or texture in any way.

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

75g (3oz) butter, softened

125g (4 1/2oz) plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

50g (2oz) light brown soft sugar  – (I used dark brown as it is all I had in the cupboard)

50g (2oz) caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract – (I only put 3 drops in)

1 large egg – (I used a medium egg and there was plenty of liquid)

50g (2oz) hazelnuts, chopped – (I used an organic chopped nut mix by Crazy Jack from Sainsbury’s – almonds, cashew and hazelnuts)

100g (31/2) plain chocolate, roughly chopped – (I used dark chocolate chips and a chopped up left over fun sized fudge bar)

 

Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4

Lightly grease 2 baking sheets (I put a layer of greaseproof on mine brushed with a little oil)

Combine the butter, flour, bi-carb, sugar and vanilla extract in a food processor and blend for a few seconds.

Add the egg, blend briefly, and then stir in the nuts and chocolate.

Place 9 teaspoonfuls of cookie mixture on each baking sheet making sure they are well spaced.  Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until golden brown then leave to cool on the baking sheets.

Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Comfort food

Whilst the oven was on I put in some jacket potatoes to be baking for supper and we had these with a mixed vegetable bake in a cheese sauce sprinkled with parmesan and breadcrumbs for a crispy topping, followed by an apple crumble.  This is one of my favourite suppers for this time of year – definitely comfort food and we can settle down to a bit of ‘telly’ afterwards.

 

 

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baking, fEAsting, recipes

fEAsting…gathering ingredients

I am starting to feel a sense of urgency now October is over as if I am suddenly hurtling towards Christmas and I need to get a move on as I know in my head that I have far more to do than I will have time to do it in.

In the past I have always had a rule that we would never decorate beyond the end of October after finding ourselves once or twice still decorating on Christmas Eve to finish a room (ah we were young and foolish) but now we are just old and foolish and what are we doing – still decorating –  but I need to get the guest room done no matter what so that we can buy the bed and my mum can come to stay before Christmas.

Decorating aside, I thought it would be a good idea to start checking over the store cupboards and stock up on ingredients for THE cake (you know the one I am referring to), the Nut loaf and any other baking I might do for gifts.  So with list in hand I went to town on Saturday to my favourite little whole food shop that I buy from as it is the only place I can find organic short grain brown rice for puddings, organic lemon juice and organic currants, raisins and sultanas for the Christmas cake – I find each year that currants are so hard to get hold of, maybe some recipes don’t use them.  My recipe has equal amounts of currants, raisins and sultanas – I use the same recipe each year and it is totally organic and totally yummy (despite my attempts to burn it!).

I know for all you ‘frugaliers’ out there that organic is more expensive but I made this commitment years ago to support natural farming (otherwise known as environmentally sustainable way of growing food) and I am well prepared to pay the price and cut back in other ways.  Baking ingredients are not cheap even in the supermarkets, I noticed how much the dried apricots have risen in price, I always get the non-sulphured variety – the ones that look more like wrinkly dried brown prunes – I cut these up into small pieces to put in the cake in place of candied peel which we are none too keen on but even if we did like it I would still prefer to use the apricots as I think they keep the cake moist and add to the flavour.

I always look forward to making the cake and even more to eating it but at the moment I am just gathering ingredients so they will be ready when I am.  I don’t usually make it until the last weekend in November, it seems too early at the moment – I am holding off getting too involved in doing things just for Christmas as I do not want it to take over my life so much that I don’t even notice November – so to start with I have plans to do a bit of general baking to try out one or two new recipes I have torn from the stack of magazines I decluttered.

I found a recipe for Toffee Apple Flapjacks and also on my list is Chocolate Hazelnut cookies – I have stopped buying biscuits recently so OH will be pleased to see the biscuit jar with something inside it for a change.

As we have an overabundance of cooking apples again this year in the freezer I will be using some up in a well-tried and tested recipe for Apple Cake, that uses stewed apple rather than chunks, from my Good Housekeeping Basic Cookery book.  This was one of the best wedding presents we received when we married in 1976 and I still use many of the recipes today – as you can see from the title it was the revised version which included metric weights (I hate to say I still use the ounces!).  I’ll post the recipe and photos later this week, however, you will have to take my word that it tastes just heavenly.

Of course the book cover is anything but vegetarian but I love the old-fashioned basic recipes it is a bit like using an old much loved Bero book.

Have a great week x

 

being thrifty, fEAsting, meal planning, nEAtening, rEArranging, recipes, trEAsury

The Friday Feast…

A weekend at home at last – I felt so exhausted this morning that it took quite a while to get myself into gear – so my Friday Fling today was a sit down job and I went through a pile of magazine cuttings labelled ‘Home and Cottage decor’ and threw away any unwanted articles and outdated pictures.

Once I regained some energy to tackle my Friday Tidy I concentrated on getting my kitchen back to a presentable state and in the process I checked the fridges for leftover food.

I am always looking to be as Thrifty as possible and I hate waste so I make Friday my use it up day.  I was quite pleased with myself when I discovered there was nothing to throw away – in fact I was worried that I might not have enough food to make an evening meal but I always enjoy the challenge of making a meal from whatever I have leftover.  We have had some strange concoctions over the years!

In the Fridge

I found a few sticks of celery, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a bag and a half of carrots, some sweet potatoes and 1 egg.  I also needed to use up the end of the jar of tomato paste and the very end of some cheddar cheese.

In the Vegetable Rack

I had onions and a new bag of baking potatoes.

In the Store Cupboard

I had a bag of mixed nuts getting to the end of the best before date and a few slices of bread in the bread bin.

After looking through my recipe folder I decided on a Walnut and Tomato Slice – a recipe which surprisingly incorporated all the above items – I should also have put in a red pepper but I had to make do without.  I baked the potatoes and had peas from the freezer and made a little gravy.  I left the sweet potatoes for tomorrow to make soup with the full bag of carrots and more onions.

This was the result and below is the recipe.

Walnut and Tomato Slice

4oz Wholewheat breadcrumbs

4oz Walnuts ground (though mine was a mix of walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds).

2 Stalks of Celery chopped (I actually used the left over 4 and it was still fine)

1 Onion finely chopped

4oz Carrot finely chopped and part boiled or steamed.

1/2 red pepper chopped

1/2 tsp Thyme

1/2 tsp Sage

1 free range egg, beaten

2 tbsp Tomato Puree

1 tbsp olive oil

Ground black pepper

a little salt to taste

2 Tomatoes thinly slice (I used Cherry tomatoes cut in half)

1 tbsp Sesame Seeds (I used a sprinkling of grated cheese as an alternative).

  • Cook the onion and celery together in the oil and add the red pepper until soft.
  • Mix the breadcrumbs, nuts, herbs, salt and pepper, tomato paste and egg in a large bowl.
  • Add the onion and celery mixture and bind all ingredients together. 
  • Turn mixture into a greased loaf tin and press down (Tip: place a greased strip of greaseproof paper running along the bottom and up the two ends of the dish for ease of turning out after cooking).
  • Arrange the tomatoes along the top, sprinkle with sesame seeds or cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at Gas mark 6 (200C or 180 Fan Assisted) remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.
    Serve hot or cold

It was delicious and could be adapted depending on what you have available – next time I might throw in some mushrooms.

Have a good weekend – lets hope the weather is fine.

 

fEAsting, meal planning, recipes

The end of the week budget meal…

Otherwise known as the ‘throw it all in and use it all up’ and see what you get!

By the end of the week I find that I have an assortment of bits of vegetables that are leftover and not wanting to waste anything I either adapt a recipe or just create something new (a bit like they do on the TV programme ‘Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook’ when presented with an assortment of items).

This is what I had left today to use up – I named it Hearty Chickpea Stew – it was quite delicious and very filling.  I will definitely make it again.

From the fridge or vegetable rack

  • 1 Leek
  • 2 small and almost sprouting onions
  • A few ends of celery
  • A handful of new potatoes
  • A medium sweet potato
  • 4 small carrots

From the store cupboard or pantry

  • I can of Chickpeas
  • a few slices of bread

Plus a few staple items

  • Add 1 tablespoon Olive Oil, 1 Kallo Tomato Stock cube, a scoop of Tomato paste, salt and pepper and a pinch of mixed herbs.

To make

  • Gently cook the onion , leek and celery together in the olive oil until soft.
  • Add chopped / diced vegetables
  • Add Tin Chickpeas (well rinsed)
  • Add stock to cover veg, tomato paste and seasonings
  • Bring to boil and simmer for about 30 minutes

Serve hot with crusty or speciality bread

 

celebrations, fEAsting, recipes

Bake me a cake as fast as you can…

Last Tuesday I baked cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday on Thursday.  The first batch of chocolate ones did not make the grade –  they were hard, dry and quite floury more like a craggy chocolate pudding so I tried a second time with a plain mixture to which I added stewed apple in the middle and sultanas.  On Thursday I added a vanilla frosting topping and an iced decoration courtesy of Sainsbury’s.   This time they were light and extremely delicious – I will definitely make this recipe again.

150g unsalted butter (I used Bertolli Olive Oil spread)

115g caster sugar

1tsp French Almond extract

2 medium free range eggs

140g self raising flour

50g sultanas

100g cooked Bramley Apple sauce

I mainly use Organic and natural products where possible.

To make

Preheat oven to 180C, fan 160C, Gas 4.

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add Almond extract, eggs and 1tbsp flour and continue beating until combined.  Add remaining flour and sultanas and fold in.

Place 12 cupcake cases in a tin and fill each halfway with the mixture and a good teaspoon of apple sauce into each and top with remaining mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden.  Leave to cool for a couple of minutes in tin then place on a cooling rack.

On Friday we had those Cheese and Leek Ramekins again.  This time I took a picture of them before they went in the oven and below is the recipe I never got around to posting last time.

Cheesey Leek Ramekins

My advice is to weigh and  prepare all the ingredients before starting to cook.

1tbsp olive oil

500g leeks, finely sliced

3 large eggs beaten

100g wholemeal breadcrumbs

125g mature farmhouse cheddar cheese, grated

1tsp dried tarragon or try it with a few stalks of freshly chopped chives

salt and ground black pepper

1-2 tomatoes sliced to place on top

To make

Heat the oil in a pan and gently cook the leeks for 10 mins.

Mix together the eggs, breadcrumbs, cheese and tarragon or chives.  Add cooked leeks and season mixture.

Spoon mixture into greased ramekin dishes. Place a slice of tomato on top of each. Bake at 200C or Gas 6 for about 15 mins until golden brown.  Leave to stand for a minute or two then run a knife around the edge and turn out.  Serve with a salad.  Can be eaten hot, warm or cold.

These are really good to take to work for lunchtime the next day with a salad.