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Simple flavoured choc truffles

With just a handful of ingredients, you can create really easy chocolate truffles for when you need a lil hit of the sweet stuff. Using this recipe as a base, I tried adding different flavours ’til I was happy with the result.

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A couple of tips:

  • Don’t be tempted to take your mixture out too early, it needs to set properly in the fridge before you try to roll the truffles. If you do it too early, i.e. under 4 hours later, you’ll most likely end up with a delicious flat truffle mess.
  • Oil your hands with a flavourless oil before you start, then the mixture won’t stick.
  • Have everything to hand, or you WILL get truffle mixture all over your kitchen and your housemate/parents/partner WILL be angry and/or sticky.
  • Chill your choice coated truffles on greaseproof paper for easy removal, without cracking the hardened chocolate shell.
  • The white chocolate mixture can be slightly harder to handle, it helps to have another thickening agent in there e.g. lemon curd, to give it the right consistency.
  • With the white chocolate, be sure to use double cream or extra thick cream, and feel free to add 50g more choice to help the thickening.

A few versions I tried….

Chocolate orange

chocolate orange truffle

Chocolate orange

This might have been my favourite. Really strong orange flavour with minimal effort. To the dark chocolate mix I added; 2 tbsp cointreau or grand mariner, the zest of one orange, juice of half an orange. I’d advise tasting the mix and adding the booze to taste. Roll in cocoa to finish.

Rum & coconut

coconut2

Rum & coconut

These were also a huge success, went own a storm with the family! To the chocolate mixture I added; 1 tbsp desiccated coconut, 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp dark rum. Roll in desiccated coconut to finish.

White chocolate & pistachio

pistachio

White chocolate & pistachio

These were slightly tricky to roll. I would advice dipping the truffles into the chocolate with a fork, to avoid missing any spots, and sprinkling on the pistachio to the chocolate rather than rolling them. To the white chocolate mixture I added; 1 tbsp chopped pistachios.

White chocolate & lemon curd

white-choc

White chocolate & lemon curd

These were utterly delicious and worked the best of the white choc batch. The sweet and tart lemon offsets the chocolate nicely. To the white choc mixture I added; 1 1/2 tbsp lemon curd, zest of one lemon, a squeeze of lemon juice. Cover in white chocolate.

Peanut butter

peanut-butter

Peanut butter truffles

This is a no-brainer. To the chocolate mixture I added a heaped tablespoon of good-quality, crunchy peanut butter, then stirred until everything was combined and the peanut butter was melted. Once set, roll in chopped peanuts or cocoa.

Enjoy! xx

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Easy vegan banana bread

I didn’t have any eggs this morning, but I was craving banana bread. The eternal dilemma. So I decided to experiment with a non-eggy and butter version and it turned out great! Golden brown on the outside, moist and squidgy on the inside. Toasted with a slathering of chocolate spread or peanut butter… it’s the best thing since sliced banana bread.

Try it. Trust me, you will not regret it.

banana-bread-pic

Ingredients:

3 small-medium ripe bananas (or 2 large)
100ml vegetable oil or coconut oil
1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter or your choice of nut butter
2 tsp cinnamon
handful of chopped walnuts
225g self-raising flour
50g soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
A splash of almond/hazelnut milk if your mixture’s a little too thick
2 tsp baking powder

You will need:
1 2lb loaf tin
some tinfoil

What to do:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C (fan oven)/200C (normal oven). Line your loaf tin.
  2. Mash your bananas with a fork in a bowl. I gave mine a rough mash so there were still a few lumps. Then, add in your cinnamon (or your choice of spices), your veggie oil, peanut butter, walnuts, sugar and maple syrup. Give everything a good mix together with a big spoon, making sure it’s all well combined.
  3. Sieve in your flour and spoon in your baking powder. Mix again ’til well combined. Add a splash of almond milk if your mixture’s a bit thick and claggy.
  4. Spoon into your loaf tin and bake for 40 mins until it sounds hollow when you tap the underside. I found my loaf was browning too quickly, so I covered in after 20 mins and it turned out great.
  5. That’s it! Have a slightly cooled slice, still a little bit warm with a spoonful of chocolate spread. Pass out with happiness.

Let me know how you get on or if there are any yummy substitutions you make!

G xx

Review: Afternoon tea at The Chesterfield

Charlie and the chocolate factory afternoon tea

I’m a self-confessed fan of an afternoon tea. It’s an experience. And this one was no different.

What’s on offer

A Charlie and the chocolate factory themed afternoon tea at The Chesterfield in London. You’re greeted by a waiter/waitress offering fizzy lifting drinks for all. It’s a cranberry juice, cream soda and popping candy concoction that gets you in the mood for something special. We were also offered our choice of everlasting gob stopper by Willy Wonka himself.

fizzy

I’ll admit Mr Wonka was a slightly odd addition to the party. Complete with sunglasses and pimp cane and brandishing ‘golden tickets’ (the possibility of winning a free glass of champagne or stay at the hotel upon your next visit), his patter wasn’t particularly Wonka-esque.

spread

The food and drink

This was an unlimited afternoon tea, which meant we could have refills of all the sandwiches, pasties and Wonka treats we wanted! This was a major plus. The sandwiches were really tasty and being the veggie, I got my own plate of special sarnies; goats cheese and red onion chutney, roasted veggies and pesto, cucumber and cream cheese and roasted tomato and cheddar. This was much appreciated!

The main event: the wonka chocolates – Wonka bars, oompla loompa cupcakes, blueberry macarons, bubblegum eclairs, lemon sherbert slices, fruity pastries and a raspberry ganache filled golden chocolate egg. We enjoyed a glass of champagne with our treats and our choice of flavourful tea. The staff were pretty knowledgable about the tea and recommending stuff wasn’t a problem. one of our party had the chocolate tea, which was, surprisingly, not the watery offering you’d expect. It was pretty damn tasty!

wonka bars

My own personal highlights were the wonka bars, with a crunchy honeycomb filling and the oompa loompa cupcakes:

oompa loompa cupcake

the full monty

The golden eggs were incredibly rich, but the fruity filling cut through the dark chocolate quite nicely. I still didn’t manage to finish one though! The bubblegum eclairs were a surprise, normal on the outside and bright pink on the inside. A slightly odd combination but it fitted with the rest of the treats. The blueberry macaron was beautiful and had a subtle fruity after taste, definitely take some home in your very stylish take away box!

The general atmosphere was lively, with renditions of happy birthday every 15 minutes or so, it’s obviously a popular location for celebrations and I can see why. The staff are always happy to re-fill your plate/glass, recommend the perfect tea for your taste and accommodate any suggestions you have. They definitely made the experience, along with the pretty much constant stream of Wonka bars.

me and pip

Overall, I’d give The Chesterfield 4 stars! ****

Spanish Alfajores

Some sticky caramel goodness wrapped up in buttery biscuit form.

My caramel coloured obsession!

My caramel coloured obsession!

This biscuit can be found all over Latin America, Spain and the Philippines and it happens to be one of the first treats I had upon arriving in Sevilla, in a little cafe opposite my flat!

Normally the Spanish biscuits are sandwiched with dulce de leche, I made a caramel substitute, which tastes just as good. The coconut sprinkling is optional! They’re perfect with a cup of tea and 5 minutes of peace.

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You could just as well use tinned carnation caramel for these, I had a lot of leftover caramel which is going into some brownies. This particular recipe from Waitrose magazine uses golden syrup and dark sugars, which give it a gorgeous rich flavour and colour. I have to say seeing this Spanish gem gave me a whole lot of nostalgia and an urge to get baking.

Check out a simple recipe on bbcgoodfood.com

I do have a few hints and tips to make sure your beautiful biscuits go without a hitch…

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  1. I made the majority of my biscuits a little larger than the norm as you can see, but I also made some smaller, bite-sized ones which went down a treat. They were also a little easier to pack up and bring into the office, and only needed a teeny teaspoon of caramel or dulce de leche.
  2. It’s worth chilling your biccies once they’re filled so the caramel doesn’t run. It can be a little drippy so prepare for your kitchen to get messy.
  3. Try not to overfill your biscuits. Trust me, less is more.

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And that’s that! Enjoy xx

Sweet treats: Raspberry and white chocoalte blondies

I’ve been craving something sweet today ❤

Fresh from the garden

Fresh from the garden

This white chocolate and raspberry tray bake was just what the doctor ordered. It feels light and summery but moist and squidgy enough to satisfy any and all chocolate lust. It’s baked on a low heat for a little longer so it’s deliciously cakey. Is that a word? I’m sure it is.

We’ve had a glut of raspberries because of the gorgeous weather and I couldn’t resist baking them into something! So here we go, delicious blondies:

I used this recipe from bbcgoodfood.com which gave me a nice gooey-in-the-middle blondie. I would recommend covering with foil about 2/3rds of the way through baking if you’re getting a brown top and an un-cooked base.

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This was snapped up in a flash by the fam and sliced up easily to cart around to lucky lucky friends. It was also a delicious way to use up the glut from the garden!

Enjoy! xx

Summer dining: Roasted tomato quiche

Quiche is a nice light summer dinner, serve up with a nice salad and some summer greens and you’re ready to go!

Ready for the feast!

Ready for the feast!

I’m on a bit of a roll with the tarts at the moment. This recipe is pretty easy, it just takes a little time to bake the pastry then the quiche itself. Feel free to do it in advance and leave it to cool, dish it up later when you’re ready.

It’s a basic shortcrust pastry and the filling is easily thrown together with some gorgeous roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and a strong, tasty cheese.

This is a BBC Good Food recipe, which i find pretty clear and simple to execute. It served the whole of my boyfriend’s family, 7 people.

quiche 3

Blackcurrant tart

I’ve been indulging my sweet tooth once again with this gorgeous blackcurrant tart, recipe courtesy of The Hairy Bikers. I was surprised how easy it was to do! The pastry is pretty simple, pop that in the fridge then top on some yummy berries.

I’ve been using my own crop of blackcurrants from the garden.

Blackcurrants from the garden

Blackcurrants from the garden

Ingredients:

Pastry:

– 200g plain flour

-1tbsp caster sugar

– 125g cold butter, cubed

-1 medium egg

Tart:

-350g fresh blackcurrants

-2tsp cornflour

-100g caster sugar

-200ml creme fraiche

-12 small mint leaves

To make the pastry:

Put the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor (or crumb by hand as I did) until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Once it has the right texture, add the egg until the mixture comes together in a ball, remove and shape in to a slightly flattened ball.

While your pastry is chilling, put the oven on at 200C, or 180 for a fan oven.

Roll your pastry out on a floured surface to the size of your tin, about 25cm in diameter and a little bit thicker than a £1 coin. Line the pie plate, crimp the edges and chill in the fridge for 30 mins.

The currants

The currants

For the tart:

Toss 3/4 of the blackcurrants in the cornflour and all but a tablespoon of the sugar. Scatter over the centre of the pastry then top with the remaining blackcurrants. Sprinkle both the pastry and the blackcurrants with the remaining sugar. Bake for 25-30 mins or until the blackcurrants are softened and the pastry is cooked and lightly brown.

The finished tart!

The finished tart!

Remove the tart from the oven and leave to stand for 10 mins. Top with creme fraiche and scatter the mint leaves, serve and enjoy!

xx

Make your own pasta

This week i’ll be telling you how to make your own pasta! My machine is designed for making fettucine and spaghetti. Fettuccine seemed the easiest and least intimidating to start with and I was right, it’s actually pretty simple!

Et viola!

Et viola!

Top tip: run some flour through the press and cutters to make sure none of your dough gets stuck! You really can taste the difference with freshly made pasta. It just takes a little time to let the dough dry out once you’ve got it as thin as you need, but only 20 mins or so and then you’re good to go! I’ll keep this simple. You’ll need a pasta machine, ours was around £20 in a sale at a lovely cookery store in Birmingham but you can get great ones on amazon, in M&S or Debenhams for about the same. Ingredients: 500g Grade ’00’ pasta flour 4 eggs tablespoon of lukewarm water …and that’s it I swear. Impressive hmm? Instructions:

  1. Pile all the flour onto a clean surface and make a medium-sized well in the middle for your eggs to sit in.
  2. Crack your eggs into the well in the flour.
  3. Slowly begin to mix the eggs together, bringing in a little flour from the sides every time until you gradually mix everything together in a doughy consistency.
  4. knead the dough with the heels of your hands until it’s combined into a springy ball that doesn’t stick to your fingers. If the mixture is too dry add a little bit of water to the mix. It shouldn’t be too rough and floury when you’re finished kneading.
  5. Now, flatten out the dough to about 1-2cm thick and chop it into roughly 3 equal sections, so you’re not dealing with too much at once. (the dough can keep for a few days, I still have some in the fridge).

Now the fun bit: pressing your pasta.

The magical pasta press

The magical pasta press

So you need to clamp it firmly to a work surface. Make sure there isn’t too much clutter around, once you get cracking it just makes life difficult. Get one of your pieces of dough ready and set your machine to the first notch on the dial at the side, number 1. This is the widest setting. Feed it through the rollers once, making sure your rollers and floured. Fold it together again and repeat this pressing 7 times before you move up the next notch. Once you move up to 2, you won’t need to fold it in half after each pressing. Move all the way up through to around 7/8 for fettucine. We stopped at 7 as our sheets were getting pretty long and pretty thin, which was perfect for what we wanted! 11392973_10155678424810013_7672000418239700820_n So now, you have your sheets. You just need to lay them on clean cloths to dry out for 20 minutes before you cut them up. Once they’re nice and dry, choose the right setting on the top of your machine and slowly feed the sheets through. I recommend having someone on pasta catching duty with a plate at the other end. Once it’s cut, you can pretty much cook it straight away! It only takes 2-3 minutes before it’s perfectly al dente.

Delicious carbonara, all freshly made by my own fair hand!

Delicious carbonara, all freshly made by my own fair hand!

Enjoy! xx

Veggie Pasties part 2: Butternut squash and lentil

Ok so this is a continuation of my first pasty recipe, which was aubergine and mozzarella. This is the next generation of that pasty, pasty 2.0, the ultimate delicious veggie pasty.

Butternut squash filled goodness!

Butternut squash filled goodness!

It’s just moist enough to keep the veggies succulent but doesn’t make the pastry soggy. Not a soggy bottom in sight!

So the pastry recipe is the same, I kept the thyme in and I have to say it doesn’t make too much difference but I prefer it without for this particular flavour combo.

For the original pastry, follow this part of the recipe:

BUT, for this new and exciting filling, check this out!

Ingredients;

1 butternut squash cubed

2 medium onions, finely chopped

tomato puree, 2tbsp

a squirt of tomato ketchup

400g green lentils (one tin)

One large teaspoon of ras el hanout paste (this is magic)

Sunflower oil

1.) Chop your butternut squash into small 1cm cubes, pop in the oven with a knob of butter at 180c for 25-30mins to cook until soft. Take out and set to one side.

2.) Add one tbsp sunflower oil, then add your chopped onions and cook for about 10 mins til clear, then add the lentils, tomato puree, ketchup and the ras el hanout paste.Mix well and season to taste!

3.) Add your butternut squash cubes. That’s it, couldn’t be easier!

So tasty!

So tasty!

Get experimenting and enjoy!