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Posts from the ‘Recipes’ Category

Fairtrade chocolate tiffin

October 4, 2012

niknoks

fairtrade_chocolate_tiffin

The best thing about the little chill in the air? Chocolate takes a lot longer to melt so I get to make and scoff one of my all-time favourites without getting my fingers quite so sticky.

The chocolate tiffin. This week I had the pleasure of opening a beautiful tote bag of Fairtrade baking goodies send out as part of their brilliant Big Fair Bake Campaign. A bounty of nuts, dried fruits and dark chocolates made me immediately think of tiffin.

This is such a simple no-bake recipe that really does taste like it has taken time. You can make it as budget or as expensive as you like, with the fruits and nuts you use dictating the overall taste. In February I blogged the basic recipe but here I packed in brazils, almonds and hazelnuts for the nuts, sultanas and apricots for the fruit and broke-up homemade shortbread for the biscuit. Plus a handful of Maltesers – the chocolate melts but the honeycomb remains whole.

The result is a perfectly decadent  blend of rich chewy crunchiness that warms up your insides, more so when you know you are supporting global trade that is proper, right and fair.

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Oat & raisin cookies

September 24, 2012

niknoks

 

 

What a miserable, windy rainy day. Kind of day you want to hibernate, watch old films, drink many cups of tea and dunk biscuits until the outlook is not so bleak.

I accidentally made these chewy cookies when I went to boil the kettle. Needs must. They were to be the Oat, ginger & date recipe I wrote about in June and by the looks of it, on a very similar day. Just no ginger and date this time, I went with 100g raisins and 50g chopped hazelnuts.

The end result: a stack of equally comforting golden biscuits to eat and eat until it is less grey.

Blackberry buckle

September 19, 2012

niknoks

Blackberry_buckle

Quick, it’s berry season, get in as many as you can! This season really reminds me of being a littly at the bottom of nanny seaside’s garden, packing as many plump berries as I could fit into my already full, hamster-like, stained pink cheeks. There was then the added pleasure of rubbing the fruit over my lips to make lipstick. Heaven. I’d like to have done that over in the blackberry bushes in Hackney Marshes, there were literally 1000’s of them, ripe for the picking.

I am playing with berries in every way I can this week; freezing*,  jamming, sorbet-ing, purée-ing, juicing, staining (my face) : anything to keep them in my life for a little while longer. Best though, when the light is lowering and that brings a chill is a good hearty, berry crumble or a slab of berry juicy pudding. Or both.

One of my favourite people in the world makes a to-die-for Blueberry buckle; this is like the US version of the cobbler but rather than making a floury batter topping over the fruit, the mix is made then the fruit stirred in, with a buttery oat layer scattered to finish. The result is a lovely combination of doughy, juicy sponge with a crunchier, crumble crust.

He uses a recipe by Martha Stewart with a strudel topping plus extra zest, I have tweaked this slightly by adding an extra egg to the main mix, nuts and oats to give more crunch. You can obviously try any fruit you wish but personally, the tart little blackberry is a winner for me.

 

 

*Freezing and then making the blackberry ice cream cake by Nigel Slater in September’s  Observer Food Monthly is a great way to save berries and use them later, with minimal effort.

 

blackberry_buckle_cake_infographic

Chicken caesar salad

September 12, 2012

niknoks

caesar_salad

Fit for a king?

Well, it appears the original Caesar salad was not something served up for an emperor as I first thought, but a chef who was running out of almost everything in his restaurant. I like those kind of desperation-born inventions. The chef in question was Caesar Cardini who laid claim to making the first Caesar, hence the name, on an Independence Day in the 1920’s. Customers to feed and cupboards bare, he threw the lettuce in a bowl, coated and tossed it with a mix of garlic, egg, Worcestershire sauce and olive oil. Now I wonder if they would have come up with that with those five on ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’?

Caesar’s salad was a hit, his salad empire grew, thank goodness, with many a variation being served up all across the globe with his recipe still be bottled up and sold all over the US.

To make it now, any crunchy lettuce will do – romaine, cos or little gems works too. Over the top, scatter grilled bacon, fish or chicken, with croutons or without. Then there is the dressing – with or without egg yolks, anchovies, capers. There is a Spanish version with chickpeas and Manchego, one with seared rump, even a fried oyster Caesar.

I keep the tangy anchovies in and the egg – coddled; boiled for 45secs to keep the end sauce thicker. I add quite a bit of lemon juice and a large teaspoon of Dijon, basically, for me, the sharper the better. I do like the odd caper thrown in now and again as well.

Really, I just love it because it ‘feels’ healthy (just like flapjacks do because they have wholesome oats in) and that is good enough for me.

infographic_caesar_salad

Top tip, wash and prep the leaves way before, allow to dry and then chill before serving. It keeps them crisp fresh.

Raspberry Sorbet

September 3, 2012

niknoks

raspberry_sorbet

 

“…And if it was warm she wouldn’t wear much more.”

Well it is warm and although I am fully clothed, this sharp, tart flavoured ice really is perfect on its own as a thirst quenching treat on a late summers afternoon. Sorbets and ices really don’t take up much time in the preparation and the best thing about a home-made tub is the intensity of flavours you can get by packing as much fresh ripe fruit as you can in.  You can always add booze too for an after dinner adult version. I like the sound of the blood orange and campari sorbet served at QuoVadis in Soho, praised by Darina Allen in the Irish Examiner. Simple traditional pairings will work as well, like blackberry and rum or peach and prosecco.

My love for raspberries is never-ending so blitzing and churning vats of them into a juicy pink mulch for the freezer is always a pleasure, particularly the intense sweet smells that then waft around the kitchen for hours later. It also means I don’t have to go through the end-of-summer break up from them quite so soon and if you have a batch made up, you are ready for days when the sun does show up for an unexpected but very welcome visit.

The recipe below was adapted from that listed on Saveur.com  – I increased the fruit to sugar ratio and doubled the amount of lemon juice. 

 

 

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Orange & lemon cake

August 24, 2012

niknoks

orange_cake

 

Oranges and lemons. Fruits I normally like squeezed in my glass, rather than additions to a bake, especially when the recipe calls for the whole fruit, peel, pith and all. That said, the simplicity of the Claudia Roden orange cake recipe (first published in 1963), cited in the excellent The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, intrigued me. Just five ingredients in Claudia’s cake with no fat nor gluten in sight, the kind of recipe you’d look and think something must have been left out.

The fruit is boiled for two hours prior so the peel looses its bitterness and the juices become sweeter, the whole fruit is then pulped and added to the mix, then baked for an hour. The result is – I don’t say this very often – fantastic. A really light, fresh slice of cake that really does melt in your mouth.

I added a lemon to the stewing oranges to up the more zesty flavours. I want to give some other nuts a try like hazelnuts and different fruits  –  like cherries or even plums might be worth a go.

As it is, this is definitely, my new favourite.

 

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Cream Horns – Olympic torches

August 3, 2012

niknoks

olympic_torch

I said I would not succumb to baking anything remotely related to the games. Then I got all excited at the opening ceremony. Then I got excited about the swimmers. Then I needed something to eat whilst watching the swimmers. Then I found a recipe for ‘cream horns’ whilst searching for dear old Gran Crichton’s shortbread in an excellent 1950’s cookbook – Odham’s Encyclopedia Of Cookery. Then I laughed because I have never not laughed at ‘cream horns’. Now I have made these and called them torches. Now I am going to eat them….whilst watching more medals being won.

Fill these with anything you like; I added a honey glaze and sprinkled with chopped nuts, so they are a bit like baklava. You can dip them in chocolate, roll them in cinnamon, cover with edible glitter if you so wished. Even go savoury as the book suggested, with whipped cream and….prawn. See, anything is possible.

 

infographic_olympic_torch

Lemon poppyseed cake

July 30, 2012

niknoks

Now, if you were an Olympic athlete who had been hard at it all day, what cake would you want to reward yourself with?

I think I would go for this.

Very M-word, light yet dense, with a slightly crunchy texture and a citrus summer flavour, it has a little bit of everything.

This one is the best recipe I have come across from Dan Lepard as it feels fresher and more zesty than the traditional, dressed up, lemon drizzle sponges. Like a carrot cake, nearly half the fat is sunflower oil with the lemon-sugar syrup soaked through the cake once it is baked rather than having a heavier buttery frosting sitting on top.

Even nicer with a spoonful of marscapone and a raspberry or two on the side. Definitely a champion of cakes, best with a cuppa whilst sitting back to enjoy the gymnastics.

 

infographic_lemon_cake

Pasta Salads

July 24, 2012

niknoks

Finally, the sun is here and we can all get excited about fresh crunchy salads.

Here are a four easy pasta based recipes that I developed for the Good Food Channel, all quick to throw together so you get your optimum sunshine time…

italian_pasta_salad

tuna_salad

Banoffee pie

July 13, 2012

niknoks

banoffee pie

I will tell you something for nothing, banoffee pie is…hold on: “Any dieters/calorie counters please look away…now!”

Banoffee is full fat. It goes off the scales; the arrow just bounces to ‘phat’.

Its ladled, oozing with sugars, butters and lashings of cream. All so so bad for you yet oh, so so good. I have to say this is one of the most delicious puddings I have ever whipped up and if you are feel tempted to indulge yourself with something decadently delicious, why not go all the way?

I always thought this was an American recipe but Wikipedia says I am wrong and it originates in East Sussex. This one was adapted from a Mary Berry recipe, where the toffee is made from scratch. You can buy cafe con leche in a tin instead if you’re really short of time. You can use ginger nut or hobnobs instead of digestives and add anything gooey or nutty you fancy drizzled or sprinkled over the top. All the more heavenly.

So, if you are want a real treat this weekend, one that’ll really put a cheeky smile on you face, start crushing those biscuits.

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