Archive | November, 2011

Decorating Gingerbread Families!!

27 Nov

First ever video blog! Let me know what you think? Any suggestions for the next one?

Keep it delicious!

When it’s cold outside, just stay in!

25 Nov

Global warming has heated up our planet and it is surprisingly warm outside, but you know what that means? Soon enough we are going to be dashed into the blizzardy weather we were plunged into last year, where we will need our Eskimo gear to get anywhere. Forget that…All you need is wine, heating and food and I’m sure there will be no need to leave the warm cocoon that is you home so long as you have these handy substitutes!   

Here are a list of ingredients which can be substituted when the cold hits and your pyjamas are way to comfortable to hop out of: 

1)      O dear we are out of salt! Not to worry substitute it for half as much lemon juice.

2)      We needed granulated sugar but I only have confectionary…Don’t be sad! 1 cup of granulated sugar = 1 ¾ cup confectionary sugar!

3)      We need breadcrumbs for the chicken but there are none in the cupboard!! Not to worry…use cornflake, crackers or croutons…just as delicious, if not more!

4)      Making vanilla cupcakes but there isn’t any vanilla extract left in the bottle…Just replace it with equal amounts of maple syrup and liquor!

5)      No cornstarch to thicken up that gorgeous soup? Not to worry whisk in some plain flour instead!   

6)      No butter? Not to worry, vegetable oil will do just the trick!

7)      Trying to squeeze a dry lemon? Don’t! just add half as much white vinegar!

8)      Honey?? Nope we have none! OK just grab 1 ¼ cup white sugar and 1/3 cup hot water and there you have it home made honey substitute!

9)      Ketchup? A necessity in most peoples homes…just get 1 cup pasata(pureed tomatoes in tins), 1 table spoon sugar and 1 teaspoon of vinegar…give it a mix and there you have it!

10)  No soy sauce for the noodles? Just use 4 table spoons Worcestershire sauce and 1 table spoon of water!

11)  Now for the strange one…no eggs? In sweet treats just chuck in half a banana! Or for savoury munchies ¼ cup silken tofu! 

 

Strange but true!! They all work, so don’t worry this winter….

 

Stay warm and keep it delicious!  

Happy Thanks Giving!

24 Nov

Image

To us British folk Thanks Giving Day is just another Thursday in November, but my love for it has blossomed through my research on its existence. To the Americans it is a glorious occasion in which thanks is given to those around them…it began in November 1623, when Governor William Bradford of the 1620 Pilgrim Colony, “Plymouth Plantation” inPlymouth,Massachusettsproclaimed:

“All ye Pilgrims with your wives and little ones, do gather at the Meeting House…and render Thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.”

Not only an exciting occasion where gorgeous food takes centre stage but a gathering to celebrate togetherness. Personally I think we have been pushed into a culture were appreciation has diluted and greed has overcome us, and for this reason days like today should be encouraged as a moment to say thank you for all that we have.

I give thanks to my family and friends for keeping me strong during the bad times and pushing me towards happiness and success. What/Who do you give thanks to?

Keep it delicious!

Top 10 Baking Tips

21 Nov

Let’s face it we all need a little help now and again and I’m not scared to admit I cannot live without my ‘Top 10 baking tips’ printed out, laminated and propped up in my kitchen. They may seem simple, obvious or completely stupid but ensuring you stick to them will give you great results!

Here goes:

1. Pre-heat the oven 15 minutes before you use it, during baking try not to open the door too often as this affects air flow and internal temperature.
2. Always measure ingredients accurately, precision is an essential part of achieving the best results.
3. Remove eggs from the fridge two hours prior to baking, as cold eggs can cause the mixture to curdle.
4. When baking a cake work as fast as possible, once the wet ingredients are added the rising agent begins to works immediately.
5. For cupcakes use an ice-cream scoop to pour mixture into cases, this ensures every cupcake is the same size.
6. Making pastry? Ceramic baking beans are not necessary; use uncooked rice or haricot beans when blind baking instead.
7. To prevent your shortcrust pastry from shrinking; chill it in the fridge for at least 15 minutes before rolling and a further 15 minutes before baking.
8. When making pastry the colder the surface the better ensuring the fat doesn’t melt. I even wash my hands with cold water before I get stuck in!
9. All ovens have hot patches so turn your biscuits and cakes around midway through baking to ensure a beautiful golden colour and an evenly baked treat.
10. Always bake on the middle shelf of the oven; this lets the hot air circulate around your cake.

Let me know if these helped? Any tips you guys could share with our readers?

Keep it delicious!

Ho! Ho! Ho! Santa Clause is nearly in town!

14 Nov

With 6 weeks till Christmas, it only means one thing…2 weeks till we can excitedly open our advent calendars!! People assume these lovely daily treats are only for children…but I beg to differ, with these splendid inventions coming in all shapes, sizes and tastes there’s always one out there especially for you!

Here are a few of my favourites:

A lovely re-usable, elegant, cream fabric advent calendar, perfect for those who want a different treat everyday! For a delicious daily treat for this calendar, try our new Spoony Bites, juicy bite size portions of cake, coated in a shell of chocolate, at £1 each I’d probably have 5 a day!

How about something a little more traditional? We cannot forget what Christmas is about and this would be the perfect advent calendar to teach the kids, remind ourselves of the story of Christmas, or as a great talking piece for any Christmassy household!

Looking for something a little cheap and cheerful this Christmas? How about a Thornton’s Advent calendar? Lovely chunks of melt in your mouth milk chocolate perfect for kids and adults, not only that, they can be personalised for free!

Personally I have and obsession with anything Hotel Chocolat related, their chocolates are immaculately sculpted, tasty and extremely original, they are worth every penny!! This luxury advent calendar is perfect for two, so an ideal gift for your partner, house-mate or sibling, but to be honest I’d probably eat both truffles myself!

Which ones are your favourites?

Keep it delicious!

Remembrance Day

11 Nov

First and foremost a compassionate word for those who have risked their lives, lost their families and those who are still out there fighting for freedom. “For love of our country they accepted death” (James A Garfield) and we owe them at least a moments silence as a gesture of our gratitude.

Well after looking up the history of the Great War, I came across some interesting recipes which we still lovingly make today. For most deserts were a luxury, but for those who were lucky enough to score up a yummy treat their options ranged from fruit crumbles to fruit cake and bread pudding. Having been governed by the Food minister that rationing was imperative, families knew no such thing as wasting. Here is a quick, historical recipe for bread pudding, where stale bread was transformed into a scrumptious treat.

What you will need (nothing is measured accurately purely because families merely chucked in remainders of what they had in order to enjoy this comforting desert):
– A few slices of stale bread
– Dollops of butter/margarine
– Sprinkles of sugar (extra for topping)
– Sprinkles of raisins and sultanas
– 1 egg (dried)
– Milk
– Cinnamon

What you do:
1) Preheat the oven to 160°C
2) Soften out stale bread by soaking it in water for 10 minutes.
3) Squeeze bread until firmly dry, place into an oven proof dish and add all the dry ingredients (except the spices).
4) Add milk till it reaches a sticky consistency.
5) Top with cinnamon before popping into the oven.
6) 10 minutes before it browns, sprinkle some sugar and extra cinnamon to make the top crisp up.
7) Take it out the oven and enjoy while hot.

It is interesting to think something we take for granted today was seen as a reward to most people during the war. If you know of any other rationing war recipes, I’d love to know about them.

Keep it delicious!

The Cutest and Most Delicious Gingerbread People

9 Nov

The cutest gingerbread family.

T’is that time of the year, weeks away from the sound of jingle bells, Starbucks red cups flying all over the place and the smell of gorgeous goodies being baked, cooked, sizzled and fried in time for the big feast. Who else is as excited as me? For a couple of weeks now I’ve been ‘slaving’ away perfecting the edible, Christmas essentials, from mince pies to almond snaps and even Irish coffee! From week to week I will share a few of these recipes with you, including video tutorials of how to make something so simple, so pretty! If you guys have any suggestions of recipes you want me to share or tips and tricks you’d like to learn let me know!

First off, gingerbread people! Not just for children, everyone loves these fabulous treats, but who has had one that is perfectly crunchy with a yummy soft centre? Well here is how:

What you will need:
– 80g unsalted butter
– 50g soft light brown sugar
– ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
– 40g golden syrup
– 20g black treacle
– 2 egg yolks
– 250g plain flour and a tiny bit extra for dusting
– 1 tsp ground ginger
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– Rolling pin
– Gingerbread cutters – I used the two children and an extra tiny one purely because I think they are cuter!

What you do:
1) Preheat the oven to 175°C
2) Grab a bowl and beat together the brown sugar and butter into a creamy consistency.
3) Chuck in the golden syrup, black treacle and yolks and continue beating until it is all incorporated, remembering to scrape the sides.
4) Mix the remaining dry ingredients together (flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon). Sift this into the creamy mix, get your hands stuck in and bring the mixture together.
5) Flour a properly clean surface; roll the dough out to a thickness of 0.5cms and get to stamping, the more you can get the better! Make sure to keep going until all the dough is used, it just means we have no wastage and more to eat 😉
6) Place the gingerbread people onto a lined baking tray and bake for 8 minutes, once done leave to cool on wire rack before decorating.

Stay tuned, I will be posting a short video on how to decorate your gingerbread people in a few days, but if you can’t wait to make these little biscuits into adorable characters then go ahead, grab some sweets, icing pens, and anything else scrumptiously pretty. I would love to see how you did so make sure you let me know!

Keep it delicious!