Monday, 22 May 2017

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE TOBLERONE COOKIES

My lovely ex mother in law came for tea last week and so I wanted to bake something yummy. I initially chose to make a carrot cake but I then decided that it wasn't the best idea as I would no doubt eat the whole thing and I need to get into a bikini in less than a week. So instead my daughter Bella chose this cookie recipe. 

I love Toblerone - it was my dad's favourite and so reminds me of him. One summer, I had a friend staying at our holiday home with us and she ate the last piece of Toblerone....my dad was really cross and shouted at her....it was very very embarrassing!! Thankfully this recipe makes more than enough cookies to share and it took around 30 minutes plus an extra 30 minutes chilling time.

Ingredients for 16 cookies:

2 x 100g bars of milk chocolate Toblerone
100g milk chocolate, chopped
50g unsalted butter, softened
100g soft light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
1 tbsp whole milk


Break 8 triangles off one Toblerone and cut each in half so you have 16 triangles. Put them in the fridge to chill. Chop the rest into small chunks. Try not to eat the chocolate (I struggled with this part)!




Beat the butter and sugar until pale and light. Mine didn't look that light but I figured that is because the sugar is brown and when I normally beat sugar and butter, I use white sugar. Gradually add the beaten egg and then the vanilla extract.








Meanwhile melt the milk chocolate either in a microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.




Add the melted chocolate to the butter and sugar mixture and mix until smooth. Next sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt over the mixture and combine.







Finally add the ground almonds, chopped Toblerone and milk and mix well. Then cover with cling and chill until firm (about 30 minutes).




Preheat the oven to 180 C / fan 160 C / gas mark 4. Cover a solid baking sheet with baking paper (I had to use two baking trays). 

On a chopping board, scoop a heaped teaspoon of the dough into your hand and roll into a rough ball. Repeat with all the remaining cookie dough until it is all used up. You ideally want 16 balls. Place them on your baking sheet / tray, spacing the balls well apart. I thought I had done but mine could have been even more spread out (as you can see from the picture). Once the dough balls are on the baking tray, press down lightly and then sit a triangle of Toblerone on each.




Bake for around 12 minutes or until the top is firm but not crisp. I thought mine did not look ready and so left them for another couple of minutes but then they were a little too crispy. A reminder for me to always follow the recipe! 



My cookies were HUGE and I was not complaining. They were absolutely delicious, chewy, very chocolatey, slightly crisp and extremely moreish. I am pleased to say they went down well with the whole family - a little too well with me which is not good for the bikini body!


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Sunday, 21 May 2017

BACON & MUSHROOM FUSILLI WITH RICOTTA

I love going out to restaurants, but with a baby it is much easier and more relaxing just to cook at home. Thankfully I have mountains of recipes to choose from as I am constantly ripping them out of magazines, picking them up from supermarkets and printing them from the Internet. This recipe is from Waitrose and I have had it since 2012.....so it was definitely time to give it a go. It took about 20 minutes in total.

Ingredients for 4 people:
300g fusilli pasta (or similar shape)
1 tbsp olive oil
300g pancetta
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
A large handful of basil leaves
250g tub of ricotta
3 tbsp of Parmesan, grated



Fry the pancetta in a tablespoon of olive oil and after about 4 minutes add the mushrooms and garlic. Continue to cook over a high heat for around 5 minutes. 




When you put the mushrooms and garlic in the pan, start cooking the pasta in a separate large pan of salted boiling water according to the packet's instructions. Mine took 9 minutes.



Once the mushrooms are softened and lightly golden, add the lemon zest and most of the basil. Cook for around 30 seconds. Mix and then add the ricotta, Parmesan and lemon juice.








Once the pasta is ready, drain and add to the mushroom mixture and toss together. Finally serve with the reserved basil leaves and a good grinding of black pepper.




We had purposely had this on Sunday as my daughter Arabella wasn't there and she hates mushrooms. I love them and they tasted delicious in this recipe with the bacon, ricotta, lemon and basil. A fabulous combination - I adored the fresh basil and kept on adding more. It didn't even need extra cheese.....and I never think that!! A great quick recipe - another one to add to my new blog page of under 30 minute recipes.


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Saturday, 20 May 2017

PRIMAVERA SALAD

I have not been cooking many new recipes recently, instead I have been recycling old ones from my new blog page Under 30 Minute Recipes. However this weekend I wanted to cook something new. My husband and I decided to brave a barbecue as there were glimpses of sunshine in amongst the rain showers! I dug out this salad recipe from an old Olive magazine and it took around 20 minutes to make.

Ingredients for 2 people:

Gallo 3 cereal expresso 250g pouch or something similar (I used an Uncle Ben's wholegrain wild and red rice pouch)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 clove garlic, crushed
50g asparagus tips
50g peas
50g courgette, sliced (mine was HUGE so I halved it too)
80g goat's cheese, crumbled / cut
A large handful of mint, parsley and basil, chopped



Cook the pouch of rice / grains according to the packet's instructions. Mine took 3 minutes on the hob with two tablespoons of water. Meanwhile crush the garlic, and zest and juice the lemon. Mix all together in a bowl and season.



Blanch the vegetables in boiling water for about 1 minute and then rinse under cold water. Tip into the bowl and mix well.




Add the herbs and goats cheese, toss again and serve.




Not only did this salad look very pretty, it also tasted absolutely delicious. It was really fresh and clean and full of flavour. A perfect recipe for a summer's day....if only summer would start. We served it with steak for Pascal and lamb for me and it complimented both. I always hate buying fresh herbs and then throwing half the packets away, however it was worth it here as they made the recipe.

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Friday, 12 May 2017

NEW BLOG PAGE...

Hi everyone,

As you may know I had a baby last year and I haven't been able to cook as much as I used to due to lack of time and a demanding little girl who wants all the attention around supper time. My poor elder daughter has had to make do with many suppers of fishcakes and pesto pasta or meals from Cook in recent months (not that she is complaining - only me as I like everything to be freshly made). Anyway now Olympia is 9 months and things are getting slightly easier, I am finding the time to cook again. I have put a new page on the blog Under 30 Minute Recipes and this is all the recipes that I have cooked in the past that take under 30 minutes and are most importantly easy. The great thing about it is I am now finally re-cooking some of the delicious dishes we had before such as the Pork with Mustard and Cheese Crust and the Prawn Saganaki. I hope you find this new page useful too!

Emma xx

Sunday, 7 May 2017

VANILLA SPONGE CAKE WITH VANILLA FROSTING

Since starting this blog a few years ago, my cake making has definitely improved. Originally I could only make cakes using a Betty Crocker mix however this year for my daughter's birthday I made one from scratch (I made 2 in fact and nearly ate an entire one to myself). My daughter Arabella's stepmother is an excellent baker and she shared this recipe with me. I am much more into the icing than the cake and so I used the ingredients for a 20cm cake even though my cake tins are 23cm however it is obviously up to you what size you do. Here is a chart of the different ingredients needed for various sized cake tins.





Ingredients for a 20cm cake:

325g unsalted butter
325g caster sugar
6 medium eggs
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
325g self-raising flour

For the vanilla frosting:
500g icing sugar
160g unsalted butter, at room temperature
50ml whole milk
A couple of drops of vanilla extract
Pink food colouring if you want a pink cake

 Plus toppings for decoration - I used every sweet imaginable!




Preheat the oven to 160 C / 325 F / gas mark 3 and prepare your cake tins by lining them with baking paper and I also sprayed the bottom with cooking spray. 




Using an electric mixer (mine is handheld), beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually, beating well between each addition and then add the vanilla extract. It is important to take your time over this part - I would say it took me at least 20 minutes in total to do this and my arm was aching by the end but it is worth it.






Sift the flour, add to the mixture and mix very carefully until just combined. I didn't really know when it was "just combined" so I guessed. Finish off by folding the mixture through gently with a spatula to finish. 




Tip the mixture into your prepared tins and spread with a palette knife or the back of a spoon. I think this is one of the hardest parts of baking a cake - my mixture never freely pours into the tin and I find it difficult to make it all even. Oh well, I am not entering the Great British Bake Off!


Bake in the oven until a skewer inserted into the centre of your cakes come out clean. The baking time varies depending on your oven, just to add another complication! Check smaller cakes after 20 minutes and larger cakes after 40 minutes. I started checking mine after 20 minutes but it took 30 minutes. It is a good idea to keep a close eye on your cakes!

Once they are ready, allow the cakes to cool whilst you make your icing.


Thankfully the photo doesn't show how uneven my cakes actually were!

For the icing, beat the icing sugar and butter together using a handheld electric whisk or in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat at a medium speed until the mixture comes together and is well combined. Another good arm exercise if you are using a handheld device.



In a separate bowl, combine the milk and vanilla extract. Slowly add this to the butter and milk, a couple of tablespoons at a time, and slowly mix. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy - the longer you do this the better. It should take a minimum of 5 minutes.





If you want to colour your icing now is the time to add some food colouring - we mixed in pink. Once it is ready, ice the cake. I found using a blunt knife made this easier and don't forget to lick the spoon when you are finished - the best part!





Finally time for the cake toppers. You can decorate however you like - sprinkles, marshmallows, skittles, smarties or little figurines. We went sugar crazy and covered the cake in sweets - as many as we could fit on!



I love cake and I LOVED this cake. The sponge was so light and despite being so decadent, the cake itself tasted deliciously delicate. It is definitely worth putting the effort into beating the ingredients slowly and taking your time over it all. Yes it was a sugar overload but you only have your birthday once a year. I can't wait till mine in September now. I think this might be a little OTT for Olympia's first birthday cake!!