Monthly Archives: October 2009

Spooky Halloween Cupcakes

I am planning a big Halloween feast tomorrow night but to keep us going during the day I made these spooky halloween cupcakes.  The cupcakes were made to my usual cupcake recipe.  I made half chocolate and half vanilla by making up the whole batch plain, spooning out the 6 plain into their cases then stiring in a large spoonful of cocoa powder and mixing it well, then spooning the remaining mixture into the remaining 6 cases.  I made sure to well fill four of the cases that were to be the owls so they would form peaks. 

Spooky halloween cupcakes

You will need:
Giant Cadbury’s Buttons
Mini Cadbury’s Buttons
Malteasers
Chocolate Eyes (available nearly everywhere aroung Halloween)
Orange and Lemon Jelly Slices
Thick Glace Icing (Icing sugar and lemon juice mixed to a paste)
Buttercream Icing

– First trim the peaks off the cupcakes and retain 4 of the chocolate peaks. 
– Then ice the cupcakes with buttercream using a large nozzle or spread carefully using a flat bladed knife. 
– Melt a handful of the Giant Buttons in a small ziplock freezer bag (1 minute in the microwave) then snip a small corner off. 
– Put your glace icing in another freezer bag or a cone of baking paper with the corner snipped off. 

For the Owls:
– Take the 4 retained peaks and slice them in half. 
– Place the two halves in a V on the cupcake. 
– Place a malteaser on either side for the eyes.
– Squeeze a good blob of glace icing on to each malteaser and place a mini button on top. 
– Place an orange or lemon slice at the tip of the V for the beak. 

For the Eyes:
– Place an eye at the centre of the cupcake. 
– Take the bag of chocolate and ice eyelashes on the cupcake. 

For the Sipders:
– Place a Giant Button at the centre of the cupcake. 
– Ice legs on with the chocolate. 
– Ice on the eyes with two blobs of glace icing and a dot of chocolate for the pupil.
– For smiley spiders finish by icing on a smile with chocolate.

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Filed under Cupcakes and Muffins, Easy

Dough Balls Recipe

I love dough balls from the supermarket but they’re a bit too greasy for my liking and I don’t always plan ahead and buy them.  This evening mum was making spaghetti and meatballs and I suddenly fancied dough balls.  I wasn’t going to drive to town and back just for dough balls so I had a look online to see what I could come up with.  Unfortunately I couldn’t really find any recipes that were what I was after so I simply made it up as I went along! 

These aren’t exactly the same as supermarket bought ones, obviously.  They’re bigger, the size of a small bread bun, and the filling escapes out into the dish but they are very tasty!  I made mozerella and garlic as I love cheesy garlic bread but you could just as easily leave the cheese out or use a different cheese if you wanted to.  They took me an hour from start to eating so they’re excellent for just throwing together. 

Dough Balls

Makes 12

250g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
150ml warm water
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
1 ball mozzerella
~60g butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed

– Mix together the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl and make a well in the centre. 
– Add the oil and water to the well and mix well until it forms a soft dough, using your hands towards the end if necessary. 
– Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. 
– Squish the dough out quite flat then add the 1 tsp oil and fold together. 
– Continue to knead until the dough is soft and smooth. 
– Cover and leave to rest while you prepare the filling. 
– Chop the mozerella into chunks and divide roughtly into 12 even piles. 
– Soften the butter (20 seconds in the microwave if straight from the fridge) and add the crushed garlic.  Mix well. 
– Roll the dough out into a large sausage and divide into 12 equal balls. 
– Place the balls back in the bowl and cover while working. 
– Use a rolling pin to roll out each ball to about 3″ diameter.
– Place a portion of mozerella in the centre then a teaspoon of garlic butter on top of that. 
– Gather the edges of the dough and pinch together over the filling, forming a smooth ball. 
– Place the ball in a greased, ovenproof dish seam down. 
– Repeat with each dough ball, leaving a few cm space between each ball. 
– Leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. 
– Bake for 15 minutes in an oven preheated to gas mark 7. 
– Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly and reabsorb the juices a bit before serving.

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Filed under Breads, Easy

Pancakes

I thought it would be as well to have this recipe here separately just as a reference if you are looking to make plain pancakes.  Fill these with whatever you like, I’m very fond of mapel syrup and squirty cream myself or just good old fashioned lemon juice and sugar.  Anything goes with pancakes!

Makes 8
125g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
300ml milk

– Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. 
– Add the egg and milk and beat until smooth and the consistency of single cream, you may have to add a bit more milk to achieve this. 
– Leave to stand for at least 5 minutes, preferably 20. 
– Heat a non stick frying pan with a little bit of butter greasing it. 
– Add a small amount of the batter to the pan and swirl around until the bottom of the pan is evenly coated. 
– Leave for about 1 minutes until the edges are cooked and curling then flip over and cook the other side. 
– Put on a warm plate covered with a teatowel then repeat until you have no more batter.

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Filed under Basic, Easy

Stuffed Pancakes

Dinner last night was something of a collaborative effort between mum and me.  She made the pancakes, I made the filling and stuffed them, we both worked on the recipe for the filling.  These turned out to be incredibly filling, we had 2 pancakes each and I was absolutely stuffed, no pun intended, by the end.  I’m still, in some ways, operating on the student premise that a good meal includes as little washing up as possible so this recipe loses point for that as you need 3 pans and a dish but if you have a dishwasher then no worries!  You can also make the pancakes well ahead instead of it being all go at once. 

Stuffed pancakes

Makes 6

For the pancakes:
125g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
300ml milk

For the filling:
1 onion, chopped
4 rashers bacon, chopped
200g mushrooms, sliced
6 tbsp olive oil or a knob of butter
3 tbsp corn flour
1 pint milk
200g mature cheddar, cubed plus a little extra, grated
grated parmesan or generic “grated hard cheese” to sprinkle

– Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. 
– Add the egg and milk and beat until smooth and the consistency of single cream, you may have to add a bit more milk to achieve this. 
– Leave to stand for at least 5 minutes, preferably 20. 
– Heat a non stick frying pan with a little bit of butter greasing it. 
– Add a small amount of the batter to the pan and swirl around until the bottom of the pan is evenly coated. 
– Leave for about 1 minutes until the edges are cooked and curling then flip over and cook the other side. 
– Put on a warm plate covered with a teatowel then repeat until you have no more batter. 
– In a separate frying pan fry the onion in a little oil until soft. 
– Add the bacon and fry until cooked then add the mushrooms and fry until they are cooked. 
– In a separate sauce pan heat the oil or butter and then add the corn flour, whisk together. 
– Remove from the heat and then add the milk. 
– Return to the heat, bring to the boil and keep whisking until the sauce thickens. 
– Add the cheese and whisk until melted. 
– Mix together the contents of the two pans, reserving a bit of the cheese sauce. 
– Grease an ovenproof dish large enough to hold your pancakes. 
– Place about 4 spoonfuls of mixture in a horizontal line in the centre of a pancake. 
– Fold over the sides of the pancake by just an inch or so. 
– Then fold the bottom up over the mixture and roll into a sort of tube, carefully keeping the mixture inside. 
– Lay the stuffed pancake in the dish then repeat with the rest of the pancakes and mixture. 
– Pour the remaining cheese sauce over the top of the pancakes. 
– Sprinkle the top all over with the grated cheese and parmesan. 
– Place under the grill until the cheese is melted and golden brown. 
– Serve straight away.

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Filed under Easy, Mains

Chocolate Surprise Muffins

My mum used to make these for me to take to uni and they were very, very popular!  One of my friends once stole my phone so he could phone my mum and tell her how good they were!  The surprise is the lovely gooey Nutella inside each one.  I once, ill-advisedly, bought a 1.5 litre jar of nutella.  I love Nutella but even I have been struggling to see how I’m ever going to finish this jar!  It has got to the point now where it’s only good for cooking as it tastes a little off if you just spread it on bread.  Happily these muffins are a great way to cook with Nutella. 

Chocolate Surprise Muffins

Makes 6

50g dark muscoavdo sugar
125ml milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
40g butter, melted and cooled (or 2 tbsp sunflower oil)
150g self raising flour
15g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
180g chocolate chips (I use Dairy Milk Chunks)
6 heaped teaspoons of Nutella

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6 and prepare 6 holes of a muffin tin. 
– Beat together the sugar, milk, egg and vanilla essence then add the butter, or oil, and beat again. 
– Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt into the mixture.
– Fold in gently. 
– Add the chocolate chips and stir in. 
– Half fill the paper cases with mixture then place a heaped teaspoon of Nutella in the centre.  Spoon the rest of the mixture on top. 
– Bake for 20-25 minutes. (Mine took 25)
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little in the tin then place on a wire rack to cool completely or serve warm.

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Filed under Cupcakes and Muffins, Easy

Neep and Tattie Cake

Or for those of a non Scottish persuasion, Swede and Potato Cake.  This was served as an accompaniment to our Chicken and Mushroom Pie the other night.  It was supposed to have slices of Pancetta or streaky bacon on the top/bottom but the bacon had gone off.  Oopsie!  I shall give the recipe as for bacon but it was perfectly nice without it.  I could, of course have just served swede and potato mash but serving it as a cake and cutting slices is a much more fun way of presenting a vegetable.  The crispy edges were rather nice too!  One note though, my ancient masher isn’t great at getting to the very bottom of the pan so there were larger lumps of swede in this, with a better masher I’m sure you could achieve a finer consistency. 

Neep and Tattie Cake

Serves 6

1/2 a large swede
3 baking potatoes
approx 6 rashers streaky bacon/pancetta
a good knob of butter (approx 50g if you’re measuring)

– Bring a large pan of asalted water to the boil on the hob. 
– Peel and chop the swede and potatoes into roughtly 1cm chunks. 
– Add the swede to the boiling water.
– After 10 minutes add the potatoes. 
– Continue to boil for another 20 minutes until a sharp knife goes in smoothly. 
– Drain the water from the pan and return the swede and potato to a low heat to dry out any remaining water. 
– Remove from the heat, add half the butter, season to taste and then mash. 
– Grease a round ovenproof serving dish, or even a flan dish or sandwich tin if you don’t have anything else suitable, with sunflower oil. 
– Arrange the strips of bacon in a cross, then add in extra stripes on the quarters, like the union flag. 
– Scoop the mash into the dish and smooth over the top. 
– Dot the remaining butter all over. 
– Place in the oven at Gas Mark 7 and bake for 40 minutes until crispy and golden brown on top. 
– Run a knife around the outside to losen then turn out onto a serving plate.
– Cut slices to serve.

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Filed under Easy, Sides

Shortcrust Pastry

Today I conquered one of my kitchen fears.  I MADE PASTRY!!!  No, really, I’m that excited about it.  For years I have been incredibly wary about pastry because where my mother and sister have lovely pastry hands, nice and cold, I’ve always had nice warm hands.  As such I had been told that pastry and I would not get on.  Well today I can totally refute that! 

I was making a chicken and mushroom pie for dinner tonight to use up leftover roast chicken but when I went to the fridge to get the shop bought puff pastry I had planned to use it was… well, approaching sentience actually.  There was nothing for it, I was going to have to make pastry. 

I have one cook book that I return to again and again.  The Good Housekeeping Step-by-Step Cook Book.  (Although I think this is the current edition.)  It was one of the first cookbooks I ever got, before I’d ever tried to cook anything other than fairy cakes.  My mum also has a copy and both are now dog eared and spilt on through many years of sterling kitchen service.  It is the first cookbook I reach for when I don’t know how to do something or just want some inspiration, the colour picture index is great for that, and it was this cookbook I reached for this evening when facing the daunting task making my very first pastry. 

I am happy to report that not only is shortcrust pastry easy, it was also quick and, for cooking, pretty low mess too!  The recipe I use for chicken and mushroom pie filling can be found here.  Instead of cooking the chicken breast I just added chunks of roast chicken stripped from Sunday’s roast.  Usually I decorate pies with a representation of what’s in them but I decided that this was going to be the prettiest pie in the world.  Usually savoury pies are seen as manly and butch where as sweet pies are more girly, nope, not this pie.  I decided that hearts and flowers were the only way to go, sorry dad!

Pie!

Makes enough for 1 pie, decorations and a bit leftover*. 

225g plain flour
pinch of salt
50g butter, chilled and diced
50g Trex (white vegetable fat), chilled and diced
3-4 tbsp chilled water

– Mix together the flour and salt.
– Add the butter and Trex and rub into the flour with your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs. 
– Add 3 -4 tbsp cold water by sprinkling it evenly over the surface fo the mixture.  (I used 3 tbsp and a bit.)
– Using a flat bladed knife mix it together until it forms a dough. 
– Gather it together with your hands and lightly knead for a few seconds to bring it together. 
– Form the dough into a ball and wrap it in clingfilm.  Place it in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
– Lightly flour the worksurface and the rolling pin, not the pastry. 
– Turn out the dough onto the worksurface and roll it out in one direction, turning it as you go until it reaches about 3 mm thick. 
– Place your pie dish upsidedown on top of the pastry and cut a line around the dish about 1 cm out to leave room for shrinkage. 
– Cut a second line around this about 1.5 cm thick.
– Fill the pie dish with the filling. 
– Moisten the edge of your dish with a finger dipped in water then press the 1.5 cm thick strip round the outside of the dish trimming the length to fit.   
– Moisten this pastry with water again then lay the rest of the pastry over the top using the rolling pin to help lift it across. 
– Shape the edges how you want to, I used a fork pressed round the edge. 
– Add any decorations you want to on the top, moistening them with water to stick them down. 
– Brush with beaten egg or milk. 
– Bake at gas mark 7 for 45 minutes. 

*(I cut out itty bitty flowers from the last of the pastry, dabbed the tops with the spare egg wash and sprinked them with grated hard cheese then baked them for 10 minutes at Gas 6)

Tuck in!

I served this with carrots, brocolli and neep and tattie cake, which I shall post tomorrow.

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Filed under Basic, Easy