Category Archives: Moderately easy

Rhubarb and Orange Frangipane Tart

The last of the home grown rhubarb is coming this month, after that you need to let the plants rest and regroup.  So I whipped up this Rhubarb and Orange Frangipane Tart to make the most of it while it’s still with us!

Rhubarb and Orange Frangipane Tart

The later season rhubarb isn’t as vibrantly coloured as the younger forced rhubarb you get at the beginning of the year, if you made it with that then this would really be a pink showstopper!  However, the regimented rows of rhubarb are very pleasing to me and the taste is amazing!

Rhubarb and Orange Frangipane Tart

The natural tartness of the rhubarb and the sweetness of the orange frangipane go together so well and make a wonderfully refreshing tart that’s full of flavour.

Rhubarb and Orange Frangipane Tart#

Makes 1 rectangular tart

One sheet ready rolled sweet shortcrust pastry (or make your own but I was short on time!)
~4 sticks rhubarb
85g butter, softened
85g caster sugar
1 egg
85g ground almonds
zest of one large orange, finely grated
1 tbsp caster sugar

  • Heat the oven to gas mark 7 and grease your loose bottomed rectangular tart tin well.
  • Shape and roll the pastry to fit (I had to trim a bit off the sides to make an extension, the scraps then went for jam tarts!)
  • Press the pastry into the tin carefully, leaving a small overhang around the edge.
  • Slice your rhubarb into batons the width of the inside of the pastry shell.
  • In a small mixing bowl combine the butter, sugar, egg, ground almonds and orange zest and beat until well combined and smooth.
  • Scrape the frangipane mixture into the pastry.
  • Place the rhubarb on top of the frangipane evenly.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tbsp sugar.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until the top of the frangipane is golden brown and the pastry an even colour.
  • Remove from the oven and trim away the excess pastry from the edges with a sharp knife.
  • Leave to cool completely in the tin then carefully unmould.
  • Serve with fresh clotted cream for a delightful afternoon treat!

 

 

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Filed under Moderately easy, quick, Teatime Treats

Mini Breakfast Bites

These mini breakfast bites were one of the first things I invented for myself in 3rd year food tech!  They are now a staple tradition in our household and I couldn’t imagine Christmas without them!

Mini Breakfast Canapes

Makes 24

24 slices of white bread (2 meduim sliced loaves)
1/2 cup sunflower oil
24 quails eggs
12 rashers streaky bacon or pancetta
24 tiny button mushrooms (or 6 small mushrooms cut into quarters)

  • Heat the oven to gas mark 7.
  • Get out 2x 12 hole bun tins, I prefer the rounded ones but the straighter ones work just fine.
  • Use a large round cookie cutter, checking that it is slightly bigger than the bun tins you are using,   to cut out a large round from the centre of each slice of bread.  (leftover crusts can be used to make bread sauce, or breadcrumbs to freeze for later use)
  • Brush both sides of each round of bread and gently press into the bun tins.
  • Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until just turning crisp and golden.
  • Take out the tins (being careful coz it’s hot!) and crack a quails egg carefully into each one.  (I use a sharp knife to pierce the shells)
  • Return to the oven for ~5 minutes until the eggs are just setting.
  • Prepare your bacon/pancetta rolls by slicing each rasher in half then rolling up.
  • Take the tins out of the oven again and add your bacon rolls and mushrooms.
  • Cook for another 5-7 minutes until the bacon is cooked through.
  • Serve immediately while hot and make sure you get some too because these will disappear fast!
  • Mini Breakfast Canapes

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Filed under Canapés, Christmas, Moderately easy

 Blackberry and Apple Lattice Pie                       

The nights are drawing in, the mornings are full of mist.  It’s definitely Autumn!  So that definitely means pie in my book!  This Blackberry and Apple Lattice Pie uses the copious quantities of British Apples and wild blackberries available to us at this time of year.

Blackberry and Apple Lattice Pie

I am lucky in that I have an apple tree in my garden and a fantastic blackberry patch at the end of my road so there’s nothing to stop me whipping up one of these as the mood strikes!

Blackberry and Apple Lattice Pie

The Lattice is a more fiddly option but firstly, it looks fantastic and secondly it allows the steam to escape more easily from the pie thus minimising the risk of a “soggy bottom”!

Blackberry and Apple Lattice Pie

You can be very precise with the Lattice but I prefer a more rustic, cottagey pie.  I just throw it together and am happy to enjoy the fruits of my labours without needing it to look like haute cuisine!

Blackberry and Apple Lattice Pie

Makes 1 20cm pie

1/2 batch Shortcrust Pastry (Or make a whole batch and freeze half for impromptu pastry needs!)

3 apples, sliced (leave the skin on though, that’s where all the vitamins live!)
2 tbsp cornflour
5 tbsp sugar
~150g blackberries (Or whatever amount you pick!)

1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp demerera sugar

  • Heat the oven to gas mark 5 with a flat baking sheet on the middle shelf and prepare a 20cm loose bottomed tart tin.
  • Mix the apples, cornflour and sugar together in a mixing bowl.
  • Gently add the blackberries.
  • Roll out 2/3 of the pastry to a thickness of a £1 coin (~3mm) and large enough to completely cover the tin with a few cm extra (keep the remaining 1/3 to the side for a minute).
  • Gently pick up the pastry using the rolling pin and drape it into the tin.
  • Gently press the pastry into the edges of the tin making sure not to leave any air bubbles underneath.
  • Tip the apples and blackberry mixture into the pie.
  • Roll out the remaining pastry into a rectangle wider than your tin and cut even* strips about 1.5cm wide.   (* Do as I say, not as I do!)
  • Form a lattice on top of the pie, leaving the strips hanging over the edge.
    There are a few ways to do this: You can assemble the lattice on a piece of baking paper and then slide it on top of the pie or you can place the vertical strips on first and weave the horizontal strips over it one at a time.
  • Trim away the excess pastry from around the edge of the pie, erring more towards leaving a little extra overhand rather than cutting too neatly as it will shrink slightly.
  • Brush the egg over the top of the pastry and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes on the preheated baking sheet until the pastry is golden brown and crisp on top.  You want to cook this for as long as possible but remove it from the oven before the top starts to catch.  Golden brown is good, blackened is bad! THe filling should be bubbly and quite liquid but it will set as it cools.
  • Allow the pie to cool for a 20 minutes (don’t be hasty, you’ll burn your tongue!) and then serve with cold cream or ice cream!

Blackberry and Apple Lattice Pie

 

 

 

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Filed under Desserts, Moderately easy

Ombré Birthday Cake

For my Birthday BBQ I made a 3 Layer Pink Ombre Cake and a dozen cupcakes as favours too!

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

I’m really happy with how it turned out!  I’ve never tried anything like it before but I was pleased to see how my technique worked out!  I wanted to minimise waste and washing up so I came up with my own way of creating this cake effect.

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

Everyone seemed to enjoy it anyway, there was barely any left by the end of the evening!

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

I made a huge batch of cake mixture…

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

…And about 2kg of buttercream!

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

The colours worked wonderfully!  Nice and vibrant!

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

I tried to keep things nice and tidy, having assembled the layers I then piped round to fill in the gaps.

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

Which meant that I had a smooth surface to spread the rest of the icing over.

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

So here’s how I did it:

Makes 1 x 3 layer 7″ Layer Cake and 12 Cupcakes

500g unsalted butter, softened
500g golden caster sugar
8 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
500g self raising flour
3 tbsp milk
pink gel good colouring*  (I have that awful salmon pink one so you need to add violet to make it a nicer colour!)
grape violet gel food colouring*

500g unsalted butter, softened
1 kg icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk

1 jar seedless raspberry jam

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4.  Prepare 3 7″ sandwich tins (I use silicone as they come out flatter and are easier to turn out.) Line 12 muffin holes with paper cases.
– Cream together the butter and sugar in a LARGE mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
– Add one egg at a time, mixing well between additions.
– Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
– Fold in the flour until all combined with the wet ingredients.
– Add the 3 tbsp milk and mix well.
– Fill each cupcake case to halfway with cake batter.
– Put 1/3 of the remaining white batter in the first greased cake tin.
– Add a bit of the pink colouring about the size of a sweetcorn kernel along with a slightly smaller amount of the grape violet and mix thoroughly into the batter to achieve a light pink colour.  * If using nicer food colouring then use your judgement on the blend you want.
– Put 1/2 this mixture in the second cake tin.
– Add more pink colouring and more violet colouring and mix well to get a really deep colour.
– Put this remaining cake batter in the final tin.
– Put everything in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown on top and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
– Turn out your cakes upside down onto cooling racks and take the cupcakes out of the tin to cool.

– Put the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and milk in a LARGE mixing bowl and beat until thoroughly combined, light and airy.

To assemble the cakes:

– Trim any domes from your cake layers to give you flat cakes.
– Put a smear of buttercream on the base of the cake stand or plate.
– Place the darkest layer flat bottom up on the cake stand or plate.
– Spread with an even layer of buttercream.
– Spread raspberry jam on the top of the lighter layer.
– Place the jam side on top of the buttercream.
– Spread another layer of buttercream over the flat bottom of the lighter layer.
– Spread raspberry jam over the top of the white layer.
– Place the jam side on top of the buttercream.
– Fill a piping bag with white buttercream and make a 1/2″ hole to pipe from.
– Pipe around the cake between the layers to fill in any dips or gaps between the cakes layers.
– Smooth round this with a palette knife to make a smooth sided cake.
– Spread a good amount of white buttercream over the top of the cake and down over the edges using a palette knife to spread a smooth even layer of white buttercream over the whole cake.
– Now take about a cup of buttercream from the main mixture and put it in a separate bowl.
– Add pink and grape violet food colouring to acheive a nice deep raspberry pink colour.
– Put it in a piping bag with a 1/2″ hole.
– Pipe a ring of pink buttercream around the base of the cake.
– Now take a pallette knife and spread the pink buttercream up the side of the cake in small swirling circles so the dark pink melds with the white to give that faded ombre effect.  Don’t swirl all the way to the top, only go about 2/3 up and leave a nice band of clean white buttercream at the top.

– Take some raspberry jam and put it in a squeezy bottle with a cone tip.
– Inject jam into the centre of each cupcake.
– Take the remaining buttercream and put it in a piping bag with a large star tip.
– Ice each cupcake with a swirl of buttercream covering the jam hole in the centre.
– Add sprinkles white the buttercream is wet.

3 Layer Pink Ombre Birthday Cake

 

 

 

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Filed under Cakes, Cupcakes and Muffins, Moderately easy

Aspara-bacon Quiche

Ah, Quiche!  The poor quiche has a bit of a bad rep simple because it has a bit of a funny sounding name!  But we should not mock the quiche for it is delicious!  Throughout the summer months I will frequently have one in the fridge just waiting to be grabbed for causal lunches, a picnic, a light supper.  It’s a very versatile dish and once you have the basics down you can whip one up in no time!

Asparabacon Quiche

This little quiche is an asparabacon quiche.  Asparabacon is one of the finest flavour combinations so adding it to a quiche seemed like a brilliantly obvious step!

Asparabacon Quiche

I’m not going to lie though, I think I’ve had it with pastry!  I CAN make pastry, sure.  It’s not that hard… but I hate it.  It’s just one of those fiddly jobs that I just don’t really enjoy.  I think that these days you can get some good ready made pastry at a decent price in any supermarket so I may just throw the towel in and go for an easy life!  We shall see!

Asparabacon Quiche

There’s an entire bundle of asparagus in this small quiche, which is a lot, yes, but ASPARAGUS! Fresh, British Asparagus too!  If you want to dial back the asparagus that’s cool, but why not indulge yourself a bit?

Asparabacon Quiche

 

Serves 4 / Makes 1x 8″ quiche

150g plain flour
50g butter
25g trex (or just 75g butter)
1-2 tbsp cold water

6 large eggs
200 ml milk
1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 bungle asparagus spears, trimmed of the woody end
125g smoked bacon lardons
25g grated cheese

– Put the flour, butter and trex in a mixing bowl and rub together with your hands until it forms a breadcrumb consistency.
– Add the water a little at a time mixing until it comes together into a dough.
– Shape into a flat round, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
– Heat the oven to gas mark 5.
– Roll out the pastry on a floured worksurface into a rough circle.  It should be about the thickness of a £1 coin and large enough to cover an 8″ sandwich tin with a little overhang.
– Gently pick the dough up using the rolling pin and drape it gently into the 8″ sandwich tin, lightly press down into the edges and smooth up the sides and over the lip making sure there are no trapped air bubbles.
– Cover the pastry with foil and fill with baking beans.
– Place on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.
– Remove from the oven and gently remove the foil and baking beans.  If it won’t release evenly put it back in the oven for 5 minutes.
– Bake uncovered for a further 5-10 minutes until the pastry is just cooked and has lost that sickly pale look!
-Prepare your filling: Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together in a jug.
– Scatter the bacon and asparagus evenly over the pastry shell.
– Pour the egg mixture into the pastry shell.  If you’ve got it right and there are no holes this is where your filling should stay.  If you’ve got it wrong, well, that why it’s on a baking tray!
– Scatter the grated cheese on top.
– Pop it back into the oven (if it’s leaking get it back in as quickly as you can so that egg seals the hole!)
– Bake at gas mark 5 for 45 minutes until the egg is set in the centre and the top is a golden brown.
– Leave to cool completely before running a sharp knife around the edge of the tin to loosen the pastry.
– Place the bottom on a sturdy bowl smaller than the tin and press down evenly to unmould it.
– Run a sharp knife between the pastry and the tin base to separate it.
– Serve and enjoy!

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Filed under Easy, Mains, Moderately easy, Starters, Teatime Treats

Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls

Next up we have these Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls using your home made Ricotta!  These make a really nice lunch or light supper for 2.  I like variety so I made 2 different kinds.  Green Pesto and Courgette and Red Pesto and Red Pepper.

Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls

I think that my favourite kind were the Green Pesto and Courgette but that’s probably because I am crazy about anything with courgette in.  I love it!

Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls
Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls

These are a little bit tricky to make but only in the sense of lots of little steps.  It doesn’t take long to prep or assemble these! You can even make them ahead and then refrigerate until you are ready to cook them if you’d rather get the prep done at a quieter time.

Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls

Serves 2

4 sheets lasagna pasta
1/2 courgette
2 cups fresh spinach
1 roasted bell pepper (I keep the lightly pickled jars of them as a store cupboard staple)
1 ramekin Ricotta (Your yield will vary, I used all of mine)
1 tbsp green pesto
1 tbsp red pesto
Tomato pasta sauce (Awesome Sauce is a good one but if you use a jar I won’t tell!)*
1/2 cup grated cheese

– Heat your oven to gas mark 6 or so.
– Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add your pasta sheets.  Cook for 10 minutes (or according to packet instructions).
– Carefully remove the pasta from the water (keep the water!) and lay flat on a plate or chopping board.
– Take your courgette and very thinly slice it lengthways so you have slices about 1/8″.  I used a mandolin but with a steady hand you can do this by hand.
– Place your courgette in a sieve and lower the sieve into the boiling water, balancing it on the side of the pan.  Cook for 2 minutes then lift the sieve and drain.
– Put your spinach in the sieve and lower it into the boiling water.  It should wilt in less than a minute, then remove and drain.
– Split your ricotta in two and mix the green pesto in to one and the red pesto in to the other.
– Take a sheet of lasagna, spread a layer of the ricotta on it, leaving a good 1″ gap at the end.
– Layer over your spinach and then your courgette or pepper.
– Lightly spray your baking dish with oil.
– Carefully roll the lasagna sheet towards the gap.  The filling will move with the roll and start to fill the gap, it may even squish out a little.  This is ok!
– Carefully lift the roll into the baking dish.
– When they are all ready pour over the pasta sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
– You can pause here if you like and finish cooking later.
– Put into the oven and cook for about 20 -30 minutes until the cheese is nice and melted and everything is piping hot.

Ricotta Veggie Lasagna Rolls

* But really, make the Awesome Sauce.  It is actually AWESOME!

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Filed under Easy, Mains, Moderately easy

Vegan Surprise Inside Cake

This delicious cake with a “surprise inside” wasn’t actually meant to be vegan.  I was playing around with different ideas and it was only when I came to write down the recipe that I realised that it was actually vegan!  Which was another happy surprise!

I decided to go for a simple bone shape hidden inside this cake as Halloween is so nearly upon us.  I contemplated doing a bat but unfortunately the cutter was too wide for the loaf tin!  This cake has a lovely springy, dense texture and is a brilliant option for kids as the cake doesn’t crumble when subjected to rough toddler handling.  This cake is really robust and travels well, even through the post!

Vegan Surprise Inside Cake

Makes 1 large loaf (plus a whole bunch of chocolate offcuts!)

Chocolate Cake:
2 cups self raising flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup of soft brown sugar
1 large tablespoon of Trex (or another solid vegetable fat, coconut oil might work well here!) 
2 tablespoons of golden syrup (I just go for one hulking great dollop!)
1 cup of soya milk

Orange Cake:
2 cups self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup of golden caster sugar
1 large tablespoon of Trex (or another solid vegetable fat, coconut oil might work well here!) 
2 tablespoons of golden syrup (Again, one hulking great dollop!)
1 cup of soya milk
zest and juice of one orange

– Heat the oven to gas mark 3 / 170C. Line a large loaf tin with baking parchment or similar.
– Measure out the flour, cocoa, bicarb and sugar into a large mixing bowl.
– Place the soya milk, golden syrup and Trex in a small saucepan.
– Gently heat until the Trex and golden syrup are melted.
– Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mix well to combine completely.
– Scrape out the mixture into the loaf tin.
– Bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
– Remove the cake from the oven, lift out of the tin by the paper and allow to cool.
– Slice your cake into thick slices the depth of your chosen cutter.
– Cut out one shape from each slice and place to one side.
Now for the orange cake!
– Heat the oven to gas mark 3 / 170C. Line the same large loaf tin with baking parchment or similar.
– Measure out the flour, bicarb and sugar into a large mixing bowl.
– Place the soya milk, golden syrup and Trex in a small saucepan.
– Gently heat until the Trex and golden syrup are melted.
– Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, add the zest and juice of the orange and mix well to combine completely.
– Scrape 1/3 of the mixture into the loaf tin, level it out.
– Place your cut out shapes in a neat row along the centre loaf tin, pressing down gently into the cake mixture below.
– Carefully scrape the rest of the cake batter out on top of the chocolate cake shapes.
– Bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
– Remove the cake from the oven, lift out of the tin by the paper and allow to cool.
– Peel off the paper and serve!

IMG_6247.JPG

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Filed under Cakes, Dairy Free, Low Fat, Moderately easy