Tag Archives: foodie

Glazed Maple Pecan Shortbread Recipe

Shortbread:

40g pecans, finely chopped

125g unsalted butter, softened

60g caster sugar

1 tbsp maple syrup

150g plain flour

30g corn flour

Topping:

40g pecans, finely chopped

1tbsp maple syrup

Pinch sea salt

Glaze:

1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

110g icing sugar

Up to 100ml maple syrup

– First, prepare your pecans either by finely chopping by hand or by pulsing gently in a food processor. (My stick blender came with a small chopper attachment, which is perfect for these kind of jobs when you just need a small amount of something.)

– In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter sugar and maple syrup.

– Add the flour and pecans and mix to combine. At first it will not come together but you can bring it together easily with your hands at the end.

– Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.

– Prepare the pecans by roughly chopping them, leave a few bits that are chunkier.

– put the pecans in an oven proof dish and mix with the maple syrup.

– Sprinkle the sea salt on top.

– Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 170°. (You can do this at the same time as your first batch of biscuits.)

– Roll out your chilled dough to a thickness of 5 mm between two silicon sheets. (By using the silicon sheets instead of extra flour your dough will not get too dry. But if you don’t have these just sprinkle the worksurface and rolling pin with flour and work quickly to stop it sticking).

– Cut out your shapes, I prefer a maple leaf but they can be any shape you like, and place on a lined baking tray.

– Put the tray in the fridge to chill for at least 10 minutes. This will stop the biscuits from spreading when you bake them so if you’re not using a delicate shape and don’t mind this then you can skip that step.

– Re-roll your dough, but if it gets too sticky you may have to put it back in the fridge for a few minutes to solidify again.

– Heat the oven to 170°C and bake each tray for 10 minutes until just starting to turn golden brown then remove the tray From the oven and leave the biscuits to cool on the tray.

– To prepare the glaze mix together the icing sugar and melted butter in a small bowl. Gradually out of the maple syrup until you get a fairly thick but runny consistency. You may have to add a little more icing sugar or maple syrup to get the consistency you want. It wants to be somewhat like Greek yoghurt, not too thick but not so runny that it slides off your biscuit.

– Once your biscuits are cool, dip each one top down into the glaze then gently shake it back and forth so that the excess glaze falls back into the bowl. Then place back onto the baking tray and sprinkle with your pecan topping mix.

– Repeat for all of your biscuits then leave the glaze to set before serving or putting in an airtight box to store.

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Filed under Cookies and Biscuits, Moderately easy

Halloween Eyeball Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

These spooky eyeball chocolate chip cookies are great easy Halloween cookies! I bought a packet of these sugar eyeballs ages ago but never really found a need to use them until now! These cookies are a great Halloween treat and you can use the technique with your own favourite cookie recipe if you prefer, no need to follow this one (though it is great!) You simply press the eyes into the cookie when it comes straight out of the oven and then leave to cool.

Makes 18 cookies

200g melted unsalted butter
220g light muscovado sugar
100g caster sugar (If you like the grainyness of the M&S cookies feel free to use granulated, I don’t like it so I use caster)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
350g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
200g chocolate chips (I use one bag of dark and one bag of milk for variety)

One pack sugar eyeballs

– Heat the oven to Gas mark 3/170C and prepare two baking trays.
– Melt the butter, I put it in the microwave for 1 minute but microwaves vary so be careful!
– In a large mixing bowl mix the melted butter with both sugars until smooth.
– Beat in the vanilla and egg until smooth.
– Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until it forms a dough.
– Mix through the chocolate chips.
– Divide the dough in to generous balls, slightly larger than a ping pong ball is best. Roll briefly in your hands to make a round ball and place 6 on a baking tray. Make sure they cookies are well spaced apart as they spread.
– Bake one sheet at a time in the top of the oven for about 15-17 minutes. The cookies will still be soft but the edges should be a little brown.
– As soon as they come out of the oven press the sugar eyeballs randomly into the cookies. Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely/eat.
– Repeat with the remaining trays of cookies.

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Filed under Cookies and Biscuits, Desserts, Easy, Halloween, Sweets, Teatime Treats

Orzo Cheese

25g butter

Splash of olive oil

250g orzo

2tbsp corn flour

100ml white wine

1 pint milk

1/2tsp salt

90g mature cheddar, grated

1 ball mozzarella, shredded

3tbsp Parmesan, grated

125g lardons (or chopped bacon)

– Heat a large pan and add the butter and oil.

– Add the orzo and stir so it is coated.

– Add the corn flour and stir well.

– Add the white wine, stir.

– Add the milk and salt and bring to a simmering boil.

– After about 5 minutes add the cheeses. Stir well until the cheeses all melt in.

– Simmer on a low heat until all of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is just al dente.

– Turn off the heat and leave to sit for 5 minutes.

– Heat a small pan and add the bacon lardons. Cook until crispy.

– Add the lardons to the orzo and stir in.

– Enjoy!

A pan fried chicken breast makes a great addition to this to make it a bigger meal, you could also add other things to the orzo such as spinach, mushrooms or peas to get a veggie in there.

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Filed under Easy, Mains, quick

Nigella’s Sweet & Salty Chocolate Cookies (For 1)

Makes 2 large cookies

50g plain flour

10g cocoa powder

1/8 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/8 tsp salt

50g unsalted butter, softened

25g caster sugar

15g dark brown sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

25g dark chocolate chips

Pinch of sea salt flakes

– Heat the oven to 180°C/ gas mark 4.

– Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a small bowl.

– Cream together the butter, sugars and vanilla.

– Add a spoonful of the dry mix to the butter mix and beat well to combine.

– Gradually add the remaining flour mix, beating well between additions until a smooth, dark dough is formed.

– Add the chocolate chips and mix in.

– Divide the dough in two, press down into rounds on a baking tray and sprinkle with the salt flakes.

– Bake for 12 minutes. The cookies are ready when the tops have cracked. If the tops aren’t cracked, they’re not done.

– Remove from the oven and leave on the tray for at least 5 minutes. This is very important! The cookies will be soft when they come out but will solidify in those 5 minutes. Leave them a further 10 minutes before eating for best results.

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Filed under Cookies and Biscuits, Easy, quick

Orzo with Bacon and Mushrooms

250g orzo pasta

500ml chicken stock

Garlic oil

125g bacon lardons

150g baby button mushrooms

1/2 bag spinach

– Heat a little garlic oil in a large lidded pan.

– Add the lardons and mushrooms and a little salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes.

– And the orzo, stir until mixed evenly and cook for a minute.

– Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil then turn down the heat, add the spinach and put the lid on.

– Simmer for 15 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.

– Turn off the heat, add a knob of butter, stir and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

– Serve with Parmesan or a poached egg on top.

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Filed under Easy, Mains

Easy Christmas Dinner

This is going to be an odd year for many. May be you’re going to be tackling a smaller Christmas Dinner for the first time. May be you’ve decided to go all out now you don’t have to trek round to Auntie Sue’s because it’s “what you always do”! May be you’ve never cooked more than a fried egg but think this is your time to shine!

Whatever your situation, I thought it may be timely to do a little example of how to do a low effort Christmas Dinner as guidance for those that need it. Remember, Christmas Dinner is just a roast dinner but with cranberry sauce and crackers! Don’t let the weight of expectations get you down, this can be as simple or as complicated a meal as you want to make it!

You can look at the Christmas tag for some older recipes and round ups that are more comprehensive but I wanted to highlight some really simple recipes here. Whether you’re on your own or just a smaller family gathering this should hit the spot!

Canapés

We like to have nibbles to tide us over from noon to 3pm when we have our Dinner. If you want to keep it super simple just grab some party food from the freezer section. These days they almost all cook at 180°C for around 15 minutes. Any leftovers are also great for grazing at!

Starter

In my family the Prawn Cocktail is king. (Well, for me it is, mum does try to do fancy smoked salmon thingies!) This is not only traditional but super simple. Finely sliced iceberg lettuce, prawns, cocktail sauce (Iceland’s is my favourite!) and a twist of lemon on top to look fancy. Less than 5 minutes and you’re done!

The Roast

Turkey is, of course, traditional and if you want to keep it super simple I recommend a frozen Turkey crown. They’re about £10 and you can pick one up in almost any supermarket.

However, a large roast chicken will also do very nicely! I love to do a one pot chicken dish where you simply get a Really Big Pot, put in new potatoes in the base, add your chicken (put some herbs, garlic and half a lemon in the cavity), and scatter with bacon lardons. Drizzle with a little olive oil and cook according to the time on the packet (or 25 minutes per lb + 20 minutes in 180°C oven) Add a cup of frozen peas 30 minutes before the end. This also works well in a slow cooker on high for 3 hours if you need the space in the oven or even if you don’t have an oven! You can find the more detailed recipe here.

A roast dinner is all about timing. If you figure out your timings then it’s plain sailing. You can prep all of your veg in advance, even the night before, so all you have to do on the day is put dishes in the oven on time or you can get the roast in and then do your veg prep. I have a post outlining some of the timings for veg here.

For example:

2 hours before: Roast In

45 minutes before: parsnips in (I like them crispy.)

30 minutes before: leeks in cream sauce, stuffing balls & pigs in blankets in

25 minutes before: Brussels sprouts and carrots in steamer on the hob. Check the sprouts after 15 minutes by poking with a sharp knife. They should be soft but not soggy.

Serving Time: Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a serving board. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes and peas and bacon. You can make gravy with the juices. I explain how here.

Pudding

Christmas pudding is traditional, easily available from the supermarket, and I hate it. So I have a couple of other seasonal options that you can make the day before:

Clementine Syllabub

Cranberry Fool

Leftovers

If you’re on your own do not let this stop you from having a full roast! The leftovers are the best bit! From this dinner I will be able to make sandwiches, soup, risotto and may be a few other dishes as takes my fancy! I basically won’t have to cook again for the next week, which is exactly how I like it!

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Filed under Canapés, Christmas, Desserts, Easy, Mains, Sides, Slow Cooker, Starters

Black Forest Loaf Cake

150g unsalted butter

150g golden caster sugar

3 eggs

1 tap vanilla extract

130g self raising flour

40g cocoa powder

3 tbsp milk

1 cup cherries (You can use fresh, frozen or tinned cherries here. I forgot to weigh them but about a cups worth went in, measure it with your heart!)

6tbsp Cherry liqueur

300ml double cream

3tbsp icing sugar

1/4 cup cherries + 1 tbsp cherry liqueur (leave to marinate for a while)

1tbsp grated chocolate

– Heat the oven to 180°C and grease and line a loaf tin.

– Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

– Beat in one egg at a time.

– Mix in the vanilla.

– Fold in the flour and cocoa powder.

– Fold in the cherries.

– Scrape the mix into your prepared tin.

– Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour, turning it halfway through.

– Remove from the oven and pour the cherry liqueur over the hot cake. (If using frozen or tinned cherries you can use the juices.)

-Leave to cool in the tin.

– In a small mixing bowl whip the cream and sugar until it forms stiff peaks.

– Lightly fold in the cherries. (Barely fold them at all, you want the pink to ripple, not make the whole thing pink.) Retain three good looking cherries.

– Untin the cake and place on serving dish.

– Spread the cream evenly over the top of the cake.

– Garnish with your reserved cherries and grated chocolate.

– Store covered in the fridge for up to three days.

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Filed under Cakes, Desserts, Moderately easy

Simple mushroom soup

25g butter

250g closed cup mushrooms, sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/4 tsp salt

Pepper to taste

200ml white wine

400ml vegetable stock

100ml double cream

– Melt the butter in a medium sized pan. Add a small splash of olive oil to stop it catching.

– Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until soft and browned.

– Add the white wine and vegetable stock.

– Blend with a stick blender until your desired level of smooth. (I like bits in my soup but if you want a totally smooth soup you’ll need to decant into a liquidiser and blend in that then resume cooking.)

– Bring the soup to a boil then turn down to a simmer.

– Add the cream and heat gently until the edges are bubbling.

– Serve hot with bread and butter.

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Filed under Basic, Easy, Gluten Free, quick, Starters

Japanese Simmered Pumpkin (Kabocha no nimono)

1/2 Japanese pumpkin (kabocha)

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp mirin

1 tbsp soy sauce

– Deseed the pumpkin and roughly peel (leave some bits of peel there). Chop into large chunks.

– Place skin side down in a large pan and just cover with water. Bring to a boil.

– Add the sugar and salt and simmer on a low heat until the liquid is half reduced.

– Add the mirin and soy sauce and continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced in half again.

– Either serve warm or leave to cool completely.

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Filed under Dairy Free, Easy, Japanese, Mains, Sides

Pommes Anna Recipe

For a dish that bears my name this took me an embarrassingly long time to get right. I would have potatoes swimming in butter or too crisp to eat without worrying about your fillings. These little stacked Pommes Anna finally hit that sweet spot between buttery and crispy and look fab for what is actually minimal effort. You can do a lot of the prep beforehand in assembling the stacks in the muffin tin if you want to prepare these in advance and then just pop them in the oven when ready so good for dinner parties!

6-8 new potatoes (waxy)

125g unsalted butter

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp sea salt

Cracked black pepper

Fresh thyme sprigs

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6.

– Use a mandolin or very sharp knife to slice the potatoes into 1/8” slices. Put in a small mixing bowl.

– Melt the butter in a small saucepan.

– Brush the insides of six muffin tins with melted butter.

– Place a small sprig of thyme in the bottom of each muffin cup.

– Add the garlic to the melted butter and remove the leaves from the remaining thyme sprigs and add those too.

– Gently heat until fragrant.

– Pour the butter over the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to season and toss gently.

– Place the sliced potatoes carefully in the muffin tins. You want to arrange them so that they will look good when turned out. Press down firmly in the centre.

– Pour the remaining butter over the potatoes.

– Cover the muffin tray with foil and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.

– Place a large oven dish over the muffin tin and carefully flip over so that the potato stacks come out intact. If any fall apart you can push them back into shape.

– Place the oven dish back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until the stacks look nice and crispy on the edges.

– Serve hot.

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Filed under Moderately easy, Sides