Lemon Madeleines

Posted: May 19, 2017 in baking, Breakfast, French

 


Picking sleep out of my eyes, ruffling my bed hair and negotiating my slippers, I shuffled to the kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee.  The morning silence broken only by the sound of the swifts catching their breakfast.

What was I going to ‘catch’ for my Sunday breakfast?

I didn’t fancy toast; anyway I’d forgotten to take the butter out of the fridge last night and even though I had some smoked salmon that would have been lush with scrambled eggs and smashed avocados, I didn’t fancy that either.  And then it hit me… lemon madeleines.  I know, I know, only I can go from toast to baking madeleines as my alternative breakfast at 8am on a Sunday morning!  Anyway, once I had the idea in my head there was no turning back.

Madeleines are ridiculously easy to make, as can be seen in the clip below.  Still in my PJ’s I set about preheating the oven and weighing out the ingredients.

Mix everything together and let the lemony batter rest whilst the oven comes up to temperature.

 

Madeleines are best served warm, so once you’ve got them out of their pan and cooling on a wire rack, make yourself another cup of coffee and your lazy, relaxed, weekend breakfast is served.  This amount of batter makes 12 madeleines – I scoffed 4 without even feeling guilty about it and later had another one with a cup of tea…

…the raspberries make it one of your five a day…don’t they?!

Note: even though madeleines are very easy to make (and even easier to eat!) I wouldn’t necessarily want to make these on a work day where you’re generally following a regular morning routine and you’re up against the clock.  Maybe having the batter in the fridge from the night before and the minute you wake up turning the oven on might be too organised even for me!  The recipe is perfect for morning shuffling, plodding around the house, listening to your favourite radio station; waking the house up, slowly.

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The perfect Bank Holiday breakfast!

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When you see how easy these churros are to make, you’ll keep thinking up reasons to make them.  Admittedly, you need a moderate expertise level to put these together or a foolproof Churro Battle Plan.

Churro Battle Plan

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Weigh out the ingredients specified below, and prep a large saucepan on your hob.  Prep a piping bag (or large ziplock freezer bag!) with a star shaped nozzle.

Mix the churro ingredients and put into the piping bag.  Clear the decks and tidy up your work area.

Fill up your saucepan with veg oil or alternatively use a deep fat fryer.  Heat the oil on quite a high heat until it shimmer, just before smoking, and squeeze 6inch/15cm strips of dough into the oil.

Fry for around 5 to 8 mins or until they are golden brown.  Take them out of the oil and dredge them through cinnamon sugar.

If you want to dunk your churros into molten dark chocolate as they do on the continent then make the following chocolate ganache.

Ingredients:
For the dough:
475ml water                                                   40g butter
25g sugar                                                        5ml vanilla paste
260g plain flour                                            pinch of sea salt

2 large eggs beaten into the churro mixture once slightly cooled
veg oil for frying

For the cinnamon sugar:
130g sugar
1 & 1/4 tspn cinnamon

For the ganache:
175ml double cream
140g dark chocolate
pinch of sea salt

Unlike the dried fruit Simnel Cake which seems to make an appearance at Easter-time, this rich,  decadent, chocolate cake ticks all my Easter boxes!  IMG_1360

If you gave up chocolate for lent, I know you’re probably clawing at the wrapper on your Easter Egg in the hope that you can scrape a finger of chocolate scent to keep you going for the next few hours.  Alternatively if you want to celebrate your sacrifice with a bite of chocolate decadence I dare you to keep yourself busy over the next hour making this ridiculously easy chocolate cake that is as rich as it is dark and light as it is sinfully delicious.

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Easter Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

225g Plain Flour

350g Caster Sugar

85g Cocoa Powder

1&1/2 tspn Baking Powder

1&1/2 tspn Bicarbonate of Soda

2 Large Eggs

250ml Milk

125ml Vegetable Oil

2 tspn Vanilla Extract/Paste

250ml Boiling Water

For the Chocolate Ganache:

200g good quality plain chocolate

200ml double cream

chocolate shavings

1 bag of chocolate mini-eggs

Method:

1st: Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease and line two sandwich tins.

2nd:
 For the cake – prepare all the liquid ingredients, except the boiling water, in a measuring jug and mix.

3rd: Prepare all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl – sieve the cocoa as otherwise it will be lumpy.

4th: Mix the ingredients together and use the boiling water to slacken the mixture.  Mix until smooth and well combined.

5th: Divide the mixture between the 2 sandwich tins and bake for 25-35mins or until the top is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

6th: Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely before icing.

7th: Prepare the chocolate ganache by heating double cream in a saucepan and adding small pieces of the chocolate.  Turn off the heat and allow the residual heat in the pan to melt the chocolate.  Stir until smooth and glossy – set aside to use later.

8th: To assemble the cake, release the cakes from their tins and place one of the sponge cakes onto a serving plate.  Spread some of the chocolate icing over this.  Then carefully top with the other cake.

9th: Carefully create a dip in the centre of the top of the cake.  Pour the ganache over and cover all over smoothing round the sides with a palette knife.  Note: if the cake or ganache are still slightly warm it will not adhere to the side of the cake.  Optional extra is adding chocolate shavings over to create a bird’s nest before placing the mini eggs in the centre.

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Happy Easter everyone!

Gastrorob.

Pesto

Posted: April 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

Pesto is one of the great Italian flavour combinations that works on anything from chips to pasta.  It’s delicious drizzled over BBQ fish and meat and makes a very simple supper on those days you need to hit the kitchen running.  Supermarkets sell pesto of varying prices – anything from £1 upwards.  You get what you pay for.

Homemade pesto is ridiculously easy to make but you do need a food processor to get the desired texture – if however, you do this in a pestle and mortar, the flavours will be the same but will appear to be more rustic in texture.

Homemade Pesto

To make this Easy Peasy Pesto add basil, pinenuts, clove of garlic, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and lemon zest and juice to a food processor and blitz.  Slowly drizzle in a good quality olive oil until you get the texture you prefer.

Leftover pesto can be used as a vibrantly fresh pizza base:

Another great way to use pesto is spreading it over chicken breasts.  This can then be used in sandwiches, salads, tossed with pasta or added to quesadillas.

Click on the following link to make PESTO CHICKEN QUESADILLAS which makes a great sunday supper.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Pancake Day

Posted: February 25, 2017 in Celebration, Uncategorized

No matter what reincarnation of the festival you observe: Pancake Day. Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday!), or Shrove Tuesday, the idea is to enjoy one final binge on rich foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.

In Anglo-Saxon England, Christians went to confession and were “shriven” of their sins before the start of Lent hence the practice of celebrating and merrymaking before going to confession at the beginning of Lent.

 

Foods that were forbidden during Lent such as butter, sugar and eggs were combined with milk and a runny batter became the vehicle to carry sugary, self-indulgent foods.  Now, let’s be clear about this, you don’t have to be a devout Christian to observe Shrove Tuesday.

As a child I would always enjoy my pancakes sprinkled in sugar and squeezed with lemon juice, now however, children seem to take the blow-out to extremes; spreading jam, ice-cream with sauce and chocolate spread over theirs – sometimes all of the above!

 

The traditional crêpe has also been adulterated into fluffy American-style pancakes that need to be stacked, topped with bacon, drizzled in maple syrup and cut like a cake rather than simply used to wrap a combination of fillings.

How to make the perfect crêpe 

A few years ago, I made a delicious savoury pancake to mark the occasion: Courgette Pancake filled with cheese!  Check it out by clicking on the link!

Avocado and Banana Pancakes

This year, in a bid to make something slightly different again, I researched the internet to see if pancakes could be made with the increasingly popular avocado. Now, before you condemn me, chocolate cakes can be made with avocados – at least that’s where my justification came from.

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Ingredients:

160g Plain Flour
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tspn baking powder
1/4 Tspn salt
1 Avocado; halved, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 Banana; peeled and sliced
1 Tspn Vanilla Extract
240mls Milk

Follow the recipe on the youtube clip above to create delicious avocado based pancakes.

So whether you’re a purist, a glutton, a sweet-toothed child, or desperately trying to be health-conscious; it would be a sin not to try and make pancakes in some form or other to celebrate the day!

Flippin’ gorgeous!

 

 

Pimped-up fettuccine alfredo! Easy.

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Ingredients:

  • Chicken breast (aim for 1 per person)
  • Spanish onion
  • Garlic
  • Cream
  • Thyme
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon juice
  • Parsley
  • Seasoning

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=6ZEeFW1PG8s

Method:

1st: Chop the chicken breast into slices, or equal size pieces and fry in oil/butter.

2nd: Dice a small Spanish onion and 2 cloves of garlic.  Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent.

3rd: Slice a few chestnut mushrooms and add to the pan.

4th: Return the chicken to the frying pan, and sprinkle in parsley and thyme and pour in the cream.  Squeeze the juice of a lemon into the sauce.  Season well and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

5th: Boil any pasta you are using – I made some fresh fettuccine pasta – and once cooked mix into the creamy, chicken sauce.

6th:  Grate parmesan cheese to taste and mix well.  Serve and grate more parmesan cheese over, drizzle with truffle oil.

This dish makes a great Valentine meal if you’ve decided to wait until the weekend; it’s luxurious, creamy and delicious.  Send me your Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo photos!

 

Cottage Pie: Comfort food, easy to make using roast beef leftovers.  Easy Cottage Pie.