Foody Friday: Breakfast Brample Muffins

 

3

 

I love a breakfast muffin….there’s something rather naughty yet wholesome about yumming up a fruity cake first thing in the morning. It’s also a really nice thing to bake up for a late weekend breakfast, and I made these for us last weekend for just that. We had a number of apples from the garden still to use up, plus a load of brambles we’d foraged whilst walking the dogs, and I wanted to use them together in something other than a crumble or pie. They’re a splendid way to make use of these seasonal ingredients, and you can always freeze a few ready to yum up on another weekend (without the work involved!).

 

1

 

Ingredients (enough to make about 18 to 20 muffins) :

  • 300g apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 150g bramble berries or blackberries
  • 2 tbspn Stevia or caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 120g golden caster sugar
  • 200ml milk
  • 100ml maple syrup
  • 150g butter
  • 450g plain flour
  • 3 tspn baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tspn cinnamon

How to make them:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 c / Gas mark 6
  2. Line a muffin tray with muffin cases and lightly oil inside each one
  3. Pop your diced apple into a large saucepan, pour over the Stevia and cover with water
  4. Bring to the boil then add the blackberries
  5. Stir everything around gently and keep on the heat for a further minute, then remove from the heat and drain
  6. Mix together your eggs, sugar, milk, syrup and butter in a large bowl
  7. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, then mix well
  8. Stir in the drained fruit gently
  9. Carefully spoon the mixture into the cases, not quite filling them to the top (allowing the mixture room to rise)
  10. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, and remove once golden on top and a cocktail stick comes out clean
  11. Place on a wire rack to cool a little, then serve warm and gooey!

Enjoy!

Ems x

2

About these ads

Muddling Through: The Manhattan

DSC_0036_e

Good evening and welcome to my first proper post in ‘Muddling Through’, a beginners guide to cocktails, written by a beginner.

As my introduction said, I’m going to be focussing on classic cocktails (at least for now) and few are more widely known than the Manhattan. This also seemed a rather apt choice as it’s one of Ems’ all time favourite cocktails.

Invented in The Manhattan Club, New York as early as the 1870’s (though it seems no one can say for sure) the drink has changed very little since then. As with the Martini the only real change seems to be a gradual decline in the amount of Vermouth added! That said, with these kinds of drinks there are a great many variations and the Manhattan in particular is popular with bartenders who enjoy injecting a little of their own style into their drinks. For simplicity though I’m going to stick with the most basic. Don’t however let my use of the word ‘basic’ fool you in any way! The Manhattan is a very sophisticated cocktail and when done well is a truly great drink!

DSC_0026

The Manhattan

Ingredients

  • 2 Measures Rye/Bourbon Whisky
  • 1 Measure Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 Dash Bitters

Depending on how sweet you like your drinks you can simply increase or decrease the amount of Vermouth added (I’d suggest increments of 1/4 measures).

Method

  1. Combine the Whisky, Vermouth and Bitters in a mixing glass/cocktail mixer half filled with ice.
  2. Stir together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Yep, that’s it! So if you read my introductory post you should see why I told you to treat yourself to the good stuff! With drinks like this you’ve not got much to cover the taste of poor quality alcohol, so best not to risk it!

Rye is the more traditional Whisky for use in the Manhattan, but as I’ve found American Whisky sparsely stocked in UK supermarkets to say the least (there is so much more to life than Jack Daniels and Jim Beam!) you’re unlikely to find a Rye outside of the Internet, or if you’re lucky a very well stocked off-licence! In which case you will be more than fine with a good Bourbon.

As for Vermouth, if you can find yourself a bottle of Vermouth Rosso you can add an extra level of depth to your Manhattan by adding up to half a measure. Again depending on how much Vermouth you want to add in total and how sweet you want it, you’ll either add it or replace some of your sweet Vermouth with it.

Finally feel free to experiment with different Bitters if you can get hold of any. Orange is good, and I’d also recommend Cherry….lots of Manahattan recipes include burnt peel or a cocktail cherry.

For anyone interested, here’s how I’m currently making my Manhattan at home:

  • 1 Measure Pikesville Straight Rye Whisky
  • 1 Measure Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon Whisky
  • 1 Measure Cinzano Vermouth
  • 1/4 Measure Vermouth Rosso
  • 5 Drops Cherry Bitters

In all honesty I’m making it this way as I’m not in love with the Pikesville (it’s also my first Rye), so once that’s gone I plan to try another Rye and if I like it may end up making my Manhattans with just that. You never know, which is why it’s good to experiment to find what you like as the flavours and sweetness in a drink like this differ from person to person!

However you end up making your Manhattan, I hope you enjoy it and let me know about your experiences!

Until next time!

Adam

Muddling Through: Tools of the Trade

Hello again!

Now, before we begin with the recipes I thought it might be pertinent to make a few suggestions as to the little bits of equipment you might need in order to make yourself some tasty cocktails! I’d hate to see anyone get halfway through a recipe before realising they were missing something!

So, on to the fundamentals…..

image

A Cocktail Shaker

Unless you were planning on stirring all of your cocktails together in a glass, you won’t get very far without one of these!

image (1)

A Jigger

For measuring your liquids. Remember what I said about recipes and chucking in more of this or less of that? It won’t always work, so you’re going to need one of these. They come in various shapes and sizes but in the UK at least you’ll most likely have a 25/50ml one.

image (2)

A Bar Spoon

For stirring… Its long, slender design helps maintain a smooth stirring motion rather than a whisking one you might get from a regular spoon. Also used for layering drinks.

image (3)

A Strainer

For pouring your drinks into your nicely chilled glasses! The strainer is a bit more versatile than the built in one in the lid of your shaker and offers a bit more control.

image (4)

A Muddler

For mashing ingredients such as sugar, lime and mint.

image (5)

A Zester

For zesting fruit and cutting twists.

That’s about it for now! That’s almost certainly everything I’ve used so far, with the exception of a knife, but I’m betting you have one of those already!

Next post we’ll aim to include some liquids shall we!

Adam

Foodie Friday: Cuban Style Rice

20130802-115218.jpg

Adam and I have been meaning to make more new and interesting suppers for weeks. I rather lost my cooking mojo when the hot weather came along and haven’t been bothered to make anything excited for ages. So in the hope of restoring some interest again, we trawled through our cookbooks and planned a few meals for the week.

Last night was a quick and simple dish from the brilliant Spanish cookery book, which was in fact a gift from my lovely Spanish friend many years ago. I can’t say I wasn’t a little vexed to find that what had looked like a really easy dish required no less than FIVE pans (seriously, most of what I cook only needs one so I was less than impressed) but I did manage to reduce this down to three by tinkering with the recipe, and the results were worth the washing up.

Most of the ingredients are things we have in the house all the time, so I can see this becoming a bit of a go-to dish when we’re low on supplies and time, but still want something satisfying to cook. It took me only about 20 minutes to knock together, and rather less time to yum up!

What you will need (to serve two):

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • Long grain rice (however much you’d usually cook for two)
  • 1 large or 2 small bananas, sliced
  • butter
  • 2 large free range or organic eggs
  • salt
  • paprika

How to make it:

  1. Heat a little oil in a sauce pan then brown the chopped onion and two sliced cloves of garlic.
  2. Add the tinned tomatoes as well as the thyme, and bring to the boil before simmering for a good ten minutes.
  3. Whilst that’s bubbling away, cook your rice in a second saucepan, adding a whole garlic clove into the water.
  4. Add a little olive oil to a large frying pan and brown a sliced clove of garlic.
  5. Drain the cooked rice and tip into the frying pan, frying just for a couple of minutes.
  6. Plate up the rice and pop it in the oven to keep it warm, and give the pan a quick wipe with a bit of kitchen towel.
  7. Heat a knob of butter in the frying pan, then slowly caramelise your sliced banana in there.
  8. Add the banana to your plated up rice and return to the oven, then give the pan a quick wipe again.
  9. Heat a little olive oil and fry your eggs, seasoning with salt and paprika.
  10. Pour the sauce around your rice and plate up your eggs on top.

Yummy! We couldn’t believe how well all the flavours went together, especially the banana which really makes this dish.

Enjoy!

Ems x

Just Desserts Club: Summery Sweet Citrus Syllabub

IMG_5173

 

I had such food fun working on recipes for the last two Domestic Sluttery “Just Desserts Club” that I thought joining in on this month’s theme would help me get back into my creative mojo!

This month we are tasked with creating citrus based puds, and because my first thought ran to this great recipe given to me by my future mother-in-law, I though I’d go with my gut! Liz and I share very similar cooking and baking methods….we always have to tweak a recipe and like to add at least twice as much of all the flavourings as what is listed! We are both fans of seriously lemony drizzle cake and proper strong coffee cake, so when I first tasted her syllabub I was not disappointed!

My version of the recipe is so wonderfully quick and easy, requires very few ingredients and makes just a perfect summer pudding….you can chill it down so that it can be prepared earlier in the day and then just whipped out at the end of a dinner party….or you can quickly make some up if you’re in need of something sweet but light at the end of a meal. It has the most dreamy texture, velvety and smooth, and the citrus nicely cuts through all the rich creaminess. Lush!

You will need (to make four servings):

  • 150 g golden caster sugar
  • 600 ml double cream
  • The juice of two lemons
  • Two table spoons of lime juice
  • Plus a little zest for sprinkling

How to make it:

  1. In a saucepan, bring together the sugar and cream and warm gently until the sugar has dissolved and the two are nicely binded
  2. Bring to the boil and keep bubbling away for three minutes
  3. Turn off the heat and whisk in the juices
  4. Pour into a pretty pudding glass or ramekin through a seive, then cool in the fridge for a couple of hours or more
  5. Sprinkle with zest to finish

Yummy!

Ems x

Made with love: Lemon Drizzle Cake

Pretty rose pattern, Fine Bone China Trio by Regency of England

Yummy lemon drizzle cake
(served on pretty rose patterned Fine Bone China Trio by Regency of England, for sale on my Etsy shop, £12)

When it came to planning  a surprise Birthday tea party for my Mother-in-Law to be earlier this month, I knew that there just had to be a lemon drizzle cake. Liz often makes an amazing lemon cake, and likes it to be super zingy and full of fresh lemon juice!

So, I set about making the perfect lemon drizzle cake for her…and the results were delicious! Everyone commented on how tasty the cake was, and the texture was pretty perfect. This cake is really moist, and is finished off with a lovely crunch topping. It’s really quick and easy to make, and freezes well too…. which is just as well, as this recipe makes one pretty big cake!

Pretty rose pattern, Fine Bone China Trio by Regency of England

Yummy lemon drizzle cake
(served on pretty rose patterned Fine Bone China Trio by Regency of England, for sale on my Etsy shop, £12)

Ingredients:

  • 200g margarine
  • 350g Organic Golden caster sugar
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 tbsp milk
  •  3 lemons
  • 150g granulated sugar

How to make it:

1. Grease and line a deep 9″ diameter round tin, and pre-heat your oven to 180C/gas 4.

2. Pop the margarine, caster sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and milk into a large bowl and beat well until it’s all nicely blended.

3. Add the zest of all three lemons, plus the juice from one, and stir in.

4. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin, and bake in the middle of the oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown on top, and a skewer comes out of the cake clean.

5. Leave the cake to cool a little whilst you make the topping, by simply mixing the juice of one lemon with the granulated sugar.

6. Now carefully remove the still-warm cake from the tin, and prick little holes in the top with a cocktail stick or fork.

7. Pour over the juice from the third lemon, drizzling as much of the juice into the little holes as you can.

8. Finally, before the cake really cools, pour over the lemon and sugar mix, and allow that to harden into a crunchy topping.

We very much enjoyed a slice with a nice cup of tea! Hope you enjoy it too!

Ems x

Domestic Sluttery Just Desserts Club….. Christmas Lebkuchen

photo(11)

I was so excited to have another great excuse to do some baking, in the shape of Domestic Sluttery’s Just Desserts Club. Not that I usually struggle for an excuse….there’s always one to be found somehow! Still, with a Christmassy theme of ‘Cinnamon’ I just couldn’t pass up the chance to get involved again!

I had initially thought I’d bake the yummy German biscuits we had made after our trip to Berlin last year (we bought Ampelmann cookie cutters and had to try them out!) as they are deliciously filled with festive cinnamon. We have also been making cinnamon flavoured vodka, but that’s not *really* a dessert, and it’s not really a recipe when all you do is shove some cinnamon sticks into a bottle of vodka! So, after scoffing up lots of the wonderfully Christmassy offerings on our recent trip to Vienna, I couldn’t think of anything more fitting (or tempting) to bake than Lebkuchen. I absolutely adore their wintery spice flavour, and love the soft texture and crisp sugary coating. The ones we brought back from Vienna lasted no time at all, so I was more than happy to get baking some!

I started out with this recipe on BBC Good Food, which was recommended to me by a fellow Lebkuchen lover. She did warn that the texture would be a little different to what we’d bought in Austria, so I tweaked the recipe to make them more like I enjoy them, and of course I just had to add an extra chocolate coating to make them more authentic still. Here’s my version of the recipe and how I made them…..

You will need (to make about 30 little biscuits)…..

  • 250g plain flour
  • 85g ground almonds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 8 cloves, ground fine
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 200ml clear, runny honey
  • 85g salted butter
  • The finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g dark melting / cooking chocolate
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 egg white

How to make them…..

  1. Tip all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix
  2. Melt the butter into the honey, either in a pan over a low heat or in a measuring jug in the microwave
  3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix well
  4. Stir in the lemon zest and combine to form a solid dough
  5. Cover the dough and pop in the fridge to cool for 15 to 20 minutes
  6. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius / Gas Mark 4, and line two baking sheets with baking parchment
  7. Once cooled, roll the dough into little 3cm diameter balls with your hands…. you should get around 30
  8. Place them on the baking parchment lined trays, at least 5cm apart (you may need a third tray to ensure they are spread out enough)
  9. Squash each one down to flatten it into a disc, about 1.5 cm deep
  10. Bake them in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until they are golden brown
  11. Whilst they cool a little on a wire rack, melt your chocolate over a Bain Marie
  12. Lay your biscuits face down on the wire rack and coat the flat underside of each with the melted chocolate using a teaspoon
  13. Once they have cooled again and the chocolate has gone solid, flip them back over the right way up ready to ice them
  14. Whisk together the icing sugar and egg white, adding about 1 tablespoon of water so that you have a smooth and runny mixture
  15. Using a teaspoon again, coat each biscuit with the icing, spreading it over the face of each one so that you have a nice fine coating
  16. Decorate if you like with more melted chocolate or hundreds and thousands….you can even add a little colouring to the icing to make pink ones like we had in Vienna!

Happy baking!

Ems x

Halloween Recipe: Pumpkin and Squash Soup

With all the pumpkin flesh we carved from our Jack-o-Lantern, I couldn’t wait to make something seasonal and hearty to eat. It always seems a shame to me when people just carve a face onto a pumpkin and let the flesh go to waste. Not in this house though!

Here follows my recipe for pumpkin and squash soup….it has a little bit of a Thai style twist and because it’s thinner than my usual soups (although incredibly velvety) it’s great as a starter. You could of course scoff it with bread for lunch though, which I just did!

What you’ll need to make a batch of eight servings:

  • 1 tbspn butter
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 butternut squash, in 2cm cubes
  • 1 medium pumpkin, in 2cm cubes
  • 2 fresh red chillies, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 thumbs of ginger, grated
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 tspn lemongrass paste
  • 2 ltr hot chicken stock
  • 1 tspn Bouillon powder
  • 1 tin of Coconut Milk (don’t forget to shake the tin!)

How to make it:

  1. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan
  2. Add the onions and soften
  3. Tip in the squash and pumpkin, stir well and cook for around 10 minutes until the onions are browned and the rest starts to soften
  4. Then add the chillies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass paste, season well and cook for a further 5 minutes
  5. Now pour in the hot stock, followed by the Bouillon powder and bring to the boil
  6. Simmer for around 30 minutes until the pumpkin and squash are tender
  7. Remove from the heat and blend well
  8. Stir in the coconut milk, and blend a little more if needed
  9. Return to the heat to ensure it’s all piping hot, then serve

I’ve really enjoyed this soup, perhaps because it’s thinner but creamier than the ones I usually make. We certainly needed the bread to dip into it, although I suspect it’d work really well as a starter before the risotto I’m making for dinner (smoked bacon and pumpkin!). Either way, a very satisfying way to make best use of your pumpkin!

Ems x

Sweet Potato with Chilli, Ginger and Coconut Soup Recipe

 

One of the biggest regrets when I joined Weight Watchers was that sweet potatoes are not ‘free’…. meaning that they do cost you some points. I felt a bit miffed because most vegetables, including butternut squash are completely point free! Still, sweet potato is at least a bit ‘cheaper’ for points than normal potatoes, so I’ve not been totally put off them!

Now whilst I usually love to cover them in oil and bake them as wedges, I thought I’d try to find a more healthy way to enjoy the big batch of sweet potatoes I bought at the market last week. And because I’m all about the soups at the minute, that seemed like a good idea. The result was pretty dreamy actually….sweet and creamy, but with a good punch! AND each serving is only a few Weight Watchers points!

What you will need to make four servings:

  • 1 tbspn butter
  • 1 large white onion, chopped fine
  • 1.5kg sweet potatoes, pink fleshed, peeled and diced in 1cm cubes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced fine
  • 1 tbspn grated ginger
  • 2 large red chillies,  seeds removed and chopped fine
  • 1 tspn lime juice
  • 1 tspn Aromat
  • 750ml hot vegetable stock
  • 50g creamed coconut
  • dried, crushed chillies to garnish

How to make it:

  1. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan
  2. Tip in the onions and fry until soft
  3. Add the sweet potato, garlic, ginger and chillies
  4. Cook until the sweet potato starts to soften
  5. Now add the Aromat, lime juice and hot stock
  6. Simmer for around 15-20 minutes, until the potato is tender and ‘mashable’
  7. Remove from the heat and blend until smooth
  8. Pop back on a low heat and crumble in the creamed coconut, stirring through
  9. Once piping hot and well blended, serve up with a scatter of crushed chillies on top

I find this one pretty filling, so I don’t think it needs anything else like bread for dipping (and this coming from a bread fiend!).

Enjoy!

Ems x

How to on Tuesday….. Home Made Sloe Gin

My experience of sloe gin has been relatively recent. I used to hear people talking about it but never really knew what it was! Until a few years ago that is….. On a walk with the boyf, his mum and the dogs (not long after we’d started seeing each other), I was made to eat an under-ripe sloe berry off the tree, which I was told was the family initiation! I can’t say the horribly sour taste didn’t put me off sloes for a while, but not *too* long afterwards I tried my first sloe gin….and the love affair began.

We made our first batch of sloe gin last year, keeping a bottle for ourselves and to share at dinner parties, as well as making up some mini bottles to go in the Christmas Hampers we made as gifts for friends. It was so rewarding that I vowed to do it again this year, and so a couple of weeks ago we set about foraging for some berries for this year’s batch.

We were a little worried that there weren’t going to be enough about at first, as we’d not seen very many whilst out and about, and it’s not been a good year for such fruits in general. But, as luck would have it, we stumbled on the mother load of berries ripe for the picking, not too far away on Norton Common….and we came home with a couple of kilos! It’s said that you should wait for the first frost before you pick them, and they were certainly looking invitingly blue and bulgy on the cold day we picked them on!

Having found it rather dull work pricking each berry last year, I took some advice from a friend who said that if you freeze the berries instead, you don’t need to prick them at all! But wanting to check before messing it all up, I did a little research and found that we would still need to slash the frozen berries after all! It seems that if you’re very lucky, the berries will split when they freeze, but otherwise you will at least find it easier to prick or slash them once they are frozen.

Other than that bit of tedium though, it really is jolly easy to make your own sloe gin…..you just have to be patient for it to develop!

What you will need:

  • 1 litre of gin (or vodka….we are going to try this soon!)
  • 500g sloes
  • Cocktail sticks
  • 220g caster sugar
  • Two 2 litre sterilized jars or bottles, with an air-tight lid
  • Funnel
  • Coffee filter (as fine as you can get)

How to make it:

  1. Forage your sloes (or buy them from a farmers market or the supermarket), rinse them and take away any leafy bits or stalks
  2. Freeze them in bags, at least over night
  3. Remove from the freezer and prick EACH berry with a cocktail stick
  4. Pop them all into a sterilized jar
  5. Pour in the sugar, then the gin
  6. Secure the lid and then give it all a gentle shakey swirl
  7. Shake once every other day for a week
  8. Then shake once a week for at least two months (or as long as you can bear to wait!)
  9. Once you’ve had enough of waiting, strain the gin through a coffee filter placed inside a funnel, and into the other bottle or jar….if you have very fine filters, all the better, although it will take a while to get through!
  10. Serve neat, with a good tonic water, or with lemonade as you prefer

You can also use your sloe gin to cook with (it’s great with gamey dishes and for rich gravy) or to bake with (add a little to a fruit pie for added lushness, or try making my baked sloe gin cheesecake!). I personally just like to sip it neat from a pretty little glass, although I am rather keen to try a sloe gin cocktail made from our own too!

Ems x