An ode to my new cooker

Welcome to our home, new cooker!

You fit perfectly into the space left behind 

By the one who served us so well

She was too small but worked extra hard

You are exactly what we need now

Bigger and stronger, with extra goodies

I can’t wait to work with you!

Welcome to our home, new cooker

I dub thee Slyvia.

I’m embarrassingly excited about our new cooker. It’s the first brand new cooker I’ve owned – I’ve only ever had second hand or built in ones before. She’s a beaut though. Our old cooker was a great wee thing, but wee is the operative word there, a 50cm width in a 60cm space. It looked not great and it meant we were constantly dropping stuff down the sides. When it finally packed in (after 6 years of us having it, I don’t know how long my friend had it before us) I was sad – it was the best oven I’d owned for baking and such. The brand (Zanussi) is pretty expensive and there was little chance of replacing it with a comparable one. Damnit. Because it died on us so suddenly, we didn’t exactly have the spare cash floating around for a decent replacement. I looked on gumtree and ebay, but Gof was insistent on a brand new one.

I looked around and didn’t see anything either of us liked. It was clear we needed a 60cm one and that limited the bells and whistles we could get. I decided to hold off a few days. I’m glad I did! Going back onto the Curry’s website, I spotted a Zanussi on sale, from £549.99 (ie waaay out of budget) to £299.99! My awesome mother-in-law loaned us some cash so we wouldn’t struggle with the added expense this month (thanks M!). Even more luckily, we were able to take advantage of a special offer through Gof’s bank, so the total came to £279.99. I’ve never really paid attention to those bank offers, but I will now!

So essentially, we paid £80 for a £550 cooker. Obviously, we will be paying M back (she’s saying she won’t take it but she bloody will!) but even then it’s still a freaking steal. Now we have a cooker that fits in the space and increased capacity, along with the awesome power of our old beloved cooker. Perfect.

And just in time for Christmas!

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Gutted. Seriously gutted.

So a unicorn appeared in a charity shop last week. A red Kitchen Aid mixer, looking shiny and new.

*chorus of angels*

*chorus of angels*

I was overjoyed. I needed to have this in my life. It was going to be available to buy on Saturday 7th November, and I was determined to be there before opening to stake my claim. So Friday night rolled around, and my plan was to be at work then go home (around 4am) then just stay awake and walk down to my date with DESTINY. There was no price on it but it certainly would have been cheaper than buying brand new. It was my colour, my perfect and only.

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And I did it. I went to work, finished and went home. I put on Judge Judy and waited til it was time. I was wide awake and excited. I popped onto tumblr to clear some inbox messages and then….

It was 10am. What? When did that happen? NOOOOO!!!!!

The shop opened at 9am and my Kitchen Aid was undoubtedly gone. I rushed along to confirm. Yup. I didn’t have the heart to ask how much it went for. Apparently my date with destiny was cancelled. I was stood up. Or I stood it up. I don’t know. All I knew was it was gone.

And that’s how Lime Crime got some small measure of revenge against me.

*sobs*

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Chocolate Chilli Cheesecake

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I know I did, spent the morning with Gof, watching The Hogfather and drinking my traditional Bailey’s coffee… or 3.  We had Christmas dinner with our awesome friends; Chris, Maggie and lil bit Heather, Mac and Maggie’s brother George. It was very much a collaborative effort – Gof made pea soup, Chris and Mac made black pudding, scallops and crispy chorizo with apple sause (I died and went to heaven) and all 3 guys (mostly Chris and Mac, to be fair!) created the ultimate turkey dinner, with goose fat roasties I could marry and have a short but delicious relationship with.

Of course, I immediately volunteered to do dessert when we discussed it months ago. As time grew closer I was at my wit’s end trying to figure out what would suit everyone. We had a 4 year old, 2 people who don’t eat wheat, and I came to the natural conclusion it shouldn’t be too heavy after the amount we’d be eating. This lead to the idea of cheesecake. People could control their own portions and it could keep for a few days. But what kind? Baked or fridge? Chocolate, orange, berry, banana? It was decided for me when I found THE MOST AMAZING CHILLI CHOCOLATE EVER. Christmas market find, of course. I knew it was risky. I hadn’t tried the recipe, Heather might not like it, and holy bejesus that’s a lot of cream cheese and chocolate in a dessert that’s supposed to be light. Still, I trucked on, convinced it was the right move. I did make orange mousse cups though, just in case. SPOILER ALERT – I needn’t have worried.

Below is the recipe I used, the only difference was I used wheat free biscuits (sorta Hob Nob-like), and I saved the MACCE (as the chocolate will henceforth be known) for the ganache. It set beautifully, and instead of whole chillies, I used red edible glitter for decoration (it was for Christmas after all!) It was a complete hit, and this will definitely be going into my keepers folder. Because more is more at Christmas, I doubled the recipe, made 2 cheesecakes and took  the second to the Boxing Day buffet hosted by my in-laws. Again, it was a great success, with kids and adults alike going back for more. I still have some MACCE left, and am on the hunt for another kickass recipe to use, so if you have one let me know! It’s a dark, but very soft chocolate although it hardens nicely in the fridge. If you don’t want to use plain dark chocolate for the ganache, I suggest using Green and Black’s Chilli Chocolate, since it’s tres tasty too.

In whatever case, make this immediately if not sooner! Make it for Hogmanay! Make it for breakfast! I won’t judge you!

Excuse the highly professional iPhone picture - I had to get in quick before it was demolished!

Excuse the highly professional iPhone picture – I had to get in quick before it was demolished!

200g Plain chocolate biscuits
80g Butter, softened
1 tsp Fine chilli powder
3 tsp Sweet paprika
1/3 cup Cold tap water
5 tsp Gelatin
500g Cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Icing sugar
1/2 cup Milk
300g Good quality dark chocolate
1 1/2 cups Thickened cream, whipped
100ml Cream (for ganache)
200g Good quality dark chocolate (for ganache)
2 tsp Butter (for ganache)

Grease and line a 24cm (base) springform pan.
Process biscuits in a food processor to fine crumbs, and then transfer to a bowl.
Melt butter and add biscuit crumbs. Stir until well combined. Use your fingertips to press into the base of the prepared pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Place water in a heatproof bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the water and stand for 1 minute.
Microwave, uncovered, on high, for 30 seconds so that gelatin is dissolved. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Using an electric beater, beat cream cheese, sugar, chilli powder, paprika and milk until smooth. Stir in gelatin.

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Stir until melted. Cool slightly. Add to cream cheese mixture. Fold whipped cream through the chocolate mixture. Then pour the mixture over the biscuit base and refrigerate.

To make the ganache – heat the cream in a saucepan until just beginning to boil. Pour over the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Add the butter and stir till combined. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. The mixture should still be liquid enough to pour.

Pour ganache over cooled cheesecake. Cover and refrigerate for 6-7 hours, or overnight.

Release sides of the pan. Place cheesecake on a serving platter and top with small red chillies. Use a warm knife to cut into Slices. Serve with cream.

Spiced sugar recipe

Around this time of year I start preparing for Christmas, and one of the first things I do is mix this year’s batch of spiced sugar. The recipe is Jamie Oliver’s, and has been a tradition of mine for a few years now. In his recipe, it’s for popcorn, but I’ve used it for cupcakes, scones, syrup, and my personal favourite – over the top of porridge on Christmas Morning! I’m usually a splash of milk and salt kinda gal, but for Christmas spiced sugar is the only way to have it!

The recipe is actually less of a recipe and more, throw it together and let flavour the sugar. It’s not difficult at all but I always get compliments on it. I’ve included the sugar in small presents, like a mason jar of spiced sugar brownies or layering porridge oats and spiced sugar and it’s always gone down a treat! I’ve found my favourite way of using it for popcorn is to heat oil and butter, pour in some sugar, then add the kernels. It makes it more caramelised than the original version, and keeps well packaged up as a gift.

I think everyone should make this, I go through loads over the festive season and still have enough to last a few month!

Anyway, onwards! You’ll need;

3 fresh bay leaves
finely grated zest of 2 oranges
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
6 whole cloves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 gratings whole nutmeg
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
1 kg unrefined caster sugar

Put the bay leaves, orange and lemon zest and all of the spices into a food processor and whiz it up. Once well blended, turn to a low whiz and slowly pour the sugar in until combined. The sugar will be damp, so spread it out evenly on a large baking tray (covering it loosely with clingfilm) then leave it to dry for a few hours.

Once the sugar is dry, pass it through a sieve to catch any larger pieces of spices, and chuck those away. Put your sieved sugar into an airtight container, where it will keep for a good few months (if it lasts that long!)

Let me know how you do, and what you’re using your spiced sugar on!

Bacon and cheese muffins

This recipe has become a firm favourite in the C&HT household, I found it on the Food.com website and to be honest, the only real changes I’ve made (if you could call it that) is to use a mini muffin size tin, add more chives and use wheat free flour. That’s why I didn’t change the set up of the recipe, but I wanted to share it anyway, more of a ‘this recipe is nommy’ than ‘look what I did!’ post. But yeah, as it says on the original post, the muffins are great with soups, salads and breakfasts. My favourite is eating them warm (nuke them in the microwave for 20 seconds), break them open and smother just a little more butter on them. Mini moments of decadence… A few at time, to be honest! Nom nom nommy!
Without further ado, le recipe! Make it immediately!

Cook 4 slices of bacon until crisp.
Cool and crumble.
Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare mini muffin tin by spraying with vegetable oil spray.

Melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat in a small skillet.
Finely chop fresh chives (between 1/4-1/2 cup, to taste)
Remove from heat and add chives.
Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl combine 2 large eggs and 1 cup of milk using a whisk.
Add butter/chive mixture, cheese and crumbled bacon.

In a small bowl, combine 2 cups of all-purpose, wheat free flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, healthy pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
Stir to mix.
Add to egg mixture, stirring only until blended thoroughly.

Spoon mixture into prepared mini muffin cup tray, filling about 2/3 full.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until muffin tops just begin to brown.
Remove from oven and remove muffins from tin.
Cool them on a wire rack.

Munch furiously and enjoy!

Adapted crêpes recipe

So Rob, a member of BNI Dynamo as well asPC Support Group (waves!) recommended this recipe to use with wheat free flour, and only a few changes – half w/f flour half gram flour, and I think the measurement used for more butter was approximately ‘More, Loads more’.

So I made a batch and I’m in love. A cinch to throw together, and the best bit is it isn’t sweet, so I can sweeten it myself with sugar or jam (the lemon curd from Pipsqueak Preserves was NOM!) or use it for a savoury snack. I’ve just had one smeared with wholegrain mustard, ham and cheese, folded over and heated in the oven for 10 mins. AMAZING!Next I’ll be trying the batter to make Yorkshire Puddings, and will report back.

So far, its a keeper. Slightly different from a normal pancake batter, I think the inclusion of the gram flour really gives it a unique flavour and opens it up to more culinary uses!

Here is the adapted recipe, the original is linked above. I also ended doubling the original recipe, which is accounted for below.

Ingredients

70 gram(s) unsalted butter melted (plus more for frying)
150 gram(s) plain flour
150 gram(s) gram flour (I get mine from a local take away but most shops should stock it)
650 ml milk
2 medium egg(s)

Using a shallow pan, melt the butter and let cool.

Put the flour, milk and egg into a blender and whiz. Pour into a jug and stir in the melted butter. If you’re making the batter in advance, don’t put the melted butter into the mix until you’re read to starting cooking.

Heat a dry pan, and ladle 2–3 tablespoons of batter into the pan, quickly holding it up and swirling so that the batter forms a quick, thin pancake covering the base of the pan. This will cook in a minute so flip it and cook for 30 seconds to a minute on the other side, then remove to a plate.

Repeat until your batter is finished! I made around 15-16 of these bad boys, when the remaining ones were cool (you can bet your last dollah I had a few warm!) I wrapped them on the plate with cling film and they’re still yummy 2 days later.

If you try them, let me know how you get on!

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Baked egg muffins

I know, it’s late coming, can I tell the truth and say it went plum out of my head? Oops!

Anyway, I threw these together after seeing loads of similar recipes on the most addictive website in the world, Pinterest (run, save yourselves!!). For an extra 5 mins tops, it makes a gorgeous and tasty twist on the usual fried egg brekkie! I made enough for 9 mini muffins, which is 3 regular size muffins. Play around with the recipe, (I plan to add red pepper next time!) and let me know how you do!

First off, put streaky bacon (I used 4 slices) in a cold oven, and turn the heat up to 180o (did you know putting bacon in a cold oven makes it crispier? yum!)

Grate some of your favourite cheese using the smallest size grate (I used some strong, sharp cheddar)

(I’m staring at the word grate and I’m convinced it looks wrong. hmmm)

Spray some oil over/grease your muffin pan.

(That sounds a bit wrong!)

When your bacon is at your preferred stage of crispy, remove from oven (but keep the oven on!) and transfer to a cold plate. It’ll let it cool quicker.

Empty an egg into each muffin.. hole? space? thingy? You know what I mean!

Roughly chop the cooled bacon into small pieces, and add to each egg.

Sprinkle some cheese on top, and some herbs if you wish (I used rosemary, I *think*)

Put in the oven for 10-15 mins.

Use a fork to ease the muffins out of the pan, and plate up!

Enjoy!

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