Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Spice Men

They look like gingerbread men, but as there's no ginger in them I have to call them 'spice men'. I add cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves for flavour, and they taste like Dutch biscuits - the ones that often have flaked almonds embedded on one side. (spekulaas or something like that?)

I love to make these because you can make the dough in one saucepan, so not much cleaning up to do afterwards. You melt brown sugar, golden syrup, spices and a little water in a medium saucepan, bring it to the boil then turn off the heat. Add butter and some bicarb until melted and combined. Then stir in flour until you get a dough. Cover and cool the dough and then roll it out with more flour. Use cutters to make shapes. The dough is easy to use, so it's good for children to help with.

When it was Oli's birthday I made 40 or so little spice men (by doubling the recipe) to send to pre school with him so all the children and teachers could eat one after their lunch.

75 g soft brown sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp water
a sprinkling of spices - cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves - or ginger if you prefer
95 g butter, cut up
1/2 level tsp bicarb
225 g plain flour

Cook at 180 c for 8 - 12 mins depending on size and thickness, until slightly golden.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Jam Drops

These are really old-fashioned, un-fancy biscuits that I imagine people's grannies might make for them! They're the sort of biscuits that children really like. Crispy, light and sweet.

After beating together butter and sugar, you mix in an egg and some vanilla extract, then stir in flour. It makes a non-sticky dough that's easy to handle, so would be great for children to help with. Put 2 tsp blobs of dough spaced apart on a baking sheet, then make an indentation in the top of each biscuit and dab a little jam in.

Cook for about 12 min on 190 C then cool on tray.

125 g butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups SR flour
jam (eg raspberry, apricot)

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Lemon and Blueberry Yogurt Cake

I was at home with the children again today, so had plenty of time to cook. I made a Cottage Pie for dinner, and while it was cooking I made this cake to use up the rest of the Greek yogurt I had in the fridge.

I tore the recipe out of an Australian Women's Weekly magazine ages ago and haven't got around to trying it until now. The original recipe doesn't have blueberries, but I bought some a couple of days ago and thought they might go well in this cake.

It's one of those cakes where you beat everything together in a mixing bowl - then you pour it into a greased and floured bundt tin, and cook at 180 C for an hour.


335 g SR flour
330 g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten lightly
280 g Greek yogurt
180 ml veg oil
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
80 ml lemon juice
punnet of blueberries (if using)

This is a really lovely cake! Very light and fluffy, not overly sweet, slight lemony tang, (I didn't have as much lemon juice as specified in the recipe so only added about 40 ml) - and the blueberries go really well. Will definitely be making this again, especially as it is so easy to do.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Smartie Cookies

I had all three boys at home with me today, we all have colds and felt pretty awful. If I had been on my own I probably would have spent the day in bed, but I couldn't do that today because the bed would have ended up covered in whingy children. So instead I decided to make some cookies.

I can't remember where I got this recipe, but the idea is that the cookies are soft rather than crunchy. They are simple to make, very sweet and chewy and very popular!

100 g butter, soft
100 g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
150 g SR flour (plus a handful of quick-cook oats because I always do this!)
90 g Smarties

Beat together butter and sugar until creamy, then beat in syrup. Stir in half the flour and the oats, then stir in the Smarties to the remaining flour and stir that in too. Divide dough into 14 balls, place well apart on baking sheet, do not flatten. Cook 180 C for 12 mins until pale golden. Cool on tray, then on rack.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Apple and Orange Frozen Yogurt

The original name of this recipe was 'Apple and Rosemary Frozen Yogurt' from a book called 'Ice Cream!' - I wanted to try it because the ingredients and method appealed to me, but I just couldn't bring myself to put the rosemary sprigs in! So instead of rosemary I added a few strips of orange zest.

The first step is to bring to the boil in a saucepan: 200 ml water, 300 ml apple juice (I used good quality cloudy apple juice from the refrigerated section), 150 g caster sugar, and orange zest strips (or rosemary sprigs if you're braver than me) then simmer for 5 minutes. Cool completely then whisk in 200 g Greek yogurt.

I would say you should then refrigerate the mixture until chilled, before churning it in an ice cream maker, especially if you've got a freezy-bowl maker like I have - I was in a hurry to use the noisy machine before the children's bed time, so I didn't do any chilling and it took ages to freeze.

The result is a light, fruity frozen yogurt, very much like a sorbet. The apple is the stronger flavour with a slight hint of orange. This would be great to eat on a very hot day.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Berry and Buttermilk Cake

This is another recipe from 'Apples For Jam'. In the book it's made with blueberries, but strawberries are suggested as an alternative. Blueberries were a bit expensive when I was at the shops yesterday, so I decided to use strawberries.

The cake is like a muffin mixture with the wet ingredients stirred gently into the dry and then spread into a baking pan. Fruit is scattered over and then a sprinkling of demarara sugar. I pressed the fruit pieces into the surface which I think was a good idea because they blended with the cake.

This is a good cake to eat with a cup of tea or coffee if you don't want anything that's too sweet or overbearing. The lemon zest and buttermilk give a mild tangy flavour to the base and the strawberries and demarara give sweetness on the top. Good for lunchboxes because it's not crumbly and only a little bit sticky.

2.5 cups flour (I used wholemeal for the half cup) and 3 tsp baking powder
90 g sugar
ground nutmeg
2 eggs, whisked well
250 ml buttermilk
60 g butter, melted
1 tsp lemon zest
150 g fruit (blueberries or strawberries)
demarara sugar to sprinkle
(greased and lined 30 x 20 x 5 cm pan) cook at 200 deg C for about 25 mins

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Watermelon Boats on Blue Jelly Sea

This was made by Oli and me today, and was inspired by Play School (on TV yesterday morning). The grapes are sailors and the mint leaves are flags on the boats!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Buttermilk Ice Cream

I saw this recipe on the We Don't Have a Blog Blog, made by Coby. It's a Tessa Kiros recipe from 'Apples For Jam'. I've borrowed this book from the library before, and now I've ordered it from the Book Depository (early birthday present!)

You whisk together 250 ml single cream and 200 g caster sugar until the cream thickens a bit, then add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 500 ml buttermilk. Churn it up in an ice cream maker and put it in the freezer to harden.

It makes a tangy, fresh-tasting ice cream which is perfect with fruit. Everyone else had chocolate topping and hundreds-and-thousands with theirs though!

Breakfast Bars

This is adapted from the Breakfast Bar recipe in Nigella Express, which interested me because it uses condensed milk to bind everything together, rather than fat. You warm the condensed milk in a pan and then stir in oats, shredded coconut, dried cranberries, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.

I halved the recipe and instead of pressing the mixture into a baking pan to cook it, I used cake papers as I don't seem to have much luck making bars - they are either too hard or too crumbly.

Other changes I made were to use dried currants in place of some of the cranberries (because I didn't have enough for the recipe), and I used chopped cashews instead of the peanuts.

These were really tasty - I thought they were a bit sickly at first because of the sweetness of the milk and the coconut. But the next day when they were completely cool, the sweetness was less obvious. These are great for lunchboxes so I'll be making them again. It would also be very easy to adapt to whatever seeds/nuts/dried fruit you happened to have.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Bara Brith

before cooking (above)

Sarah sent me this recipe for Bara Brith (Welsh fruit cake). You soak dried fruit in tea in a large bowl overnight, then sift in flour and spice, mix in sugar and lightly beaten egg, cook for one and a half hours at 150 deg C, and then supposedly store for at least 2 days before eating (no chance!!)

500 g mixed dried fruit and peel (I used just sultanas and currants)
300 ml strong hot tea
250 g self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
125 g dark brown muscovado sugar (I used 70 g soft brown sugar)
1 egg

It's lovely and squidgy and fruity. At the moment it's still warm and the outside is crusty. Would be lovely as a Christmas cake for people who find traditional Christmas cake too heavy and rich. Later I'm going to try a slice spread with butter.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Strawberry Shortcakes

One of the reasons for doing this food blog is to encourage the boys to cook and have an interest in food.

This is a recipe from 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' - or in this case Domestic God - as it was made by Richard.

Banana Buttermilk Pancakes

I had some buttermilk hanging around in the fridge, and decided to use it to make some banana buttermilk pancakes (Bill Granger recipe).

I usually make little plain pikelets, so I made some of these too in case the banana ones weren't popular (they are the smoother ones at the back of the plate).

The batter for the buttermilk pancakes was very thick so I added some milk. I also decided to make them small so they'd be more manageable.

They had an interesting tangy flavour because of the buttermilk, and the banana tasted good (you add slices to the top of each pancake then add more batter before turning), but I had trouble browning them. I have much more success with making the normal pikelets, and the boys prefer them (they add jam, syrup or lemon and sugar) so I'll just stick to them in future!

PS Banana pancakes taste nice cold the next day! Have just found a Nigella recipe for banana pancakes where the banana is mashed and added to the batter, which sounds like a better idea.