I brought a can of French chestnut spread back from the UK a few months ago and it has been languishing in the back of my cupboard. Now autumn is here, and chestnut sellers are everywhere, I remembered it and decided to make meringues.
Meringues are so simple to make, but remember that grease is the enemy of whipped egg white. To ensure success, wipe out the bowl, which should me china or metallic (NEVER plastic), with a piece of kitchen paper dipped in vinegar. You should also thoroughly wipe the whisks you are going to use in the same way.
Ingredients for Chestnut Meringues
3 egg whites
175 g caster sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Small can of chestnut spread or sweet chestnut puree
2 tbsp double cream
Pre-heat the oven to gas 2/150C/300F
Whisk the egg whites, starting on a slow speed, if using and electric beater, and gradually increasing until stiff. Beat in the cream of tartar until incorporated then slowly add the sugar until stiff and glossy.
Spoon an even number of rounds onto a baking sheet lined with silicone paper. Place in the oven and reduce the heat to gas 1/140C/275F. Bake for about 40 minutes and check. If the meringues lift easily from the paper, they are done. If not reduce the oven further to the lowest setting and leave to dry out for another half an hour. Remember that ovens vary in temperature and it will depend a little on the size and depth of your meringues. Be patient!
Mix the chestnut spread with the double cream to take the edge off the sweetness. Add the cream gradually to get to the desired taste and consistency.
When meringues are cool, sandwich with the chestnut cream.
More baking this time, and with one of my all time favourite flavours, cinnamon. What could be better than a warm cinnamon roll straight from the oven? As this is another American speciality I have given the recipe in cups and metric. The recipe makes between ten and twelve (my husband ate five more or less straight away!) Thanks to GoofyDebbie who posted this on Allrecipes.com. It is a quicker version than many recipes, which is a great blessing when baking with yeast.
Ingredients for Cinnamon Rolls
3 1/4 cups plain flour (405 g)
1 sachet instant yeast
1/4 cup white sugar (50g)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cups milk (180ml)
1/4 cup butter (55g)
1 cup brown sugar (220g)
1/2 cup soft butter (115g)
1 tbsp cinnamon powder
4 tbsp sifted icing sugar
a little water (enough to make a smooth icing to drizzle)
a few chopped pecans
Heat oven to 190C/gas 5/375F
Sift about a third of the flour into a bowl and add the yeast and other dry ingredients. Heat the milk gently in a pan, stir in the butter until it melts. Add the water.
Beat the egg and mix into the dry ingredients with a flat knife. Gradually add the milk and butter until you have a very wet dough. Add the remaining flour bit by bit until all incorporated. Knead dough for about five minutes, adding a little more flour if necessary. Leave to rest in a covered bowl for 10 mins.
Meanwhile make the filling. Beat the sugar, butter and cinnamon together.
Now roll out the dough to a rectangle 12'' x 9'' or 30 cm x 20 cm.
Spread the filling evenly over the rectangle and roll up from the long end. Slice evenly into about twelve pieces. Place on non-stick paper on a baking sheet. Cover and leave in a warm place for half an hour.
Bake for about 20 minutes until done.
If liked drizzle with water icing and decorate with chopped pecan nuts.
I have neglected this blog for far too long. Partly due to the inertia brought on by a very hot summer (lost interest in cooking) and also by other distractions such as a trip home and a new job. Finally, I have got round to posting and guess what? It's another chocolate-vegetable combo.
I mentioned in my last post that I found beetroot in a cake rather earthy. However, beets are in season here now and I had bought a bunch to boil up for beetroot and blue cheese salads. After a few salads, I had a solitary beet left and decided to try out a chocolate and beetroot cake again.
I found a recipe in the British Daily Mail (I am almost too ashamed to admit that but that's what came up when I googled chocolate and beetroot). I didn't have the full amount of beetroot so I reduced it. Then my brown sugar had set hard so I couldn't cream it. I decided to do it brownie method and it turned out just delicious. The last choc beetroot cake I made was velvety whereas this was hard and sticky on the outside and a bit gooey in the middle.
Ingredients for Beetroot Brownie
125 g butter
300g brown sugar (could be reduced by 50g as cake is very sweet)
75g dark chocolate
225g self-raising flour
50 g cocoa
100g grated beetroot
Turn the oven to gas 4/180 C/350F
Melt the sugar and butter together in a saucepan. Meanwhile sift the flour and cocoa powder together.
In a jug beat the eggs and mix with the grated beetroot.
When sugar and butter have melted turn off the heat and put the chocolate pieces into the mixture to melt. Stir occasionally and leave to cool slightly. When cool add to the flour and finally mix in the beet and egg mixture with a wooden spoon until all incorporated.
Put in a greased tin (I used a Bundt tin) and bake in the oven for 30-40 mins. When mixture is pulling from the sides of the pan and cracks are appearing on the top, the cake is done. Allow to cool before turning out.
This recipe was passed to me by my good friend, Kimby Murakami who hales from the United States. This cake is generally agreed by our mutual American friends to 'taste like America' so I have decided to call courgettes zucchinis for the length of this post as I owe it to them to adopt their language while extolling their baking skills.
Cakes with vegetables are all the rage. A few months ago, I made a chocolate and beetroot cake, and while the texture was lovely, I could definitely taste an earthy tang which just put me off a little. This cake, has a great texture and flavour. The only problem with it, is that it doesn't keep long, so I would recommend making it when you are expecting visitors so that it gets eaten up quickly.
The recipe was given to me in cups, and I strongly recommend you use them if you have American style measuring cups. I have used a conversion chart for the metric measurements but I am never very confident when using these!
Ingredients for Chocolate and Zucchini Cake
1 cup brown sugar (220g)
half a cup white sugar (100g)
half a cup butter (110g)
half a cup oil (8 tbsp)
few drops vanilla
1 cup buttermilk or milk (200ml)
2 1/2 cups flour (320g)
4 tbsp cocoa
2 cups grated zucchini (1 large or 1 1/2 medium vegetables)
Some chopped chocolate pieces to sprinkle on the top
Pre-heat oven to gas 3/325F/170C
Cream the sugars and fats with an electric beater. Stir in the eggs, vanilla and milk.
Sieve the dry ingredients and fold in, finally adding the zucchini .
Pour into prepared tin and sprinkle chopped chocolate on the top.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out dry.
I love muffins, the American cake type of muffin rather than the UK bread muffins. I had previously tried to make them at home but felt they lacked a certain something in comparison to shop-bought ones. I then tried a recipe from Nigella's website: https://www.nigella.com/recipe/recipe_detail.aspx?rid=12489 and was very pleased with the result. This recipe is for double chocolate muffins but to be honest I prefer chocolate chips in a plain vanilla muffin, I find chocolate cake and chocolate chips all a bit rich.
Ingredients for Chocolate Chip Muffins
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
half a tsp bicarbonate of soda
a few drops of vanilla extract
100g chocolate chips
90 ml vegetable oil (not olive oil)
250 ml milk
Set oven to Gas 6/200 C/400F
Set out muffin cases.
Sieve flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Add sugar. Make a well in the middle.
In a jug, mix the milk, egg and oil. Pour into the well in the dry ingredients and beat for a short time until incorporated. Don't worry if mixture is a bit lumpy. Fold in most of the chocolate chips but reserve a few to sprinkle on the top. Pour batter into cases then sprinkle on reserved chips. Bake for about 25 minutes.
I have been making this recipe for a few years, but recently, it has lain forgotten in my scrap folder. Suddenly, getting the urge for something chocolatey I looked it out again. It is in a 1993 edition of the Woman's Weekly. I have never purchased the Woman's Weekly myself so I guess it must have been my mother's. This magazine always remained staunchly traditional and retro, with its unfashionable knitting patterns and 1950s type short stories. Looking at this sixteen year old edition is like being transported to another era. I must have been living in Turkey too long because my main interest was in the prices! You could get a basket of Jersey flowers delivered for about eight pounds sterling. You could buy a (terrible) poly/wool two piece for 26.99. Some things, especially toy and gift items seemed more expensive in real terms back in 1993.
However, Woman's Weekly recipes seem timeless and these brownies are very moreish. I added pecan nuts instead of the mixed chopped nuts originally recommended, I also chopped up a few cocktail cherries.
Ingredients for Brownies
90 g self raising flour
1 rounded tablespoon cocoa powder
60 g butter
175 g soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
125g plain chocolate
30 g chopped nuts
about 8 chopped cherries (optional)
Set oven to 160C/Gas 3/ 325F
Sift flour and cocoa into a mixing bowl and add salt, chopped nuts and fruit. Put the water, butter and sugar into a saucepan and melt gently. Once melted, remove from the heat. Break chocolate into pieces and add to the sugar mixture, stir well until chocolate has melted. Leave to cool for a few minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Add to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into a tin lined with non-stick paper or similar. I used one approx 15 x 20 cm.
Bake for about 30 mins.
I haven't blogged for a while. A couple of weeks ago I had guests to stay and was simply too busy cooking to blog about it. Since then I have had a bad leg and been unable to stand for too long and my husband has kindly done most of the cooking.
Just before my guests came I found something I had long been searching for - a tin suitable for tarte tatin. This desirable item was finally located in Carrefour SA and even better, was discounted. The tin is like a cake tin but sturdy enough to put on the direct heat first before transferring to the oven.
I love tarte tatin. Many years ago, when I was a student ,a chain of French style bistros called Pierre Victoire sprung up across Britain. The lunch menu was ridiculously cheap and featured a three course meal of small but beautifully cooked portions. A student friend and I often treated ourselves, and being cheap only drank tap water. This probably caused some dismay behind scenes as the food was so cheap, the drinks must have brought the profit in. For dessert, I always chose tarte tatin at Pierre Victoire. Sadly, the chain failed and closed and it was some time before I found tarte tatin again.
I love apples and I love caramel. As a tiny pre-school child, I used to accompany my mother to the supermarket on a Wednesday morning. She would put me in the child seat in the trolley and I can still remember drawing level with the produce counter and feeling some excitement as she selected a toffee apple which was to be my post-shopping treat if I was a good girl. I think I can trace my love of tarte tatin to those uncomplicated feel-good times, the simple joy of a toffee apple on a Wednesday morning.
I have made tarte tatin twice now and am satisfied enough with today's version to post the recipe. I made my own short crust pastry but ready-roll puff pastry is also an option.
Ingredients for Tarte Tatin
200 g plain flour
50 g icing sugar
100 g butter
1 egg yolk
approx 2 desertspoons of cold water
75 g caster sugar
30 g butter
3 large sweet eating apples
a little lemon juice
cinnamon to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 230 C/gas mark 8/450 F
First make the pastry by sieving flour and icing sugar into a bowl. Cut up butter into small pieces and rub in with fingers or in a food processor. Beat the egg yolk slightly and add to the rubbed in mixture. Add as much water as necessary to bring together to a soft but not sticky dough. If the dough is made by hand it may benefit from being wrapped in cling film and rested in the fridge for 20 mins. I made mine in a processor and skipped this step as processed pastry is reliably short. Roll pastry out to a circle that is just slightly larger than the base of your pan.
Sprinkle the sugar across the base of the pan and put on the hob on a gentle heat. When it is turning brown, add the butter and leave to melt.
Core and peel the apples, sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent oxidisation. Cut into fairly thick pieces (about 1.5 cm) and arrange in the caramel in an interlocking circle, keep the heat on gently. Be careful not to touch the caramel with the tips of your fingers as I did! The apples must be packed tightly as they reduce during cooking. Fill the centre of the circle with apple pieces. Sprinkle with cinammon.
Lift your pastry disc and carefully place over apples. Tuck the edges down around the apples. Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. When pastry is cooked remove from oven. Place an inverted plate on the tarte and flip over so the tarte unmolds apple side up.
Jam roly-poly in a lake of custard is such a typical English pudding. It must be twenty years since I last had roly-poly and to be honest it has never featured strongly in my life. I can't remember either my mother or grandmother making it (which is not to say they didn't) but it featured occasionally on the school dinner menu or in the works canteen.
I notice that my recipes seem to go in themes, apricots, soups, chickpeas and jam all appear in close pairs on this blog. This has to do with my personal cravings and the situation in my stock cupboard. As one American writer once said, only the British could consider 'currants and jam thrilling constituents of a cake,' and it must be owned our puddings are humble but so moreish all the same. I used a raspberry and apple sugar-free jam for this pudding, and as there is no sugar in the pastry, it is almost a health food isn't it?
My mother sent me a packet of suet in my latest care package, I had requested suet for dumplings, but I saw this recipe on the BBC Good Food website and thought 'why not?' I had triumphantly discovered Birds Eye custard powder in a deli in Bebek, so I used that for the custard, which I dribbled a bit clumsily as you can see in the photo. Yes I know Birds Eye is not haute cuisine and the price it sells for here means that vanilla beans and cream would be cheaper, but it is so nostalgic.
Ingredients for Jam Roly-Poly
250g self-raising flour
150 ml milk
Heat oven to 180 C/gas 4/350F
Boil a kettle of water, half fill a roasting tin and put on the lower shelf of the oven with a shelf immediately above.
Rub the butter into the flour or pulse in a processor until like bread crumbs. Put in a bowl and stir in the suet. Gradually add the milk, using a blunt bladed knife, mix until you can form a dough with it. Add more milk if you really need to.
Put a large square of non-stick baking paper on the work top. Put the dough ball into the middle and roll out a square 25cm x 25cm. Spread the square with jam, leaving a margin of about 2 cm round the edges. Roll up from the opposite edge and pinch the ends and the long edge to prevent jam escaping. Keep the roll in the centre of the baking paper, seam side down. Wrap the baking paper loosely around it, scrunching the edges to seal. Put it in the middle of a large square of foil and use the foil as the outer wrapping. It will expand in the oven, so don't make the wrapping too tight.
Place straight on the oven shelf above the roasting tin and cook for one hour.
Yes, two posts in one day! I am excelling myself. But the truth is it is raining stair rods outside so what to do? My husband braved the elements to run some errands, so I decided to bake something for us to have with a hot cup of tea when he returned. These biscuits (cookies to my US friends) were a wonderful find on the BBC Good Food site. Minutes to make and minutes to bake, a great standby for unexpected visitors.Ingredients for Jammy Biscuits
Set the oven to 190 C/gas 5/375 FSieve the flour, cut the butter into small chunks and rub in with your fingers or pulse in a food processor until like bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar until evenly distributed. Mix in the egg and combine until a dough is formed. This whole process can be done in a food processor if you have one.
Bring the dough together and put on a floured worktop or a piece of silicone paper. Pull out into a sausage shape and roll until it is fairly evenly round and about 4 cm in diametre (they really spread in the oven so if you want dainty biscuits make the roll thinner). Take a sharp knife and slice at about 1.5 cm intervals.
Makes about 14 large biscuits.
Place well-spaced out on a baking sheet.With the back of a teaspoon make a depression in the centre of each biscuit. Fill the depression with a little jam. Place the tray in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire tray.