I love Birthdays, any Birthdays. I get far too excited, even more so than the Birthday boy or girl. It's sad really, but I believe that celebrating this day is a big deal and everyone should have a big birthday blow out, even if I have to do it myself!
Saturday marked the 24th Birthday of one of our very best friends, being a big grumpy bugger he decided he didn't really want to do anything for the big day. This simply would not do! At the very last minute I rallied together the troops, stocked my almost bare cupboards and donned my apron ready to cook up a Birthday Banquet. Usually I feel bad about the amount of time I spent surfing around baking blogs, but right there in the moment I thanked my dissertation procrastination as over the week prior to the party I'd discovered a few brilliant recipes I was dying to try out. First of all is the beautiful Rolo Cupcakes I discovered on a blog called Hannah's Country Kitchen. I had a lot of Christmas confectionery to use up and these little pockets of heaven seemed like the perfect candidates to use some of it up. Needless to say they went down a treat, you must make these cakes!!
Next up came the actual Birthday cake. I choose the beetroot cake as the birthday boy mocked my attempt at spiced pumpkin brownies a few month ago and I wanted to show him that vegetables were actually very comfortable in cake. Although, I didn't tell him it was beetrooty till after he ate his slice (and was already pretty squiffy). I really enjoy the taste of this cake, the beetroot takes on a sweet flavour, not unlike cherries, but it's rather temperamental. Every time I've baked this fudgy wonder it's never been just right. Either that little bit over done, or just too squidgy in the middle. One day I'll perfect you, oh beetroot cake!
A few weeks ago, at a friends house I was given a tasty treat made by said friends mum. She named it a Ham Horn. It was basically ham wrapped in puff pastry, delicious but missing something. That something was cheese. As if by magic, I came across this recipe on A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit, exactly the thing I was dreaming of. I actually believe Sylvie of said blog is a mind reader, and for that I thank her, with all of my heart. I omitted the leeks as I didn't have any handy but even without these roll ups were fantastic, and super simple to make. I think they were the star of the show as they disappeared in seconds.
I really, really have a strong hatred of frozen breaded chicken products. I find them foul (no pun intended) and the idea of emulsified chicken horrifies me to my very bones. That said, I know things like Bernard Mathews Chicken produce usually goes down well at parties but I couldn't bring myself to buy any. How happy I was when I came across the recipe for these home made versions of the factory produced rubbish. Thank you Delicious Magazine.com. Here's the recipe with my alterations:
Oil for greasing
3 free range chicken breasts
3 tbsp tomato ketchup, plus extra for dipping
1 tbsp of hot chilli powder
1 bag of low salt tortilla chips
a glug of sweet chilli sauce
Preheat the oven to 190C and oil a baking tray.
Slice the chicken into thin strips.
Put the ketchup into a bowl with the chilli powder then add the chicken and mix to evenly coat.
Crush the crisps into small pieces and tip onto a large plate.
Dip the chicken strips into the crisps to coat then place on a baking tray.
Roast for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the coating is golden. Serve with ketchup mixed with sweet chilli sauce for dipping.
Last but not least is one of my favourite party snacks, sweet chilli bangers from the Good Food magazine. I adore these sausages, I could honestly have them every day if they didn't cause so much of a mess. Really, if you decide you want to try this recipe out, I advise you to stock up on disposable roasting trays. I had to leave my dish to soak over night and most of the following day, nightmare.
12 large sausages
4 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp mild chilli powder (I used hot, I like a bit of spice)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp dried oregano or 2tsp fresh
Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Arrange the sausages in a roasting tin in a single layer and bake for 10 mins. Meanwhile, mix together all the other ingredients with seasoning and 1 tbsp water.
Pour the ketchup mixture over the sausages and mix well. Bake for 30 mins more until the sausages are golden.