Frangipane Mine Pie Slices

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Did you know, that throughout the period of Advent you're supposed to eat a mince pie every day? Apparently every pie awards you a month of good luck in the coming year, you don't have to tell me twice.  If this is indeed true, I'm in for some serious good luck in 2017!

A delicious take on a traditional mince pie.

While I'm usually partial to an iced-top mince pie, this year I've veered away from my comfort zone and have been delving into the world of frangipane.  Let me tell you, a frangipane mince pie is something else. The delicate almondy top is the perfect accompaniment to the delightfully boozy mincemeat. 

A delicious take on a traditional mince pie.

This bake can be as easy or as complex as you'd like it to be.  I made my own pastry but you can use a good quality store-bought version.  I used a jar of store-bought mincemeat, but you can alway make your own if you find a free afternoon. All I can say about these is they won't last long.  Pile them up and watch them quickly disapear.  Best served with a glass of prosecco and a Christmas movie. Preferably Gremlins!

A delicious take on a traditional mince pie.


Frangipane Mince Pie Slice

Ingredients
  • For the pastry:
  • 60g unsalted butter, cold and diced
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 1 large, free range egg yolk
  • 130g plain flour
  • pinch of salt 
  • For the frangipane:
  • 80g unsalted butter, brought to room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 large, free range eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • Jar good quality mince meat
  • Handful flaked almonds
Cooking Directions
  1. For the pastry, in the bowl of a food processor mix together the butter and icing sugar until combined. With the motor still running add the egg yolk followed by the flour and salt. As soon as the pastry comes together in a ball stop the motor and form into a flat round. Wrap in cling film and chill for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170C and grease a 36 x 12 x 3cm fluted tart tin with a little butter. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out your pastry into a long rectangle to fit your tin. Drape the pastry into the tin and press lightly into the fluted sides. Trim any excess pastry and chill for 1hr.
  3. Once chilled, line the pastry case with baking paper then weigh down with baking beans (I just use dried beans, they work a treat). Bake for 20 minutes, remove the beans and paper from the case and bake for a futher 5 minutes. Allow to cool while you make the filling.
  4. For the frangipane cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla, almonds and baking powder. Mix until combined.
  5. Spread a jar of mincemeat over the bottom of your pastry case, spoon over the frangipane and carefully spread it over the mincemeat layer taking care not to mix the two. Scatter over a handful of flaked almonds and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Allow to cool, dust with icing sugar and cut into slices. These bars stay moist for a few days if kept in an airtight tin.
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Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies

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Tis the season to bake cookies, fa la la la laaa.  Christmas is the time of year where you can count on unexpected guests dropping by. You never know when you'll hear that knock at the door and the last thing you want is to greet your friends and family empty handed. What would Nigella say?! 

Give Santa a break from mince pies this Christmas and bake up a batch of these cranberry and white chocolate cookies instead.

Cookies will always save your bacon. Whether you've got a batch ready rolled sitting in the freezer or you're the kind of person I wish I was and have a cookie jar filled with freshly baked goodies, you're in the clear.  There's nothing people appreciate more than a freshly baked cookie, or a Mulberry bag, but let's not trouble ourselves with that.

Nothing screams holiday baking like cranberry and white chocolate and I can guarentee a certain Mr Clause sure will appreciate a few of these babies come Christmas morning.

Give Santa a break from mince pies this Christmas and bake up a batch of these cranberry and white chocolate cookies instead.

Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies


Ingredients:
  • 175g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 2tbsp cornflour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 150g dried cranberries
  • 150g white chocolate chips
Cooking Directions:
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter and sugars together until light and creamy. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and beat till combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go. 
  2. Mix together the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and with the mixer set to the lowest speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Once everything is combined add the chocolate chips and cranberries and mix until evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with cling film and chill for 2 hours or overnight. 
  3. Once ready to cook the cookies, remove the bowl from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature, around 10-30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 175C.   Roll into walnut sized balls and place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper leaving a two inch gap between each cookie. 
  4. Bake for 10-12 miniutes, until just begining to turn golden. Allow to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transfering them to a cooling rack to cool down. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk or a steaming mug of hot chocolate.






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St Clements Cocktail

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Our final cocktail of the Fentimans three is a nice little fruity number, the St Clements.  This one is a virgin, so non-drinkers and designated drivers won't feel too left out of the festivities.
 

Freshly squeezed orange juice topped up with Fentimans bitter lemonade served over ice and garnished with a sprig of rosemary.  

If, like me, you like to spike your juice then I gotcha.  Simply add a shot of gin to the bottom of your glass to turn this puppy into a St Clements 75.  I'm planning on serving these up while decorating the Christmas tree this year.  I'm itching to throw on a bit of Elvis and shimmy around the living room sipping on a St Clements 75. I hope you'll join me! 

St Clements Cocktail with Fentimans Bitter Lemonade
 

St Clements Cocktail

Ingredients
  • 150ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 150ml Fentimans Bitter Lemonade
  • Crushed ice
  • Rosemary for garnish
  • Twist of lemon for garnish
Directions
  1. Fill two champagne flutes with ice, half fill each glass with the freshly squeezed orange juice. Top up with the Fentimans Bitter Lemonade and garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a twist of lemon.
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Blackberry and Lemon Gin and Tonic

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The second cocktail in our Fentimans based trio is this fruity take on a gin and tonic.  Another easy but impressive number this is the perfect laid back cocktail. Ideal for sipping while telling holiday anicdotes around a roaring fire, or a hot radiator at least.

Blackberry and lemon gin and tonic with Fentimans naturally light tonic water.


For this cocktail I added a little sugar syrup to counteract the sharpness of the berries so to keep things nice and light I used the Fentimans Naturally Light Tonic Water from the 500ml mixers range.  A lovely light and sparkly tonic water you certainly can't tell it's low calorie, you can never be too carful around the festive season.  I'm looking at you, selection box!

Blackberry and lemon gin and tonic with Fentimans naturally light tonic water.

Blackberry and Lemon Gin and Tonic


Ingredients
  • 8 blackberries
  • small handful min leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 30ml sugar syrup
  • 200ml gin
  • Fentimans naturally low tonic water
  • A few blackberries and a slice of lemon to garnish
Directions
  1. In the bottom of two pretty glasses muddle together 4 blackberries, a few min leaves, a small dash of sugar syrup and the juice from 1/2 a lemon. Make sure everythings fully mixed together and mushed up.
  2. Fill the glasses to the top with ice and pour over the gin. Top up with the Fentimans Naturally Light Tonic Water and garnish with a slice of lemon, a few blackberries and a sprig of mint.

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Cranberry Moscow Mule

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With the festive season fast approaching we've all got our mind on one thing, parties. Or is that just me?  The first thing I think of when planning a party is an easy signature cocktail you can serve your guests on arrival.  A cocktail so simple but so beautifully tasty it'll have everyone reaching for their Instagram accounts, #thirstythursday.

A delighfully festive take on a classic cocktail using Fentimans botanically brewed mixers.

When Fentimans got in touch with me asking if I'd like to try out some of their delicious mixers my mind instanly went wild with festive cocktail ideas.  So much so I couldn't narrow it down to just one, I narrowed it down to three instead. You're welcome.  Look out for the other two drinks coming later in the week.

For this Christmassy version of a Moscow Mule I used Fentimans Ginger Beer with Muddled Lime mixed with cranberry juice.  Check below for the full recipe.

A delighfully festive take on a classic cocktail using Fentimans botanically brewed mixers.

First up is one of my absolute favorite cocktails to sip on a chilly night. There's something so charming about a Moscow Mule, I mean who wouldn't want to sip on a drink served in a copper mug?  I bought mine in TK Maxx but you can get some pretty hammered versions over here.

A delighfully festive take on a classic cocktail using Fentimans botanically brewed mixers.


Cranberry Moscow Mule

Ingredients
  • 120ml vodka
  • 150ml Fentimans Ginger Beer with Muddled Lime
  • 100ml cranberry juice
  • 1 lime
  • Handful of fresh cranberries
  • Sprigs of rosemary
Cooking Directions
  1. Fill two copper mugs with ice, pour over the vodka then squeeze half a lime into each mug. Pour in the ginger beer and top up with cranberry juice, stir together. Garnish with a handful of cranberries and a sprig of rosemary. 
*This post is sponsored by Fentimans
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Roasted Tomato and Bread Soup

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A few mornings ago I was rudely awoken by a familiar sound, it was still dark outside and the faint 'shuck, shuck, shuck' came drifting through my bedroom window (yes, I sleep with the window wide open all year round). It took me a few minutes to realise that I was listening to the first car de-icing of the year.  Hurrah, it's soup weather!

Roasted Tomato & bread soup. The ultimate hug in a mug winter comfort food.

Adding bread into your soup may sound a bit wierd, but it's actually really delicious!  It works as a thickener where you'd usualy have something like potato or cream.  

I like to add chilli to any tomato based soup I make, I'm a bit of a spice fiend you see.  If you like your food a bit milder, just leave it out.

Roasted Tomato & bread soup. The ultimate hug in a mug winter comfort food.

Tomato soup it the ultimate comfort food in my books.  It's like a hug in a mug, warm and delightfully thick.  

What is your favorite soup to keep you warm during the Winter months? I'm always looking for soupy insperation.



Tomato and Bread Soup

Ingredients
  • 1kg Tomatoes on the vine
  • 1 bulb Garlic, peeled
  • 1 red onion, chopped into wedges
  • 750ml Vegetable stock
  • 1 Bunch of basil
  • 2tsp Chilli flakes
  • 1 Loaf of ciabatta
  • 1tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • Drizzle Extra virgin olive oil
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 200C and grab a large roasting tray.
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half and arange them cut side up on the roasting tray. Sprinkle the chopped onion around the tomatoes followed by the peeled garlic cloves. Season with salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes until everything is nicely caramalised.
  3. Pour everything into a large saucepan followed by the stock. Roughly chop most of the basil, keeping aside a few of the smaller leaves for garnish, and add to the pan along with the chilli flakes. Tear half of the ciabatta loaf into the soup and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the balsamic vinegar to the soup before blitzing with a hand blender till nice and smooth. Check the seasoning and serve with the remaining ciabatta, toasted. 

This post has been added to the No Croutons Required link up from Lisa's Kitchen and Tinned Tomatoes.
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Candy Apple Bar

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When I was a little girl one of my favorite autumnal treats was a candy apple.  Not those lurid red specimens that would pull your teeth right out of your head, but the chocolate covered apples, dipped in hundreds and thousands. Yum!  Nowadays I'm not so fussed by apples, as my gran would say 'the juice isn't worth the squeeze'.  I'd never pick up an apple and just bite straight in, but hand me a bowl of ready sliced fruit and I'll happily munch away till the cows come home.  

A super cute little candy apple bar. The perfect treat for indoor and outdoor picnics, weather permitting of course.

If, like me, you can't be bothered with a full apple but still fancy a nice nostalgic treat, then this candy apple bar is for you.  It's also the perfect way to sneek an extra portion of fruit into fussy kids, we'll just ignore all the chocolate and caramel for now, shall we!

Simply chop up a few apples, skewer them on a stick and away you go.  If you're planning on taking your candy apple bar on the road, picnic time ahoy, simply dip your sliced apples in ginger beer.  The citric acid slows the browning process thus keeping your apples pretty for longer.

A super cute little candy apple bar. The perfect treat for indoor and outdoor picnics, weather permitting of course.

The fun thing about this is it's fully customisable.  I used a mixture of chocolate sauce and caramel sauce for dipping but melted white chocolate would work beautifully too.  For the topping station I used mini chocolate beans, mini marshmallows, chopped hazelnuts, crushed oreos, crushed digestives and toffee chunks.  The combinations are endless, coconut would be a wonderful addition and popping candy would go down an absolute storm with the little ones.

A super cute little candy apple bar. The perfect treat for indoor and outdoor picnics, weather permitting of course.

Such a fun little idea, if you give it a try please do tag me on Instagram at Katie_Petlamb. I'd love to see your creations.
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Easy Bakes - Maple Pecan Breakfast Pinwheels

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Sometimes the lure of being a domestic goddess is just too much to ignore.  That kickass double chooclate babka on pinterest, or those super cute rainbow bagels you saw on Buzzfeed, they look doable.  That is until you read the instructions, look at your watch and realise aint nobody got time for that, before pulling out a tube of ready made cookie dough from the back of the fridge and eating it raw.  

What if I can tell you there's a way to fake it?  Like these maple pecan breakfast pastries, they look pretty complex right? Wrong! They are the easiest, tastiest morsels ever and you can totally pretend to be the ultimate domestic goddess, drowning in compliments while you gush about your handmade pastries. Nobody needs to know they only took you ten minutes to whip up with ingredients you probably already have on hand.  

Fake your way into being a domestic godess with these super easy breakfast pastries.

I'll always recommend you use all butter puff pastry for everything, it just tastes better, and even better if you buy it in ready rolled sheets. Lazy girls unite!

There's no end to the wonderful concoctions you can whip up with just a sheet of puff pastry and a few other ingredients.  I've been in suffocating breakfast luxury for weeks.  I'll be sure to share some more of my creations with you guys soon.

Fake your way into being a domestic godess with these super easy breakfast pastries.



Maple Pecan Pinwheels

Ingredients
  • 1 Sheet of ready rolled all butter puff pastry
  • 150g Pecan nuts
  • 100g Dark brown suagr
  • 3tbsp Maple syrup
  • 25g Unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Large egg, beaten with a little milk
  • 50g Apricot jam
  • 200g Icing sugar
  • 3tbsp Water
  • 1/2tsp Vanilla extract
Cooking Directions
  1. In a food processor pulse the pecans until finely chopped, you can also do this by hand just ensure the pieces are nice and fine. Pour the nuts into a bowl and mix with the maple syrup and melted butter, set aside while you prepare your pastry.
  2. Preheat the oven to 175C and line two baking trays with baking parchment.
  3. Unroll your chilled pastry and cut into six equal squares. Transfer your squares to the baking sheets, leaving room between each square. To shape the pinwheels cut a line from each corner of the square to almost the middle, leaving around a 3cm space uncut. Put a tablespoon of the pecan mixture into the center of each square before folding alternate corners into the middle of the pastry and pressing down. Make sure you work quickly as the dough becomes harder to work with the warmer it gets, the best way to combat this is to keep one tray in the fridge while working on the other.
  4. Brush each pastry with the beaten egg and bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Allow to cool slightly.
  5. While cooling make your glaze. In a small saucepan heat the apricot jam with 2tbsp of water until runny. Combine the icing sugar and water until smooth and transfer to a piping bag, snip the end to make a small hole. Brush each pastry with the sticky glaze before drizzling with the icing.
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Bloody Halloween Cocktails

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A friend recently said to me 'Katie, in your house every day is Halloween.' She wasn't wrong! We're big fans of October 31st in this household and this year we'll be handing out candy, watching my favorite psycopath stalk his innocent camp councellors and sipping on these bloody beauties.  It'll be a graveyard smash!


A delicious mix of vodka, chamboard and pomegrannet juice these babies will have you in the Halloween spirit in no time.  You'll be itching to get out and party with those skelletons.



Bloody Halloween Cocktails
Ingredients
  • 100ml Vodka
  • 50ml Chamboard
  • 250ml Pomegranate Juice
  • 4 Tinned Lychees
  • 4 Blueberries
Cooking Directions
  1. To make the eyeballs simply pop a blueberry into the hollow of a tinned lychee and skewer two eyeballs onto a cocktail stick.
  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake together the vodka, Chamboard and pomegranate juice.
  3. Strain into two ice filled glasses (top up with any remaining pomegranate juice)
  4. and garnish with your gruesome eyeballs. Enjoy.
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Spicy Tofu Ramen

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There is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of steaming hot ramen on a cold day.  Granted we're still waiting for that beloved Autumn chill up in Newcastle, but that won't stop me willing the leaves to turn amber and the nights to draw in dark.  I long for hats, jumpers and cosy mittens. Long walks in the brisk Autumn air and settling down in front of an old movie with a huge bowl of spicy tofu ramen.

Crispy tofu pieces in a deliciously spiced broth topped off with a soft boiled egg. What's not to love?!

Since our household became mostly meat free (I still sneak some animal into my portions from time to time), I've really came to enjoy tofu.  Almost to the point where I don't miss the meat in most of our favorite meals.  I actually prefer these little cubes of beancurd in fajitas to chicken these days, I never thought I'd say that!  

While I am enjoying eating tofu, preparing it is a bit of a ball-ache. Pressing out  the excess liquid is a task I can do without after a hard day at work.  That's where Cauldron* marinated tofu pieces come in. Pre-squeezed, pre-chopped and pre-marinated, they're my little lifesaver.

Crispy tofu pieces in a deliciously spiced broth topped off with a soft boiled egg. What's not to love?!

There's one thing you simply must not skip when making this ramen, and that is the soft boiled egg.  Yes, peeling a soft boiled egg is as close to hell as you can get but I promise it's worth the effort.  I'll even go as far as to say it's my favorite part of the whole meal.

Crispy tofu pieces in a deliciously spiced broth topped off with a soft boiled egg. What's not to love?!


Spicy Tofu Ramen
Adapted from Pinch of Yum 
 
Ingredients
  • For the Ramen:
  • 1 Onion
  • 1tbsp Red miso paste or powder disolved in 125ml boiling water
  • 1tbsp White miso paste or powder disolved in 125ml boiling water
  • 3tbsp Sambal Oelek - chilli paste found in Asian supermarkets
  • 6 Garlic cloves
  • 2" Piece of ginger
  • 3tbsp Mirin
  • 2tbsp Olive oil
  • 1tbsp Sesame oil 
  • For the Broth:
  • 1 pack Cauldron marinated tofu pieces
  • 1tbsp Olive oil
  • 4 Large eggs
  • 150g Chestnut mushrooms
  • 1ltr Vegetable stock
  • 350ml Unsweetened soy milk
  • 200g Ramen noodles - Thin egg noodles
  • 4 Spring onions
Cooking Directions
  1. Put all of the miso paste ingredients and pulse until it forms a thick, spicy paste. You'll only need around half of the mixture so pop the rest in a tupperware box and freeze for a later date.
  2. Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a large, deep frying pan and brown the tofu until crispy. Add 3tbsp of the miso paste and stir to coat the tofu. Fry for another minute then tip it out on a plate for later.
  3. For the broth, tip the sliced mushrooms into the tofu pan and fry until brown. Add 1tbsp of the miso paste and fry for another minute. Add in the soy milk and stock and bring the broth to a simmer. Place the remaining spicy miso paste in a metal sieve and lower it into the broth. Using a spoon stir the paste around the sieve, pushing the juicy bits through until most of it has dissolved. Discard whatever remains. Don't just tip the paste right into the broth as this will make the soup lumpy and thick, eww! Give the broth a little taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  4. Bring two pans of water to the boil. In one pan cook your ramen noodles to the packets instructions. Pop the 4 large eggs in the other pan, boil for 7 minutes before removing from the pan and running under cold water to stop the cooking process. Peel the eggs carefully and set aside.(I usually do this under running water as the shell comes away a little easier)
  5. Divide the cooked noodles between four bowls and top up with the mushroom broth. Top each bowl with a handful of tofu, some chopped spring onions and a boiled egg cut in half. Drizzle with a little sesame oil and enjoy. 

*Not sponsored, just really like the product :)
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Apple Pie Granola

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Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it's something you hear countless times during your life. Despite having this drilled into me, I'm still guilty of throwing down a couple of Jammy Dodgers with a cuppa while staring at the laptop. Or even skipping the meal altogether in the hope I'll save a few calories. Very bad adulting!

Whip up a batch of this delicous granola on a Sunday evening to keep you feed all week long.

In a effort to kick my bad habits I like to make a batch of homemade granola on a Sunday to last me the week.  Granted, my good intentions usually only last till Tuesday but it doesn't stop this granola from being some of the tastiest I've ever made.  If anything has the capacity to get me eating breakfast, it's this.

Whip up a batch of this delicous granola on a Sunday evening to keep you feed all week long.

I like to add mixed dried fruit to all of my granola but feel free to leave it out if you're not a fan, I just love the little pops of colour.

Looking for more breakfast inspiration? How about giving this Pumpkin Spice Granola a whirl, or for something a bit naughtier this Chocolate and Coconut Granola is simply delicious.

Whip up a batch of this delicous granola on a Sunday evening to keep you feed all week long.



Apple Pie Granola

Ingredients
  • 350g Rolled oats
  • 100g Coconut oil, melted
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp Ginger
  • 1/4tsp Mixed Spice
  • 1/8tsp Nutmeg
  • 50g Brown sugar
  • 100g Apple sauce
  • 50g Honey
  • 150g Dried apples, chopped
  • 75g Pecans, chopped
  • 100g Mixed dried fruit (optional but delicious)

Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175C and line a large baking tray with grease proof paper.
  2. In a large bowl mix the oats, salt, spices, apples and nuts together and set aside. In a pan over a medium heat melt together the coconut oil, brown sugar, honey and apple sauce. Pour the wet ingredients over the oat mixture and mix until fully combined.
  3. Spread the oaty mixture over your prepared baking tray and bake for 30 minutes, stirring the granola every 10 minutes to prevent burning.
  4. Let the granola cool before mixing in the dried fruit and transferring to a large jar ready for the week ahead.
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Shakshuka

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I have a bit of a thing for baked eggs, they're a weekday staple in my house and always go down a treat.  I usually reserve eggs for a lazy morning; lounging around the living room in pajamas, listening to Beetles vinyls or reading the papers.  Nothing beats those mornings. 

Shakshuka is a whole new level of baked eggs.  A meal not just reserved for lazy mornings but a hearty dinner served with lashings of bread and butter.  The ingredients for this meal rarely differ, eggs baked in tomatoes, onions and peppers with a few spices thrown in for good measure.  My version however incorporates feta cheese and a nice helping of fresh chili.  What can I say, I like a kick.

Shakshuka - the perfect one pan meal

Did I mention this dish is completely one pot!  Yep, minimal washing up, as if it can get any better.

Shakshuka is a traditional dish served all over the Middle East, originating in Israel.  It is made up of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce.  The best thing is you probably have all the ingredients needed in your cupboards as we speak.  I know right, I don't need to sell this bad boy to you any more.  What on earth are your waiting for?!

As always, I love to see your creations so please make sure you tag me in your Instagrams.  You can find me right here!

Shakshuka - The perfect one pan meal


Shakshuka - Israeli Baked Eggs

Ingredients
  • 1 medium sized red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 red chili peppers, depending on how spicy you like it
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g feta, crumbled
  • 4 medium, free range eggs
  • coriander for serving
Cooking Directions
  1. Heat two tablespoons of oilve oil in a large skillet or frying pan over a medium to low flame. Slice your onion and pepper into thin strips and fry for around 20 minutes until really soft and caramelized, stirring regularly. Once soft add the garlic and chillies and fry for 2-3 minutes, add the spices and fry for another minute. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, season with a pinch of salt and pepper and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened.
  2. Stir in the feta cheese, reserving a little handful, and make 4 little holes in the sauce. Carefully crack the eggs into the holes. Sprinkle over the remaining feta and cover the pan with a tightly fitting lid. Simmer for 7-10 minutes depending on how you like your eggs. Sprinkle over the chopped coriander and serve straight from the pan with loads of bread for dipping.
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Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookie Copycat Recipe

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Earlier this year Kris and I jetted off to New York for the first time,  to say I fell in love with the city is an understatement.  It broke my heart to leave and return to rainy old England, vowing to return as soon as possible.  One of the best things about NY, as I'm sure most of you that have been will agree, is the eating.  Oh man, I could have ate twelve meals a day and not got sick. The list of foodie places to visit was as long as my arm but there was one place that really stood out to me, Levain Bakery.  Just search the hashtag on Instagram and you'll know exactly why I was so desperate to taste their sweet delights.

Attempting to recreate greatness, my first attempt at the famous Levain cookie

Let me just tell you, we visited the city in the middle of January.  Cold doesn't even come into it, still we queued for over and hour just so I could get my hungry little mitts on one of those immense cookies, I mean just look at that bad boy.  I was in fat lass heaven.

Attempting to recreate greatness, my first attempt at the famous Levain cookie

If I have but one goal in my life, it is to recreate that cookie.  I will not stop until it is perfected and I'll take you guys along every step of the way.

Attempting to recreate greatness, my first attempt at the famous Levain cookie

For attempt number one, this isn't bad.  It has the height and the density of the Levain cookie but the texture just wasn't right.  The craggy, crispy top wasn't there either.  Maybe that's my fault, I forgot what I was doing and rolled the dough into smooth balls rather than leaving them Au-natural.  What was I thinking?!

Attempting to recreate greatness, my first attempt at the famous Levain cookie

Still, it's a pretty kick ass soft batch cookie.  Soft and full of tooth sticking goodness I doubt I'd find a person able to resist one warm from the oven.  

I'll continue my journey to recreate greatness but right now I'm pretty happy munching my way through a plate of these monsters.  If you need me, I'll be the one with melted chocolate all over her mouth.

Attempting to recreate greatness, my first attempt at the famous Levain cookie




Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
  • 360g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp fine salt
  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs large eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 350g dark chocolate chips
Cooking Directions
  1. Line two large baking trays with baking parchment and set aside. Preheat the oven to 175°C.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt and set aside. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, around five minutes. Once creamed together add the vanilla then the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Slowly add the flour, scoop by scoop until all has been incorporated. Stir through the chocolate chips and chill the dough for half an hour.
  3. Scoop out 12 large mounds of dough, trying to keep them roughly round, but don't smooth them out. You want them nice and craggy. Place the mounds on your prepared sheets around 2" apart. Bake for 20 minutes or until starting to turn golden brown. Take care not to over-bake as they will loose their squidgy texture.
  4. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack then dig in. Make sure you serve these cookies warm, there's nothing like it!!
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Dirty Blondies

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We've all heard about slutty brownies by now, haven't we?  If not, you must have been living under a rock with your fingers in your ears, singing.  For you rock dwellers, a slutty brownie is a layer of chocolate chip cookie dough, a layer of chocolate oreos topped with a layer of brownie batter.  Filthy right?  Well what about the blondes, they can be just as naughty.  Enter the Dirty Blondie!!

Dirty blondies, the naughty blonde sister of the slutty brownie.

These trampy blighters are just as bad as their slutty cousin, maybe even a touch naughtier!  Here we have a layer of white chocolate chip cookie dough, vanilla oreos followed by a layer of white chocolate blondie.  So sweet, so creamy, so dirty!

Dirty blondies, the naughty blonde sister of the slutty brownie.

Look at those cheeky little vanilla oreos, peeking out of their cookie dough curtain giving you a saucy wink.  How can you resist such sweet temptation. 

Dirty blondies, the naughty blonde sister of the slutty brownie.


Dirty Blondies

Ingredients:
    For the cookie dough :
  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 250g light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 350g self raising flour
  • 150g white chocolate chips
  • 18 vanilla oreos
    For the blondie layer :
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 225g white chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150g plain flour

  • Cooking Directions
    1. Preheat oven to 170C and prepare a 20x30 brownie tray, or use a disposable tray.
    2. For the cookie dough layer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, around five minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition followed by the vanilla extract. Add the flour and mix until just combined, stir through the chocolate chips. Press the dough into your prepared pan in an even layer. Place your oreos in rows of three on top of the cookie dough. Set aside while you make the blondie layer.
    3. In a large saucepan over a low heat melt the butter and chocolate together. Add the sugar and stir together. Crack the eggs into a large jug and whisk up, slowly pour the eggs into the chocolate mixing as you go until combined. Add the flour and stir until just combined. Pour the blondie mixture over the cookie dough and oreos making sure everything is covered but don't over fill the tray. Bake for 35 minutes, until just set.
    4. Allow to cool in the fridge over night before cutting into cute little squares and enjoy.
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Raspberry Ricotta Pancakes

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It's a well documented fact that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  There is truly nothing better than a long, lazy morning where you can really make a fuss of breakfast.  Endless cups of tea, pjs and a laptop full of fun articles.  The only thing missing, pancakes!

Raspberry Ricotta Pancakes

I have to admit, when it comes to big breakfasts I usually opt for the savory side of things.  Sometimes though I'll wake up with a wicked craving for a sweet treat. On days like this, only pancakes will do!

These pancakes are so super soft and fluffy, the ricotta really gives them the best texture.  Not only are they delicious but they're super adaptable too.  I can only imagine how delicious they would be with a handful of white chocolate chips and a nice grating of lemon zest.

Raspberry Ricotta Pancakes

Are they any other breakfast obsessives out there? What's on your plate first thing in the morning?


Raspberry Ricotta Pancakes

Ingredients
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs, seperated
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 150g ricotta cheese
  • 150g raspberries
Cooking Directions
  1. In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour and sugar. In a large jug whisk the egg yolks, melted butter and buttermilk, pour the wet ingredients onto the dry and mix until combined.
  2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer whip the egg whites to soft peaks and fold into the pancake batter followed by the ricotta and raspberries.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Dollop two tablespoons of batter per pancake into the hot pan and cook for 2 minutes per side. Continue till you've used up all of your batter. Serve with whipped cream, extra raspberries and a drizzle of honey.
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Churros with Hot Chocolate Dipping Sauce

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To me, churros are reminiscent of a good time.  A sunny day, having fun with your friends kind of treat.  I've never been sad with a churro in my hand.

Churros with a hot chocolate dipping sauce.  I know, right?!

That fist bite of churro is like nothing else.  They may look like squiggly doughnuts but that texture is something else, a crisp sugary shell hiding the silkiest, softest filling.  They're dangerously delicious and ridiculously easy to make, although I have no idea how people manage to make them perfectly straight.  I kinda like the wiggly wormies I managed to fry up.

Churros with a hot chocolate dipping sauce.  I know, right?!

The hardest part of this whole process is also the most fun.  The squeeze and snip! If you're not confident in doing this all yourself, drag in an accomplice.  You squidge the dough over the hot oil (careful now) while your frying buddy snips the dough to form lovely little crispy delights.  Giggling over the silly shapes you make is entirely optional. 

I highly recommend getting yourself a cooking thermometer for the frying process, it really takes the stress out of heating the oil and ensuring it maintains the correct temperature.  Mine was a grand total of £2.50, treat yourself!

Churros with a hot chocolate dipping sauce.  I know, right?!


Churros with hot chocolate dipping sauce

Ingredients
  • For the churros :
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1ltr sunflower oil for frying

  • For the sauce :
  • 250g plain chocolate, broken into squares
  • 150ml double cream
  • 75ml whole milk
  • 3tbsp golden syrup
  • For the cinnamon sugar :
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1tbsp cinnamon

  • Cooking Directions
    1. Start off by making the dough for your churros. Take 350ml of boiling water and add in the melted butter. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour and baking powder before slowly pouring in the water mixture, stir as your pour to make a smooth, lump free batter. Don't be scared to give it a good beating, it can take it. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.
    2. While your dough is resting, make the sauce. Take a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan and place all of the sauce ingredients in together. Melt over a low heat until you have a silky smooth sauce. Set aside.
    3. Back to the churros. Take a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan or I used a big cast iron casserole pan and fill half way with the sunflower oil. Place your thermometer on the side of the pan with the bottom in the oil and heat to around 375ºF/190ºC. Mix your cinnamon and sugar together and pour onto a large baking tray ready for rolling your churros.
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Salty Honey Pie

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When I visited New York earlier this year I made a big, no huge, list of places I wanted to eat.  You know, important things first.  One of the spots on my extensive foodie inventory was Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie shop in Brooklyn.  I've always wanted to visit a pie shop after falling in love with the Pie Hole in Pushing Daisies, so I was beyond thrilled to find this little beauty.  Doubly so when I discovered it was across the road from The Morbid Anatomy Museum, one of the big stops of our trip.

Salty Honey Pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pieshop

While indulging in copious amounts of pie I also managed to pick up a copy of the Four and Twenty cookbook, you know, so I could continue to indulge my greedy little face back home.  I decided to take it for a spin recently and just had to make their crowning glory, the salty honey pie.

This pie, ahh man, it's a sweet tooth's dream come true.  Deliciously sweet custard topped with a sprinkle of crunchy salt, it's just perfect.  Irresistible almost!

I've made this pie twice now, the first time I was feeling a little lazy and used shop bought pastry. Boo hiss.  It was a total failure, if you do decide to make this pie I implore you to make your own crust.  You won't be sorry!

Salty Honey Pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pieshop


Salty Honey Pie

Recipe by Four & Twenty Blackbirds Cookbook
Ingredients
    For the crust :
  • 120g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 360g plain flour
  • 2tsp caster sugar
  • 80ml buttermilk
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • For the filling :
  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1tbsp polenta
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g honey
  • 3 large, free range eggs
  • 120ml double cream
  • 2tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 - 2tsp flaked salt

  • Cooking Directions
    1. First of all make the crust. Put the flour, butter, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl blend together with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk and stir until the mixture forms a ball. (If the mixture is too crumbly, add cold water as needed to bring it together.) Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
    2. Unwrap the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it’s around 11" round, big enough to overlap your pie dish. Transfer the dough to a 9" pie dish, fold any overlap under itself and crimp the edges*. Cover with plastic wrap and pop in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
    3. Heat the oven to 175°C. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Combine the melted butter, sugar, polenta and vanilla extract in a medium bowl. Whisk in the honey, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the cream and vinegar and whisk to combine.
    4. Pour the filling into the chilled pie crust and bake until the top and edge of the pie are golden brown and the center of the pie is jiggly but no longer liquid, 45 to 55 minutes. Allow to set for a few hours and serve at room temperature sprinkled with flaked salt. 

     *How to crimp a pie crust
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Cherry Amaretto Popsicles

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For as long as I can remember (in blogging years, anyway) I've had an American style popsicle mould on my wish list.  Not one of those god awful plastic things with spouts, so popular with sticky children, but a nice uniform mold with a metal lid and wooden sticks.  For the longest time I just couldn't source this desirable bit of kit, and I was forever tormented with images of perfect popsicles on Pinterest. Finally, after trawling through pages upon pages of multi-coloured monstrosities on Amazon, I happened across the mold of my dreams.  Popsicles, you're my wife now!

Prepare for an influx of frozen treats, don't say I didn't warn you!

Now, go get that bottle of Amaretto you've been hiding.  Grab yourself a glut of cherries and get freezing, I even promise not to judge if you use plastic kiddie molds.

Cherry Amaretto Popsicles

Me being me I just had to sneak a bit of booze in there, but if you're making these for little mouths, just leave it out.  They'll only be kind of delicious..... just kidding. 

Cherry Amaretto Popsicles


Cherry Amaretto Popsicles

Ingredients
  • 1 tin Full Fat Coconut Milk
  • 150g Caster Sugar
  • 2tbsp Amaretto
  • 1/4tsp Almond Extract
  • 350g Frozen Cherries
  • 50g Caster Sugar
  • 1/2tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1tbsp Amaretto
Cooking Directions
  1. For the white layer mix the coconut milk, sugar, Amaretto and almond extract in a large bowl and set in the fridge to chill for a few hours.
  2. For the cherry layer, place the cherries and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over a medium low heat for around twenty minutes or until nice and thick. Stir in the vanilla and Amaretto. Pour the cherry mixture into a blender and blend down till smooth. Set in the fridge for a few hours until completely cold.
  3. Starting with your cherry mixture, pour around 2cm of the gloopy mixture in the bottom of your popsicle molds and alternate with layers of the white mixture ensuring to leave around 1cm gap in the top of your molds. Give each popsicle a little swirl with a knife, place the lid on the mold and pop in the freezer for two hours. After two hours, slot in the popsicle sticks and return to the freezer till completely frozen. Around six hours.
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Newcastle Eating - Violets Cafe

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In the land of Newcastle Upon Tyne there's one thing that really gets me hot under the collar, and that's a new place to eat brunch.  Violets Cafe is the long awaited foodie venture of Abbie Atkinson, the wife of Michelin starred chef Kenny Atkinson of House of Tides fame, so you know it's gonna be good.  Nestled among the beautiful architecture of Newcastle Quayside Violets is sure to take the city by storm.  For the past few months I've been peering through the windows on my walk to work, excited for the day it would open its doors so I could feast my greedy little face.  Finally, I got my wish.

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

I woke up with the sun streaming through the window, cat scratching at the door and boyfriend still snoring away contently.  I closed the window, allowed my marauding animals access to the bedroom and shook Kris awake nice and early, for today, we brunch hard!

We're lucky to live right on the banks of the River Tyne so we left the car at home and took a sunny stroll into Newcastle. I'd already anticipated I was going to do some major damage, so burning a few calories on the way surely can't hurt.  Plus, beautiful days are few and far between up here, so we gotta enjoy these babies when we can.

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

We arrived at Violets with empty tummies, eager to be filled.  The breakfast menu is small but perfectly formed. Even though there were only around 8 options I found it super difficult to decide, everything just looked so delicious.  


A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

I finally settled on the buttermilk waffle with half an English breakfast, eggs poached of course, while Kris battled with indecisiveness over the bakers basket.  Much to my dismay he opted to ignore the heaving basket of delectable sounding pastries for another buttermilk waffle, this time topped with smoked salmon, avocado, poached eggs and hollandaise.  I guess that means we'll have to come back, what a crying shame!

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Just look at that avocado, dripping in foamy hollandaise.  Are you drooling, because I am!

Everything about our breakfast was just perfect, the sausage in particular was just delicious.  If I were to get this again I think I'd order a little pot of hollandaise or baked beans on the side, but that's probably just me being greedy again.

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Since Kris cheated me out of sticky, sweet buns we decided to round off an already indulgent meal with more coffee and a few slices of cake.  Why not, eh?!  Kris opted for the fresh out of the oven raspberry bakewell, while I went for my favorite lemon and raspberry drizzle.  

A gorgeous brunch in Violets Cafe, Newcastle Upon Tyne

The lovely Abbie brought our cakes over and we had a nice little chat about how things are going for the Violets team.  I'm so happy that things are going well for the guys down there, their passion is undeniable and if you're knocking out meals like ours everyday I can see Violets becoming an amazing addition to the booming foodie haven springing up in Newcastle.  I, for one, am itching to sample the afternoon tea.  A cold glass of prosecco included, of course.

We left with two very full, very happy tummies discussing our next visit.  I can't wait.

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