Earl Grey and Blueberry Layer Cake

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Settling down with a good cup of tea is one of lifes little pleasures, pop some fairy lights and a softly scented candle in the mix and you're living the hygge life.  I have to admit, usually I opt for a bog standard builders brew. Yorkshire Tea with milk, no sugar please.  However, when I'm feeling a little frazzled and stressed out there's only one thing I want in my mug, a beautifully scented Earl Grey.  I take this with milk too; I know, I'm sorry.

A delicate Earl Grey tea infused sponge topped with fluffy vanilla frosting and lashings of blueberry jam.

What on earth could be better than a steaming cup of perfumed earl grey tea I hear you ask? How about a freakin' cake, infused with earl grey tea?!  OMG right?!  A pillowy tea infused sponge, creamy vanilla frosting and lashings of blueberry jam.

I present to you the Earl Grey and blueberry cake.  Hot Damn.  Blueberries pair perfectly with the bergamot in the tea, if you're feeling super fruity you could even add a handful of fresh blueberries to the sponge. 

A delicate Earl Grey tea infused sponge topped with fluffy vanilla frosting and lashings of blueberry jam.

Did you guys know that Newcastle, oh all right, Northumberland, is the ancestral home of British Prime Minister and tea enthusiast Charles Grey? Legend has it that the tea was specially blended to suit the lime heavy water at Howick Hall.  The Greys enjoyed the tea so much they brought the infusion with them to London where it caught the eye, and taste, of Twinings.  And so, an icon was born.

A delicate Earl Grey tea infused sponge topped with fluffy vanilla frosting and lashings of blueberry jam.

The key to this cake is the tea infused milk.  Steeping the teabags in the milk for a good hour before baking the cake is essential to get that strong Earl Grey taste.  While you're waiting for the infusion you might as well brew yourself a cup, it's a hard life. Just don't forget those fairy lights and candles.

A delicate Earl Grey tea infused sponge topped with fluffy vanilla frosting and lashings of blueberry jam.


Earl Grey and Blueberry Cake

Ingredients
  • For the infused milk :
  • 150ml whole milk
  • 4 Earl Grey tea bags

  • For the cake :
  • 350g unsalted butter, softened
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 350g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

  • For the frosting :
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 450g icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 4tbsp milk
  • blueberry jam
  • fresh blueberries to decorate
Cooking Directions
  • First of all pour the milk into a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat. Allow to bubble but remove just before it comes to the boil. Add the 4 tea bags, give it a stir and leave until completely cool. Once cooled down, remove the bags, give them a good squeeze and discard. Set the infused milk aside while you make the cake. 
  • Preheat the oven to 170C and line 3 9" cake tins with baking paper.  Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on a medium speed for 5 minutes until the butter is light and creamy. Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside. Turn the mixer down to a low speed and crack the eggs in one at a time. Once the eggs are fully Incorporated add half of the flour and mix to combine, add the infused milk and vanilla extract followed by the remaining flour and mix again. 
  • Pour the batter into the prepared baking tins and bake for 35 minutes until golden brown and the cake springs back when you touch it. Allow to cool in the pans for 20 minutes before removing them and placing on a baking rack to finish cooling. 
  • To make the frosting first mix the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and soft. Add the icing sugar, vanilla and 2tbsp of the milk. Turn the mixer on low and gradually increase the speed. Whip for 5 minutes, if the frosting looks too stiff add the rest of your milk. You may find you need a little more, just go steady until you reach a nice piping consistency. 
  • Spread the frosting on top of your first cake followed by a good splodge of blueberry jam, top with the next cake and repeat. Pop your top layer on and spread the remaining frosting on top, scatter with fresh blueberries. If you have a piping bag and nozzle feel free to pipe your butter cream on for a more polished look. 

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Homemade Vegetarian Gyoza

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I've wrote about my undying love for gyozas before, nothing has changed. I still eat copious amounts of the blighters and I still have a warm fuzzy feeling when I have a freezer full.  The only thing that has changed is my house is now half vegetarian. Since I don't want to leave my poor boyfriend out of my frenzied gyoza eating sessions I decided to whip up some sans-meat. 

These little steamed dumplings are the perfect treat for vegan and vegetarian diets.

In fact, these homemade asparagus and tofu gyozas aren't just vegetarian, they're also vegan friendly.  The best thing about these little dumplings of joy is they freeze perfectly.  Simply freeze them in on layer before transferring them into freezer bags, you never know when an unexpected guest may drop by.  Plus, the kudos you'll get for steaming up a big batch of dumplings is amazing, nobody will believe you made these seemingly complex little parcels.

These little steamed dumplings are the perfect treat for vegan and vegetarian diets.

I get my gyoza wrappers from the frozen section of my local Asian supermarket, along with any of the harder to find veggies and sauces. They really are a total treasure trove of interesting ingredients, I could get lost for hours meandering through the colourful isles.  If you're in the Newcastle area, I recommend HiYoU, it's my go to.

These little steamed dumplings are the perfect treat for vegan and vegetarian diets.

These little steamed dumplings are the perfect treat for vegan and vegetarian diets.

Don't forget your dumpling press if, like me, you can't hack the fiddly folding process. I'm just too damn impatient, I'm sure I'll learn one day.

I used Cauldron Marinated Tofu in this recipe as there's no need to press it. Saves so much time and mess.

These dumplings are adapted from The Part Time Vegetarian cookbook. I cannot recommend this book enough for multi-diet households. Filled with vegetarian and vegan recipes with little notes on how to change it if you're partial to a bit of meat.  I have to say, it's one of my favourite cookbooks of last year.

These little steamed dumplings are the perfect treat for vegan and vegetarian diets.


Asparagus and Tofu Gyoza

Ingredients
  • For the filling :
  • 200g asparagus, thinly sliced into rounds, tips removed and set aside
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2.5cm root ginger, grated
  • 150g tofu, pressed and finely chopped
  • 2tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1tsp sesame oil
  • good pinch of salt and pepper

  • For the dipping sauce :
  • 4tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1tbsp chinese black vinegar or balsamic
  • 1tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2" piece of root ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely sliced

  • For the gyoza :
  • 25 gyoza wrappers
  • 1tbsp vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/2 red chilli, seeds removed and finely sliced
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix together all of the ingredients for the dipping sauce and set aside.
  2. Mix all of the filling ingredients together apart from the asparagus tips. Slice the tips in half lengthways and set aside.
  3. Place 1tbsp of the filling into a gyoza wrapper, mosten the edge and fold in half, pleeting the edges. Or, if you have a dumpling press, place the wrapped into the press, pop your filling in the middle and fold. Repeat until you have used up all of your filling.
  4. Pour your vegetable oil into a large frying pan with a lid and place over a medium heat. Place 10 gyoza, flat side down, in the pan and fry for 2 minutes until the bottoms are crisp and brown. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining dumplings.
  5. Once everything is fried, place all the dumplins back in the pan in an even layer (do this in two batches if they don't all fit), sprinkle over the reserved asparagus tips and pour over 4tbsp water and quickly cover with the pan lid. Steam for 3 minutes and remove from the pan.
  6. Serve with the asparagus tips, chopped chilli and the dipping sauce.
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Blueberry and Elderflower Virgin Mojito

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Now that the excesses of Christmas are well and truly over, and the lashings of New Year champagne are a distant memory, most people find their minds drifting over to turning over a new leaf.  Health and wellness beckons, the spiaralizer comes out of the cupboard and the bottles of wine are replaced by green smoothies and gym gear.

Dry Janurary is the first port of call for a lot of adults; sick of glugging down the funny juice, you start to feel like your liver needs a bit of a break.  Did you know that 16% of UK adults took part in dry Janurary last year, I know, right?!

Dry January doesn't have to be boring with these delicious blueberry and elderflower mocktails.

This Janurary I've teamed up with Fentimans to bring you a delicious mocktail that will have you in the party spirit, without the need for booze.  This blueberry and elderflower virgin mojito is so damn tasty you'll forget that the rum is even missing.

I used Fentimans Wild English Elderflower as the base for this cocktail. It's so delicious I'd be perfectly happy drinking it over ice, but add a bit of bluberry syrup and mint and you're on a whole other planet!

Dry January doesn't have to be boring with these delicious blueberry and elderflower mocktails.


Blueberry and Elderflower Virgin Mojito


Ingredients
  • For the blueberry syrup :
  • 150ml water
  • 50g blueberries
  • 100g caster sugar
  • For each mocktail :
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1 1/2tbsp blueberry syrup
  • juice from 1/2 a lime
  • Fentimans Wild English Elderflower Soft Drink
Cooking Directions
  1. For the blueberry syrup, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
  2. To make each mocktail put 1 1/2tbsp of syrup in the bottom of each glass followed by the mint leaves. Muddle the syrup and leaves together. Add the lime juice, fill up the glass with ice then pour over the Wild English Elderflower soft drink. Give the drink a little stir and garnish with a little extra mint and some lime wedges.
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Oreo Swirl Marshmallows

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Marshmallows have a reputation for being difficult litte buggers to make.  The squidgy, flumptious nature of them just screams "don't bother, buy a bag instead". I'm here to tell you to ignore that voice, just push it down. Instead, gather together a few ingredients and prepare to be plesently surprised about how easy it actually is.

Give these homemade marshmallows a try, you won't believe how easy it is!

The best thing about making marshmallows is the fact your stand mixer does the majority of the work for you, all you've got to do is boil up some sugar.  This is not a job for little hands, so if you're making these with kids make sure they stand well back while you boss this bit.

Give these homemade marshmallows a try, you won't believe how easy it is!

If you're not feeling the oreo bit, or just can't face washing the food processor, you can just leave this bit out and make plain vanilla marshmallows.  Just as tasty but nowhere near as fun, if you ask me.

Give these homemade marshmallows a try, you won't believe how easy it is!



Oreo Swirl Marshmallows

Ingredients:
  • For the Oreo swirl 
  • 1 pack of Oreo cookies 154g
  • 50g coconut oil

  • For the marshmallows 
  • 3 envelopes of gelatin
  • 100ml cold water
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 250g corn syrup (found in the American section)
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g icing sugar for dusting and coating
Cooking Directions:
  1. For the Oreo swirl put the Oreos and coconut oil into a blender and blend for around 3 minutes until it turns into a wet paste. Set aside.
  2. For the marshmallows grease a 9x13" tin with cake release or a generous amount of oil. If using oil line the tin with cling film, leaving an overhang around the edges.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer pour in the water and add the gelatin, let stand for 10 minutes until thick. In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan combine 50ml cold water with the sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a rolling boil and continue to boil on a high heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  4. Turn the mixer to high and while it's whipping carefully pour the hot sugar mixture into the bowl in a slow, steady stream. Continue mixing on a high speed for 13 minutes until thick and sticky. Add in the vanilla extract, mix to combine. With a rubber spatular marble the Oreo paste through the marshmallow and transfer into the prepared pan. Smooth the top down as best you can and allow to set overnight.
  5. When set remove the marshmallow from the pan, spray a sharp knife with oil and cut into small squares. Toss the cut marshmallows in the icing sugar and enjoy. Marshmallows will last a few weeks in an airtight container.
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Blueberry and Ginger Breakfast Parfait

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Well here we are, 2017 and the healthy eating adverts are slapping us right in our chubby Christmas faces.  I'm no fan of faddy diets or even diets in general, but even I have to admit that by the time Janurary rolls around I'm ready for a bit of goodness on my plate.

A healthy way to start the day, this blueberry and ginger yogurt pot is a fabulous, nutritious breakfast.

I find one of the easiest places to squeeze in a little extra fruit is breakfast time.  These breakfast parfaits are the perfect way to scrounge up one of your five a day without even realising.  I like to make a big batch of the fruit compot and toasted oats and keep them aside so I can whip these up all week with little to no effort at all.

A healthy way to start the day, this blueberry and ginger yogurt pot is a fabulous nutritious breakfast.

I've used blueberries and blackberries here but you can use whatever you have to hand, if you're using harder fruits like apples and pears make sure to cook them for a little longer.  And remember guys, frozen fruit is the friend of the forgetful shopper!


Blueberry and Ginger Breakfast Parfait


Ingredients:
  • 200g blueberries
  • 100g blackberries
  • 1/2tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • 1tbsp water
  • 100g rolled oats
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 400g greek yogurt
Cooking Directions:
  1. For the compot put the blueberries, blackberries, ground and fresh ginger, sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes till thick and jammy. Pour into a bowl and cool completely. 
  2. While waiting for the compot to cool toast your oats. Mix the oats and ground ginger together then pour into a dry frying pan. Toast over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, tossing occasionally so they don't burn. Allow to cool.
  3. Once everythings cool start making your parfait. Spoon a few tablespoons of the compot in the bottom of a small glass, top with 100g of the yogurt the sprinkle with oats. Keep any unused compot covered in the fridge for a few days and the oats in a sealed container.
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