Sunday, 28 June 2015

Cocoa-nut Brownies!

Wordplay high-five!

My normal brownie routine is to begin by melting chocolate and butter together, and I decided to change things up a bit. I love the flavour depth and texture that cocoa powder brings to a chocolatey bake, so I decided to give it a go! I found that all cocoa gave the most incredible flavour, but a slightly cake-ier texture than I wanted, so the next time I made them I used 60g cocoa and 60g chocolate.

And combining the cocoa flavour bomb with some unadulterated coconut just felt like a winner to me. And oh wow. It was.

You know bounty bars? You know how happy they make people? Well, here they are in brownie form, SCORE! Completely dense and rich and chocolatey and kind of incredible. I love it when a brownie comes together (in my mouth). I baked mine for 40 minutes and that was PLENTY, so I’d start checking after 30 minutes and taking them out as soon as ready.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Strawberry Bakewell Tarts

Drizzled with icing goodness

Something sweet!

The blog has been depressingly savoury lately. I mean, I know we need to cook “real” food to survive and be healthy and everything.. But sweet treats are so much more fun to make than savoury dinners!

So, seeing as we are coming into summer and I live in England now, I had a go at something which I think of as a quintessentially English dessert –Bakewell tart! I came over all “Mary Berry” for a moment. I did a mini version because they look cuter and I use any excuse to pull out my small pastry tins! You could easily halve this and make a full sized tart.

Practically naked!

I really liked the way this turned out. As I’ve grown older (sob!) I find my tastes changing, and I really like the almondy/frangipane/marzipan flavour. This is a perfect combination – crisp pastry, fruity jam, light nutty filling and sweet sugary topping. Feel free to top with a glace cherry (as is tradition) if you like. 


Sunday, 21 June 2015

Black Bean and Chorizo Quesadillas with Sweetcorn Salsa

How's that for a slice of fried gold?

A type of Mexican food I’ve never made before!! YAY!

I love Mexican food. I love it a lot. I once ate so much Mexican food it was painful to breathe, and I would do it again. And probably will. NO REGRETS.

The only thing that puts me off cooking Mexican cuisine at home is the time consuming nature. And that is where a quesadilla comes in. Cheese, tortillas, meat, cheese, beans, cheese, spices, more cheese. Cook, assemble and grill until cheese melted- so simple and quick. Obviously the beans in this recipe took a while (because they were dried) but you could use canned beans and cut the cooking time drastically. Or leave the beans and add more potato and onion and maybe throw in a pepper and other vegetables you have laying around.

The versatility of these bad boys knows no bounds. I think these will become a weeknight dinner staple for a long time and even just typing this I want to eat them again.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Gyoza (Dumplings)

I GOT A NEW CAMERA! It's red and lovely. It is taking a bit of getting used to, so please bear with me while I adjust.

Do you ever just make something that works out so well and leaves you so deliciously satisfied that you are happy for day after? I'm posting this recipe now so everyone has time during the week to go get the ingredients so you can all make them this weekend. You'll thank me.

So, last weekend I stuffed myself full of these bad boys. I first had these in Japan, and they were unlike anything I’d ever eaten before. The succulent filling, wrapped in a soft yet crunchy wrapper. I was keen for more, and actually found them in Brussels in an amazing little Thai restaurant, and that time they came with the most DIVINE dipping sauce which looked like plain soy sauce, but was actually nectar of the gods.

Ever since my second exposure to them, I was itching to have a go at home, and when I came across the technique I used here I knew that I had to have a go. I don’t have a steamer so I thought they would be lost to me. I also thought it would be hard to source the wrappers, but all the Asian grocery stores I checked had them in the freezer section.

They are extremely not hard to make, you just need to be organised (boo) and efficient, as this is a time-intensive cook. Try not to do what I did and start the whole process at 5pm. We ate at 8pm. Worth it.

The only tricky part was those characteristic and essential “pleats” which took a little bit of folding. For the technique, which is pictured in detail below, I folded it in half, and pinched it together in the centre. I then folded one side in on itself and pinched it to the other half on one side, and repeated it on the same side. I then did the same on the other side of the centre pinch. I then pinched the ends closed. Voila!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Rocket Pesto


You know I love pesto? I might have mentioned it like once before.

Well, I kind of stumbled upon a way to make it even better. Pepperier and lovelier and smoother. This makes an incredible pasta/pesto lunch. And honestly, it couldn’t be easier to make, like before, it is about prepping the ingredients briefly and then throwing it all in a food processor.  One trick I learned was to pour oil over the top of the pesto to make it “keep” longer.

I currently have a little pot of this in my fridge (emergency pesto!) and I can’t see that changing in the future.  I find it so useful for quick dinners and lunches – cook some pasta, stir through some pesto when the pasta is drained and still hot, sprinkle over some pine nuts and chilli flakes. I also love throwing some peas in there. Perfect!

Again, this is taken from the series “Nexus 5: My DSLR got stolen” so I am showcasing some quality phone pictures.

Makes a small tub of pesto

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Tomato Soup

So, for a brief and annoying time, I was sans camera. Therefore, the next few posts will be illustrated courtesy of my trusty phone. Which isn’t quite as fabulous as my NEW RED DSLR but did the job in the few weeks I had to go without.

Aaaaanyway. I was on my hols recently (when am I not?!) and in one brunch place they kind of just forced tomato soup on us. Now, I’m not a tomato fan normally. I can tolerate them sieved, or on a pizza, but that’s about it. I have some strange and specific food hang ups. You will for instance never see  mushrooms on this blog. I’ve *never* cooked with them, those slimy little gits. Ditto olives. Ditto raisins.

So, it was to my utter shock and bewilderment that this tomato soup which was foisted upon me was tasty.. Nay, delicious!

Of course, I immediately had to try to make my own as soon as I got home. As with most of my experiments, this is a first go. It is pretty damn delicious for a first go, sweet and tart and herby and delicious. Also, it allowed me to exclaim one of my favourite Friends quotes over and over while cooking: "You're burning your tomatoes." "You're one to talk."

I think next time I might play around with ingredients and make it slightly more creamy. But that will be another day! For now, tomato soup, I approve.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Mexican Style Cheesecake

The crack is *supposed* to be there, I swear!

Hello Mexico, hello desserts!

For me, the best part of a cheesecake is the buttery biscuity base. Which is why I kind of pretty much tripled the quantities here so I had a massive amount of it. Feel free to halve or even reduce the quantities by a third if you are the kind of person who eats a normal amount of base. I’m all about the base.

Alright, now that my shame is exposed, I should tell you about this bad boy. It is slightly adapted from a fantastic Mexican cookbook which was calling my name one day as I clutched a book token and was wandering around Waterstones. I’ve not made any of the desserts yet, but the description of the crack on the browned top showing the creamy fluffy centre had me intrigued. My cheesecakes always end up with a big crack down the centre, so I was excited for the prospect of a cake for which this was actually expected!

Anyway, enough chat, this cake is fantastic. Spicy and creamy and crunchy and YES please.

Makes a cake which could easily serve 6-8 greedy people