Wednesday, 16 August 2017

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

My one year old Olympia tried a blueberry muffin the other day and she absolutely loved it so I decided I should bake some. I haven't made any since I was about 15 and so searched online for an quick and easy recipe. I feel I am cooking all the time at the moment. I like to cook in batches and then freeze it for Olympia but she seems to get through it all so quickly....a little piglet like her mummy!!

This recipe is from Inspired Taste website.

Ingredients for 10 muffins:

195g plain flour
150g granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
80ml vegetable oil
1 large egg
80ml-120ml milk (dairy or non dairy)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
200g fresh blueberries


Preheat the oven to 200 C.

Line a muffin tray with 10 muffin / cupcake paper cups. Fill the remaining two cup holes with a couple of tablespoons of water to help the muffins bake evenly.


Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. I just used a handheld whisk.



Pour the oil into a measuring jug, crack in the egg and then add enough milk to reach the 240ml line. I added about 120ml. Next pour in the vanilla extract and whisk to combine.



Add the milk mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients and use a fork to combine. Do not over mix - you want the batter to be quite thick and "scoopable". If the batter is too dry, add a little bit of milk whereas if it is too runny, add a little flour. I had absolutely no idea whether my batter was the correct consistency, but I just went for it. Finally fold in the blueberries.





Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes. I did 20 minutes. To check if the muffins are cooked, the tops need to dry, not wet and if you insert a toothpick, it comes out with crumbs not wet batter. Mine didn't come out with crumbs but it wasn't wet either so I took that as a sign they were cooked.

Transfer to a cooling rack and then tuck in.




I gave one of these to my baby Olympia to do the taste test....and I am proud to say they passed with flying colours. She devoured it in a matter of minutes. I loved how many blueberries were in each muffin (so they are not too naughty). They will only last a few days at room temperature before going stale but they can be frozen. A great snack for the baby (and me)!!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

ITALIAN SEARED BEEF

I have many Jamie Oliver books although I will admit I am not crazy about his recipes. They generally taste very good however I find he always needs so many ingredients and they aren't written in a very straightforward way.....not like my beloved Fay Ripley!! Anyway - good news - in the Sunday Times last week, Jamie shared a few recipes that only need 5 ingredients - heaven for me. Plus they are quick ones too, this one took about 15 minutes. I did alter it slightly as my husband thought it looked a little "light"!

Ingredients for 2 people:

2 tbsp pine nuts
400g rump steak
2 heaped tbsp green pesto
90g rocket
40g Parmesan


Put a large non stick frying pan on a high heat, toasting the pine nuts as it heats up, tossing regularly and removing when golden. This is quite a quick process so watch the pine nuts carefully.


Cut the fat off the rump and chop it finely. Place it in the pan to render and crisp up.





Meanwhile place some cling or greaseproof paper over the steak on a chopping board and bash with a rolling pin or mallet until the steak is about 1cm thick. This tenderises the meat as well. Season generously.



Scoop the fat out of the pan and place to one side. In the same pan, sear the steak for 1-2 minutes on each side (depending on how you like your steak cooked) but ideally you want it golden on the outside but still blushing in the middle. I did Pascal's for a couple of minutes as he likes his steak as rare as possible (still mooing in fact) whereas I prefer mine a little more cooked. Once ready, remove to a board/plate and cut into strips.



Spread the pesto between two plates, add the rocket and steak, and finally scatter over the Parmesan, pine nuts and crispy fat (if you like). Drizzle with some olive oil and serve.




This was a beautiful dish, so simple yet so flavoursome. Individually all the ingredients are strong flavours, yet they mesh so well together. Whilst it felt like a proper supper, it didn't sit heavily in your tummy due to the lack of carbs. Perfect for my husband as he needs to increase the protein intake and cut the carbs which isn't easy when you are a pasta fiend!!

Monday, 7 August 2017

RAREBIT CAULIFLOWER STEAKS

My husband needs to eat less sugar and less carbs....basically his two favourite things. Whilst I believe I am healthy and in pretty good shape, I could do with a little more "clean living" however I love comfort eating, covering everything in cheese and I am addicted to milky coffee with sweetener. 

Anyway the sun was shining yesterday so we decided to barbecue some beef to up our protein intake and then as a side I made these rarebit cauliflower steaks. This is a recipe from Olive magazine although I omitted the beer (!) and it took about 25 minutes.

Ingredients for 2 people:

1 large cauliflower
25g butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
100g grated mature cheddar
1 tsp wholegrain or Dijon mustard
1 small egg yolk
A couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce (optional)



Preheat the oven to 200C / fan 180C / gas mark 6.

Chop the cauliflower in two down the middle and then cut a thick slice from each half to make 2 steaks. You will have some cauliflower left over - we ate this dipped in hummus.



Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Season the cauliflower steaks and then fry on each side until golden. This took about 8 minutes.





Lift the steaks onto a baking tray and roast in the oven for 10 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Next time I will cut the stalks off the the cauliflower steaks as they are pretty tough.



Meanwhile put the cheese, mustard, egg yolk and Worcestershire sauce (if using) into a bowl and mash together. Season once again. Spoon the cheese mix over the cauliflower steaks when they are ready and grill for 4-5 minutes or until golden and bubbling.








These were really good and could be a meal in itself. I love welsh rarebit, it is something we had at weekends for lunch during my childhood and using cauliflower here is certainly a healthier version. I reckon my daughter Arabella would also be a fan. A great alternative side dish.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

FAY'S LEMON & RASPBERRY TART

I love a pudding, in fact nowadays it is my favourite part of a meal and at a restaurant, I have been known to choose my pudding before my starter and main. When we had our friends round for supper on Friday I was tempted to go to Cook and buy the Chocolate Salted Caramel Vacherin but it was a bit extravagant as it served 10-12 and there was only 4 of us.....and I didn't want to spend the rest of the week pigging the leftovers myself as I have to get in a bikini in a week!

Instead I decided to cook Fay Ripley's lemon and raspberry tart as I also adore a lemony pudding. This feeds 6-8 people and it took just over an hour to cook and prepare.

Ingredients for 6-8 people:

1 x 375g pack of sweet pastry (this needs to be taken out the fridge about 45 minutes before using)
3 medium free-range eggs
75g caster sugar
220ml double cream
Juice and zest of 3 unwaxed lemons
200g fresh raspberries
Icing sugar, for dusting (I forgot this part)!

Equipment:
24cm loose bottomed flan tin
Baking beans



Preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan / gas mark 6.

If your flan tin isn't loose bottomed (sounds quite rude!), I would recommend that you line it with baking paper - I didn't which meant the tart was tricky to cut at the end. My tin was also 28cm and so a little big for the pastry.

Roll out the pastry into the flan tin, cover with baking paper and fill with baking beans or rice and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and then pop back in the oven for 5 minutes to dry out.







Reduce the oven temperature to 180C / 160C fan / gas mark 4.

Meanwhile whisk the eggs, sugar, cream, lemon zest and juice together.





Scatter raspberries evenly over the base. Pour the filling over the berries and bake for 30 minutes. Cool and then dust with icing sugar just before serving.







I also served the tart with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. 

I have always been a fan of Fay Ripley's cookbooks, in fact her first book inspired me to learn to cook and this recipe did not disappoint. I had made this the day before and I was a little worried as to whether it would still taste as fresh. Thankfully it did. We all loved the combination of the lemon and raspberries and it was light and delectable. A couple of days later, I am just finishing off the last slice....so much for the bikini diet!!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

BAKED FETA WITH CHERRY TOMATOES AND GARLIC TOAST

We have barely done any entertaining since our baby was born almost a year ago and I have forgotten how much I enjoy it. In the past year I think I can count on one hand the nights I have stayed up post 9pm! However last night we had our friends Hard and Fran round for supper and so I decided to cook a couple of new dishes. The first one being this baked feta which I did as a starter / canapé whilst we had some drinks. The recipe is from Olive magazine and it was very easy and it took about 25 minutes.

Ingredients for 4 people as a canapé or 2 people as a starter:

Olive oil
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
200g feta
4 slices of sourdough
1 clove of garlic, halved
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar
A few leaves of oregano, chopped (I didn't have some so just used dried leaves)



Preheat the oven to 200C / 180C fan / gas mark 6.

Drizzle a little oil in the bottom of a oven proof dish and then add the tomatoes, the feta and season. Add a dash more olive oil and then cover with foil. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.



Just before it is ready, toast the sourdough, rub with the cut side of the garlic (you don't need to rub too hard - a little goes a long way), and then drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Remove the feta from the oven, drizzle with some balsamic vinegar (I was a little heavy handed here) and sprinkle with some oregano.




If you are into presentation, I would definitely recommend fresh oregano leaves as it will make the dish look so much better. Even though I had used dry herbs, this was still mouthwateringly tasty and I am very pleased to say everyone enjoyed it. It was a little messy to eat - my husband Pascal suggested next time I use bigger slices of toast - but I don't think it mattered. According to my daughter, making a mess is a sign of food appreciation!

This would also make a great lunch and you could serve it with a green salad.