Archives for the month of: August, 2011

I know I’ve said it before, but I love living near the countryside. Even though we’ve lived in the area for over 3 years, I still get a kick out of seeing animals grazing in the fields, especially sheep.

We went exploring earlier this summer and came across one of the many battlefield viewpoints around the area. Sheep were roaming around the open field so we stopped to take a look. These friendly bunch came to say hello as we wandered up to the lookout.

For more fabulous photos, check out:

Popovers have been a family tradition since I can remember.  We had them with every Christmas dinner served with roast beef and all the trimmings. The original recipe comes from a Betty Crocker’s Cookbook circa 1970’s and has been adapted to suit different ovens/timings/egg quantity over the years. The tried and tested recipe below has been used over and over yielding some of the biggest popovers you’ve ever seen.

Betty Crocker cookbook

Even though the calendar says it’s August, it feels like late October. We’re having a ‘Smonday Roast’ as it just feels appropriate to make warm, comfortable food. Popovers are just that – warm and comfortable. The memories associated with popovers bring a smile to my face every time.  I’m introducing mini G to the wonders of the popover for the first time today. I can’t wait for him to try them.

Popovers2003

Getting ready for Christmas 2003

So, here goes… my first attempt at popovers since living in this house.

Bals, now Whiteman, family popover recipe

Yields 6 popovers (double the recipe for 12, etc)

3 eggs

8 oz milk

1 cup (110g) plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp vegetable or rapeseed oil

For best results, use a mixing bowl with a pouring spout.

Break the eggs into the bowl and whisk gently, add milk, flour, salt and oil and continue whisking until smooth.  Do not use a blender or mixer. This is best done by hand.

popover ingredients

Add flour to eggs

Mix with Whisk

smooth batter

Chill batter for 1 hour minimum.  You can make this a day ahead, even, and chill overnight.

Heat oven to 425˚F/220˚C.

Lightly grease the cups of a popover pan (pictured) or a deep muffin pan, pour  1/2 tbsp oil in each ‘cup’, just enough to cover the bottom about 1cm.  Place pan in the oven to heat oil through.  Remove from oven and pour the chilled batter into each ‘cup’ 1/2  full.

Popover pan

oil in pan

fill half way

Bake at 425˚F/220˚C for 20 min for fan assisted ovens/25 minutes for electric ovens, then lower the temperature to 350˚F/175˚C and continue baking for 10-12 minutes longer.

Remove from oven and then remove from pan immediately.

Finished popovers

Eat with your favourite roast meat or on their own. Be careful, they are irresistible so you might not have any left for dinner!

Birthday Cheese Cake

For more Silent Sunday treats – head to Mocha Beanie Mummy

Silent Sunday

Punch Communications celebrated its 8th birthday this month. In honour of the occasion, I made 18 cupcakes (one for each member of the Punch team) in the theme of the number 8 and what better way than the 8 ball?

Cupcake prep

Cakes at the ready

This one was definitely a challenge. What was I thinking? Black frosting! I’ve heard it was a difficult one to achieve, but I thought with Black Extra colour i’d be ok. I nearly wasn’t ok. I’m glad I did a test batch before attempting the real thing. My first attempt came out a washed out grey. Then I read up on black frosting and learned that you shouldn’t start from white. Start from a dark colour, like brown/chocolate. Or if you are making vanilla, add your darkest colours first – blues, purples, greens… whatever… this minimises the chances of it going completely grey.

chocolate for frosting

With this in mind, I started with my standard vanilla cupcake in black cases. I then made a chocolate buttercream as a base for the frosting. I added a small dollop of purple Sugarflair paste to the chocolate frosting mixture and few medium sized dollops of black extra.

black is black

The colour ended up a gunmetal grey, which worried me a bit. But then I remembered the advice from the baking guru at the local Cookshop, the Sugarflair colours go darker over time. Thankfully, they did!

18 8balls

After frosting the cakes with the black base, I added a marshmallow circle and then drew an “8” on each cake.

8 Ball

And voila! An 8 Ball cupcake.

Happy birthday, Punch!

in situ

My nod to photography and ‘World Photography Day’, is more about the origins of photography since, I posted the photo taken on ‘World Photography Day’ photo earlier this week.

On Saturday, I woke up to an image projected on my wall. An image of the houses across the street appeared on my wall. It was as if a small hole in my blackout blinds created the same effect as a pinhole camera. The photograph I took doesn’t really do it justice, but it was amazing nonetheless.

Pinhole camera

It’s that time of year when British apples are coming into season. The autumn season is my favourite food and weather-wise. I know, you say it is still summer, but in the UK not really. So, now I am thinking of all the wonderful ways to use the late summer/early autumn fruits. Originally, I thought about doing an apple pie, but Martin suggested an apple tart. As I had never made one before, I took on the challenge. I turned to Eric Lanlard’s Home Bake for his version of an Apple and Quince Tart. Quinces were not on the menu in our house so they were left out. Here’s my version:

To start, I used 2 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped and placed them in a casserole dish. Then I covered the apples with 3 tablespoons of caster sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a teaspoon of cinnamon. I covered the casserole dish and put in a 160˚C preheated oven for 20 minutes.

While the apples baked, I prepared the pastry. I used ready rolled sweet pastry in a sandwich tin. It’s not the traditional vessel for a tart, but we divide our desserts into portions and freeze them and this is the easiest dish for that. Put the prepared pastry in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Pastry

The apples from the oven will have formed a compote. Mine looked like they exploded and I thought I was going to have to start over, but after the bubbles relaxed and I gave it a stir, it was the perfect consistency. Leave these to cool.

Apple compote

Once your pastry is chilled and your apple compote is cool, start to prepare the apple slices. Using 2 Bramley apples, peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Remove pastry from fridge and spread the apple compote on the bottom of the prepared pastry. Arrange the thinly sliced apples in a circular pattern around the tin. Once the compote is covered by the apple slices, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of caster sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

Apple slices over compote

Finished apple slices

Bake in the 160˚C oven for 35 minutes. The tart is done when the apples are softened, the edges of the fruit are going a bit crispy and the pastry is a golden brown.

baked apple tart

Leave to cool. Once cooled, brush the tart with sieved apricot conserve. Not only does it make look fancy, it adds a subtle sweetness.

apple tart with apricot glaze

We served our tart with Cornish vanilla ice cream. Serious, YUM!

Apple tart ready to eat

Last week we harvested our first tomatillos. This is a pretty big deal because we love them and tomatillos are near impossible to get in the UK. You have to order online from specialty shops or hope they are in stock at Whole Foods in London (when I manage to get there once every 6 months if I’m lucky). So to solve this problem we grew our own. Tomatillo salsa is a fantastic accompaniment to chicken or pork. For this particular meal, we opted for chicken with a side of mexican rice. Here is the recipe straight from Casa Whiteman Cucina…

Steamed Roast Chicken

Preheat the oven to 225˚C. Place chicken in roasting tray, rub with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes at 225˚C. Reduce temperature to 160˚C and roast for 1 hour (this may vary depending on the size of the bird). Remove from roasting tray and put in a warmed pot that will fit the chicken (stock pot, large casserole dish with lid) and let cool. The steam generated will keep the chicken from drying out while resting, this also creates a poached texture making the meat the ideal consistency for shredding.

Poached roast chicken

Mexican Rice

While the chicken is resting, chop a small white onion. Then, strain off the fat from the roasting pan. Use 4 teaspoons of the fat and fry the onion until softened (this will take approx 30 min). Make sure to stir regularly so they don’t brown too much or burn.

Softening onions

Meanwhile, pour the juices from the chicken roasting pan into some chicken stock and bring to the boil.

Chicken stock

De-skin 2x plum tomatoes by immersing them in boiling water for 10 seconds, this will make the skin easier to peel away.

Tomatoes from the garden

de-skin tomatoes

Chop the tomatoes and add to the softened onions. Add chopped garlic, paprika and ground cumin to taste (1 tsp each approx). Add the rice and then the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 25 minutes. For two people, we use 1/2 cup rice to 1 cup liquid.

Mexican rice base

Tomatillo salsa or salsa verde

Roughly chop 3x tomatillos, 1x small white onion, 1x Serrano chilli, 1tbsp fresh coriander, put in a bowl, stir in juice of 1/2 a lime and pinch of salt (to taste). Et viola – Salsa is done!

Tomatillos from the garden

Tomatillo inside

Put it all together in a bowl and dig in. If you are feeling indulgent add some sour cream or greek yoghurt and serve with tortilla chips. We were being healthy, so we had it just as it was. So good! I’m going to be sad when the tomato season comes to an end.

tomatillo salsa-mexican rice-chicken

Silent Sunday Rainbow

Silent Sunday

I love living in the countryside. I get a kick out of seeing livestock in fields within arms reach. One of my favourite things is randomly coming across a herd of cows when on a Sunday drive.

One afternoon while exploring, I turned a bend to see a bunch of cows hanging out in the river having a little paddle.

Black and white cows are my favourite.

Black and white cows

I love baking, especially cupcakes, and from that I’ve developed a ‘side business’ from my colleagues at work. This one was for my colleague’s sister’s hen do. I thought it would be a great idea to make cocktail style cupcakes so I asked the bride to be what her favourite cocktail was… it was the mojito.

I don’t drink spirits/liquor/whatever you want to call it, really, so I’ve never had a mojito before. I love the idea of this cuban cocktail and may have to try one in the near future, especially after making these cupcakes.

Not to be forgotten or overlooked, I mixed up the cocktail cupcakes with traditional vanilla ones that have become a standard in my repertoire.

Lime and Mint

Vanilla cupcake ingredients
(Eric Lanlard’s recipe from Home Bake and featured on Lovefood.com)
175 g Self raising flour
150 g Plain flour
125 g Unsalted butter, softened
250 g Unrefined golden caster sugar
2 Large eggs at room temperature
125 ml Milk
0.5 tsp Vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 150) 350°F, gas mark 4. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake papers.
In a small bowl, using an electric handwhisk at medium speed, cream the butter until smooth.
Add the sugar gradually and continue beating until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the flour in three stages, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat.
Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake papers, filling them about three quarters full.
Bake in the pre heated oven for 22 minutes.
Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Vanilla Cupcakes

Mojito cupcake ingredients
(adapted from Eric Lanlard’s Vanilla Cupcakes and inspired by Baker Chic)
175 g Self raising flour
150 g Plain flour
125 g Unsalted butter, softened
250 g Unrefined golden caster sugar
2 Large eggs at room temperature
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp of chopped mint leaves
115 ml Milk
0.5 tsp Vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 150) 350°F, gas mark 4. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake papers.
In a small bowl, using an electric handwhisk at medium speed, cream the butter until smooth.
Add the sugar gradually and continue beating until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
**Add the lime zest, lime juice and mint, and beat until well combined.**
Add the flour in three stages, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat.
Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake papers, filling them about three quarters full.
Bake in the pre heated oven for 22 minutes.
Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting. While they are cooling, poke holes in the tops for the next stage of adding the rum syrup.

Rum Syrup (adapted from Baker Chick who adapted from Two Peas Blog)
2 tbsp butter
30 ml water
60 ml rum
115 g caster sugar
5 mint leaves

Melt the butter over a low heat, then add the water, caster sugar and rum. Stir over heat until sugar has dissolved, then add the mint leaves to infuse. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Burning rum

As there was a pregnant bridesmaid in the party, I didn’t want them to have to worry about consuming alcohol. I burned off the alcohol from the rum, leaving only the flavour, creating a rum syrup. I never knew rum burned for such a long time, I’ll have to keep that in mind for future flambe dishes!

Rum glaze

Once the holes are poked in the tops of the cupcakes, dip them in the rum syrup and leave to cool completely before topping with frosting.

Vanilla Frosting recipe:
(from Primrose Bakery Cupcake Book)
500 g Icing Sugar
60 ml Milk
110 g Unsalted Butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the butter, half of the icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract until combined, then add the rest of the icing sugar. Add colouring paste, if desired. I used a very small amount of Sugarflair’s Claret to create the pink in the photo below.

pink vanilla cupcake

Mojito Frosting recipe:
(adapted from Primrose Bakery Cupcake Book’s Lemon Butter Cream and inspired by Baker Chic’s Mojito Cupcake recipe)
110 g Unsalted Butter
500g Icing Sugar
Juice and zest from 1 lime
25 ml rum syrup
3 mint leaves finely chopped

Same as above, but I substituted lime juice, zest, rum syrup and mint leaves for the milk and vanilla extract. Some recipes I have seen suggest green colouring, but I think it looks better just topped with some demerara sugar, a lime (or lemon ) wedge, mint leaf and a straw – just like a mojito cocktail.

Mojito cocktail cupcake

These cupcakes were really fun to make and I think came out really well. I hope the hen do was a success, too!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,757 other followers

%d bloggers like this: