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Posts Tagged ‘apples’

When it rains it pours! I’ve just got so busy at work that I didnt get around to writing at all last week. I barely had time to cook and eat anything, never mind contemplate pausing long enough to take a picture and say something intelligent about my food. So as penance for my radio silence I leave you with two recipes this week.

Both have a common theme of cheese, which goes against my current pre-wedding theme of healthy eating (which come to think of it isn’t much of a theme since I spend as much time breaking it as sticking to it), but when the going gets tough…the tough sometimes have to indulge in a little cheese…

Cheese Muffins 3 ways

I have made cheese muffins on this blog before but I just got a new book called Ratio by Michael Ruhlman, which I was prompted to buy after reading this post by Chocswirl and I was dying to put some of the lessons on basic baking ratios  into practice (looking back at the recipe I used before I now know why these turned out better – butter!)… plus we needed something for lunch on Saturday.

This, combined with an inability to choose between making several different flavour combinations that Dawn and I had found in other recipes, resulted in this recipe for 6 of each. If you want to try the Ruhlman ratio out yourself then use this recipe for flavour inspiration only and go with the ratio for a basic muffin batter – 2 flour : 2 liquid : 1 egg : 1 fat – to make whatever quantity you need (the ratio is by weight not volume).

Basic batter (makes 18 muffins)

  • 375g plain flour
  • 375g milk
  • 187g melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Pizza Muffins

  • small handful of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 50g grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil

Parmesan and Herb muffins

  • 50g grated parmesan (we actually made these with cheddar as we didnt have any parmesan so you can use either)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • few sprigs chopped thyme
  • 1 sprig finely chopped rosemary

Feta and Caramelised Onion Muffins

  • 50g crumbled feta
  • half an onion, finely chopped and fried until golden and soft
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped and fried with the onion
  • 1/2 sprig finely chopped rosemary

Prepare all the flavourings in 3 separate bowls and preheat the oven to 180°C. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the cooled melted butter with the milk and eggs and beat until combined. The butter will start to solidify if the milk is too cold but it doesn’t effect the end result so don’t worry. Divide the batter into 3 equal portions and the flavourings to each one. Spoon into silicone cups or a lightly greased muffin tray and bake for 25min until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack and cool slightly before serving (yummy with a lathering of garlic and herb cream cheese!).

Grilled Pork Loins with Caramelised Red Onion, Apple and Smoked Applewood Cheese

I owe Dawn for this recipe too. At some point during the muffin making proceedings she mentioned making pork loins topped with apple and cheese  like this and I immediately started thinking about how good that would be, especially made with Smoked Applewood cheese.  So by last night I was thinking about nothing else and had to make it today to get it out of my system. The sweet apple is perfectly balanced with the smoky cheese and caramelised onion, just served with a simple mash. I don’t know why I didn’t think to try this before.  Thanks D!

  • 2 pork loin steaks
  • 1 eating apple, peeled, cored and grated
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 50g grated Smoked Applewood Cheese
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 large potatoes, boiled and mashed, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and fry the onions until browned. Add the garlic and grated apple and fry a few minutes more until the mixture is softened and caramelised (don’t fry too long or the apples will get mushy).

Take off the heat, season with the thyme, salt and pepper and set aside. Heat another splash of oil over a high heat and fry the pork loins briefly on each side to sear the outsides. Place them on a baking sheet and top with the apple and onion mixture. Add the grated cheese and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the steaks are cooked through and the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Serve on a portion of mash (drizzle over the juices from the baking tray or gravy as optional).

Hope that makes up for last week’s absence and gives you something to perk up your week. Happing cooking! ♥

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First of all I should report back on what happened to the rest of my lamb. Remember this guy? What was left of him after I had made a roast and a lamb and white bean stew (see my last post) went into my freezer while I decided what would become of him. Thanks to my Aunt Judy’s suggestion he went from…

…A lamb, lentil and mint soup (soup crossed with a stew really) and I think it was a fine end to his existence. I’m not even going to post a proper recipe for the stew as it really was a “bung it” but here’s a rough guide if you need some idea of where to start.

I started with chopped pancetta in a large saucepan, fried until crisp and then added chopped celery, onion, potato and  carrots (whatever veg you like or have left over). Gently fry the veg until soft and then add a teaspoon or two of dried mint, a few sprigs of rosemary and/or other herbs and your lamb bones and meat. Make sure you cut your lamb leg in half at the joint so that it fits into your pan properly! Top up with water to cover the lamb, bring to the boil and simmer for at least two hours until the lamb is falling off the bone and has flavoured the water to become stock (if you are making with just lamb meat you could also use a lamb stock cube but I recommend the real McCoy). Fish out the bones and pick off any bits of meat (you could actually leave them in but this just makes it easier to serve). Finally add two tins of cooked green or brown lentils, a glug of soy sauce (my aunt’s tip), a glug of Worcestershire sauce and a splash of red wine vinegar and simmer for another 20 mins or so before serving. Easy!

Now onto sweet things.

I am trying to restrain myself at the moment and make healthy meals during the week but the weekend is my excuse for two things. Puddings and special breakfasts. This weekend I made both. The breakfast was apple spice muffins from a recipe  in this book. The recipe was given to me by a friend at work who makes amazing muffins and he recommends the book which I now do too. I was very faithful to the recipe for once but I did use currants instead of raisins (purely because they were in my cupboard), left out the walnuts, added extra spices and used demerera sugar and cinnamon to top them because it gives more crunch.  The apple makes them lovely and moist and they feel just healthy enough to stop you feeling guilty whilst still being a pleasure to eat.

Apple Spice Muffins

Adapted from “Muffins: Fast and Fantastic” by Susan Reimer. Makes 10-12.

  • 250g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 100g castor sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 apple peeled, cored and grated
  • 85g melted butter
  • 80g raisins (or currants soaked in boiling water and then drained)
  • 2 tbsp demerera sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon to dust

Line a muffin tray with papers and preheat oven to 190°C. In a large bowl, whisk or sift together flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Mix in castor sugar.

In a separate bowl combine the egg, milk, grated apple and melted butter and then add to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined and fold in raisins/currants. Spoon into the muffin papers and dust with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake in the oven for 20-25 min until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Delicious warm from the oven with a mug of tea.

Breakfast over, my sights turned to pudding… chocolate and thyme mousse. I know this sounds odd but I’ve seen it somewhere before and I was dying to try it. Weirdly it works. The thyme somehow enhances the chocolate flavour, giving it a fresh accent that cuts through the richness of the mousse. I made the mistake of making it at first without infusing the thyme in anything so it didn’t impart enough flavour to the mousse unless you got a mouthful with a little thyme leaf in it, which was delicious. To get the full fresh hit of thyme I have adjusted the recipe to infuse it in a little milk before cooling and adding this to the cream (I didn’t try to infuse it in the cream itself as I needed to whip it and boiling the cream can make it split and refuse to play ball). Adding a few fresh thyme leaves to the mousse as well is optional but as long as you don’t go mad you wont feel like a cow with a mouthful of meadow I promise.

Chocolate and Thyme Mousse

Serves 4.

  • 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) chopped
  • 60ml full fat milk
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 100ml double cream
  • seeds from 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • 1 large egg

Put the milk and thyme in a small pan and heat gently until almost boiled. Take off the heat and leave to infuse as it cools. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally.

Add the sugar and vanilla to the cream and whip to soft peaks. Separate the egg and add the yolk to the whipped cream and whip the white in a separate bowl until stiff. Add the cooled infused milk to the cream and egg mixture and mix through (add extra thyme leaves removed from the stem as optional). Fold the melted chocolate into the cream and then gently fold in the egg whites. Place in the fridge or freezer to set, depending on how fast you need to serve it. Garnish with a sprig of thyme to serve.

Before I go there’s one last bit of news to share. I have created a facebook page for my blog… partly to stop bombarding my friends and family with updates every time I write something but also so that I have another way of communicating when I have something shorter and more immediate to say about what I’m cooking or eating. I’d love it if everyone used the page too to post their own food related thoughts and photos too so feel free to pop past and leave a message or add a picture as the fancy takes you…

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Only 4 sleeps til Christmas day! I’ve been so busy planning and preparing my Christmas recipes that I havent left myself enough time to blog about them all. I’m also keeping the special ones as a surprise for family so I have to keep them a secret you see. By now its also too late to share useful recipes for the main event as you will have already made your own plans so I decided to write a quick post with some ideas that might still come in handy and share some of the delicious things I have seen on other blogs that I’m planning to get to over the rest of the holidays.

Firstly, more biscuit ideas! I know I’ve just made Christmas biscuits which were the subject of my last post but although they were perfect for making edible decorations, I thought they could be topped when it comes to a biscuit to accompany a desert or fill a goody bag in someone’s stocking. So I fiddled with the basic biscuit dough to inject a bit more spice and made these little stars to add to my Yuletide arsenal. They arent the most indulgent biscuit you’ve ever eaten but they are meant to complement a richer recipe rather than be the star of the show and they have a lovely warm, spicy cocoa flavour. It was snowing when I made these so it was  a bit dark in my kitchen for taking photos but hopefully you can see the cinnamon sugar dusting which adds a little extra sparkle.

Spicy Cocoa Biscuits

  • 50g castor sugar plus extra for dusting
  • 50g softened butter
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 110g plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon plus extra for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/2 tsp ginger

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon, then beat in the syrup. Sift in the flour, cocoa, spices and bicarbonate of soda together and mix into a sandy dough. Slowly add the egg (you wont need all of it) until the dough comes together. Roll out onto a well floured surface into a rectangular shape about 5mm thick. Cut out with a star shaped cutter and place onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Mix extra cinnamon and sugar together and dust over the biscuits. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Not content with sugar biscuits I’ve been scouring the net for something else with a little more flair and I keep coming back to french macarons. I’ve never made them before but if I can pull them off without any mishaps then I’m planning to use these blogs for inspiration and create my own version of red velvet macrons. If you fancy trying your hand then I reccommend you start here:

Photo from Mowielicious.

  • Mowielicious – he has some of the most delicious macaron recipes I’ve seen and if his photos don’t make you salivate (exhibit A to the right) then your brain is broken.
  • Daydreamer Deserts – has a great post on demystifying french macarons with a useful video for those of us that need visuals to work out whether we are on the right track…

… Now if you have managed to find your way back to this post after getting side tracked for an hour browsing all Mowie’s photos and recipes then let me get your attention back with these… Christmas cocktails!

I cant take credit for the photos as I wont be making these until Saturday (well friday night at least, I will probably need a drink by the time I’m finished all the last minute preparations) but having researched a thousand different holiday tipples these two are going to be my poison of choice so I thought I would share the links with you now in case you want to make a last minute adjustment to your shopping list.

The first one is an Apricot Queen which I have made before and can definitely recommend. I first made it because I somehow landed up with a bottle of apricot brandy that doesn’t really lend itself to the standard spirit + mixer combination. Never one to leave a perfectly good bottle of alcohol lying around I went hunting for cocktail ideas and came across this little gem which combines it with white rum, sugar and lemon. It does use raw egg white so do be careful who you serve it to (not that you should be pressing alcohol on your pregnant friends and small children but still). I’m not a fan of super sweet fish-bowl size things that leave you feeling nauseous after one or two so this is my ideal type of drink – short and fruity with a kick.

My second choice is this Cranberry cider margarita posted by the ladies at Haute Apple Pie. With the flavours of cranberry and orange its perfectly Christmassy and the cider will stop it being too sweet for my taste buds. I plan to make it with vodka instead of tequila but that’s up to you of course. As soon as I’ve tried it out I’ll put up some pictures of my own but I’m pretty sure its going to be good!

Photo from Haute Apple Pie.

Right so I better get back to writing up my final shopping list but I still have a week between Christmas and New Year to spend experimenting and its Christmas which means the calories dont count so if you have any recipes you think I should know about, you know where I am!

In case I dont manage to write again until after I’ve recovered from death by turkey and trimmings, have a lovely Christmas and good luck with your own cooking exploits! ♥

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