Monthly Archives: November 2012

Winter Warmers- Roasted Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup with Red Onion and Cheddar Soda bread

Winter is well and truly upon us, and as the days get shorter and colder there’s nothing better than hot soup and home made bread. Soup is a student’s best friend, myself and my flatmates have soup for at least one meal a week. Making your own soup is often cheaper than buying supermarket alternatives, and gives you the freedom to experiment. It’s pretty fool-proof, get some vegetables, add stock et voila…soup. Roasted pepper soup is one of my staples, roasting your vegetables gives the flavour extra depth and the addition of sweet potato makes for a thicker texture.

Roasted Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup

Ingredients;

5 red, orange or yellow peppers, deseeded and cut into rough, thick, slices.

1 red onion, sliced

3 cloves of garlic

1tsp dried oregano

1tsp chilli powder

150g dried red lentils

2tbsp olive oil

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed.

1 litre vegetable stock.

salt and pepper to taste

Method;

1) Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6, place the peppers, red onion and garlic into a large roasting tin, pour over the olive oil and stir to ensure it covers all the vegetables. Sprinkle over the dried oregano and season well. Roast in the oven for 25-20 minutes.

2) Once roasted place in a large saucepan with the cubed sweet potato, lentils and vegetable stock, bring to a fast boil then reduce the heat to simmer. Cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes until the sweet potato has cooked.

3) Take off the heat and leave to cool slightly (if you blitz it straight away you run the risk of scalding hot soup being flung into your face, not fun) Once cooled slightly, blitz with a hand-held mixer until smooth. Stir in the chilli powder and season to taste. Return to the heat and heat but do not boil. Serve hot.

Red Onion and Cheddar Soda Bread

Soda bread is extremely versatile not to mention quick and simple to make. It’s stodgy, moist and, unlike most breads, contains no yeast (hence why it is so quick to make). An Irish favourite that relies on the reaction between baking powder and buttermilk to form bubbles of carbon dioxide to give it its rise. I used one of Paul Hollywood’s recipes for a twist on the original plain recipe, although I have to admit I added more cheddar than he recommends as I am a dairy fiend. I’m not going to do his recipe the injustice of rewriting, so here’s it word for word.

(makes two loaves)

Ingredients;

500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour, and extra for dusting

1 1/2 tsp salt

300ml/ 1/2 pint of buttermilk (I just used natural yoghurt and 2 tbsp of lemon juice)

30g/1 oz caster sugar

25g/3 oz butter, softened

20g/1/4oz baking powder

1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped

75g/3oz strong cheddar cheese, grated

Method;

1)Preheat the oven to 220c/gas mark 7. Place a baking tray in the oven.

2)Put all the ingredients except the onion and cheese in a food mixer and, using a paddle blade and medium speed, blend together for two minutes. Alternatively, put into a bowl and mix well by hand for 5 minutes. Add the onion and cheese and incorporate, either by hand or in the mixer (don’t overmix), into the dough.

3) Divide the dough into two pieces and tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape each piece into a ball, then flatten each with your hand so they are approximately 5cm/2cm inches thick. Cut a deep cross into each, dust with a little flour and put on to the hot baking tray.

4) Bake for 30 minutes, then serve warm.

 

This track has nothing to do with anything mentioned in this recipe, surprisingly there are very few songs about soup or sweet potatoes, but its a great song none-the-less, so enjoy..

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Bye, bye Miss American Pie

 

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, and out of jealousy of my sister who spent Thanksgiving with our wonderful American family in California, I rolled out some pastry and baked a USA inspired cherry pie. It involves very little ingredients and if you’re feeling extremely lazy you could buy ready made pastry. The cherries are tinned (or in a jar, as mine were) Morello Cherries, preferably buy them in syrup, as this saves you making your own. Super quick and easy, its a great pudding (or dessert I should say, in the spirit of America) for a cold winters night. Perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients;

 

For the filling;

2 jars of morello cherries in syrup (I got mine from student favourite Lidl. You need a lot of cherries as when they cook they reduce down, so these jars were 680g each, you could get away with 1kg of cherries, although this is a minimum)

75g caster sugar.

For the pastry;

250g/8 oz plain flour

pinch of salt

110g/4 oz unsalted butter, cubed

2tbsp icing sugar

enough water to bind.

1 egg, beaten (for the egg wash)

Method;

1) Place the cherries and the syrup in a deep saucepan. Mix in the caster sugar, bring to the boil, reduce the temperature and simmer for 30-40 mins, until the syrup has thickened enough to cover the back of a spoon. Once thickened, leave to cool.

2) Meanwhile, place the flour, icing sugar, and cubed butter in a bowl (or a food processor). Mix until they resemble breadcrumbs, pour in enough water to bind and make a dough. Flatten the dough into a disc and cover with cling film. Chill for a minimum of half an hour.

3) Once your pastry has chilled, preheat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Split your dough in half. Roll out one half to cover the base of a 22inch pie dish, so your pastry is about 3mm thick. Place inside the dish and, using a fork, prick holes on the bottom of the base, ensuring you do not pierce all the way through the pastry.

4) Roll out the remaining pastry to make the pie top, I decided on a stars and stripes effect, so I cut the pastry into thin strip and, using a cookie cutter, cut out four stars. You can do whatever you wish, or keep it simple with a plain lid.

5) Pour the cherry mixture and syrup into the base. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash around the edges of the pastry bottom, cover with your lid, lattice or chosen design. Using a fork, press down the side of the pastry to ensure the bottom and the top stick together, cut off the excess pastry and egg wash your lid.

6) Bake in the middle of the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is golden and crisp.

Best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

Tiger Bread Rolls

Tiger bread, or giraffe bread as I probably should refer to it as, is one of my favourite things, ever. I’ve only made it once or twice before, it’s relatively easy. Although, I don’t think I applied a thick enough layer of paste on this batch of rolls, they still turned out okay.

Ingredients;

500g strong white flour

7g/one sachet fast action yeast

1tsp salt

300ml lukewarm water

3tbsp sesame oil

for the tiger paste;

1 1/2 tsp fast action yeast

70ml lukewarm water

1 tsp sugar

60g corn flour

1 1/2 tsp olive oil

Method; 

1) In a large bowl, place the flour, yeast and salt. Ensuring the salt and yeast are at separate ends and do not touch, as the salt will kill the yeast.

2) Mix together the dry ingredients, then add the oil and water to form a sticky dough.

3) Place on an oiled surface and knead for 5-10 minute, until the dough is elastic.

5) Oil a large bowl and place the dough inside, cover with cling-film and leave to prove in a warm place for an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

6) To make the paste; combine the corn flour, sugar and yeast, pour in the oil and water and mix to a paste, leave for 15 minutes.

7) Once the dough has doubled in size, place back on to an oiled surface and knock back. Divide into 8 equal bits. Shape into rolls, I use Paul Hollywood’s method of making a claw with your hand and encasing the dough, rolling against the surface to form a smooth ball.

8) Place on an oiled baking tray, leaving space for the rolls to expand. Using a pastry brush, brush a thick layer of the paste on top of the rolls.

9) Cover the rolls , ensuring not to touch the tops as not to remove the paste, the best method is to use two plastic bags, put back into a warm place and prove for a further 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6.

10) Once the rolls have almost doubled in size, bake in the oven for 15-20 mins, until golden brown. To see if they are cooked through, turn one over and knock it, it should sound hollow.

I think these are best served once cooled and with lashings of butter, or alongside some home made soup to keep those winter chills at bay!

The Thirlestane Road Christmas Pudding Experiment- Part One.

As I write this post there are 36 days, 1 hour and 20 minutes until christmas 2012 is officially here. Normally I restrict my christmas joy to the two weeks preceding christmas and one week after, for fear of a total holiday overkill and in protest of those who put their decorations up in November. Whoever said you can have too much of a good thing was definitely thinking about tinsel, turkey and general christmas frivolity. My strict limitation of christmas celebration isn’t intended in a scrooge-esque way, I merely wish to enhance the specialness of christmas by ensuring it’s magic is contained to a short, manageable time period. I believe it’s the only way to keep things special (plus, I intend to spend my christmas period eating as much food as physically possible, any elongation of the christmas period has direct correlation to how much weight I gain and years I lose off of my life)

Having said that, my flatmate and I embarked on a yuletide challenge today. It may not quite be the season, but everyone knows a good christmas pudding needs some time to mature, thus my normal november christmas ban must be lifted for one day. After much research, deliberation and preparation, we decided upon two types of christmas pudding. My flatmate found a ginger and cranberry christmas pudding in this months Sainsbury’s Magazine which contained a whole Jamaica Cake, how could that not be amazing? So we decided to make two of these, one for her family christmas and one for our flat christmas. I decided to stick with the traditional for my family christmas pudding and used a recipe by Paul Gray, the ‘master baker’ at Betty’s teahouse. However, wanting to put our own Thirlestane Road spin on things, we did bend the rules a little with the ingredients, substituting various dried fruits and most importantly adding a hideous amount of dark rum, after all christmas pudding is traditionally alcoholic.

Cranberry Gingerbread Christmas Pudding. (adapted from the Dec ’12 Sainsbury’s Magazine)

Fills a 2-litre pudding basin

Ingredients; 

300g Jamaican ginger cake

100g white breadcrumbs

300g light muscovado sugar

1 tbsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

200g plain flour

200g sultanas

200g raisins

75g cranberries

200g toasted pecans, roughly chopped

200g cold, hard unsalted butter

1 large Bramley apple, grated

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

zest and juice of 2 oranges

20ml of dark rum, we used Captain Morgans

Method;

1) In a food processor, break up the ginger cake until it resembles breadcrumbs. Place in a large bowl with the breadcrumbs, sugar, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, flour, sultanas,raisins, cranberries and pecans. Mix together.

2)Add into the bowl the grated apple and then grate the cold butter on the top of this.

3) In a separate bowl place the beaten eggs, rum and orange zest and juice. Pour this over the dry ingredients and mix well.

4) Butter your pudding basin, place a small disc of greaseproof paper at the bottom of the bowl.

5) To cover your pudding basin, cut a square of greaseproof paper larger than your pudding bowl, pleat it in the middle, so when the pudding expands the paper has room to grow as well. Do the same with a sheet of foil. Place the greaseproof paper on top of the pudding and then the foil, tie string tightly around to hold them tightly to the pudding basin. Lesley Walters has a great how to video.

6) Place in a large saucepan, and fill water up to a third of the height of the basin. Bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer and place a lid on top. Leave this to cook for 4 and a half hours, checking ever so often to see whether the water needs topping up.

The recipe says this can be made up to 3 months ahead of time.

Betty’s Traditional Christmas Pudding

Ingredients; 

230g raisins

50g currants

75g sultanas

50g cranberries

50g toasted pecans, roughly chopped

100ml dark rum

Zest and juice of one orange and one lemon

50g vegetable suet

30g wholemeal breadcrumbs

50g plain flour

90g light brown sugar

1 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon, ground cloves

1tsp salt

2 large eggs, beaten

Method 

1)Place all the dried fruit, lemon and orange zest, citrus juice and rum into a large bowl. Leave overnight to soak.

2) In a separate bowl place the flour, sugar, suet, salt, spices and breadcrumbs, mix well. Add the dried fruit and liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, stir well, then add the beaten egg.

3) Grease a pudding basin, place a small disk of greaseproof paper in the bottom of the basin, and then pour the mixture in.

4) Cover the basin with greaseproof paper and foil, tying with string as explained in the previous recipe.

5) Place in a large saucepan, bring to the boil, then simmer for 4 and a half hours.

6) Remove and leave to cool.

STORAGE. 

We bought pudding basins from lakeland, which came with lids, which is perfect for storage, however, if you’re using a pyrex bowl then simply cover again with greaseproof paper and foil, using string to secure it tightly.

BEFORE CHRISTMAS

This is of course optional, but we intend to ‘feed’ our puddings a few times before christmas. Using a Mary Berry tip (a woman who loves a tipple herself) where you use a skewer to make a few holes in your pudding and pour a little rum (or whatever alcohol you are using) into the holes and cover your pudding back up. This will enhance the taste of alcohol as well as bringing out the other flavourings of your pudding.

ON CHRISTMAS DAY

For both of these puddings, on the day itself, you’ll need to steam them for a further two hours. Serve with brandy butter, cream, ice cream or whatever else takes your fancy.

Our Christmas Puddings are now on the shelf waiting for the glorious day, or at least until we have our flat christmas celebrations. Now, before I return to normalcy and a life without Christmas joy (well, at least for a few weeks), here’s my favourite christmas/winter song to get you in the spirit. I’ll be posting some pictures of the final results after our flat christmas, stay tuned!

Lemon Meringue Pie, Lovecrumbs Cafe and a tweet from Nigella.

This week my flatmate arrived home with 5 beautiful lemons for the ridiculously low price of 49p. Cooking is a pretty expensive habit for a student, especially as I am a total food snob, and wouldn’t dream of skimping on ingredients (I would rather go without everything else), so when life gives you cheap lemons, make lemon meringue pie.

Having spent the summer making preserves I definitely wasn’t prepared to cheat and use shop bought lemon curd. So, having not made lemon meringue pie in years, I did some research and decided upon a recipe by Angela Nilsen, which I adapted slightly (as I can never play by the rules!) I did want to use a recipe from Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to Bake’ as it is an amazing book, and his recipes have not failed me yet. But his recipe requires a dozen eggs which is pretty excessive in comparison to the five Angela Nilsen uses.

Lemon Meringue Pie.

For the sweet shortcrust pastry;

175g/6oz plain flour

100g /3.5 oz cold butter , cut in small pieces

1 tbsp icing sugar

1 egg yolk

For the lemon curd;

100g caster sugar

finely grated zest 3 large lemons

125ml fresh lemon juice, sieved to remove all pips and pith

85g butter , cubed

2 tbsp cornflour

3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg

For the meringue;

4 egg whites

200g caster sugar

2 level tsp cornflour


Method;

1) Place the flour, butter, egg yolk, icing sugar and 1 tbsp of water in a food processor and blitz until it forms a dough. Place in a sandwich bag, or wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for a minimum of an hour (this can be done the day before).

2) Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Roll out your pastry so it is just thicker than a ten pence piece, and cover a 22inch loose bottom pie dish. Prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork and place greaseproof paper on the top, fill with baking beans (or rice/dry pasta) and bake blind for 15 minutes. After these 15 minutes, remove the greaseproof paper and bake for a further five minutes to make the base a light golden colour, but not too cooked. You can trim the pastry before you cook it, or cook it and then trim it. I am yet to decide which method I prefer, if you have a good quality sharply fluted tin, you can trim afterwards.

3) In the meantime, place the lemon zest, cornflour and sugar in a saucepan.Add water to the fresh lemon juice to make the mixture up to 250ml and pour into the saucepan. Place on a moderate heat and stir until the mixture thickens.Remove from the heat once thickened and beat in the cubed butter. Then, one at a time, the egg yolks and the whole egg, until you have a smooth mixture. Return to the heat and mix until thick and sliding off of the spoon. Take of the heat.

4) Now your lemon curd is made, and your pastry case is baked, start on the meringue. Place the egg whites in a glass bowl, ensure your bowl is very clean and grease free. Avoid using plastic bowls as no matter how well you clean them, greasy residue will be left behind and this could hinder your meringues. Using an electric whisk, beat your eggs until they reach soft peaks, then, add the caster sugar in one tablespoon at a time, whisking whilst you do this. Once you have added half of the sugar add the cornflour, and continue the sugar adding process until all has gone and your left with glossy, hard peaks.

5) Reheat the lemon curd, so it is easier to pour, then pour on top of your pastry base. Spoon the meringue on the top, starting from the outside in, working quickly so the meringue doesn’t melt under the heat of the lemon curd. You could pipe on the meringue, I prefer to just spoon the mixture on and using the back of a metal spoon, shaping the meringue to form fluffy peaks.

6) Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes, until the meringue has a golden colour, leave to cool in the tin. I believe lemon meringue pie is best served cool.

I was perusing twitter whilst waiting for my lemon meringue pie to cool, and came across Nigella Lawson’s recipe of the day tweet, it just so happened to be a lemon meringue cake. Being the baking nerd that I am I tweeted a picture of my pie to her saying I wished I had made a lemon meringue cake instead, and she messaged me back…this of course was a highlight of my life. I promise next week I will try bake something without tweeting!

This week I also found a beautiful new Edinburgh cafe, that I will definitely be frequenting on a regular basis, called ‘Lovecrumbs’. It’s pretty much how I would have my own cafe; hardwood floors, mis-matched furniture and lots of vintage china. Not only was it beautifully decorated and serenely quiet, it served fantastic tea made with home-made tea bags and the selection of cakes was overwhelming. I went for the pumpkin and chocolate chip bundt cake, which was an excellent choice, although I will be returning to try out the other choices (for blog research purposes only). The greatest thing about this cafe was undoubtedly the fact that the cakes were stored in a big, mahogany dresser, I wish my wardrobe at home had a cake on every shelf.

Lovecrumbs cafe is at 155 west port, a little bit further up from the grassmarket when you’re headed to lothian road.

Birthdays- Afternoon Tea and Rainbow Cakes.

This week has been a week of birthdays, which always means two things (and my two favourite things) – baking and eating. This week I baked something I wouldn’t normally choose to bake, but as it was a birthday cake I was making, I thought I would branch out. ‘Rainbow cakes’ fall into a category of baking I like to refer to as ‘American Showy Bakes’. I’m not a big fan of American baking blogs. That’s not to say I dislike them all, there are some fantastic ones (www.joythebaker.com being a perfect example of this). But a lot I have come across seem to put more effort into making their bakes look flashy than actually using good quality ingredients, any recipe that says ‘1 box of yellow food cake’ in the ingredients list I strike straight off my ‘to bake’ list. I think I am quite british with my baking, I would choose a Victoria Sponge over a Cupcake any day. So ‘Rainbow Cakes’ all seem a bit flashy for my taste. However, having recently received a copy of the new recipe book by Ed Kimber ( Winner of the first ever Great British Bake Off and all round nice guy) and seeing a rainbow cake with white chocolate meringue icing in it, I decided it would be a worthy endeavour, and it definitely was. It did, however, take an absolute age to make as I only have one 20 inch cake tin at my flat in Edinburgh, so I had to bake one layer at a time. I also only had standard food colouring, which meant the colouring of my cake was not as vivid as Ed’s beauty, but I think it was still pretty effective. I would 100 percent recommend Ed Kimber’s new book ‘Say it with Cake’ it has different chapters dedicated to events, seasons and celebrations (the tiny ghost cakes for halloween are too cute) and his recipes are thorough and easy to understand. Here’s a (rather poor quality) picture of the inside of my cake..

Also, as I am a MASSIVE cooking/Great British Bake Off nerd I tweeted a picture of my cake to the-boy-who-bakes himself, Mr Ed Kimber, he retweeted me and told me it looked fab (something I was super excited about but no one else, other than my fellow foodie flatmate, seemed to care about!)

The second instalment of Birthday celebrations came in the form of Afternoon Tea with my Mum at the very beautiful Dome on George Street, Edinburgh. It is absolute stunning, especially adorned with Christmas decorations, and is a truly special experience (not doing things by half, they actually have snow flakes falling from the top of the building) The cakes are delicious, the service is impeccable, and it is always a treat to spend an afternoon, once in a blue moon, pretending to part of high society!

Say Goodbye to Cockroach Pie – Book Launch.

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the launch of a new student cook book- ‘Say Goodbye to Cockroach Pie’. Complied by two Edinburgh University Alumni and featuring recipes from their friends from all different universities, it’s the perfect combination of typical student grub and foodie delights. The launch took place upon a beautiful vintage London bus, which took us around Edinburgh’s highest hill ( I would argue mountain, having been slightly hungover when I first climbed it, it didn’t feel like a hill) Arthur’s Seat.

It stopped along route for a few canapés, glasses of wine and some delicious brownies, all enjoyed with a beautiful view of the city.

We also got a chance to chat with the two authors of the book-Rosanna Kelly and Casilda Grigg, who told us how this book has been twenty-five years in the making and shared some tales of their time spent at Edinburgh University in the 80’s.The cookbook ( priced at a very reasonable £9.99) not only shares pearls of wisdom regarding cheap eats and curing a hangover, but also has a variety of different cuisines from all over the world at student-friendly prices and without any hassle or skill required. To top it off its beautifully illustrated with quirky drawings depicting the dish, the inspiration behind it or sometimes a cheeky joke. Having been given numerous ‘student’ cookery books upon my move to University three years ago I have noticed a common theme among them is to present mundane, uninspiring dishes with almost patronisingly simple instruction, ‘Say Goodbye to Cockroach Pie’ couldn’t be more different. It’s unique style and quaint illustrations coupled with some intriguing recipes ( I can’t wait to try the Pão de Queijo- Brazillian Cheese Breads) has left me itching to get into the kitchen. Check out their publisher’s website and order yourself a copy, student or not, it’s a great addition to your cookery book shelf and a real bargain.goodbye-cockroach-pie

And many thanks must be extended to the Authors for the invitation to the launch, it was such a lovely event to be a part of.