Author Archives: Louise.

About Louise.

A blog which will provide exactly what is said on the tin. A chronicle of whatever occupies my time, which, if I'm honest, is mainly folk music, reading and baking.

Savoury Muffins- Carrot & Cumin and Cheddar & Smoked Bacon.

So things have been pretty quiet on the blog front recently, this has been because my life has been an academic blur in the past few months. My fourth and final year of University was spent predominately on the third floor of the library (often in the same seat, I’m a creature of routine) staring out of the window, I mean working very hard on my dissertation and exams. I was so excited to ‘get my life back’ after exams I hadn’t stopped to realise that I wouldn’t be getting my life back but starting a new one- something I am vastly unprepared for. So I’m going to cling on to my little blog as a token of my student life ( think of it as the same way Leonardo Dicaprio’s character in Inception has that spinning top to differentiate between dream world and real world- but much less cool) I have a back-log of recipes and posts to upload so apologies in advance for the plethora of emails the tens and tens of people who follow this blog are about to receive.

These muffin recipes come from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Guardian food page. Firstly, the guardian is an excellent recipe resource, in particular Hugh’s and Dan Lepard’s pages which contain many of the recipes from their books but free (post-student life I am still poor). These savour muffins are a great base for many flavour combinations and freeze so easily. Rather than use pre-made cake cases I just used squares of baking parchment paper (about 14cm square) which work a treat and look pretentiously rustic (a look I constantly strive for).

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Carrot, Spinach and Cumin Muffins (from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)

(makes six)

Ingredients

40g unsalted butter, melted. Plus  10g extra for frying.

1/2 finely diced onion

1tsp ground cumin

75g finely shredded spinach leaves.

175g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of sida

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

140g natural yoghurt

75g grated carrots

20g toasted pumpkin seeds.

Method

1) Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line a muffin tin with the parchment squares or muffin cases.

2) Place 10g of butter in a large frying pan and sauté the onion for about 10 minutes until soft, season well. Add the cumin, stir well, then add the spinach and stir until wilted. Leave to cool.

3) In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.

4) In a jug, whisk the melted butter, eggs and yoghurt.

5) Pour the wet ingredients over the flour and stir until just combined. Fold in the spinach and onion mixture, the carrots and  then the toasted pumpkin seeds. Spoon into the cases, filling till about 3/4 full, and bake for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Red Onion, Cheddar and Bacon Muffins  (adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

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(makes six)

1tsp olive oil

50g streaky bacon, cut into small pieces

½ red onion, finely diced

175g self-raising flour

1tsp baking powder

1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

1 egg

100ml buttermilk (I used 100ml natural yoghurt with 2tbsp of lemon juice)

75g strong cheddar, grated

Method

1) Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line a muffin tin with the parchment squares or muffin cases.

2) Fry the bacon in a frying pan with the oil over a medium heat until crispy. Lift the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. In the same fat, sauté the onion until just softened then set aside to cool.

3)In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.

4)In a jug, whisk the eggs, butter and buttermilk, stir them into the flour mixture with a spatula until just combined, then fold in the cooled bacon, onion, and two-thirds of the cheese.

5)Spoon or scoop the mixture into the muffin tin, filling till about 3/4 full. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese, and bake for about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

 

 

Here’s some pretty neat hip hop to accompany your savoury treats..

http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Mes12ZikPw

 

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Banana & Rum Cake

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This Banana and Rum cake was made in the spirit of celebrating Fairtrade fortnight, not a gratuitous effort on my part to introduce rum into all aspects of my life.

Banana and Rum Cake (adapted from A Pastry Affair)

(yields a 9 x 5 inch loaf)

Ingredients:

115g unsalted butter
150g granulated brown sugar plus a bit more sprinkling on the top
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large ripe bananas, mashed and 1 sliced for decoration
125g plain flour
120g whole wheat flour
1tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
120 ml dark rum or spiced rum (whatever your preference is, I used Sailor Jerry)

Method:

1) Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line your loaf pan with greaseproof paper.

2) In a mixing bowl, crean together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk (or by hand if you’re feeling strong) till light and fluffy.

3) One at a time beat in the eggs, ensuring to mix well between each addition. Beat in the vanilla and mashed bananas, mix well.

4) Mix in the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

5) Finally, add the rum, incorporate fully. Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf pan, place a line a sliced banana pieces down the centre of the pan (it will move when the bread splits) and sprinkle with brown sugar. Place in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes. Check with a toothpick/knife after this amount of time to see if it comes out clean, if not cook for a further 5-10 minutes.

6) Remove from the oven, leave to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Store well (if it lasts that long)

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The pastry affair has an abundance of other banana bread recipes I’m eager to try. Banana bread is a common go to recipe due to the simplicity of the ingredients and the fact its pretty much fool proof. Next time I’ll have a bash at the Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread. I’m also really intrigued by Belleau Kitchen’s Salted Caramel Upside Down Banana Cake, it’s simply beautiful!

 

Digbeth Dining Club- the only club I ever want to be a member of.

Britain has finally caught on to the street food phenomenon and, whilst Edinburgh is a little slow on the upkeep, my home town of Birmingham is embracing the craze with open arms. The Digbeth area of Birmingham seems to have had somewhat of a bohemian makeover in the past few years. Now the home to several vintage shops, indie clothing stores and the jack of all trades The Custard Factory , it’s seemingly the place to be. So its pretty fitting that an area at the forefront of underground cool is embracing this street food trend, and I couldn’t be more appreciative.

*Warning this post contains a severe overuse of superlatives*

After a gander in Big Yella aka cow vintage I wandered over to the Spot*light forecourt and was welcomed by the sight of three wholly different but equally intoxicating food vans. First up was The Meat Shack whose twitter bio sums up all too accurately the awesomeness of their burgers- DRIPPING FILTHY GOODNESS. I went for the ‘Jam Pudding’ Burger, a beef and black pudding patty with bacon chilli jam, dutch cheese, smokey chipayo sauce, and pickles, served on the most amazing Brioche bun. Watching meat sizzle on a grill right in front of your very eyes is street food at its finest. If possible I would consume a Meat Shack Burger for every meal and on every day of my life. Their flavour combinations are insane (making choosing just one a formidable task) yet I was extremely happy with my decision. The meat was juicy and tender with the condiments forming the right mix of sweet and spicy, and did I say how awesome the bun was? Seriously  SO. GOOD.

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At this point I should mention I had an eating accomplice and, whilst I did consume a hideous amount in one sitting, it was shared with another, so your judgments shouldn’t be too harsh.

Right, next up was El Kantina, a mexican and southern food truck specialising in pulled pork…pulled freaking pork. The choice was extremely wide, ranging from ‘cones of love’- potato wedges and pulled pork- to chilli and nachos. The service was excellent, the woman working there was so friendly and eager to talk about what was on offer (and I love a good foodie chat) Due to her enthusiasm, myself and my accomplice decided that we couldn’t just order one thing. We went for the pulled pork cone of love, a combination of (or should I say- beautiful relationship between) smokey pulled pork and spicy wedges. As well as some half and half nachos, one half being pulled pork (can’t get enough of the stuff!) and the other half chorizo chilli. Spicy but not too spicy, smokey but not too smokey, El Kantina were spot on. Another excellent choice.

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Finally, despite the plethora of food already consumed, myself and my accomplice decided to round off the night with some spicy chicken wings and ‘slaw from Van29. Whilst I’m not opposed to meat on the bone, its not a choice I would normally make. But my wings from Van29 have revolutionised my eating life. Yes, they were a sticky mess, but it was most definitely worth it.

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Digbeth Dining Club is my kind of club. It’s on almost every friday from 5:30pm till 10pm with a rotating selection of food trucks present. The three I sampled have set the standard pretty damn high so I can only expect the other participant trucks are excellent too. If you’re a Birmingham native, or you find yourself in the area on a friday evening check it out. It’s ridiculously well priced, with most dishes coming in at between £5 and £7, and you definitely get a lot of bang for your buck.

www.digbethdiningclub.co.uk

Spot*light, Unit 2, Lower Trinity Street, Digbeth (Opposite Air Nightclub)

 

 

Coconut Key Lime Pie.

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I have never made Key lime pie before and by Key lime pie I mean ‘lime pie’ as it’s pretty damn hard to get Key limes in Britain. I did, however, have an abundance of desiccated coconut. I love that the coconut is ‘desiccated’- it just sounds so extreme. If I make this again (and I probably will as it was so ridiculously simple it shouldn’t be classed as cooking) I would put coconut cream in the baked filling as the overall taste was not that ‘coconutty’. Would make a killer dinner party desert with minimal effort.

Coconut Key Lime Pie. (adapted from the bbcgoodfood website)

Ingredients:

300g digestive Biscuits
150g butter , melted
1 x 397g tin condensed milk
3 medium egg yolks
finely grated zest and juice of 4 limes
300ml double cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
extra lime zest, to decorate

To make it coconut: 75g desiccated coconut, plus 10g more to toast for decoration.

Method:

(1) Heat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Crush your biscuits, this is easiest in a food processor, or you can adopt the old fashioned approach and bash them with a rolling pin.

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(2) Mix with the melted butter and then, using the back of a metal spoon, press into the base and up the sides of a loose-based tart tin (I used a 22cm tin) Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, remove and leave to cool.

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(3) Place the egg yolks into a large mixing bowl and whisk for 3 minutes with an electric whisk. Then add the condensed milk, whisk for a further 3 mins, finally add the lime zest, juice and coconut and whisk for another 3 mins.

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(4) Pour this into your now cool base and place back in the oven for another 15 minutes, until set. Leave to cool and then refrigerate for a minimum of three hours.

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(5) To decorate: Lightly toast your desiccated coconut in a dry frying pan on a medium heat until golden brown, set aside to cool. Add the icing sugar to the double cream and whisk until soft peaks. Pile on top of the centre of the pie, sprinkle over the extra lime zest, some toasted coconut and some non-toasted and eat!

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It’s been such a beautiful day in Edinburgh today so I have spent the day soaking up as much sun as possible. I have to share this picture of my walk to Uni today as well as a song by The Lumineers, who make perfect sunshine soundtracks (and the song is so close to having my own name as the title)…

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Kale & Chilli English Muffins.

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I LOVE BRUNCH. Like seriously LOVE IT. It’s the joy of breakfast food but in bigger portions AND with a wider scope of ‘acceptable’ food options, what’s not to love. I saw this recipe on the little loaf’s blog a while back, and following my foray into the world of buckwheat flour I was keen to try some more recipes that used it. I found that I needed to cook the muffins for a lot longer than suggested on the little loaf’s blog, and I added/removed a few items from the ingredients list (mainly as I was too lazy to go and buy the correct ingredients). I also took a very lazy approach, using a food processor as much as possible, as no one needs to be chopping on a sunday morning, especially one that looks like this…

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Kale and Chilli English Muffins (adapted from thelittleloaf)

Ingredients:

(makes six)

5g butter
10g olive oil
1 tsp chilli powder
150ml semi skimmed milk
110g curly kale
5g dried yeast
150g strong white bread flour
75g buckwheat flour
Pinch sea salt
Polenta, cornmeal or semolina for dusting

Method:

1) Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the kale and fry for 3-4 minutes, then add the butter.

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2) Mix together the chilli powder and milk, pour over the kale and cook until wilted. Leave to cool for 5-10 mins then transfer into a food processor, draining some of the excess milk off. Blitz gently till finely chopped, but not pulp.

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3) In a large mixing bowl mix the bread flour, buckwheat flour, salt and yeast, ensuring you place the salt and yeast at opposite ends of the bowl (otherwise the salt will kill the yeast!) Add the now cooled down kale mixture then add enough tepid water to form a dough (the dough will be quite sticky)

4) On a lightly floured surface, knead your dough for 10-15 minutes until it feels more elastic and smooth. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm or a plastic bag and leave in a warm place for 30mins- 1 hour to rise.

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5) Place a heavy-based frying pan over a low heat. Then dust your work surface with polenta,semolina or cornmeal. Place your now risen dough on top and using your hands press out till around 2cm in thickness. Using a 7.5cm cookie cutter (or water glass) cut out your muffins, ensuring both outsides are covered with polenta/cornmeal/semolina.

IMG_09896) Place the muffins in the frying pan, leaving gaps in between them. Cook for 5-10 minutes before flipping (keep checking to make sure they’re not burning!) If you find they are taking a long time to cook, or are not convinced they are cooked all the way through you could pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

7) Serve warm with lashings of butter, they’re even better when toasted.

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Sunday brunch cooking needs a soundtrack (as does pretty much every activity) so here’s a few of my current obsessions. I love a good cover song (note: a good one) and these are my current favourites…

 

 

 

Sourdough Update and a month of treats.

So my sourdough consumption has slowed down somewhat as dissertation and uni work has taken over my life. But the new addition to my baking cupboard, a banneton proving basket, is making my loaves look beautiful (even if I haven’t quite cracked the right crumb texture yet) I’ll keep you informed of my progress, in the meantime I will be spending my procrastination time searching bakery bits for more bread making accoutrements.

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This semester ‘Cake Dates’ have been replaced with ‘Sunday Brunch Dates’, where myself and my flatmate sample the delights of Edinburgh’s finest establishments, thought I’d share a few snaps of what these places have to offer, as well as few other home-made treats and café experiences.

From left to right: Grapefruit Meringue Pie from ‘Lovecrumb’, a organic sausage sandwich and the best brown sauce I’ve ever had from ‘Earthy ‘at Causeway Side (the picture underneath is of some of the organic produce on sale at the market there), a slice of Victoria Sponge to celebrate Edinburgh Baking Society’s First Birthday, A midnight snack with my flatmates- a slice of Coffee Cake and  Gin & Tonic at ‘Bee’s Edinburgh’, home-made Olive and Spinach Pizza, French Toast and Bacon (a hell of a brunch) at ‘The Haven’ in Leith and finally some mini Victoria Sponges made by my flatmate Lizy (http://lizybakes.blogspot.co.uk)!

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Viennese Whirls

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I absolutely love these crumbly, buttery biscuits, but I’ve never attempted to make them before. I’m not sure why, as they’re very easy to make, they take barely any time to cook and they look amazing (even if I do say so myself) Another advantage is they use ingredients you’re bound to have lying around, and if you don’t they’re so cheap to pick up. I have to admit that I didn’t make the jam myself, despite spending my super stocking up on preserves, but I will endeavour to next time. I also want to try out some variations- lemon curd and fresh cream would be great.

Viennese Whirls (adapted from The Hairy Bikers)

Ingredients:

For the biscuits:

  • 250g/9oz very soft butter
  • 50g/2oz icing sugar
  • 50g/2oz cornflour
  • 250g/9oz plain flour.
  • ½ tsp  vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 100g/3½oz soft butter
  • 200g/7oz icing sugar
  • ½ tsp  vanilla extract
  • 75g/3oz raspberry jam (the hairy bikers use seedless, but I couldn’t think of anything worse than seedless raspberry jam)

You will also need a piping bag and a large star nozzle. Also, to be prepared, line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper, on one side of this draw circle guidelines for your biscuits, I made mine pretty big and would make them smaller next time, probably around 3inch diameter.

Makes about 18 biscuits, but this depends on how big your circles are.

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
  2. Put the butter and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl, using an electric whisk beat until fluffy. Then beat in the plain flour, cornflour and vanilla extract. Make sure you scrape the sides of your bowl down to ensure everything is properly mixed together.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Pipe rosettes using the circles on the greaseproof paper as a guide.
  4. Bake in the centre of the oven for 13-15 minutes until pale golden-brown, they shouldn’t be golden brown as this will mean the IMG_0908biscuits won’t be as light and crumbly as you want them to be. Leave to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Repeat until all your mixture has been used.
  5. For the filling, put the butter in a bowl and sift the icing sugar on top. Add the vanilla extract and beat until light and smooth. Spoon into a clean piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Put the jam in a bowl and beat until smooth.
  6. Spoon a little jam onto the flat side of half of the biscuits and place jam-side up on the cooling rack. Pipe the buttercream icing onto the remaining biscuits and sandwich with the jam. I just piped around the outside of the biscuits, rather than covering the entirety of the biscuits as otherwise they are very sweet.

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