26 Aug 2016

GBBO: Cake Week

Yes it is that time of year - as the end of school holidays approach, the summer is in its last legs and that old faithful white tent is on our TV - with Mr Hollywood and his blue eyes,  and sarcastic comments and Ms Berry with a cheeky lick of the lips and encouraging word. Not to mention the most wonderful TV duo Mel & Sue. Yes it Great British Bake Off - back to make you want to eat all the cake. As with the last few years I am back in the Bake Off Blogging mode and will make an attempt to try new things in the kitchen. All the while linking up with Jenny Paulin (Mummy Mishaps) and all the other #GBBOBloggers2016

First week up and I'm working with Tesco to bring this little bake of mine to celebrate Cake week. The challenge being a drizzle cake, a jaffa cake using a fatless sponge and a genoise mirror cake. Not wanting to hit the ground running I took inspiration of the fatless sponge and went for a chocolate Swiss roll. I have made a Swiss roll once before and it was not my greatest success. The combination is simple chocolate sponge, vanilla butter cream and melted chocolate. Whats not to like.

The before you add the icing had me a little worried as the outside had stuck a little to the paper I wrapped it in after it cool down. But covering the cake in melted chocolate hid a multitude of sins. The base of a swiss roll sponge is to keep as much air in the batter as possible. I think I lost too air in my mix and it was quite sticky that the spreading out of the tin was a but tricky. Annoyingly also it was so hot in my kitchen the vanilla buttercream was splitting and did not want to cooperate - but a quick chill in the fridge and it was still edible.

I used a recipe from Great British Bake: Children's Party Cake and Bakes - which is fantastic for parents. Some great cake ideas, plus like this one ideas for smaller bakes and savoury bakes to complete you party spread. The recipe is a simple one in terms of ingridents - and most things I have stocked in the cupboard.

For the sponge

  • 75g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla - I used this great extract from Tesco which has a lovely flavour
  • 75g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder - this Tesco own brand one is great value for money and mixes in well.
  • 1/2 baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 25g unsalted melted butter
Preheat the oven at 180c and line the tin. Whisk the sugar,vanilla and eggs together until trebled in size. (I left mine in the mixer on high while I made a cuppa) it should form a thick ribbon when you lift the whisk out. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa together and stir into the whisked eggs and sugar. Fold together carefully keeping as much air in the mixture as possible. Pour the melted butter round the edge of the mixture and combine. Pour into the tray and bake for around 7 minutes until cooked through. 

Once out leave it to cool slightly before rolling up - rolling along the long edge. Add a layer of baking parchment on the inside as you roll it up and leave to cool completely. Once cool you can add in the filling. I made a basic buttercream - but whipped cream, flavoured cream, jam, fresh fruit or generous helping of nutella would all work just as well.

For the coating I melted down some dark chocolate - I use a mix of higher quality chocolate and the value chocolate. It may not be the best but I find on our budget this is the best way to get the most out of my ingredients. I used the combination of this Ivory Coast 84% Cocoa chocolate and the a bar of the value plain chocolate. I am a chocolate melting heathen and never use softly boiling water and heat proof bowl. I use the microwave slowly option. Smash the bar on the counter (still in it wrapper) empty into the bowl, microwave first for 1 minute. remove and stir. Then after this every 30 seconds. When there is still a few lumps in its done. Leave it to melt the remaining the lumps with stirring. Job done. Pour over the melted chocolate and add drizzles of melted white chocolate.  Add a few sprinkles and leave to chill in the fridge. One swiss roll is done and ready to consume.

It got some serious thumbs up from the family - the boys had slices topped with strawberries for dessert. The filling could of been better - overall I am happy with my attempt at this and would like to try it again, being a bit more adventurous.

Thanks to Tesco for supporting today's bake - roll on the next few weeks of baking.....

23 Aug 2016

Grace Foods & Caribbean Food Week

Caribbean food week is on it way and we are celebrating in this house - and thanks to the team at Grace they sent us a hamper full of products to use. A lot of these are staples in our house already and my husband was very happy when this arrived on our doorstop.

I got thinking of dishes I would make that would feed a crowd in the best possible way, my usual approach to feeding the masses. I love hosting and love feeding people - Christmas eve at the Edwards is a feast to behold!! 

A must have when having a real get together ( especailly for me, I craved this dish so badly when I was pregnant with Natty) is curry and rice. Traditional it is lamb/mutton or goat curry which is the big crowd pleaser - but I prefer for smaller scale, and cost effective is do a pork shoulder steak. Plus a big batch of rice and peas. We haven't used the peas and beans mix before, but I will be using it again.
These two tubs of seasoning we go through every couple of months - they are good basic seasoning to be able to use across all kinds of dishes (seriously this combination in a shepherds pie is epic). I used these in meat seasoning for the patty fillings. Yes you read that right homemade patties - my husband confessed how much he loved me, again!.
This recipe really went far - one pack of 5% beef mince and a batch of dough made around 20 patties. The dough recipe was using 500g of plain flour, 1 tablespoon of turmeric, 225g butter and a little ice cold water. Rub the butter and flour together before adding the water to for a stiff dough. While that was in the fridge I made the filling with frying off some carrots, onions, celery and adding in the mince until cooked through. The mix of seasoning with an added stock cube until cooked down. Cut the dough into circles and add a spoonful of the meat before crimping the edges and brushing with egg. Baked in the oven on 200c until crispy and golden.

The is the best Jerk seasoning. The wet mixture really gives a well rounded flavour but be careful it has a real kick. I used these seasoning and instead of making up chicken pieces, I used the same seasoning, only one tablespoon to coat 4 diced chicken breasts. Add these to a freezer bag and leave in the fridge to really season up well. These would then become Jerk Chicken skewers. These are perfect for feeding a crowd - one pack of chicken breasts, some hallomi, couple of peppers and courgette. This made a decent sized batch of skewers.
Place under the grill with a couple of sprays of oils - I had mine on top of a green salad - and a glass of wine. Mixing the hallomi with the jerk chicken gave a real mellow taste to balance the warm spicing of the jerk.

Last but not least with the goodies I made a little light dinner for my mother in law who was looking after our boys for the night - least I can do is feed her!!. Some baked chicken legs with some spicy chicken coating. I use some raw prawns and coating them in the seasoned flour mix before shallow frying them. We all agreed this was a winning combination.

As much as this was ideas to inspire feeding a crowd, all these meals also working as feeding the family. Grace foods are the UK number 1 Caribbean food and drink company and is celebrating its fifth annual Caribean Food Week from August 22nd to 29th. and this weekend (Friday 26th -27th August) if you are about get down Windrush Square in Brixton to try out some fantastic food and celebrate some amazing food and flavours

22 Aug 2016

What we ate last week: Beach days, pasta dishes and all things Jerk.

From beach trips, to buys days out with grandparents this week has been full of kids here there and everywhere (not that we are complaining) I have been embracing and experimenting with the items in my Grace foods hamper this week – and thinking up how many things can I jerk??

Saturday: Camber Sands (and quick pasta dish)
Today we packed up the kids into a car, grabbed a picnic and headed to the beach. Camber Sands is about 1.5 hours away from us – and is beautiful. Not full of seaside games, or arcade machines. It keeps it simple – it is a beach. Pure and simple. The kids roamed free with sandy toes and sticky with sun cream. The splashed in water and ate chips coated in sands. This meant we got home late in the day and after rinsing the majority of a beach of the kids we needed something quick and filling for dinner. My go to quick dinners are usually pasta and a various collections of stuff from the fridge. Our combination for tonight’s dish was penne pasta, ricotta cheese, bacon and some peppers and onions. A simple combination to make a filling dish.

Sunday: Lamb Kebabs and Rice for littles with Beef Steaks and peppers with rice for bigs
Biggest boy has been attended Kung Fu since he was 4.5 – its been great for him and earlier this year he reached the black belt in the Little Dragons class. Since then he has been working hard and been earning his extra stripes on his belt. Today he got his second stripe onto his belt and he all attended to watch his achievement. We took a wander through the local park before heading home. We had to hungry boys who needed feeding asap. Does anyone else have that with the kids – where they go tom not needing anything to be HUNGRY at the blink of an eye. We threw on a quick dinner for them – of minted lamb kebabs with some microwavable frozen rice. Finding these packs has been a game changer for the boys dinner. 7 minutes in the microwave, and full of sweetcorn, peas and broccoli. That is some serious birds and stones on going on. We grown ups however were able to wait for dinner and had some slow pan fried thin cut beef steaks, with peppers and onions (and a good helping of black pepper) which the husband whipped up with a bowl of steamed basmati rice.

Monday: From the freezer – Salmon, green beans and sautéed potatoes.
I am not great at using my freezer but I have been trying hard to use it a bit better, and making sensible shopping choices when it comes to freezer food. I used a pack of frozen salmon fillets, which I added to a cooking dish with some frozen green beans, a little butter and pepper. Cover that in foil and bake in the oven. While that is happening – sautéed some new potatoes in a little coconut oil until crispy. A “freezer food” meal which was quick to assemble.

Tuesday: Leftover pasta – with pancetta, spinach and ricotta and cheese sauce.
Another cheat dinner and an almost replica of dinner we had on Saturday. Not eating tomatoes does usually mean that our pasta dishes are cheese sauce based, this I am completely happy with and find them some quick to assemble. Keeping a pack of bacon in the fridge at all time means I always have a “bacon and pasta” dish in my arsenal for these kind of quick need of cooking days.

Wednesday: Pork curry and rice
I have been working with Grace Foods this week to help celebrate Caribbean Food Week – and if you are about in and around Brixton this weekend go check out the festival. My pork curry is a firm favourite and I made some tweaks to today’s version. I was not forward planning enough and did not manage to slow cook the squash during the day. Instead I peeled and chopped a squash into bits. Added about a couple of inches of water to pot and bring to boil before plunging the squash in. Leaving the water to bubble and evaporate – which means while steaming the vegetables I could add salt and pepper. Once these were soft and liquid mostly gone – I added the rest of the ingredients (omitting for this time around at least the lentils) I made the rice and peas just by following the guidance on the tin. I am not usually great at cooking rice on the stove (I have a microwavable pampered chef rice cooker which I love so much!!) but this turned out lovely. Cooking the rice in the coconut milk created a lovely creamy rice to sit against the warm spicy curry.

Thursday: beef patties and leftovers
My husband LOVES Jamaican patties – all the various flavours. For another part of my grace foods cooking I decide to give these a go. Making the pastry earlier in the week (with the added Turmeric to give the dough its distinctive yellow colour) the filling made with beef mince and onions. This take on the patty produced a patty very different to the ones ou can buy in the shops – but it did create something very filling and crunchy in terms of a meal. We added leftovers from Wednesday to create a really feast.

Friday: jerk chicken skewers
Final dinner of the week. Some mini skewer placed under the grill. I used chicken breast marinated in the Jerk seasoning. Halloumi squares, peppers, courgettes and onions. The jerk seasoning you can get it great – we have the wet style one is the best for giving a great depth of flavour. I had my skewers with just a green salad with mini cucumbers. In an attempt to eat better during the week I have been ready more about different clean eating styles.

It always a good week if I manage a bake – and even better is this bake was using up some leftover squishy fruit which was headed to the bin. Turning mushed strawberries into a cake was good fun. It got taken into work and every last past piece was enjoyed, I mean what’s the point in baking unless you can share? 

The cake was inspired by a Martha Stewart bake and uses the following:
·         6 tbspn butter
·         1.5 cups of plain flour
·         1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
·         ½ teaspoon of salt
·         1 cup caster sugar
·         1 egg
·         ½ cup milk
·         Vanilla extract
·         1 cup strawberries chopped
Basic cake method, mix butter and sugar until soft. Add egg and fold in dry ingredients. Add milk and vanilla extract before stirring in the strawberries. Bake for around 20 minutes on 180C  - cake done!