Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Daring Bakers' December 2014 Challenge

Oh goodness. Somehow it seems I've not written a blog post since October. And Christmas has somehow come and gone too! 2014 has hurtled past at an alarming rate.

And it is indeed Daring Bakers' posting time again.

This is possibly the most pathetic DB post I've done in a long time. In an attempt to be lenient on myself, I'm giving myself quite a few points for effort. I baked my challenge recipe almost as soon as it was released way back at the start of December. I took a photo of it too… and then it went downhill.

Can I find the photo - nope! Can I find the scrap of paper that I jotted down my modifications on - nope!

So we have a challenge post with neither a photo or a recipe - and for that I apologise profusely!

"For the month of December, Andrea from 4pure took us on a trip to the Netherlands. She challenged us to take our tastebuds on a joyride through the land of sugar and spice by baking three different types of Dutch sweet bread."

Of the three recipes given in the challenge, I chose to make the first recipe: 'Peperkoek' cake, as it didn't need any modification to make it dairy-free.

It called for 1 tbps cane sugar syrup, and I wasn't sure what that was, so I used treacle - given the spices involved and the dark colour of the cake, it seemed the right sort of thing - admittedly unlikely to be 100% authentic. I was also a bit scant in my spice mix, and went without cardamom, coriander and anise as I didn't have them in the spice rack. I did have cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, white pepper, mace and ginger and I chucked in a pinch of allspice too.

I also had no whole-wheat flour - so I used 200g plain white and 50g rye.

The cake smelled fantastic whilst cooking and infused the house with the scent of Christmas which was a lovely way to start off December.
It tasted pretty good too, and was very easy - yum - I'm glad to be able to add this one to my baking repertoire :-)

So my personal challenge for January is to go for the triple - bake, photograph and blog… wish me luck!

And so - to finish off, I shall leave you with a picture of my sous-chef Mini-M preparing another festive treat… magic reindeer food on Christmas Eve (aka carrots, glitter and crushed cereal!).


Monday, 27 October 2014

Franken-Biscuits and Vampire Cupcakes

It's Halloween on Friday.
And for once I've managed to make something seasonal at least a few days in advance - wonders behold. On the other hand, I reversed into a bin when I was going out earlier - so you win some, you lose some…

Here are a couple of easy Halloween themed treats.


First up - Franken-Biscuits

I made 2 prototypes, and am going to let Mini-M loose creating her own Franken-Biscuit army later in the week. They use Lotus biscuits as the base which I found in the pound shop (are are dairy-free into the bargain) - just thought I should clarify that I did not raid the client biscuit cupboard at work, or save them up from coffee-shop visits for the purpose - that's a whole other level of forward planning!

You will need:
  • Lotus biscuits (or other plain rectangular variety)
  • Green royal icing (I used royal icing powder, made up with lemon juice and a little green food colouring)
  • Raisins
  • A couple of squares of chocolate
  • Writing icing (I used yellow and red but you could use any)
  • A few jelly beans
  • A few strands of wholewheat spaghetti
First cover the biscuits with the icing - it doesn't matter if it oozes off the sides - this isn't really about precision!
Next grate the chocolate and sprinkle over one end of the biscuits for Frankenstein's hair.
Use a raising for each eye and half a jelly bean for the nose and position to make the face.
Add the mouth with red writing icing, and eye dots in a light colour (I used yellow).
Snap off a piece of spaghetti a little wider than your biscuit and push half a raising onto each end to make the "bolt" and put on top of the biscuit then voila - you're done.


I had originally planned to use pretzels for the "bolts" with each end dipped in a little melted chocolate, but it turned out the pretzels in the cupboard weren't sticks but twists, which would have looked rather weird.

So… onto the Vampire Cupcakes - I first posted these 5 years ago!


But here's a recap…
You'll need some plain cupcakes, some very red jam and some 7-minute frosting.
After your cupcakes are cooled, take a small sharp knife and cut a cone out of the middle of each cake.
Cut the bottom of the cone off, leaving a little flat lid. Spoon jam into the hollowed out space then top with the little lid.
Cover with a layer of frosting, then use a toothpick to put some jammy fang-marks on the surface - done. Told you it was easy :-)


So - when the time comes… Happy Halloween!

I'm entering the Franken-Biscuits into Treat Petite, which is hosted alternately by Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer, ever so slightly late but hopefully better than never! The theme for October, hosted by The Baking Explorer is "Trick or Treat"


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Dip your chips!

This is a quick-turnaround post of what we had for our dinner tonight, before I forget the recipe! (Excuse the poorly lit phone photo - it's October in Scotland and therefore we're into the season of living in the semi-dark until about April - joyful.)

For dinner tonight we had oven chips - with tuna and tomato dip, rocket salad and baba ghanoush. I'm putting it into the "slightly healthier than regular junk food" category - I was really delicious.


Don't worry, I'm not join to post a recipe for oven chips, but rather for the high-speed super cheat baba ghanoush, which was really the star of the meal and only took 10 minutes to make.

High-Speed Super Cheat Baba Ghanoush (makes a generous dollop for 3!)

  • 1 medium aubergine
  • 2 tbsp lemon infused oil (I used Supernature cold pressed rapeseed - it's delicious and made only 8 miles from Edinburgh)
  • pinch dried garlic granules
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp tahini (or if you're pushing cheating to the max like me, 1 tbps nut butter - I had no tahini left so used almond butter)

Trim the top off the aubergine and prick all over with a fork. Put on a microwaveable plate and cover with clingfilm. Mircrowave for 2 minutes then take out, uncover, turn over, re-cover and cook for 2 more minutes. It should feel soft all over. If not, cook in 30 minute increments until it does.
Cut in half and scrape all of the flesh out into a mixing bowl.
Add all of the other ingredients and blitz until blended.
Enjoy!

Mini-M wasn't entirely convinced, although she did try it, but Mr E and I definitely were. I think she possibly heard the word "aubergine" being mentioned before she tasted it.

Does it taste authentic - undoubtedly not. Does it retain some of the authentic character - definitely yes! And it is ready in 10 minutes. The taste would be a lot more authentic if you used tahini rather than almond butter and it would definitely down just as successfully. If you wanted a bit more punch you could use a clove of fresh garlic crushed instead of the granules too.

From a health comparison, I've compared it with a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise, as a likely alternative chip-dip: it comes in at around 160kcal per serving, compared to 270kcal for mayonnaise but still tastes fantastically creamy with loads of flavour. It also packs in a good dose of fibre into the bargain. And it's delicious spread on chicken sandwiches too (which is what I did with it last time I made it, but forgot to take any photos).

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Homemade Chocolate Arctic Roll

Time for another blog post - and then bed!
That is pretty much the extent of my motivation this evening, and it's taking mind over matter to make myself write the post. It's been one of those weekends that you get to 9pm on Sunday night and slowly breathe out. Lovely, and useful and productive and sociable, but ultimately also fairly tiring! And wasn't the one that ice-skated for 2hrs this afternoon - no wonder Mini-M almost fell asleep at the tea table.

So, this post is my Random Recipes challenge submission for this month (hosted as always at Belleau Kitchen). I've missed a few, which is a shame as it is a really fun one to participate in, and encourages you to use some of those hoarded recipe books and cook outwit your comfort zone from time to time, and I'm glad to be joining in again this month.

The specific details of the challenge this time around were a) to make something sweet and b) to use the internet to randomly select a recipe, based on a particular ingredient or dish. I asked Mr E to choose the inspirational ingredient and he chose black cherries (a la black forest gateau).

After a bit of Googling I decided I wanted to make this Chocolate, black cherry and vanilla Arctic Roll.


I had a 1-shop, 1-time window for ingredient procurement, and the supermarket I chose didn't have cherry jam or black cherries in any form (well, aside form that weird gloomy cherry pie filling that I think has probably seen very few real cherries!).

So as is my habit, I used strawberry jam instead. Jam is jam is jam after all!

As well as switching the jam, I halved the recipe, and to make it dairy free, used some of the very delicious Booja Booja "Keep Smiling Vanilla M'Gorilla" vanilla flavour ice cream. It is awesome stuff - coconut based and tastes fantastic and luxurious, and this desert certainly lets it be the star of the show. I softened it slightly and mixed the jam through, rather than a coating around the edges, and that seemed to work well.


But apart from that, I completely followed the recipe ;-) The sponge is dairy free without any  modification which is always nice into the bargain - reduces my margin for random errors.


I've not replicated the recipe here, but encourage you to try it out if you fancy a nostalgic nod back to the semi-melted pudding of your childhood - it's a far superior product, and much easier than the end result would have you think.


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

October Daring Cooks Challenge: Bitterballen

Two consecutive junk food posts in a row. Jeeps! Once upon a time I posted healthy recipes.
We still eat a lot of really good healthy food, just that time is as always short, and often it is just not that photogenic! It's hard to make cabbage stew look amazing. Particularly now that it's getting dingy for the winter.

But I'm holding up the fact that Mini-M was one of the only kids at nursery to polish off her vegetable goulash at nursery on Monday as proof that healthy food is frequently on the menu.

So whilst I give myself a "could-do-better" for blog content, if not our actual diet, let's return to the junk, and this month's Daring Cooks' Challenge.


Blog Checking Lines:
"The October Daring Cooks' Challenge was brought to us by Andrea from 4pure. She introduced us to one of her family favourites which is soon to become one of yours, too. Welcome to the world of Dutch Bitterballen!"

These are small deep fried croquettes and are traditionally filled with meat, seafood or cheese. They are a popular snack bar item, and apparently your average Dutch person eats around 25 per person per year.

The filling is held together in a thick roux, which is then chilled, rolled into balls, crumbed and deep-fried.


I halved the recipe since it was just for our family dinner, and made a spicy vegetable version. They were really tasty, so I'm sharing my recipe here.

Spicy Vegetable Bitterballen (Makes around 15)
  • 1 small leek finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot finely chopped
  • 1 very small  pepper or 1/2 regular sized one finely chopped
  • 6 cherry tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp Rendang spice paste
  • 60g olive oil
  • 70g plain flour
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • flour and dry breadcrumbs for coating
Heat a little splash of the oil in a small frying pan and fry the Rendang spice paste for a couple of minutes, then add the chopped leek and sauté. Next add the carrot, pepper and tomato and cook until just softened, then take off the heat.
In a small saucepan, heat the rest of the oil, add the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the stock, salt and pepper and stir until smooth and thick.
Take off the heat, stir through the vegetables, then pour into a tupperware box and chill for 3-4 hours in the fridge.
When you are ready to cook the Bitterballen, heat oil for deep frying in a pan or fryer. I used sunflower oil, and had about 700ml oil in a small saucepan which gave just enough depth. Check it is hot enough by dropping in a little piece of bread and seeing if it turns golden and crispy.
Whilst the oil is heating up, beat an egg in a bowl, and set up a production line with a bowl of egg, one of flour and one of breadcrumbs.
Take the chilled mixture out of the fridge and roll into golf-ball sized balls.
Coat each ball first in flour, then egg and then breadcrumbs.
Fry for around 3-4 minutes each. The filling is already cooked so it just needs to be heated through and the outside browned.
Drain on kitchen paper and enjoy hot.

We had them served with salad and chutney (or ketchup for Mini-M). It was delicious, if not exactly traditional!

It was great to be able to make a challenge recipe without extensive modification to omit the dairy - just the olive oil instead of butter, because even in the original recipe the roux is made with stock.

Thanks Andrea for a very tasty challenge.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Junk food salad

Not really a recipe, however too successful and discovery not to share!

Junk food. We all know it's bad for us. We still all want to eat it far more often than we should.

This started as an attempt to chuck together a very quick tea using whatever I could lay my hands on in the fridge/cupboard, however the end result was fantastic, and I shall no doubt make it again on purpose.



It provides a psychological junk food hit - chicken in breadcrumbs and pretzels, but at least simultaneously provides some veggies into the bargain.

I'm not in any way claiming a) it is healthy b) it offsets the unhealthiness of the chicken/pretzels.
However, if say, for hypothetical example, you compared eating breaded chicken fillets in this salad, against eating them with chips, then this might edge ahead. Just.

I'm sure you could treat a number of junk foods in the same way - Scampi salad anyone? Or chopped up burger?

Junk Food Salad (Serves 3 as a meal)

  • 300g breaded chicken mini-fillets
  • 4 Chinese leaves
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp crispy onion pieces
  • 1 handful mini pretzels (mine were from a rosemary and pepper mix)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Squeeze of lemon juice

Cook the chicken according to the pack instructions, and whilst it is in the oven, wash and chop up your salad veggies. You could use any veg you like - this was just what I had needing used up in the fridge.
Whisk together your dressing ingredients (or if you have a small child needing entertained, put them in a jar with a secure lid and give them to them to shake)
Once the chicken is cooked, slice it, add to the veg, throw in the pretzels and crispy onions, pour over the dressing, mix well and serve.
Done!

There is something very appealing about the combination of the warm savoury chicken, sweet dressing, crunchy pretzels and cold crisp chinese leaves. Better than chips anyway!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Scones on a Stick!

I've just spent the past hour watching the semi-final of the Great British Bake Off.

The contestants have shown great skill, precision and patience with their Baklava, Schichttorte and Entrements.

So to counteract that, I'm going to share a recipe made a) without measuring, b) in a bonfire c) on a stick. I though there needed to be some good old chaos cooking let loose on the interweb to balance out all that precision. Chi or something.

So, I bring you….. drumroll please… Scone On A Stick!

This must be one of the most scenic scone photos out there...
We made these on holiday in August whilst on holiday at Portuairk. It is an insanely beautiful part of the country, and the perfect place for bonfire food. In fact it was so amazing that whilst chatting to the guide in the lighthouse museum, Mini-M told her that she thought we would probably be getting rid of our Edinburgh home to go and stay there all the time. If only!

Step #1: Give your small person something to do whilst the cooking is going on, to avoid too many trips to the fire to see if it is ready yet. Painting shells and sticking on goggly eyes did the trick!
These are thankfully not limited by good weather - they would be fantastic on an autumnal bonfire / BBQ / brazier too. Don't feel you have to wait for a sunny day to try them.

Dough, meet stick (and Mr E, who is too tall for landscape photos…)
They were an experiment that worked, and so much fun. But since I made them without any scales, my ingredients are a bit sketchy. I can only encourage you to be experimental too, and if it doesn't work out, be philosophical that at least it's experimenting with a wee bit of flour, marge and sugar and not fillet steak. Low cost = no pressure.

Going all out on the bonfire cooking - baked potatoes too (and sausages, which had already been cremated and consumed by this point!)
Scone On A Stick (Makes around 6 sticks)
Self-Raising Flour (around 150g)
1 sachet instant porridge (I used an apricot and honey one that was dairy free)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp margarine (I used Vitalite to be dairy free - butter would be fine if you're not restricted)
Milk to mix (again, I used dairy free almond milk, but regular would be fine, or any other dairy free variant)

Chargrilled scones!
Put the flour in a bowl and empty in the porridge sachet. Stir to combine.
Rub in the margarine until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Stir through the sugar.
Add the milk a splash at a time and stir until it forms a sticky dough.
If you go too far, don't worry - just add a little more flour.
Find some sticks - ones without any side branches are best.
Take approx 2 tbsp of the dough and wrap it around the top end of a stick, leaving a handle to hold onto.

Mr E, the chief bonfire chef
Hold it over the flames or rest it on a rack, turning frequently, until it is cooked on all sides. About 5 mins should do it.
Enjoy hot, straight from the stick, with a dollop of jam or a drizzle of syrup.

Warm scone, woodsmoke, fresh air and jam = guaranteed happiness
Elegant afternoon-tea wear. In the mind of a child, Hello Kitty :-) Katie Morag Kilt :-) Rainforest leggings :-). All worn together = :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) 
The downside… subsequently handwashing syrup out of a kilt, and jam/syrup out of hair in an outdoor shower!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

September 2014 Daring Bakers' Challenge: Koláče

So….. 27th September was supposed to be Daring Bakers' posting day, HOWEVER I was a little bit preoccupied with this lot (or 50% of this lot, to be more precise!):


All freshly baked by myself and my good friend Mrs H for an afternoon tea fundraiser in aid of Buttle UK which we hosted on the 28th.

So I'm classing that as a very good excuse to my late posting (and possibly a topic for a future blog post in its own right).

But for now, it's time for a virtual journey to the Czech Republic for some traditional sweet treats called koláče.

Blog checking lines:
The September Daring Bakers' challenge was brought to us by Lucie from ChezLucie. She challenged us to make a true Czech treat - Kolaches.

She shared recipes for three different types of Koláčes - different variants of sweet enriched bread with fillings ranging from quark to poppy seeds and jam.


I chose to make the Moravske Koláčes - a speciality from Moravia which are traditionally filled with two fillings: plum jam and quark, and topped with a streusel topping.

As usual, I didn't have the right ingredients, and I was trying to make it low-dairy. Mini-M can have a little bit now, but not into the realm of quark-filled buns just yet! So I substituted thick coconut milk yoghurt (I used Coyo plain) and homemade blackcurrant jam made by Granny E. I used regular milk but dairy-free margarine in the dough instead of butter.


These buns were a roller coaster to make. Initial excitement, then abject despair when the dough refused to rise (probably not that surprising given the vintage of the yeast I used). However 3.5hours later, I decided just to bake them and see what happened, and lo and behold they rose - phew!


The end result was delicious - Mini-M was smitten. They have now been reminisced about on more than one occasion since the eating, and are referred to as "proper buns" - as opposed to cupcake buns.

There is an excellent and comprehensive recipe available on the Daring Kitchen which I'm not going to recreate here, but I do thoroughly recommend you try it out. They are fantastic, and I'll definitely be making them again. Although first I might have to give Jagodzianki a try - the Koláčes have brought back a taste for my favourite Polish bake - a sweet bread filled with blueberries - one of these from the corner shop was a lunchtime treat when I did my summer placement in Warsaw quite a few years ago now.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Strawberry Tart in 10

Strawberries, chocolate and marshmallows turned into the fastest tart ever in only 10 minutes.


OK, 15 if you chop carefully and crush your biscuits without pepper your entire kitchen with over enthusiastic crumbs!

And the end result looks like you've spent at least 30… plus it tastes delicious which really is the most important thing.

This is a short recipe - after all there's a limit to how long it can be with only 4 ingredients.

Strawberry, Chocolate, Marshmallow 10-Minute Tart (Serves 6-8)
  • 200g chocolate sandwich biscuits (I used The Cooperative Free From Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, but bourbons or Oreo style cookies would also work)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 250g fresh strawberries
  • 50g mini marshmallows
Use a small amount of the coconut oil to grease a 8in round loose-bottomed cake tin.
Crush the biscuits with the end of a rolling pin into powder and small pieces.
Melt the rest of the coconut oil and mix into the biscuits.
Press into the prepared tin and stick in the freezer for 5 minutes to chill.
Halve/quarter the strawberries depending on size and place on the chilled base.
Sprinkle over the mini-marshmallows.
Grill on high for 5 minutes until the marshmallows bubble and brown.
Remove from the girl and cool for a few minutes before gently easing out of the tin.
Enjoy!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Belated Birthday Cake

Back to the blogging and catching up on last night's Bake Off on iPlayer, since instead of watching it yesterday, I was in the pub discussing cake - more specifically planning a charity afternoon tea.


I knew it was ages since I'd last blogged, but… I'm ashamed to see it was actually the 27th July. We're in September new (somehow).


So I shall first make my excuses:
  • Work has been silly busy, and after spending 9hrs staring at a computer screen the last thing I've wanted to do in the evening is have even more screen time
  • My dodgy wrist has not been enjoying the long days and typing/mousing
  • My laptop / iPhoto combo are not very happy with each other, making manipulating photos a bit tricky
  • We've been on holiday, enjoying the festival, catching up with friends and lots of other things (see - not all moany, self pitying excuses)
And then I shall get back to the baking.


It was Mini-M's birthday back in July, and her cake request was thankfully not Hello-Kitty related (see previously Kitty Pirate Cake and Rainbow Kitty Cake). Nope, no Kitty. 

This time, she asked for a patchwork owl cake (!). After a fair amount of interrogation to try to establish her expectations, I eventually resorted to Google Images for inspiration, and found the majority of them seemed to stem from this Stitch Craft Create tutorial.

However…. I didn't want to use that quantity of fondant, or really get into cake carving, so I went off freestyle on the patchwork owl front.


I used buttercream in 3 colours (vanilla, light cocoa, and vanilla tinted with a small amount of lilac) and piped feathers all over the cake by piping a row of splodges and flattening them with a pallet knife, then putting the next row in front and repeating. I didn't use a nozzle on my piping bags since the shape was immediately going to be flattened.


I then used small amounts of fondant to make the features which I positioned on the top.


It seems like a dim and distant past, but I seem to recollect that the cake inside was a banana cake, at Mini-M's request. I didn't want it to be too damp, so I went for a regular 6 egg Victoria sponge, and substituted out 1 one of the eggs for a medium very ripe banana, very well mashed. And I definitely added some almond extract to the icing, since I made it with dairy free margarine, which tastes, well quite a lot like margarine, even when bucket loads of icing sugar are added.


So no recipe, no how to, but a cake that I really enjoyed making and was very pleased how it turned out. And plenty of pictures!


Bring on next year…

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Daring Bakers' July 2014 Challenge: Surprise! Cakes

It's back to Daring Bakers' posting time - and another month when I've failed to post anything between Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers. Which is disappointing, since what with multiple birthdays and celebrations, there has been plenty of baking and cooking going on.

However that means there are a few more exciting cake posts in the pipeline, once the stars align and there are simultaneously a few extra hours in the day, and my wrist stops objecting quite so much to extra-curricular typing.

But one cake at a time… and this time it is a Daring Bakers cake - there's not been one of them or a while!

Bearded Commonwealth Lego athlete stakes Scottish claim on planted Tunnock - obviously
Blog Checking Lines:
For the July Daring Bakers' Challenge, Ruth from the Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to bake a cake. But not just any cake; she asked us to add in a special surprise for our eyes as well as our taste buds!

One of the advantages (disadvantages?) of posting towards the end of the day on the 27th means you can see what all the other DB-ers around the world have been making. And let me tell you, my effort is paltry in comparison to some of the masterpieces that have been created.

However, it was fun to bake and decorate - and made me smile whilst whisking, stirring, spreading etc.

Now, as you may be aware the Commonwealth Games are currently on in Glasgow, Scotland, and whilst it's a whole different city and typically an "arch rival" of Edinburgh, in global terms it's just along the road. One of the undoubted hits from the opening ceremony amongst the Scots watching it were the dancing Tunnocks Tea Cakes, and the Forth Rail Bridge supported by Irn Bur. They're both true Scottish  icons, so I decided to incorporate them into my cake, to get into the Commonwealth Games spirit a little.

I'm not claiming this is the food of athletes - for the record - although the perhaps food colouring and sugar could go a fairly long way to powering someone around the marathon!

Irn-Bru colours on the inside
I made a zebra cake in orange and blue - the 'Irn Bru' colours (It's a lurid orange Scottish fizzy drink, with a slightly spicy taste, for the uninitiated out there!). I iced it with 'Irn Bru' icing by creating my own concentrate to use to flavour and colour the icing. Then I topped it with a Tunnocks tea cake (a chocolate coated mallow biscuit) and did my best to come up with a Scottish Commonwealth baton bearer from our lego collection.

I'm not posting the recipe for the cake here - it was just a regular Victoria sponge, divided and with food colouring added to each half. I then alternated dropping spoonfuls into the middle of the cake tin to create the effect.

Before baking - just as subtle...
Irn Bru Buttercream Icing (enough for the top and sides of a 7inch round cake, or top only of a larger cake)

  • 250ml Irn Bru (not diet)
  • 50g margarine or butter (dairy free marge works fine)
  • Around 200g icing sugar

Pour the Irn Bru into a small pan and simmer over a very low heat for around an hour. Don't boil it or you'll end up with toffee. If you are very patient you will end up with an intensely orange, Irn Bru flavoured sticky concentrate. I reduced mine right down to about 2 tbsp.
Beat the Irn Bru concentrate with the margarine until well combined, then gradually sieve and beat in the icing sugar until you get your preferred icing consistency. Add a little splash of milk or un-concentrated Irn Bru if you need to loosen it up.

All ready for Irn Bru icing
This really does taste of Irn Bru - and it coloured it orange without having to add any extra colouring.

Thanks for another fun challenge.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Daring Cook's July 2014 Challenge: A Trip to South Korea

Late posting this. Again.

Moving on…….

The July Daring Cooks' Challenge took us to Korea, where Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado taught us how to make bibimbap. This colourful rice dish can be customised to meet any taste, and is as much fun to eat as it is to say!


I definitely went more for following the general concept than the recipe (which, incidentally, you can find here) through a combination of not having the right ingredients, time, and wanting it not to be too spicy for Mini-M.

It was really fun though - and tasty. Mini-M liked being able to arranger her ingredients artfully in her bowl, trying to create a sunshine picture. The rest of us went slightly more abstract, with varying degrees of artistry.


I'm not going to share my recipe as such - since it was not really by design, but I'll give you a quick run through of my deviations from the actual recipe:
  • no chilli paste - in fact no actual Korean ingredients at all
  • sushi rice - it was the only sticky rice I could fine
  • red pepper and celery sauce, rather than spicy sauce
  • a bag of mixed spinach, rocket and watercress instead of greens
Lots of fun - and lots of bowls for washing up afterwards!


Thanks for a very tasty challenge :-)


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Bake it in the bonfire!

I'm trying out some new technology tonight to allow me to write blog posts without typing - I'm spending a lot of keyboard time at work at the moment, which is tough on my poor wrists! The last thing I want is to just inflict more of the same when I get home, so I'm trying out some voice recognition software and hopefully I can soon get caught up on my blogging backlog! We'll see how it copes with my Scottish accent...
We were camping with friends at the weekend and one of the things we cooked on our campfire (as well as the obvious sausages) was a twist on the usual baked bananas: still chocolatey but a little bit more sophisticated, and it entertained junior and senior campers alike. So without further adieu here's my recipe for hot chocolate orange sponges, baked in the bonfire!
Admittedly I didn't take the most appetising of photos...
Chocolate Orange Bonfire Cakes (Serves 8)
  • 8 large oranges
  •  1 box of chocolate chip muffin mix 
  • 1 egg 
  • Tinfoil 
Carefully slice the top third off each orange.
 Scoop the orange pulp and juice out of the bottom section saving the lids. It is really important to keep the orange shell intact.
Read the instructions on your chocolate muffin mix and replace the volume of milk with orange juice, drained from the scooped out pulp. 
Mix together the muffin mix, orange juice and egg then use this mixture to fill the hollowed out shells.
Place the lids back on each orange and wrap in a double layer of in tin foil.
Don't forget which way is up otherwise the mixture of will leak out.
Place the oranges in the embers of the fire (they don't need to be covered over completely, just nestled) and leave to cook for around 15 to 20 minutes.
When they're done the outside of the oranges may be charred, however when you open them up (very carefully - hot steam will escape) you should find a lovely gooey chocolate orange-y centre. Delicious!
Mr E - chief orange preparer - complete with plastic plat and penknife
This would work well with any flavour of cake mix, or a mixture made from scratch if you're feeling very adventurous in your camp fire cookery.
First moment of "ooh it works!" excitement

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