February 2018 marks the 7th anniversary of my eating adventures and, as ever, I'm excited about what the coming months will bring for us foodies! In case this is your first visit (if not, welcome back), I'm a 30-something female with a very healthy appetite!...I promise to share with you my experience of each restaurant, café or bar in which I set foot...so, let's go out!

The BFF Bakes...

Regular readers of the blog will be familiar with the Best Foodie Friend (BFF); my culinary counterpart who tirelessly participates in all of the gastronomical gallivants to which I've become accustomed. But what you may not be aware of is that unlike my good self, the BFF can create amazing food for herself; and let me assure you, her crispy duck is a force to be reckoned with, she can serve up spuds to rival Nigella's and her home-made Rose Creams, (yes, I am lucky enough to have a friend who makes delicious chocolates) are better than any I have ever bought from a shop. Consequently, the BFF has offered to share a selection of her tried and tested recipes and being of a somewhat, experimental temperament in the kitchen (led initially, I'm told, by her mum's example), these will be fundamentally underpinned with personal experience and who knows, I may even get to sample these creations myself...

And so, let the BFF bake-off commence!

Cherry and Dark Chocolate Granola
I know that Sam has a weakness for cereal so it seemed a bit of a no-brainer to make her a job-lot of my super-tasty granola for Christmas. As this went down rather well, (it's all gone, is it not?!), I thought I'd share this recipe with you....

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
125ml maple syrup
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
300g rolled oats
50g sunflower seeds*
4 tbsp. sesame seeds*
50g pumpkin seeds*
* You don't have to make the granola quite so seedy if you'd rather a more nutty ensemble
100g roasted almonds, chopped
100g dried cherries
A liberal amount of dark chocolate shavings

1. Heat the oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2. Mix the oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla in a large bowl. Tip in the remaining ingredients, except the dried cherries and chocolate shavings, and mix well.
2. Sprinkle the granola onto two baking sheets so that they are spread evenly and bake for 15 minutes. Mix in the dried cherries and bake for a further 10-15 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven and scrape onto a flat tray to cool. Once the granola is at room temperature, stir through the chocolate shavings.
4. Serve with cold milk or natural yogurt (Sam tells me that Rachel's Organic Coconut Yogurt is the bee's knees) and save any granola that you don't instantly scoff in an airtight container. This will last up to a Month - yeah, like it's going to last that long! 

Rose Creams (pictured above):

To ease you in gently to the New Year (who starts their diet in January? Please.) I'll share my recipe for a sweet treat perfect for birthday presents, Valentines gifts or just outrageous moment of self-indulgence. I give you my disorganised, slapdash but totally delicious recipe for Rose Creams. Cadbury's eat your heart out.

Now, one thing that you may notice in my recipes is my tendency to be rather vague with measurements. I'm not blessed with a gift for organisation, or writing things down so a lot of my recipes form by experimentation or from memory. I'll do my best to provide measurement details where it really matters.

1 drop of red food colouring
1 tbsp of essence of rose (sometimes called rosewater)
2 tbsp double cream
500g icing sugar (you may not need to use it all)
300g dark chocolate

1. First, make the base for your creams. Mix the cream, rose essence, food colouring and a couple of tbsps of the icing sugar in a bowl together. Blend well.
2. Now gradually sift in the icing sugar, stirring at intervals to ensure the sugar is well combined into the mixture.
3. When the mixture is stiff and hard to stir, break a section off and roll it into a ball. If it more or less keeps it's shape, your mixture is ready.
4. Roll the rest of the mixture into small balls. I know this is a rather indistinct measurement, but use your judgement on what size creams you'd like.
5. Place these on a tray lined with greaseproof paper and place in the freezer for 30 mins to firm them up quickly.
6. Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering (not boiling) water, ensuring the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
7. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and place in the bowl, stirring occasionally until completely melted. Turn off the heat.
8. Take your creams out of the freezer and prepare to dip! Using two spoons, quickly place the cream balls into the bowl of melted chocolate, rolling the ball around to ensure an even coverage of chocolate. Do this quickly otherwise the balls will melt.
9. Place each ball back on to the tray. Once all are dipped, place in the fridge to set.
10. Place the set creams in petit four cases for presentation. They can be arranged in small gift boxes (with tissue paper for layering) as presents or devoured wantonly with a glass of champagne and a supremely trashy TV show. Take your pick. 

Recipe 2
Brrr...this =

this!*clearly not the real thing!

Chorizo and Butterbean Stew*:

When the cold months draw in, or even as they give up their last blast of icy chills before they melt into spring, all I crave is stew. Beef/chicken stew is a classic, but that can get boring, and be rather too heavy for some.

A bit of experimentation in the kitchen one day led to the recipe below, an ultra-quick stew made from cans, perfect when the trip to the shops for bags of fresh produce is a little too arduous.

Ingredients (serves 3 - 4):
1 cured chorizo sausage ring
1 can of chopped tomatoes (with herbs/garlic if you can find them)
A squeeze of tomato puree
1 can of butterbeans
Half a pack of potato gnocchi
6 - 8 medium sized chesnut mushrooms
Half a small red onion.

1. Slice up the chorizo, mushrooms and onions and tip into a large saucepan already on the heat. No need to add oil as the chorizo will render down.
2. Fry the ingredients until the mushrooms and onions soften.
3. Pour in the tin of tomatoes, add a squeeze of tomato purée and top up with water until all the ingredients are well covered.
4. Add flavourings if you want, I love extra paprika and pepper. Go easy on the salt as chorizo is v.heavily spiced anyway.
5. Let the stew simmer for 15 - 20 minutes, tasting to see how the flavour develops. You should begin to taste the paprika from the simmered chorizo.
6.5 minutes before you want to eat/serve, put in the gnocchi and ensure the dumplings are covered by the liquid.
7. 2 minutes before you want to serve (don't worry, the dish won't be ruined if you don't stick to my ridiculous timings) stir in the butterbeans and allow them to heat through.

This stew is excellent with some nice crusty bread, or Sangria if you're pretending to be Spanish.

Recipe 3

Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Cookies:

For when you want a cookie with a halo of health, these red and golden speckled confections can hit the spot. The tang of fresh raspberries stop them from becoming too sickly.

Recipe makes 12 cookies

200g dark choc chips/chocolate
Container of raspberries
1 egg
250g plain flour
Half teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
170g butter, melted
200g dark brown sugar
100g caster sugar
Tablespoon of vanilla extract

1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees and line your baking trays with greaseproof paper.
2. Sift your flour, salt and bicarb together
3. Cream together the butter and two sugars until smooth.
4. Beat in the vanilla and egg until all is incorporated
4. Mix in the dry ingredients until the mixture is stiff and free of white flour spots
5. Sprinkle over the raspberries and choc chips and mix in until they're spread evenly throughout the mixture. Don't worry if the raspberries squish, they still taste awesome.
6. Drop spoonfuls on the baking tray, taking care to leave space between each cookie.
7. Bake for 15ish minutes (yes, that's a technical term) until the edges darken slightly. Even if they seem completely undercooked, take them out as they will firm up as they cool.
8. Give to children and loved ones if you're a nice person. If you're like me, keep them for yourself. 
Spring has officially sprung!


1 comment:

  1. Mmmm! they sound really good - I'm going to have to give this a try!