Mr O surprised me recently when we were on holiday at Centre Parcs by ordering a black forest waffle. He doesn’t normally like desserts much and especially not creamy ones but it turns out that black forest is one of his favourite combos. Recently when we had friends around for lunch I decided to do a take on a black forest cake for dessert because I knew he would enjoy it. It is made up of a flourless dark chocolate cake, topped with a layer of dark chocolate ganache and cherry compote and then whipped cream, more cherries and some decorative flake.
This weekend Little O and I decided to do some baking. Baking with toddlers is a bit of a mixed bag. It is probably about 75% stress and 25% joy. The pitfalls include a lot of mess, a lot of impatience and potential food hygiene issues. I manage to keep the latter under control by giving Little O a piece of dough to play with that never actually ends up in the oven… so there’s a tip for you.
These super easy biscuits are cute and colourful and manageable even with an almost three year old in tow!Read more…
Every year I make different flavours of fudge as gifts for friends and family. This year I decided to jump on the unicorn bandwagon and make some unicorn fudge. It’s essentially white chocolate flavour with lots of decoration but if you have a unicorn lover in your life, this is a quick and easy treat to make for them!
One of my favourite British traditions is that of the Sunday roast. Not only is it an excellent excuse to have a big, rustic meal; it’s also a great reason to have friends and family around to enjoy it with you. Last Sunday Mr O requested roast lamb, which is something I have never cooked before. I’m not shy of a challenge though so I invited some friends, turned to Jamie Oliver and just went for it. Please excuse the sparse picture but this was all I managed to get before the meal was demolished! Read more…
This cake is the richest, moistest most decadent, chocolatiest thing you can imagine… and it’s completely gluten free just as an added bonus. I adapted this from a recipe found on La ChicFantastique (who is my former neighbour who I randomly reconnected with via twitter when she recognised by profile pic while I was ranting about Royal Mail after I she had already moved away), originally from epicurious.
Gluten free dark chocolate cake
120g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat your oven to 180 C. Grease and line a 19cm cake tin.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heat proof bowl with the butter. Put a small saucepan over a medium heat and bring to a very gentle simmer. Rest the bowl over the saucepan and carefully melt together the butter and chocolate.
Whisk the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs and whisk until fully combined. Sift in the cocoa and whisk until just combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips if using.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25 minutes in the centre of the oven.
Serve warm with a scoop of ice-cream of your choice or cold dusted with icing sugar or more cocoa.
When I was a little girl my favourite pudding that my mom used to make was a self-saucing chocolate pudding. It was rich and gooey and just perfect for winter. I couldn’t get enough of it. This version that I have adapted from Cooksister.com has the added awesomeness of cherries and is every bit as good as the one I grew up with. When you remove it from the oven it doesn’t look particularly special but when you cut into it a rich sauce pools up for you to pour over the top. Delicious!
Self-saucing chocolate cherry pudding
125g plain flour
60g caster sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
A pinch of salt
40g butter, melted and allowed to cool a little
80ml milk at room temperature
A few drops of vanilla extract
1/2 cup tinned cherries
For the sauce
120g brown sugar
2 tablespoons of cocoa
80ml cherry syrup drained from the tinned cherries
160ml boiling water
Preheat your oven to 180 C. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl. In another bowl mix together the oil, egg, milk and vanilla. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet and then fold in the cherries.
You can make pudding either in 4 large ramekins (250ml capacity) or 6 medium ramekins or one 20cm square baking dish. Whichever you are using, grease the dish/es and then divide the batter evenly between them. Mix together the brown sugar and the remaining cocoa and sprinkle evenly over the top of each dish. Mix together the boiling water and cherry syrup. Pour evenly over the top of each dish. Make sure there is room to spare because the pudding will rise up quite a lot.
Put your ramekins or baking dish on a baking tray and bake in the middle of the oven – 15 – 30 minutes for the ramekins or 40 – 45 minutes for a single dish. Do not over bake or you will lose your sauce.
Serve hot with either cherry frozen yoghurt, vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream and any leftover cherries from the tin.
Serves 4 – 6
Pork belly is one of my favourite things to order when eating out but I have always been a bit intimidated by cooking it because when it’s right, it’s so good but when it’s wrong it’s utterly awful. I guess it has the some issue that many cheaper cuts of meat have – it needs a little TLC. When I spotted this recipe on BBC Good Food, I couldn’t resist trying it out (with a few modifications) and I can gladly say it was absolutely delicious. This makes a great Sunday roast for guests just make sure to start at least 3 1/2 hours before you want to eat. I served the pork belly with mashed butternut and baked potato squares.
Slow-cooked sticky pork belly
1.2kg pork belly
1 teaspoon sunflower oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 de-seeded red chilli finely chopped
2 tablespoon honey
3 medium onions, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven t0 180 C (160 C for a fan oven). Use a sharp knife to score the skin of the pork belly in a criss-cross pattern. This will help to ensure crispy crackling. Spread the sunflower oil over the skin. Grind some black pepper over the top and then generously sprinkle over with coarse salt. Place the pork belly on a rack in a roasting tray skin side up. Bake for one hour.
Remove the pork belly from the oven and baste with its own cooking juices. Return to the oven for a further hour and a half, basting every half an hour.
Mix together the honey, cumin seeds and chilli. Remove the pork belly from the oven and turn it up to 200 C (180 C for a fan oven). Spread the honey mixture over the skin of the pork belly. Return to the oven and bake for 20 more minutes. Baste the pork belly and then slide the onions into the roasting tray underneath it. Put back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on it because the crackling turns dark really quickly.
Allow to rest for 10 – 15 minutes before carving and serving with the onions.
Serves 4 – 6
Things I have been cooking lately #60: Slow-cooked sticky pork belly
Every now and then I get a massive unstoppable craving for pie that can be solved by nothing but a large helping of, well, pie. So when I saw this recipe on Just Nice Stuff I just couldn’t resist trying it out. Like Tassy says, it’s not the most beautiful pie in the world (hence the rather odd pic with this one) and it is quite a long process to make, but it’s delicious and very very worth it.
I made this pie for a Sunday lunch with friends and served it with mashed potatoes and honey glazed carrots. Make sure to start at least three hours before you want to eat.
Steak and mushroom pie
For the crust
250g butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 teaspoon of salt
1 – 2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons of cold water
For the filling
800g lean casserole steak, diced
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
150ml red wine
2 teaspoons of Worcester sauce
1 bay leaf
500ml beef stock
250g sliced mushrooms
Heat the oven to 150 C.
Mix together the salt and flour, rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add one egg and the water and mix together with a knife until it comes together in a ball. If it doesn’t all come together add a little more egg at a time until it does come together. Any leftover egg can be used to brush the top. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and pop in the fridge.
Now make the filling. Brown the beef in a large frying pan and then add to a large baking or casserole dish. Add the onions and garlic to the original frying pan and cook over a medium heat until the onions soften. Add the red wine and Worcester sauce and bring to the boil. Continue to boil until you can no longer smell the alcohol and the wine has reduced a little. Pour over the beef. Then add the stock and the bay leaf. Season well with salt and pepper. If your dish has a lid, put this on. If not, cover with foil. Put in the oven and cook for an hour and a half.
In the meantime cook the mushrooms in butter. Add the mushrooms to the beef, re-cover and cook for a further half an hour.
Divide your pastry into sections. 2/3 for the base of the pie, 1/3 for the top. Lightly flour a large chopping board or even your kitchen counter (of course make sure it is very clean before you do this) and roll out the section for the base to about 5mm thick. Press into a large pie dish.
Remove the beef from the oven, take out the bay leaf and pour into the prepared pie dish. Turn the oven up to 200 C. Roll out the remaining pastry and lay over the top of the dish to make the lid. Crimp the edges to seal the pie. If you have any remaining egg, brush this over the top of the lid. You could also do this with a little milk. It’s not essential though.
Bake the pie for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Serves 6 – 8
This is a bit of a different one since it doesn’t exactly have any specific ingredients. It’s more about using up the leftovers in your fridge. The first time I tried it is sounded bizarre but it turned out to be delicious and has become a bit of a Sunday night staple in the Osbiston household. I have no idea where the name came from.
3 or 4 medium cooked potatoes, sliced into 5mm slices – you can use leftover roast or boiled potatoes or slice up raw potatoes and boil them for 10 minutes in salted water. No need to peel.
2 slices of bread – any bread is fine, white, brown, seeded, foccacia – just whatever you have. Doesn’t matter if it’s a bit stale.
Leftover veg e.g. onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes
A couple of cloves of garlic
1 tin of baked beans
A couple of handfuls of grated cheese – again any cheese will do – mozzarella, cheddar, gouda, a bit of Parmesan – whatever you have, feel free to mix
Dried or fresh herbs of your choice
Preheat your oven to 180 C. Spread the potato slices across the bottom of a large baking tray in one or two layers. Press it down a bit to fill any gaps between the slices.
Put your bread in the blender to make crumbs and then put the crumbs in a bowl. If your leftover veg is not cooked yet, quickly chop it up, pop it in a frying pan and fry it off a bit with your garlic. If you have any bacon or a leftover sausage lying around, chop that up and chuck that in too. Stir the veg mix in with the bread. Add some black pepper and whatever herbs you fancy, a little bit of the cheese and mix well. Layer the bread mixture over the potato.
Layer the beans over the bread mixture and then top with cheese.
Bake for 25 minutes and then finish under the grill for a couple of minutes to brown.
Serves 4 – 6
Excuse the picture but it’s quite hard to take a pretty pic of something so rustic. Don’t let it fool you though, this really does make a great meal.
I made this recipe as a cake but it has a texture much more akin to muffins so I think it would work really well as a muffin. You’d just need to reduce the cooking time to about 20 minutes. Apart from being really tasty, this cake is also low fat and comes in at only 220 calories per slice (or per muffin if you decide to make muffins).
Low fat lemon and poppy seed muffin cake
Adapted from The Passionfruit Project
2 cups self raising flour
3/4 cup golden caster sugar1/2 cup grape seed oil
1 cup fat free vanilla yoghurt
a generous pinch of salt
4 tablespoons of poppy seeds
Preheat your over to 180 C (or 170 for a fan oven). Grease a spring form cake pan (or line a 12 hold muffin tray.
Put the flour, caster sugar, oil, eggs, yoghurt and salt in your food processor and process until mixed together. Use a grater to remove the zest from the lemons and add this to the mixture. Then juice the lemons and add the lemon juice to the mixture. Process until well blended. Add the poppy seeds and stir through.
Pour the batter into your prepared cake or muffin tin. If you are making a cake bake for 40 – 50 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. For muffins, bake about 20 minutes.
I am going to let you in on a little secret. When I was a child I hated vegetables. Fortunately for me my mum didn’t believe in force feeding anyone anything, so as long as I was willing to eat salad and never refused to eat anything I hadn’t tasted I didn’t have to suffer the horror of broccoli. I have since discovered that there is a scientific reason why children don’t like vegetables, their bitterness receptors are more developed in order to get them to spit out any poisonous plants they might ingest during their adventures. This changes with adulthood, which is why many adults discover a love of vegetables in later life that they hated as children. I am lucky enough to be one of those people and one of my absolutely favourite rediscovered vegetables is courgettes, which is why I found this recipe so delicious.
Credit to Mandy from Kitchen Joy, whose original recipe I adapted.
2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
5 medium courgettes, cut into thin slices
300ml low fat creme fraiche
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Port Salut cheese (it’s a bit of a bitch to grate but be firm and it will work)
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup Panko crumbs
Preheat your oven to 180 C. Grease a baking dish with the olive oil. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with a layer of the courgette slices. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Spread 100ml of the creme fraiche over the courgette slices. Sprinkle over 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese, 1/3 of the Port Salut cheese and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese. The sprinkle over 1/3 of the Panko crumbs. Repeat this another two times.
Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown on top. If you don’t have a brown top after 40 minutes, just pop it under the grill for a couple of minutes more.