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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

My Sunday Brunch - Eggs in Pots (oeufs en cocotte)

I think Sundays has to be the ultimate lazy day! I love Sundays, especially when I have nothing better to do than lie around knowing that I don't have somewhere to be, or something to do, which only means one thing...spending time doing what I love the most - cooking.


Brunch is one of those times when you can afford to take a little bit of extra time to cook yourself something really good...you've missed breakfast (or maybe you haven't and you're just greedy) so you want to make it extra worthwhile and combine lunch as well!! I have been doing many versions of eggs in pots, or as the french call it 'oeufs en cocotte' for quite a few years now and there are so many ideas out there. For example one of my favourite chefs Rachel Khoo makes hers with crème fraîche, whereas TV chef John Whaite combines his eggs with cream or milk. 

I decided to go for a much more indulgent combination, and what's more indulgent than a cheesy white sauce eh?! And sticking with the brunch theme I've gone with some crispy bacon bits too!! Try serving these cute little pots with lots of crusty bread so you can get your soldiers lined up at the ready for some serious dunking action.
 

If you wanted to be quick and you absolutely must then go for a couple of tablespoons of  crème fraîche but at least use full fat (none of that light stuff)! Add whatever is in your fridge really, smoked salmon would be another lovely accompaniment instead of bacon, bits of ham or even leftover cooked sausage from last night's supper...but let's not joke around here - in my house there's usually never 'leftover' anything so don't forget unless it's already cooked you need to fry it off first like I did with the bacon. 

This recipe makes enough for 2 servings (i.e 2 teacups) but it's all quite unpredictable when it comes to the amount of sauce you'll need depending on how big your pots are, if you're using ramekins instead - they tend to be smaller and the size of your eggs will vary this too (I used medium sized eggs but my teacups are quite big). If you're making it for more people, just adjust the quantities of the white sauce and the rule is one egg per pot, per person. 
I'm not taking any responsibility for broken up bits of your prized china so before you start if you are using tea cups, PLEASE make sure that they are oven proof!!

Eggs in Pots

Ingredients:

Makes 2

20g butter plus extra for frying the bacon
1 ½ heaped tbsps plain flour
275ml / ½ pint milk
70g cheddar cheese or any other strong hard cheese
2 rashers of bacon
2 eggs
a pinch of paprika
handful of fresh chopped chives
black pepper and salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F / gas 4. Grate the cheese. Slice the bacon into small pieces and then melt a small knob of butter in a frying pan and fry the bacon until just cooked and then put to one side. Gently heat the milk either in a separate pan on the stove or in the microwave until lukewarm. 

To make the white sauce, melt the butter in another saucepan over a medium heat and then quickly add the flour all in one go and stir with a wooden spoon to make your roux which is a smooth thick paste, cook for 1 minute and keep stirring. In little additions pour in the warm milk and stir quickly with a whisk, keep adding the milk until you get a thick sauce, you might not need to add all of the milk. 

Next add  ¾ of the grated cheese to the sauce, keep the sauce on the heat while you stir until all the cheese is melted and then set aside. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the cheese sauce into your pots along with a little bit of the bacon shared equally between the 2. Crack an egg into each pot and then repeat the process with more bacon and sauce until you have used it all. (But leave out some of the sauce if there is too much - you don't want to overfill it!) Sprinkle over the leftover grated cheese along with a pinch of salt, pepper and paprika, finally scatter over the chopped chives as a garnish. 

Place your pots in a baking dish and pour enough lukewarm water into the dish to come halfway up the sides of the pots. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the egg yolks are to your liking. 

What I was baking to...


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Saturday, 16 May 2015

Caramel and Maple Walnut Tart


Exam season is here (ahhh) and I'm now in full revision mode (urrghhh), this means lots and lots of reading...but unfortunately not recipes. Sad, I know. But not to worry guys because I like to plan way ahead for times like these, sorry for sounding so smug but I am pretty pleased for myself - it has to be said!  I've had this post up my sleeve for a while now and I think it's time to finally whip it out. But apologies for the lack of photos...

I must admit that I'm not a huge caramel fan, it is very VERY sweet!! But my boyfriend is a huge caramel fanatic (haha that makes him a sound a bit crazy - he isn't let me just point out) and so that's why I made this. 



Pleased to say it was a success and it passed his high standards. Pheww. It wasn't actually too sweet for me either because I used a shallow tart tin so there was only a thin (but still a decent) amount of caramel filling making it a rich and naughty, decadent tart. Thin slithers only...as my dad always says!!

This tart is much like my recipe for mocha tart in the sense that it's the same pastry recipe, I love using it for all sweet tarts because it works everytime! The filling is obviously a different one but once the caramel is made you just pour it in the case, top with the maple walnuts and leave it to chill. Simple.

Note: You could add some crushed sea salt to the caramel filling before pouring it into the tart to make it a salted caramel tart. Swap walnuts for pecans if you prefer. 

Caramel and Maple Walnut Tart


Ingredients:


[makes 1 x 8 inch tart]

For the pastry:
55g icing sugar
170g plain flour, plus more to dust
110g butter, chopped
½ of a lightly beaten egg

For the filling:
170g caster sugar
80g butter
160ml double cream
1 tbsp maple syrup
60g walnuts

Method


Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ gas 6. To make your pastry, mix the icing sugar and flour together then mix in the butter, either pulse-blending in a food processor or rubbing it in with your fingertips, until the mixture has the consistency of crumbs. Add the beaten egg and mix the dough until firm and smooth. Wrap in cling film and let it rest for 10 minutes in the freezer. 

Roll out the pastry so that you can line your loose-bottomed tart tin (preferably about 8 inches in diameter and quite shallow), cut off the overhanging pastry and then line with greaseproof paper and baking beans to blind-bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 6-8 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely. 

While your pastry case is cooling you can caramelise the walnuts. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the walnuts and syrup in a bowl. Toss to coat. Place mixture in a single layer on your prepared tray. Bake at 200°C/ 400°F/ gas 6 , stirring occasionally for 6 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Now make the caramel filling. Place the sugar in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Heat, without stirring for 5 to 6 minutes or until sugar turns golden. Reduce heat to low. Add the cream. Heat, stirring for 3 to 4 minutes or until smooth. Remove from the heat then add the butter. Stir to combine. Cool for 5 minutes and then pour into the pastry case and top with the caramelised walnuts evenly spaced. Refrigerate overnight or until set and serve. 
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Saturday, 9 May 2015

Rhubarb and Strawberry Nutty Oaty Crumble

It's officially rhubarb season and what better way to celebrate with a good old crumble. I can often find that rhubarb is a bit too tart for me (you know the one where you have to purse your lips together - resembling a selfie pout?!) so that's why I've added strawberries for a bit more sweetness and what a match made in heaven it is...also peaking at their best just recently I've noticed - tender and juicy plus a reason why not to add lots of sugar to this recipe.



I have to say that the ratio of fruit to crumble can cause arguments in our household, and I'm sure we're not the only ones either?! I like A LOT of crumble, and I know people will disagree with me on that and say NO - the fruit is supposed to be the star of the pudding, but I can't help it... that's just how I like it and so that's how I am going to make it!! (sassy eh?)

Anyhow, this isn't any bog-standard, plain-old school dinner yuckiness  - this is a sophisticated crumble, a topping that has texture and one heck of a crunch, I'm talkin' oats, flaked almonds and demerara sugar...all baked to golden perfection.
 

I like to serve my crumble with some proper homemade custard (yes that's right no powder packets here) it's well worth the little extra effort and I do admit that I'm with Delia Smith on this one, we all like to do a little bit of cheating here and there by using 1 teaspoon of cornflour. But it does save yourself the bother of panicking over a hot stove and thinking when will it ever thicken and stabilise? 

I think fruit crumble has got to be one of those ultimate comfort foods, especially for us in Great Britain, we're quite well known for it and it pleases those of all ages, young and old! My Grandma loves crumble and she loves rhubarb. So this is just her idea of a great dessert. 

Rhubarb  and  Strawberry  Nutty  Oaty  Crumble

Ingredients:

(Serves 4-6)

125g plain flour
50g porridge oats
50g flaked almonds
75g butter
100g demerara sugar + 3 tablespoons extra 
425g trimmed tender young rhubarb stems (about 4)
200g strawberries,  hulled
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon water

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ gas 4. Mix the flour, oats and half of the flaked almonds in a large bowl and then add the butter and rub together with your fingertips until you have coarse crumbs. Stir in the sugar and then put to one side.

Rinse the rhubarb and cut across into 2cm pieces. Wash the strawberries and leave small ones whole, halve medium sized ones and quarter any giant berries. Add them to a medium sized pan along with the chopped rhubarb and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of demerara sugar and then the water. Finally add the ground ginger and heat over a very low heat for about 10 minutes until the fruits are just starting to release their juices and begin to soften slightly. Don't let them go to mush. Pour the fruits along with their juices into a large, shallow ovenproof baking dish and then scatter over the crumble topping along with the 25g of flaked almonds leftover. Then bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the top turns a good golden colour. Leave the crumble to stand for 10-15 minutes and serve with custard or ice cream. 


Just thought I'd give you Delia's recipe for custard which is my fail-safe go to for any pudding in need of a little 'sauciness'. 

Delia   Smith's   Custard 

Ingredients:

275ml double or single cream
3 eggs yolks
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 drops vanilla extract

Method

First heat the cream in a small saucepan up to boiling point; and while it's heating thoroughly whisk the egg yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla together in a small bowl. Then pour the hot cream in -stirring all the time - and return the mixture to the saucepan. Heat very gently (still stirring) until the sauce has thickened, which should only take a minute or two.
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Monday, 4 May 2015

Flour-free, sugar-free mint chocolate mug cake recipe : Guest Post from My Well Being Journal

It's guest post time! This week though, it's someone writing for me on my blog, and here we have Carly Trigg from My Well Being Journal - A blog dedicated to staying healthy, making good food choices and dealing with IBS in a positive way. I have to admit that I'm rubbish at even selecting recipes to make that are flour-free or sugar-free or anything free-from for that matter! Just because I don't really have to. So hence that's why you don't really find any recipes of the sort here on my blog. UNTIL NOW. I will definitely be giving this a whirl sometime soon...

Flour-free, sugar-free mint chocolate mug cake recipe


I love chocolate. That’s a particularly easy sentence to say, and I know that it’s something others champion wholeheartedly.

But what I don’t love about it is the high-fat, high-sugar contents of chocolate & chocolate products. The best things that are stuffed full of gooey chocolate are incredibly indulgent, and gratify you as soon as the warm buttery taste goes in… but there’s no getting away from the guilty feeling you suffer with afterwards.

So why must moreish foods have to make us feel guilty? They make us want more because they taste good, so why can’t we just enjoy chocolate and not have to worry about it being ‘a guilty pleasure’ and instead just be ‘a pleasure’?

Looking online for chocolate recipes that did just that was fairly easy to come by – a load of chocolate mug cakes you can make in a minute popped up. And, whilst they didn't all contain sugar, most contained syrups, or creams, or sweetened junk food, and they all kind of didn’t satisfy the ‘healthy chocolate indulgence’ aspect I was eager for.



So I went it alone. Subbing in healthy alternatives for the bad stuff. Take a look at my flour-free, sugar-free mint chocolate mug cake recipe and have it ready to eat within one minute. (Big mugs and even bigger spoons are necessary for this recipe J)

Ingredients

·        5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
·        2 tablespoons lemon juice
·        2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
·       1 egg white
·        4 tablespoons skimmed milk
·        4 squares crushed raw chocolate
·        Handful of fresh mint, chopped


Method


·     This is the easy bit. There is no method. Just throw all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl unti you've got a gloopy mixture and pop it into your favourite mug. I’d recommend leaving about a quarter of your mug free so it can rise to the top and not spill over.

·        If you need something healthy to serve it up with, my cream-less banana ice-cream recipe is beautiful with it!

For more recipes and nutritional info, head on over to mywellbeingjournal.com and learn all about how your body works, and what works for you!
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