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Thursday, 15 September 2016

Mediterranean Vegetable and Goats Cheese Couscous Salad



Now that I am a university student, I'm slowly beginning to learn how to cook in smaller portions. Discovering and adapting recipes to save money but also how not to waste food. One of my biggest pet hates! I have to confess it is rather tricky to shop for one when the supermarkets these days like to cater for a whole household rather than for just one person. However, I am sure that bit by bit I will pick up tips and learn to love my freezer, (which, by the way is absolutely rammed full to the point of no return!) 

So, as I am doing a food degree and I also have to cook for myself every night, you may start to find more and more main meal recipes (i.e what I eat for my lunch/tea) appearing on my blog rather than just the sweet stuff...   as to bake at the weekends as well  may send me into cooking overdrive. (that's not to say I'm never gonna share with you a bake recipe again as that would be just pure madness!!! Craaazy. ) 



This recipe is exactly that. A student friendly recipe which is easy, quick and inexpensive if you're clever about where you buy your goats cheese from. The fact that it's also meat free means I can cut the cost dramatically. Vegetarian food here I come... well, for most of the week. I still won't be able to resist it now and then but I'm certainly looking forward to trying out new veggie recipes that I wouldn't normally do at home. 

This salad is perfect for a lunch or evening meal and once cool it can be kept in the fridge for the following day in an air tight container. (That's what I did.) 

Mediterranean  Vegetable  and  Goats  Cheese  Couscous  Salad


Serves 2


Ingredients:


1 courgette
½ red pepper
½ red onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled
9-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
½ tsp dried oregano or fresh (chopped finely)
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vingear
100g couscous
small handful of sultanas 
160ml boiling water
1 tsp red pesto (tomato)
90g goats cheese, rind sliced off and broken into small pieces
small bunch of fresh parsley
1 tbsp flaked almonds - optional

Method


Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F/ gas 6. Wash and slice the courgette about 1 cm thick. Slice the red pepper into small strips and roughly chop the onion. Place the vegetables into a roasting tray along with the peeled garlic cloves and halved cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle over the oregano and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the oil and vinegar. Toss all together with your hands until everything is well coated in the oil. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, making sure the onion doesn't burn. 

While the vegetables are cooking place the couscous into a bowl and add the sultanas. Pour over the boiling water and cover with cling film. Leave for 5 minutes. Then use a fork to fluff up the couscous. Stir in the pesto. Taste and add some more pesto if you feel like it needs more. 

Once the vegetables are cooked remove the garlic cloves. With a fork squish the cloves and add to the couscous. Stir again so the garlic is distributed evenly throughout the couscous. To plate up, spoon the couscous onto a plate with the roasted vegetables then sprinkle over the goats cheese pieces. Roughly chop the parsley and sprinkle over the top along with the flaked almonds. 

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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Milk Chocolate Birthday Cake


This cake is my fail-safe, go-to recipe when anyone asks me for a chocolate cake. I love milk chocolate, and shamefully I can admit that I don't like dark chocolate, (which is probably why I love this cake so much as it isn't incredibly dark like a chicago fudge cake or brownie is). I know some people would prefer nothing but a rich dark almost bitter cake - BUT this one is for all you lot who like me, remain a child at heart by opting to stick with the sweet milky kind. 

I think another reason why I always go back to this recipe time and time again is because it's also a really moist cake, which classically always tends to be only for dark chocolate cakes. The fact that it's moist also means it can keep for awhile (not that this tends to be a problem anyways as it's usually devoured instantly- especially at birthday parties!) 


This is a collab of two recipes which I put together, rather than one of my own complete creations. I have however adapted the cake recipe which is from Mary Berry's Baking Bible, the buttercream from Primrose bakery remains the same.... 


No pictures for you to see the inside unfortunately. I made it for a friend (originally she's from Thailand if you're wondering about the name.)

Note: You may question why it says to use dark chocolate in the buttercream for a 'Milk Chocolate Cake' but trust me on this one, you need to keep it dark because the bitterness is drowned out by all the sweetness from the icing sugar. 

Milk  Chocolate  Birthday  Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
275g plain flour
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
215g caster sugar
3 tbsp golden syrup
3 large eggs
225ml sunflower oil
225ml milk

For the buttercream:
175g dark chocolate
225g butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g icing sugar

Optional:
Sprinkles
Dark or white chocolate, melted, to pipe a message

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C/300°F/gas 3. Grease and line the bases of two 20cm (8 inch) loose bottomed cake tins.

Place all cake ingredients into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer for at least 2 minutes until the batter is smooth, shiny and there are no pockets of flour left. Pour into the prepared cake tins. 

Bake in the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes or until well risen, and when a skewer is inserted it comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and peeling off their parchment bases. Leave to cool completely. 

Meanwhile to make the icing, break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bowl either in the microwave in small 30 second burst, stirring in between, or by using a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Leave the chocolate to cool slightly after melting.

In a large freestanding mixer, beat the butter, milk, vanilla and icing sugar until smooth and creamy. Then add in the melted chocolate and keep beating until all incorporated and it is thick and creamy. if it looks too runny to use, keep beating as it will thicken. 

To assemble, spread a third of the buttercream on top of one sponge and then sandwich this on top with the other sponge. Next spread the rest of the buttercream round the sides and top, smoothing out with a palette knife. You can decorate the cake however you like, I chose to melt some dark chocolate and pipe a simple 'Happy Birthday' message along with colourful sprinkles around the edge and a girly ribbon. 

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