Cream Egg Brownies (Gluten free)

So I’ve heard some shocking reports of how Cream Eggs aren’t being made with Dairy Milk chocolate this year. While this may be true I was feeling kind when D had his friend to stay last weekend so I made them some brownies (which also made it to our respective workplaces). While cream eggs are a chocolate traditionally associated with Easter and I notice Easter chocolate seems to appear in the shops earlier and earlier each year; it does mean that you can enjoy the decadence of these babies for longer which can only be a good thing. Just be careful, these are very rich, so a little goes a long way.

This recipe is also homage to House of Herby’s recipe. The beautiful blogger (I think) originally did this recipe a while back. However, I used one of my own brownie recipes just because I am so used to it I don’t really follow a recipe anymore. Either way, I have wanted to make these for quite some time and I am pleased that I have not put it off any longer.

DSC_0380

To make cream egg brownies you will need

4 large eggs

250g soft brown sugar

100g cornflour

200g dark chocolate (Green and Blacks dark chocolate is gluten free)

100g butter

30g cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

2 packs mini cream eggs

 

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a deep baking tin with baking paper or greaseproof paper. Using an electric whisk beat together your eggs and sugar until the mix leaves a trail on the surface. In a separate bowl melt your chocolate and butter (in the microwave) and slowly fold into the beaten eggs and sugar.

DSC_0366

DSC_0367

Sift in the cornflour, baking powder and cocoa powder.

DSC_0368

DSC_0369

Pour into your baking tin. Halve your cream eggs at the join and put these on the surface (although don’t faff around being too decorative as some halves may sink). Bake for around 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out nearly clean.

DSC_0370

DSC_0372

Serve on its own with a good cup of tea or warm with vanilla ice cream. (Or while drinking beer watching wrestling…)

DSC_0379

Pancakes!

So today is pancake day and I expect the blogosphere is already inundated with pancake recipes. I for one am now so full of pancake that I can barely move from my sofa and it’s only Monday (we had pancakes a day early as we’re at a gig tomorrow). However, the combination of raspberry sauce and chocolate in these babies is truly decadent as well as delicious. Be warned though, they are rather filling so pace yourself rather than piling your plate high.

DSC_0381

To make your own pile of pancakes you will need:

200g plain flour

2 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

30g melted butter (you might need extra for frying)

300ml milk

1 large tbsp caster sugar

100g milk chocolate chips or milk chocolate chunks

For the raspberry sauce

150g frozen raspberries

1 tbp brown sugar

To serve

Vanilla ice cream/cream

(This recipe serves 4)

 

Put your chocolate in the freezer (to stop it melting too fast). Place your dry pancake ingredients in a bowl and mix leaving an indentation in the middle of the bowl for the egg, milk and butter. Beat together your milk and eggs and add to the dry ingredients along with the melted butter. Whisk until relatively smooth and put this batter to one side for at least 30 minutes.

During this time make your raspberry sauce by heating together your raspberries and sugar until the sugar and raspberry juice combine to form a syrup but while the fruit still has its texture.

Add your frozen chocolate to the batter. Put a non stick frying pan on a medium heat. If you have a really good non stick pan you shouldn’t need to use butter; but if not melt some butter in your pan. Pour a small amount of batter into the pan to form your first pancake. You can cook more than one pancake in your pan if you keep them a couple of inches apart. Cook until the batter is bubbling. Turn your pancakes over and cook the other side of the pancake until golden brown.

Serve with your ice cream and warm raspberry sauce. Any leftovers can be kept to eat later as these also taste pretty good cold. Just cover them and store in a cool place.

The good thing about pancakes is that they are so cheap to make and they feel like a massive treat. If you really want to keep the cost of this recipe down you could skip the berriy sauce in favour of a  sliced banana and use chocolate from the supermarket value range (most supermarket’s value chocolate is really decent).

Cheese and chive scones

I’m sure there are times when even those with the biggest sweet tooths fancy something a bit less sugary. These cheese scones provide the perfect solution. The excellent thing is they’re cheap to make, they work well as a snack, or with soup or a salady lunch and they taste lovely. I used Coverdale cheese which is a really Yorkshire cheese to be using (D took me to the Wensleydale creamery last weekend and dopey over here picked 2 of the same cheese in her selection. Any white cheese will do – Cheddar, Wensleydale, Caerphilly or whatever you fancy.

DSC_0378

To make cheese and chive scones you will need:

450g self raising flour

85g butter cubed

150g white cheese (grated)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pepper

2 teaspoons dried chives

284ml buttermilk (1 pot in most supermarkets)

A good splash Worcester sauce (or Henderson’s relish if you’re in Yorkshire)

 

Preheat oven to 220°C (200°C in a fan oven). In a large mixing bowl rub together your flour and butter to form breadcrumbs. Stir in your grated cheese, salt and pepper, Henderson’s relish and chives.

DSC_0373

Pour in your buttermilk and use your hands to bring the mixture into dough.

DSC_0374

Flatten your dough down to an inch thick and use a round cutter to shape your scones.Gather together any trimmings and reshape until all the dough is used.

DSC_0375

Place your scones on a floured baking tray, brush with any leftover buttermilk or normal milk and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and well risen.

DSC_0376

DSC_0377

These store in an airtight tin for several days but watch out for any member or your household sneaking these whenever you’re not looking!

Happy Valentines Day – How you know when it’s real

First off I will say I really meant to do a lovely recipe idea to cook if you were planning on dining at home with your loved one (or friends and family – Valentine’s day is a great opportunity to appreciate all your loved ones) but I was about to go for a run and I just thought “Sod it, we have all year to show love and affection. Maybe it would be far nicer to write a post about appreciating the smaller things?” Sure romantic candlelit dinners, nights away in hotels, roses and all the other clichés are fantastic. They are celebrated clichés as they are so lovely and its truly wonderful to get surprised. (I love all that soppy stuff) However, the smaller day to day things are what make us stick around and what make us happy in the longer term.

  1. They bring you your favourite snack or wine when you’ve had a bad day. They try to make you smile and cheer you up even when you’re at your worst.
  2. When you can be truly honest with each other and you tell each other exactly what’s going on and how you feel. All those little things you did in your past that you feel embarrassed or badly about – they make you feel better about them.
  3. You find each other’s weird quirks endearing. Sure I get slightly annoyed that I get teased about my morning hair and called “Mopatop” but there is something really special about being able to be human around them.
  4. Even when you’re really annoyed at them, you still feel a bit excited when you see them for the first time when you haven’t in a while.
  5. Not all your interests overlap. You value time spent listening to bands they don’t really like, doing things you enjoy but they don’t and having time to yourself or eith friends doing these things. You have your own space and it makes you love time you spend with them more.
  6. You are introduced to each other’s friends and they make you feel included. I moved to D’s hometown and I met friends he has had a long time and they included me in things from the start. It’s pretty nice to feel welcome in an established group but somehow they managed it
  7. You’re welcome in their home and then before you know it it becomes your home too.

Yorkshire

Happy Valentine’s day to one and all. I hope it’s lovely whatever you make of it.

Blue cheese, spinach and bacon tart

So I have mentioned before that I had to change my cooking habits slightly when I was no longer cooking for just myself. Well sometimes D really surprises me when I need it most (ie. when there is nothing else in the cupboard). So while this recipe was born out of throwing some ingredients onto ready rolled out puff pastry it has become one of our favourite things to eat midweek. (The leftovers have caused D’s boss to eye up his lunch more than once).

DSC_0544To make the tart you will need:

1 pack ready rolled pastry or 1 pack (roll it out to fill your baking tray)

3-4 rashers bacon  (cut into small pieces)

1 large handful green beans (or any other green vegetable)

3 handfuls spinach

3 eggs

Approx 40g blue cheese (if you dislike blue cheese any strong cheese flavour is fine)

10g melted butter

3 eggs (beaten)

15g melted butter

Salt and pepper

 

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Place your sheet of pastry on a baking tray, prick holes in the pastry sheet with a fork and brush the pastry with your melted butter.

DSC_0538Top with your spinach and then sprinkle over the bacon and green beans and crumble over your blue cheese.

DSC_0539

DSC_0540

Pour your beaten egg over this then season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden (everything else should have cooked in this time).

DSC_0542

I like to serve this with tomato based salad. This would also make excellent picnic food.

Keeping your food at its best for longer

I’ll start this post with my hands in the air; I am probably not the most domestic food blogger who ever lived. However, lately something made me start organising our food cupboards and fridge to see what was actually in there. It all started a few weeks ago when we had to buy cereal canisters for rabbit food as one of ours ate their way into a large food sack causing a telltale trail of kibble from the conservatory back to the rabbit hutch. Then the lovely people at Fresha sent me a sample and I started storing fruit and veg in the food bags. (FYI, Fresha bags are a wonderful invention which keep your fruit and vegetables at their best for way longer, they’re also reusable and seem to stop my kitchen smelling of banana).

DSC_0357

DSC_0358

So I basically realised that if you keep your cupboards more organised you’re more aware of what you have in and you stop yourself buying the same thing with every shopping trip. You also minimise the risk of food spoiling by getting damp (or hungry pets getting into stuff). The more food you buy and don’t eat the worse it is for the environment and the more money you waste spending money on food that goes in the bin

So here are my best learned food storage rules so far:

1. Proper storage of fruit and vegetables is your friend. Fruit and vegetable storage bags, banana trees and fruit bowls all help keep things more fresh. Make sure you don’t hang onto rotting things as they impact on the freshness of your surrounding produce.

2. Keeping dried foods in plastic boxes and jars looks much tidier, helps you to store more in your cupboards and stops you repeatedly buying spaghetti when you don’t actually need to.

DSC_0359

DSC_0360

3. Store your cakes and biscuits separately. Cakes cause biscuits to soften and biscuits cause cakes to harden. My heart actually aches when I have to discard cake as I love it so much.

DSC_0364

DSC_0361

4. Keep a cheese box. This stops you from finding random old bits of cheese in the back of your fridge but it also prevents that cheese pong you get when you have been to the deli (or in my case this weekend the Wensleydale Creamery)

DSC_0365

5. If you eat meat, every couple of days go through your fridge and check nothing is coming to its use by date. If it is, either freeze it or cook with it as soon as you can. Nothing says “I love you” like a nasty case of food poisoning from old chicken.

It turns out, I quite like being organised in one place in my house.

As an entertaining side note here are a couple of photographs of our mischievous pets who inspired me to be more organised.

DSC_0262

DSC_0271

Also a big thank you to Fresha and the nice PR lady who sent me the sample without whom I would not have written this post. I was sent my first pack of Fresha bags free of charge but they can be purchased for £3.99 for 20. I will be buying more.

Chicken baked with lemon and thyme

This recipe is an absolute dream when you want something tasty and fresh but you don’t have a lot of time or the inclination to cook. In fact, it’s so good you could serve this as a lazy main course for a dinner party no problem. I like to serve this with tagliatelle or really good bread and use the lemony butter you get left as a sauce. This recipe has been so well received by everyone who has tried it; I made it for my family around Christmas and I regularly make it at home. As another positive note, the cold chicken leftovers work beautifully in a salad; limiting your food waste is always a good thing for the environment and your finances.

DSC_0537

To make this you will need:

1 chicken breast per person

Approx. 20g butter (slightly more if you’re making a bigger batch)

A good handful of thyme

1 or 2 garlic cloves (depending on your garlic preferences)

Paprika

Olive oil

1 lemon

Salt and pepper

 

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Trim your chicken breasts as desired and place on a roasting tray (mine was a bit big for the amount of chicken). Sprinkle over the paprika so that it your chicken is covered with a light dusting of it. Then sprinkle over your salt and pepper. Crush your garlic and distribute this evenly over your baking tray. Cut your lemon into 8 pieces and do likewise. Add dots of butter over your chicken and drizzle with your olive oil. Top the whole thing with your thyme and put it all in the oven for about 20 – 25 minutes (when your chicken is cooked through basically).

DSC_0533

In many ways this is one of the best chicken recipes. In winter it is perfect served with hot food and in summer it would work well served with salads.