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Savvy shopping, seasonal eating and thrifty recipes. Spend less on groceries and enjoy better tasting, easy to prepare meals your friends and family will love – all on a budget.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Cookbook Review: Jo Wheatley - A Passion for Baking


“I'm a huge fan of Jo and can't wait to devour this book!” declares Nigella on the cover of Jo's book, high praise indeed, which is thoroughly deserved!

Jo Wheatley was 2011's Great British Bake Off winner and she blogs at Jo's Blue Aga.  I tweet with Jo, she is truly lovely, very friendly and down to earth.  She is also a busy Mum, like most of us are.  Once her book had been released I raced out to buy it, available exclusively at Sainsbury's, for £8.  It is such a brilliant bargain!  I love Jo's book and it will no doubt be at the front of my (severely overcrowded) bookshelf for a long time.  

Jo has written a fabulous book which shares her tips, tricks and family recipes which she has developed in her own kitchen. It really appeals to me as a busy Mum of 3 and enthusiastic baker.    There are more than 100 recipes in Jo's book and I shall be baking a good many of them, they all look delicious.


Who would the book appeal to, and who would/should you buy it for?

From beginners to keen bakers, if you’re in the mood for baking delicious treats, then this book is for you.  It has a recipe for everyone and every occasion.  With over 100 recipes in the book you’re pretty much guaranteed to find loads of recipes that you would like to try.



Are the recipes easy to follow?

There’s a thorough introduction where Jo advises on her must have storecupboard ingredients and equipment as well as trouble shooting tips for novice bakers.  The recipes are really clear and easy to follow. 

There are seven chapters in the book:

Breakfast

Brunch

Biscuits

Bread

Baking with Children

Afternoon Tea

Family Cakes

Desserts

Celebration Cakes

Pastry

Bits and Bobs

The recipes have been adapted and amended over the years and at the top of each recipe Jo tells the reader where the recipe came from or what inspired her to make it.  The book is also packed with beautiful photos, hurrah! There are so many baking books that don't have enough photos in them.  I like to know what things are meant to look like, especially if I’ve not baked that particular recipe before, and love photos that lure me in and make me want to bake the recipe.




Is the book family friendly?

Absolutely!  It’s the epitome of family friendly cooking, there is even a Baking with Children chapter. Jo is a busy Mum so you know that she would create recipes with families in mind.  It isn't Mumsy though, there are loads of recipes to WOW your friends with as well as feed hungry family members.

Would I buy it for a friend or family member as a gift?

I already have! LOL All of my friends love this book and are dropping big hints when their birthdays draw near.  I have lent the book to a couple of friends and have almost had to pry it out of their hands to get it back.


How do I rate this book?

Definitely 10/10!  Fab recipes, great advice and loads of gorgeous photos.  Can't beat it!


Sunday, 24 June 2012

Our Family Meal Plan Week of 25/06/12 - £62

This week I've gone for a pretty straight forward Meal Plan with a bit of baking and treats after very little of that kind of thing last week.  It's a busy week but I'm sure I'll be able to fit everything in that I need to.  I may change the order of the meals depending on our needs this week, but these are the meals we'll be eating. 

The lunches are really simple packed lunches of sandwiches, vegetable sticks and 1 or 2 pieces of fresh fruit. Adults will take leftover dinner for lunch the next day in order to stop food going to waste and save money. Sandwich fillings on this plan are cheese and chutney, leftover cooked meat, or egg salad.

The weeks dinner recipes use a total of 15 eggs so there is another 15 reserved for sandwich fillings, breakfasts and baking. I've also included 6 x 2 litre bottles of milk in my plan, plenty for cereal and also to make a couple of batches of Rice Pudding (see recipe below) as a lunchbox treat or pudding.

Breakfasts are really simple: cereal or porridge and milk, or toast with spread. I've added some sultanas to the Meal Plan that can be added to breakfasts, lunchboxes or used to bake some flapjacks and muffins. There's also enough flour and eggs to make some Pancakes on the weekend and perhaps some Versatile Savoury Scone Swirls, Apple and Sultana Scrolls, Flapjacks or Fruit Muffins for lunchbox treats. See below for the recipes.

You could of course do a meal plan that costs more by having more elaborate lunchboxes and baking more snacks. I haven't bought any loaves of bread or rolls. I prefer to make my own so I've included the cost of the wholemeal bread flour and yeast.

My Meal Plan also assumes that there are already some storecupboard items available like tea/coffee, herbs, spices, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, stock cubes, tomato ketchup, oil, cornflour and homemade or store bought relish/chutney and jam, peanut butter or honey.  If you don't have any of these then, of course, the cost of the Meal Plan will be more than what mine was.

The cost of our Meal Plan this week was £61.94 from Asda instore on 24/06/2012.  I checked the cost elseswhere using My Supermarket and it would've cost £72.53 at Sainsbury's and £73.17 at Tesco.

Versatile Savoury Scone Swirls

Pikelets/Pancakes

300g self raising flour
2 eggs
50g sugar
375ml milk

Mix all the ingredients together well and then cook ladlefuls of mixture in a greased fryingpan over a moderate heat. Serve with chopped bananas and drizzle with golden syrup, spread with jam or brushed with lemon juice and sprinkled with sugar.


Fruit Muffins

1 cup of any fruit (fresh, tinned, dried or frozen)
3/4 cup sugar
100g melted butter or 100ml oil
250ml milk
2 cups plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 free range egg

Mix all of the ingredients together gently but thoroughly until well combined. Spoon into lined muffin tins.

If you want to be fancy you can mix together 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 Tblsp sugar and sprinkle it over the top of the muffins.

Cook for 12 minutes or so at 180C, depending on the size of your muffins.


Flapjacks

225g butter
170g sugar
340g porridge oats
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp golden syrup
100g sultanas

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Line a 28cm x 18cm x 3cm or 11in x 7in x 1.2in baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

Gently heat the butter and golden syrup in a large saucepan on the hob until the butter has melted, stir well to mix. Don't let it boil!

Once the butter has melted take the saucepan off the heat and add the oats, sugar, sultanas and pinch of salt. Thorough mix everything until well combined and the oats are completely covered by the butter mixture.

Put the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth evenly into the corners. Bake in the oven for approximatly 15minutes, turn the tin around and bake for another 5 minutes until golden brown.

Once cooked remove the baking tray from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. With a bread and butter knife lightly mark out about 16 pieces before the flapjack completely sets. Cut up into pieces when completely cold.


Rice Pudding (Lunchbox treat or pudding)

600ml whole milk
65g long grain white rice
pinch of salt
50g white sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g sultanas (optional)

In a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan combine the milk and rice with a pinch of salt. Place saucepan over a fairly high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the rice is tender. This usually takes about 25 minutes. Stir the milk mixture frequently using a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stop the rice from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.

When the rice is tender (al dente) take the saucepan off the heat and sugar, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon. Mix well to combine. Return the saucepan to the heat and cook until the rice pudding thickens, this should take about 5 - 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the sultanas if you are using them. Spoon the pudding into a bowl to cool and cover with clingfilm to stop a skin forming. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. To make this into more of a Mullerice type treat add some jam or golden syrup to swirl through the rice pudding. You could also add dried apricots or dates instead of sultanas if you have some in your store cupboard.


Meatfree Monday – Mixed Vegetable and Pearl Barley Risotto

(Serves 7 - dinner for 5 plus 2 lunches)

I added a couple of handfuls of spinach for extra vegetable content and to make the dinner stretch further. This risotto makes enough to feed the 5 of us generously and provide 2 large lunch servings for the next day.


Tuesday - Chicken Casserole (5 Servings)

1 onion, finely chopped
1 pepper, diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 Tblsp dried mixed herbs
100g diced bacon
1 Tblsp flour
2 chicken stock cubes dissolved in 1 Litre of boiling water
1 Tblsp mustard
8 chicken drumsticks
3 large potatoes, cooked and mashed
300g frozen mixed vegetables

Preheat oven to 180C. In a casserole pot on the hob sauté the onion, pepper and garlic in a little oil for a couple of minutes, add the mixed herbs and bacon. Cook until pepper and onions are soft. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Take the pan off the heat and slowly mix in the stock and mustard. Put back on the heat and make sure everything has dissolved and is well mixed. Add chicken drumsticks then cook in the oven for 45 mins. Remove from the oven and add the frozen mixed vegetables. Let these heat through with the casserole on the hob for 5 minutes or so before serving. Serve the chicken casserole with mashed potato.


Wednesday - Fish Pie

(Serves 7 - dinner for 5 plus 2 lunches)

1 onion, finely chopped
1 pepper, diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
600ml water
1 vegetable or fish stock cube
1 tsp mild curry powder
200g rice
1 large tin tuna or salmon in spring water (drained)
4 hard-boiled eggs, cut into quarters
100g grated cheese
5 potatoes, cooked and mashed
400g mixed vegetables to serve

Preheat oven to 180C. Sauté onion, pepper and garlic in oil. Mix water, chicken stock and curry powder then add to onion, pepper and garlic mixture. Add rice, stirring occasionally until rice has cooked through. Season. Pour in fish and mix until combined. Put the mixture in a casserole dish. Cover with the egg quarters and spread over the mashed potato. Groove the mash with a fork. Sprinkle over the cheese and put in the oven for around 15 - 20 minutes until the cheese has melted and the fie pie is piping hot. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before serving.


Thursday - Spaghetti Bolognese

(Serves 7 - dinner for 5 plus 2 lunches)

500g mince
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 pepper, diced
1 Tblsp mixed herbs
1 Tblsp mustard
1 Tblsp Worcester sauce
4 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
300g frozen mixed vegetables
1 Tblsp cornflour
1 Tblsp cold water
500g spaghetti
1 tsp oil
100g grated cheese

Brown the mince in a frying pan. In a separate large saucepan sauté the pepper, onion and garlic until softened. Add the mince, mixed herbs, mustard, Worcester sauce and tomatoes to the pepper, onion and garlic. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the frozen mixed vegetables and simmer for another 10 minutes whilst you cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Once the mince has simmered for a total of 30 minutes, mix the cornflour and water together and add to the mince mixture to thicken it. Serve bolognese on top of spaghetti and sprinkle cheese on top.


Friday - Bacon and Vegetable Frittata

(6 or 7 servings, depending on appetites)

1 pepper diced
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
100g bacon
9 eggs
200g frozen mixed vegetables
1/2 of a 750g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/ gas 6.

Simmer the potatoes and pumpkin in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain and leave to cool slightly before slicing thinly.

Meanwhile, put a 25cm non-stick ovenproof frying pan on the hob over a moderate heat. Dry fry the bacon for 5 minutes or so until browned. Remove then from the pan and set aside. Add the onion, pepper and garlic to the pan, and fry in the remaining bacon fat for about 5 minutes until the onion and pepper have softened.

Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl and the softened onion, pepper and garlic. Carefully fold in the potatoes, pumpkin and frozen mixed vegetables. Pour the frittata mixture back into the frying pan and cook over a low-medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until it has cooked through and is set.


Saturday - Macaroni Cheese (7 servings)

500g pasta shapes
1 onion – finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 pepper, diced
150g bacon
2 Tblsp butter
2 Tblsp flour
350ml hot milk
200g grated cheese
200g frozen mixed vegetables
a couple of handfuls spinach

Preheat oven to 180C. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions, adding the frozen mixed vegetables for the last 3 minutes of the pasta cooking time. Whilst the pasta is cooking, sauté the onion, pepper and garlic in a little oil. Add the bacon and seasoning. In a separate saucepan slowly cook the butter and flour stirring constantly. When mixture looks a bit like biscuit crumbs add the hot milk and whisk until the mixture thickens. Add 200g of grated cheese and simmer for 5 mins, stirring frequently. Add the softened onion, garlic and bacon mixture to the cheese sauce and mix well to combine. Pour the cheese sauce mixture on to the drained pasta and mixed vegetables and stir through until combined. Serve as is or with a side salad.


Sunday - Roast Chicken (5 servings)

4 potatoes, peeled and quartered
8 chicken drumsticks
100ml oil
1 Tblsp chopped fresh rosemary and thyme
1 chicken stock cube
1 Tblsp mustard
125ml boiling water
400g frozen mixed vegetables, steamed or cooked in boiling water.
other 1/2 of Friday's 750g pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 180C. Place potatoes in cold, salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 mins then drain. Put the potatoes, pumpkin and chicken in a roasting dish and brush over/lightly spray with a little oil. Use separate roasting dishes for the chicken and vegetables if you haven't got a roasting dish big enough to fit everything in. Sprinkle over the fresh herbs. Roast in the oven for around 40 minutes until the chicken and potatoes are golden brown and crunchy and the pumpkin is cooked and sweet.

To make gravy:

Mix cornflour, stock, mustard and water then add to the juice from the cooked chicken. Stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens.

Serve the chicken with roast potatoes and vegetables. Pour over some gravy if you like.


Shopping List

42 items: £61.94

Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Smartprice Porridge Oats (1Kg) 75p
1x Sunnybisk Wheat Biscuits (48 per pack - 864g) £1.78
1x ASDA Smartprice Spaghetti (500g) 24p
1x Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg) 98p
1x Asda Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg) 60p
1x ASDA Wholemeal Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £1.28
1x ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x Lyle's Golden Syrup Bottle (454g) 98p
1x ASDA Smartprice Golden Syrup (680g) £1.08
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg) 40p
1x ASDA Smartprice Pasta Shapes (500g) 30p
1x Great Scot Pearl Barley (500g) 58p
1x Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g) 64p

Tins, Jars and Cooking
1x ASDA Wild Pacific Pink Salmon (418g) £2.17
4x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g) £1.24
1x ASDA Good for you! Mayonnaise (500ml) 71p
1x ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (200g) 48p

Frozen
2x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg) £1.50

Dairy and Eggs
6x ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L) £6.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Cooks Value Medium Eggs (30) £3.10
2x ASDA Smartprice Salted Butter (250g) £2.38
1x ASDA English Medium Cheddar (400g) £2.00 any 2 FOR £4.00
1x ASDA Chosen by You English Mature Cheddar (400g) £2.00 any 2 FOR £4.00

Fruit and Vegetables
1x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Fruit (500g) 64p
4 ASDA Mushrooms by Weight (100g) £1.11
20 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) £2.00
20 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) £1.36
15 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) £1.17
10 ASDA Onions by Weight (100g) 70p
2x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg) £2.00 2 FOR £2.00
10 ASDA Tomatoes by Weight (100g) £1.99
8 ASDA Butternut Squash by Weight (100g) 69.6p
2x ASDA Whole Cucumber £1.60
2x ASDA Round Lettuce £1.14
1x ASDA Celery 75p
1x ASDA Garlic Loose 27p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g) £1.50
1x ASDA Spinach (350g) £1.50
1x ASDA Oranges Extra Juicy (10) £2.00

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x ASDA British Lean Beef Steak Mince (500g) £3.60 2 FOR £6.50
2x Banham Poultry Chicken Drumsticks (1Kg) £5.96
1x ASDA Smartprice Unsmoked Back Bacon (312g) £1.50

Friday, 22 June 2012

Final Coffee Set Match Challenge Blog Post


Sign photographed at Kings Cross Railway Station on my way home after a 14hr day in London
This is my last Lavazza Coffee Set Match Challenge blog post, but will it be the lucky last?!  You see, I'm in the final, just me and Mulia are left in the competition.  This is my chance to sum up all that I've learnt during the Challenge and wow the judges (yeah, as if!) with my last few coffee creations. So with that in mind, grab a cuppa and have a read of this rather long final blog post. 

Previously coffee was my drink of choice, in the morning to wake me up, in the afternoon to keep me going, and in the early evening to get through dinner for 5 and bedtime routine for 3 kids.  I've learnt so much about how coffee is produced from bean to cup, different blends and flavours, and also that coffee can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.  It is far from just a drink!

You can check out the coffee journey from bean to cup on the Lavazza website, along with details of how the company has grown and how Lavazza takes care of coffee growers and supports communities.

The challenge has been really hard work but has also pushed me to be a better cook and baker.  I have tackled Macaroons which are now no longer my baking nemesis, incorporated coffee into more dishes than I ever thought possible, and managed to not be bouncing off the walls despite an increase in my caffeine intake. 

A HUGE thank you to my husband and three daughters who have helped me in the kitchen, taste tested, washed dishes, encouraged me, and put up with me being overtired and overstretched.  I've had to be more organised than usual to fit in quality time with my family during the challenge process whilst doing everything that I normally do (part-time work, running my own business, Church obligations, other blogging commitments and volunteer community work).

I decided the best way to thank those who have helped with childcare, grocery shopping trips, put up with my angst and suffered through soldiered on taste testing all the coffee recipes I have made throughout the challenge was to host a dinner party.  The dinner party menu was, of course, packed full of coffee treats.  Luckily the recipes all went down well and nobody was moaning that they were fed up with coffee. LOL  Thankfully the weather was glorious and sunny so we were able to have a proper BBQ.  For those unable to come along, I gave them a bag of baked goodies instead.

Here's what I made for the dinner party:

Drinks and Nibbles

I made some Epressotinis, mocha milkshakes and chilled espresso slushies for those who wanted a coffee based drink.  There were also other non-coffee based beverages available.

I also made some of Helen's Coffee Candied Almonds but sprinkled a little salt, chilli powder and cumin into the mix to give them a savoury kick.

Main Course

The main course was served with salads from this Meal Plan on my blog.

Espresso BBQ Sauce

I made this sauce so that my vegetarian friends could have some with their vegetable kebabs and I could give some away to other friends who were unable to attend the dinner party.

2 Tblsp oil
2 onions, finely diced
½ cup chopped garlic
½ cup chopped fresh coriander
1 chilli, however hot you like it
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
zest and juice of 1 lemon
¾ cup coffee beans
¼ cup dark muscovado sugar
180ml red wine vinegar
250ml ketchup
2 tsp coarse salt
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
500ml passata

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a moderate heat.  A the onion, garlic, coriander, chilli, cumin, chilli powder, red pepper, lemon and coffee beans. Cook, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes until the onion starts to soften but not colour.

Add the dark muscovado sugar, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and ketchup to the saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the volume has reduced by half.

Stir in the salt, ground pepper and passata.  Cover and simmer over low heat for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.  You should end up with a lovely rich BBQ sauce.  Adjust the seasoning to your taste, strain to remove the coffee beans, then put into sterilised jars.




Coffee Marinated Beef Kebabs

2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp salt
2 Tblsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tblsp olive oil
½ strong espresso
2 Tblsp red wine
1 Tblsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
a couple of decent grinds of ground pepper
750g of beef streak cut into chunks

Mix everything together in a non-metallic dish.  Add the chunks of steak and then allow it to marinate for several hours or overnight in the fridge.

Make up the kebabs by threading the chunks of steak with slices of pepper, whole button mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and onion wedges onto skewers.  BBQ for about 12 to 15 minutes, or if it's raining just cook them in the oven.



Desserts

Tiramisu with a twist

200g amaretti biscuits
50g butter, melted
80ml/4tbsp freshly brewed espresso
20 sponge fingers
2 x 250g tubs mascarpone cheese
50g icing sugar
Berries and flaked/grated chocolate for decoration

Crush the amaretti biscuits to fine crumbs then mix with the melted butter.  Press the crumbs into the base of a 10 inch springform cake tin.  

Make the espresso and allow it to cook slightly whilst you prepare the creamy filling.

Put the mascarpone and icing sugar into a bowl and mix together until completely combined.  Add a couple of tablespoons of espresso and beat this in well.  Spread half the mascarpone mixture over the biscuit base. Dip the sponge fingers in the cooled espresso and lay them on top of the creamy filling.  Spread the remaining creamy filling over the sponge fingers and use grated chocolate and/or berries to decorate the top.

Chill the tiramisu for at least 30 minutes to an hour before you serve it.  



Coffee Souffle

This recipe makes either 4 larger souffles in 375ml capacity souffle dishes or 8 souffles in 185ml capacity ramekins.  Here's what you'll need:

Melted butter and 2 Tblsp to grease and prepare the ramekins with.

1 Tblsp cornflour
1 Tblsp plain flour
125ml milk
1 Tblsp/15ml very strong espresso
4 free range egg yolks
2 free range egg whites

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Grease your ramekins with melted butter using upward strokes then coat the insides with caster sugar.  Shake out any excess sugar and then put the ramekins on a baking tray.
Combine the sugar, cornflour and plain flour in a small saucepan.  Gradually whisk in the milk and espresso.  Put the saucepan over a medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the milk mixture boils and thickens slightly.  Take it off the heat and gradually whisk in the egg yolks.  Be careful to whisk the mixture constantly and add the egg yolks gradually or you will end up with scrambled eggs. 

Use a stand mixer or n electric beater to beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Use a metal spoon to fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the coffee mixture to loosen it.  Fold in the rest of the egg whites in 3 - 4 more batches until just everything has just combined.

Gently spoon the mixture into the ramekins and smooth the surface.  Cook in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the souffles are well risen.  I served mine with mixed berries.

Unfortunately putting berries on the top of the souffle made it sink in the middle *sigh*

And here's what was in the goodie bags of baking:

Double Chocolate and Espresso Biscotti

These biscotti have a delicious subtle coffee flavour with the added bonus of chocolate chunks, for those who like a treat with their coffee fix.  I used freshly brewed espresso from my Lavazza machine along with some of their mellow brew coffee grounds.


300g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
125g chilled butter, diced
1/4 cup coffee grounds
150g ground almonds
220g caster sugar
3 free range eggs, lightly whisked
60ml freshly brewed espresso
100g dark chocolate chunks
100g milk chocolate chunks

Preheat your oven to 180C.

Put the plain flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mixture so that it looks like breadcrumbs.  Add the ground almonds, caster sugar and free range eggs. Add enough of the of the freshly brewed espresso to form a soft dough.  I added it a tablespoon at a time. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky. 

Lightly knead the dough on a floured surface for a couple of minutes until it is smooth.  Divide dough in half and roll each portion of dough into a log about 2 inches/5cm wide.  Flatten the dough logs slightly and put them on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.

Bake the dough logs in your preheated oven for 25 minutes or until they are lovely and golden. Take them out of the oven and leave them to cool on the tray for about 10 - 15 minutes.  

Use a sharp serrated knife cut the logs diagonally into 1 inch/2.5cm thick slices.  Put the slices on to the warm baking trays, lined with non-stick baking paper, and bake in your preheated oven for 10 minutes until lightly golden on top.

Turn the biscotti over and bake another 10 minutes. Take the biscotti out of the oven and leave them to cool on the trays.  You can store the biscotti in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.



Espresso Fudge

15ml/1 Tblsp strong espresso
500g sugar
100g butter
500ml milk

Put the espresso, sugar, butter and milk into a heavy based saucepan and stir the mixture over a low heat until all of the sugar has dissolved. Do not boil the mixture until the sugar has dissolved.

Once all the sugar has dissolved, bring the mixture to the boil without stirring it.  Boil the mixture for about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan or burning, until a sugar thermometer reaches 116C.

Remove the fudge from the heat and beat the mixture with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes or until it becomes grainy and thick.  Pour the fudge in to a 18cm square cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper.  Mark out squares on the surface of the fudge.  Leave to cool completely then cut into pieces and store in an airtight container



Coffee Cake Pops

I made a coffee cake using this recipe:

½ tsp baking soda
125ml espresso, cooled
175g butter, softened
1 cup castor sugar
3 free range eggs
2 cups self raising flour
½ cup soured cream

Grease and line a 23cm/10 inch round cake tin.  Dissolve the baking soda in the cooled espresso and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time with adding a tablespoon of flour with each egg to stop the mixture from curdling.  Stir in the sour cream then fold in the flour and cooled espresso. 

Sift the self rising flour and fold into the creamed mixture with the cooled coffee. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin.

Bake at 180C for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

I made homemade buttercream icing made from: 100g butter, 1½ cups icing sugar, 1-2 tablespoons strong espresso.  Beat everything together until smooth then use as icing or combine with cake crumbs to make cake pops.

To make the cake pops:

Crumble the cake into crumbs and add the buttercream a tablespoon at a time, mixing until you have a fudgy consistency.

Mould the mixture into whichever shape you like and then chill them in the fridge for an hour to firm up.  Melt either white chocolate or candy melts in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Dip the cake pop sticks into the melted chocolate then insert into each cake pop.  Leave this to set for 15 minutes then dip the cake pops into the melted chocolate and turn to coat.  Decorate how you like with sprinkles, sugarpaste or edible glitter.




Coffee, Hazelnut and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

150g butter, melted and cooled 
125g light muscovado sugar
100g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 free range egg, lightly beaten
30ml espresso (or 2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 Tblsp boiling water)
300g flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g dark chocolate chips
150g chopped hazelnuts

Preheat your oven to 170C.

Mix the melted butter and sugar together then add the vanilla extract, egg and espresso.  Beat until light and creamy, before adding the flour and baking soda.  Stir them in gently.

Finally add the chocolate chips and stir through the mixture.  Divide the mixture into 16 balls and lay them onto two baking trays covered with non-stick baking paper.  Flatten the balls slightly either with your hand or a floured fork. 

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden on top. Remove the cookies from the oven, let them cool for 5 minutes on the tray before transferring them a cooling rack to cool completely.




And finally . . . . . .

To be in with a chance to win one the fantastic Lavazza Wimbledon prizes look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees, or enter the fabulous giveaway online at http://promotion.wimbledon.lavazza.com/

Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.


Thursday, 21 June 2012

Hazelnut and Chocolate Kisses

I made this recipe earlier today as I needed some rather lovely baked goods to help a friend feel better who is having a bit of a hard time.  She already loves my chocolate brownies (who doesn't!) but I wanted something a little lighter and different.  These special little morsels fit the bill perfectly and they are great with a cuppa, or two.

3/4 cup hazelnuts
1 cup icing sugar
125g butter, softened
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup plain flour

Filling:

120g dark chocolate (I used Divine 70%)

Preheat your oven to 180C.  Put the hazelnuts on an oven tray and toast them in the oven for 3 - 5 minutes.  Keep a close eye on them as they can go from not toasting to burnt and bitter really quickly.  Once they're nicely toasty you can put them in a clean tea towel and rub them together to remove the skins.

One the hazelnuts are ready you can put them in the food processor with the icing sugar until they are finely ground.  Make sure you seal the spout of the food processor otherwise you will get a dust cloud that will cover your kitchen and make you look like a ghost.  Don't ask how I know, LOL. 

Add the softened butter and lemon zest and process everything together until the mixture is nice and creamy.  Take the mixture out of the food processor and gently stir in the flour until it is just combined.  Don't beat it or over mix it otherwise your kisses will be like lead and not light and lovely.

I use a teaspoon to scoop up a small amount of mixture and roll it into a ball as they turn out a nice size.  Not to big and not too small.  Put the balls of mixture onto an oven tray lined with non-stick baking paper.  Allow a decent amount of room for them to spread. 

Bake the kisses in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until they turn lightly golden.  Leave them to cool on the trays for at least 20 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

To make the filling:

Melt the chocolate either in the microwave or in a bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Spread a small amount of chocolate on one side of a cooled biscuit, then sandwich together with another biscuit.  Repeat until all the biscuits have been partnered up.

Serve with a cuppa and a good chat.



Monday, 18 June 2012

Our Family Meal Plan Week of 18/06 - £62

I'm back to doing a proper Meal Plan this week.  Life is still hectic but I made the time to sort out a decent Meal Plan for my family and they are very relieved.  My 3 girls will be back on packed lunches, after having had school dinners last week, and they are very glad about that!

I will of course be baking all our bread, bagels, rolls, wraps, etc as needed.  There's no treat baking included in this Meal Plan as I'm unsure if I'll have time. Yes I know, tis shocking!  I will probably make some rice pudding for a lunchbox treat or afterschool snack.

Breakfasts will be cereal and milk or toast with a piece of fruit for afters.  Boring, I know, but I won't have time for a banquet each morning.

The cost of our Meal Plan for this week was £62.48 from Asda online shopping delivered on 17/06/2012.  I used Money Supermarket to check how much it would've cost elsewhere and the cost from Tesco would've been £71.32 and from Sainsbury's would've been £76.78.

Dinners

Red Lentil Bolognese

1 cup red lentils, uncooked
2 Tblesp oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 Tblsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Pour in the lentils and stir to ensure they do not stick to the base of the saucepan. Boil the lentils for 8-10 minutes or until soft.

Heat the oil in a medium pan and sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and herbs, then stir in the lentils. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer until flavours develop, around 15 minutes


Roast Chicken With Roast Vegetables


Leftover Chicken Rolls

1 Tblsp oil
2 carrots, cut into very thin strips
1 pepper, cut into very thin strips
6 mushrooms, sliced
3 spring onions, sliced thinly
1 cup bean sprouts
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
4 Tblsp salt-reduced soy sauce
6 free range eggs, beaten

To make filling, heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Stir-fry the carrot, mushrooms and pepper for 3-4 minutes. Add the bean sprouts, garlic and five spice powder. Cook for 2 more minutes. Add chicken and soy sauce. Heat through then set aside in a bowl.

Using the same frying pan, pour a little beaten egg into the pan and swirl it around pan to make a thin omelette. Cook until the edges start to turn golden. Carefully flip over the omelette and cook for another 30 seconds.  Slide onto a plate, fill with some of the prepared willing and then roll up.  Repeat until all the egg and filling have been used.


Chicken Fried Rice

4 spring onions, sliced
500g frozen mixed vegetables
4 cups cooked rice (or use microwaveable rice)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
2 Tblsp salt-reduced soy sauce

Heat a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Spray with oil then fry spring onions for 1-2 minutes. Add frozen vegetables and fry for a couple more minutes until cooked through.

Add rice, chicken and soy sauce to pan and stir to combine. Heat for a few minutes more then serve immediately.


Red Lentil Bake

125g red lentils
2 Tblsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 large courgette, diced
60g rolled oats
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 large free range egg, beaten
100g cheddar cheese, grated

Put the red lentils into a saucepan and cover with boiling water. Bring the lentils to the boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the lentils are soft. You might need to add a little more water. Stir the lentils occasionally to stop them from sticking to the bottom of the pan whilst they cook.

Preheat your oven to 180C.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat. Sauté the onion until it has softened. Add the garlic and courgette and cook for 5 minutes before adding the cooked lentils, mixed herbs and rolled oats. Take the frying pan off the heat, then stir through about ¾ of the grated cheese and the beaten egg.

Spoon the mixture into a non-stick baking dish and then sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake for about 30 minutes. I usually serve this with steamed mixed vegetables and either baked potatoes or mash.


Macaroni Cheese


Crustless Salmon Quiche

1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
4 free range eggs, beaten
500ml milk
75g butter, melted
415g can pink salmon, drained
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp fresh chives, finely sliced

Preheat your oven to 180C.

Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the eggs milk and butter. Combine to make a batter then stir through the salmon, onion, cheese and chives until they are just combined.

Pour into a large ovenproof dish which has been greased or lined with non-stick baking paper. Cook at 180C for about 45 minutes until the quiche is set. I usually serve mine with salad or steamed mixed vegetables.

Lunches

Weekday lunches will be Calzone from this Meal Plan along with crudites and herbed yoghurt dip.  There will of course be a piece of fruit or two and maybe a homebaked treat if I get time to bake some, otherwise there'll be a small pot of rice pudding.

Weekend lunches will be as follows:

Goats Cheese and Courgette Fritters

4 courgettes, grated
100g feta cheese, crumbled
1 Tblsp finely chopped fresh mint
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 free range eggs
1 onion, finely diced

Squeeze out as much excess moisture from the courgettes as you can. Combine with the feta, mint, breadcrumbs, eggs and onion. Form into 5 large fritters.

Put a little oil in a non-stick frying pan and cook the fritters over a moderately high heat for 2-3 minutes each side, or until golden and cooked through.


Twice Baked Potatoes


Shopping List

39 items: £62.48

Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Smartprice Porridge Oats (1Kg) 75p
1x ASDA Smartprice Spaghetti (500g) 24p
2x Asda Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £1.20
1x ASDA Wholemeal Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £1.28
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg) 40p
1x ASDA Smartprice Pasta Shapes (500g) 30p
1x Great Scot Red Split Lentils (500g) £1.10
1x Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g) 64p
1x Sunnybisk Wheat Biscuits (48 per pack - 864g) £1.78

Tins, Jars and Cooking
1x ASDA Wild Pacific Pink Salmon (418g) £2.17
2x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g) 62p
1x ASDA Smartprice Mayonnaise (500ml) 48p
1x ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (200g) 48p

Frozen
3x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg) £2.25

Dairy and Eggs
1x ASDA Greek Feta Cheese (200g) £1.50
1x ASDA Smartprice Low Fat Natural Yogurt (500g) 55p
2x ASDA Chosen by You Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt (6x125g) £2.00
1x ASDA Free Range Mixed Weight Eggs (15) £2.50
2x ASDA Chosen by You English Mature Cheddar (400g) £4.00 any 2 FOR £4.00
6x ASDA Fresher for Longer Filtered Semi Skimmed Milk (2L) £6.00

Fruit and Vegetables
1x ASDA Smartprice Pears 90p
1x ASDA Baby Spinach (180g) £1.00
20 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) £2.00
20 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) £1.36
20 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) £1.56
7 ASDA Courgettes by Weight (100g) £1.26
1x ASDA Smartprice Mushrooms (750g) £1.29
10 ASDA Onions by Weight (100g) 70p
2x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg) £2.00 2 FOR £2.00
10 ASDA Tomatoes by Weight (100g) £1.99
5 ASDA Sweet Potatoes by Weight (100g) 64p
2x ASDA Whole Cucumber £1.80
2x ASDA Little Gem Lettuce (pack of 2) 88p
1x ASDA Celery 75p
1x ASDA Garlic Loose 30p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g) £1.65
1x ASDA Spring Onions 61p

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x ASDA Butcher's Selection British Beef Mince (500g) £2.60
2.5kg ASDA Extra Special British Corn Fed Free Range Whole Chicken £8.95

Friday, 15 June 2012

Tomato and Mixed Vegetable Pasta Sauce

This is such an easy pasta sauce that my children love and which uses up whatever vegetables I have lurking in the fridge at the end of the week.  They love preparing the vegetables themselves, which is great as it saves me a job.  My 12yo will happily make this by herself for a family dinner, she really enjoys cooking. I wonder where she gets that from? LOL

We normally make a huge pot of this recipe as it freezes really well and is a great standby to have on hand if hungry crowds descend or if your cupboards are almost bare.

This is the recipe for a single large batch, I usually double or triple it:

3 large carrots, peeled
1 or 2 peppers (any colour will do)
handful of mushrooms
2 courgettes or 1 aubergine
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 Tblsp olive oil
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano or mixed herbs
1 tsp sugar

Dice the carrots, peppers, mushrooms and courgettes.  Peel and dice the onion too.

Put a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the oil and saute the onion and peppers until they have softened.  Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.  Then add whatever other vegetables you are using along with the tins of chopped tomatoes, oregano and sugar.

Reduce the heat to low and put the lid on the saucepan.  Simmer for 45 minutes so that a rich sauce develops and the vegetables have softened.  Turn off the heat and serve with pasta or rice.  Leftovers are fab as a topping for baked potatoes.

Variations:

Just before the sauce has finished cooking, add a large handful or two of chopped kale, chard or fresh/frozen spinach. Cook the greens in the sauce for 5 minutes before you turn off the heat and serve.

You could stir through some flaked tuna, leftover cooked sausages/meat or a tin of chickpeas or mixed beans if you wanted to add some protein to the sauce. 

This recipe is one of the basics we teach at the School Cookery Club


Thursday, 14 June 2012

Coffee Cake Pop Coffee Cup

Firstly, I would like to congratulate the most lovely Tea & Biscotti, Mulia, and Andy who are semi-finalists (along with me) in the Coffee, Set, Match Challenge run by Wimbledon sponsors Lavazza.  Do check out their blogs, they're fab and their coffee creations have been amazing!

Secondly, I would like to introduce this rather rushed effort as my last recipe in the Coffee, Set, Match Challenge semi-final round:



It is meant to be a cake version of one of the Lavazza Wimbledon cups that Tea & Biscotti was lucky enough to obtain the other day.  Here's her photo:

Photo used with kind permission from Tea & Biscotti - thanks lovely! x

As you can see, my cake looks like a round brick with a handle, my piping is dodgy and the whole thing is a bit of a disaster. LOL However, it tastes fab and the cake pop mixture is so simple to put together.  Everything is edible, apart from my lovely new Limited Edition Wimbledon Coffee Machine thanks to Lavazza.


It's really easy to create your own cake like mine, yes really!  All you need is a cake which you crumble into fine crumbs and some buttercream icing.  That's all there is to it! Just mix enough buttercream icing to get a fudgy consistency and then but it in the fridge to firm up a little and become more manageable.  Then sculpt it into whichever shape you like.  You can dip the shapes in to melted candy melts or melted chocolate instead of covering them with sugarpaste as I have done.

The entire cake and cake board coating are completely edible, and it tastes delicious!

It took absolutely ages! a lot of tinkering to colour the sugarpaste the correct Lavazza Wimbledon colours.  If I had've been more alert and thought about it, I should've baked a cake in a coffee cup to get the right shape before icing it.  I was really short of time, and sleep, so I crumbled a coffee cake I had made then added enough homemade coffee buttercream to get a fudgy consistency.  I then shaped this into a brick into a kind of cup shape and covered it with sugarpaste.  I was going to make mini coffee cup cake pops but ran out of time.  I may still do that and blog it at a later date.

All of the bloggers who have been involved in the quarter finals and semi finals of the Coffee, Set, Match Challenge have worked hard on their recipes and produced delicious coffee treats.  A huge "Well done, and good on you!" to all those bloggers who've taken part in the Challenge so far.

 


 The finalists are announced tomorrow, best of luck everyone! x

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Espresso Meringue Tart

I made this recipe to use up the egg whites leftover from the Mocha Custard Pots as I try to never waste any food or ingredients.  It is really easy to make and if you are not confident making your own pastry you could buy a pastry case. 

This will be one of my last few recipes for the Coffee, Set, Match Challenge run by Wimbledon sponsors Lavazza.  My fellow semi-finalists, who have created some amazing recipes, and I are all anxiously awaiting the judges decision as to who the two finalists will be. 

You will need an 8.5 inch (22cm) blind baked sweet shortcrust pastry tart case for this recipe.  I made my own but you could buy one at your local supermarket.

Here's how to make your own sweet shortcrust pastry tart case:

250g plain flour
Pinch salt
100g icing sugar
125g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 free range egg yolk
Ice cold  water

Sift the flour, salt and icing sugar into a large bowl. Rub in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add the egg yolk and one tablespoon of water at a time to the mixture.  Gently work it together until you have a ball of dough. Don't work your pastry too much or it will be tough and not lovely and crumbly and light.  Once your pastry has come together, wrap it in cling film and put it into the fridge to rest for at least an hour.

Once your pastry has rested and is well chilled, roll it out on to a floured work surface.  Use it to line a 22cm diameter flan tin.  Bake the pastry blind for 25 minutes at 180°C until it is lovely and golden.  Once the tart case is cooked, remove the baking beans and baking paper then leave the tart case to cool completely before you use it. 

How make the espresso meringue filling:

250g icing sugar
1 Tblsp very strong espresso
4 free range egg whites

Sift 250g of icing sugar into a large bowl.  Add one egg white and 1 Tblsp strong espresso coffee then  mix with a spatula until fully combined.  In another bowl, (or use a stand mixer like I do) whisk the other 3 egg whites until they reach the soft peak stage.  Gently but thoroughly fold the whisked egg whites into the icing sugar mixture using a large metal spoon.

Pour the meringue mixture into the pastry case and bake in your preheated oven for 30 - 35 minutes.  Leave to cool in the tin.

I served our Espresso Meringue Tart with a homemade mixed berry couli made with frozen berries we had lurking in our freezer.

The delicious Espresso Meringue Tart with and without Mixed Berry Couli

Remember: To be in with a chance to win one the fantastic Lavazza Wimbledon prizes look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees, or enter the fabulous giveaway online at http://promotion.wimbledon.lavazza.com/

Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.

Espresso Flavoured Pannettone

Panettone is a yeasted brioche bread, flavoured with citrus peel, studded with dried fruit and baked in a decorative round paper mold.  It is a fab snack with a cup of Lavazza coffee for a morning treat.  

I used paper cases purchased from a specialty baking equipment store as I bake pannettone to give as gifts at Christmas time and had some left over.  You could non-stick baking paper or strong muffin wraps to line 200g food tin cans or use a muffin tin instead.  Make sure your 200g food tin cans have been thoroughly cleaned and dried and don't have sharp edges on the top - better to be safe than sorry.

I decided to make a batch of Pannettone as part of the Coffee, Set, Match Challenge being run by Wimbledon sponsors Lavazza and to add an espresso flavour twist I soaked the dried fruit in hot freshly brewed espresso before baking it in the pannettone.  Don't soak the candied peel, just soak the dried fruit.

2 free range eggs plus 1 free range egg yolk
1 tsp extract
500 plain flour
2 x 7g sachets easy-bake dried yeast
100g caster sugar
200ml luke warm milk
200g butter, softened
140g mixed dried fruits
100g mixed candied peel
4 Tblsp/60ml freshly brewed espresso

Soak the 140g of mixed dried fruit in hot freshsly brewed espresso until it is lovely and plump having soaked up some espresso.  I usually leave the fruit to soak for an hour or so, until the espresso and fruit have cooled completely.  Beat the eggs and yolk with the vanilla extract. 

If you are making your Pannettone by hand:

Beat the eggs and yolk with the vanilla.  In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast, sugar and ½ tsp salt. Add the warm milk and egg mixture, then beat to a very soft, sticky dough with a wooden spoon. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

If you are using a Stand Mixer to make your Pannettone (like I do):

Beat the eggs and yolk with the vanilla.  Put the flour, yeast, sugar and ½ tsp salt into the bowl of your stand mixer and mix until combined.  Make a well in the ingredients and add the warm milk and beaten egg mixture.  Use a dough hook to knead the mixture until you have a very soft, sticky dough. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

Get your paper cases ready on an oven tray or line a muffin tray with large, sturdy muffin wraps.  You could also use empty (and thoroughly cleaned and dried) 200g size food tin cans lined with non-stick baking paper.  You want the liners to come up well about the top of the muffin tin hole or top of the tin cans.

Knead the butter, soaked fruit and candied peel into the risen dough, preferably with your hands.  If you use the dough hook on your stand mixer at this stage it will mush up the dried fruit, knock the dough about too much, and make your pannettone heavy and dense - not all light and lovely as it should/could be.  

Cut the dough into 10 equal pieces, or weigh it like I do (OCD, much?!) to make sure the pieces are equal, and put a piece of dough into each prepared liner, tin can or muffin tray hole.  Cover the dough again and leave until they are very well risen.

Whilst the dough is rising for a second time, preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas Mark 5. Gently brush the top of each mini panettone with milk to glaze them then bake for 25-30 mins until they are lovely and golden.

Eat your pannettone within 2 - 3 days, or alternatively, you can put them in the freezer (well wrapped or  in a freezer bag) for up to a month.


Lovely mini pannettone in it's wrapper, just begging to be eaten!

All unwrapped and ready for me to devour it, what a fab mid-morning treat!

Remember: To be in with a chance to win one the fantastic Lavazza Wimbledon prizes look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees, or enter the fabulous giveaway online at http://promotion.wimbledon.lavazza.com/ 

Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Mocha Custard Pots with Toasted Almond Toffee Shards

This is a great pud that is low faff but will make people say "Wow", perfect for dinner parties because you can make it ahead of time.  My family loved these, I think they will become a regular treat pudding for when we feel like something a bit special for pud.

This is another one of my recipes for the Coffee, Set, Match Challenge run by Wimbledon sponsors Lavazza.  I'm a semi-finalist now (YAY! Erm, how did that happen?!) so I needed to come up with something a bit special, that doesn't take a lot of faff to make.

To make the Mocha Custard Pots:

160ml double cream
160ml milk
4 Tblsp/60ml freshly brewed espresso
60g brown sugar
200g dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 free range eggs
4 free range egg yolks

Toasted almond toffee shards:

50g toasted flaked almonds
160g caster sugar

Preheat your oven to 150°C.  Combine the cream, milk, espresso, sugar and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat.  Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

I used my mixer to do this bit but you could whisk it by hand or use an electric beater.  Whisk the eggs and yolks in a bowl until fluffy.  Continue whisking whilst you gradually pour in the creamy mocha mixture.  Keep whisking until all the mixture has been added and is well combined.  Pour the mixture into four 250ml capacity ovenproof dishes.

Put the ramekins into a roasting tin.  Pour enough boiling water into the roasting tin to come halfway up the side of ramekins. Bake for 15 minutes or until the custard has just set.

Take the dishes out of the oven and their water bath.  Put in the fridge to chill for 2 hours.  

To make the almond toffee shards:

Toast your almonds in a frying pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes then set aside.  Grease a metal oven tray, I used cake release spray as it gives a nice light coating.

Put the sugar in a frying pan over a high heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and you have a lovely caramel coloured syrup. Take the frying pan off the heat, stir the almonds into the toffee and then pour it over the greased oven tray.

Set aside for 10 minutes to set. Lift the sheet of toffee off the tray and break it into shards. 

This was declicious! Great low faff but WOW pudding recipe.

Remember: To be in with a chance to win one the fantastic Lavazza Wimbledon prizes look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees, or enter the fabulous giveaway online at http://promotion.wimbledon.lavazza.com/

Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Our Family Meal Plan for week of 11/06 - £50

Our Meal Plan is late this week, mainly due to be being floored by a foul migraine for a day and a half.  Thanks to some decent migraine drugs I am kind of back to almost normal.  This week is a really busy week (again!) so I need low faff meals that can either be premade or prepared with minimal effort as I'll be out at dinner time 4 nights this week.

I'll still fit in baking our bread this week and/or tortilla wraps as needed.

My daughters will have school dinners this week and my husband and I will have dinner leftovers for our lunches.

Dinners

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we'll be having Simmered Mince Many Ways.

Thursday and Friday we will be having Hearty Sausage Casserole

On Saturday and Sunday we will have Mince and Lentil Onepot

Our lunches on the weekend will probably be Twice Baked Potatoes with a variety of toppings.


Shopping List

Despite this being a busy week there is still plenty of fruit on our shopping list, and also some yoghurts for snacking as I won't be baking much.

The cost of all 29 items needed for our Meal Plan this week was £50.38 when ordered online and delivered on 10/06/2012.  My shopping would've cost £58.89 at Tesco and £60.86 at Sainsbury's.


Packets Cereals

1x ASDA Smartprice Spaghetti (500g) 24p
1x Asda Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg) 60p
1x ASDA Wholemeal Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £1.28
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg) 40p
1x Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g) 64p
1x Sunnybisk Wheat Biscuits (48 per pack - 864g) £1.78

Frozen

3x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg) £2.25

Tins, Jars and Cooking

6x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g) £1.86
2x ASDA Butter Beans in Water (410g) £1.16
2x ASDA Chosen by You Chilli Beans (290g) £1.36

Dairy and Eggs

6x ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L) £6.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
2x ASDA Chosen by You English Mature Cheddar (400g) £4.00 any 2 FOR £4.00
2x Low Fat Yogurts Red Fruit (4x125g) £2.00
2x Low Fat Yogurts Yellow Fruit (4x125g) £2.00

Fruit and Vegetables

1x ASDA Great Stuff Kids Garden Gang Pears (700g) £1.00 any 2 FOR £2.00
20 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) £2.00
20 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) £1.36
10 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) 78p
4 ASDA Courgettes by Weight (100g) 72p
3 ASDA Leeks by Weight (100g) 77.7p
1x ASDA Smartprice Mushrooms (750g) £1.18
10 ASDA Red Onions by Weight (100g) 85p
2x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg) £2.00 2 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Celery 89p
2x ASDA Garlic Loose 60p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g) £1.65
1x ASDA Mandarins (700g) £1.00 any 2 FOR £2.00

Meat, Fish and Poultry

2x ASDA Butcher's Selection Beef Mince Lean (700g) £6.67 any 3 FOR £10.00
1x ASDA Extra Special Pork Sausages (10 per pack - 756g) £3.33 any 3 FOR £10.00

Espresso Overload Cupcakes

I hadn't made any cupcakes for the Coffee, Set, Match Challenge run by Wimbledon sponsors Lavazza, this post rectifies that situation.  I need some lovely morsels to take along for a coffee morning.  My fellow caffeine addicts, who are also harassed Mums, needed something gorgeous that tasted delicious.  These cupcakes fit the bill perfectly and did indeed taste delicious,  they are packed with coffee flavour.  The recipe makes 16 cupcakes.

Espresso Overload Cupcakes 

250g softened butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large free range eggs
125ml freshly brewed espresso
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbslp ground coffee beans
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
2/4 c toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 170C.  Line 16 muffin tin holes with paper cases.  Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  

Beat in the vanilla extract, espresso and ground coffee beans then gently fold in the flour, baking powder and hazelnuts.

Spoon into cupcake cases and bake in the preheated oven at 170C for about 20 minutes.  Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cupcakes have cooled completely you can drizzle them with the hot syrup.

To make the syrup:

Heat together 180ml of strong espresso and 1/3 cup sugar until the sugar has dissolved and then simmer until it reaches a lovely thick and syrupy consistency.

Buttercream Icing:

Beat 150g softened butter with 1 tbsp espresso and enough icing sugar to get a spreadable consistency, I used about 2 cups.  Add 1 cup of icing sugar first then add the second cup gradually.

I managed to take a quick photo before the cupcakes disappeared into hungry Mums tums.

Remember: To be in with a chance to win one the fantastic Lavazza Wimbledon prizes look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees, or enter the fabulous giveaway online at http://promotion.wimbledon.lavazza.com/

Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Mocha Brownies with Cheesecake Topping

I made these on Sunday as a treat for our neighbours who had family visiting.  I thought it would make a nice treat and help them keep their soon to be inlaws happy ;o)  These brownies are lovely and rich but not heavy, the cheeescake topping gives them a little layer of sweetness which balances out the mocha flavour of the brownie underneath.

This is, of course, another recipe for the the Coffee, Set, Match challenge run by Wimbledon sponsors Lavazza.

150g butter
200g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
2 tsp vanilla extract
250g caster sugar
3 large free range eggs
100ml espresso, cooled to lukewarm
100g self raising flour

For the topping:
150g cream cheese (not low fat)
75g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large free range egg

Preheat your oven to 170C/Fan 150C/Gas Mark 3. Line 20cm square cake tin with non-stick baking paper.

Melt the butter and chocolate in large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.  Once the butter and chocolate have melted, remove the bowl from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract and espresso, and leave to cool.

Beat the eggs and sugar together until well combined.  Stir in the butter and chocolate mixture, then add the flour and mix to thoroughly combine everything.

To make the topping, put all the topping ingredients into a bowl and beat until combined and smooth.

Pour the brownie mixture into the lined tin then pour the cheesecake mixture over the top.  I use a spatula to create a marble effect on the top.  

Bake the chocolate brownie in your preheated oven 30 minutes.  Once cooked, take the chocolate brownie out of the oven and leave them to cool in the tin.  Cut into squares once completely cool, then serve.

I could barely wait long enough for the choc brownies to cook before we are some!

There may have been a dollop of cream added after this photo was taken ;o)

Don't forget the fabulous Lavazza Wimbledon Giveaway!

To be in with a chance to win one the fantastic Lavazza Wimbledon prizes look out for promotional cups on take away Lavazza coffees from cafes, or enter the fabulous giveaway online at http://promotion.wimbledon.lavazza.com/

Prizes include six pairs of tickets to Wimbledon, 90 Lavazza A Modo Mio Favola Plus Wimbledon Limited Edition coffee machines and 500 sets of four exclusive espresso cups created especially for the tournament.