Sunday, 26 February 2012

Chicken Pasties

As this blog clearly shows, savoury cooking is not my thing like sweet cooking and baking is. I do cook and enjoy savoury food, of course, but it rarely features on this blog because I don’t often stretch myself or try new things as often as I do with desserts. Something I rely on in savoury cooking quite often is chicken as it’s an easy staple we always have in our house and there’s so many ways to cook it. As this is a baking blog, I also often use pastry in my savoury baking. Today I combined the two to make jumbo chicken and carrot pasties.DSCF8925I’d had these saved in my Savoury To Make file for a long time, and one blustery day I just really had a craving for a properly hearty dinner. I made them in a few stages – the pastry and filling one day, and then basically cooked them to order the next day whenever somebody wanted one, just rolling out a wodge of pastry and forming the pasty and cooking one or two for that meal. I originally found them on this blog here where I think they were made for a picnic but I made mine much bigger. They were perhaps a bit too big – but they were filling and delicious! I added a slosh of cream to the filling and think perhaps they could have done with another small chicken breast, but overall I was pleased with how easy and successful they were. They have piqued my interest in savoury explorations! Enjoy :)DSCF8929

Friday, 17 February 2012

Rose Pink Macaroons

I’m kind of in love with almond this year, it seems. This is my third almond dish of 2012 and I actually made it a while a while ago now but felt that I should spread out the almond-based desserts a bit as obviously not everyone is a fan (you crazy people) and some people will be allergic. I also have several more almond recipes that I really want to make but ground almonds aren’t the cheapest of ingredients so I’m going to hang on to those ideas for a bit. Are there any ingredients you can’t stop using? These macaroons are a little bit different, at least, due to a secret ingredient…_DSC0865  I’m not a big fan of desserts which are really artificially coloured, because sometimes this takes away from the natural flavours in the food and just clearly looks very fake. Sometimes they can look really pretty, but generally I avoid desserts dyed bright green or blue if there is no reason. With these macaroons the secret ingredient adds a pretty pink colour that is easily controllable and contains no crazy ingredients that you can’t pronounce or contains numbers as well as letters. The ingredient? Beetroot._DSC0867I admit I was a little bit scared when I first saw this recipe. I like beetroot, but I’m not a massive fan and I didn’t want the lovely almond and delicate rosewater flavours to be overpowered by this crazy hot pink vegetable. The idea is that you whizz up a few chunks of beetroot with the sugar before adding the ground almonds, egg whites and rosewater. Due to my apprehension, I used a very small amount of chopped beetroot and this meant my macaroons had a very gentle blush pink colour as the colour fades slightly whilst baking – you can’t even really tell in the pictures. There was no beetroot flavour (great!) so in the future I’d be braver and add a larger chunk, like the recipe suggests, just to make the pink slightly more noticeable but still pretty and not brash._DSC0872 The final cookies were so cute and very difficult to stop snacking on. The rosewater flavour was definitely there, perhaps a little bit too strong for some tastes but I quite liked it. The whole almond on top added some necessary crunch and the nuttiness nicely distracted from the very sweet macaroon. The tin disappeared very quickly and I have to admit that was largely down to me! The recipe is here, it’s another Dan Lepard one from the Guardian – like the coconut meringues and cherry chocolate cookies. These recipes always work and it’s taking a lot of resistance not to buy his new book! Enjoy :)

Friday, 10 February 2012

Blondies and Brownies In One

What shall I make this weekend…Cake or biscuits? Pie or tart? Delicate mini meringues or generous billowing pavlova?Such are the decisions faced by baking bloggers. Flavours are another decision to be made – nuts, fruit, spices, citrus, white chocolate, dark chocolate? Well, worry and dither no more as my bake today solves this last decision. Phew. ;)DSCF8939 Instead of having to choose between sweet white chocolate blondies or classic, rich dark chocolate brownies – combine the two. Even better, combine the two using heart-shaped cut-outs. Why? Just because you can, because its cute, because it’s nearly Valentine’s Day and because these are my entry to English Mum’s Valentines Day Baked With Love Bakeoff.


I have embraced Valentine’s baking before but I didn’t last year so it felt good to be back with all things heart shaped, although I drew the line at pink or glitter this year. I’ve had this recipe from Smitten Kitchen bookmarked for a year, but this was finally the excuse I needed to bake them. I’ve tried blondies before but it’s always really hard to find a good recipe that lets the white chocolate shine, so I was keen to give this recipe a go. As I was making them I wasn’t convinced there was enough chocolate involved (you can never have too much!) so I added chocolate chunks as well and it was definitely worth it – they added bursts of chocolate flavour and caramelised slightly which was delicious. Both the brownie and blondie recipes worked very well, particularly the brownie which stayed really moist and fudgy. DSCF8933Some of my blondies ended up being a bit small for the heart cutter, so I used my smallest circle instead. It was quite a delicate process swapping the brownie circle centres as they were so moist, and it was definitely easier with the bigger hearts. Overall though they turned out really well – quite the treat! The combination of blondie and brownie at once was intriguing as the two chocolates worked really well together. DSCF8934I know the amounts in the recipe are a bit strange, (the recipe was converted from American measurements and then halved) but if you have a digital scale then it should be no problem. It makes a small batch of 12 finished combined brownies as well, so if you’re feeding a crowd definitely double it. I’ve just put the amounts once, so just switch the chocolate after you’ve made the first batch.  I’m thinking these could work with any other cut-out shape for other times of year: pumpkin cutters at Halloween, Christmas trees at Christmas etc etc. For now, embrace the slightly cheesy aspect of this idea, and enjoy!

Blondie and Brownie Hearts, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

80g chopped white chocolate, split into 45g and 35g
56g butter
88g sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
smidge of salt
40g plain flour

1. Preheat the oven to 180’C. Line a 8x8inch square tin. You will not fill the whole tin, so screw up some tin foil and place it in the tin to prevent the brownie mixture eventually spreading into a thin layer across the whole pan.

2.Melt the 43g of white chocolate and butter together in a bowl, over a saucepan of boiling water.

3. Take off the heat and whisk in the sugar (the mixture will look like it really wont work at this stage – carry on!). Whisk in the egg and vanilla and then finally fold in the flour, salt and remaining 57g of white chocolate chunks.

4. Pour the mixture into the tin, and bake for 15 minutes. Cut the brownies into six even squares (judge the sizes compared to your cutter – ensure there will be a decent border around the cut-out) and leave to cool. Use a heart cutter to cut a heart out of the centre of each brownie.

5. Repeat the whole recipe from step 1, but using dark chocolate throughout instead of white chocolate.

5. Put blondie hearts in brownie gaps and vice versa. Embrace the cute factor and enjoy!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sour Cherry Amaretti

I’ve made a cookie with dried cranberries. I’ve made ricciarelli. Before this weekend, I’d never thought of combining the two ideas – sour dried fruit, soft almond biscuit – but the Ottolenghi book showed me differently. Sour Cherry Amaretti. The original separate biscuits were delicious, but when combined and altered slightly they become something even better.DSC_0011As you bite into these, you initially get the chewy outer edge of the cookie before the really soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture and intense almond flavour of the inside. Then you hit a chewy, tart sour cherry to stop the amaretti becoming too sickly and the two flavours work really well together.DSC_0014Making the amaretti uses a really similar technique to the ricciarelli and similar to macarons except you don’t have to worry about being really gentle as you fold the ground almonds into whisked stiff egg whites. There is also a twist in this recipe: you use your fingers to rub in lemon zest to the ground almonds and sugar mixture before you add it the to the egg whites. This really enhances the citrus flavour and means you can still taste it in the final product even with the other strong flavours competing, giving it a bit of freshness and zing. The result is extremely moreish and as they’re quite small it’s difficult to stop having just one more, then another, then another…
PS – hope you like the new blog design! Finally took the plunge and mixed things up after three and a half years of the same design. DSC_0015