Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Monday, 26 March 2012

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Hazelnut Praline Meringue Eggs

To make the Praline:

  • Put about 5 tbsps sugar in a frying pan. Melt slowly until you have a darkish caramel - don't stir

  • Throw in a good handful of hazelnuts and shimmy it round a bit to coat them.
  • Tip out onto greaseproof paper and allow to get fully cold

  • Whizz this up in your processor - that's your praline.

To make the Meringues

  • You need 2oz caster sugar per egg white. The praline above is enough for about 4 egg whites (so 8oz sugar)
  • Whisk your egg white until they are pretty stiff. 

  • Add your sugar in about 4 batches, whisking well after each addition. Fold in the last batch.
  • Quickly, firmly but gently fold through the praline.
  • Use two dessert spoon to form 'quenelles' and try to get them fairly egg-shaped. Blob them onto a silicon baking thingy or greaseproof lined baking tray.
  • Cook in one of two ways:
    • For dry meringues cook at 110 for an hour and a half, turn off the oven and leave until cold.
    • For marshmallowy meringues put in to oven at 130, cook for 40 mins, then turn oven off and take them out about 30 mins later.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these as 100% organic cookies as a little thank-you to a friend. Obviously the recipe is the same organic or not, but the chocolate is worth shelling out for. These are, in fact, not Chocolate Chip Cookies, but Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Chocolate chips are generally crap, sorry to be blunt but if you're only after vaguely suggestive brown lumps then go for your life on the choc chips, but if you actually like the taste of chocolate, then buy actual chocolate. It doesn't need to be super-posho chocolate intended for cooking (you're not melting or coating here), but a good bar you'd happily munch on. I used Green & Blacks because it's delicious.

I also used granulated sugar because the supermarket I was in didn't sell organic caster sugar and I wanted these to be purely organic - (not mentioning any names, but seriously Waitrose I'd have thought that you'd be a pretty sure bet for organic everything...). Granulated works fine, but only if you actually do 'cream until pale and flurry' - this phrase crops up in lots of baking recipes and I have the feeling a lot of people don't do this bit properly. Just  beat away until it is PALE and FLUFFY. Do it. Stop shirking. Beat, beat, beat until you cannot feel any sugar grains. It will change your life*. There is no raising agent in these cookies, the lightness comes from pure hard work (with an electric beater).

* For 'life', read 'baked goods'.

Not Crap Chocolate Chip Cookies

4oz butter, nice and soft
4oz caster sugar
1 egg
6oz plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Good grinding of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
light grating of nutmeg
6oz chocolate, that's 2 bars of Green & Blacks, minus cooks privilege. Chopped into not too small pieces

  • Preheat to 180.
  • Beat in the egg.
  • Fold in the flour & spices, then the choc.
  • Dollop teaspoonfuls onto a a greaseproof papered baking sheet and flatten with a fork dipped in flour.
  • Bake for about 10+ mins. Aim to undercook them. Take them out in stages as the edge ones get the slightest bit of browning. They will be cooked, but won't seem to be until they've cooled. Overcooked cookies are utterly miserable, so don't just stick them in and ignore them.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Front room taking shape. There are my lovely new alcove shelves, cleverly crafted from scaffolding boards by a lovely chap called Josh. The batons are hidden inside - the boards are routed out  around the edge so they slot in - very cool.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Roast Dinner Burgers

See my blog over at the The Soil Association for how to make your Sunday Roast last until Tuesday. 

Carcus and a few veg = stock

Unprepossessing mush which will become the burger...

Shaped and covered in a single food-processed bread crust.  

Bubbling stock and burgers waiting for the oven -
leftovers are awesome.

Space Party

Been meaning to post a few pics from Alex's Space Party last year. The invite read as below and was sealed with a 'Top Secret Mission' sticker!:

Commander Alex requests that

Commander _____________________

Joins him for an im,portant MISSION TO THE MOON!

Please report for duty on
22nd October 2011 at 10.30am

Launch site: Address

Return to earth at 1.00pm

Steller Cartography:  we made a space map using black paper, glitter glue and space stickers. We moved the table out of the dining room and made a low tables using plywood boards covered with cloths so the kids could sit on the floor and squeeze round them.

Spaceship Construction: Then we built a space ship using big boxes, silver foil and silver marathon blankets! We used dot stickers to make control panels.

Alien Rescue Mission: We blacked out Alex’s bedroom, filled it with glowsticks and put on his ceiling lavalamp projector – the kids were sent in with torches had to find loads of hidden paper aliens! This was so popular we had to hide them again for round two!

Moonwalk: Robotic dancing to before lunch.

After lunch we pulled the strings on the cardboard tube rockets (see pic) and were showered with space confetti!

Party bags were sewn from space fabric and contained Haribo Starmix, the torches from the alien mission and a ‘mission completed’ certificate’.

For lunch we had bags of astronaut lunch containing silver foil wrapped sandwiches (anything wrapped in silver foil is spacey!) and Space Rangers crisps. For sweets we had Alex's moon cake (see pic), flying saucers, Crater Crunchies (ripe crispie cakes), Moon Rocks (honeycomb), star shaped jelly sweets and real astronaut ice cream! Drinks were bottles of Rocket Fuel (water!). 
VERY simple! Big chocolate covered traybake with a custard buttercream
round cake on top. Space candles (see my Pinterest board) and gold glitter.
Good to do an easy cake and not have to use food colouring.

Names on bottles are a good plan, so they can keep coming back for a drink.

Rice Crispie cakes, gold glitter and star sprinkles.

The star themes bags and tub are from Ikea.