Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Fudge Candy



About a month ago I went to a baking seminar with a friend and was given 11 tins of evaporated milk by the sponsor. To my knowledge I have never drunk or eaten evaporated milk and I've certainly never used it myself. I got it in my head that I could probably make fudge with it and, although it turns out evaporated milk is not generally used in fudge, I went ahead with a bit of experimental candy making nonetheless.




I have expanded my kitchen equipment so that I now have a very basic set of scales and a small baking tray (I'm definitely moving up in the world!). Of course there is still a distinct lack of a sugar thermometer and the scales are not exactly precise so I wasn't really expecting a success...




But it worked! Well I mean I made something .... I'm reluctant to call this fudge because it's not the crumbly type of fudge that I would call 'proper fudge'. It's more like the stuff you get inside a Cadbury Fudge bar (remember those?) so not quite 'proper' but still sweet and buttery :)

Considering my basic equipment and the fact I largely ignored all the recipes I found, I'm quite pleased with how this turned out. And hey there's always the other 10 tins ...…

Recipe:
300g caster sugar*
100g butter
300ml evaporated milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 pinches of salt
*I reduced the sugar content by 50g because I used evaporated milk but I think that may have affected the texture which is not like true fudge.  
- Line and grease a small baking tray or cake tin (I didn't line mine and the fudge was difficult to get out).  
- Put the sugar, milk and butter in a saucepan and heat until the butter and sugar have dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil and stir constantly. The mixture should look like it's about to grow into a fudge monster and escape from the bowl (but not actually do that!) and make sure you keep stirring. 
- Keep boiling until the mixture reaches soft-ball stage. If you have a candy thermometer this is 118C but as I don't I checked by dropping a tiny amount of mixture into a bowl of water. When the mixture forms a ball soft enough to press, it is ready. For me this took 25 minutes but I would start checking after about 15 minutes. 
- Once the mixture has reached soft-ball stage remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Then add the salt and vanilla extract and beat for a few minutes. (according to James Martin you are supposed to beat until the mixture thickens and loses it's gloss. I forgot about this so I'm not sure how important it is but it may give you a better texture)
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tray or tin and leave to set at room temperature. (Once it had set I cut it and kept it in the fridge but if you live somewhere cooler and less humid than Thailand it might not be necessary!)
- Don't eat it all at once! (No, really don't, you'll be sick!)



Thursday, 18 September 2014

Nutty French Soldiers

Or something like that…..!


French toast (or eggy bread) is up there with my favorite breakfasts (and I'm a girl who loves her breakfasts). I'm always amazed by the magic eggs and a splash of milk can do to a humble slice of bread.

Frankly crispy bacon and maple syrup is the ultimate accompaniment to a stack of french toast or pancakes but as I'm currently meat free (and at any rate bacon is hard to come by here in Thailand) I had to come up with an alternative.

And it turns out this is a pretty great alternative. It satisfies my peanut addiction and, topped with super sweet Thai pineapple, it's a great way to start a Saturday.


If you want a great Saturday morning, you will need:


Peanuts (lots- I can't tell you exactly how much as I have no measuring equipment :/ )
5 slices of bread
3 eggs
6 spoons of milk (I used soy milk but any milk will do)
Pineapple or whatever else you fancy piling on top

Throw peanuts into a pestle and mortar and pestle away. If you have a food processor you could use that instead but make sure they are still a bit chunky and not completely ground.

Whisk the eggs together and then gently whisk in the milk. Cut the bread into soldiers and soak them in the egg and milk mixture. Dip the soldiers into the nut mixture so that there are nuts on both sides.

Heat butter or oil in a frying pan and cook the soldiers over a medium heat for a couple of minutes on each side or until they are golden brown.


And it's done! Easy, huh? If you're silly like me stack them up like Jenga but that's not strictly necessary!


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Frozen yoghurt cubes




This was a bit of a 'what can I freeze in my ice cube tray' experiment and basically involved me mashing up bananas and yoghurt. About as simple as you get but with a pretty tasty result.

I used four mini bananas (I reckon two regular bananas) and 600ml of coconut yoghurt to fill one ice cube tray. I used my hands to mash the bananas until they were liquid and then whisked in the yoghurt. Spoon into the ice cube tray and put in the freezer.

I thought that these cold treats could do with a bit of a crunch so I fried up some oats and sugar until golden brown. When the cubes are almost frozen but still slightly soft I sprinkled the oats over half of the cubes.

They were tasty little cubes and a great way to use up bananas if there are some hanging around but they really came into they're own when I popped them into my iced coffee. YUM! A perfect way to chill hot on a Saturday afternoon in sweaty Thailand.



Sunday, 31 August 2014

Oaty eggs for breakfast


I love oats and I'm always looking for new ways to eat them! Usually it's sugary sweet in a pancake, cookie, flapjack or drizzled with honey in porridge. This week however, I opted for a savoury option for my Saturday breakfast and I did not regret it.
This was a tasty, satisfying way to begin my day and set me up well to work my way through my 'to do' list.

Recipe:
Makes one serving

Half an onion
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of oats
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes (adjust to your taste)
Oil (I think I used vegetable oil but I can't actually read the writing on the bottle!)
Salt and black pepper to season

Dry fry the chilli flakes and oats until the oats are golden brown and then set to one side. Head up some oil in the pan fry the onions until softened. Add the oats back into the pan and mix with the onions. Divide the mixture in two sections in the pans ready to crack an egg over each.

Now fry the eggs. If you pan is dry, add a little more oil so that the eggs don't stick. Then crack one egg over each section of onion and oat mixture and fry to perfection! Plate up and season with salt and pepper.

There you go - a super quick, easy and healthy breakfast.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Salted caramel popcorn bites


In the UK we had a popcorn machine that made air popped popcorn. This meant we ate A LOT of popcorn, telling ourselves that because there was no butter or oil it would probably make us live forever!

This stuff is more likely to make your teeth fall out than make you live for ever but I won't tell your dentist if you don't! It's a great snack for a movie or games night but be warned: there are very moreish! I ate so many my mouth hurt!


This is a mega easy and cheap treat - perfect for a last minute get together. All you need is corn kernels, butter, caster sugar, salt and water.


  • Heat butter in a pan, once it is 'sizzling' add the corn kernels and put the lid on the pan to avoid popcorn flying everywhere! Once you can hear that the corn has stopped popping, pour it out onto a baking tray lined with baking paper (or in my case onto a frying pan as I currently have no baking trays!)

  • Next make the caramel. Cover the bottom of your pan with a decent layer of sugar (so that you can't see the bottom of your pan). Add enough water to just cover the sugar. Put that pan onto a medium heat and wait for the water and sugar to start to boil.

*DO NOT STIR! If you do the sugar will crystallise which is not good! Watch the mixture change colour, it should start to yellow and get darker - DO NOT LOOK AWAY! I know, it gets boring and it's tempting but I guarantee you the moment you turn away to check your phone is the moment your caramel burns!

  • If you need to, give the pan the odd shake to make sure the mixture has an even colour. Once the mixture is a copper colour take it off the heat and stir in a knob of butter and a couple of pinches of salt. Quickly whisk it together and drizzle over your popcorn. I then formed the popcorn into little balls, using the caramel to stick it together. (be careful, the caramel is very hot!)


*Apologies for the lack of measurements - I need to invest in some scales or cups. But this is the kind of thing where you can throw in a bit o' this and a bit o' that! In fact I think some peanuts would make a great addition!



Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Breakfast Oat Pancakes




True to my promise, after a very sweaty and snail-paced run around the park I made little oat pancakes for our breakfast yesterday. This is a recipe I picked up whilst on the Slimming World plan and back in the UK they were a staple breakfast in our flat - diet or not! I realised just as I was about to make them that I don't have any scales or measuring equipment so I had to do it the carefree Jamie Oliver style but it's such a simple recipe that that was not a problem.




Recipe:
Makes plenty of pancakes for two people :) 

60g of porridge oats (I used a mug to judge by eye so it doesn't need to be exact!)
300g yoghurt (I used coconut yoghurt)
3 eggs

Stir the oats in the yoghurt and leave to soak overnight. The oats will expand so you want the mixture to be quite loose - add a tablespoon or two of milk if you need. If you use plain yoghurt you might want to add sugar to the mixture. 

In the morning whisk the eggs into the oat mixture. Heat a little bit of butter or oil (I used oil as that's what we had but in the UK I used Frylight) in a non-stick pan. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the mixture into a pancake size and shape (although mine a always a questionable array of shapes!) - you can make about three at once in a regular sized pan.
Once the bottom of the pancakes are firm, use a fish slice to flip them over and cook the other side. You want them to be a nice golden brown so make sure the heat isn't up too high.

Continue until you have a delicious mound of pancakes to share!

I topped our pancakes with some tiny fried beans which created a great crunch. They are also lovely with some yoghurt and sliced banana or other fresh fruit. And if you're feeling indulgent why not drizzle maple syrup over your breakfast stack? Go on.....

This recipe really is criminally simple and after enjoying (more than) half of this batch I'm definitely going to start making them regularly again!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Life in Thailand

In April we packed our bags and left the UK for the sunny (sweaty) shores (we are yet to see the sea) of Thailand. So we have swapped potato wedges for fried rice and baked goods for coconut milk. 


Iced drinks are a necessary treat to survive the heat!

The food is delicious - everything is fried and sugary so if course it is! In true Thai style, we don't have a kitchen so ours meals are usually bought from a market or street side restaurant. This is a great convenience but I do miss cooking and particularly baking. Having loved baking so much that I started a blog, then started selling cakes at a local market and then making it my day job; it feels very strange not to be baking at all.


Khao Soi - one of our favourite Thai dishes 


Dinner: Khao Yam followed by a pudding of mango, sticky rice and coconut milk. Heaven.

Our 'kitchen' now consists of a single hob on our small balcony and is used just occasionally for boiling water for coffee or making omelettes or fried rice. But having been to a baking seminar a few weeks ago, I am now equipped with an apron and a determination to continue creating sweet treats.

So my new missions is to utilise my pans and fridge to create 'no bake' goodies. First up is oat pancakes which we will be enjoying for Saturdays breakfast :)