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.

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.

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!)
300 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 :)

Saturday, 11 January 2014

A Tale of (apple) Tarts

As you can tell, I've had a break from blogging. A wedding, job change, house move and making the decision to leave the country all took their toll and I needed to eliminate the extra pressure and guilt that comes from frantically trying to catch up with blog posts.

So now autumn is upon us, my winter coat has come out of hibernation and I've bought a new pair of gloves which should last about a week before I lose one and have a cold left hand. I'm trudging through autumnal leaves to work and millions of apples seem to be suicidally throwing themselves from trees. 

Both at home and work, I am being given more apples than I know what to do with. I have filled my spare jars with chutney and my friends with apple crumble cake but still the bags of apples lurk in the corner of my kitchen. 

So I've been perfecting the art of the apple tart.

I used Mary Berry's recipe because I love and trust her! I blind baked the pastry first whilst I make an apple puree with. Then I filled the case with the puree and topped with sliced apples, demerera sugar and flaked almonds. Served warm with Nigella's salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream it was YUM!

The cake tasted delicious but I slightly over baked the pastry and didn't have enough filling inside the tart. The flaked almonds were tasty but quickly went soggy.

The new improved tart had perfect pastry and brandy soaked sultanas in the apple puree. Both these things increased the yum factor of the tart but it still needs more filling....

I learnt from my mistakes and cooked plenty of apples with brandy and sultanas. Topped with sliced eating apples and demerera sugar and enjoyed with a dollop of creme fraiche - delicious!

So here's my final recipe:

165g plain flour
25g ground almonds
55g caster sugar
120g butter
1 egg

6 cooking apples
sultanas (a couple of handfuls or however many you fancy!)
2 eating apples
light brown sugar
2 teaspoons of mixed spice
2 tablespoons of brandy
A sprinkle of demerara sugar

This pastry is best made the day before you want to use it as it will be much easier to work with:
Rub the butter into the flour and almonds until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs and then mix in the caster sugar. Stir in the egg until the mixture begins to come together as a dough then tip onto a floured surface and knead. Cling-film and refrigerate overnight.

To make the tart:

Preheat the oven to 180C and soak the sultanas in the brandy.

Roll out the pastry to about 1cm thick and line a 20cm tin - make sure you push the pastry right into the corners. Cut off any excess pastry with a knife. Line the pastry with foil and fill with baking beans. By wrapping the foil tightly over the top of the tin and filling to the top with baking beans, you should prevent the pastry shrinking. Bake for about 20 minutes at 180C. Remove the foil and baking beans and return the pastry to the oven for about 5 minutes, until it has a light colour all over. Set aside whilst you make the filling.

Peel, core and chop the cooking apples into small chunks. Put the chopped apples, sugar and mixed spice in a saucepan. Cook over a low heat until the apples are soft but not mushy and then add the brandy and sultanas and remove from the heat. 

Peel, core and slice the eating apples and place on top of the cooked apple mixture. Sprinkle the demerara sugar on top and cook for about 15 minutes.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

A Wedding Feast

Apologies for being so absent recently, I have been rather busy getting married! I am also in the middle of changing jobs and moving but I will be back to baking and blogging soon I promise! In the mean time I thought I would share some photos of the baked goods we had on offer for our 'big day'.

Our wedding was very much a DIY affair, I called in a lot of favours to make bunting, chutney, cake stands, flower arrangements, cookies - the list goes on! For food we opted for a hog roast instead of a traditional 3 course meal and then a table of cheese, bread, crackers and chutney later in the evening. Pudding was a tables of cakes, biscuits and other sweet treats made my myself, my friends and family.

Our actual wedding cake took centre stage and was created by my colleague Hannah at The Pink Flamingo Bakery. The top layer was an orange sponge (coloured red and orange) filled with orange cream cheese frosting and covered with dark chocolate ganache. The bottom layer was carrot cake, filled with cream cheese frosting and covered with a white chocolate ganache - it was divine. The teacup with orange and red flowers in it fitted perfectly with our colour scheme and the teapots we used as table centres.

My very talented cousin made gorgeous chocolate lollipops in dark and white chocolate which were decorated to fit in with our colour scheme. We displayed them in jam jars and they were very popular!

When Matt and I first went to Paris together, we bought a lemon tart from a patisserie near the Sacre Couer. The perfect pastry, zesty lemon filling and sweet italian meringue topping was so mouth watering that we named it 'the best tart in the world'. I thought it was only right that our favourite tart should feature at our wedding!

My husbands surname is 'King' and although I decided not to take his name I thought it would be nice to include a reference to his name. So my friend made some deliiiiicious vanilla shortbread in crown shapes. She used gold beads and edible lustre spray to make them look extra regal!

We had a few gluten intolerant guests and I obviously didn't want them to miss out on pudding! I made a rather boozy fruit cake which even I liked, and I don't usually eat fruit cake (isn't it amazing what a bottle of brandy can do?!). Gluten free versions of fruit cake work well as there's a lot less flour than sponge cakes and no raising agent. I also adapted the hummingbird chocolate cupcake recipe by replacing the flour and adding 1/2 tsp xantham gum and made mini cupcakes.

I gathered together jam jars, baskets, boards and cake stands to display the sweet treats. My sister made some cake stands from old sherry glasses and plates and a friend of my mum's made the stand for the wedding cake from wooden logs!

So now that I am left with empty cake stands, it's time for me to get creative to the kitchen again - be back soon!