Sunday 31 October 2010

Caramel Apple Baby Cakes

I try to stay topical on here and to post recipes that will go along with the seasons and holidays.

What could be more Halloweeny or Bonfire nightie than caramel apples. Who doesn't love a caramel apple . . .

All that stick toffee coating a sweetly tart and crisp apple . . . sometimes coated in crunchy toasted nuts!!!

These tasty little cakes embody all that is good about a caramel apple . . . except they are a cake . . .

And what a cake they are!! Lightly spiced, buttery and chock full of moist apple . . . with crispy edges . . . a sweet caramel topping gilding and sliding down over the top filled with toasted pecan nuts . . .

Oh my . . . so very, very hard to resist . . .

Topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or my personal favourite . . . clotted cream . . . these are decadent, scrummy, and moreishly delicious!

What more can I say???

I meant to only have a little nibble . . . honest! (Oh dear, my will power got up and went!)

*Caramel Apple Baby Cakes*
Makes 12
Printable Recipe

What could be better than a tasty little Caramel Pecan covered baby sized Apple Cake, just for you!

For the Topping:
2 TBS unsalted butter
4 ounces pecan halves or pieces (1 cup)
5 1/2 ounces soft light brown sugar (3/4 cup packed)
6 TBS cream
pinch of fine seasalt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 TBS dark rum. whiskey or bourbon (optional)

For the cakes:
6 1/2 ounces of flour (1 1/2 cup plus 2 TBS)
pinch fine sea salt
pinch ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
8 ounces butter, softened (1 cup)
3 1/2 ounces white sugar (1/2 cup)
a scant 4 ounces soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup packed)
2 large free range eggs at room temperature
4 sweet tart apples, peeled and grated (about 3 cups)
1 tsp vanilla

To serve:
vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or clotted cream

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Grease a muffin tin very well with vegetable cooking spray. Place the muffin tin on a baking sheet you have lined with some parchment paper to allow for easy clean up.

Place the butter for the topping into a saucepan along with the pecans. Melt and cook over medium heat for several minutes until the pecans are toasted. Add the cream, brown sugar and salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon a portion of this evenly into the prepared muffin cups.

Sift the dry ingredients for the cakes together. Set aside. Cream the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until completely amalgamated. If the mixture curdles, add a TBS of the dry ingredients. Add all the dry ingredients, mixing gently until thoroughly combined. Fold in the apples and vanilla. Spoon over top of the pecan mixture in the muffin tin, dividing it equally amongst all of them. Don't worry if it seems too much. It's ok to mound it up.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. They will look a bit overflowed and messy but that's ok. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Loosen the edgess of the baby cakes with a small knife. Place some foil over top of them, then set a baking sheet over top and invert cakes. Serve warm with your desired accompaniment. Delicious!

Saturday 30 October 2010

Chunky Marmalade Muffins

It's Saturday morning and there's more time to spend in enjoying a leisurely breakfast . . .

Maybe you want something large and indulgent like Eggs, Beans and Chips . . .

Or Pancakes . . .

maybe even an indulgent Sour Cream and Blueberry Breakfast Cake . . .

Perhaps a tasty Omelette . . .

Or maybe you just want something like a tasty muffin . . . light, scrummy, buttery . . .

And just perfect with that morning cuppa. Breakfast in your hand . . . the portable breakfast . . . the perfect breakfast in bed breakfast . . .

These scrummy breakfast muffins combine two of my favourite breakfast items . . . a moist and buttery baked muffin . . . and tangy thick cut Orange Marmalade!!

Bet you can't eat just one!!

*Chunky Marmalade Muffins*
Makes 12 medium muffins
Printable Recipe

Delicious, tangy, melt in the mouth. What more could you ask for?

150g plain flour (a generous cup)
150g of whole wheat flour (a generous cup)
1 TBS baking powder
a large pinch of fine sea salt
280ml of milk (1 1/4 cups)
2 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 large free range egg, beaten
4 TBS melted butter
150g of thick cut marmalade (1/2 cup)
plus a bit extra to top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gar mark 7. Butter a deep 12 cup muffin tin well, or line with paper liners. Set aside.

Whisk the flours, baking powder and sea salt together. Whisk the milk, orange juice, beaten egg, and melted butter together. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the liquid ingredients. Mix together quickly, without over mixing. You want a coarse, slightly streaky batter. Stir the marmalade through with a fork to loosen and then fold it into the muffin batter. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups. Using a teaspoon dab some extra marmalade on top of the muffins. (optional)

Bake for 20 minutes, until well risen and golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the centre should come out clean!

Friday 29 October 2010

Chicken Lasagne

We've invited the missionaries from our church over for supper tonight and I've made a delicious Chicken Lasagne . . . but shhh . . . don't tell them, I want it to be a surprise!!

I do love having these young lads over and spoiling them from time to time. They're far away from kith and kin, and it's nice to be able to do something kind for them and to treat them like the special people that they are.

They spend all their days . . . often, well into the evening, traipsing the streets, knocking on doors and sharing the Gospel with whomever will listen . . . sometimes people aren't very nice to them.

They have to have thick skins and to not let it bother them. They also have to really believe in what they are doing and work in faith.

Anyways, they give up two years of their lives to serve the Lord at a time when most young people are going out and having lots of fun. They also pay for the priveledge of doing so out of their own pockets, and they work really hard and that's why I like to spoil them.

They always bring a special spirit when they come to our home as well, which is really nice.

I couldn't take any pictures of it cut into, coz well . . . they're not here yet, but trust me . . . it's scrummy.

Delicious layers of lasagna noodles, cooked chicken, a rich sauce and and two scrummy layers of cheeses chock full of lovely stuffed olives, onions, peppers and parsley.

What more can I say, but THIS IS VERY TASTY!! And it needn't be very high in calories either if you use low fat everything.

I'll be serving it up with some tasty artichoke garlic bread that I like to make and a nice mixed salad, and for dessert, well you'll have to wait until tomorrow to find that out!

*Chicken Lasagne*
Serves 10
Printable Recipe

More of a layered casserole than a lasagne, but delicious whatever you call it. Easy, quick and oh so tasty.

8 ounces lasagne noodles (I use the fresh ones, if you are using regular ones, you may
need to cook them first)
1 can of condensed cream of chicken soup (Batchelors over here in the UK, Campbells in North America)
1 soup tin of chicken stock
8 ounces of cottage cheese, drained (1 cup)
6 ounces of cream cheese
4 ounces of sour cream (1/2 cup)
4 ounces of mayonnaise (1/2 cup)
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 of a green pepper, finely chopped
a small handful of pimento stuffed olives, finely chopped
a small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 pound of cooked chicken meat, chopped
2 ounces fine dry bread crumbs (1/2 cup)
1 TBS butter melted
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5. Butter a 9 by 13 inch lasagne dish and set aside.

Whisk together the stock and soup, seasoning lightly, depending on how salty your chicken stock is. Set aside.

Stir together the cottage cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, onion, green pepper, olives and parsley, mixing all together well. Again season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Put a spoonful of the chicken soup into the bottom of the lasagne dish swirling it to coat lightly. Lay in a layer of lasagne noodles. Cover with half of the cheese mixture, half of the chicken and half of the soup mixture. Repeat layers, ending with soup on top. Mix the bread crumbs with the melted butter and then sprinkle evenly over top of all. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until bubbly, lightly browned and heated through. Delicious!

Marie Helene's Apple Cake, French Fridays With Dorie

Bonjours mes amis encore! I know this is The English Kitchen, but it's Friday and that means it's French Fridays with Dorie day! That fun cooking club created around the release of Dorie Greenspan's newest book, entitled Around My French Table. Each Friday we all cook the same recipe from the book!

I was really pleased that this week's recipe was an apple cake, Marie Helene's Apple Cake to be specific!

Oh what a lovely cake this was . . . and so very easy to make. It went together lickety split.

The end result being a deliciously buttery cake which was more apple than cake, and oh so scrummy!!

With the first mouthful I was 6 years old and sitting in my Canadian Grandmaman's kitchen again . . . very nostalgic.

I used a variety of apples . . . Golden Russet, Crispin, Granny Smith and Pink Lady, which Dorie had suggested as the different apples would give different textures with every mouthful. I loved that the apple was left quite chunky in this as well.

I already had something cooking in my teensy weensy gas oven so I ended up cooking this cake in my microwave/convection oven on the convection setting and it turned out perfect! I didn't have a spring form pan, so I baked it in a 9 inch cake tin with a removeable bottom with no problems at all.

This went down a real treat, warm and with a dollop of clotted cream gilding the top. To quote Todd . . . "This is nice . . . very nice."

Thanks Dorie for another brilliant recipe. If you'd like to see how the rest turned out, pop on over to French Fridays with Dorie. This was fabulous, but don't take my word for it. Buy the book and find out for yourselves! It's worth every penny! Trust me on this!

Not sure what next week's recipe is, but it's bound to be tres tres delicious!

Thursday 28 October 2010

Fruit Fritters

The sun is shining and, although cool, it's a really beautiful day. Funny how a spot of sunshine can just lift the soul!!

I wanted to make something sweet for our dessert tonight, but as I had a roast in the oven I wasn't really able to bake anything and I was sadly lacking in a lot of other ingredients as well . . . so puddings and such were kind of out of the picture . . .

And then I stumbled upon a recipe for fritter batter in an old shaker cookbook of mine. I think a lot of the shaker's were English Immigrants so . . . it kinda goes with an English Kitchen, does it not?

I think it does anyways, and I happen to know that Banana Fritters are a very popular dish over here!

Of course I don't do anything half way as you know . . . I like to try to put my own stamp on things and to push the edge a little bit and so . . .

I didn't just make banana fritters . . . I made apple fritters and plum fritters too. And then I spied a lone tomato in the basket and thought . . . hmmm . . . tomato fritters. Fabulous! And then coz there was a little bit of batter left I grabbed a little bunch of grapes and thought why the heck not! So in they went also!

They were all pretty special. Tomatoes are a vine fruit, as are grapes, and they both really went down wonderfully, well dusted with cinnamon sugar.

The banana was sweet and sticky and oh so very delicious with some Maple Syrup, likewise the apple, but I am thinking next time (and there will deffo be a next time) I am going to go whole hog and make a toffee sauce!

Oh how wonderful cooking is when you aren't afraid to push the envelope a bit!

*Basic Fritter Batter*
Makes quite a lot
Printable Recipe

This is a basic batter that is great for use on all sorts of fruit. You just need to peel and cut your fruit into bits, dip it into the batter and then deep fry. Serve hot with sugar and or sauce!

6 1/2 ounces flour (1 1/2 cups)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
175ml of milk (approx 2/3 cup)
1 large egg, well beaten
fruit pieces
deep fat for frying
sugar, icing sugar and or syrup for serving

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Whisk in the milk gradually and then whisk in the egg until smooth. Dip peeled fruit slices into the batter and fry in deep fat intil crisp and browned, turning with a fork to brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with sauce or syrup if desired.

Dessert Fritters:

Banana fritters are good served with melted red current jelly, or toffee sauce. Maple syrup is also good. Apple fritters are lovely with maple syrup, or custard or even applesauce! All fruit fritters are lovely dusted with cinnamon sugar. Allow one piece of fruit per person.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Spaghetti with Marmite

Love it or loathe it, you have to admit that Marmite really gets people talking. There is even a dedicated Fan Club for it online.

A thick and sticky dark brown paste with a distinctly powerful taste which is salty and savoury with umami qualities, it is a yeast extract, which is a by product of beer brewing.

Todd is from the Love it group. One of his favourite snacks is to smear it on buttered bread . . . ugh . . . I won't even let him near me when he's eaten it . . . I just can't stand the smell . . .

I do like Twigletts though, which have a distinct marmite kind of taste . . . so while I don't necessarily like it a lot . . . I don't actually loathe it either.

In Nigella's newest cookbook, Kitchen, recipes from the heart of the home, she has a recipe for Marite with Spaghetti and I have to admit I was intrigued from minute I saw it . . . and then when I watched her cook it on the telly, I was intrigued even more.

This was something I wanted to try.

I made it today and it is one of the easiest recipes ever . . . in fact, I'm not even sure that you could really call it a recipe . . . Nigella claims that children love it. Not having any children in my home, I'll just have to take her word on that.

However, having made it I'd have to say that it's not too bad! I actually found it a bit on the bland side. She did suggest that you could add more marmite to taste . . . but I was afraid to put in too much, coz I'm not really a lover of it . . .

I did find that adding a healthy grinding of black pepper really added some zip . . . and then I got to thinking . . . you know what happens then.

I spied a jar of Caramelized Onion Chutney on the countertop and I thought why the heck not! I added a healthy dessertspoonful of the stuff and WOWOW!

This was no longer just so/so . . . it was fantastic!!

If you want so/so . . . follow the recipe as per Nigella . . . but . . . if you want a dish that is not only easy, but gorgously tasty, follow my lead and add some Caramelized Onion Chutney! (I just can't leave well enough alone can I!!)

*Spaghetti with Marmite*
Serves 4 to 6
Printable Recipe

Surprisingly good.

375g dry spaghetti (about 3/4 of a pound)
50g unsalted butter (about 3 1/2 TBS)
1 tsp Marmite, or more to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese to taste
freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the spaghetti and cook, according to the package directions.

About five minutes before the pasta is cooked, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the marmite and about 1 TBS of the pasta cooking water. Whisk to amalgamate and thorougly dissolve the marmite. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta completely. Return to the pot and then pour the marmite mixture over top and mix together, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water if necesssary. Serve with plenty of finely grated Parmesan Cheese and a grinding of pepper.

Note - Todd, of course, did NOT imbibe . . . because, whilst he loves Marmite . . . he absolutely loathes Spaghetti!

Monday 25 October 2010

Bakewell Scones

There is nothing I enjoy more than taking a traditional British baking idea and adding my own creative twist to it. Call me crazy, but . . . I get a whole lot of satisfaction out of this activity.

One of my favourite flavours over here has to be Bakewell anything . . . tarts, pudding . . . I think it's just fabulous.

Bakewell tarts are little shortcrust pastry tarts filled with jam and almond flavoured sponge. Topped with an almond fondant icing and a cherry, I even enjoy the cheap grocery shop versions.

Bakewell pudding traditionally has a flakey pastry base, covered with jam and an almond frangipane filling, and is exclusive to the Derbyshire town of Bakewell.

Call it what you will, I just love the elements of Bakewell . . tart, pudding . . . whatever. If you have almonds cherries and jam involved, I am there!

I have made the traditional Bakewell Tarts on here in the past, and then I have played with the flavours a bit more and created Bakewell Whoopie Pies. (Oh my but they were good, good . . . GOOD!) I even once baked a Raspberry Bakewell Cake from a recipe I found in BBC Good Food Magazine.

When we got home from church today I thought I would bake some scones and I thought to myself . . . hmmm . . . Bakewell Scones might be tasty!

Imagine it now . . . yummy sweet seedless raspberry preserves, sandwiched between two scone layers made all buttery and flakey with marzipan and butter having been rubbed in . . . with a touch of flaked coconut (not traditional I know) for some added texture, and then topped with an egg wash and flaked almonds. Baked until scrummily flakey and crisp on the bottom and top and then drizzled with an almond glaze and topped with a glace cherry half, I have only two words to describe these little delights.

Moreishly Moreish!!

Sooooooo scrummily yummy! I bet you can't stop at eating just one . . .

Sinful I know! But what a wonderfully wicked way to go! I think I have found a new weakness to add to the rest . . . sigh . . .

*Bakewell Scones*
Makes 8
Printable Recipe

Raspberry preserves sandwiched between two layers of a scrummy almond and coconut scone dough, topped with crunchy flaked almonds and then finally glazed with an almond glaze and topped with a glace cherry!

8 1/2 ounces plain flour (2 cups)
2 TBS caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 ounces flaked sweetened coconut (1/2 cup)
3 1/2 ounces marzipan, chilled (about 1/3 cup)
2 ounces chilled unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
100ml of milk (1/3 cup)
1 large free range egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 TBS seedless raspberry preserves
1 egg yolk, beaten together with 1/2 tsp water
3 TBS flaked almonds
To glaze:
2 ounces icing sugar
a few drops of almond extract
4 glace cherries halved

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*f/ gas mark 5. Lightly butter a baking sheet and set aside.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and coconut together in a bowl. Cut the marzipan and butter into bits and drop them into the flour mixture. Rub into the flour with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Whisk the whole egg, milk and extracts together. Add all at once to the flour mixture and stir in with a fork to make a soft dough. Divide in half and pat out 3/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Stamp into 8 rounds with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, gathering the scraps and repeating until you have 8 rounds. Place the 8 rounds on the baking sheet. Top each with 1/2 tsp of raspberry jam, keeping it in the centre. Pat out the remaining dough to the same thickness as the first lot and stamp out 8 more rounds, once again gathering the scraps and re patting. Place these rounds over top of the jam topped rounds, pressing gently around the edges to seal the jam inside. Brush the tops of each lightly with the egg yolk mixture and sprinkle with flaked almonds, pressing them in gently.

Bake in the heated oven for 18 to 22 minutes, until well risen and golden brown on the tops and bottoms. Remove from the oven to a wire rack.

Whisk together the icing sugar, almond extract and enough water to make a smooth drizzable glaze. Dribble this over the warm scones and top each with a cherry half.

Delicious served warm or cold. Store in a tightly covered container.