Friday 31 August 2012

Guest Post - Virginia Minnick of Nutella Recipes

Freezers Can Help You Get Magic for Money

When you think about the meal planning, then it is extremely essential that you must have a freezer. You must keep your freezer clean and organized in order to get full help to save the extra things and foods that can be spoiled.

Most of the time, a freezer is considered as the best friend and it can also do much magic. When you start freezing the extra food in your freezer, then you come to realize about how you can save your money using the beneficial freezer. It does not only save your money but also saves your time that you can spend with your family.

When you cook large amount of food during the weekends, you can also store these foods in the freezer to keep them save so that they can be used later on. You can fill your freezer with the freezing bags that contain different ingredients in it. So in order to store a number of ingredients and food items in your freezer, you must keep your freezer well organized and clean. Throwing the freezer bags in the freezer makes it messy and dirty.

Different tips to use the freezer for saving time and money

• If you want to organize your freezer completely, you must keep it clean. Take all the ingredients and bags out of your freezer and throw away all the expired things from the freezer. After cleaning the freezer, keep the fresh items in the freezer again and do remember, you have to set the temperature of the freezer to 0 degree. It is an extremely important point that most of people forget.
• Make different sections in your freezer, so that you may keep different kinds of food in it. Just like the right side is for meat, left side is for vegetables and the door side is for the ice cream. Do your best and do whatever suits you.
• Try to store all the cooked meals and groceries in the food packages that must be waterproof. You can also use the containers, plastic bags and aluminum foils etc.
• During the storage of food, always notice that there should no air in the container of the plastic bag. It will dehydrate the food and make it inedible for the people. So if you do not want to spoil your food then you must be very careful that there must be no air in the container.
• Once you defrost the food, you should not store it again in the freezer. Therefore, it is mostly advice to store food in small packages rather than in large packages. So the best thing is that you must save them as food per serving in one package.
• In order to manage your freezer, you must use label. In these labels, you should mention what kind of food or ingredient is inside. You must also write the date when you bought it from the market and the date when you prepared it. Also, write the date by which you can use the ingredient or food item.
• Whatever you keep in your freezer, always try to keep it in pressed form. All the food items kept in the pressed form will occupy less space and allow you to store more items in it. Therefore, it is mostly advised to store all the ingredients and items in the form of bags.
• The quick defrosting of the food kills its nutrition and moisturizer away from it. You must defrost it one day before you are going to use it. If you forgot to do it one day before, you should throw it in cold water and defrost it.

About the Author

I love to cook and spend time in kitchen; I am the author of blog "Nutella Recipes" where I try to deliver to my customers the best eyewear dessert ideas.

Crunchy Baked Cod with Horseradish Tartar Sauce

Delicious fish for Friday here in the English Kitchen today! Having fish for supper on Friday is a long held tradition over here in the UK, especially up here in the wild and wooley North West. On most Friday nights there are long queues at fish and chip shops . . . if you don't want to have to wait a long time for your dinner . . . you have to get there early.

I remember when I came over here to meet Todd in person before we got engaged. My first Friday night here, he picked up some fish and chips for us from the local chippie. I was totally amazed at the size of the pieces of fish. He got two regular pieces of cod and one portion of chips to share . . . and there was more than enough for the two of us.

It cost £2 each, for the pieces of cod . . . and they were so large that they were hanging over the sides of our plates . . . and for 60p we got a portion of chips that was so ample we could not eat them all . . . both fish and chips liberally sprinkled with lots of salt and malt vinegar. (I now request to add my own, as it's usually far too much salt for my liking.) The cod was so sweet and moist, much nicer than I had remembered the cod being back home . . . the chips hand cut and chunky and crisp. The batter . . . crisp and melt in your mouth scrummy . . .

By the end of the meal I was so stuffed I could barely move . . . two fish and chip dinners for £4.60 . . . you'd be lucky to get away with one fish and chips dinner for that price now! But . . . then again, that was 12 years ago and a lot has changed in those 12 years!

When I was growing up, I used to be a tiny bit jealous of the catholic kids in my class at school . . . they always got fish for dinner on Fridays and I loved fish. I don't know if it was too expensive or what . . . but I know we only ever very rarely had fish. It was a real treat. Usually on Fridays we had hot dogs . . . which were quite good the way my mom did them . . . but I still would have loved to have had fish.

Today I oftimes choose to do my fish in simple ways, rather than deep fry it . . . saving the luxury of those deep fried fish calories to a once in a blue moon treat, from my favourite fish and chips place in town. This is a very simple, and yet easy way of preparing fish that gives you moist fish . . . with a deliciously flavoured crisp crust . . . without all the frying and faff.

The seasoned fish is brushed with a simple butter, olive oil and Dijon mustard mix and then has a crisp breadcrumb mixture of panko and parsley flakes pressed into the surface . . . and then you drizzle the remainder of the butter mixture over top. About 15 minutes later, you are rewarded with beautifully cooked fish with a nice crisp crust . . . not long . . . but just long enough to throw together . . .

. . . a delicious and easy homemade tartar sauce! It can be very low fat if you use low fat mayo instead of the regular kind. A bit of mash on the side and a few green vegetables and Bob's your Uncle! I don't know what's not to like about this meal, easy, quick and DELICIOUS!

*Crunchy Baked Cod with Horseradish Tartar Sauce*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Delicious baked cod with a crunchy flavourful panko crust, served up with a fantastic homemade tartar sauce!

4 (6-ounce) cod loins
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 TBS softened butter
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS Dijon mustard
a pinch of cayenne pepper
60g of japanese bread crumbs (1 cup)
1 TBS dried parsley flakes

for the tartar sauce:
1 stalk of celery, de-stringed and finely chopped
2 TBS finely chopped cornichons
1 TBS prepared horseradish
2 TBS coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
6 TBS food quality mayonnaise (I use Hellman's or French Mayonnaise)
1 tsp lemon juice
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 5. Line a baking sheet with some aluminium foil. Lightly spray with cooking spray.

Rinse your cod loins and then pat them dry with some paper kitchen towelling. Place them on the baking tray. Season with some salt and pepper to taste. Melt the butter together with the olive oil. Whisk in the Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper. Brush the top of each cod loin with this mixture. Divide the bread crumbs between each loin, pressing them onto the fish to help it to adhere. Drizzle with the remainder of the butter mixture, dividing it equally.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.

While the fish is baking make your tartar sauce. Stir together the celery, cornichons, parsley, horseradish, mayonnaise, mustard powder and lemon juice. Season to taste with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Serve with the cooked fish. Delicious!

Make sure you come back tomorrow. I have a REAL treat in store for you! You won't want to miss it!

Thursday 30 August 2012

Baked Chicken Nugget Spaghetti

Today something for the kiddos. In honor of them going back to school. Something that is simple and yet a bit special for them. And your big kid husband would probably enjoy this as well.

I know how busy mom's are, especially if they work outside the home. Time is always precious . . . and quick and easy meals always come in handy. The more time you can spend with your family and the less time you have to spend slaving over a stove on those weeknights . . . the better.

This is quick . . . and easy . . . simple . . . and very family friendly. It can be economical too . . . if you use store brands, or the super saver brands . . . but I don't. I want real chicken breast meat in my nuggets . . . and some substance to my sauce . . . and I confess . . . I like a best quality pasta . . .

You can round it out with a simple salad and maybe some garlic toast.
5 ingredient entrees. You can't beat them.

Not Todd's favourite of course . . . it's the pasta, you know . . . but . . . meh! Sometimes it's good for me to feed my inner child. He had beans on toast. (Let me add, this is very easily cut down in proportions or pumped up to larger portions.)

*Baked Chicken Nugget Spaghetti*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

A five ingredient meal for the kiddos that is surprisingly delicious! Who knew!

1/2 pound of dry spaghetti, broken in half
1 large jar of tomato pasta sauce (I like the Napolina brand, tomato and basil, as it's got a fab flavour and lots of texture. I need to use two jars as they are smaller than other kinds)
1 package (355g) of frozen breaded chicken nuggets (Use the ones that specifically are
made 100% with chicken breast meat. 4 serving size packet)
6 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese
Optional, several dessertspoons of finely grated Parmesan Cheese (grate your own)

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Cook your spaghetti as per the directions and timings on the packet. Drain well and return to the saucepan. Stir in the pasta sauce. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 5. Lightly spray a 13 by 9 inch baking dish ( or 4 indivudual gratin dishes) with some cooking spray. Spread the spaghetti evenly over the bottom of the dish, or divide it equally amongst the individual dishes. Top with the frozen chicken nuggets in a single layer.

Bake uncovered for about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip all of the chicken nuggets over. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, if using and the mozzarella cheese. If you are using individual dishes, divide it equally amongst them. Return to the oven for a further 6 to 8 minutes, until the chicken is heated through and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Pear, Stilton & Walnut Crumpet Pizzas, with a drizzle of Sage honey

One of my favourite things to do is to combine different flavours and textures together in unsual ways. I picked up a packet of crumpets at the Spar the other night, thinking we would have some toasted crumpets and jam that night for a late supper in front of the telly.

To make a long story short, it didn't happen . . . so I was sat there looking at this packet of crumpets today . . . and thinking that I needed to do something with them before the expiry date and then I thought why not pizzas???

Why not indeed? Crumpets make the most fabulous pizzas, not the least because they have all those lovely little holes and tunnels in them for the toppings to melt down into. Scrummo! Way scrummo!

Then I started thinking of flavours that go well together . . . I had a block of lovely Stilton cheese in the refrigerator, and some beautiful pears that came in our veggie box yesterday. Pears and stilton go very well together. It's that old favourite combination of sweet and salty, plus a bit of tang.

Then I thought . . . walnuts also go really well with both pears and stilton. so then I had my topping mix. I added a bit of mozzarella just for bit of extra ooooze quality.

I wanted to add something extra though . . . kind of like a dressing and I toyed with the idea of a white balsamic vinaigrette and then I spied a bottle of Acacia honey in the cupboard and thought to myself . . . sage and honey. Sage and honey . . . SAGE HONEY! So I infused the honey with the flavours of some lovely freeze dried sage I keep on hand and drizzled this over the finished pizzas . . . and voila!!

Magnifique! Sweet, savoury, tangy, and crunchy . . . all on a scrummy crumpet!

What more could you ask for????

*Pear, Stilton & Walnut Crumpet Pizzas, with a Drizzle of Sage Honey*
Makes 4 servings as a starter, or a delicious lunch for 2
Printable Recipe

A fabulous mix of flavours and textures that is wonderfully delicious. If you are a fan of salty/sweet and crunchy . . . this is just perfect for you!

4 English Crumpets
175g of Stilton cheese, crumbled (6 ounces)
50g of mozzarella cheese, grated (2 ounces)
50g of chopped walnuts (approximately 1/2 cup)
1 medium firm ripe pear, cored and coarsely chopped

For the Sage honey:
2 heaped dessertspoons of a mild flavoured liquid honey
1 tsp of freeze dried sage leaves

First make the Sage Honey. Put the honey into a microwave safe glass bowl. Stir in the sage leaves. Heat on high for about 40 seconds. Stir again and set aside. Keep warm.

Preheat your oven grill to high. Place the crumpets onto a baking pan. Toast under the grill on both sides until lightly golden brown. While the crumpest are toasting, mix together the cheeses, pear and walnuts. Divide this mixture evenly amongst the four crumpets, piling it loosely on top. Pop back under the grill for several minutes, until the cheeses are melted and the walnuts are beginning to toast.

Remove from the grill. Scoop carefully off onto 4 serving plates if serving as a starter, and 2 plates if serving as a lunch for two. Drizzle evenly with the sage honey and serve immediately.

As you know, my husband and I are Latter Day Saints, and as such we don't drink alcohol, although I am not opposed to cooking with it. I live in Chester, which is the gateway to Wales up here in the North West . . . and I was greatly intrigued several weeks ago when I was contacted by Fine Wines Direct and asked would I like to try some Welsh Wines. I had no idea that they made Wine in Wales. How fascinating.

I told them that I didn't drink wine, but did cook with it from time to time and so I was sent two lovely looking bottles of wine from the Ancre Hill Estates Winery, situated at Ancre Hill on the outskirts of Monmouth, in South East Wales.

The vineyard is comprised of two sites on the outskirts of Monmouth town. The Folly View site of 6 acres is principally planted with Chardonnay and Albario. The newer Town site of 3 acres is totally dedicated to Pinot Noir. Both sites are south facing on well draining, limestone soils and the long hours of sunshine and comparatively low rainfall in the little valley all combine to make it an ideal location for vines.

I was sent a bottle of their Rose Wine (2010) and a bottle of their White (2010). I have not been able to use them yet, unfortunately, but I did want to tell you about this beautiful winery.

Set in the middle of the Wye Valley, an area of outstanding natural beauty, the vineyard is blessed with its own unique meso-climate, surrounded by tree topped hills on all sides, with the famous Brecon Beacons to the north. Being produced in an area of outstanding beauty is not what makes this wine different however, and this is what I found completely fascinating!

Ancre Hill Estates Winery is one of the few wineries in the country to use Biodynamics to help produce their wines. I expect you are wondering just what that is??? So was I . . .

The concept of 'Biodynamic agriculture' was proposed by the philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner through a series of lectures called "The Agriculture Course," held in Koberwitz, Germany between the 7th and 16th of June, 1924. The course provided farmers with an alternative to the ever more industrialised nature of agriculture. Ancre Hill Estates take pride in practice farming which stays true to the principles set out by Steiner, which have been adapted to their Vineyard site for the present day. These are practices which help them to maintain their beautiful piece of Wales and which help them to protect the intregrity of their vines. This means that their wines are chemical free, and that they use natural process to care for their vines. They also plant their vines according to the lunar cycles, which is another thing I found to be quite fascinating.

"The concept of biodynamic agriculture means we don't use any chemicals whatsoever in our process. It means we keep the whole ecology of the area in balance," he says.

The method adheres to the belief that the moon's gravitational pull can cause the seeds to swell and burst at certain times. This factor, coupled with the increasing moonlight, creates balanced root and leaf growth.

"We don't follow the lunar cycle to the letter, it's much more instinctive than that, " says Mr Morris.

"For example if we do the winter pruning in a descending moon on a fruit day, then it's going to put lots of visceral forces into the vine and they are going to come back much stronger."
(text taken from Wales

This is something which I really admire in modern production of anything. I love it when farms and companies and producers are environmentally aware and when they use a quality of care towards our environment in the production of their products. This to me is a HUGE plus.

Richard Morris and his family started planting in 2006 and are only the second biodynamic vineyard in the UK, which is impressive, especially since their wines have now managed to scoop an impressive three awards on the international circuit, having impressed judges around the world, with a silver medal for it's Sparkling Rose (2008 vintage) and two bronzes for it's Sparkling Shite (2008 vintage) and it's Pinot Noir (2009 vintage) from the International Wine and Spirits Competition.

In any case it all sounds like a very winning combination to me, and I promise to let you know exactly what I think of their flavours as soon as I have the opportunity to cook with them. This building work which is going on in our home at the moment is somewhat cramping my cooking mojo, to say the least!! Many thanks to Fine Wines Direct for this opportunity to learn something about these very unique wines as well as the opportunity to share what I learned with each of you.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Courgette Loaf (Zucchini Bread)

I reckon the courgette has to be about one of the easiest vegetables to grow. It practically grows like a weed, providing you with an abundant supply during August. It's a very versatile cookery ingredient and the trick is to keep up with it, and to keep picking it's fruit before they grow as big as marrows!

We love it stir fried in a bit of oil, with some garlic, salt and pepper and then dusted with some freshly grated Parmesan.

We eat it cut into sticks and battered and then served with a delicious garlicky dip.

We eat it raw on a crudite platter along with an herby dip or aioli.

We eat it raw and sliced into salads.

We eat it sliced and casseroled or gratined.

Grated and slipped into meatloaves or pasta sauces . . .

Our favourite way to eat it though, is baked into a tasty quick bread. I have long had my own delicious recipe, but this time I wanted to try something new. I turned to "Bake", one of my favourite cookbooks, written by Rachel Allen. I love Rachel's recipes. They always turn out fabulous, and this was no exception. Filled with spice and two types of sugar, it has a wonderfully crunchy crust on the outside, and a moreishly moist texture inside.

This is one of those loaves that gets better tasting with every day that passes. It does make two loaves, but that's not a problem. You can either freeze one for a later date, or become the favourite person in your neighbourhood by passing the extra one onto one of your neighbours!


*Courgette Loaf*
Makes 2 9X5 inch loaves
Printable Recipe

It just wouldn't be summer without having made at least a couple of courgette loaves. This is an extremely delicious way of using up some of that "glut" in the garden. The inclusion of demerara sugar makes for a very nice crust.

14 ounces plain flour (4 cups)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
11 ounces caster sugar (1 2/3 cups)
3 1/2 ounces of demerara sugar (1/2 cup)
3 large free range eggs, beaten
200ml sunflower oil (7 fluid ounces)
2 tsp vanilla extract
13 ounces of grated courgettes, with the skin left on (3/4 pound)
3 ounces chopped walnuts (3/4 cup)

Pre-heat the oven to 150*C/300*. Grease and flour two 9 X 5 inch loaf tins. (alternately you can grease them and then line them with baking paper, and grease again)

Sift the flour, salt, soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a large bowl. Whisk in both sugars.

Beat the eggs, sunflower oil and vanilla extract together.

Stir the egg mixture and grated courgettes into the dry mixture, mixing until well combined. Stir in the walnuts. Divide between the two prepared loaf tins.

Bake in the heated oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaves comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes or so before turning them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Delicious toasted and served warm with some cold butter.

Monday 27 August 2012

The Great British Bake Off, Showstoppers

If you are a serious cook and baker over here in the UK, you would have had to be living under a rock not to have been aware of that fabulous television series, The Great British Bake Off. Hugely popular, the third series is about to air on the BBC. It is a televised baking competition between amateur bakers in the UK, pitting their skills against each other in a series of baking challenges, and judged technically by Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, both famed for their baking skills. It's a show that is as much entertaining as it is technically informing. For the baker and cook, it is "Must Watch" programming!

I was delighted therefore, to have been sent the book based on the current Series to review. It is entitled The Great British Bake Off: how to turn everyday bakes into showstoppers, and has once again been written by Linda Collister, and includes technical challenge and signature bake recipes by Mary and Paul. Showstoppers challenges you to create bakes that will not only turn heads but make mouths water.

"BAKING DOESN'T HAVE TO BE COMPLICATED TO BE "SHOWSTOPPING." (A claim from the inside cover.) To transform really good recipes into eye-catching bakes, you don't need professional levels of skill, nor hours of time. Just a host of brilliant recipes, together with ingeniously simple styling secrets and decorating tips.

This is a fabulously substantial hard backed book, filled to the brim with luxurious looking recipes accompanied by gorgeously delicious looking photographs. (just what I like in a book). Divided into sections: cakes, biscuits, breads, tarts, pies, desserts, puddings and the basics . . . and then within each section, the recipes are rated by the level of skill required or difficulty, ie. easy, needs a little skill, etc. I really like that because you instantly know how long it’s going to take you, and how you can progress to something more difficult.

After that each section has a selection of recipes suited to all skill levels. There are lots of simple tips on most pages such as ‘If you don’t have time to make frosting, keep it simple and dust with cocoa or icing sugar.' I like that. Tips are nice. Tips help good bakers to become better bakers, and novices to become well acquainted with the skills they need to become more exerienced.

The photos, as I said, are absolutely gorgeous, but if there is one drawback, it is that some of these recipes, which include technical challenges and signature bakes from the show, are quite complicated and yet almost half of these are not accompanied by a photograph of the final result. But having said that . . . it is still a beautiful book and it is chock full of sound, reliable fabulous recipes, that photograph or not, would be quite easy and uncomplicated to execute.

Scattered throughout the book are ‘Showstopping Techniques’ which include how to do spun sugar, crimping and decorating with pastry for pies, piping meringue swirls and making chocolate leaves for example.

Finally right at the back there is a brilliant reference section with recipes for icings and fillings such as chantilly cream and lemon curd and sauces such as beurre blanc. Some words of advice on stencils, sprays and glitters. I liked the addition of advice on using edible flowers.

The first recipe I chose to bake from the book was not a really difficult one I didn't think . . . and one that I thought my readers would enjoy. Ruby Jacks . . . flapjacks with a difference. These are flavoured with both ground and candied gingers . . . and topped with melted white chocolate and dried cranberries. Flap jacks are not something that I had ever really tasted before I moved over here to the UK. Oh . . . I had had North American flapjacks (pancakes) but I'd no idea that over here they were these moreishly scrummy oaty cookie type of bar things . . . and in all honesty, there is no baking creation over in North America that is even remotely similar, not unless you count the base and topping that is used to make Date Squares, and even that's not the same . . . there was no photograph accompanying the recipe . . . so I made created one . . . by laying my finished flap jacks on the recipe page . . .

Don't they look good???? I know!! Fabulous!!

Flap jacks are wonderfully buttery, and really kind of difficult to describe. They're not raised. They're not like cakes. They're not like cookies even . . . they're kind of like a cross between a cereal bar . . . and a cookie . . . and yet, at the same time, they nothing like either one. I have made them on here before, with my Cranberry, Pecan and White Chocolate ones . . . as well as some delicious Fruit & Nut ones. I love flap jacks, and I have to tell you that this recipe for the Ruby Jacks resulted in the BEST flapjacks I have ever eaten . . . so good in fact that I dare say I may be up a pound this week on my weigh in instead of down, because I have not been able to resist them or leave them alone. My willpower having completely vanished . . .

Buttery and moreishly gingery . . . they satisfy on all levels. Homely and comforting . . . they're also deliciously upscale. That topping of white chocolate and the chopped dried cranberries . . . they tip them ever so elegantly into the realms of being almost divine. There are only three left.

Ruby Jacks . . . thou art my newest weakness . . .

*Ruby Jacks*
Makes 16
Printable Recipe

Delightfully buttery flapjack, moreishly filled with the lovely flavour of glace ginger, and topped with a white chocolatre drizzle and chopped dried cranberries and cherries!

115g of unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
70g of light brown muscovado sugar (1/3 cup packed)
5 TBS golden syrup
1 rounded TBS of chopped glace ginger
1 tsp ground ginger
180g of porridge oats (2 1/4 cups)

Preheat the oven to 150*F.300*F/ gas mark 2. Lightly butter an 8 inch square baking tin. Set aside.

Measure the butter, sugar, syrup, glace ginger and ground ginger into a large saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat to melt the butter and sugar, stirring to combine well, and using a wooden spoon. (the mixture should not feel gritty.) Remove from the heat and tip in the oats. Stir to thoroughly combine. Tip this mixture into the prepared pan. Lightly press the mixture down with the back of the wooden spoon to level off. Bake for 20 minutes, or until turning golden brown around the edges. If you would like a crunchier flapjack, bake for an additonal 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Carefully score the mixture into 16 squares, using a lightly buttered knife. Leave in the tin to grow completely cold before removing.

If desired, you may melt 100g of good quality chopped white chocolate (a generous 1/2 cup) and drizzle this over top or spread. Decorate with some chopped dried sour cherries and cranberries. (75g each, scant half cup)Leave until the fruit has set in the chocolate. Store in an airtight container and eat within a week.

The Great British Bake Off,
how to turn everyday bakes into SHOWSTOPPERS
by Linda Collister

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: BBC Books (2 Aug 2012) Ebury Publishing
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1849904634
ISBN-13: 978-1849904636
Product Dimensions: 24.8 x 19.2 x 3.4 cm

RRP: £20 available at all good booksellers

What’s new this year is that there is an iphone app to accompany the books. It’s a tad expensive at £2.99 but there are some interesting features like touch free instructions and the ability to take a photo of the recipe you’ve made and share it. Recipes included are from series 2 and 3.

All in all I think this is a lovely book, and I can envision myself spending many happy hours baking from within it's pages. I give it two thumbs up!

Sunday 26 August 2012

Blueberry & Hazelnut Biscotti

I can remember back in the late 1980's my ex and I went to Toronto one weekend to stay at my ex sister in laws apartment. She lived in a fabulous place downtown on Young Street. It was a wonderful apartment and I believe that Lloyd Robertson lived in the same apartment. (A famous Canadian Newscaster of the day.) There was a gym and a spa in the building . . . but most special of all, there was a fabulous coffee shop downstairs on the ground floor.

That was back in the day when I drank coffee. I remember how wonderful this all seemed to me . . . a coffee shop on the ground floor. When you walked into it your nose filled with the most delicious scents . . . fresh ground coffee . . . freshly baked cakes and rolls . . . it was all pretty special and eye opening to this little country gal.

I remember seeing a jar on the countertop that was filled with these fabulous looking biscuits called Biscotti. Oh how exotic they sounded. They were really expensive . . . but we ended up buying one for me to try. It was lovely . . . crunchy and almondy with just the merest hint of citrus . . . orange I believe . . . it was love at first bite.

I have loved biscotti ever since. That was also the first time I ever had a cappuccino as well . . . oh what a sheltered life I had led up to that point!!

I baked some fabulous biscotti this afternoon . . . just for a treat. These are wonderful . . . flavoured with vanilla and cardamom . . .

. . . and stogged full of dried blueberries, white chocolate, and chopped toasted hazelnuts. Very scrumptious indeed! They're crisp and crunchy, but not dry. In short . . . they're perfect.

And not so hard to make as you would think. Trust me on this. If I can make them . . . anyone can. Tis true . . .

*Blueberry & Hazelnut Biscotti*
Makes 25
Printable Recipe

Crisp and moreishly filled with lovely dried blueberries and sweet lumps of white chocolate. Lightly spiced with ground cardamom, these go down a real treat.

115g of unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup)
125g of golden caster sugar (2/3 cup, superfine sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large free range eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
275g of plain flour (2 3/4 cup)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g of dried blueberries (2/3 cup)
100g of finely chopped chopped Hazelnuts (a generous half cup)
100g of white chocolate chips (generous half cup)

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Line two large baking sheets with baking parchment. Set aside.

Beat the softened butter, and sugar together with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, beating them in a little bit at a time, so that the mixture doesn't curdle. Stir in the vanilla. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and ground cardamom. Stir this into the creamed mixture using a wooden spoon. Stir in the dried berries, toasted nuts and white chocolate chips. Work in evenly.

Tip the mixture out onto a lightly floured board, Dust your hands with flour. Divide the dough in half and then shape each half into a rectangle. Transfer one half to one each of the baking sheets. Using your hands, lightly pat each out to a rectangle about 4 inches by 110 inches in size, squaring off the edges.

Bake for 25 minutes in the heated oven, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. REmove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes, before using a very sharp knife to cut each log crosswise into 12 equal slices, each about 1/2 inch thick. Gently tip the slices over so that they are resting on the cut edges, and leaving some space between each. You may need to carefully slide some slices around to the edges of the pan. Return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes, until just beginning to colour. Remove the pans to wire racks and allow the biscotti to cool completely on the pans. Once they have cooled they will be less fragile and can be stored in an airtight container.