Monday, 12 December 2011

Graze box arrived

  A friend gave me a code to get a free snack box from an on-line company called Graze. I had looked at their website before and was very tempted to order a box and had planned to try them out in January (news years resolution healthy eating), so I was very happy to try a free box.
You get 3 choices the nibble box which has maximum variety with a choice from over 100 of the tasty natural nibbles or the nutrition box which has 2 different varieties the eatwellbox same as nibble box but no flapjacks, artisan breads, hone coated nuts or milk or white chocolate or the stricter energybox only has nuts, seeds, dried fruit and olives.

 I picked the nibble box, it arrived on my chosen day Friday, it was well packaged in a recyclable card box. Inside it contained 4 random boxes (you pick the things like this and dislike from over 100 snacks, it was very quick to do) I liked the idea of having something different to try. A little booklet with food values, calories and other facts is included for your 4 boxes making it feel personal. My box contained natural vanilla seed (vanilla sunflower seeds and vanilla pumpkin seeds) very yummy, banoffee pie (almond slices, fudge pieces, pecan nuts and banana coins) nice but the banana coins were very sweet, billionaire's shortbread (fudge pieces, blanched almonds, milk chocolate drops and cranberries) very tasty, dark rocky road (pecan nuts, dark chocolate buttons and cranberries) with 50% dark cocoa buttons super tasty.
I used my boxes to take to work each day and have as a snack with coffee and I enjoyed them very much and have now ordered another box 4 new snacks to try fruity ploughman's (bramley apple and pear chutney with a roasted poppy seed flatbread), apple and cinnamon flapjacks, fruit sangrisa(strawberries, physalis and orange sultanas) and pina colada (pineapple, coconut flakes and mango) a yummy week ahead.
They sent me a code to give to friends to get your first box free and your second box half price its 9554XRNFP and the link is I think it is time limited. 

Friday, 18 November 2011

Fig and Almond Tartlets

Ripe juicy figs are both pretty and tasty so I wanted to use them to show off to there fullest.
This is a quick and easy tart with little effect unless you make your puff pastry, I used purchased for this.

  • 1 sheet puff pastry cut into 4
  • 2 large figs (half for each tart if you have smaller figs you will need more)
  • 4 Heaped tablespoons ground almond
  • 2 Tablespoons caster sugar
  • Approx 4 heaped teaspoons honey
Preheat oven at 200C/400F/Gas Mark6

Score (to score make a shallow cut, don't go all the way through the pastry) a square about 2.5cm/ 1inch from the outside of the pastry, this will make the walls of the tart onto each piece of puff pastry and place on a baking tray

Mix the ground almonds and sugar and divide between the 4 square of puff pastry keeping the mixture inside your scored lines
Cut 1/2 fig into 4 wedges and place onto the almond mixture repeat for the other 3 tarts

Drizzle the honey over the figs (depending on the sweetness of the figs use more or less honey to taste)

Cook for 12-15 minutes (until the pastry is brown and puffed up)
Oven temperature 200C/400F/Gas Mark6

Tasty served warm or cold 

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Coffee and Pecan Cupcakes

I love coffee and also pecan nuts they are a perfect mix for cupcakes

For the cupcakes -
  • 100g/ 4oz butter or margarine (softened)
  • 100g/ 4oz caster sugar
  • 2 medium size eggs
  • 100g/ 4oz self-raising flour, sieved
  • 1 level teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Camp coffee (chicory and coffee essence)
  • 50g/ 2oz Chopped Pecan nuts plus some pecan halves to decorate
For the buttercream -
  • 75g/ 3oz butter, softened
  • 150g/ 6oz icing sugar
  • 2tbsp chicory and coffee essence
Pre-heat oven to 190C/375F/Gas mark 5

Beat  butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, continue beating and add eggs (1 at a time) and mix well.
Add the coffee essence and mix lightly.
Fold in flour, baking powder and nuts
Spoon mixture in oiled fairy cake/ muffin tins or place paper cases into the fairy cake/ muffin tins.

Bake for approx. 8-12 minutes (or until brown, push a strew into a small cake and if it comes out clean the little cake is cooked). Remove from oven and leave to cool.

To make coffee buttercream - Beat together softened butter with sifted icing sugar adding the coffee essence, beat until combined and smooth.

Cover each little cake (when cooled) with buttercream and add a half pecan for decoration

Enjoy this cake and coffee treat  : )
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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Plum & Almond Tarts

Plum and Almond Tarts 
Plums are beginning to reappear in the shops, I love cooking foods that are in season, different tastes to experiment with each month.
Shortcrust pastry purchased or made
For the frangipane 
  • 4oz/ 100grams Butter
  • 4oz/ 100grams Caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4oz/ 100grams Ground Almonds 
For the filling
  • Approximately 3 plums (you may need more or less plums depending on size and type used) 
Oven temperature 200C/400F/Gas Mark6
Roll out (or unwrap) and cut your pastry into squares (removing the corners) I wanted a rustic look, you can use purchased pastry or make your own (shortcrust is very easy to make, I used the same recipe as the rhubarb and strawberry pie
Bake blind = Cook for 8 minutes I used a Yorkshire pudding tray with another on top to keep the pastry flat you do not want to brown the pastry as you will be returning it to the oven later.
While pastry is cooking make your frangipane 
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
Add the egg and continue beating until combined
Add the ground almonds and mix well.
Add mixture to blind baked pastry  
Remove the stones from approximately 3 plums and cut each one in half. Cut the halves into slices and divide between the tarts pushing into the frangipane mixture.      

 Bake until golden and frangipane is springy with touched.
Serve warm with cream or creme fraiche
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      Saturday, 26 March 2011

      Blueberry and Cranberry Rock Cakes

      Blueberry and Cranberry Rock Cakes 

      Rock Cakes are quick and simple to make, but many get them wrong, overcooking so they are like stones or under-cooking at the wrong temperature so the outside is brown but the inside is uncooked. They should be similar in texture to scones but with a crisper outside and shaped like a pile of rocks. Often flavoured with spices they can be plain or with dried fruit added. Some sprinkle with sugar for an extra crisp outside. In the 70's it was popular to add a glace cherry on top of each rock cake  :)
      Tip - Heat the oven to the correct temperature before adding the rock cakes this helps to avoid the over/ under cooking problems.
      Best served warm with a little butter.
      Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark6

      • 8oz/ 200grams plain flour
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • 3oz/ 75grams butter
      • 2 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
      • 1 egg, well beaten
      • 2-3 tablespoons milk
      • 1/2 teaspoon Mixed spice (or depending on dried fruit used change mixed spice to cinnamon or ginger)
      If you want to add dried fruit you can add approximately 3 oz/ 75grams (traditionally currants or sultanas but I don't like them so often use dried apricots, blueberries or cranberries)
      I used approximately 2 tablespoons each of dried blueberries and dried cranberries

      Sieve the flour, mixed spice, sugar and baking powder into a large baking bowl.
      Add the softened butter and rub together with fingertips (I use this pastry blender makes quick work of blending the butter with the flour) until this pasty the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

      Add dried fruit and blend together.

      Add the egg and 2 tablespoons of the milk, mix to create a stiff dough. If the mixture is to dry add another tbsp of milk, I do make my rock cake mix slightly wetter (I just prefer the texture that way) so tend to use the full 3 tablespoons  
      Pile approximately 1 tablespoon of the mixture into heaps on to a greased baking tray. I used Yorkshire pudding trays the mixture made 8 rock cakes

      Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown
      Serve warm cut in half and butter.

      This post is linked to:
      Sweets for Saturday

      Thursday, 17 March 2011

      Petit Pois Cupcakes

      I popped into Selfridges Oxford Street on Wednesday (I have been looking for the new baked and delicious magazine still can not get a copy) plus Petit Pois Cakes were launching their new healthy cupcakes range.
      With half the calories and fat of ‘normal’ high-street cakes they are gluten and lactose free. They replace the butter with vegetables using grated pumpkin, courgette or beetroot which soften rather than stiffen over time (how has the power to keeps cupcakes for long and resist not eatting them?), meaning the cakes stay moist longer.
      I tried a sample of a vanilla cupcake, the sponge was light & moist with a nice texture, they have a thin layer of icing with a marzipan pea on top (I was wondering what the peas were made of when I first saw the cakes) I think the only downside was the price tag £5.00 for 2 cakes maybe if they get them into more places the price will go down.

      Sunday, 13 March 2011

      Quick and Easy Apple Tart

      Ingredients :

      Un-roll if bought or roll our if home made the pastry and use to line a prepared baking tray (I use non-stick sheet)
      Score (to score make a shallow cut, don't go all the way through the pastry) about 2.5cm/ 1inch all around the pastry, this will make walls of the tart.

      Wet the corners of the pastry and fold each one together.

      Spread the apple compote onto the pastry (I usually use cool apple compote but experiment and used it warm as the tart was going straight in the oven after adding the the sliced apple with no problems)

      Peel the apple, and slice thinly. Add on to compote as shown on the picture, sprinkle with cinnamon or vanilla sugar (or spice of choice).
      Preheat oven at 200 - 220°C.

      Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry's cooked and golden.

      You can eat this warm or leave to cool completely and store in fridge until you're ready to eat it.

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      Friday, 11 March 2011

      Apple Compote

      • 2 Large cooking apples (I used a brambley and a granny smith)
      • 1 Tablespoon water
      • 25 grams/ 1oz Caster sugar(you can add more if your apples need it)
      • 25 grams/ 1oz Butter
      • Juice of 1/2 a lemon

      Peel and core apples, dice the apple into pieces are small even pieces and add to a frying pan (or saucepan)

      Add water, sugar and lemon juice to the apples, cook slowly on a low- medium heat until apples are soft and tender (approximately 5 - 10 minutes)
      Dice butter and add to apples stir until mixed
      You can further flavour with vanilla or cinnamon to taste
      Remove from heat and blend briefly to obtain desired consistency or longer for a smoother consistency.

      I used a potato masher to blend my apples as I wanted to keep a little texture, you could also use a ricer.
      Leave to cool and transfer to a jar or other container.Keep in the fridge, in sealed container.

      Wednesday, 9 March 2011


      Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day and what could be better than a traditional pancake simply served with lemon and sugar.
      • 220gms/ 8oz Plain flour
      • 1 pint/ 560 ml Milk
      • A pinch salt 
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 lemon and caster sugar  to serve
      • Vegetable oil for frying
      Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl, make a well in the centre. 
      Break the eggs one at a time and pour into the well, add half the milk and beat, gradually adding more milk little by little (you may need a little more or less of the milk) until you have the consistency of thin cream, continue beating to make a smooth batter.
      Leave to stand for approximately 1/2 hour.
      Heat the frying pan or griddle adding a little oil (don't use butter it burns) and pour enough batter to cover the area needed (a little less is better adjusting for the next pancake), tilt and rotate pan from side to side to coat the mixture evenly.
      Cook until the top is dry, carefully lifting the edge of the pancake to see if it's browned, turn the pancake over or if you don't mind getting burnt toss the pancake in the air to flip over (I confess I am a chicken or maybe I just don't enjoy cleaning the floor, ceiling, walls and whatever the pancake ends up on as I nearly always miss the flying pan!). 
      Cook the other side until brown.
      To serve squeeze and sprinkle with lemon juice (lime juice is good also) and add sugar to taste, roll up. Eat while hot. Yummy!
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      Monday, 28 February 2011

      Red Onion and Feta Tart

      Red Onion and Feta Tart
      This tart tastes both sweet from the onions combined with salty from the cheese 
      Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, Gas mark 6, Fan oven 180C
      • 25g / 1oz butter
      • 1/2 tbsp oil
      • 2 large red onions finely sliced
      • 1 tbsp sugar
      • Pinch of salt
      • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
      • 1 Sheet puff pastry (thawed if bought frozen)
      • 100g / 4oz feta crumbled

      Finely slice the 2 large red onions

      Heat the butter and butter in a pan and add the onions. Cook for a 2-3 minutes (you are not browning the onions you are softening them)
      Add a pinch of salt, the sugar and balsamic vinegar, continues cooking for approx. 8-10 minutes until soft and caramelised.

      The onion should be sticky not to wet, cook for a few minutes more if they are wet. Take off heat.

      Un-roll the pastry and use to line a prepared baking tray (I use non-stick sheet)
      Score (to score make a shallow cut, don't go all the way through the pastry) about 2.5cm/ 1inch all around the pastry, this will make walls of the tart.

      Wet the corners of the pastry and fold each one together.

      Add the onion mixture evenly onto the pastry inside the lines you scored.

      Crumble feta cheese and sprinkle over onion mix.

      Bake for 15 minutes until the pastry has risen and is golden brown and the base is crisp. (Mine is a little over cooked, baking and talking on the phone is not a good idea!)

      Cut into 4 and serve with a green salad.

        Friday, 11 February 2011

        Vegetable and Mozzarella Ciabatta Open Sandwiches

        Step 1. Prepare a selection of vegetables (I used 2 medium onions and 1 large pepper and a handful of cherry tomatoes) what you have available and is in season.

        Step 2.  Add a little oil to a frying pan (I just lightly do 1 spray of vegetable oil) and add your vegetable (you can add the tomatoes now or I prefer to add them at the next stage). Lightly stir fly until they start to soften, than stop cooking. Set aside. Don't worry if the vegetables are warm when adding to the rolls later.

        Step 3. Cut open 2 large ciabatta rolls and place on a baking tray

         Step 4. Mix 2 tablespoon of tomato puree with 1 tablespoon of hot water and herbs and seasoning of choice (I used finely chopped basil & oregano somethings I add a little chili it gives an extra kick) Spread mixture on to the rolls


        Divide vegetables equally and add to the rolls.

        Slice (or tear up) 1 ball of mozzarella cheese, again dividing equally between the rolls. Add seasoning and herbs of choice (I used dried oregano).

        Place in to a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes at 400 F/ 200 C / Gas Mark6
        Until cheese is a golden brown.
        Serve with a leafy green salad.

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