Tag Archives: BBC Food

Spring (and shortbread) madness

So spring has finally arrived. It seems as if everything and everyone is making the best of the warm(ish) weather, and I am no different. I’ve been for long walks and picnics in various parks and just generally chilled. For now, I just intend to make the most of my free time, so in addition to working my way through the library and making a few stabs at my own writing, I’ve also walked around the city sketching whatever catches my eye. Looking at my surroundings with an artist’s eye really does make a difference – so many things stood out that I previously did not notice.

I often have my head in the clouds, but I do want to share some pictures that I feel best sum up my wanderings over the past week:

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Oat biscuits

Oat biscuits

After lunch today I felt like having a biscuit, and fortunately my housemate always has biscuits. I had a Hobnob, and the oat-y texture made me want more!
I didn’t want to entirely empty his stash of biscuits, so I looked up oat biscuit recipes, finally deciding on a simple recipe from BBC Good Food, substituting the golden syrup with honey. Click on the picture for the link to the recipe.
The result was soft and chewy in the centre and a little crisp on the edges, with that wonderful slightly rough, oat-y texture throughout. We got through most of them before I remembered to take a picture. So, here are the lucky three that made it to the camera.

Bread, cheese and comfort food

I finally remembered to buy some yeast. I’ve been reading bread recipes online and was debating which to try. In the end the decision was made for me.

My housemate came back to uni with about twelve packs of mature cheddar cheese and another two of orange burger cheese with black pepper from McDonalds, where he worked over Christmas. The cheese was expiring, and they couldn’t use it despite its apparent freshness, so it was all destined for the bin. Fortunately it found a new home in our fridge:

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Due to the glut of cheese in the house I started looking up cheese bread recipes instead of sweet ones. I eventually decided that this recipe from The Hungry Mouse was simple, yet impressive enough. However I still needed to make the pizza dough and I decided not to use The Hungry Mouse’s dough recipe purely because of the yeast measurements, as she uses a tablespoon. The yeast I bought comes in 7 g sachets and I didn’t want to convert things. I soon tracked down Gordon Ramsey’s pizza recipe (on the BBC Good Food website) that uses 7 g yeast sachets.

Both recipes were very easy to follow and the results were delicious. The cheese was melty on the inside and crispy on the outside where the oven had dried it. The bread was soft and fluffy. It is a prime example of comfort food, all in a little roll that fits in the palm of my hand. I ate a couple cheese rolls with leftover bolognese sauce from dinner, and if I closed my eyes, and relied on flavour alone, I could’ve been eating a pizza. Perfection.

A few changes I made to the recipes:
I halved the original quantities of the dough recipe and this worked out just right for the cheese roll. I also used all-purpose flour as I didn’t have any bread flour.
As for the actual cheese rolls, I didn’t have any parmesan cheese so I omitted that and just made sure that the other cheeses covered the dough well.

The following pictures are of the finished rolls:

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Reflections and Christmas baking

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As I write this post it is drizzling outside, but thankfully I live in an area unaffected by the floods; my prayers and best wishes go out to all those who do.

Every year, the Christmas season seems to bring either great joy or great sorrow to people.  I was a teenager when my grandmother died in hospital on Boxing Day, but on the flipside, she died surrounded by her family, comfortable and warm, after a Christmas Day spent with her family and friends. She had lived a long life and seemed quite ready to move on.

I won’t be going any further with this, but instead prefer to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. May you all find some shred of happiness and peace, no matter the circumstances.

Onto the baking side of things.

This year hasn’t been the busiest for baking, but I am trying out new things. In the past I’ve generally kept to cakes and cupcakes, but this year I thought I’d diversify. In preparation for tomorrow’s Christmas dinner, I made chocolate tarts. I used a combination of recipes – the pastry from Chocolate & Zucchini and the filling from Gordon Ramsay on BBC Good Food. I also used a bit of Green & Black’s espresso dark chocolate to replace the equivalent quantity of plain dark chocolate because I think coffee really enhances the chocolate. However after I did that it occurred to me that using flavoured chocolates is an easy way to adapt this recipe to your personal taste. The coffee taste is subtle but there is still enough to make the tarts a little bit more special.

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Chocolate tarts with a hint of coffee

– Adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini – Absolute Chocolate Tarts and Gordon Ramsay – Gordon’s chocolate tart

Makes 5 tarts (using 10 cm tart tins)

Ingredients:

Chocolate tart shell:
200 g plain flour
100 g castor sugar
100 g butter, cut into small cubes
Remove a heaping tablespoon of flour and substitute with the same quantity of unsweetened cocoa powder (approx. 15 g)
Splash of milk

Chocolate filling:
50 g milk chocolate
50 g dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids)
50 g espresso dark chocolate (I used Green and Black’s)
100 mL double cream
50 mL whole milk
1 egg
1 tbsp golden castor sugar

To make the shells:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar and cocoa powder together in a bowl. Once mixed, add the butter to the bowl and work the ingredients together. Add a splash of milk and continue to mix. The finished mixture should resemble coarse sand.
  3. Divide the mixture and press evenly into tart tins using fingers.
  4. Prick the bases of the tarts a few times with a fork to allow air to escape when baking. Alternatively, line with parchment paper and baking weights.
  5. Blind bake for 10 minutes in the pre-heated oven.
  6. Once baked remove and cool on a wire rack.

To make the chocolate filling:

  1. Turn the oven down to 150°C.
  2. Break up the chocolate into small pieces and place into a mixing bowl. 
  3. Bring the milk and cream to a boil. Add slowly to the chocolate, stirring to melt and mix with the chocolate. Once this is all mixed, whisk in the egg and castor sugar.
  4. Allow to settle to minimise the number of air bubbles in the final product.
  5. Pour slowly into tart shells, filling them almost to the top.
  6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool.

Gordon Ramsay recommends serving this dusted with grated white chocolate, cocoa powder or icing sugar and decorated with chocolate curls. I will be serving this tomorrow with a dollop of crème fraîche and raspberries.

I admit that my chocolate tarts aren’t the prettiest, but I’ve tried one (I made a spare) and they do taste good. The presentation will come with practice.

I’m off to a Christmas Eve party in a bit and I do have to get ready so I’ll finish here. So for those who are already celebrating Christmas, Merry Christmas again, and for those who are not yet, I hope you have a great Christmas.

God bless!

Baking therapy

So today I had two lots of disappointing news. I won’t bore you with the facts but suffice to say it definitely crushed me today.

Well, I got home and then immediately started baking. First I started with shortbread. It’s a simple recipe, with only three ingredients: butter, sugar and flour. The recipe is one from the ever faithful BBC Food website and every time I make it the shortbread comes out perfect. Also, while the original recipe suggests dusting with icing sugar, I didn’t have any; however castor sugar seemed to work just fine.

I’ve been making the shortbread as presents and this picture was taken after I’d wrapped them, so I had to hastily unwrap one for the camera.

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Next I decided to make Baci di Dama cookies. I was reading a blog written by a chef called David Lebovitz. He’s American but he lives in Paris and the pictures of the food he makes never fail to make me salivate. It might just be because I have a huge sweet tooth and he tends towards cakes and desserts.

Anyway, I’d spotted the recipe for these cookies and have been meaning to make them for ages, but the main ingredient is hazelnuts, and I keep forgetting to buy some.

Well, I finally got round to it and decided that today would be as good as any to finally make these lovely cookies. The dough was fairly simple and kneading it by hand was strangely satisfying. While dividing the dough into marble-sized balls, I couldn’t resist trying it. After all, it was simply hazelnuts, butter, sugar and flour. Delicious.

Another note is that I made my cookies with wheat flour, which was the alternative to the rice flour recommended in the original recipe. As I’ve not tried the rice flour version I can’t really compare the two, but the cookies I made tasted and looked fine to me.

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Baking each batch only took about 11 minutes per batch and I made 4 trays of hazelnutty goodness. After they were baked I let them cool, and then sandwiched melted dark chocolate between two dome-shaped cookies. This is the result:

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I have to admit that dinner tonight consisted almost entirely of ‘misshapen’ shortbread and Baci di Dama cookies. Well, I did have an apple, a pear and an orange. That’s already three of my five a day!