Baking: Autumnal Blackberry Brownies

 photo 3cc0736f-e26a-4a47-a57a-21e10786dc75_zps27620964.jpgI love autumn. I can’t be the only one who’s starting to long for pretty scarves, chunky knits, and lovely boots. Actually, I’m not longing for boots as I can’t find any that fit – if anyone knows of any affordable wide-calf-narrow-foot brands I’ll pay with brownies… On my walk to and from walk I pass by a long hedgerow that’s absolutely brimming with blackberries and plums. Sounds idyllic, although the reality is it’s right next to a trainline, and right under Gatwick’s flight path. But for those few moments I could be on a country walk, and so after a week of waiting for blackberries to ripen (and moaning when others got there first) I came home with a small handful. A good wash and they were as good as any I’ve picked from a field.

 photo 2014-08-21083403_zps5a2e9b2d.jpg photo 2014-08-21083320_zpsd8818175.jpg photo 2014-08-18083254_zpsfe4444fd.jpgI debated making a crumble, but lack of ripe fruit meant that was a no-go, and I wanted something I could share. Half my love of baking is sharing the goods around, so a crumble doesn’t really fit the bill. Then I remember the raspberry cheesecake brownies from Edinburgh, and decided to do something similar. Sans cheesecake.

 photo ed98a75c-345b-40ed-903b-fe6668b4059e_zpsdc01713c.jpgI ended up loving the combination of dark, fudgy chocolate brownie with the burst of sharp blackberry, the crunch of the seeds adding a welcome element too. The brownie mix is adapted from my Mayonnaise Brownies; I’ve made it simpler, easier, less washing up. Whilst here I did add a little nutella, I’m not too sure its necessary, and if I’m honest these were a little too fudgy. Just use your judgement – if its looking dry, add nutella!

I’m now convincing myself that using a low-fat brownie mix, and adding fruit, means it’s acceptable to eat four of these in a day. Agreed? Here’s the recipe to convince you…

Ingredients

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1 pinch of baking powder
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 220g sugar
  • 1/3 mug of hot water
  • 1 egg
  • 150g mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tsp of nutella, if needed
  • 1 handful of blackberries, though I wish I’d had more!

 photo 2014-08-20182138_zpsdc448439.jpgMelt your chocolate in the microwave, and leave to cool.

 photo 2014-08-20182641_zpsd25ae499.jpgMeanwhile mix the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and sugar together in a bowl.

 photo a041942d-61ec-41a9-94e0-eac3006540df_zps5ca06735.jpg photo 3274b40a-e9a9-4d6d-92b8-2f3003c99040_zps3071bb9c.jpg photo cfb47624-4c67-4915-91b5-6c9e98e79c28_zps24c6b28a.jpgOnce the chocolate is cool, pour it into the dry mix, along with the mayonnaise and egg. Mix together, don’t overbeat. Add the water gradually until you have a gunge-y mix – add nutella if necessary.

 photo 3cc0736f-e26a-4a47-a57a-21e10786dc75_zps27620964.jpgStir through your blackberries, tip into a prepared tin (lined and greased – or just covered in tin foil if you’re lazy like me) and bake at 180C for 25-ish minutes.

 photo c987daed-3407-4bbc-97ed-1057a80e6e3e_zps3986e105.jpgAs with all brownies, do your best to wait until they are completely cool before cutting, or they will fall apart. Then stuff your face with five of them. After all, they are pretty damn healthy ūüėČ
 photo 2014-08-18083341_zps2deef1f7.jpg

Are you an Autumn lover?

Recipe: Haggis Carbonara

As you may know I’ve holidayed in Edinburgh for the past two years; I adore the city, and I really love what I’ve seen of Scotland. One of my dream holidays in the next few years is to finish a stay in Edinburgh with some form of road trip around the country.  photo e190fe4e-8204-4b32-8fc2-b3c1d33ec858_zps411437dc.jpgOne of the things I love about Scotland is the food. Nothing too fancy, but everything is tasty, hearty and well seasoned – too many people are shy with the salt and pepper! When Sykes Cottages asked me to come up with an interesting Haggis recipe I was embarrassingly excited; I love haggis but have never cooked it myself. I was actually quite shocked at their statistics; nearly two-thirds of people wouldn’t order haggis if they saw it on the menu. I’ve got to say there are things I’d place ahead of haggis, but its definitely not a no-go area for me!  photo 2014-06-19123753_zps47344773.jpgThinking about my recipe, I wanted something quick and easy, but still comforting. Haggis isn’t meant to be light and healthy really! I’ve actually never had it ‘as it comes’, I’ve eaten it stuffed inside a chicken breast (pretty good) and in a fritter. A word about the Fritter – I highly recommend you visit Maison Bleue if you find yourself in Edinburgh. Pretty damn good set menu at roughly ¬£30, but ¬£15 if you’re a student and its a Tuesday. One of the most interesting (in a good way!) meals I’ve had, and they definitely don’t skimp on portions. But yes, I highly recommend their Haggis Fritters. Anyway, all the times I’ve enjoyed Haggis it’s been in quite a complex form. I didn’t want that, so I thought about the flavours – peppery and meaty. Then I realised it would be pretty nice in a carbonara. I was right, it was fantastic. I used a pattie of haggis as it was the easiest option for one. So cheap too!  photo 2014-08-15185358_zpseaec30eb.jpgJust to let you know, my regular carbonara comes very highly praised by my boyfriend. I’ve never planned to publish it on here and its not a dish that takes kindly to sitting around being photographed, but here it is. Aren’t you lucky?! To make it haggis-less, just fry chopped bacon until crisp, and add a good amount of pepper to the cheese mix. Ingredients

  • Decent knob of butter
  • 1 round of haggis
  • 1 egg
  • Cheese – I went for parmesan and a good grating of a Scottish cheddar
  • Pasta – spaghetti is best really

 photo 6140c989-1c95-4cd0-beeb-9556e103bb9c_zps9cb39dfd.jpgFirst of all put your pasta on to boil. I find 10 minutes is about right for most pastas. Meanwhile fry your haggis in butter – I crumbled mine up completely, but you could leave it in bigger chunks. I’d say crumbled is easier if you’re just starting out with haggis though!  photo 9165dc89-d6c5-4481-a929-a8ecd30145f3_zpsd692627e.jpg photo 1247502f-ff31-422b-94aa-18f4eafdfef6_zpsed6ad2e6.jpg photo 2e9a0b09-1f59-4853-9e22-a024294de140_zps221ca805.jpgAnd while that’s frying, crack and egg into a bowl, beat and add your grated cheeses.  photo 0e45a5cb-9383-47ae-bb5a-f6b69b99c878_zpsffde082f.jpgNow my secret for carbonara – take a tablespoon of the boiling pasta water (while the pasta is still cooking) and dribble it into the egg-cheese while beating with a fork. Do the same with another teaspoon. The water should just melt the cheese, make a smooth mixture, and lighten the end sauce.  photo 1c6b3cc2-9b19-4cbf-8222-4b910668aaaa_zps19571434.jpgOnce the pasta has boiled, drain, and tip straight in with the haggis. Toss together.  photo e190fe4e-8204-4b32-8fc2-b3c1d33ec858_zps411437dc.jpgTurn the heat off, and wait a few minutes. Tip the egg mixture gradually (tossing well between additions) into the pasta. If it starts to scramble don’t add any more; wait another minute. Once all the egg is in, if its not quite cooked enough to your liking (I’m not fussy about really runny egg!) put the pan back on a very low heat. Then serve, and eat as quickly as possible. Trust me, cold carbonara isn’t a good thing!  photo 84e5815d-9720-4a82-95fb-07b7137274ee_zps2b3c0a3e.jpg

Disclaimer: I was sent the personalised apron and £15 to cover ingredients costs (treated myself to posh parmesan!) by Sykes Cottages, but all opinions are my own. I genuinely love haggis!

Whats your opinion of haggis?

Student Summer: Simple Sunday Chicken

One of the things I missed most when I moved to university was a good Sunday lunch. Well, a roast dinner – they aren’t just for Sundays really! Sure you could go to your nearest ‘Spoons (or as I did – the local cafe that did roast dinner baguettes) but it wasn’t quite the same. In the end I turned to my own oven, and after nearly two years of experimenting I’ve come up with a basic Sunday Roast Chicken that doesn’t break the bank, and doesn’t take an awful lot of skill. Perfect for students really!

 photo 2014-08-09203043_zpsf27a197c.jpgThe best thing about this is that it is completely and utterly adaptable. Sausages going spare? Throw them in! Fancy something more summery? Add tomatoes and some lemon juice. In the mood for spice? Rub spice mix into the chicken. If you want more traditional roast potatoes then you’ll probably want to use a large dish so they aren’t covered by the chicken – but I think they are pretty great as they are. Another great bonus is that pretty much everything is ready at the same time – all you need to do is cook some green vegetables, and you can do that whilst things are resting. Exactly as the title says, simple!

On a savvy-spendy note, chicken thighs are super cheap compared to breasts, and I’ve actually started really liking them now I appreciate crispy skin. They are also really difficult to dry out, so a bonus if you forget about them in the oven!

 photo 2014-08-09203447_zpsad055189.jpgIngredients

  • Chicken thighs – 1-2 per person depending on appetite. You can use any leftover meat the day after, or freeze it for a bit.
  • New potatoes – chopped into bitesized chunks
  • Garlic – 2 cloves per person
  • Salt, pepper, and any other seasoning you fancy
  • Olive oil

 photo 2014-08-09175130_zps5643c4ed.jpg photo 2014-08-09181122_zps80ba6ee8.jpgTo start off, par boil your potatoes in salted water for five minutes. Drain and toss with the garlic (don’t bother to peel) and olive oil. Season.

 photo 2014-08-09195552_zps1f0caab7.jpg photo 2014-08-09195645_zps99b0fcd4.jpgPlace the chicken skinside up ontop of the potatoes, and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Use your hands to rub the olive oil over the skin, then season again.

 photo 2014-08-09203054_zps0e474cd6.jpgPop in a pre-heated oven (200C) for 45 minutes – the chicken skin should be golden and crisp. To check – remove a piece of chicken and place on a plate, then piece the thickest part and press down. Juices should run clear without any pink; if not your chicken isn’t quite cooked. Cover with foil and rest for 10 minutes whilst you prep and cook any other veg, then serve up.

This recipe is so quick and easy, plus so tasty and reminiscent of home. It’d be a perfect dish to make if you and housemates joined up for meals – my second year house tried to do Sunday dinner together, although we rarely did a full roast, and it was definitely a highlight of the week! When Currys asked me to produce a recipe for their student cookbook this was the first thing I thought of – so I had to share!

Are you a lover of the Sunday roast?

Baking: Chocolate Chip Muffins

In honour of Great British Bake Off this evening, here’s something you can easily knock up to devour whilst watching! Admittedly I’m on the wrong week as apparently its Biscuit Week, but I’ve never liked being told what to bake/cook…

 photo 2014-07-23162139_zpsc6f469f4.jpg photo 2014-07-23162135_zps71dfbcdf.jpgI’ve made muffins a couple of times before; Nutella & Banana Oaty ones; zesty Citrus Drizzle ones; Cinnamon Swirl ones; Peanut Butter & Jelly ones.. I love both these recipes, but a few days ago I wanted to make something slightly more classic. I stuck to the simple idea of chocolate chips, and other than adding two types of chocolate I was pretty restrained. The result was some (slightly overbaked) moist muffins, just the right size, and nice and light. Yum yum.

 photo 2014-07-23154024_zps16525f6d.jpgIngredients – for 12 decently sized muffins

  • ¬†280g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 120g soft brown sugar
  • 180g chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml sour cream (such an annoying amount – but don’t be tempted to dump the whole tub in!)
  • 75g butter, melted, plus 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 or 2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180C, and pop muffin cases in your muffin tray.

 photo 2014-07-23154355_zpsf875786b.jpgSift together the flour, baking powder and salt. You need to do this in a large bowl, as this makes a lot of mix!

 photo 2014-07-23154529_zps73e2572e.jpg photo 2014-07-23154927_zps9bd3d78f.jpgStir through the chocolate chips and the sugar. Make sure there’s no lumps of sugar, and the chocolate is relatively evenly distributed. Make a well in the middle of the mixture.

 photo 2014-07-23154847_zps297fa47c.jpgBeat the eggs in a jug, and mix in the sour cream, butter/oil and vanilla extract.

 photo 2014-07-23154944-6_zps32cc6eeb.jpg photo 2014-07-23155021_zps12629b29.jpgPour the wet ingredients into the well.

 photo 2014-07-23155141_zpscd1f3090.jpg photo 2014-07-23155144_zps20ec8350.jpgMix until just combined. Don’t beat, and don’t over mix. Fill muffin cases with the mixture. They should be about 3/4 of the way full, but just divide the mix between the 12 cases. Bake for 15 mins (not 20 like I did…).

 photo 2014-07-23162135_zps71dfbcdf.jpgThats it – overbaked aside I reckon Paul Hollywood wouldn’t have too many bad things to say…and there would possibly be a ‘scrumptious’ from Mary Berry too. Now, I must remember that I’m not in a student house this year and I can watch real-time TV…

Are you baking for Bake Off? How do you like your muffins – fancy or simple?

Baking: Peanut Butter Jam Muffins

 photo 2014-08-03153439_zpsb87ffac8.jpgAnyone know what the difference is between a cupcake and a muffin? I always thought muffins were bigger, but it seems the pans in the shops (well, Wilkinsons, I’m not made of money!) are all the same size. I’ve decided cupcakes are iced, and muffins are appropriate breakfast food!

 photo 2014-08-03153516_zps2bb22f2a.jpgThese muffins would definitely back fabulous breakfasts…in fact I know they do as that’s exactly what I had this morning. A cup of tea (or three), a banana, and a muffin. Yum yum. I seriously enjoyed getting my bake on over the weekend, I’ve recently moved into new accommodation for my placement year and was itching to play with the cooker!¬†A huge improvement on student accommodation I have to say! Back to the muffins, and these do make relatively acceptable breakfast fare –¬†especially good for one the go when I’ve¬†snoozed¬†turned off all my alarms. Went down well with the office too, though I’ve made a mental note that my boss is allergic to peanuts!

 photo 2014-08-03133923_zps750492ea.jpgI made these with another of the hand-stirred conserves I received from¬†Mackays* – this time the raspberry one. Again I’m not 100% convinced this has the fruity flavour I’d want from a jam, but unlike the¬†bakewell recipe¬†it doesn’t matter too much here. You just want a nice fruity sweetness against the peanut!

I’ve moved towards cup measurements recently, as I’ve found it a lot easier to make up my own recipes using these quantities – the mathematical-geek part of me loves the ratios involved with baking…

Ingredients.

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup peanut butter – I used crunchy which added a fab texture
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp oil (which I forgot to add, hence mine were a littleeee dry)
  • Jam*

This is such an easy recipe; I love muffins as they really are throwing things into a bowl, a little mix, then bake. Couldn’t be simpler!

 photo 2014-08-03134622_zps1f5c7468.jpgMix your flour, sugar and baking powder together in a large bowl. You should probably sieve them, but I’m lazy and lacking in the sieve department right now…

 photo 2014-08-03134856_zps7d8ee533.jpg photo 2014-08-03135401_zpscc1a6e07.jpgAdd your peanut butter, and mix until it looks bread-crumby. This is probably the hardest part as p-butter is so sticky – I’d recommend using a knife and chopping motions.

 photo 2014-08-03135735_zps72a4188c.jpgMix together your egg, milk and oil in a jug, then pour into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.

 photo 2014-08-03140134_zpsc0db9850.jpg photo 2014-08-03140142_zpsed85ee81.jpgHalf fill twelve muffin cases (in your tray, of course!) with the mixture, then top with a small teaspoon of jam. Top with the rest of the batter mix, and smooth over so no jam is visible…or it bubbles up and burns…

 photo 2014-08-03142041_zps1cbd3aa6.jpg photo 2014-08-03142048_zps28b9e2e9.jpgBake at 180C for 15 minutes – they should be risen, golden, and give when pressed. And they should smell delicious too!

 photo 2014-08-03153439_zpsb87ffac8.jpgLet cool completely, as hot jam is not something you want to bite into. Enjoy for afternoon tea, or breakfast; hide them away for yourself, or leave unattended in the office – and enjoy the classic ‘peanut butter and jelly’ flavours in a muffin. Yum…

Have you baked anything recently?

 

Student Summer: Basic Recipes

Bit of a cheat post, but I was recently sent a link to this infographic and thought it fitted really well within my Student Summer series. I will be doing more simple step-by-step recipes as the series goes on, but this is seriously useful.

Student Recipes Infographic

Source: Walton Robinson

Click here to print-out the individual recipe cards

¬†I’d have found something like this really useful when I started to learn how to cook – a bunch of healthy recipes in one place. Cookery books are all very well and good, but have you ever tried to keep some of the smaller ones open whilst chopping and stirring? It’s not hugely easy!

For more student recipes, I really recommend having a look at the Birmingham Student Foodie, Lottie’s Little Kitchen, Handbags & Cupcakes and A Girl Called Jack (not a student, but fabulous budget recipes). And of course, feel free to go through my older posts too!

What recipes would you like to know how to make?

Baking: Cherry Bakewell Tart

I’m not a huge jam-lover, but I do love it in bakes and when I was sent a selection of conserves from Mackays new Hand Stirred range¬†arrived my whole family was instantly clamouring about what to make first. In the end my parents vote won, and a Bakewell Tart was made up with the Cherry Conserve*.

 photo 2014-07-26184519_zps1a23b789.jpgCompletely different to the kind found in packets (covered in icing with a glace cherry on top!), proper bakewell tart is crisp pastry spread with jam, and topped with an almond filling which is then baked. Pretty simple, but it looks spectacular. I’m afraid I have no pictures of the making process as my dad actually did the baking for this one; I was busy packing ready for the start of my placement year!

 photo 2014-07-26184624_zps9403d933.jpgIngredients

  • Pastry case – we used a ready rolled sheet of pastry, but adapt this recipe here by replacing the savoury ingredients with a spoonful of sugar if you want to make your own!
  • 2 tablespoons of cherry jam or conserve
  • 1/2 cup each of – butter, caster sugar, and ground almonds
  • 1 egg
  • Almond extract (if you have it, we didn’t!)
  • A handful of flaked almonds

 photo 2014-07-26184605_zpsf3376978.jpgHow to make Bake!

First you want to prep your pastry case. Line your chosen flan dish with the pastry, and blind bake; top with baking paper, fill with baking beans and bake for 10 mins, then remove the beans/paper and continue until golden and crisp. Let cool, then spread the pastry with the jam. Use more/less depending on your judgement!

Now for the almond filling. Melt the butter, and then let cool slightly. Stir in the sugar, followed by the ground almonds, egg and extract. Pour into the pastry case, scatter over the flaked almonds, and bake at 200C for 30-35 mins, covering in things are browning too quickly. There’s no pictures of the inside of our tart as it was slightly underbaked, but still pretty yummy!

 photo 2014-07-26184528_zps5a730d9f.jpgAs for the jam, the unanimous decision was that it was nice, but nothing special. It didn’t seem to have much of a definitive cherry flavour, and instead just tasted of a generic fruit jam. Perhaps a little disappointing, but it was well-rounded with a good balance of sharp and sweet. The texture was also pretty spot on – thick and sticky, but not dry. A bugbear of mine is runny jam, so even for someone on the gate about jam this was pretty good! I’m looking forward to baking with the other flavours – raspberry next!

What do you like to bake with jam?

Baking: Peanutty Chocolate Chip Cookies

 photo 2014-07-10113127_zpsdf574723.jpgThe eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed some colourful bits looking out of place in last week’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Here’s the explanation;

 photo 2014-07-10113141_zps98925580.jpgYou see, whilst my sister let me photograph (if I did the annoying bits – the creaming, the dolloping, and the washing up…) “her making” cookies I wasn’t actually going to be allowed any. We halved the recipe and she needed 12 to take to the stables (lucky horses!) BUT there was a little bit of mixture leftover. I quickly claimed it, but then spied some Peanut M&M’s on the side. Knowing we had peanut butter in the fridge I got mixing, and after a quick bake I had chewy, nutty, salty, chocolatey, crunchy delights. Not quite as good as my boyfriend’s cookies, but pretty damn good all the same!

 photo 2014-07-10110419_zpsafb3566d.jpgTo make these delicious cookies, you simply need to follow the recipe above, adding in a couple of spoons (I used a tablespoon for a small amount of mixture, so use your judgement) of crunchy peanut butter at the butter-sugar stage, and peanut M&M’s with the chocolate chips. Dollop onto the baking trays and bake – I found these took slightly less time.

 photo 2014-07-10112459_zps6291bb7c.jpg photo 2014-07-10113127_zpsdf574723.jpgThere you have it – a quick and easy adaptation that takes a simple recipe a step further. And it combines peanut butter and chocolate, what could be better?!

What do you add to your cookies?

Baking: Chocolate Chip Cookies

 photo 2014-07-10113141_zps98925580.jpgI may have mentioned this before, but many years ago my boyfriend pretty much wooed me with his cookies. It’s a long standing joke that¬†I’m with him for these cookies, and whilst that’s not true, his cookies are pretty yummy! A few months ago he gave his recipe to my little sister (who I’m hoping isn’t using them to woo someone!) – she’s done a bit of adapting and today I’m going to share the results with you!

 photo 2014-07-10112602_zps50eecb9a.jpgThese are pretty much the perfect cookie – crispy on the outside, but chewy and almost gooey in the middle. They even have the classic wrinkly look about them! And the best thing? They are absolutely crammed full of chocolate chips. I will be honest here and say I prefer to buy a dark each of dark, milk and white chocolate and chop into rough chunks, whereas my sister buys chocolate chips and neglects to use any dark chocolate at all – either way is delicious so do what you prefer.

Disclaimer: I’m entering this into the Bakespiration Challenge run by Stuck in the Tree – you can find more details here. I’ve received no compensation for entering, and this recipe is entirely based on adaptations to my boyfriends.¬†

 photo 2014-07-10112459_zps6291bb7c.jpgIngredients (this makes a LOT of cookies – as in 24 massive ones)

  • 1 cup butter, softened (I use salted, but add 1/2 tsp of salt if you don’t)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 cups worth of additions – chocolate, nuts, fruit etc – I don’t measure here, just through in whatever looks like enough!

Lets make cookies! 

 photo 2014-07-10103209_zps7234925f.jpg photo 2014-07-10103723_zps013f11dd.jpgCream the butter and the two sugars together. I find it easiest to beat the butter on its own first before adding the sugar. And obviously make sure the butter is well softened before starting! Though if you use fridge-cold butter you’ll burn loads of calories, so treat yourself to an extra cookie…

 photo 2014-07-10103916_zps5759dbab.jpg photo 2014-07-10104152_zps97ff4dab.jpgBeat in the eggs, best to do this one at a time or it could get messy.

 photo 2014-07-10105145_zps4782deb1.jpgMix the bicarbonate of soda into the flour, along with a little salt (if you used unsalted butter). Stir this into the egg-butter-sugar mixture, but don’t overstir. If the mix looks a little dry, add the water.

 photo 2014-07-10105332_zps40c7ca05.jpg photo 2014-07-10105404_zps813f4aa2.jpg photo 2014-07-10105430_zpsb5a2478b.jpgStir in the chocolate chips.

 photo 2014-07-10110413_zpsdccfbf11.jpgNow get ready to bake – heat your oven to 180C, and line several baking trays with baking parchment (thrifty tip – I’ve found Tesco’s own to be the best quality). Using two tablespoons, dollop 6 golfball sized amounts of cookie dough, evenly spaced, onto the tray. You may be wondering what the colourful bits are – come back next week for an explanation!

 photo 2014-07-10104931_zpse1c2184c.jpg photo 2014-07-10105123_zps5921205e.jpgIgnore the beautiful brown eyes that are begging for some to be accidentally dropped on the floor…

 photo 2014-07-10111208_zps7848a28a.jpgCook for 9 minutes, or until golden brown. They will be soft, but they firm up whilst cooling. To get a really classic wrinkling, bang the tray on a side just after they come out of the oven.

 photo 2014-07-10112633_zps368eadd1.jpg photo 2014-07-10112602_zps50eecb9a.jpgThere you have it – classic American style chocolate chip cookies. Serve with a glass of milk and a good book and you have my idea of a perfect mid-morning treat. Package up nicely and you have (my relationship is proof!) the perfect cupid’s gift. Now I’m off to find any that are still left…

What’s your perfect baked treat?

Recipe: Chicken Thighs in White Wine & Garlic

 photo 2014-06-13204501_zpsa817025e.jpgI’m slowly coming round to chicken thighs. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate that they have so much more flavour than breast, and they are far more tender too.¬†Not to mention that they are considerably better for my budget. But I just hate eating chicken with the bone in, particularly in stews. Instead I decided to make a lighter dish with them, and whilst its not changed my mind 100% I’ll happily make this again, so I’m getting there!

Now, I’m not going to claim this dish is particularly thrifty, but it didn’t cost an awful lot, ¬†it was extremely simple, and for a Friday night would make a perfect romantic dinner for two. We used one of the cheapest white wines we found (¬£4 a bottle) and it was actually a very nice wine, we really enjoyed drinking it too. Served with vegetables and some fresh bread, it really doesn’t need much on the side so I’d say its on the pricey side of thrifty – not a splash out meal, but not one for when you’re scrambling down the backs of sofas for every spare penny. Anyway, its delicious and I highly recommend you try it.

 photo 2014-06-13180100_zps2a00a5c4.jpgIngredients (Serves 2 generously, 3 with some potatoes)

  • 1 pack of chicken thighs (6)
  • Oil/butter for frying
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 300ml white wine
  • Splash of cream
  • 1 handful fresh thyme, chopped
  • Salt & pepper

 photo 2014-06-13181134_zpse7a81a94.jpg photo 2014-06-13183049_zpse7e49589.jpgFirstly, fry the chicken over a high heat in the oil until golden. Best to do this in batches. I’m pretty terrified of spitting oil, so this bit was stressful for me, but wearing oven gloves and using long tongs helped. I would advise frying the skin side down first. Keep the chicken warm whilst you prepare the sauce.

 photo 2014-06-13183101_zpse35614da.jpgTurn the heat to low, and fry the garlic for a minute or two. Don’t let it brown or it will be bitter. Add a little butter to the pan if it is dry. Add the wine, and bubble until halved – this gets rid of the alcohol content and stops the dish tasting entirely of wine.

 photo 2014-06-13183545_zps02d6f72b.jpgAdd the cream, followed by the time, and stir in some seasoning.

 photo 2014-06-13183749_zpsdc4a30fe.jpgNestle the chicken back into the sauce, making sure the skin is above the surface.

 photo 2014-06-13204154_zpsad49d30f.jpgCook uncovered at 200C for about 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked (pierce the thickest part; juices should run clear).

 photo 2014-06-13185052_zpsec956f5e.jpgWhilst the chicken is cooking, prepare any accompaniments. We went for broccoli and baby corn, and some freshly baked bread – it was all the two of us needed, and along with a glass of wine each it was a lovely summery meal.
 photo 2014-06-13204621_zpsae7a4627.jpg

I have entered this recipe into the #TuscanyNowCookOff – you can find more details here. Thank you for inviting me to enter!

What’s your favourite summer dinner?