Sorry, you can take a girl away from her maths lectures, but she’ll always be a maths geek at heart. Seriously though, I do love pies. They are filling, comforting, relatively healthy (I serve them with loads of veg and nothing else – hence they are superhealthy), freeze well and aren’t as time consuming as you’d first think. I do admit to grabbing ready-made pastry most of the time (I’m sorry, I don’t have time to make puff pastry!), but even whipping up a quick shortcrust isn’t too horrendous.
This recipe was originally inspired by a recipe in GoodFood. I’ve simplified it, making it quicker, and a lot cheaper. It would also be a great use of leftover roast chicken, and you could up the veg content by throwing in peppers if you felt like it. Either way, it’s a summery switch up of the classic pie.
Ingredients (serves 4, including two greedy men)
1 pack ready rolled puff pastry
1 onion, finely diced
around 15cm chorizo sausage, casing removed, chopped into slices then halved
3-4 chicken breasts (5oog-ish)
2 tablespoons flour
1 litre chicken stock
2 tablespoons of cream
Fry the onion in a little oil until softened, then add the chorizo. Fry until it smells yummy and has released plenty of its oils.
Tip in the chicken, and seal quickly until golden brown. Stir in the flour, cook (stirring all the time) for around two minutes, then gradually add the stock. Stir to avoid the sauce going lumpy.
Simmer and reduce for about 15 minutes, until thickened. Stir through the cream.
Tip into a pie dish, and top with your pastry. Bake at 200C for about 30 minutes. Serve with plenty of green vegetables.
Sunshine flavours under a crisp pastry crust, just enough cream to be comforting, but light enough not to need a nap afterwards. Perfect in my book! And a great excuse to use up Stanley Pie Bird* from Cath Kidston too!
Quite a fussy child, when my grandma brought out cakes to go with tea when we visited, I’d only go for two options. If there weren’t there, I’d go hungry. Actually that fussiness hasn’t completely gone away, as the texture of any dried fruit is still a no-go for me – which means no fruit cake, no mince pies, no Christmas pudding, you get the jist. Anyway, I’d either eat jam tarts, or treacle tarts. To this day Grandma’s Treacle tart is one of the best I’ve eaten, and I think I’ve finally managed to replicate it.
It’s quite a bit denser than your traditional Treacle tart, and is best served gently warmed. If you want a gooey, looser filling, simply leave out the oats. I personally prefer it, it’s a bit more substantial, and keeps me from getting a major sugar rush. Perfect with cream, even better with ice cream, this one is a winner for a cold Autumn or Winter night…which is exactly why I’m entering it into Topps Tiles A/W14 National Baking Week Challenge. A few bloggers were hand-picked to enter, and sent some gorgeous baking goodies (currently at my home; I couldn’t quite carry them on the train) and then told to post on this week. Here’s mine, fingers crossed as I know my mum would love to new tiles, and I definitely wouldn’t say no to a Kitchen Aid…
Pastry case – you could try making my pastry here, replacing any salt/pepper/herbs with a little sugar. Blind bake, cool, then fill. Alternatively buy read rolled and blind bake, or even a ready made pastry case. The steps in this recipe assumes you’ve got a pastry case all ready.
400g golden syrup – I bought a 450g tin and just left a spoonful for porridge the next day
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
80g breadcrumbs, which I found was roughly 1 rolls worth
2 tablespoons of oats
Preheat your oven to 160g. Grate your lemon zest into a bowl, and pour over the golden syrup.
Stir in your lemon juice and your breadcrumbs/oats. Stir well, until it is all combined. The mix should be thick, but still able to ‘move,’ i.e. when you pour it into the pastry it should spread itself to the edges.
Add to the pastry case, and then bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Keep an eye to make sure that the top doesn’t catch – you may want to lower the heat.
The mix will be quite wobbly and ‘wet’ when you fetch it out – it will firm up on cooling. Enjoy slightly warm (the microwave does this perfectly) with cream or ice cream.
I absolutely love this bake, warm and comforting, and ridiculously simple to make. I’ll never buy one in again – even with buying a pastry case the ingredients are far less science-lab, and there’s something so lovely about the smell of it cooking too. One of life’s greatest pleasure, and I’m very thankful for my Grandma for introducing me to her recipe.
What’s your favourite comforting bake for cold weather?
I loveeeeee pancakes. Seriously, I cannot get enough of them. My mum used to make pancakes most weekends when we were growing up (my favourite topping was lemon and sugar, ate outside for reasons discussed here), and now my boyfriend alternates between cooking me a fry-up and his amazing crepes on visit weekends. I know, I’m such a lucky girl! It does mean though that on weekends where I’m all alone, I miss my pancake fix. Not anymore!
I’ve managed to come up with a recipe for fluffy, light, flavoursome American pancakes, in just the right serving for a (greedy) single person. So many of the recipes I found serve two, and I’m not quite that greedy. This recipe makes around 8 small pancakes – trust me they are quite small, this isn’t just a giant plate!
For the photos here I’ve made a nutella stack – sandwiching each pancake with a splodge of nutella. The effect was chocolatey and stodgy – just what I needed whilst recovering from the flu and moping about after visiting my girls in Canterbury the day before. I’ve had these drizzled with honey too, and they were just as delicious. Keep an eye out for a fruity version soon too!
Now, I make this recipe by eye, straight into the jug (anything to reduce washing up!) so here we go; Grab a 1/2 pint jug, crack and beat an egg. Top up with milk to between 150 and 200ml. Whisk in 2.5 tablespoons of plain flour, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. You want a really thick, but still pourable, batter – add more milk/flour as necessary. Some recipes add a little sugar to the batter, or some melted butter. I’d rather save the calories for the topping.
Melt a teeny bit of butter in a frying pan, and pour in a small amount of batter. It spreads surprisingly far for being so thick! Fry over a relaitvely high heat until the upside is lightly bubbling, and no longer gooey looking – but don’t let the underside burn! Flip over and continue cooking for a few seconds, until both sides are golden. Transfer to a plate, and keep warm in a low oven.
If you’re making a nutella stack, spread each pancake with a little nutella before popping in the oven.
There you have it – the perfect American pancakes for one. I’m itching to try these with maple syrup and bacon, but I reckon that will have to wait for a date brunch!
So, do you like pancakes? More importantly, what’s your topping of choice?!
Ah September. The month of cosy jumpers (thought not this year!), Great British Bake Off, and horrible house spiders. When I’m not brandishing a hoover, shoe, or heavy object I’ve been baking this month – bake off always puts me in the mood for something yummy, and there’s only so many nights that a jar of nutella can keep me company. Quick bakes are something I’m always looking for due to working full time, and this fits the bill perfectly. Stir up the mix whilst my dinner is cooking, bake whilst I eat, then let the icing set and cake cool whilst I clean up after myself. My kind of cake.
I love baking with all things citrusy, since moving away from home the vast majority of my food comes seasoned with zingy lemon as it’s a substance banned from my family household – my sister is seriously allergic. Yep, we’re the weird allergy family. No tomatoes for me, no citrus for her (including cleaning products) and even my mum has joined in, with reactions to dairy, fish and strawberries. Safe to say mealtimes can sometimes be tricky! But no matter, because away from home I indulge my citrus passion.
This weekend I finally had the opportunity to bake with some Mojito Marmalade* I was sent ages ago from Funky Food Gifts (my new favourite site – I’m desperate for these, these and this). I have to say I was a littleeeee disappointed. It actually just tastes like a lemon curd with bits – no lime zing, no minty hit. Certainly no alcoholic punch, so if you’re after a mojito flavoured cake I’d wait til I publish the recipe I’m working on. But its a nice lemony flavour, and I’d definitely buy lemon marmalade to make this cake again.
Now, onto the bake! Grab from your cupboards:
A jar of lemon marmalade – about 1/3 to go in the cake, and the rest on top.
175g very soft butter
Zest of 1 lemon (and you’ll need the juice too)
2 teaspoon baking powder
And for the topping – the rest of the marmalade, 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, and a knob of butter
Start by beating your sugar, butter and zest together until light and fluffy. I go for the wooden spoon – my thinking is the more calories you burn through the baking, the more cake you can eat.
Beat through the eggs, then add the marmalade and lemon juice.
Sift the flour and baking powder together, into the mixing bowl, and stir lightly to combine everything.
Pour into a greased loaf tin, and bake at 175g for about 30 minutes. Due to the marmalade content, you may want to cover the top as it does catch a little (I also haven’t gotten used to this oven – hence the burnt edge!).
Once its risen and golden, remove from the oven, cool for ten minutes then untin onto a plate. Heat the marmalade, stir through the knob of butter and sugar, and pour over the cake. Leave to cool – the icing is sticky, so it won’t completely set.
Eat and enjoy – it’s a moist and sticky loaf, full of lemon flavour, and it keeps wonderfully well in a tin. Well, it would if your boyfriend wasn’t eating it for breakfast…
Having lived in student halls for nine months too long (bad experience) I know just how difficult it is to cook with a dodgy oven, little space, limited food storage and below-par equipment, so when SACO contacted me about their latest challenge I couldn’t not accept. They wanted bloggers to create a two course meal for two, under £20 and only using equipment found in their holiday apartments. Got to say, those apartments are better stocked than the kitchen in my halls was! Most look pretty cool too!
I decided to go for something relatively simple, something I’d cook often but with a summery twist. Plus they compensated the cost of ingredients, so I couldn’t resist splashing out on chorizo and prawns. I planned a paella, but I had the wrong type of rice, the wrong type of pan. Plus I burn things easily. Risotto it was. As for the starter, this was something born out of an accident last year when I ended up with extra mozzarella. I love it, and quite often eat it for dinner (after an office lunch at Prezzo) or cold in my lunchbox. I also wanted something that would work well alongside the risotto if timings get difficult (they often do away from home), so I’m happy to say they go together perfectly. A really yummy meal!
Now I didn’t weigh anything, and got on with it straight from work. I had two courses on the table in under an hour – so it’s a pretty quick dish. Here we go;
Get in, throw your bags on the floor and preheat the oven to 180C. Dice a small onion and soften in olive oil over a low heat.
Slice a part-baked roll (one for each person) in half, spread each half with a teaspoon of red pesto, and top with slices of mozzarella. Throw in the oven, they want 15-20 minutes; keep an eye on the cheese as you don’t want it to burn.
By now the onions should have soften. Tip in some chorizo (I’m loving the pre-diced little packs from Sainsburys at the moment, as it means I’ll actually eat the amount before it goes off) and let it release its oils. Add sliced garlic, paprika and whatever herbs you have to hand. Stir a spoonful of the red pesto in too.
Tip in the risotto rice (150g is good for two portions) and stir constantly for two minutes. Pour 1/2 pint of boiling water into a jug, then add 1/3 of this to the pan. Stir well, cover with a lid and leave for about ten minutes.
Add another 1/3 of the stock, stir well, leave for ten minutes, then repeat. Leave the lid off for the last ten minutes, add a handful each of prawns, and stir as often as you can bear to. You want it to be slightly less wet than a usual risotto, a little more paella like.
Check the rice is cooked to your liking, season to perfection (is it Jamie Oliver that says that in virtually every recipe?!) and serve up.
Disclaimer: I was invited to take part and reimbursed for my ingredients. I wasn’t expected or asked to add an opinion on SACO apartments, and I’m not affiliated with them in any way.
Why have ordinary Millionaire’s Shortbread when you can add peanut butter? If you haven’t already guessed, I love the nutty, salty, crunchy spread, great on toast but it also makes a fabulous baking ingredient. I often find that traditional Millionaire’s Shortbread is too sweet and sickly for me, so I decided to make it more to my tastes by adding peanut butter. Of course, I then forget to sort out the caramel part, and this recipe was born. In fact I now prefer this one – not to mention it’s easier to make, less messy to eat andddd I can eat multiple pieces without feeling too sick. The perfect bake in my eyes…
I planned for this recipe to be mini – only making a few servings, so halved my existing shortbread recipe (it’s one I got in Food Tech when I was about 12) and used my smallest baking dish. Turns out I still got eight decent sized squared out of it so I’m going to give it to you in those quantities…
120g plain flour
2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter
Start by rubbing the flour and butter together, until it looks a bit breadcrumb-y like. It won’t be as breadcrumb-y as pastry as there’s a little more butter, but it should look something like my photos.
Add the sugar and rub that in too.
Tip into a tin (lined with tin foil if you are lazy about greasing) and use a spoon to press down and into the corners – you want it nice and compacted. Prick lightly with a fork. Bake at 160C for about 25 minutes, until crisp and lightly golden. Let cool.
Melt the peanut butter slightly and spread over the shortbread. This is where using crunchy peanut butter made things slightly tricky, so I’d suggest going with smooth. Then melt the chocolate, drizzle over and smooth out. Sprinkle over some peanuts – make some caramelised ones if you’re feeling fancy!
Thats it – simple, effective, yummy and perfect for sharing. Or eating by yourself whilst Bake Off is on, which wasn’t what I was doing last night…
I 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.
I 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.
I 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…
100g dark chocolate
150g plain flour
1 pinch of baking powder
50g cocoa powder
1/3 mug of hot water
1-2 tsp of nutella, if needed
1 handful of blackberries, though I wish I’d had more!
Melt your chocolate in the microwave, and leave to cool.
Meanwhile mix the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and sugar together in a bowl.
Once 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.
Stir 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.
As 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 😉
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.
One 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!
Thinking 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!
Just 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.
Decent knob of butter
1 round of haggis
Cheese – I went for parmesan and a good grating of a Scottish cheddar
Pasta – spaghetti is best really
First 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! And while that’s frying, crack and egg into a bowl, beat and add your grated cheeses.
Now 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. Once the pasta has boiled, drain, and tip straight in with the haggis. Toss together. Turn 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!
Disclaimer: I was sent a personalised apron by Sykes Cottages, but all opinions are my own. I genuinely love haggis!
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!
The 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!
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
To 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.
Place 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.
Pop 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!
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…
I’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.
Ingredients – for 12 decently sized muffins
280g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
120g soft brown sugar
180g chocolate chips
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.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. You need to do this in a large bowl, as this makes a lot of mix!
Stir 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.
Beat the eggs in a jug, and mix in the sour cream, butter/oil and vanilla extract.
Pour the wet ingredients into the well.
Mix 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…).
Thats 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?