So the summer has sort of arrived here and everything is growing in abundance. I love the taste of homegrown veg and herbs, they taste so much fresher! Herbs are a brilliant way to give an old recipe a new twist, adding chopped basil to some extra virgin olive oil makes a beautiful basil oil to dribble on some home made minestrone or pounding mint up with some sugar to make a delicious mint sugar for fruit.
Our herbs have just erupted into life all over the place, which I think I’ll take credit for seeing as I divvied them up out of overgrown herb sink and gave them a new lease on life.
We have some beautiful chocolate mint outgrowing everything, that has the most beautiful peppermint scent. I have tried adding it to cookies before but somehow the flavour didn’t come through, but now I’ve potted it in its own pot its grown bigger and better. So when setting about making brownies today I had a brainwave about using it.
Result? Absolutely beautiful mint choc brownies!
Its one of the easiest recipes, which I know is said numerous times but it honestly is!
Oven 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 20.5 cm tin with butter and line the base with greaseproof paper.
Add 225g of unsalted butter to a heavy based pan with 100g of dark chocolate and place over a low heat to melt, stir this occasionally until smooth but not hot. Once melted add in a few sprigs of chopped chocolate mint. Meanwhile add 200g of sugar, Mum uses half light brown soft and half caster, and 4 large eggs to a bowl large enough to hold all the ingredients and whisk until frothy. Whisk in the melted chocolate butter mixture until combined, sift in 50g cocoa powder and 50g of plain flour with a pinch of salt. Stir this together with a wooden spoon and add in about 75g of milk chocolate and, if you like, the same of pecans/walnuts/hazelnuts.
Pour this into the prepared tin and spread evenly, bang the tin on the work surface to expel any air bubbles. Bake for 22-24 mins until a skewer, when inserted in centre, comes out with moist crumbs as remember the brownies will continue cooking when removed from the oven, they will also sink.
Leave to cool in the tin before removing. Store in an airtight container and eat within a week.
Sweetcorn American Style Pancakes with crispy bacon and maple syrup
I never weigh ingredients for pancakes. Never Ever. So if you want quantities then I suggest you use the Jamie Oliver recipe for sweetcorn pancakes, which is where I originally found it. I saw him make these style pancakes on one of his TV shows years ago, where his unusual pancakes have become one of my favourite breakfasts and a rather indulgent one! I find that this recipe makes 3-4 medium sized pancakes.
Start with plain flour in a bowl, which you can sieve if you want but I never have done, add to this a teaspoon of baking powder. Separate one egg, or more depending on how many mouths you are feeding/pancakes you want, and place the yolk into the flour bowl and have the white in a separate bowl. Mix the flour, baking powder and yolk gradually adding a little milk as you mix to get to a thick batter stage. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt till formed stiff peaks, then fold into the thick batter mixture.
To cook just have a non stick frying pan on medium heat and once hot add the mixture and cook till golden on both sides. For sweetcorn pancakes, once the batter has firmed and browned up on one side and whilst the sprinkle some tinned or freshly shucked sweetcorn and flip to seal. I served them hear with a bit of crispy bacon as I saw Jamie do and a drizzle of maple syrup.
You can use many other fillings such as: chocolate chips blueberries crispy bacon or pancetta raspberries banana
Cakes have gotten a bad rap. People equate virtue with turning down dessert. There is always one person at the table who holds up her hand when I serve the cake. No, really, I couldn’t she says, and then gives her flat stomach a conspiratorial little pat. Everyone who is pressing a fork into that first tender layer looks at the person who declined the plate, and they all think, That person is better than I am. That person has discipline. But that isn’t a person with discipline; that is a person who has completely lost touch with joy. A slice of cake never made anybody fat. You don’t eat the whole cake. You don’t eat a cake every day of your life. You take the cake when it is offered because the cake is delicious. You have a slice of cake and what it reminds you of is someplace that’s safe, uncomplicated, without stress. A cake is a party, a birthday, a wedding. A cake is what’s served on the happiest days of your life. This is a story of how my life was saved by cake, so, of course, if sides are to be taken, I will always take the side of cake.
“The brand has an edge. The elegant look contrasts sharply with its ironic humour. Poking fun at himself, The Bitter Chocolatier tells his tales of misfortune throughout his life through the different flavors.”
Every once in a while you need a hot chocolate in your life to snuggle up with.
My mum is a massive fan of the Spanish Hot Chocolate they sell in Tesco and when she came to visit me in Portsmouth we visited Whittards and got some rather delectable Tiramisu Hot Chocolate and a toe warming Mint Hot Chocolate for my sister. Now I am not always a fan of tiramisu the dessert but this hot chocolate was beautiful, with a warm coffee touch, soft chocolate tones and a bite of amaretto at the end. B-e-a-utiful!
I have just felt the urge for a hot choccie and of course I have no chocolate powder, so I used Nutella instead. Utterly gorgeous, quick and easy to whip up in like 10 seconds.
Simply warm milk in a pan and add 1-2 teaspoons of what ever chocolate spread you have lying around in your cupboard and whisk till incorporated. Perfect.
Banana bread is almost, no IS, a staple in my house, my mum has always made it but about a year or so ago we stumbled across the easiest and much tastier recipe than the one in her 100 recipe cookbook which can turn out a bit too soggy. There is absolutely nothing like a slice of chocolate banana bread except maybe fudge walnut banana cake that is..
250g self raising flour
150g golden caster sugar
3 over ripe banana’s, mashed to desired consistency. I myself love to leave some chunkier bits of banana.
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
100g melted butter, cooled
100g dark chocolate, chopped
I like to add a dash of vanilla extract and what ever type of nut I have lurking in the back of the cupboard.
Preheat oven to 180C and grease and line a loaf tin. If you place a long strip of greaseproof lengthways of the tin, making sure it protrudes up the sides of it the cake will be easier to pull out when cool.
Sift the flour into a bowl, add the sugar and mix then add the melted butter and the beaten eggs. Mix well and add the banana and the chocolate make sure to incorporate the chocolate through the mixture.
Pour into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for around 50-55 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. When baked and slightly cooler simply run a palette knife along the sides and lift out using the paper.
You can easily substitute the chocolate for what ever you please try some of these:
a mixture of nuts; such as walnut and hazelnut
white chocolate and hazelnuts
walnut and vanilla fudge
walnut and chocolate
or leave out another flavour and have yourself a delicious simple banana loaf
Happy very belated Easter! When I went home for the Easter holidays it was expected that at some point me and my mum would be in the kitchen baking. True to form the first Sunday I was home we had a big family roast and a pudding was needed so a pudding was made. So me and mum scoured the cookery books and I found this one. This recipe isn’t one I have used before, and as soon as I spied it in my Hummingbird Bakery cook book I knew it was a winner as it turns out my whole family loved it. Think of a cross between an apple shortcake and an apple crumble; it is simply apple heaven.
For the cake: Now the original recipe calls for whole milk to be used but I didn’t have any so I just used semi-skimmed, which is maybe why the cake seemed so light.
3 Granny Smith apples; if small I would suggest using 4
60g unsalted butter softened
140g plain flour
100g caster sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
80 ml semi skimmed milk
For the streusel topping
70g plain flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
40g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
70g soft light brown sugar
Oven 170C grease and line a 20cm spring form cake tin.
First make the topping, sift the flour and cinnamon into a bowl and add the diced butter. rub together using your fingertips and thumbs until it resembles breadcrumbs. Don’t over crumble; I did that the second time I made it and you end up with something that resembles sand. Add the sugar and stir in till combined through and set aside.
Begin the sponge mix by creaming the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy using a electric hand mixer or a free standing mixer. Add the egg, vanilla and mix well until its combined, then in another bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture and mix well then add half the milk, repeat this with the other half of the flour and milk and make sure you mix well after each addition.
Pour the mixture into the baking tin, then peel core and slice the apples. This can be done by quartering the apples and making 3 or 4 slices out of each quarter, depending on the size of your apples. Arrange the slices in a circle starting outside and working your way in - don’t be afraid to use all the apple as it will fit. Finish by sprinkling the streusel topping in an even layer on the top of the cake, bake for 35-45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. When done leave the cake in its tin to cool then remove and enjoy cold or hot with custard, cream or ice cream.
One of my biggest downfalls is chocolate or snacks in general. Recently working on my dissertation has meant that I need something to nibble on whilst stuck inside working. I could be smart and healthy and get some carrot sticks or fruit but oh no I need sugar. Therefore, I need some sort of preventive-restriction-type mental ban on my mind to stop me buying a pouch of Malteasers like every other day.
Goddamn chocolate you taste too good. Not great that I read earlier that Nigella has discovered the indulgence that is chocolate and bacon brownies. Yes bacon in brownies. Wow ‘Gella wow.
Need to start making my own granola bars or something - think I should warn Sainsburys not to let me on the chocolate isle for my own safety.