Rhubarb Crumble

Rhubarb crumble has to be one of my favourite desserts.   It’s just about impossible to get it wrong.  Unfortunately my husband doesn’t like rhubarb so making any dessert to share is just a waste of time.   What I do instead is make a big bowl of stewed rhubarb with cinnamon, which keeps in the fridge for a few days and then just eat it when I feel like it.   Often Nigella-style I just eat a few spoonfuls straight out of the fridge.   Sometimes I mix it with plain yoghurt.   Sometimes I heat some of it again in the microwave.   Because it’s just for me I don’t tend to do anything too adventurous with it.  In fact, I would say that making an individual-sized crumble is about as adventurous as it gets for me and rhubarb.   As a crumble is usually made in a big dish to share It also feels nicely indulgent to make a crumble just for yourself, but if you do have people to share your rhubarb with, the ingredients could easily be increased to serve more people.    Personally, there are some things I am quite happy not to share, and this is one of them.

I am linking this to How to Cook Good Food and Working London Mummy’s One Ingredient challenge which this month is rhubarb.

Ingredients – Serves 1

2 tbsp stewed rhubarb

1 tbsp flour

1 tbsp porridge oats

1/4 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tbsp caster sugar

1/2 tsp soft brown sugar

1 tbsp roughly chopped pecans

How to Make Rhubarb Crumble

1. Grease the sides of a ramekin.   Put the rhubarb in the bottom.

2. To make the crumble topping, rub all the ingredients, except the pecans and soft brown sugar, between your fingers so it resembles breadcrumbs.   Stir in the pecans and then put on top of the rhubarb.   Sprinkle the brown sugar on top.

3. Bake in the oven at about 180C for approximately 25 minutes or until the topping has browned.

4. Serve with yoghurt, custard, ice cream or cream.

Sweet Potato, Lentil and Tahini Soup

Well, it’s still soup weather out there and after my success with carrot and tahini soup,  I was eager to experiment more with tahini in soups.  The vegetables were basically what I had left in the fridge so could easily be changed for whatever you have.   It’s amazing that just a little bit of tahini makes the lentils taste really creamy.  I know it doesn’t look that pretty or appetizing in the picture, but if you like lentils and tahini then I’m sure you would love this.   For a slight variation peanut butter would work really well too.

I’m linking this to Souper Sundays hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.

Ingredients – serves 1

1 tbsp red lentils, rinsed

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

1/2 tbsp tahini

1/2 green pepper, diced

1 onion, finely diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 chilli pepper, thinly sliced

1 tsp curry powder

How to make Sweet Potato, Lentil and Tahini Soup

1. Put a little oil in a sauce pan and fry the onion until soft.

2. Add the green pepper, chilli, garlic and curry powder.   Stir and cook for a minute and then add the lentils and sweet potato.   Cover with water, bring to the boil and then lower to a simmer.   Cover the pan and leave for 20 minutes.

3. Check the lentils and sweet potato are cooked.   Leave for a bit longer if necessary.   Stir in the tahini until it dissolves and then serve.

Chocolate Philadelphia Fudge Cheesecake

I don’t like to think that I’m influenced by advertising, especially not for branded food products.   But, you probably also remember that not long ago lots of food blogs were reviewing Chocolate Philadelphia.   It sounded nice but I didn’t intend to buy it.   Then, someone completely unconnected to food blogging started talking about it on Facebook.   Finally, I happened to notice that they were selling 2 for the price of 1 in the supermarket and I actually gave in.  I’m clearly weaker than I like to think.

Anyway, once I had the Chocolate Philadelphia, I needed to decide how to use it.   With Choclette’s We Should Cocoa Event having the theme of cheese plus chocolate this month, I decided I should make my first chocolate cheesecake.   I know this is not very original as it is probably the first thing that springs to mind for most people when they think of eating cheese and chocolate together.  Also not very original, but delicious sounding, would be brownies with a layer of cheesecake on top.   I’ve never made these but I’ve seen them around and about and always thought they sounded incredible.   Brownies and cheesecake together – yum!  But, that’s for another time.  To make the cheesecake I actually followed a recipe on the Philadelphia website.  The only thing I changed was  to add a tablespoon of cocoa powder as I wanted to make sure I got a really chocolatey taste.  Now, although I used chocolate Philadelphia to make this, I’m sure it could easily be adapted to use any other cream cheese plus chocolate and cocoa powder.  You may also notice that my cheesecake is a slightly odd shape.   This is because my normal cheesecake dish was too big and so I used a plastic takeaway container as it was the perfect size.   It also meant storage was very easy as I could just put the lid on.

Overall it was a very easy cheesecake to make as it didn’t need baking and I thought it tasted good but was quite rich.   I do normally prefer berry flavoured cheesecakes whereas my husband prefers chocolate or caramel flavoured cheesecakes and he loved it.  The little pieces of fudge make it more interesting but could be left out if necessary or substituted for another type of chocolate bar.`

I am also linking to Sweets for a Saturday.

Ingredients – Serves 4

75g digestive biscuits

20g butter

160g tub of Chocolate (Cadbury) Philadelphia

180g double cream

20g icing sugar

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 small chocolate fudge bar (I used Cadbury fudge)

How to Make Chocolate Philadelphia Fudge Cheesecake

1. Crush the digestive biscuits.   Melt the butter in the microwave and then mix into the biscuit crumbs.   Press the biscuit mixture into the bottom of a small dish or into 4 ramekins lined with cling film.

2. Whisk the cream for a minute until it thickens slightly.   Add the sugar, cocoa and chocolate Philadelphia.   Whisk until well combined.

3. Chop the fudge bar into small pieces and mix into the cream mixture.   Pour this on top of the cheesecake base/ bases and smooth down the top.   Put in the fridge to chill and set for at least 2 hours.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

I wasn’t sure whether to take part in the Secret Recipe Club this month or not.   What if the baby arrived early and I didn’t have time to make anything?   In the end, I decided to risk it, but to make my recipe as soon as I received my assignment.   This means I’m writing this in March and have no idea whether I’ll be a mother or not by the time this post goes live.   It is also the reason why I chose a fairly simple recipe.  I sometimes try to make something adventurous or new, but this month my priority was just to be organised and get my post ready in plenty of time.   Last month I made a black bean soup using dried beans for the first time and this month I am also making a black bean soup – both in the slow cooker.   But, that is where the similarities end.   Apart from the beans, the flavours and textures are completely different, and of course I wanted another opportunity to use dried black beans again.   The recipe comes from Julie at A Little Bit of Everything and she does indeed have a wide range of recipes on her blog, both sweet and savoury.   After the success of my microwave cake a few weeks ago I was tempted to try her crock pot chocolate cake but for me, the savoury dish won this time.   It made a perfect lunch two days in a row and was very healthy too.

Like Julie,  I also found that the beans lost some of their colour in the water due to the slow cooking and also dyed the sweet potato and pepper a little too.  All in all this didn’t bother me and I found it a lovely lunchtime soup which felt very healthy as I was eating it, as well as being pretty tasty and filling too.

Ingredients – serves 2

3 tbsp dried black beans

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 yellow pepper, roughly chopped

1 green chilli pepper, sliced

Vegetable stock – enough to cover the vegetables

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp cinnamon

How to Make Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

1. If beginning with dried beans, soak in water overnight.   In the morning rinse the beans well.

2. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker and cook for 8 hours.

To see what other Secret Recipe Club Members have made, click on the link below:

Secret Recipe Club

Carrot and Tahini Soup

Summer was here for a week or two back in March but now it’s cold and chilly again and summer feels a long time away.   I’ve been eating quite a few salads but it’s not really the right time for them yet, but what this type of weather is perfect for, is soups.    I had a lot of carrots in the fridge and wanted to use them up.   They weren’t the best carrots.   A bit watery and without much flavour.   Not so good for dipping in houmous, perfect for blending up and putting in a soup.   Usually when I put carrot in a soup I add it along with a lot of other vegetables.   It’s not a carrot a soup, it just contains some carrot.   Yes, I have made carrot soup, about five years ago but I found it very sweet.   Too sweet and so carrot soup has been one to avoid since then.    Then, a few months ago I came across this recipe for Carrot and Tahini Soup on Eats Well with Others.  It got me thinking.   The sweetness of the carrots would be balanced out by the bitterness of the tahini.   Hmmm.   Maybe carrot soup could be delicious after all, just like carrots dipped in houmous.  So, I bookmarked it and there it lingered for a few months, until this week when all those carrots in the fridge began asking to be used up.   I adapted the recipe slightly.   I didn’t have any leeks so I used onions.   I made a much small quantity and so used fewer carrots but used a larger proportion of spices and added cumin too, as I feel it goes so well with coriander and carrots.    I love lemon juice in soups so added the juice of half a lemon but again, you might want to add less of this.  What’s really important is not to add too much stock.  This should be thick and delicious, not a watery soup.

I am linking this to Bookmarked Recipes, hosted by Tinned Tomatoes and also to Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays.

Ingredients – 1 large portion (could serve 2)

2 small onions, finely diced

230g peeled carrots, chopped

1 large clove of garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp dried thyme

Vegetable stock – just enough to cover the vegetables

1/2 tbsp tahini

Juice of 1/2 lemon

How to Make Carrot and Tahini Soup

1. Put a little oil in the bottom of a saucepan and cook the onion for about 3 minutes until softened.    Add the crushed garlic and spices.    Stir then add the carrots.    Add the vegetable stock.   Bring to the boil then lower to a simmer for about 20 minutes.

2. Stir in the tahini then use a stick blender or transfer to a blender and blitz until you get a thick soup.

3. Stir in the lemon juice to taste and serve with bread.

Salpicon – Mexican Beef Salad

A couple of weeks ago I made a Thai beef salad and it was delicious.   It made me want to eat beef salad again, and again, and, well, you get the picture.   This time I went for a Mexican version, which meant I could keep the chillies, the lime juice and the coriander, which I love so much.   In fact, just like the Thai salad, I could eat this again and again and not get bored.  However, before I risk repeating myself AGAIN, I’ll move straight on to the recipe.

I am linking this to My Kitchen My World, which this month goes to Mexico.

Ingredients – serves 2

300g steak thinly sliced or shredded beef

200g cherry tomatoes

Large handful of coriander (cilantro)

1/4 red onion

1 chilli pepper

1 avocado

3 radishes

1 clove garlic

Juice of 1/2 a lime

Olive oil

Salt

Black pepper

How to Make Salpicon

1. Ideally use shredded beef but if not then cook the steak on both sides on a high heat in a frying pan.  Remove from the pan and leave to rest.

2. Prepare all the vegetables. Quarter the cherry tomatoes, dice the onion finely, roughly chop the coriander, slice the radishes thinly, crush the garlic, finely slice the chilli pepper and chop the avocado.   Put in a bowl and squeeze over the lime juice, add the salt and black pepper and a little olive oil.    Mix together and leave to stand for a short while.

3. If using steak, slice as thinly as possible and mix into the salad.    If using shredded beef, also mix in.

4. Serve with tortilla wraps.

Baked Arancini

Well, after a glut of sweet posts, this is finally a savoury post.   And one without any chillies!  I consider risotto to be a standby meal because it’s so easy to make and most of the ingredients can be found in the cupboard, freezer or fridge.   I tend to use fresh mushrooms if I have them but it’s great with dried mushrooms, possibly better because of the stronger flavour.   I always have frozen peas in the freezer; onions, garlic and rice in the cupboard and usually parmesan in the fridge.  I haven’t included the full recipe for the risotto as I never measure how much of what I’m using and for arancini, I’m sure any risotto would do.   This time I just made extra risotto for our dinner the night before so I could be sure of having leftovers to make these.  I planned to make them in the evening but being a little greedy, there wasn’t quite enough risotto left for two people and so I made the arancini for my lunch instead.  Usually arancini are deep-fried, but I decided it would be easier, a little healthier and less messy to bake them.   I could have coated them in flour and then egg before the breadcrumbs but as the rice balls are quite sticky I just used breadcrumbs and they easily stuck to the risotto balls.  The finished result was crispy on the outside and warm and creamy inside.

As these used up leftovers I am linking them to Frugal Food Fridays which this month is being hosted by Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.

Ingredients

Leftover risotto (made with arborio rice, onion, garlic, bacon, mushrooms, peas, chicken stock, rosemary, thyme, parmesan)

Breadcrumbs

How to Make Baked Arancini

1. Use any leftover risotto.   Form into small balls using approximately 2 teaspoons of risotto for each ball.    Roll in the breadcrumbs.

2. Place the arancini on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at about 200C.

I just served them with salad but I think they would be lovely with a tomato salsa.

Blondies

Now you really will be wondering what happened to the savoury cook I used to be.    Ginger cake, blueberry muffins and now blondies.   What is going on here?   Well, I am sure the savoury food will return soon – I do actually have  plans to make a few new things this week and I am making a lot of savoury meals – they just happen to be dishes I’ve already posted about in the past.  Samosas, chicken curries, fajitas.   All with extra chillies in to try and shift this little baby,  but so far it’s not working.  Never mind, back to blondies.   I don’t think I’d heard of blondies until I began food blogging and saw them on other blogs.  I had assumed that a blondie was just a brownie but made with white chocolate instead of cocoa and dark or milk chocolate.   After a little research,  it seems that in fact, blondies do not have to contain any chocolate at all and get their flavour from the brown sugar that is used to make them.   As they look like brownies but are lighter in colour, they get the name blondies.   Well, blondies may not need to contain any chocolate, but most do and I decided whatever recipe I used, white chocolate chips were going to go in them.  The recipe I used in the end was adapted from Simply Recipes, which actually used butterscotch chips instead of chocolate chips.

I am linking these to Alpha Bakes, which is run by The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes.   This month Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker is the host and the letter is ‘B’. I am also linking to Sweets for a Saturday.

Ingredients – makes 9-16(depending on how big you slice them)

130g plain flour

200g soft brown sugar

110g butter

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of salt

100g white chocolate, chopped into chips

How to Make Blondies

1. Melt the butter in the microwave or in a small pan.     Whisk in the sugar and vanilla.

2. Beat the egg lightly and then whisk it into the butter and sugar mixture.

3. Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and chocolate chips.   Fold into the butter and sugar mixture.

4. Line a square tin (approx 8 x 8 inches) with baking parchment and pour in the mixture.   Bake in the oven at about 200c for 20 minutes.  If necessary bake for an extra five minutes.

Blueberry Muffins

Everyone likes muffins, don’t they?   Well, I can’t understand how anyone could possibly not like muffins.   One of my favourite afternoon treats used to be to pick up a blueberry or chocolate muffin from the supermarket at lunchtime to eat during the afternoon.   When those visits to the supermarket got a little too frequent I had to make myself stop.  After all, I’ve seen the lists of fat, sugar and calories for bought muffins and they are shockingly high!   I’d like to say that these are much healthier.   I’m not a nutritionist but they are a little bit smaller, and anything you make yourself just has to be healthier, doesn’t it?   And of course they have fruit in them, which is always good.   They still have the soft inside like bought muffins and the slightly sticky outside.   Oh yes, these are good muffins.

So why have I have got around to making them before?  Well, maternity leave (at the moment) has given me a bit more time for baking so when Tina announced that for April the Crazy Cooking Challenge would be to make blueberry muffins, I knew that the time had come and I just needed to find a blogger with a recipe.  A few days later when Tandy at Lavender and Lime posted a recipe for blueberry muffins, I knew I’d found my recipe.  Tandy is a lovely South African blogger who I discovered a few months ago and she has a wonderful selection of recipes and stories connected to them on her blog so do take a look at the original recipe and post.

Ingredients – Makes about 12 small muffins

215g flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100g caster sugar

75g blueberries

60g butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

120ml milk

How to Make Blueberry Muffins

1. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a large mixing bowl.   Mix together.  Then stir in the blueberries.

2. Melt the butter in a microwave or small saucepan.

3. Using a fork, mix the milk into the egg and then mix in the melted butter.

4. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the milk mixture.  Stir it in gently so it is only just mixed in.  Don’t worry if there are any small lumps.

5. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases and spoon the mixture into the cases.

6. Bake in the oven at about 200C for 15 minutes.

7. Cool the muffins on a wire rack.

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Ginger Cake

This looks like ginger cake and tastes like ginger cake, but I’m not really sure if I should call it that.    The recipe called for 2 teaspoons of ground ginger but as I was in the middle of making the cake I discovered I only had half a teaspoon left in the jar.     Well one of the ingredients in mixed spice is ginger so I just added a bit extra, hoping it would do the trick, and yes, it seemed to work.  Maybe I should have called it mixed spice cake or even just called it golden syrup cake, seeing as that is one of the main ingredients.   And maybe that is one of the reasons this stays so moist and maybe also the reason why you get the lovely slightly gooey layer on top of the cake.   In looks it is very similar to the carrot cake I made a couple of weeks ago, but I managed to claim the carrot cake was fairly healthy as far as carrot cakes go.   Unfortunately I can’t claim the same for this, but as long as you cut it into small squares to serve, it really doesn’t feel so bad.

I made this cake as part of Dom’s Random Recipe Challenge.   As Belleau Kitchen is celebrating its second birthday we had to randomly choose a recipe from a baking book or the baking section of a book.  I don’t actually have many baking books but I picked Step by Step Baking by Caroline Bretherton and I have to admit, I fancied making a cake so I did severely limit the section of the book too to be sure I picked something I wanted to make.  I have to say, I’m fairly pleased with all my baking efforts recently.   I used to say I wasn’t really a baker but I’m already thinking of what sweet treat I can make next!

I am also linking to Sweets for a Saturday and Cookbook Sundays.

Ingredients – serves 12 (slightly adapted from Step by Step Baking)

225g self-raising flour

110g unsalted butter or margarine

200g golden syrup

110g soft brown sugar

200ml milk

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 egg

How to Make Ginger Cake

1. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large mixing bowl.

2. Put the butter, sugar, golden syrup and milk into a small saucepan and heat until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved.

3. Pour the liquid from the saucepan into the mixing bowl with the flour.    Whisk well and then beat in the egg too.

4. Line the bottom of a square 18cm cake tin with baking parchment and grease the sides.   Pour the mixture into the tin.    Bake in the oven at about 170C for 35 minutes.   Test with a skewer and bake for a bit longer if it comes out wet.

5. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

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