Spiced Pumpkin Cookies

soft cakey pumpkin biscuits

I picked a pumpkin last week and I think I might spend all of October eating it.   I carve a bit off and it still looks almost as big as it was before.  It wouldn’t be so bad if the rest of this household loved pumpkin but at the moment it seems that me and Master Spice are the only ones who like it, and Master Spice only began eating a week ago so I can’t rely on him to eat much.

Although I love pumpkin and would like to make lots of roasted vegetable dishes I think I might be the only one eating them.   My lovely husband was not quite as lovely as normal the other night when he actually refused to eat my delicious pumpkin creation and went and got a pizza out of the freezer.  Well, more for me, although pumpkins are pretty big so that means a lot lot more.

It seems I’m going to have to disguise the pumpkin and add it to cakes and biscuits instead of savoury dishes.  Rather appropriately, this month’s Random Recipes at Belleau Kitchen has the theme, ‘something sweet’ and instead of using a recipe book we have to pick a random recipe from an internet recipe search.  Even without Random Recipes I would probably have resorted to the internet to find a pumpkin cookie recipe.  With this in mind I decided to search the internet for ‘pumpkin cookies UK recipe’, as I knew lots of US recipes would come up and I’m lazy and didn’t want to have to convert cup measurements.  This was the first recipe in the list and is from All Recipes.

I admit that I did adapt the recipe very slightly.   I used half the amount of sugar as it looked like it would make very very sweet cookies.  I also used mixed spice instead of individual spices.  Even with half the sugar, the cookies were still sweet enough for me and if you put a little icing on the top it makes them even sweeter.

I was hoping the recipe would give me lovely moist maybe slightly chewy cookies. What I got was lovely moist light cakey cookies.  The consistency was definitely more cake than cookie.  Now, that wasn’t a problem as I love cake and even if it comes in the disguise of a cookie, I won’t complain, but I do feel it’s fair to warn you, in case you also have two thirds of a huge pumpkin staring at you across the kitchen.   And just in case you are rather particular about the consistency of your cookies.

As you can see, I attempted to make a spider’s web decoration with the icing on top of some of the cookies.   If you want, you could try and decorate these for Halloween, but I’ll admit that I ate most of them plain.

Ingredients

300g plain flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

3 tsp mixed spice

150g caster sugar

125g butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

250g pumpkin puree

To decorate (optional)

Icing in a tube

How to Make Spiced Pumpkin Cookies

1. Turn the oven on to 180C.   Line 4 baking trays with baking paper.

2. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice in a bowl.

3. Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream together.   Add the egg, vanilla and pumpkin puree.   Beat together.

4. Add the bowl of dry ingredient to the bowl of wet ingredients and mix together.

5.  Using a tablespoon, put spoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking trays, leaving a  gap around each cookie as they will spread in the oven.

6. Bake for 15 -20 minutes.   Mine were ready after 15 minutes.

7. Leave the cookies to cool on a wire rack and if you want, decorate them.

As well as Random Recipes I am also linking these to Treat Petit at The Baking Explorer and on alternate months by Cakeyboi, Tea Time Treats hosted by Lavender and Lovage and on alternate months by The Hedgecombers and also to Lets Cook for Halloween at Simply Food.

I am also entering these into a Halloween baking competition that Cakeyboi is running along with Kleeneze.

random recipes new logoTreat PetitTea Time TreatsLets cook for Halloween

 

Butternut Squash and Spinach Stuffed Pasta with Sage Brown Butter

Pasta stuffed with butternut squash and spinach and served with a drizzle of sage brown butter

Last week I went vegetable picking at the pick your own again.   In summer when I used to go it was full of people, most of them picking strawberries and other berries.  This time it was deserted.  Little Miss Spice, Master Spice and I were the only ones there gathering squash and brassicas.  It was strange, but in a good way.   We came away with cauliflower, cabbage, butternut squash, a pumpkin, a marrow and a kohlrabi – enough to last a couple of weeks.

The only decisions now are how to cook and eat all these lovely local vegetables.  At the time I was also searching through my assigned Secret Recipe Club blog, Flavours by Four.   I was torn between sweet and savoury – red velvet chocolate chip cookies or Greek pizza.   Just to make the decision more difficult for myself,  I decided to search my assigned blog for recipes using the vegetables we’d picked.  I came across these yummy looking stuffed pasta shells and my decision was made, well after considering the sausage and butternut pasta bake too!

I easily found all the ingredients I needed except the pasta shells.  Could I make it without pasta shells?  What about lasagna?  Well,  it would taste the same but could I get the right look?   I ambitiously decided that maybe I could fold the lasagna sheets around the filling to make them look like shells.

I cooked the lasagna sheets and then began to try and fold them around the filling.   I needed more hands.   As soon as I moved onto another shell the one I’d just arranged would begin to fall apart.   I gave up.   I’m sorry, I know it is possible but today was not going to be that day.   I decided to just roll the lasagna sheets around the filling like cannelloni.   Perfect.  I also put a little of the filling on top of the pasta to make it as similar as possible to the original recipe.   It may not look quite the same but trust me, it is and it definitely worked.  The roasted butternut squash, spinach, lemon and sage are a delightful earthy but sweet combination of autumn flavours.  It’s probably not the healthiest of dinners but it is very comforting and perfect as the nights begin to get longer and colder.

Butternut squash cannelloni

Ingredients – Serves 4

1 butternut squash (mine was on the small side), peeled and cut into cubes

Olive oil

2 large handfuls of spinach

280g ricotta

1 egg

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Zest of 1 lemon

3 tbsp grated parmesan

Black pepper

8 sheets of lasagna

About 16 sage leaves

knob of butter

How to Make Butternut Squash and Spinach Stuffed Pasta with Sage Brown Butter

1. Put the butternut squash in a roasting tin, season with salt and pepper and then drizzle with olive oil.  Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.

2. Put the spinach in a saucepan with a little water and let it wilt.  Take it out and leave it in a colander to drain.   When it is cool enough to handle, use your hands to squeeze the excess water out and roughly chop.

3. Cook the sheets of lasagna.  When they are ready, put them in a bowl of cold water so they don’t stick together and so they are not too hot to handle.

4. In a large bowl beat the egg.  Add the ricotta, garlic and lemon zest and beat together with a fork.   Add the spinach, butternut squash and 2 tablespoons of the parmesan. Season with black pepper and stir to combine all the ingredients.

5. Coat an oven-proof dish with a little oil  Mine was approximately 20cm x20cm.

6. Take one sheet of lasagna and spoonful of the filling.  Put the filling at one end and roll up the lasagna sheet around it.  Put the filled pasta in the oven-proof dish and repeat until all the sheets of lasagna have been filled.

7. Spread any extra filling over the top of the pasta and sprinkle on the extra tablespoon of parmesan.

8. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 180C.

9. Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the sage leaves.  Cook until the butter begins to turn brown and the sage leaves are going crispy.   Spoon a little of the butter and sage leaves over each portion of the pasta as you serve it.

9. Serve with some more green vegetables.

To see what other SRC participants have made, click on the link below:

 

I am also linking this to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

Tasty Tuesdays

Cake Balls

Cake balls or cake pops

Cake balls.   Cake pops.   Balls.  Pops.  Balls.  Whatever you want to call these, they are fun, tasty and absolutely morish.  We didn’t have these when I was a child but even so, they remind me of the type of treats we used to get a children’s parties.

You may be thinking that they are just for kids.   Or even that they are something I made with Little Miss Spice.   Oh no.  Sometimes I want to play at being a child all on my own. I want to be able to have fun in the kitchen without a little person grabbing things and deciding what the finished product is going to look like.

I know that Little Miss Spice would love mixing up cake and melted chocolate with her hands.   She would also love dipping the cake balls in the liquid chocolate and rolling them in the sprinkles

The truth is, I also wanted to do all those things, and I wanted to do them by myself for once.   Cake balls may look like a kid’s thing, but I don’t know many adults who would say no to one of these.

They are surprisingly easy to make.   If you had leftover cake they would take next to no time to make.   But honestly, who has leftover cake?  Most of the time I am wishing I had cake!

Of course I had to make cake.   I made a beautifully simple Madeira cake from Cake by Rachel Allen.  It is made with soft dark brown sugar which makes a lovely moist cake with a caramel taste that goes so well with all the chocolate that you need later when you turn it into cake balls.  I used sticks to put the cake balls on which makes it easier when you are coating them in chocolate and rolling them in sprinkles but you could easily not bother with the sticks.   Don’t feel you have to buy anything specially to make this recipe.  Well, apart from sprinkles, chocolate, cake or cake ingredients.

Anyway, going back to the name.  Balls.   Pops.   Balls.   It had to be balls.  You may have heard of the #FeelingNuts movement, encouraging all men to become more aware of testicular cancer and to regularly check themselves.   Well, today the movement will be at the Urban Food Fest in Shoreditch and along with a number of other bloggers I have made my own ball related food.  If you’d like to know more then follow @check_one_two on Twitter.

If you just want to make cake balls then read on.

Ingredients for the Madeira cake

175g softened butter

175g soft dark brown sugar

5 eggs

275g self-raising flour

How to Make the Madeira Cake

1. Turn the oven on to 180C.  Grease or line a cake or loaf tin.   I used a round 20cm cake tin.

2. Beat the butter with a whisk until it is soft and then add the sugar and continue to beat until it is well combined and is light and fluffy.

3. Whisk the eggs briefly in another bowl and then pour them into the butter and sugar mixture slowly as you beat it.

4. Sift the flour into the bowl and then fold it in.

5. Pour the cake batter into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 35 – 45 minutes.   Mine was ready after 35 minutes.

6. Let the cake cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then take it out and cool it on a wire rack.

Ingredients for the Cake Balls – Makes 20 (Recipe also from Cake by Rachel Allen)

350g Madeira cake

175g white chocolate

400g milk chocolate (I found this was way too much so you could probably get away with using 300g)

Your choice of spinkles to decorate with

How to Make the Cake Balls

1. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

2. Melt the white chocolate in a large bowl in the microwave.  Put it in for 1 minute to begin with and then for 20 seconds at a time.  Keep opening the door to check it and to stir it.

2. Crumble the cake into the bowl with the white chocolate.   Use your hands to mix the chocolate and the cake together and roll handfuls into balls.   Press the mixture together so the balls are quite dense and then place them on the baking paper on the baking tray.

3. If using sticks then push a stick into each ball.   Put the baking tray in the fridge for the cake balls to set and harden.  Leave for at least 30 minutes.   I left mine overnight.

4. Get the sprinkles ready by putting them in bowls.   Have a teaspoon for each bowl too.  Also line another 2 baking trays with baking paper.

5. Melt the milk chocolate in the same way as you melted the white chocolate.   Dip each cake ball in the chocolate.   You may need to use a spoon to make sure the ends with the sticks in also have chocolate on them.  Spoon the chocolate on if you are not able to get it on just by rolling the cake balls.  If any of the sticks come out then just dip the end in the chocolate to help it stick and push it back in.

6. As soon as you take the cake ball out of the chocolate, roll it in the sprinkles.   Again, use a spoon to spoon sprinkles onto the bits of the cake ball around the stick.

7. Lay the cake balls down on the baking trays and put in the fridge to set.

As the cake contains dark brown sugar I am linking these to Love Cake, hosted by JibberjabberUK.   The theme this month is ‘dark’.  I am also linking to the Biscuit Barrel Challenge at I’d Much Rather Bake Than….  The theme is comfort foods.

Love CakeThe Biscuit Barrel Challenge

Coca Cola Chilli Chicken

cola chicken

I’ve always been fascinated by recipes that use coca cola.  There’s something a little naughty about cooking with a drink my mother wouldn’t let me drink as a child. Maybe it’s also the fact that it’s such an artificial but addictive flavour that makes it seem just a little edgy.  A glass of orange juice may be just as sweet but wouldn’t seem half as wild.

To be honest, I don’t often drink cola and when I do I usually have the diet versions, but for cooking you need the sugar that’s in the real thing.   I  have no idea what it would be like made with Diet Coke but I’m not going to risk spoiling a meal by having a go.  If you do, please tell me.

In essence, this is a Chinese style dish with a sweet and sticky sauce like so many Chinese dishes have.   The only difference is where the sweet and sticky sauce comes from.  The dish doesn’t actually taste of cola but it does give a rich flavour to the sauce. It is sweet, but not too sweet luckily as I’m not a fan of sweet savoury dishes, which makes me question why I wanted to cook with cola in the first place.   It must be that rebellious streak in me.

I’ve read a lot of cola recipes online over the last few years but this was the first one that I read and then went out and bought a can of coke just so I could make it.   I found it on Milk and Honey and not only did it sound fantastic, the pictures were amazing too.  I’ve adapted it a little by adding more vegetables, more coriander and a little less soy sauce so please do have a look at the original recipe too.

Ingredients – Serves 2

300g chicken, cut into thin slices

1 tbsp cornflour

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 birds eye chilli, sliced

1 thumb-sized knob of ginger, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 can Coca Cola

Large handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Handful of cashew nuts

About 300g vegetables – I used sugar snap peas and baby corn

1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water

How to Make Coca Cola Chilli Chicken

1. Put the chicken, cornflour and soy sauce in a bowl.   Stir well and put in the refrigerator for at least an hour before you make the rest of the dish.

2. Put a little oil in a pan and add the chilli, ginger and garlic.   Fry them for about a minute and then add the chicken.

3. Keep stirring the chicken so it doesn’t stick and when it is beginning to brown, add the cola.  Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.

4. While the chicken is simmering.   Heat a dry frying pan and dry fry the cashews.   Keep shaking the pan so they turn over and don’t burn.

5. Add the vegetables and most of the coriander to the pan with the chicken and continue to simmer for about 3 minutes.

6. Add the cornflour and water mixture and stir to thicken the sauce.

7. Serve with rice and top with the cashew nuts and the extra coriander leaf.

As this is my first attempt to cook something using Coca Cola I am linking it to Our Growing Edge, hosted this month by Jules at the Kiwi Diaries.

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Our Growing Edge September 2014 Round up

The last few days have been very hectic so it has taken me slightly longer than I hoped to put together the round up for Our Growing Edge, which I have had the pleasure of hosting this month.   Our Growing Edge is a fantastic event designed to take you out of your cooking comfort zone in whatever way you choose, using a new ingredient, a new technique or even just making something you’ve always wanted to make but never quite got around to having a go at.

I love trying new things and each month I try to push myself in some way or another in the kitchen and love to find inspiration in the recipes other people make too.   Our Growing Edge is the brainchild of Genie at Bunny Eats Design so do take a look if you’d like to enter next month.

The first entry, an Oreo Dirt Cake, came from Everyday Life of a Mother and Wife.  How could anything with that name not be delicious?

oreo dirt cake

My entry was next.   After watching the Great British Bake Off I was inspired to make a 3d biscuit scene.  My little girl loved our 5 Little Ducks Went Swimming One Day Biscuits.

5 little ducks biscuitsWe then had this delicious and easy sounding Mango and Chia Seed Pudding from Spicy, Quirky and Serendipitous.

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This was followed by a rather unusual but delicious sounding apple and pumpkin crumble by Cook it Fit.

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Jules at the Kiwi Diaries made this delightful lemon cake.

lemon cakeCaroline at Shrinking Single made these delicious Spicy New Orleans Sprimps using liquid smoke – something I’d love to try using one day.

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Caitlin at Foraged Dish made a Curried Pork Stew with Apples and Collards – just perfect for this time of year.

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Brynne at By: The Common Cook made lentils with yoghurt and basil for a tasty lunch.

lentil-lunch-e1411140658669

Genie at Bunny Eats Design made Peking Duck for Busy People.  Why get a takeaway if you can make something that looks this good?

peking-duck-32

Andre’s The Home Baker made this tempting Chocolate Mocha Chiffon Cake.

chocolate mocha chiffon cake

Audrey at Rice & Kai made one of the most beautiful cheesecakes I have ever seen decorated with edible flowers. Have a look at her Pineapple Cheesecake with Coconut and Flower Jelly.

cheesecake with flowers

Ksenia at Saffron and Honey contributed this lovely warming roasted tomato and carrot soup.

tomato carrot soup

Chandler from the International Poor Chef School Project then linked up this fascinating post about how to make Moroccan Tea.  It brought back lots of good holiday memories for me.

moroccan tea

Denica at D’s Bistro made this pretty Pistachio Pavlova with Kiwis and Nectarines.

pavlova-with-kiwi-and-nectarine-1-e1402907913831

Finally Leah from Sharing the Love with Food made these lovely pillowy gnocchi in a green sauce with ham.

gnocchi

 

Thank you everyone for entering.   Next month Our Growing Edge will be hosted by Jules at The Kiwi Diaries.

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Pretzels

pretzels in container

I should be making doughnuts this week.   I really really should be making doughnuts.   Or at least a  fruit loaf.   You see, I have been baking along with the Great British Bake Off and trying to make something with the same theme as the show each week.  It’s fun, but I’ve started to feel like I have deadlines and that is never a good thing.

After bunking off and doing no baking last week, this week, I’m still rebelling.    Not completely as this is still Bake Off related.   I remember seeing the contestants make pretzels last year, or maybe it was even the year before!   Anyway, I’ve been wanting to make pretzels for a long time but only now have I wanted to make them enough to actually make them!

You see, I was sent some lovely French rock salts by Culture Vulture and so I really wanted to make something that would make the most of the salts.  The salts were Truffle and Black Pepper Salt and Fig, Onion and 5 Peppers Salt.  Both came in beautiful jars and look so much more inviting than everyday salt.   The pretzels I’d been thinking of making for all that time suddenly became something I really wanted to make.

I hadn’t make pretzels before or any bread that involves boiling first but I was pleased by how easy they were to make and also by how well they turned out.   Maybe I’ll be having a go at bagels soon!  I did take a short cut and use the breadmaker for the dough and it was fine in it.

The salts were lovely although I couldn’t really taste the individual flavours that were in them.  The purplish lilac colour of the fig, onion and 5 peppers one looked especially pretty on the pretzels and these are definitely lovely salts to use on breads or biscuits which have salt sprinkled on the outside.  Of course, if you don’t have these salts, any good quality rock salt would still work on the pretzels.

pretzel

The recipe is adapted from a Paul Hollywood recipe and can be found on BBC Food.

Ingredients – Makes 12

500g strong white flour

7g sachet yeast

10g salt

40g softened butter

1 tbsp soft brown sugar (replacement for malt extract)

280ml milk

21g bicarbonate of soda

20g rock salt

How to Make Pretzels

1. I put the yeast, flour, salt, brown sugar and milk into the breadmaker and set it to the dough setting but if you don’t have a breadmaker then follow the instructions here.

2. Put the oven on at 200C. Cut the dough into 12 evenly sized pieces.   Roll each one between your fingers until it reaches a length of about 40cm.

3. To make the dough into pretzel shapes, make a U shape then bring each end into the middle, cross them over each other and press them into the side of the U.  You should then get a pretzel shape with 3 holes.

4. Bring a large pan containing 7 liters of water to the boil.   Add the bicarbonate of soda and then add the pretzels, one at a time for 5 seconds each.

5. Sprinkle a little salt on the top of each pretzel.   Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.   Cool on a wire rack and eat on the same day.

truffle and fig salt

 

I am linking these to Bake of the Week at Casa Costello.

Bake-of-the-week

Lamb Meatballs

 

lamb meatballs

Where would I be without Jamie Oliver? This month I struck lucky for Random Recipes when the book I ended up with was Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals.  I definitely haven’t cooked from this book enough.  There are some lovely recipes in it and although they generally (always) take a little longer than 15 minutes, they are still pretty quick to prepare and then get out on the table.

One of the good things about this recipe was that most of the ingredients are things that are in the store cupboard anyway.   I love fresh coriander leaf and I often have that at home too so the only thing I needed to make an effort to buy was the lamb mince.

Normally I am not a big fan of lamb.  I love it in a curry but generally I only like it if it is served with lots of other strong flavours so it doesn’t taste too much of lamb.  Yes, I’m afraid I disguise it!

It has to be said that I was a bit disappointed at first to have picked this recipe.    I considered picking another, but then decided I’d better stick to the rules.   After all,  I love all the other ingredients and there was at least a little spice in the recipe to rescue it.  I was pleased I made it in the end.   It was very easy and quick to do and the meatballs were really tasty.   I could even have eaten more.   Why didn’t I made double and freeze some?   Next time.

Ingredients – Serves 2

200g lamb mince

1 tsp garam masala

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 red chilli pepper

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

400g tin chickpeas

300g passata

2 spring onions, sliced

How to Make Lamb Meatballs

1. Using your hands, mix the garam masala and turmeric into the mince and then make into small meatballs, about the size of large grapes. Put the meatballs in a frying pan with a little oil.

2. In a saucepan heat a little oil then add the garlic, spring onion, chilli pepper, the spices and half of the coriander.   Stir fry for 30 seconds then add the passata and chickpeas.  Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Add the meat balls to the saucepan and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.

4. Serve with yoghurt, flatbreads and salad.  Scatter the remaining coriander on top of the meatballs when serving.

I am linking this to Random Recipes hosted by Belleau Kitchen.

random recipes new logo

Vanilla Ice Cream and Affogato

affogato

I may have mentioned in an earlier post that I love vanilla ice cream.   I would much rather have vanilla than chocolate or caramel or cookie dough or whatever else is popular.  The best ice creams are either fruit flavoured or vanilla.  And that’s a fact.   Even if you don’t agree with me.

I planned to make this to go with the Austrian Chocolate Cake that I made last week, but only actually managed to complete it on day 3 with our last piece of cake.   That’s what children have done to me.   And that’s why I usually avoid recipes with too many stages. This one is easy but it does take time to make.  It’s worth it though and I promise you it’s one of the best vanilla ice creams you will ever taste

Anyway, I got up on Sunday morning and made a coffee.   I looked in the fridge but there was no milk.  I looked across at my husband who was putting his last  mouthful of cereal into his mouth.   I peered into his bowl but there wasn’t even a drop of milk left.

Would I have to have black coffee?   I don’t mind black coffee, but I wasn’t quite in the mood for one that morning.   And then I remembered the little bit of homemade vanillla ice cream that was sitting in the freezer.  It would have to be the day for affogato, which I only thought about as I had been planning to make it earlier this summer for Kavey Eats’ Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream Challenge.   I didn’t have time to make it that particular month but I hadn’t forgotten about it so when I saw that the theme this month was Anything Goes, it seemed like perfect timing.

The recipe is very slightly adapted from BBC Good Food.

Ingredients

250ml double cream

300ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)

115g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod

3 egg yolks

How to Make Vanilla Ice Cream

1. Put the milk, cream and about 60g of the sugar in a saucepan.   Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod and add them to the saucepan too.  Chop the vanilla pod into three pieces and add that to the pan too. Bring it slowly to the boil and then take it off the heat and leave it to cool for 30 minutes.

2. Put the rest of the sugar and the egg yolks in another large bowl and beat until light and pale. Pour in about 125ml of the cream mixture and beat in too.

3. Return the pan to the heat and bring it back to the boil.   As soon as it boils, take it off the heat again and pour on top of the egg yolk mixture, stirring.

4.Pour the custard back into the pan and return it to the heat again.   Heat it gently, stirring all the time.   It should soon thicken and when it does, it is ready.   Pour it through a sieve to remove the bits of vanilla pod and into a large measuring jug.  Leave it to cool in the fridge.

5. Let it cool for at least 2 hours or overnight then pour it into an ice cream maker.   Alternatively follow the instructions here if you don’t have an ice cream maker.

How to Make Affogato

Make some strong black coffee, ideally espresso.  Put a scoop of ice cream in the bottom of a cup and pour the coffee over the top.   Serve immediately.

cake and vanilla ice cream

I am linking this to Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream at Kavey Eats and to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

bsficTastyTuesdays

Mary Berry’s Austrian Chocolate Cake

Mary Berry's Austrian Chocolate Cake

Last week we were on holiday and I didn’t manage to do any baking along with the Bake Off but this week things are back to normal and with European Cake Week it’s just as well.   I love cake.   I could eat cake every day.   I could even eat it for breakfast, and although that may be normal in some places, it is not a typical breakfast in the UK.

There were so many things I could have made this week.  I used to live in Germany and Poland and both countries have some delicious cakes.  I have also had some very nice almond and orange cakes in Spain so that was another possibility, but at the end of the day, how could I turn down this chocolate cake?  The recipe is from Mary Berry’s Desserts and I’d had my eye on it for a while.

It’s a rich chocolaty moist brownie-like cake and although it is a cake, it’s the type of cake you could serve for dessert with some cream on the side, which we did, or some custard, which we did the next day, or some ice cream, which we eventually managed with our final slice.  Yes, it took me three days to turn the cream from cream into custard and then into ice cream, but that’s another story.

Today, it’s all about cake, and this is indeed a wonderful cake.   You won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients – Serves 8

250g dark chocolate

175g unsalted butter

6 eggs, separated

200g caster sugar(60g for step 2, 140g for step 3)

30g self-raising flour

1 tbsp icing sugar

How to Make Mary Berry’s Austrian Chocolate Cake

1. Put the chocolate and butter in a saucepan and melt over a low heat.  Keep giving it a stir but don’t let it boil.  Take it off the heat as soon as everything has melted.

2. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks.  Then slowly add the caster sugar as you whisk until mixture forms stiff peaks.

3. Put the rest of the sugar and the egg yolks in another large bowl and whisk until they go very pale and thick.

4. Continue to whisk and add the chocolate and butter mixture. Then whisk in the flour.

5. Finally fold in the egg white mixture a third at a time.

6. Spoon the mixture into a greased loose bottomed or springform cake tin before putting into the oven at 170C.   I used a 20cm tin and baked it for 40 minutes.  The recipe said a 23cm tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.

7. Test the centre of the cake is done with a skewer.   It should be moist and sticky but not runny.

8. Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack.   It will have risen in the oven but it will fall back down and crack a little as it cools.

9. Sprinkle some icing sugar on the top when you are ready to serve it.

Mary Berry's Austrian Chocolate Cake

I am linking this to the Great Blogger’s Bake Off, hosted by Mummy Mishaps as well as My Great #GBBO Bake Along, hosted by Super Golden Bakes.  It is also my Bake of the Week at Casa Costello.

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Spanish Rice Stuffed Marrow

stuffed marrow 2

I don’t think I’d ever eaten a marrow before until now.   It’s one of those vegetables that everyone has heard of but you just don’t see for sale anywhere, or at least not in supermarkets these days.   I imagine it was different in the past.   Marrows were probably one of those vegetables people lived off.   Also, why pick them as courgettes when you could wait a couple of weeks and have 6 times the amount of food?  Maybe that’s why they have somehow fallen out of favour in recent years.

The only reason I ended up with this marrow was that I was looking for courgettes to pick at Garsons pick-your-own but it seemed everyone else had got there first.   There were almost no courgettes but quite a lot of marrows.   It seems that even when you can pick them yourself they suffer in the popularity stakes.  I decided I should get one to try, but I have to admit to keeping it in the fridge for almost a week before I could decide what to do with it.

I was thinking of doing some kind of spicy minced beef and rice stuffing but then I forgot to buy the mince when I was shopping.   I looked in my cupboard for inspiration and came across a couple of almost empty packets or rice, one basmati and one Spanish rice.  I also had a half-used ring of chorizo sausage in the fridge and that’s how this turned into a more Spanish flavoured dish.

I was expecting to like the stuffing but I wasn’t sure if I’d like the marrow.  I expected it to be a bit watery and bland.   Well, it wasn’t watery and it absorbed the flavours of the rice so it was actually really really tasty.  I loved it.  It would make a perfect base for any strong flavoured stuffing, although I imagine that it would be very bland if not cooked well.

I thought I’d be eating up the marrow for days as my husband doesn’t like courgettes or squashes so I expected him not to like this either.  Well, it might not have been his favourite dish ever but he was quite happy to eat it for two days in a row.  I’m now hoping to go back and pick a couple more marrows if I can before the season ends.  I am most definitely a marrow convert now.

Ingredients – serves 6

1 marrow

200g chorizo, sliced into chunky slices

1 large onion, chopped

1 chilli pepper, sliced

2 green peppers, sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/3 aubergine, cubed

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp turmeric or use a thread of saffron if you have it

150g rice

500ml chicken or vegetable stock (I used chicken)

Salt

Black pepper

Olive oil

How to Make Spanish Rice Stuffed Marrow

1. Cut the marrow in half lengthways, remove the soft middle by scraping it out with a spoon and then put the marrow on a baking tray.  Season it and drizzle with olive oil then place in the oven at 180C for an hour.

2. Cook the chorizo in a saucepan until it releases it’s oil and begins to go a little crispy. Add the onions and chilli pepper.   When the onions are soft, add the garlic.  Cook for a minute and then add the rest of the vegetables, the herbs and spices, and the rice.  Stir in.

3. Add about 3/4 of the stock.  Cover and leave to simmer gently.   After 15 minutes check it and stir in the rest of the stock if necessary.

4. Spoon the filling into the marrow.  You might not be able to fit all the stuffing in.  Return the stuffed marrows to the oven and cook for another 20 minutes.   The extra stuffing can be served alongside the marrows or for anyone who doesn’t like marrow and just wants the stuffing.

Suffed marrow 1

I am linking this to Shop Local, hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.

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