Beef Bourguignon

beef bourguignon

On a cold winter’s day in February, what you need to eat is a stew.   You could make one with meat, vegetables and stock.  A simple stew like that would be delicious, but on certain days you need to push the boat out a little and not hold back on the red wine.   On days like that a rich beef bourguignon is the stew to go for.   I read somewhere that a real bourguignon doesn’t contain any stock, just red wine, and so that’s what I’ve gone for here.  Thanks to Tesco, my trusty food and drink supplier.

The key to a good bourguignon is not to skimp on the wine.   I have to admit that I rarely use quite as much wine as this.  Normally I use a little bit, about a glassful.   After all, we want to have the rest of the bottle to enjoy with the meal.   This time I went to the other extreme pouring half the bottle into the pan and saving just a large glass each to enjoy with the meal.   At least I wasn’t cooking for more people, then there would have been none left!

The bourguignon itself is rich and tasty.   The bacon, beef and mushrooms are a perfect match for all that red wine and you’ll be tempted to lick the plate.  Although I did just cook this at home for me and my husband, it would be a perfect meal to serve for friends too as you can prepare it in advance and just heat it up to serve.   Like lots of stews, it’s even more tasty the next day.

Ingredients – Serves 2

300g beef

2 rashers of thick smoked bacon, diced

150g mushrooms, cut in half

About 8 shallots, peeled but left whole

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried parsley

1 bay leaf

400ml French red wine

How to Make Beef Bourguignon

1. Heat a little oil in an ovenproof saucepan and brown the meat on both sides.   Remove the meat from the pan.

2. Cook the bacon until it is browned and then add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic.  Cook for another few minutes until it’s beginning to brown then add the herbs, tomato puree and a dash of the red wine.   Scrape the bottom of the pan so that any bits that are beginning to stick to the pan go back into the sauce.

3. Return the beef to the pan and top with enough red wine to just cover the contents. Bring to the boil and then put in the oven at 150C.  Cook for three hours.

4. Take the pan out of the oven.  If there is too much sauce, take the vegetables and meat out of the pan and boil the sauce to reduce.  To keep the meat and vegetables warm, put them in another oven-proof container and return them to the oven until the sauce has reduced.

5. Serve with baked or mashed potatoes.

Disclosure: Written for Tesco

Raspberry Pavlova

Raspberry pavlova

My mum makes a fantastic pavlova with crisp crunchy meringue on the outside and soft sticky meringue on the inside.   From now on, I can say that I make a fantastic pavlova too!  Well, I like to think I am fairly modest so I will have to rely on the people who ate this raspberry pavlova with me to spread the word.   And if it slips their mind?   Well, I’ll just have to rely on this blog too.

For years my mum has made a pavlova for family gatherings. The fruit is sometimes different – sometimes berries, sometimes grapes, sometimes kiwi fruit – but the pavlova itself is always the same and it always has that delicious chewy middle underneath the crunchy meringue.  She recently told me proudly that Mary Berry’s recipe was exactly the same as her one.  You would almost have thought she’d given the recipe to Mary Berry!

This was my first attempt at a pavlova and I wasn’t sure how well it would turn out, despite the pedigree of the recipe.   I feared that somehow I would mess it up and it would all turn out hard and crispy.   I needn’t have worried.   After making this I would say that a pavlova is just about the easiest dessert to make and still manage to impress.   As long as you have an electric whisk you just cannot go wrong.

There are so few ingredients – eggs, sugar, cream, fruit.   Oh and just a tiny bit of vinegar and cornflour.   Why not make it straightaway?

Of course, If you don’t like sugar then you’d best avoid this.   If you don’t like cream then I’d also stay away and if you have an egg allergy then it might not be suitable, but if you have a sweet tooth and a love of sweet sugary desserts but with a bit of fruit thrown in, just to make you feel it might be healthy, then go for it.

When buying any eggs in the UK it’s always worth checking that they have the British Lion stamp on them.  These eggs have had to meet stringent food safely and welfare standards, which has led to salmonella being almost completely eradicated from British Lion eggs.

I chose to decorate my pavlova with raspberries as we all really like them but any fruit would do.  Strawberries would be perfect, as would blueberries.   I like the idea of peaches or mango too. Yum.  In fact, I think I’m going to have to make this again soon, especially as I rather cheekily ate the last piece while my lovely husband was out of the house.  I thought he might just forget that we had some left.  He didn’t.

Ingredients – Serves 8

3 egg whites

175g caster sugar

1 tsp cornflour

1 tsp white wine vinegar

400g raspberries

200ml double cream

2 tbsp icing sugar

How to make Raspberry Pavlova

1. Put the egg whites in the bottom of a mixer bowl and whisk until they begin to form soft peaks.

2. Add the sugar gradually, whisking as you add it.

3. Mix the cornflour and vinegar together and whisk in too.

4. Draw a 20cm diameter circle on a piece of baking paper and spoon the meringue onto it.

5. Put in the oven, preheated to 150C and turn it down to 140C straightaway.   Bake for 45 minutes and then turn the oven off.   Leave the pavlova in the the oven as it cools.  I took it out an hour later.

6. Whisk the double cream until it forms soft peaks and then whisk in the icing sugar.

7. Put the cream in the middle of the pavlova and top with the raspberries.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

Tasty Tuesdays

 

 

 

 

Disclosure:  This is a featured post for British Lion Eggs.  However, the views it contains are my own.

Microwaved Marmalade Sponge Pudding

Microwaved marmalade sponge pudding

Sometimes you just want to eat something sweet.   Maybe a cake.   Maybe a pudding.   What a shame that those type of treats usually involve heating up the oven, baking and then, only then can you enjoy eating them.   Now that’s usually ok.   Usually you can wait that long.   Usually you can be prepared.

However, there are times when you are a bit peckish and nothing but a pudding will do and there is no way you can wait an hour to eat one.   Those desperate times call for microwave baking.   Don’t turn up your nose if you’ve never tried it.   A microwave pudding can be a beautiful thing, a thing you can mix up in a just a few minutes and a couple of minutes later transform into a light airy sponge, which is even better if topped with something sweet and tangy and even a little bitter.  Something like marmalade.

Of course, you could use any jam for this pudding, or even stewed fresh fruit, but there is something that brings back memories of childhood, at least for me, that makes marmalade all the more attractive.

I used Duerr’s half sugar marmalade, a fine cut marmalade made with Seville oranges.   I wasn’t actually very keen on marmalade until recently but have been using it quite a bit in baking and it has definitely grown on me.   I love the orangey tang, the slight bitterness and the fact that it isn’t too sweet.   WIth jam this would be for children, but with marmalade it’s definitely a pudding that adults will enjoy too.

Ingredients – Serves 2-3

25g butter, at room temperature

25g caster sugar

1 egg

25g self-raising flour

1 tbsp marmalade (I used Duerr’s half sugar marmalade)

How to make Microwaved Marmalade Sponge Pudding

1. Cream together the butter and sugar.    Beat in the egg.    Add the flour and beat until smooth.

2. Put the marmalade in the bottom of round microwave proof bowl.   Put the batter on top.  Cook in the microwave for 2 minutes.

3. Put a plate on top of the pudding and turn it over to turn it out.

4. Serve with custard, cream or ice cream.

This is my Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.

Recipe of the 'Week

Disclosure: I received a complementary jar of Duerr’s Half Sugar Marmalade but the recipe and the opinions are my own.

Pig Cupcakes

Pig cupcakes with raspberry jam icing

This will be a very short post.  When I made the marshmallow flower cupcakes the other day I actually started out planning to make pig cupcakes.   Little Miss Spice had a pig cupcake on holiday in summer and it was the most memorable exciting thing (for her) that happened on that particular day.   She still remembers that pig cupcake and so it was only a matter of time before we ended up making them together.

To see the recipe for the cupcakes and the raspberry jam icing have a look at my post for Marshmallow Flower Cupcakes.  For the ears I just cut mini marshmallows in half.  I used chocolate chips for the eyes and writing icing to draw the dots on the noses.   Very very easy and your children will love them.  And anyone else’s children too!

Marshmallow Flower Cupcakes

Vanilla cupcakes with raspberry  icing and marshmallow flowers with sparkly coloured sugar

Little Miss Spice loves cupcakes and so most of the cupcakes I make have animal designs on or are aimed at children in some way.   I don’t get much chance to make more sophisticated ones.  It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that my little helper has other plans.

In fact, when I started out making these cupcakes they were all going to be pigs as I had some mini marshmallows, but I started to think about what else I could do with them.   A quick flick through pinterest showed lots and lots of marshmallow flower designs and I began to think maybe I could get away with decorating some of the cupcakes with flowers. If I’d been a little more organised maybe I could have added a hidden pink raspberry heart inside the cupcakes to make them a perfect Valentines treat.

To make the marshmallow flowers I cut the marshmallows in half horizontally and then pressed the cut side into the coloured sugar, which is slightly sparkly.  You can buy coloured sugar but it’s very easy to make your own.   I used  a tiny bit of gel food colouring and rubbed it into the sugar with my fingertips.  You then leave it to dry and when it’s dry, crumble it up to make the coloured sugar.   Apparently it keeps for quite a while in an airtight container so if you make than you need you can just save it for another day.

I have made quite a lot of cupcakes recently and so have been experimenting with slightly different recipes and oven temperatures and this one from Annabel Karmel’s Children’s First Cookbook is my current favourite – or maybe I just managed to bake them perfectly this time.   The cupcakes are very moist and have a lovely vanilla flavour.   They also didn’t rise up in the middle so were perfect for decorating as they had a flat surface.

Using jam to flavour the raspberry icing was an idea inspired by The More Than Occasional Baker.  She used it on an incredible looking chocolate and raspberry layer cake and as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to have a go at some similar icing.

Ingredients – Makes 9

125g self-raising flour

125g butter or margarine, softened

125g sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing

50g butter

50g icing sugar

50g seedless raspberry Jam

For the Decorations

Mini Marshmallows

Sugar

Food colour

How to Make Marshmallow Flower Cupcakes

1. Put all the cake ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon.   Beat well for a couple of minutes.   Spoon the mixture into a cupcake tin lined with cupcake cases.

2. Bake in a preheated oven at 160C for about 20 minutes.  Leave the cupcakes to cool on wire racks.

3. While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the coloured sugar.   Put a couple of tablespoons of sugar in a bowl and a few drops of food colour.   Mix together well with your fingers and then leave it to dry in a thin layer on a baking tray.

4. Beat all the icing ingredients together and spread onto the top of the cupcakes.

5. When the sugar and food colour has dried, roll it between your fingers to break up the lumps and get  coloured sugar again. Put the sugar in a bowl.

6. Cut the mini marshmallows in half diagonally and put them in the sugar.   Press the cut sides into the sugar so it sticks and then place them on the cupcakes to make a flower shape.

marshmallow flower cupcakes I am linking these to Bunny Eats Design’s Our Growing Edge, hosted this month by Love, Live, Life by Kim , and to Treat Petit, hosted by The Baking Explorer and on alternate months by Cakeyboi. The theme is Love is in the Air.  These cupcakes are also my Bake of the Week, hosted by Casa Costello.

Our Growing edgeTreat PetitBake of the Week

Chocolate and Strawberry Valentines Heart Cake

Chocolate and strawberry valentines heart cakeMy husband has a habit of accusing me of always making the cakes I want to make and never making the ones he would have chosen.   He does have a fair point, but then again, some partners don’t get any cake at all!  He’s one of the lucky ones.

Even though he may have a case, I decided that with Valentines day coming up I really should design his ideal cake.   After all, he is my Valentine.  He loves chocolate and he loves chocolate buttercream and chocolate ganache.   He also likes strawberries.  He does not like me to add dried fruit, apples or marzipan to cakes, but luckily those ingredients are not my first choice for Valentines day either.

If you are wondering where the strawberries are, I will admit that there are no real strawberries in this cake, just strawberry flavouring in the heart shaped layer.   However, if I was making it again I would be tempted to coat some strawberries in chocolate and place them around the bottom of the cake.   I would also be tempted to add a layer of strawberry jam and vanilla buttercream in the middle of the strawberry heart cake.

Maybe I shouldn’t have said that as my lovely husband thought this cake was fantastic.  I don’t want him to think it wasn’t as good as it could have been.   I also have to think about the future.   As I get better at making cakes, he may start to expect more, I might then have to try even harder.   I may never be able to get away with making a plain chocolate cake ever again.

Ingredients – Serves 10-12

350g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

250g softened butter or margarine

210g caster sugar

4 eggs

2tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp strawberry flavouring

For the dark chocolate ganache

150g dark chocolate chips

180ml double cream

For the white chocolate ganache

100g white chocolate chips

120ml double cream

For the chocolate flavour buttercream

40g butter

120g icing sugar

1 tbsp cocoa

How to Make Chocolate and Strawberry Valentines Heart Cake

1. Sift the baking powder and flour into a large mixing bowl.   Add the sugar, butter and eggs.   Mix and beat together with a wooden spoon.

2. Take out about 1/3 of the mixture.  Add the strawberry flavouring to this third and beat in with the wooden spoon.   Spoon the mixture into a small 15cm cake tin, greased and lined with baking paper.

3. Add a spoonful of hot water to the cocoa powder and mix to form a paste.   Add this to the remaining cake mixture and beat in.   Spoon this mixture into a slightly larger cake tin that has also been greased and lined.  I used an 18cm tin.

4. Bake the cakes in the oven at 160C for about 50 minutes.   Check they are done by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cakes.   It should come out clean.

5. Cool the cakes in the tins for about 5-10 minutes and then turn them out to cool completely on wire racks.

6. When the cakes have cooled, use a bread knife to slice off the top part of the cake as they will have risen in the middle.   Turn the cakes upside down so they have a smoother top.

7. Make the buttercream by beating together the butter and icing sugar.   Then add the cocoa powder, dissolved in a little water, as above.

8. Slice the chocolate cake in half horzontally.   Before you separate the halves, put a little blob of buttercream on the side so that when you put the cake back together you can see exactly where to put the top layer.   This stops the cake looking wonky if it hasn’t been sliced evenly.   Spread the buttercream over the bottom layer and then put the other layer back on top.

9. Make the ganaches one at a time by putting the cream and chocolate in the microwave together.   Heat for a minute. Stir and then keep heating for 20 seconds at a time then stirring.   Stop as soon as the chocolate has melted and forms a smooth ganache.   Leave to cool and thicken.

10. When the ganache has cooled to a thick pouring consistency, pour over the cake and spread down the sides using a palette knife.   Put the chocolate ganache on the round chocolate cake and the white chocolate ganache on the heart-shaped strawberry cake. Keep the cakes on the wire racks while you do this so any extra ganache drops below the cake and doesn’t pool around the bottom.  Leave to set.

11. Pour some of the leftover chocolate ganache onto a baking tray lined with clingfilm.  Put it in the fridge to set.

12. Put the heart shaped cake on top of the round one.  Cut out a heart shape from the chocolate ganache and place it in the middle of the heart cake.

Chocolate and strawberry valentines heart cakeI am linking this to Love Cake at JibberJabberUK and Alphabakes, hosted this month by Caroline Makes and on alternate months by The More Than Occasional Baker. This is also my Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.

Love CakealphabakesRecipe of the 'Week

 

Chicken Anise

Chicken cooked with Chinese five spice

For my first Secret Recipe Club assignment of the new year I was given Dena from Oh! You Cook! Dena is a librarian and food blogger who has even published a recipe book so as you can imagine there were literally hundreds of fantastic recipes on her blog.   As it was January when I made this, I was trying to avoid too many sweet things and so focused on the savoury recipes.   I love spicy food and luckily there was lots of choice.   I could even say too much!  Would it be pulled brisket sliders, Korean-style chicken wings or even one of the soups?

In the end I chose this Chicken Anise as I hadn’t made anything with five spice powder for a while and as soon as I read the recipe I was tempted.   It sounded like a tasty midweek meal, even a little too simple.  I thought I would make something else too so I’d have a choice of what to post.

That’s right, I didn’t know this was going to be so delicious although Dena did describe it as, ‘one of those recipes that seem ho-hum, nothing special … until you try a forkful‘ so I really should have known!  I promise you, this so tasty you will be licking the plate clean afterwards.

Ingredients- Serves 2

Chicken thighs, drumsticks or breasts (enough for 2 people)

100ml water

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp Chinese five spice

1 onion, chopped

100g mushrooms, sliced

How to Make Chicken Anise

1. Heat a little oil in a pan and brown the chicken on all sides.

2. Mix together the water, soy sauce, sugar and five spice powder. Pour over the chicken. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes.

3. In another pan heat a little more oil and cook the onions gently until they soften and then add the mushrooms.  Cook for 5 minutes and then add to the pan with the chicken.

4. Cook the chicken for another 5 minutes and then serve with rice and some more vegetables.

If you’d like to see what other Secret Recipe Club participants have made then click on the link below:

 

Cucumber and Noodle Salad with Peanut Butter Dressing

cucumber, carrot and noodle salad with peanut butter dressing

It’s good to eat healthily.   It feels good and you know that it’s doing you good but sometimes it’s hard to stick to all those good intentions.  It’s easier to eat salads in summer when the weather is warm.   In winter I often feel like eating something a little heavier, something creamier, something to warm me up.   Well, this salad won’t exactly warm you up but it does have that creaminess that I for one often crave in winter.

Using peanut butter in a salad dressing is a great way to make a  salad really tasty and moreish, especially with the addition of lime juice and toasted sesame oil.  The chillies in the salad also liven it up while adding a nice bit of heat.  It may not look the prettiest side dish but it tasted delicious.

The peanut butter I used was from MyProtein.com and is made with 100% peanuts with no added oil, sugar or salt, which so many other peanut butters have.  I loved the dressing and although I used it on a salad this time, it could also be used on a warm noodle dish to provide a sauce as well.

Ingredients – Serves 2

1 nest of rice noodles

1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced

1 carrot, grated or thinly sliced

3 spring onions, sliced

1 chilli pepper, thinly sliced

Dressing Ingredients

1 tbsp peanut butter

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

2-3 tbsp water

How to Make Cucumber Noodle Salad with Peanut Butter Dressing

1. Put the noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water.   Leave to stand for 5 minutes or cook according to the pack instructions.   Drain the noodles and rinse in cold water.

2. Mix up all the ingredients for the dressing and toss together with the noodles and chopped vegetables.

I am linking this to No Croutons Required, hosted this month by Lisa’s Kitchen and on alternate months by Tinned Tomatoes. I am also linking to Extra Veg, hosted by Utterly Scrummy Food for Families and Fuss Free Flavours.

Extra VegNo Croutons Required

 

Disclosure:  I was sent a free sample of peanut butter from Myprotein.com. You can find discounts and voucher codes for their products here.

Coconut, Apricot and Sultana Snack Balls

apricot and sultana energy balls with coconut oil

The Christmas chocolates and crisps have now finally all been eaten but I’ve got used to eating lots of snacks and it’s hard to give up the habit.  Instead, I’ve decided to try and swap the unhealthy snacks for some healthier options like these coconut, apricot and sultana snack balls, sometimes called energy balls.

I’ve seen snack balls online before but never attempted any.   Usually I make slightly less healthy options.  However, new year, new healthier me.  That’s the plan anyway.  I was also hoping to make something my two children could enjoy as a snack and as these snack balls are full of dried fruit they make a great healthy snack for kids.  You can shape them into small bars instead of balls if you want too.

This was also one of my first experiments using coconut oil, which is thought of as being one of the healthiest multi-purpose cooking oils. You can read about the health benefits here.  Although it’s called ‘oil’ it is actually solid at room temperature so it’s perfect for making this type of snack as it helps to hold all the ingredients together as it sets.   It tastes of coconut too so it’s great in recipes where you want the oil to add flavour, not just be something to cook your food in.

So, if you like coconut and you like dried fruit then you will definitely like these.  They are one of the easiest snacks to make as there is no cooking involved and as long as you have a fococonpure oilod processor, you can make them in minutes.   I used sultanas and apricots as I had a lot leftover from making my Christmas cake but you could use any dried fruit. The coconut oil, as well as the desiccated coconut gives the balls a lovely coconut flavour without them being oily.

I used 100% virgin organic coconut oil, Coconpure Oil from MyProtein.com. Click here to find offers and discounts.

 

Ingredients – Makes about 15

100g sultanas or raisins

75g dried apricots

25g desiccated coconut

1 tbsp (15g) coconut oil

How to Make Coconut, Apricot and Sultana Snack Balls

1. Put the sultanas, apricots and coconut in a food processor.   Blend until it is quite broken down and sticky.  Put in a mixing bowl.

2. Melt the coconut oil in a microwave and pour over the dried fruit and coconut mixture.   Stir well.

3. Roll small amounts of the mixture between your hands to form balls then put them in the fridge to set a little.

I am linking these to Treat Petit, hosted by Cakeyboi and on alternate months by The Baking Explorer.  I am also linking to January’s Family Foodies, hosted by Eat Your Veg, and on alternate months by Bangers and Mash.  The theme is healthy kids

Treat PetitFamily Foodies

 

Disclosure:  I was sent a free sample of the Coconpure Oil but the recipe and views are my own.

Chicken Marrakesh

ras el hanout chicken

One of the things I love to do at this time of year is look through all my new cookbooks and decide what to make first.   Sometimes I go for something challenging, sometimes it’s something I know I’ll love because it’s got all my favourite ingredients in and sometimes it’s just something that grabs me because it’s simple as well as tasty.

That was the case with this chicken Marrakesh.   I wanted something quick to prepare on a weeknight, something not too unhealthy after all the excesses of Christmas and something I knew we would love.

Admittedly you could argue that it is not healthy at all as the chicken is stuffed with butter. However, a lot of it runs out in the pan so you don’t actually eat all that butter,  it just keeps the chicken deliciously moist as it cooks and of course the ras el hanout spice mix fills it with flavour on the inside and outside.

The recipe is slightly adapted from Fresh Spice by Arun Kapil.  With my love of spices, this was a perfect Christmas present for me and a book I hadn’t looked at before which makes it all the better a discovery.   I haven’t had time to read all the recipes in the book yet but I know it’s going to be used a lot over the coming months.

You could serve this with flatbreads and salads or rice but I chose to make a couscous salad also flavoured with ras el hanout for an easy North African accompaniment.

Ingredients – Serves 4

4 chicken breasts

100g butter at room temperature

1 tsp ras el hanout

1 tsp lemon zest

How to Make Ras El Hanout Chicken

1. Put the butter, ras el hanout and lemon zest in a small bowl and mash with a fork. Put the butter on a piece of cling film and roll it up into a sausage shape and then put it back int he fridge to solidify.

2. Slice a cut into the side of each chicken breast.  Cut the butter into 4 equal pieces and insert one into each breast.   Use a cocktail stick to close up the gap in the side of the chicken breast.

3. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and put the chicken breasts in.  Cook for about 8 minutes on each side or until the chicken is cooked through.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum and Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.

Tasty TuesdaysRecipe of the 'Week