Archive | January, 2013

Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

26 Jan

m hot chocolate

So the BH and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by eating at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s recently.  As much as I would love to tell you that it was over-rated and expensive, I honestly can’t.  It was perfect.  Every course was balanced and tasty and I can’t tell you when last I oohed and ahhed so much, but the thing that most blew my little mind was the marshmallow that was served with the  coffee.  It was a complete revelation.  You see, up until that amazing moment, I had only ever eaten commercially produced marshmallows AND I loved them, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to buy a marshmallow again.   Naturally, the moment I got home, I had to try making my own and luckily they turned out to be a close facsimile of the one I had, because otherwise it would have meant weekly trips to Claridge’s and a  steady financial decline for the BH and I.  I am also hugely excited about the flavour possibilities for these lovely little morsels.  I’m thinking coffee, lemon, chocolate,  raspberry, elderflower.  Oh my watch this space.

M ingTo start take:

  • 400 gms of caster sugar
  • 50 ml of golden syrup
  • two egg whites
  • 100 gms icing sugar
  • 100 gms corn flour
  • 20 gms geletine powder
  • 400 mls of cold water
  • 10 mls vanilla bean paste

M Icing SugarSift together the corn flour and the icing sugar and set aside.

M dustingLine the bottom of a glass baking dish with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper.  Then dust the bottom and sides with about an eighth of the icing sugar/corn flour mix.

M egg whiteBeat the egg whites in a heat proof bowl until stiff peaks form.  Then add half the water to a small sauce pan and sprinkle the gelatine powder on top to allow it to bloom.

M sugarAdd the remaining water to a large pot with the sugar and the golden syrup. Stir to dissolve the sugar and then turn on the heat. Without stirring bring the sugar mix to 130ºC. You will need a sugar thermometer for this.  While this is boiling away, slowly heat the gelatine mix until the gelatine has completely dissolved. When the sugar reaches 130ºC, slowly add the gelatine mix to the sugar mix.  IT WILL BUBBLE UP, so please be careful.

M beatingAdd the vanilla to the egg whites and whisk.  Then add the sugar/gelatine mix to the egg whites in a slow and steady stream while whisking.  Once it has all been incorporated, beat the mixture until thick and fluffy. This should take about ten minutes.

M spreadPour the mixture into the pre-prepared baking dish and smooth the top with an offset spatula and allow the mixture to set for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.

M dusted 2Put a generous dusting of icing sugar on the board you’re going to turn the marshmallow mix onto.

M cutCut the marshmallow into the shape you want.  Here again you can let your imagination run wide.  Heart shaped mallows for Valentines day, Gingerbread marshmallows at Christmas.  I am going to have so much fun with these 😀

m dryingDust the marshmallows liberally with the icing sugar/corn flour mix and leave to dry on a baking rack for about half an hour.  Store in an air tight container for about 3-4 days, if they last that long.

M finished

Chicken Cacciatore

21 Jan

Image

So the 21st of January 2013 is supposed to be the most depressing day of this year.  It’s cold and gloomy outside and it’s still months before it’s going to warm up. Payday is still days away and with most of us stretching ourselves thin over Christmas, making things better with some retail therapy isn’t an option.  AND we’ve all been dieting since the start of the year and let’s face it people depriving yourself of chocolate is going to make you feel just a little bit glum. My solution is the culinary equivalent of a hug; Chicken Cacciatore.  Now mine isn’t an authentic recipe, but it’s yummy and warming and it’s packed with tons of veg, so you’re not even really breaking the diet.

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To start take:

  • 800gm of chicken thighs or drumsticks
  • two large or four small carrots
  • two sticks of celery
  • a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • an onion
  • a pepper
  • a punnet of mushrooms
  • a clove or two of garlic
  • a stalk of rosemary
  • a bay leaf or two
  • about 50gms of flour seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika and dried thyme
  • olive oil

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Dice and saute the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and peppers in the olive oil until softening.  Slap your forehead and take out the chestnut mushrooms you bought especially for the dish, but then forgot to photograph for the ingredients picture.

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Cut the mushrooms in half and add them to the veg mix and blame blue Monday for your forgetfulness with a sigh.

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While the veg is softening, add the seasoned flour to a ziplock bag and piece by piece coat the chicken pieces in the flour.  I tried, by the way, to take an attractive picture of raw chicken, but I just don’t think it’s possible. Sorry. Image

Remove the veg from the pan and add a splash more olive oil and then brown the chicken in the pan. Image

Once the chicken looks yummy, open the can of tomatoes and chuck the tomatoes on top of the chicken.  Add the veg from earlier, the two bay leaves and some chopped rosemary (to taste.)

Cover the lot and let it simmer away filling the kitchen with steamy deliciousness, which is almost as good as a hug, for about half an hour. Image

Pop it on top of some mashed potato and feel better. You deserve to.

oh.four.one.

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