Tag Archives: easy

Champagne and Raspberry Jelly (Shots)

15 Sep

CRJ Final shot 4So there comes a time in your life when you realise that no matter how much you want to deny it, you are too old for vodka jelly shots . . . and well, they’re just not quite appropriate to take in to work.  Which really sucks because they would liven up Monday meetings no end.  BUT thankfully all hope is not lost because while vodka jelly shots are taboo, champagne jelly shots (or sparkling wine – for my more pedantic readers) is elegant, sophisticated and perfectly above board.  In fact with the glorious weather we’ve been having, they are my new favourite summer dessert.  If you decide that you are too old for shots, even champagne jelly shots, don’t despair – set the jelly in a martini glass or a posh tumbler and you had a wonderfully elegant end to a summer meal.

CRJ IngTo start take:

  • 375 ml of pink sparkling wine
  • 400 ml of water (use bottled or filter water for a clearer jelly)
  • 4-6 leaves of gelatine (4 for a soft set jelly – easier to swallow; 6 for a firmer spoon-able jelly)
  • 100 gm golden caster sugar
  • raspberries
  • mint leaves (optional – I left these out, but chop them finely and add when adding your raspberries for a delicious alternative)

This will make about 18 double shot glasses of jelly or 6-8 larger portions.

CRJ SugarPut the water in a small saucepan over a medium heat and add the sugar.  CRJ SimmerStir the mixture to dissolve the sugar and then bring the water to a boil and leave to simmer for about five minutes.

CRJ ChampersPour the champagne sparkling wine into a heat-proof bowl.

CRJ GeletinPlace the gelatine in the sparkling wine and leave to soak for about five minutes.

CJR WhiskRemove the gelatine leaves from the sparkling wine and add to the hot sugar mix in the saucepan and whisk until the gelatine has dissolved completely.

CRJ MixAdd the sugar mix to the sparkling wine and whisk to combine.  Leave to cool for about an hour.

CRJ ShotsOnce the jelly mixture is cool pour it into the molds you have set aside and place these in the fridge for about an hour until the jelly is just starting to thicken.  Place the mint and raspberries into the jelly and leave to set.  If you are doing shots I wouldn’t place more than one raspberry in the glass as it could be a choking hazard, if you’re doing them in large glasses throw in as many as you wish.  Place back in the fridge for  6-8 hours until set.

CRJ FinishedEnjoy and bottoms up!

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Blueberry and Pistachio Pancakes

27 Apr

BPP FinishedThe BH and I have had a bit of a trying year.  We’ve both changed jobs AND we’ve bought a house.  Add to this a missing camera charger and you have a very guilty me apologising for the HUGE hiatus in my blogging.  That said this weekend rolled around and to both of our absolute surprise and wonder, there was nothing planned.  I’m not going to lie, we were both more than a little shell shocked by this and for a while just stared at each other, not really sure what to do.  Then, thankfully, sloth instinct kicked in and pancakes and old episodes of the X-Files were the order of the day.  Now I must confess, I simply can’t resist the urge to mess with pancakes, these however are my current favourites.

BPP IngTo start take:

  • 500gms self raising flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder (you want them to be really light and fluffy)
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 gms butter
  • 1 litre milk
  • 200 gms blueberries
  • 100gm roasted salted pistachios
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla essence if you prefer)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp sugar (optional)

BPP Melting ButterMelt the butter in a small sauce pan and allow it to cool.  Then add  the milk to the butter.  Beat the eggs and add these along with the vanilla bean paste to the melted butter.  You want to make sure the butter is cool and you add the milk before you add the eggs otherwise you’re going to be eating buttery,  vanilla flavoured scrambled eggs, which I don’t think will taste as good as it sounds.

Sift BPPSift together your flour, salt, baking powder and sugar (if you’re using it) in a large mixing bowl.

BPP BatterThen slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mix and whisk until the mixture is smooth and lump free. BPP Chopped PistachiosRoughly chop your pistachios and wash and dry your blueberries.  Put these in two separate bowls next to your griddle or frying pan.

BPP FryingHeat your pan or griddle and using a paper towel, apply a thin layer of vegetable oil to the pan/griddle.  Using a soup ladle, spoon a circle of batter on to your griddle pan and then top with blueberries and pistachios.  When the batter bubbles, turn your pancake over and cook on the underside.

BPP Frying 2

Sorry, I just love the colours of the pistachios on the batter, so you’re being subjected to another photograph.  Place the pancake in a warming draw or oven on a low heat and repeat the process until you have used all the batter.

BPP YumDrizzle your pancakes with honey, you can use any syrup that takes your fancy, but there is something about the pistachios and blueberries that just really works with honey, and enjoy.

 

Cheese and Sundried Tomato Palmiers

4 May

pal finished

So when a glorious three day weekend  stretches out in front of you promising to bring with it warm sun drenched days, you know that you need to make the most of it.  By making the most of it I do mean sitting in the garden with potent fruity drinks and scrumptious nibbles with friends and family.  What you don’t want to be doing is spending your whole day in the kitchen making the nibbles and that’s where this recipe will serve you well.  It has an amazingly high return for remarkably little effort. I’ve used a sun-dried tomato pesto, cheese and basil filling, but you really could use almost anything.  I’ve used sausages removed from their casings, you could try it with basil pesto and feta, a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon or jam, and I’m really interested in trying it with lemon curd, but enough of my rambling,  get out there and enjoy that sunshine!

Pal ingTo start take:

  • 1 roll of puff pastry (of course if you make your own it will be delicious, but your effort to enjoyment ratio will be greatly diminished)
  • about half a jar of sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 200gm of cheese (I used a mature cheddar, but use whatever takes your fancy)
  • a few basil leaves

Pal pastryLightly dust the surface you are working on with flour and then roll out your pastry to roughly 30m by 40cm-ish.

Pal tomatoeSmear on the sun-dried tomato pesto leaving  a 1 centimetre border around the edges of the pastry.

Palm cheeseTop the tomato with the cheese and the basil.

pal rolledTaking the length of the pastry, roll one half of the pastry to the middle and then repeat with the other side to create something akin to a book scroll. Wrap the (sc)roll in cling film and place in the refrigerator for about an hour. Then preheat your  oven to 180°C. pal sliced

Remove the pastry from the fridge and thinly slice into palmiers.  How thick or thin you slice them really does boil down to taste, but I aim for slices that are between 0.5cm to 1 cm thick.

Pal baking trayPlace your pamiers on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown!  Enjoy.

Pal baked

Cheese Souffle

12 Sep

Souffles have gotten a really bad rap.  They are supposed to have caused chefs across the land to wail and beat their brows.  They are supposed to have sent the smuggest of Stepford wives to the corner trembling.  They are supposed to have caused even that F-ing Chef to cry like a baby girl.  I just don’t buy it.  Yes, they can come crashing down faster than an Essex girl wearing platforms, but that’s really the only tricky thing about them.   I mean when you get right down to it, all a cheese souffle is, is a simple cheese sauce enriched with eggs and baked.  Hardly rocket science. Come on, I’ll show you.

To make ten individual souffles take:

  • 6 eggs (separated)
  • 100gm butter
  • 100gm sharp mature cheddar cheese
  • 375 ml of milk
  • 60 gm of all purpose flour
  • 1tsp mustard
  • 1tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 190°C.  Now melt the butter in a saucepan and use the some of the melted  butter to brush the sides and bottoms of the ramekins.  Some people like to coat the inside of the ramekins with bread crumbs, but I don’t think this is necessary. Then add the flour, mustard and paprika.  Cook the smooth paste for about 2-3 minutes.

Add the milk a little at a time and then, while constantly stirring, bring the mixture to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil, allow it to simmer for a further two minutes, then remove from the heat and add the cheese.  Once the cheese has melted beat in the egg yolks.

Whip the egg whites to a soft stiff peak and then add about 1/6 of the egg white to the cheese sauce.  Mix well to lighten the sauce and then gentely fold in the remaining egg white.

Carefully divide the mixture between the ten ramekins and then run your finger along the inside rim of each souffle.  Pop into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until poofed  up and golden, but with a slight wobble to the middle.

Serve with a crispy salad to contrast the texture of the soft souffle.  See, seriously easy.

Salmon en Croute

18 Aug

So the BH hasn’t been feeling well for the last two days.  Not well as in running a temperature of 39°C and unable to eat ANYTHING except for BRAT – Bananas, Rice, Applesauce  and Toast.  That’s two whole days of really boring cooking.  I tried gamely to eat the same things in sympathy, but I’m afraid I cracked this evening.  I needed both real food and to actually cook something that had more than one ingredient.  The problem was I needed to cook for one and in looking after the poor invalid I didn’t have time to go to the store, so I had to make do with what was in the fridge or freezer.  My needs being the mother of this creation, I give you my first attempt at an individual Salmon en Croute.  I don’t think it will be the last either.  This is honestly one of the easiest dishes I’ve put together and maybe it was the two day BRAT diet, but damn – it was tasty.

Take:

  • 2 fillets of lightly smoked salmon
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 100 gm of spinach leaves
  • 200 gm of cream cheese
  • 1 tps paprika
  • the zest of one lemon
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 1 egg (to make an egg wash)

If the salmon still has the skin on carefully remove with a really sharp knife and cut each fillet in half then preheat the oven to 180°C.

To make the cream cheese filling, add the cheese, spinach, lemon zest, paprika and salt and pepper to taste into the bowl of your food processor.

Process until smooth and creamy.  If any visible spinach stalks remain, remove them before continuing.

Now we get to assemble.  Roll out a piece of pastry until it’s large enough to cover the fish.  Then place two heaped tablespoons of the cream cheese filling in the centre of the pastry and place the salmon on top.

Brush the sides of the pastry with egg wash and then fold the two longer sides in. Then fold the two short sides in, so the pastry completely covers the fish and the filling.

Score the top on the pastry to allow the steam created from the cooking salmon to escape and place on a baking tray.  Brush with the remaining egg wash and bake for 20-25 mins until golden brown.  Seriously rich, seriously good!

Cheese Scones

5 Aug

 I like simple recipes when it comes to breakfast.   Before coffee I’m not really able to give a complicated dish the attention it deserves.  Heck, I’m not able to give anything the attention it deserves without caffeine.  So uncomplicated wins hands down every time, besides there is nothing more satisfying than taking six or seven ingredients and turning them into something that makes your mouth water, even in an un-caffeinated state.  The BH’s family traditionally serve cheese scones as a weekend breakfast.  A tradition I am more than happy to get behind.  They take no time at all to make while still filling the house with the smell of baking.   Now I suppose if we lived on the American side of the pond, these would be called biscuits, but I prefer the term scone.

To start take:

  • 250 gms of self-raising flour
  • 120gm of butter
  • 100gm of cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbs of milk
  • 2 tsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of dried mixed herbs

Preheat the oven to 180 ° C.   Weigh out the flour and then add to a mixing bowl.  I know I didn’t need to photograph this, but the BH bought me an AWESOME  new scale and I wanted to show it off.

Add the butter to the flour and then mix using your hands until they resemble bread crumbs.

Add the cheese, paprika and herbs to the bowl and mix well until thoroughly combined.

Beat ONE  of the eggs and the milk together and then mix into the dry ingredients to form a sticky dough.

Place the dough on a well floured surface and flatten until about two and half centimetres thick.  Then cut out rounds of dough.  Place the scones on a baking tray and then beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the scones with it.

Place in the oven and bake for about  12-15 minutes until golden brown.  Serve with some fruit juice for a simple, awesomely tasty brunch!

 

 

Steak and Balsamic Pepper Salad

30 Jun

So summer has been pretty much non existent in the UK this year.  We’ve had about two weeks of sunshine in total.  Now while I don’t really mind too much as I had more than my fair share of sunshine when living in Taiwan, I have really missed making summery food.  I’ve had visions of making home ice-cream and barbequing in back yard, but the rainy, miserable days have left me  more inclined to  hearty soups and stews.    So when today promised blue skies and gentle breezes, I knew I had to seize the chance and make my favourite summer salad.

It’s a simple creation, hardly worth the recipe,  and doesn’t really take much work at all which makes it perfect on those days where you would rather be outside enjoying the sunshine than tied to the kitchen.  It does however really pack a punch when it comes to flavour.  So much so that even those who don’t really enjoy salad, will ask for seconds.

To start take:

  • 300 (ish) gms of steak
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 bag of your favourite salad leaves (I’m partial to baby spinach)
  • 1 small Camembert (cut into squares)
  • 80 ml of olive oil
  • 60 mls of balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 220°C.  Then slice the red peppers length ways into slices about half a centimeter wide.

Place the peppers in an oven proof bowl and pour 60ml of the olive oil over them.  Place in the oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes.  Check on the peppers two or three times during the cooking and give them a shake or a stir to prevent the top layer from drying out.

Remove the peppers from the oven and while still hot pour the balsamic vinegar on them.  The hot peppers will absorb the vineger making them meltingly sweet. Allow the peppers to cool in the oil and the vinegar.

Cook the steak.  It really doesn’t matter how you do it.   I brushed the steaks with the remainder of the olive oil and used a cast iron grill pan and fried them for two minutes a side.  I was hoping for a medium rare steak, but as the steaks were a touch on the small side, they were closer to medium well after they had rested. Allow them to cool and slice as thinly as you can.

Just before serving, sash the salad leaves and mix in the peppers.  The balsamic vinegar/olive oil mix that they are lying in is going to make the dressing.  Add the slices of steak and then the cheese.  It really is a meal in itself.

 

Pita Bread with Houmous

27 Jun

Bread scares me!  It really does.  It’s one of those food stuffs where the whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts.   To get to the whole however,  you have to put the parts though a series of steps that have become quasi-religious with superstitions and myths.  There are just so many factors to take into account and so many places where it can go wrong; The kneading, over proving, under proving, too much salt, the temperature of the water, the temperature of the oven, GAH!  It’s enough to make you rush out to your local bakery.

But this is one fear I want to conquer. I want to fill my house with the smell of baking bread.  I want great golden crusts to take centre place at my dinner table and I want to smile smugly when people asked me where I buy my bread.  Most of all though I want to eat that first hot, butter-melted slice of bread.   I’m going to start small with this pita bread recipe and its ubiquitous companion houmous , but watch this space. I WILL conquer bread!

For the Pita Bread:

  • 225 gm of white bread flour
  • 7 gms of instant yeast
  • 1 Tbs of olive oil
  • 1/2 a tsp of salt
  • 160 ml of luke warm water

For the Houmous:

  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 Tbs of Tahini
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 Tbs of lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs of olive oil
  • Cumin to taste (about 1 tsp)

Add the flour, olive oil, salt and yeast to a large bowl and mix well.  Slowly add the water a bit at a time and stir until it comes together in a sticky dough.  Place the dough onto a well floured surface and kneed the dough for ten minutes.  Time this!  It isn’t something you want to skimp on.

After ten minutes of kneading, the dough should be considerably smoother and it should spring back if lightly poked.  Place it in a clean bowl, cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour.

After an hour, the dough should have doubled in size.  Punch it back down and then divide the dough into six to eight balls.  Cover the balls and leave them to rest for five minutes and then, on a floured surface, roll them out into flat circles.  The circles should be no more than five mm high. Cover the circles with a tea towel or cling film and leave to prove for a further thirty minutes.  At this stage, heat the oven to 230°C and place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.

This would be the perfect time to make the houmous.  I must apologise for not having any pictures on the houmous, but there really isn’t much to photograph.  Drain the chickpeas, but keep the liquid back in reserve.  Add all the ingredients for the houmous into a food processor or blender and turn it on.  Once it has combined, slowly add the reserved chickpea liquid a bit at a time until you get the desired texture.   Taste the oh-so-awesome,  creamy goodness and add more cumin or salt to taste.

After thirty minutes, place the dough rounds on the hot baking tray and put the tray back in the oven.  Bake the pitas for six minutes if you like a light soft crust and for ten if it’s a crispier brown crust you want.

The dough will poof up and make gorgeous pillowey pockets of dough.  Serve with houmous, or slice open the top and fill with your favourite filling for a great sandwich.

Mini Cheesecakes with Lemon Curd

24 Jun

So a while ago I celebrated my birthday and wanted to take some nibbles to work for my colleagues. Now work nibbles are a tricky thing.  You need something that will transport easily, that won’t be too fussy to eat and something that doesn’t require plates or cutlery.   All of the above screams CUPCAKES, but cupcakes are so done, aren’t they? Besides I wanted cheesecake.  I love cheesecake.  If  cheesecake isn’t available by the bucket load in the afterlife, I’m not going. Besides it’s my party and I’ll eat cheesecake if I want to.

So I hauled out my favourite baked cheesecake recipe and miniaturised it.

For the Cheesecake:

  • 4 Tbs (60gm butter) melted
  • 175 gm digestive biscuits
  • 500 gm creme fraiche
  • 500 gm ricotta
  • 175 gm caster sugar
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1tsp lemon essence
  • 3 eggs
  • 12 raspberries and 12 Blueberries

For the Lemon Curd:

  • 3 eggs
  • 4 Tbs (60gm butter)cut into about 10 cubes and chilled
  • The juice and zest of 2-3 lemons
  • 150 gm sugar

Preheat the oven to 160 °C .  Then crush the digestive biscuits in a food processor (or however you wish) into a fine crumb and mix with the melted butter to make a crust for the cheesecakes.

Line two 12 hole  muffin tins with cupcake cases and divide the crumb mix evenly between the cases and press it down using the back of a teaspoon until it is compacted. Place the muffin tins in the fridge and allow  to rest.

Put the ricotta, creme fraiche, caster sugar, lemon zest of one lemon, lemon essence and honey in a large bowl and beat until smooth with a hand mixer or with a spoon.  Then add the eggs one at a time and beat until each egg is very well incorporated before adding the next egg.

Take the muffin tins out of the fridge and fill the cases by spooning the cheese mixture on top of the biscuit crust. Put tins into the oven for 30-35  minutes until the cheese cakes resemble the ones below.  At the half way mark, rotate the tins to ensure even results.

Don’t worry about the cracked, sunken tops.  That’s what’s going to hold the lemon curd for us.   To make the lemon curd, put a heat resistant bowl in a pot of water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl and bring to a medium heat.  Add the sugar, lemon zest and juice and the eggs to the bowl and whisk.

Whisk constantly at a slow, steady pace.  After a while, about ten minutes, the mixture will thicken noticeably.  The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the bowl from the pan and stir in the butter, one piece at a time.  Wait until each piece has melted before stirring in the next one.

Now allow both the cheesecakes and the lemon curd to cool and then spoon a teaspoon or so of curd into the hollow of each cheesecake, smooth and top with a berry or whatever else takes your fancy.  Easy to eat, easy transport and DELICIOUS.

oh.four.one.

the port elizabeth blogger

The Banting Cook

Banting recipes – low carb, sugar free and gluten free. Banting recipes I have tried - those that have failed and those that have been a success! I am not a dietician, I'm just a gal who loves to cook banting food, and keep it as good as possible! Obviously all recommendations throughout this and other posts are not intended as an alternative, treatment, or prevention of diseases, medical treatments or advice. The reader takes full responsibility for counting nutritional information such as carbs, while trying any and all recipes :-)

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