Family cooking

As a family we have really been enjoying the recent series of Simply Italian on Channel4.  Its great, simple, fast and super easy Italian demonstrated by a Welsh host with deep Italian roots.  It is awesome.  And all the recipes are available online.

I’ve never made pasta before, but it was super easy.  I wish I had used large eggs and I think my dough would be a bit better.  But thats a good tip for next time.  Once it was rested it was very easy to roll out, but do make it very very thin.  We made THIS recipe and it was scrummy!

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The show is available on 4OD in the UK, so if you aren’t watching it, get stuck in!





I made bread!!

I made bread.  With my own hands, seriously!  The hubster and I have been watching the Hairy Biker’s Bakeation, you can see some of the recipes here and if you are in the UK you can watch them in iPlayer for the next couple of weeks.

Its a fairly straightforward focaccia recipe, lots of strong white flour, yeast, salt, water and a good glug of of olive oil.  Top with some rosemary and salt and cook!  Two rounds of waiting for bread to rise here.  I was quite surprised at how quickly the dough came together, I was always under the impression that focaccia dough was meant to be very wet.  This wasn’t too bad and after a good bit of kneading it was ready for the first proof.  Then you can bash the hell out of it and pop it into the tray you are going to bake it in.  Leave it again for another proof.  Then stab it with your fingers (delicate I think you will agree) sprinkle with some rosemary and some salt.  Then into the oven.  Very straightforward and if it wasn’t for the waiting, quicker than you might expect.

Yummy!  Once out of the oven, a bit more oil and serve.  Went down a treat and great with a hot cup of soup.

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Baking at Easter

It was the Easter weekend last weekend.  And like all weekends of note, it included some baking.

First up was a sticky ginger cake.  You may remember this recipe as Sticky Orange Cake, but with the use of some ginger preserve, some ground ginger and a pinch of cinnamon, we got us a new cake.  This one was actually better, I used a tablespoon more preserve than the recipe and it was much moister.  Plus before smearing with warm preserve on the top I made twice as many holes in the surface to soak up the preserve.  Yum yum yum!

Secondly, I made an Easter Rocky Road.  I had to cut up a whole load of Bunny shaped marshmallows – that felt a bit mean!  So I used 200g dark chocolate, 100g marshmallows, 100g Golden Syrup, 100g of unsalted butter and 100g of pink wafer biscuits.  Then topped off with a SMALL packet of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs.  I mean, come on, we don’t want to over do it!

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Did you bake over the weekend?

Catrice – Dirty Berry

eBay, you are evil. People sell polish on there for WAY more than the retail price. If I pick up a polish for someone I’m happy to take what I paid, plus postage, with a small amount for packaging. I know its a buyers market, but when I can get a polish for 3euros and then see it on eBay for £14 or more, it makes me sad and cross in equal measure.

Anyway, in my recent trip to the Spanish Islands, I was able to find some European Nail Polish. This is Dirty Berry, by the brand Catrice. This colour is going to remain part of the core 40 polishes for the first half of 2012, at least that what my brochure says.

Firstly, WOW. Images do not do this colour any kind of justice. Its wonderful, purple, dusky, showing, shiny, sparkly and simply lovely. There is also a holographic glint that I was completely unaware of….

Formula was good. You can do three thin coats or two slightly thicker ones. In fact, I was worried it was going to be a little on the opaque side, but it was perfect. And it dried so quickly.. really quickly. I put on my usual top coat and its still super shiny, in fact I can’t stop looking at my nails.

What do you think? Do you own any Catrice?

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Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea

It was Mother’s Day last weekend here in the UK. I made afternoon tea, complete with cakes, for my mother-in-law. I made Coca Cola Cake as min loafs, Cherry Bakewell slices and a Victoria Sponge (that was guzzled before I could take a pic). Anyway, enjoy the images. The Cherry Bakewells were particularly nice and was a recipe the Hubster pulled out of our Asda magazine.  There is a scan of the recipe below.

Enjoy, what did you bake this weekend?

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Sticky Orange Cake

This weekend we had lots of snow, about 5 or 6 inches. It isn’t a lot but it manages to make the world go crazy, at least in the UK. Three snowflakes and the country grinds to a halt. Madness. Anyway, whilst everyone was off sledging, I invested some time in a Sticky Orange Cake. I managed to use a whole jar of Seville Orange Marmalde…..

This recipe is from the book for the second series of Great British Bake Off, How to Bake: The Perfect Victoria Sponge and other Baking Secrets. I’m secretly in love with this book, there are lots of brilliant recipes and if it wasn’t for Boy Wonder (my 5yr old) picking this one out, I probably would have struggled to pick. Recipe was super easy, creaming butter, adding sugar, eggs and then flour. Finally some milk and marmalade. Bake, glaze with warm marmalade and then ice when cool. Yummy!

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Weekend Baking – Crispie Cakes and Self Saucing Chocolate Puddings

Back from holiday in NYC where I went a *little* nail polish crazy… posts on purchases to follow.

But this weekend, we got back into the baking mojo. Firstly, the Boy Wonder wanted to make Crispie Cakes, based on a recipe his teacher shared with the class.  He was very insistent on how it should be made, so he pretty much made them himself.

Then for the grown ups, I made a self saucing chocolate pudding I saw in the hubsters Olive Magazine.  Very simple and super yummy! Although worth noting that you have to chill it for 4/5 hrs before baking.

Eat Me Vanilla Cupcake

I have abandoned my all time favourite cupcake recipe!  I had too.  I couldn’t get it to work properly.  Perhaps I am trying too hard.

Anyway, I found another whilst leafing through my many cookbooks.  Its from Eat Me!, a wonderful collection of simple yet AMAZING cupcakes.  I one made the Margarita Cupcakes – they were to die for.  You might be able to see the shiny thumb in the bottom of the image (polish images here) – this is my sparkly manicure from SUNDAY!  Yes, you heard me, almost 6 days of non-chipping!

Eat Me! The Stupendous, Self-Raising World of Cupcakes & Bakes According to Cookie Girl

So the recipe is straightforward, just sugar, butter, flour with a bit of baking powder, eggs and vanilla extract. I am a bit worried about the rising but hopefully with including of self-raising flour and baking powder will see the end of that!  And I have ‘soggy bottom’ concerns after the last few batches I baked had them. There were soggy when I pulled them out, not because I left them to cool in the tray….

So far so good.....

I am watching them like a hawk, they seem to be rising nicely.  14 mins in and they seem to have peaked, but not puddled.  Must get out the cooling rack now….