Friday, 11 July 2014

Hey Pesto

Pesto is one of my favourite things ever - I usually have jars of both red and green in the fridge at all times, plus spares in the cupboard. And for some reason that I don't quite know, I'd never made my own until this week. Our basil plant was growing out of control, and there was only one thing to do...

- 50g pine nuts
- 50g fresh basil
- 25g fresh parsley
- 2 cloves garlic
- 150ml olive oil
- 50g veggie parmesan
- 2tsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper

1. Fry the pine nuts (without any oil) until lightly toasted and golden brown.
2. Tip everything into a food processor and blitz! Season to taste, and enjoy.

If you have a bit more time on your hands, you could always roast the garlic first - or even try using wild garlic if it's in season. Pesto is super versatile - use it as a dip, stir it through some pasta or add it to a pizza. It'll also keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

MORE CAKE - Lemon & Elderflower Swiss Roll

So I'm still revelling in having the time to bake, and also loving all the fruit, vegetables and flowers that come with Summer. This recipe is inspired by that - specifically, the tiny, fragile elderflowers whose fragrance hits you every time you walk past a bush at the moment. They're only in season for a short time each year, so make the most of them while you can!

For the Sponge                                                       For the Filling and Decoration
- 3 medium eggs                                                     - 2tbsp lemon curd
- 75g caster sugar                                                   - 100ml double cream
- zest of 1 unwaxed lemon                                     - 1tbsp elderflower cordial
- 75g plain flour                                                       - 1tbsp icing sugar
                                                                               - ½tsp lemon juice
You'll also need a 20x30cm baking tin, greased and lined.

1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 220°C. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and thick (this will take at least 5 minutes with an electric whisk).
2. Tip in the lemon zest, and gently sieve in the flour, a little at a time, using a large metal spoon to fold them in.
3. Evenly pour the mixture into the tin, and bake for 9-10 minutes, until golden brown and springy to touch.
4. Grab a sheet of greaseproof paper a little bigger than the cake tin and sprinkle with caster sugar. As soon as the sponge is out the oven, transfer it to the paper and peel off the lining paper from the tin. Make a small cut 2cm in from one of the short sides, then gently roll up the cake from the end with the cut. Allow to cool completely.
5. When the sponge is cool, unroll it and spread on the lemon curd. Whip the cream with the elderflower cordial and spoon it on top, then re-roll the cake as carefully as you can.

6. Mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice, then use a teaspoon to drizzle it over the cake. For an extra bit of pretty, you can grate over some extra lemon zest and use the icing to stick on fresh elderflowers.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Ultimate Beans on Toast

Everybody loves beans on toast. It's a student staple, and is perfect for a quick hunger fix at the end of a long day. But it doesn't have to be just emptying a tin into a saucepan - with a few more basic larder ingredients and an extra five minutes, you can transform it into something spectacular.

Ingredients (serves 2):
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- ½ a red chilli
- 1½ x 400g tins baked beans
- 200g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- handful fresh parsley
- 4 slices bread, toasted and buttered
- handful grated cheddar cheese

Alternatively, you could just use two tins of Heinz 5 beans, though they're a bit more expensive unless you can get them on offer.

1. Pour a dash of olive oil and a knob of butter in a saucepan, and add the onion, garlic and chilli. Cook for five minutes until beginning to soften, then tip in the kidney beans.
2. Add the baked beans and simmer, stirring regularly, until they're beginning to go slightly mushy (or however you like them - this is my preference). Add the parsley and a twist of black pepper.
3. Pour the bean mixture over the toast, and sprinkle over the cheese. Enjoy!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Banana, Chocolate and Butterscotch Muffins for celebrating THE END OF OUR DEGREES

WE DID IT. I have no idea how, or what we'll get out of it (degree classifications don't come out for another month...), but in the meantime I'm catching up on sleep and all the things I've had to put off to write essays, like cooking and painting and walking and watching TV and BAKING! Fraser's calling it my rehabilitation, and I'm enjoying it immensely. So this weekend I made these...

Banana, chocolate and butterscotch muffins. They're based on a Nigella recipe - I first made them years ago with Andy, and they're sooooo good. You can vary the flavours however you like - I intend to try them with blueberries, or you could be super indulgent and go for a double chocolate chip variation.

Ingredients (makes 12):
- 3 ripe bananas
- 2 eggs
- 125ml vegetable oil
- 250g plain flour
- ½tsp bicarb. of soda
- 1tsp baking powder
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g Green&Blacks butterscotch chocolate
- 50g butterscotch pieces

1. Start by preheating your oven to 200°C, and lining a muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Mash the bananas (I find the best things for this are a fork and a casserole dish lid), or tell a friend if they'll do it for you they can have the first muffin. Works like a charm.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and mix in the oil 'til they've come together. Add the flour, bicarb, baking powder and sugar and stir well.
4. Tip in the mashed banana, along with the butterscotch and chocolate (chopped), and stir through.
5. Dollop the mixture into the muffin cases. Don't worry if you make a bit of a mess - I seem to be incapable of doing it without getting cake mix all over the tray/my hands/the cat...

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. I recommend you check them after 20, and if they're not done turn the tray around to make sure they get an even final blast. Once they're out, they'll need at least 10 minutes to cool before you demolish them - if you can wait that long...