Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Jaffa Cake Lamingtons

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The last time I mentioned lamingtons on this blog I told of a disastrous afternoon in the kitchen. I did however vow to try these again but this time using my own recipe. Now, I don't want to gloat, but I must say these lamingtons beat Dan Lepard's hands down! When Jo & I were planning the menu for the childhood memories supper club I had a bit of a light bulb moment the idea of combining 2 of my favourite sweet treats into 1 popped into my head. Ok, so I admit, lamingtons aren't really from my childhood but their appearance reminds me of Snowballs so perhaps its in actual fact a merge of all 3!

I initially had the idea of using orange jelly as the jaffa cake component but when it came to the taste tests we decided they were way to sweet. Luckily Jo thought on her feet and suggested using the last of her homemade seville orange marmalade and oh my what a treat! Sadly, Jo doesn't have any marmalade left so please don't go knocking at her door. But, you could just use a good quality shop bought or if you're feeling heroic, make your own. We discovered that the lamingtons are even better the next day. So, if you can stand to wait I promise it will be worth it. I just hope I don't get an influx of angry emails from Aussies for messing around with a classic.

Makes 1 20x20cm tin
You will need-
  • 180g unsalted butter, softened
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 180g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 jar seville orange marmalade
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 30ml cold milk
  • 120ml boiling water
  • 135g dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 250g desiccated coconut
Preheat your oven to 175C. To make the sponge, whisk together the butter and sugar till light and creamy and then one by one, whisk in the eggs. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the bowl and  fold into the butter mixture. Spoon into your tin and smooth the mixture down evenly before baking for around 30 minutes. Check the cake after about 20 minutes and turn in the oven if needed.

Leave the cake to cool completely before cutting it in half horizontally. Spread the marmalade carefully over the bottom layer and then sandwich the top layer back on and press down gently.

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To make the chocolate coating, mix together the cocoa powder and milk in a bowl till you have a paste. Then whisk in the boiled water followed by the chocolate till it melts. Finally add the icing sugar and then you're ready to go. We found that its best to add a little coconut to a flat dish at a time otherwise it will all get coated in chocolate and you'll end up with a mess.

Cut the sponge into cubes and then get your production line ready. 1st your chocolate, then your coconut and finally a wire rack lined with greaseproof paper. I would suggest having a second pair of hands, one person getting covered in chocolate and the other the coconut but if you're making them on your own just keep one hand free of chocolate as that will help the lamingtons stay neat and tidy.

Once you have coated them all in chocolate and coconut, leave them to set for at least an hour but longer if you can. They can then be stored in an airtight box for a few days.
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I must finish by saying- I accept no responsibility for chocolate or coconut being found dotted around your home for days to come. Despite there being 2 of us, Jo found a dollop of chocolate on her washing machine! But, oh my are these worth all of that. However big (or small) you make them, just 1 piece won't be enough!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Angelic Pizza Food Truck, Cambridge

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There is always a lovely buzz on twitter when a new restaurant or food vendor appears and this place is no exception. A few weeks ago Alex Rushmer, owner of Hole in the Wall in Cambridge tweeted about this chrome airstream selling wood fired pizzas and ever since I have been meaning to try them out. After a quick search around the internet I didn't come up with much so on a whim last night, Tim and I jumped in the car in search of pizza. I had heard that they guys park up outside the Missing Sock in Stow-cum-Quy and as we approached in the dark and rain we saw a light beaming towards us.


Unfortunately for us, the guys had been really popular that night and only had enough dough left for 1 more pizza. Whilst they set about making it for us, we chatted about their incredible van which they  imported all the way from Chicago! They make a huge effort to use organic & local ingredients and the pizzas are cooked on an open flame. The drive home was a painful one as we raced to get back before the pizza got cold. It was seriously delicious and I can't wait to go back and try more!

They can be found in the Missing Sock car park Monday-Thursday and on Ely market on Saturdays. They also told me that they will be on twitter soon so keep an eye out for them. For more details, check out their website


Monday, 15 October 2012

Sundried Tomato, Roasted Pepper & Spinach Lollipops

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At the last Plate Lickers Supper Club we served a selection of canap├ęs which included these lollipops. They are super straight forward to make and are great if you have some entertaining to do. They would make a great treat for Halloween and fireworks night too. Just be sure to call them Catherine wheels instead! Kids and grown ups are sure to love them.

You will need-
Makes approx 30
  • 1 block of puff pastry
  • 280g frozen spinach- defrosted, water squeezed out and finely chopped
  • 40g sundried tomatoes, patted dry and finely chopped
  • 40g roasted red peppers, finely chopped
  • 140g mayonaise
  • 60g freshly grated parmesan or other hard cheese
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp onion powder
  • Wooden lollipop sticks
To start, mix together the spinach, tomatoes, red peppers, mayonaise, parmesan, garlic & onion powder and then season to your taste. Next, cut the puff pastry in half so you are left with 2 rectangle pieces.

On a floured surface, roll out one of the pastry blocks so it measures roughly 25x30cm. Spread evenly with half of the mixture leaving a 1cm thick edge on the long side furthest from you.
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Wet the edge you have left with a little water and then roll the pastry up tightly. Wrap in clingfilm and then repeat with the 2nd piece of pastry. When they are both wrapped in clingfilm, place them in the freeze for at least 30 minutes (these can be left in freezer for up to 3 months). Then, when you are ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 180C. Take the cling film off the rolls and cut about 1/2cm off both ends (you can bake these as your tasters). Cut 1cm thick discs and place on a lined baking tray.
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With a sharp knife, cut a small incision into the roll and carefully insert a lollipop stick. Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes or till lightly golden and puffed up. These are equally delicious hot or at room temperature.
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Monday, 8 October 2012

Caramelised Pear & Pecan Bread Pudding

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Theres nothing like blowing monday's cobwebs away than with a bread pudding fresh out of the oven. My mum alway makes bread pudding with brioche so I bought a delicious loaf and with pear season in full swing I thought it would be rude not to include them. The custard is really simple to make, theres no egg separating or even heating you pretty much just whisk everything together and then pour onto the brioche before leaving it to soak. This pudding takes around an hour to cook so you do need to be a little patient but my god is it worth the wait! Its safe to say my husband was jumping for joy when he got in from work to discover this little beauty waiting for him!

Makes in a 9x8" dish
Recipe adapted from Tartine
You will need-
  • 6 1inch slices of brioche bread
  • 8 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 pears, peeled & cubed
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped pecans
Pre-heat the oven to 170C. Place the brioche on a baking tray into the oven till its lightly toasted. Leave to cool whilst you make the custard.
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs before adding the sugar. Continue whisking till smooth and then add the milk, vanilla, salt & cinnamon. Mix one more time then set aside.

Place the brioche slices in your dish and then pour over the custard, you may not be able to fit it all in, if this is the case leave it to one side for topping up later. Let the pudding sit for at least 10 minutes so the bread has time to soak the majority of the custard.

Top up if needed and then cover with foil and bake for around an hour. Be sure to check at the 45 minute stage, just use a knife to peek into the middle and if its still really liquid cook for another 15 minutes or so. At this stage place the pears, sugar and butter in a saucepan and cook gently till the pears soften. When the bread pudding comes out of the oven poke little holes in the top and press the pears deep into it. Scatter the rest on top and pour some of the caramel onto it. Top with the pecans and then put back in to oven without the foil for 5-10 minutes. This will give the pudding a lovely crunchy topping. Let it cool for at least 30 minutes to give the custard a chance to set and then serve on its own or if you want to be really indulgent, with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

If you do have lots of custard left over like I did, just pour into individual ramekins and place in a ban-marie in the oven. Bake at 170C for around 30 minutes or till set. Once cooled, turn out onto a plate and there you have a delicious cinnamon flan! 2 desserts in 1, what more could you ask for?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Childhood Memories Supper Club October

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Last night saw our 3rd Plate Lickers supper club. This time around the theme was childhood memories and we had so much fun planning the menu. Through all the recipe tests we ran I really struggled not to share any photos so I am so excited to finally be able to share what we have been up to. Our guests dined under a sparkling mirror ball and were welcomed with a little milk bottle filled with white Russians. We had a lot of fun making the canapes, especially the pork pies, but a special mention has to go to the pineapple chutney. I'm so glad there's a little left for my cheese sandwiches this week!







Next up was the fish finger sandwich. Served in some delicious sourdough bread from Earth's Crust on the market and homemade tartare. For one of our guests, this was his first ever fish finger sandwich and the feedback was great!
Now I have a bit of a confession to make, our very special surprise guest had turned up by the main course and I was so fascinated by what he was up to that I totally forgot to photograph the main course, The main consisted of a shoulder of lamb that had been roasted for 6 hours and then turned into a stew accompanied by potato gratin & a winter slaw of fennel, carrots, celeriac, cabbage... this list goes on! This was served in a school dinner style and each diner came up to collect their meal.

We were extremely lucky that Jack of @jackmade_gelato agreed to come along and do our sorbet course for us. Guests were treated to Jack's take on a Cornetto. Dark chocolate ganache at the base of each cone followed by vanilla cream and finally topped with a quince sorbet. I'm mostly grateful that there was enough left for us to have a cone each. Although I got a little distracted eating it and almost forgot all about the dessert!



Dessert was my take on a Jaffa cake, combining a Lamington with Jo's incredible seville orange marmalade which was lastly followed by a petit four of marshmallows which we had a lot of fun making, especially trying to get the colour perfect.

Jo & I, as always. had so much fun playing host and hearing the chit chatter of all our guests whilst we were in the kitchen. Hearing everyones feedback made it all feel so worth while. We will be announcing the next 2 dates very soon so please sign up to our mailing list (here) if you haven't done so already to hear about it first.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Beef & Guinness Stew with Dumplings

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I'm really not quite ready for autumn & winter to rear their ugly heads. I'm sure like most of you (UK based anyway) feel somewhat cheated out of the summer we've just had. But the one thing that always gets me excited about a cold dark evening is the promise of a comforting stew with dumplings. When I first starting cooking, stews were definitely my favourite things to make, they're easy to prepare and as long as you cook them for long enough they always come out great. This was the first time I've done a stew using Guinness but I know this will be my go to meal this winter. This stew would also be fantastic in pie form which I think I'll have to try out next time. They always say stews are better the next day so it would be worth making the stew and chilling it over night before placing it in a buttery puff pastry case the next day and baking it.... I think thats Sunday dinner next week sorted!

Serves 4
You will need-
  • 1kg stewing beef cut into 2cm cubes
  • 4 carrots peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 parsnips prepared the same as the carrots
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 1tbsp flour
  • 500ml Guinness
  • Good quality beef stock cube
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Big sprig of thyme
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt & Pepper
For the dumplings
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 50g vegetable suet
  • Pinch of salt
  • Approx 5tbsp cold water
Begin by browning the beef in small batches in a casserole dish on the hob. While its browning pre-heat your oven to 140C. Once all the beef is browned add the vegetables and brown in the meat juices for a few minutes. Next add the flour and mix well before adding the beef and any juices followed by the stock cube, Guinness, bay leaves, thyme & sugar. Season well and the put the lid on the dish and place into the oven. Set the timer for 2 1/2 hours and then sit back and relax. 20 or so minutes before the stew is ready make the dumplings by mixing together the flour, suet and salt and then add cold water a tablespoon at a time till you get a soft dough. Roll the dough into balls and place on top of the stew. Place the lid back on and cook for 20 minutes.
I have to apologise for the quality of the photos, the light had faded and I was too hungry to wait any longer before eating. But as you can see, after all that stewing the meat was falling apart and the vegetables were covered in a glossy, sticky sauce. It was pure heaven and we fought over the last dumpling!

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