Monday, 15 July 2013

Lemon Iced Tea

Well it has been a little while since my last post, but this b-e-a-youuuu-tiful weather that we have been enjoy has inspired me to write a little bit about this weekend's happenings.

After a hellish journey from London to Southampton on Saturday morning (we stupidly cherished a little bit of a lie in, instead of beating all the revellers on their way to Bournemouth), we got down there about lunchtime.

Firing up the BBQ right away, we needed the perfect accompaniments in the form of some refreshing beverages - what better than some iced tea on the hottest day of the year? Now I love a cup of tea at the best of times, but this summer alternative is just what you want after a 3hr car journey in 30 degrees and no air con..

Here's how to do it...
  • Ice - lots
  • Black teabags - you can use whatever kind you like. We used English Breakfast, but I quite like it with Earl Grey for a bit more flavour.
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • A hot sunny day - optional
This is a super quick and even easier recipe, if you can call it that. First things first, you're gunna need a lot of ice - more than you think, trust me. If you haven't got enough, cheat and pop to the shops, if you have then pop the kettle on instead.

Whilst the kettle is boiling, grab yourself a big jug, the one you usually make Pimms in would be perfect! Add in a couple of tea bags depending on how strong you like it, and once the kettle is boiled, fill to almost the top but leaving about 10cm.

Extract your teabags, Stir in two big dessert spoons of sugar and squeeze in your whole lemon.

Now, fill with ice. The first bits will disappear in the boiling water, obviously. So keep adding until the jug is full. Pop in the fridge and then when you are ready for a glass, pop some more ice into a tumbler with a slice of lemon and pour over for a delicious and cooling treat!

If you were doing this for a picnic or had some friends around, you could use old jam jars for cups and add a sprig of mint. You could also experiment with adding orange or lime instead of lemon, I have even heard people use mango, watermelon or raspberry - yum. Topped off with a fancy straw, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser, if I do say so myself.

E x

Monday, 18 March 2013

Creme Egg Cupcakes

Ever since I saw a picture of these re-tweeted by Cadbury's last weekend, I was desperate to re-create them. With no recipe attached, just the picture, my friend Libby and I took on the challenge this Saturday.

First things first, before you even put the kettle on, pop a couple of packets of mini cream eggs in the freezer. If you have a real sweet tooth, you could use regular size, but we thought that might be overkill. These will need a couple of hours to chill - plenty of time for a cup of tea, and catch up with a good friend. This is important as means that the eggs will stay together once heated and not dissolve into the cake batter.

For the 'cakey' bit, out came the Nigella cookbook, and we whipped up a batch of her standard cupcake sponge batter:

  • 125g softened, unsalted butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125f self-raising flour
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tbsps milk

Blend all of the ingredients, minus the milk. Once blended, add the milk a spoon at time until the batter is smooth - you might not need all of it.

Line a muffin tray with muffin cases and divide the mixture out evenly. 

Peel the creme eggs and place on top of the batter, pressing them down gently but not so they touch the bottom - you want them to stay in the middle.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for 15-20 minutes, or til they are springy to the touch.

If, like us, you cannot bear to wait before you eat them, put the kettle on again and crack one open right away (or once they are cool enough to handle). You won't regret this - the fondant oozes out and is very yummy. For the more arty among us, you could always ice the top in a fancy way, but in my opinion the cake and the cream egg make it sweet enough. That being said, I do claim to be able to eat a whole 6 pack of creme eggs without thinking twice. 

E x

Monday, 25 February 2013

Sunday Brunch: Egg Bombs

I have been meaning to write up this sweet little recipe for a while. A couple of weekends ago, one of my favourite chums, Kelly came to stay with me in London.This in itself was a lovely treat as I don't get many visitors from outside the city, with my family living in Cornwall and my friends all over the place.

Now, being one half of a long distance relationship means I know how to make the most of the weekends. This nearly always includes an enormous breakfast/brunch to start the day. J and I always take the time to cook something scrummy in the mornings. Whether the old favourites, or trying something new.

Taking a look in the fridge for some breakfast ingredients, I was set to whip up what I could find. Turns out, I had some eggs, bacon, butter and bread. As Kelly had a long trip up on the Friday night, I left her snoozing and set to work - egg bombs were born.

Picture courtesy of Kelly as she enjoyed them so much, she made them for her boyfriend at home. I was too hungry to take any snaps!

All you will need for this is:-

  • A muffin tray
  • 2 eggs per person
  • 2 slices of square bread per person (doesn't matter what type but preferably thickly sliced)
  • 2 slices of back bacon per person
  • Butter for greasing

Start by greasing your muffin tray with a generous helping of butter (or marg for the more healthy conscious. I am a butter girl all the way).

Cut the crusts off your bread and squish it flat with the palm of your hand. Now press this into the muffin tray lining the holes, being careful  not to rip it.

Wrap your bacon around the inside, you can just about get it to cover the lining of the bread, leaving the rind side up so it will crisp up in the oven. Crispy bacon is best. This should provide a sealed 'cup'.

Crack your eggs and pour one in to each 'cup', and season. Don't worry too much if they spill over as this won't affect the taste, just the aesthetics!

Pop in to a pre-heated oven at around 190 degrees and leave for about 10-15 mins before checking. The eggs should still jiggle but not run when tipped, and the bacon should just be catching around the edges. If you prefer your eggs more done (I like them very runny) then you can cook for a bit longer.

All is left is to wake up your sleepy friend with a big pot of freshly brewed coffee, and hand her a plate of these little beauties. Named so as they tend to explode as you cut in to them. Nothing like gooey eggs running into buttery bread, topped off with bacon.

E x

Monday, 24 December 2012

Frangipane Mince Pies

Chances are, most people have probably made their mince pies by now. Me, I like to whip up a batch either Christmas eve, eve, or ideally - Christmas actual eve. This way they are super fresh, and you can even enjoy a few when still warm. Here is a little Christmas themed recipe that is super easy, yet super tasty.

My mince pie of choice, is one a little bit special, and a little bit different. If you are less a fan of pastry, and more a fan of fluffy almond sponge, then you will enjoy these as much as I do. Basically, you do away with the pastry lid and instead, top it with a fluffy, light, almond based sponge - a mincemeat bakewell, if you will.

To make these little scrummies, you will need:

For the pastry -

  • 175g plain flour
  • 75g butter, cut into cubes
  • 25g icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)
  • 1 large egg, beaten

For the frangipane topping-

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 level tbsp plain flour
  • 1⁄2 tsp almond extract, or to taste (in my case, a lot)

For the filling - 

  • One jar of mincemeat - I used some of my Mum's homemade, but shop-bought is just fine. My sister doesn't actually like mincemeat, so I made a few with cherry jam in the bottom, as a substitute - she reports that they were yummy.

You can make the pastry by hand, but I used a food mixer. This way, the pastry stays as cold as possible, making it easier to work with (again, you can just get the shop-bought, sweet shortcrust pastry if you prefer/have limited time). To make the pastry and the mixture:
  1. First things first, preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Then, in the food mixer, pop in the flour, icing sugar and butter, and mix until it looks like breadcrumbs. Once this has happened, pour in the beaten egg, bit by bit. If your pastry has not quite come together, you can add a splash of cold water (be careful not too add to much as this will be hard to rectify) to bring it together.
  2. Spoon out this mixture on to a floured surface and lightly knead to bring it together. Once you have a dough like mixture, wrap it in some clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill for approx. 30 mins.
  3. Whilst the pastry is chilling, you can make your filling. For this, pop the butter and caster sugar in to the food mixer - no need to clean it as it is all similar ingredients. Cream these together until smooth. 
  4. Pour in the eggs and almond extract, and mix together (do not be alarmed if the mixture looks curdled at this point, it will be ok, I promise). Add the flour and almonds and mix until smooth, and put to one side.
  5. Whilst you are waiting, you can grease your bun trays with a little butter, sprinkle in flour, and shake off the excess. Also, pour your mincemeat into a bowl and bring back to life with a glug of brandy, or port, or rum - up to you.
Now for the fun bit, the assembly(!):
  1. Roll out your pastry and cut out circles big enough for your bun tin. If you do not have pastry cutters, you can always use a wine glass or tumbler to fit. Place these in the bun tray, lightly (careful not to squash them in, or they will be hard to get out).
  2. Spoon in a teaspoon of your mincemeat, and top with a teaspoon-and-a-half of your frangipane mixture (no need to level this out as it will even out in the cooking).
  3. If you like, you can sprinkle on a few flaked almonds for decoration.
Now, pop your little treats in the oven for 12-15 minutes, checking they don't catch. Once done, pop them on a plate, or cake stand, and dust them with icing sugar - then, tuck in and enjoy!

I will pop up a pic of this year's attempt at a later date :)

E x