Archive for February, 2010

s h i i t a k e a n d f e n n e l q u i n o a

February 26, 2010

I love quinoa. It has a great nutty flavour and is so versatile. But I very rarely cook with it, and I don’t know why! So here’s a great vegan recipe I found that uses quinoa and fennel, another ingredient I neglect far too often. The soy in this dish is very subtle, and this could quite happily sit as an accompaniment to most dishes and cuisines. 

 

 

Q U I N O A S A L A D

2 cups dried quinoa

1 Litre water

maldon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

5 cloves garlic

1 large fennel bulb

1 punnet fresh shiitake mushrooms (200g)

4-5 spring onions

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

2/3 cup roasted salted cashews

1 large handful of coriander

1 large handful of flat leaf parsley

1 lime

 

Prepare the Q U I N O A by rinsing thoroughly in cold water, and draining with a fine sieve. Add to a wok on medium heat, and stir well for a few minutes until the grains are dried and very lightly toasted. Remove from heat.

Heat the water in a saucepan and add a pinch of salt. Once it comes to the boil add the quinoa, reduce heat and S I M M E R gently – stirring occasionally – for about 10-15 minutes, or until grains are just cooked. Their little tails should sprout out of the grains when they’re ready. Drain them in a sieve and set aside.

Meanwhile, P R E P A R E the vegetables. Chop the garlic finely, slice the fennel thinly, slice the mushrooms thickly, chop the spring onions, chop the herbs finely and zest and juice the lime.

Clean the W O K and add a splash of oil. Put on a medium heat and then add the garlic, stirring well for about 1 minute. Transfer the garlic to a large bowl, and add another dash of oil to the wok. Now add the fennel to the wok and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to the bowl with the garlic. Add a bit more oil to the wok, followed by the shiitake. Fry for several minutes before adding the spring onions. Cook for a minute more, then stir through the soy sauce and vinegar. Transfer to the same bowl, along with the chopped herbs, cashew nuts, lime juice and zest, and finally the quinoa. Turn it through well. Check for seasoning, and serve whilst warm. Serves 4. 

Nb. Being the naughty non vegans that we are, me and Andrew had this with battered king prawns on top. It’s a very substantial dish without though, so would be perfect on its own!

 

 

 

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r e d v e l v e t c a k e s

February 22, 2010

This is the recipe I used for the cupcakes I sold at the ShOP Valentine’s Day Baking Extravaganza I posted about earlier. This is a teeny bit more complicated than your standard cupcake recipe as there are a fair few ingredients and it calls for silly amounts of red food colouring (which ends in silly amounts of mess!). Typically red velvet recipes require buttermilk which is not an easy ingredient to obtain! So instead I am using a mixture of vinegar and milk which works as a perfect substitute in this case. I kept it simple, icing them in white vanilla butter frosting. The contrast of the white against the deep red sponge is gorgeous and works so well! 

 

 

R E D V E L V E T C A K E S

250g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1tsp baking soda

1 tsp maldon sea salt

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

2 bottles red food colouring (78ml)

115g butter

375g caster sugar

2 large eggs (or 3 small)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk

1 Tbsp white cider vinegar

1 tsp white cider vinegar

 

V A N I L L A F R O S T I N G

200g softened butter

200-300g sifted icing sugar

vanilla extract

milk

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line muffin trays with paper cases. Firstly you need to prepare the buttermilk S U B S T I T U T E. In a jug, add 1 Tbsp of the cider vinegar, and top up with the cup of milk. Leave it on the side for at least 10 minutes. It will thicken and look a bit lumpy, a bit like cultured yoghurt. This is OK.

Meanwhile, start to make the cake B A T T E R by sifting the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Gently combine the red food colouring and sifted cocoa powder together in a separate smaller bowl til smooth.

B E A T the butter and sugar til light and fluffy in another large mixing bowl. Gradually beat the eggs into this mixture, followed by the vanilla extract and red cocoa paste. Once combined, add a third of the flour mixture and mix well. Then add half of the milk and vinegar concoction. Stir well, then add another third of flour. Mix, then add the remaining milk. Finally, add the last of the flour and mix well to incorporate. 

 

 

Lastly, combine the tsp of baking soda with a tsp of cider vinegar in a cup, and once dissolved stir this into the cake batter. F I L L the paper cases about two thirds of the way up, and place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. You can test whether they’re done by pushing a toothpick or kebab stick into the centre of the sponge. If it comes out clean, they’re ready. These cakes do take a little longer to cook than conventional vanilla cup cakes!

C O O L the cakes in their tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 20. 

To make the F R O S T I N G , beat the butter in a bowl until it’s as white and smooth as you can possibly get it. This is a good time to be the proud owner of an electric mixer (Woe is me! ). Then sift in the icing sugar, a bit at a time, beating to incorporate it. Add a tsp of vanilla and beat it in until you reach a smooth spreadable consistency. If it’s too runny, add more icing sugar; if it’s too stiff, add a splash of milk.

To D E C O R A T E , pipe icing onto the cooled cakes. Then decorate with any candy you can find! Hundreds and thousands, shavings of chocolate, sprinkles, jelly beans, smarties etc… I cut little hearts out of layers of licorice all-sorts and used them to decorate the centre of each cake. The world is your cupcake! 

 

S h O P b a k i n g e x t r a v a g a n z a

February 22, 2010

A couple of weekends ago I took part in a wonderful Valentine’s Day event at ShOp on the Christmas Steps in Bristol. I brought down a selection of cupcakes to sell in ShOp, and Jayne who runs ShOp, had her mum Linda in to kindly spend the afternoon doing baking demonstrations and encouraging everyone to muck in and make some treats to take home! We made peppermint creams, shortbread, and scones. It was a huge success and by the end of the day we managed to get icing sugar and flour in almost everyone’s hair. The mark of a good baking session i’d say!

 

p e p p e r m i n t c r e a m s

 

I sold three varieties of cupcake including vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, red velvet cake with vanilla frosting, and vanilla cake with zesty lemon frosting! All individually iced and decorated, and boxed and tied up with a ribbon for those unsuspecting significant others on V Day! I’ll include the new recipes in my next blog update. For now I’ll just share a few pictures from the day.

 

v a n i l l a f r o s t e d c a k e

 

Jayne and Emma making peppermint creams.

 

p e p p e r m i n t c r e a m s

 

t h e c u p c a k e s t a l l

 

b a k i n g t o o l s

 

p e p p e r m i n t h e a r t s

p e p p e r m i n t h e a r t s

 

Emma and Linda making peppermint creams

 

It was a fantastic day and we hope to do something similar in ShOp again soon! So watch this space, as you’ll be the first to know about any future cooking events there! Don’t forget to check out their website at http://www.shoptheshop.co.uk/

l e e k y s o u p

February 5, 2010

 

A yummy simple recipe that requires only a few ingredients, and at little cost for the pocket and the clock, it’s a winter mid-week favourite. I love soup, comfort food at its simplest.

 

 

L E E K Y S O U P

3 leeks

1 white onion

3 large baking potatoes

3 cloves garlic

30g butter

extra virgin olive oil

1.5 L hot vegetable stock

maldon sea salt

black pepper

single cream to serve

 

To P R E P A R E  the vegetables, trim and wash the leeks. Slice them up into 1cm rings. Don’t be exact! It’ll all be blended up eventually, so precision is not necessary here. Peel and dice the onion. Cube the potatoes into 2cm chunks. Don’t bother peeling the potatoes, the skin is good for you, and it’s an extra task you needn’t bother with! Again, precision is not key here. Chop the garlic. 

To make the S O U P, heat the butter in a large pot with a glug of olive oil. Once the butter is melted, add the onions and leek to the pot. Stir gently over a medium heat to coat the vegetables.  Throw in the garlic after a couple of minutes. Give it an occasional stir. After a couple more minutes, add the potatoes. Stir through and cook for a further few minutes. Pour in the stock and gently bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally, just long enough to cook the potatoes through. Remove from the heat and rest for a minute. 

Use a hand held blender to B L E N D the soup in the pot. Blend it til completely smooth or leave a few chunks in there for a more rustic finish. Return to the heat for a few more minutes, season with a bit of salt and pepper. Serve hot with a jug of single cream to pour over individual bowls, and make sure there’s plenty of crusty bread to dip! Serves 6-8.