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Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Little Ghosties!

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Happy Halloween! A bit late I know, but as usual, I ran out of time to post this yesterday!
Here are some little coffee flavoured cookies that I made from a Rachel Allen recipe that was posted on the BBC food website. It's a really fabulous cookie dough, but if you make them, please add the coffee/egg mixture gradually, or you will have a very runny dough. Maybe Rachel Allen used smaller eggs than I did, mine were the large size. You can chill the dough before rolling out, if it's too soft, and I always chill my cookies on the baking sheets before cooking, as I find this stops them spreading too much.

Coffee Cookies
Adapted from a Rachel Allen Recipe

175g/6oz self raising flour
75g/3oz caster sugar
75g/3oz butter
2 tsp instant coffee powder or granules
1 tsp hot water
1 egg

Put the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor and pulse until you have fine crumbs.

In a cup or small bowl, mix the coffee with the hot water, then add the egg and whisk together with a fork.

Add the egg mixture to the food processor gradually - you may not need all the egg mixture - and pulse until the dough just comes together. (If making this by hand, rub the butter into the flour and sugar in a bowl, then add the coffee/egg mixture and bring together to a dough.)

Dust the work surface lightly with flour (Rachel used icing sugar) and roll out the dough until it is 5mm/¼ in thick.
Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and lay them on ungreased baking sheets. Put the baking sheets into the fridge for an hour or so to let the cookies firm up and chill.

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet with a spatula and cool on a wire rack.

These will keep in an air-tight tin for a couple of days.

(Printable Recipe)

Friday, 26 October 2007

French Smoked Garlic

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Whenever I go away, the first thing I do is check out the local supermarkets and deli's. I love the smells, colourful arrangements and trying to find things you can't buy at home. Food, followed by kitchen accessories are way ahead of clothes, jewelery and odd nick-knacks, and I bet many food bloggers are right with me on this. Of course I fit in sightseeing and other holiday 'must-do's' - we all have to compromise sometime!

Eurotunnel - going on Eurotunnel - Inside
Going onto the train and inside the train

It takes us less than an hour to get to the Channel Tunnel, and as long as there are no hold-ups, you can be cruising round the aisles of the French supermarkets in no time. What's more, it's so civilized going over via the tunnel - it takes half the time of the ferry and there are no worries about the weather, no fight to go up the cold, wet stairs and trudge around looking for a clean seat. No mixing with drunken stag parties at 10.30 in the morning! The only thing that can put a damper on things is a strike by the French side - which can happen all too often!

For those that haven't had the 'tunnel experience' I would highly recommend it. Once you have driven onto the train, you just sit in your car and let the train take the strain for 40 minutes. You don't even know you are moving, it's an odd feeling!

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Smoked Garlic

This smoked garlic is one of the things I brought back from a day trip to France recently. It smells really strong and was banished to the utility room because everyone was complaining. Once it's been cooked in a recipe, you can't really detect a 'smoked' flavour there. One simple way to try and preserve the smokiness is to roast the garlic. Just wrap it in some foil with a little olive oil and some herbs and roast in a medium oven for about 40 minutes - the time it takes to get to France on the train! It is wonderful spread onto toasted bread and tomatoes, or added to butter to make smokey garlic butter.

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Sunday, 14 October 2007

Breakfast Swirls for World Bread Day

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I bake bread at least 4 or 5 times a week, so it's only fitting that I participate in an event to celebrate World Bread Day, being hosted by Zorra of Kochtopf.
Check out the final round up of all the entries here.

As I have a lot of other things going on in my life, I tend to utilise the bread machine a fair bit, mainly for kneading the bread.
In a typical week, I usually make several French breads, a batch of my husband's favourite buns with berries and cherries, some loaves and plenty of rolls for the boys to take to school for lunches. Sometimes I make sweet rolls for breakfast, they are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

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Breakfast Swirls

1 teaspoon quick-rising yeast
9 oz strong white bread flour
2 oz sugar
½ oz unsalted butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
4-5 tablespoons milk
1 beaten egg to glaze

Icing sugar for dusting

Put all the ingredients into the bread machine in the correct order for your machine.
When it comes to the milk, you may need less or more, keep an eye on it and add as necessary to make a smooth, soft dough.
When the dough is ready, cut it into about 9 pieces and roll each one into a long thin rope, about 13-15 inches long.
Curl them into loose spirals, place on a baking sheet and tuck the ends under.
Cover and leave to rise until they have doubled in size, brush with beaten egg and bake in a pre-heated oven 350ºF for about 12-14 minutes.
Dust with icing sugar and serve warm.

(Printable Recipe)

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Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Hazelnut Cartwheel for British Food Fortnight

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The sixth British Food Fortnight runs from 22nd September to 7th October 2007. It is the biggest national celebration of the diverse and delicious range of food that Britain produces.

In my quest to make something British and slightly different, also using a local ingredient, I looked through various books and searched the Internet until I came across the All British Food website. There I found a great recipe, with a fabulous name, that used cob nuts (or hazelnuts) from Kent - my own county.

I bought my cob nuts from the local farmers' market, shelled and roasted them - but you could use any nuts - pecans would be good too. Don't skimp on the lemon rind in this recipe, it really adds a zing, and try and use all butter puff pastry if you can find it.

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Hazelnut Cartwheel
Adapted from All British Food

212 g (7½ oz) packet frozen puff pastry, thawed
25 g (l oz) butter
25 g (1 oz) soft light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
75 g (3 oz) plain cake crumbs
75 g (3 oz) hazelnuts, chopped
50 g (2 oz) raisins
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 egg, beaten, to glaze
caster sugar, to dredge

Roll out the pastry into a rectangle, about 10 x 14 inches.

Cream the butter and the sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg and then stir in the cake crumbs, hazelnuts, raisins and grated rind of the lemon.

Spread the mixture over the pastry to about half an inch of the edges. Roll up lengthways (like a swiss roll) and place on a baking sheet, lined with baking parchment paper. Twist into a circle shape and seal the ends together. Snip into the ring at 1½ inch intervals, being careful not to cut right the way through.

Brush with beaten egg to glaze and bake at 220ºC (425ºF) for 25-30 minutes. I tuned the oven down slightly for the last 10 minutes as it was nice and brown on top, but still needed a bit longer.

Sprinkle with caster sugar and serve warm with cream, it's also good cold.

(Printable Recipe)

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