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Sunday, 27 April 2008

Oaty Bran Muffins

It's quite easy for me to skip breakfast.

I like toast, occasionally cereal, and when I am really feeling naughty I go for a muffin. The thing is... there is nothing naughty about this muffin - it's packed full of bran flakes and oats. OK, it's got some sugar - but that will give me energy, right? And if I'm on the run, I can't take the toaster or milk carton with me.

These muffins are easy to make, tasty and filling - and you can eat them even when it's long past breakfast time.

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Oaty Bran Muffins
Makes approx 12

1½ cups bran flakes, slightly crushed with your hands
1¼ cups porridge oats
2½ cups self raising flour (you can use half white and half whole wheat flour if you prefer)
¾ cup soft, light brown sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 cups milk (I use semi-skimmed)
1 tablespoon honey

Pre-heat oven to 350º.

Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and stir together until well mixed in.

Spoon into lined or well-greased muffin cups.

Bake for 18-20 minutes until they are springy when touched.

(Printable Recipe)

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This is my entry into this month's Snackshots, hosted by Michelle at Greedy Gourmet.

snackshots muffin


This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2008 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

A Great British Pud - Fit For A Queen!

I really don't know why this dessert doesn't end up on our dining table more often. It's one of those puddings that takes you back to your childhood. My mum didn't make it that often, but when she did.... oh wow! A custardy base with a hint of lemon, covered in a layer of jam and topped off with sweet, crisp meringue.

The dessert I am describing is an old English traditional pudding, Queen of Puddings, dating back to the 17th century. The custard base is made from stale breadcrumbs, some recipes use bread that is cut into cubes, but I think breadcrumbs make a smoother custard. You can use any jam that takes your fancy, I like to use seedless raspberry jam or strawberry. Instead of a large one, I made 6 individual ones.

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If you are wondering why this pudding has made a bit of a comeback amongst food blogs this month, hop over to Rosie Bakes a 'Peace of Cake', where you will see she is hosting this month's Great British Pudding Challenge. I think you've chosen a pud that's fit for a queen Rosie!

Queen of Puddings

Serves 4

75g (3 oz) fresh breadcrumbs, made from day old bread
25g (1 oz) butter
Grated rind of half a lemon
100g (4 oz) caster sugar, divided in half
2 large eggs
275ml (½ pint) of whole milk
3 tablespoons raspberry jam – heated through
1 tablespoon of sugar to go on the top of the meringue

You will need a well buttered 1.2 litre (2 pint) pie-dish, or you can use individual dishes.

Put the breadcrumbs into a large bowl and set aside.

Place the milk, half of the sugar, butter and lemon rind into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour this over the breadcrumbs and leave to soak for 20 minutes.

Separate the eggs and add the egg yolks to the crumb mixture and beat through. Place the whites of the eggs into a clean grease-free bowl for later use.

Pour the breadcrumb mixture into your serving dish (or dishes) and place into the centre of a preheated oven, 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4, for 20 minutes or until set. Leave to cool for 5 minutes then spread the warmed jam over the top gently, (ensuring not to break the skin that has formed on top.)

Beat the egg whites until stiff, then gently fold in the sugar. Pile the meringue on top of the jam, making sure you spread it to the edges of the dish, sealing in the jam.

Sprinkle the extra tablespoon of sugar over the meringue top. Place back into the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the meringue is set and lightly browned.

Serve with cream, ice cream or on its own.

(Printable Recipe)

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This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2008 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Friday, 18 April 2008

1 Year of Blogging & Thank You's!

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One year on and I'm still blogging!

My 14 year old son just told me that he was amazed I could spend a whole year blogging about 'food', but then, he is one of those poor souls who just eats to live.

I've learned a lot about food, photography and people. Tried new dishes, posted some old favourites, joined many blogging events and made some new friends. If you are reading this - thank you, and even though I do it for myself - it's nice to know you are there!

I'd also like to say a big thanks to all who tagged me and gave me blog awards - I did do a couple of memes at the beginning, but I'm not really a 'me me' person, and there's loads of stuff about me on here without boring you with any more!

As it's my special 1 year blogiversary, I will mention this award that I recently received. It came from LyB, who writes at the fabulous And then I do the dishes, and from Julie at the good old fashioned Noshtalgia. It was an E for 'Excellence' award - for this little blog!! Thank you both!

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I'm supposed to pass this on to other deserving blogs, which is hard because all the food blogs I read are excellent. Here are the few I've chosen.

Aidan Brooks: Trainee Chef - a young English chef, training in Barcelona at a top restaurant. He's funny, writes with honesty and dabbles in molecular gastronomy, which I find really interesting. I'm betting he's going to go along way in the food industry.

Graeme from Blood Sugar - another young chap who is studying photography, and WOW! he can sure take a mean chilli photograph. Seriously, a photographer who is a foodie has to be a recipe for success.

Alfie at Cabbage Roses and Cupcakes - she only started blogging this year, but her photos are beautiful and recipes so tempting. I know this is a blog that will become a firm favourite among food bloggers.

Manju from Three Tastes - a blogger from one of the most beautiful, breathtaking places in the world, Hawaii. She cooks dishes I can only dream about, at least I can drool over the photos! She also generously gifted me with Reiki healing, thank you Manju.

Miri from Room for Dessert - more fabulous photos and loads of sumptuous sweet treats, and her husband's not bad either!

Chuck over at The Knead for Bread - baking has never been so exciting! I know where to go to get a quick fix of yeast, bread porn, and you'll even find step by step instructions and recipe cards there.

Sylvie at A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit - yet another photographer, food blogging in her spare time, with always interesting colourful dishes and stories. I know you got one of these recently Sylvie, but another won't do any harm!

Zorra at Kochtopf - such a great organizer of many blog events, she works hard to join up foodies from all over the world.

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Now, I don't want this to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech, (but it is my party and I can say what I want) so before I go, I just want so say another thanks for all the comments that people have taken the time to post, I read every one.

Below are some links to a few of the recipes that other bloggers have made from here or linked to here. Please let me know if you posted one that I didn't see, so I can add it.

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
mj at Bake, Bake, Bake

Boursin, Tomato and Cucumber Nibbles
Melissa at Melissa's Magic in the Kitchen

Lemon Curd Cookies
Jen at Beantown Baker

Roasted Tomatoes with Basil
Steph at A whisk and a Spoon

Figs with Balsamic, Mascarpone and Pine Nuts
Jeanne at Cook Sister

Easy Fruit Tarts
Rachel at Elephantine

Chocolate Caramel Nuggets
Jules at Domestic Goddess in Training
Pam at The Backyard Pizzeria
Deborah at Taste & Tell
Hot Potato

Sun-Dried Tomato, Parmesan & Basil Whirls

CIA - Cooking in an Apron
Cynthia at Tastes Like Home

Gordon Ramsay's Chocolate Mousse

Antonia at Food, Glorious Food

Cappuccino Muffins
M&M's at Cupcakes, Cocktails and London

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

Miri at Room For Dessert

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And yes, we did get a couple of inches of snow the other week, not enough to run out and make maple taffy, but here's the proof!


This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2008 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Eccles Cakes - Tried Tested & True!

If I want to get on the good side of my husband, I make a batch of Eccles Cakes and pop a couple into his lunch box. They are so easy to put together, especially if you use a good, all butter puff pastry.

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I am sending these along to Equal Opportunity Kitchen, who are hosting an event called Tried, Tested and True. Eccles Cake recipes have been passed down through many generations and have been tested by millions of happy tasters. I know I can ask my husband for anything I want after making these for him!

Here is a link to the fabulous round-up.

Eccles Cakes
Adapted from Home Recipes with Be-Ro

250g (8oz) all butter puff pastry
50g (2oz) unsalted butter
100g (4oz) currants
25g (1oz) brown sugar
25g (1oz) cut mixed peel

Beaten egg or milk to glaze
Sugar to sprinkle on the tops

Melt the butter in a small glass bowl, using the microwave. Add the fruit, sugar and mixed peel. Stir with a spoon and allow to cool.

Roll out the pastry 5mm (¼") thick and cut into 11cm (4½") rounds with a plain cutter.

Place a spoonful of filling onto each round. Slightly dampen the edges with a little water and draw them together to enclose the filling. Pinch to seal the edges together.

Turn the smooth side up and gently roll them lightly with a rolling pin to flatten them.

Slash the tops with a sharp knife to show the filling, and brush with a little milk or beaten egg. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake in a hot oven, 230ºC (450º) for about 15-20 minutes.

(Printable Recipe)

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Before baking

This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2008 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Take one fresh pineapple...

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A Taste of Yellow is a blog event being hosted by Barbara of Winos and Foodies. Food bloggers from around the world are invited to create a dish using yellow coloured ingredients. This event supports the Lance Armstrong Foundation's LIVESTRONG Day, to raise awareness about cancer and support cancer survivors, their family and friends.

To show my support for this event, I made the most fabulous pineapple sorbet from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. The book has many interesting, modern ice cream recipes and plenty of accompaniments to go with the ice cream. Summer is on it's way - I am ready and waiting!

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Pineapple Sorbet
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop

1/2 pineapple, peeled and cored (2 cups, 500ml purée)
8-10 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup water (125ml)

Cut the skin off the pineapple, remove the core and slice it into chunks.
If making dried pineapple rings, slice off a few thin rings before cutting the rest into chunks.

Purée the chunks in a blender, with 8 tablespoons of sugar and the water, until smooth. Taste to see if you need to add any more sugar.

Chill the mixture and then churn in your ice cream machine, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pour into a freezer proof bowl, or little moulds, and return to the freezer.

To make the dried pineapple rings, spread the thinly sliced rings onto a silpat sheet and bake in a low oven for a couple of hours. Turn over several times during baking.

(Printable Recipe)

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This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2008 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Double Chocolate Raspberry Tart - Perfect!

What is your perfect ingredient?

There are so many that I really can't choose just one, but then, I really want to win a Marcus Wareing cookbook - so I'm going to have to!

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Now don't raise your eyes when you see I chose chocolate - I just really love it and can use it in so many different ways. For this event, I made a two tone chocolate tart using Green & Black's organic bars and Dorie Greenspan's sweet pastry - a firm favourite of mine. The tart was also crammed with fresh raspberries, don't use frozen ones - they'll be too mushy.

Looking at the photo, I think it would have been more striking to have the chocolate layers the other way round with the dark chocolate layer on the bottom. Oh well, I'm just going to have to make it again!

If you would like to learn more and try to win this book, pop over to Maninas where you can read the rules of entry. Good luck!

The fabulous round-up can be found here!

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Double Chocolate Raspberry Tart

8 oz white chocolate
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

8oz dark chocolate
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tart case - mine was 4 ½" x 14"
1 punnet fresh raspberries
Extra chocolate for drizzling

In a double boiler, gently melt the white chocolate with the cream and butter. When melted, stir gently and pour into the pastry case. Working quickly, push the raspberries into this chocolate layer and leave to cool while you get on with the dark chocolate layer.

Melt the dark chocolate, cream and butter as above and pour over the raspberries.

Melt the extra chocolate, drizzle over the tart and place in the fridge to set. About half an hour before serving, you want to take the tart out and let it come to room temperature.

Note: You can melt the chocolate/cream mixtures in glass bowls using the microwave if you are careful. It will only take a couple of minutes, depending on your microwave. Stir every 15 seconds until chocolate and butter has melted into the cream.

Sweet Tart Dough
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

8oz plain flour
2oz icing sugar
4oz butter, cut into cubes
pinch salt
1 large egg yolk

Using a food processor, blend the flour, icing sugar and pinch of salt with the cubes of butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and pulse gently until the pastry comes together. If the pastry is not binding properly, your egg yolk may not have been big enough, so add a little water or milk, a teaspoon at a time until it does come together.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to fit your tart tin. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Butter the shiny side of a piece of foil and put it buttered side down on the pastry, bake for about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes until nicely browned.

Note: Dorie recommends pressing the dough evenly into the tin - I prefer rolling the pastry out with a rolling pin, as I get a more even sheet.

(Printable Recipe)

This content belongs to Nicisme at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2008 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.