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Posts Tagged ‘baking’

I’ve been leafing through Dan Lepard’s wonderful book, Short and Sweet, ever since Christmas trying to decide what to make. The problem is there’s too much choice. Everything looks good. How do you pick between passion fruit melting moments, a chocolate cake that uses pears in place of butter or a gorgeous-looking double espresso brazil nut cake? Solution. Open up the book and ask someone else to pick for you. In this case my non-cake fan, but crumble-loving husband picked out a marble cake topped with crumble. Good work! He wins another chance to choose a recipe but I suspect next time he’ll ask to choose from the Hairy Bikers’ Pie Book. (more…)

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One of my favourite seasonal treats is a slice of stollen. The German Christmas cake is made from bread dough enriched with sugar and eggs, dried fruit, spices and candied peel. At its core runs a thick seam of marzipan which any almond aficionado will revel in. A true stollen is also be finished off with a blizzard of icing sugar. This year, rather than make a full-sized loaf for slicing, I though it would be fun to make something a bit more portable, easier to share and a whole lot cuter to boot. Hello mini stollen buns! (more…)

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Continuing the party food theme, all good dips require something good to dip in them. My main requirements for dipables is that they are nice and crunchy so you have a texture contrast and strong enough to support a generous scoop or dip without crumbling or breaking off under the load. I’m a big fan of crudities – usually carrot and celery sticks but it’s nice to have something a little less virtuous on offer. When I need a clever little something for a party I often turn to Chocolate and Zucchini for ideas; I think Clotilde must be a consummate hostess since her blog and cookbooks have no end of great recipes and tips for entertaining. I’ve made her hazelnut and thyme crackers many times, in many forms and doubt I’ll ever be bored with them. They have a beautiful crumbly, nubbly texture from the finely chopped nuts and herby, earthy notes from the thyme.

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This weekend I publicly confirmed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am a vegetable obsessive: in the middle of a relaxing countryside walk I bolted for a mobile farm shop. Not that I really mind; even though I enjoy a good steak or tender, slow-cooked lamb, I could quite happily go vegetarian most of the time. To me, the range of flavours and textures in veggies is something to get excited about. Unfortunately there are still some things I struggle with and, up until very recently, fennel was one. I have successfully overcome taste aversions by constantly having a little taste; I once went from hating rocket to craving it in under a week. And the same thing has just happened with fennel. Little by little I started to enjoy subtle hints of fennel seeds then one day I tasted a fennel and spinach gratin and was instantly smitten. I’ve not been able to get it out of my head ever since. On the back of this success there’s still hope for mushrooms and aubergine! (more…)

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Walking down the chocolate aisle at my local store (always a dangerous task!) I noticed how many bars there are that contain fruit. We’re way beyond the classic Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut with bars featuring lemon meringue, banana, strawberry, cranberries and dates. I’m not sure I’m really too convinced by some of the pairings, I tend to find chocolate and fruit don’t always go but some are rather fab. Montezumas make the most amazing orange and geranium dark chocolate bar and the brilliantly named Sea Dog bar with sea salt and lime. And I love Divine‘s  70% chocolate dotted with tart raspberries. (more…)

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