Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Recipe: Christmas Cake

Ingredients for 1 x 10.5 inch shallow cake tin.

Because this uses quite a lot of fruit and I usually have bits and pieces in the cupboard, I like to measure out all my ingredients ahead of making the cake so that I can buy additional ingredients if required, it means you can break up the baking process as it takes a while to cut up all the dates and apricots and it is also a good idea to pick through the other dried fruit to remove any stalks.

Ingredients - 

275g butter
300g sugar
6 eggs
350g flour
pinch of salt
1/2tbsp mixed spice
2 tbsps honey
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsps brandy, or you can use whisky or red wine (for non alcoholic add orange juice)
250g sultanas
250g raisins
175g dates, stoned and roughly chopped
100g dried apricots, roughly chopped,
100g mixed peel
50g ground almonds
little milk if needed

Method -

Line your tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper, this prevents the sides from cooking too much during the long cooking period.

Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and mixed spice together in a bowl and set to one side.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl or food processor.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat into the butter mixture.

Slowly add the flour mix, mixing well.

Then add the fruit, honey, and brandy and fold in well. I prefer to do this by hand so that you don't cut up the fruit to much.

If the mixture seems to dry add a little milk.

Pour into you tin and tie an additional double layer of greaseproof around the outside of the tin. This against protects the outside of your cake.

Bake in a preheated oven at 150c for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. After 2 hours if the top of the cake is nice and brown, cut a circle of greaseproof and cover the top of the cake to prevent it from burning. After 2 hours the cake should be firm enough that opening the oven door will not make the cake sink in the middle.

You may also want to check how the cake is doing by inserting a skewer or kebab stick into the cake. Once cooked the skewer should come out of the cake clean, with no mix sticking to it.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Recipe: Banana and Poppy Seed Frosted Cake

Ingredients - 

175g flour
2 tsps baking powder
175g brown sugar
175g butter
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tbsps poppy seeds
3 eggs, beaten

200g soft cheese
2 tbsps icing sugar
Grated rind of one orange
Poppy seeds to decorate

Method -

Preheat oven to 180c.

Grease and line a 22cm sponge cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Place the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, butter, bananas, poppy seeds and eggs in a large bowl.

Beat with a wooden spoon to mix well.

Pour into the prepared tin.

Bake for around 1 hour until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool in the tin for 5 mins and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the topping, mix together the cheese and icing sugar until smooth. 

Taste the mixture and add more icing sugar if needed.

Spread on top of the cake.

Decorate with the shredded orange zest and poppy seeds.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Recipe: Christmas Mince Pies

I found this recipe on the Mail Online website, I thought it was a really good idea to have a crumble topping to the mince pies instead of the pastry, they look really pretty and are less filling than normal, so you can eat more, (there is method in my madness). Also the house smelt wonderful of orange and cinnamon as they were cooking, with BBC Radio 2 playing in the background I almost thought I was in the UK, until I looked outside, not a drop of snow in sight.

Ingredients - makes 12

375g short crust pastry
250g mincemeat
50g plain flour
4 tbsps brown sugar
40g butter
grated zest of 1/2 orange
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method -

Roll out your pastry and cut out 12 rounds and put into your baking tin.

Spoon a couple of teaspoons of mincemeat into each pastry round.

In a bowl add the flour, brown sugar, butter, orange zest and cinnamon.

Rub the contents together to create a chunky crumble mixture.

Sprinkle each mince pie with some of the crumble mix.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200c for 12 to 15 mins.

Allow to cool slightly, then sprinkle with icing sugar and then serves warm or cold.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Spiced Cookies

Ingredients - makes aroud 40 cookies depending on size of cutter used.

225g plain flour
2 tsps baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tbsp allspice
150g butter
100g white sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips
beaten egg

Method -

Place flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar, allspice and chocolate chips.

Mix in the beaten egg and then use your hands to bring the mixture together.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the mixture is smooth.

Put in a bag and chill in the fridge for around 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180c and line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Roll out the dough as thinly as you can before it starts to fall apart.

Cut out your cookies and place on the baking trays, leaving a bit of a gap between the cookies to allow for expansion during cooking.

Place the trays in the oven for around 15 minutes until the cookies just start to turn a golden brown around the edges.

Carefully transfer to wire cooling racks and allow to cool completely.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Recipe: Lemon Curd

Ingredients - for 2 x 395g jars 

3 medium lemons
227g sugar
113g butter
3 eggs + 1 egg yoke only

Method - 

Grate the rind of all the lemons and juice them all.

Put your empty clean jars, without their lids, onto a baking tray and put in a very low oven at 100c to warm the jars ready for jarring up the lemon curd.

Melt the butter gently in a medium saucepan and then add the lemon rind, juice and sugar. Stir well keeping the heat low until the sugar starts to dissolve.

Beat the eggs together and add to the saucepan.

Continuing over a gentle heat, so as not to allow the egg white to start to cook and separate, cook the ingredients, stirring all the time. Once the mixture starts to thicken and the colour changes to a lighter shade remove from the heat. The lemon curd will appear to be too runny but it thickens a lot once cold.

Carefully remove the jars from the oven and fill each one with the lemon curd mix and seal with the lids immediately. Leave to cool before storing.

Once open the lemon curd is best stored in the fridge.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Eating Out - Arnavut Ciğeri - Fried Calves Liver

At one of our local restaurants 'Agora 2' one of my favourite dishes is Arnavut Ciğeri - fried calves liver and onions. 

The calves liver is tossed in a mixture of flour, salt, pepper and paprika before being sauteed in butter and olive oil.  It is traditionally served with a garnish of thinly sliced red onions mixed with chopped parsley and sprinkled with sumac, a tangy dark-red spice common in the East.  And of course chips, the Turkish do so love their chips.

Tip Of The Day - Bacon Flavoured Crumbles

Living in Turkey, I have found these a very handy flavouring to have in the store cupboard instead of actual bacon.  I have to get friends to bring them out for me but they have a very long shelf life even once opened.

I find adding them to onion when I am frying it as a base for a dish adds flavour or just sprinkling them into a near completed dish works well.  Also because they have a salty taste to them it also mean you don't have to add as much salt to your dish.