Tuesday 17 January 2012

The weekend breakfast...

Like many people, we usually have a 'special' breakfast at the weekend...mainly on a Sunday. Paul takes over Alice- walking duties on weekend mornings and I usually stay behind to do some tidying, have a long bath & cook the breakfast! This Sunday, I had some celeriac & potato mash left over from dinner on Friday. It was mixed with chopped spring onion and just too good to waste...so I had the brainwave of making it into crispy cakes to go with the fried eggs & garlicky chili tomatoes & mushrooms that Paul loves. I divided the mash into 5 little patties (I didn't add anything to the mixture. except some chopped cooked brussels sprouts that were also leftover - so maybe they should be called Bubble & Squeak Breakfast Cakes?!)

then I coated them lightly on both sides with seasoned flour, to give them a crunchy coating...

 I heated a mixture of sunflower & olive oil in a large frying pan until sizzling hot, and dropped the patties in gently...

turning them over gently with a fish slice to cook the other side after about 5 minutes...

oooh, they smelt delicious! They kept very well in a low oven while I prepared the rest of the breakfast. Paul and Alice arrived home, chilly & hungry from their long walk... and while she tucked into a bowl of meat & biscuits, Paul ate the breakfast you see at the beginning of the post! I can't say who enjoyed their meal the most...but Paul did say that I should always make too much mash the night before, so he can have crispy celeriac & potato cakes again soon!

I made a little video so that you can hear my creations sizzling deliciously in their pan! I'm sorry that it's not in smell-o-vision...but in the background is the soundtrack to 'Becoming Jane'...which I hope will make up for it!

Have a great week xoxo

Thursday 12 January 2012

Perfect for January..Easy Sticky Toffee Pudding

It's that month again....the long, dark one that seems to go on forever! Actually, I quite enjoy it - but there's no doubt that it can be difficult to get through. Some things make it easier...the gloomy weather is the perfect excuse (if you need one) to spend more time in the kitchen. Nothing cheers me up like an afternoon of baking, with Radio 4 and Alice as company!
This recipe is absolutely perfect for brightening a January evening - and it's really, really easy. I have a lot to thank Nigella Lawson for...even though her recent programmes have felt a bit false & over-staged, I just know (food-wise at least) we are kindred spirits! I have a re-run of Nigella Kitchen on as I write, and she's waxing lyrical about lemons...one of my absolute favourite ingredients.
I have been baking this Easy Sticky Toffee Pudding ever since I found the recipe in 'Nigella Bites' a few years ago. It's a great favourite at one of the pub-restaurants that I supply...and I thought that you might like to try it too!
I've converted it to cups as well (impressed?) and even remembered to take photos throughout the baking process today. Just bear in mind that I was making 4 x the recipe...so if you make it, there won't be as much of everything!

Sticky Toffee Pudding a la Lawson

Preheat oven to 190c/375f
I use square foil 23cm/9" pans for my puddings...but any baking dish (glass or pottery is fine) that holds roughly 1 1/2 litres will do...I line mine with baking parchment but you can just butter yours if you prefer!


175g/1& 1/4 cups SELF RAISING FLOUR
100g/1/2 cup (packed) DARK BROWN or MUSCOVADO SUGAR
50g/1/2 stick UNSALTED BUTTER
125ml/ 1/2 cup WHOLE MILK

For the sauce
200g/2 cups (lightly packed) DARK BROWN MUSCOVADO SUGAR
25g/ 1/4 cup UNSALTED BUTTER

Ok....here we go!

Place the flour & sugar into a large bowl & mix to combine - I use my fingers to squash any lumps in the sugar, but a few don't matter & are actually a nice surprise as you eat!

Melt the butter....I would normally use a microwave for this, but mine has gone kaput!

Remove from the heat & pour the milk over the butter, then whisk in the egg and vanilla extract...

Pour the liquid onto the dry ingredients and stir well...

Mix in the dates and scrape into the prepared dish, levelling the top...

At this stage, you need to put the kettle on - both for the recipe AND for the cup of tea you can enjoy while it's baking!
Now top the mixture with the remaining sugar and spread evenly...yes, that IS the sauce sugar! This is one of those amazing puddings that turns itself upside down while it cooks...trust me (as I trusted Nigella!) Then dot the sugar all over with pieces of the remaining butter...

By now the kettle should have boiled! Pour boiling water all over the top of the pudding... (if you are worried about getting it to the oven, you can put the dish in the oven first and then add the water!)

Make sure the sugar is completely wet...about 500ml/2 cups water, but don't worry too much about measuring it accurately...

If you haven't already, put it in the oven and bake for around 40 minutes. I always rotate mine halfway through, to ensure that it cooks evenly. After 20 minutes it will look something like this....

After 40 minutes or so, remove from the oven. The top should be well browned and slightly crusty. If you push with your finger it should feel firm...

But DO remember that it has lots of delicious butterscotch-y sauce beneath...so it will be shifting around in it's dish! You will probably see the shiny toffee bubbling up at the edges while it's still hot.

So that's all there is to it! Either serve it straight from the oven in it's cooking dish, or cool and reheat as needed (in the microwave is fine, but don't overheat) Absolutely delicious with cream, ice cream or custard of course!
Highly recommended to chase away the winter blues...or just to make for someone you love very much (and, yes, that CAN be yourself!!)

Happy happy New Year...I look forward to cooking my way through 2012 with you! xoxo