Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

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November Baking

In cooking on December 22, 2013

My plan to bake 52 things in 2013, a spur of the minute almost a new year’s resolution, has made it to 40 items by October. Having completely failed to keep up the monthly reports past May I’m actually quite pleased to find it’s not miles and miles behind. But it is behind.

  1. Pumpkin & Walnut CakePumpkin & Walnut Cake
    I found Ocado stocked American canned pumpkin puree and decided to do something with it. This was a nice cake but not really worth the imported ingredients.
  2. Coconut Cherry BiscuitsCoconut Cherry Biscuits
    You can’t go wrong with coconut and glacé cherries can you? I think you would have to try hard to do so. These were nice.
  3. Mushroom PastiesMushroom Pasties
    Getting the hang of making pasties has been one of the best things about this ‘try and bake more’ experiment. I still can’t whack them out with the ease of a tray of mince pies, but I will keep practising.
  4. Asparagus QuicheAsparagus Quiche
    Shop bought quiche has had its day. I have got pretty speedy about this one.
  5. All Gone IIApple Pie
    I swear I took a photo before eating it. But I must have gone wrong somewhere because there was no photo to be found. Made in individual pots with a pastry top and accompanied by home made vanilla ice cream. Very good.

So that puts me at 45/52 at the end of November and I am relieved to see the finish line in sight. Not because I want to stop baking – the whole idea was to try and turn it from a seasonal Christmassy activity into more of a year round one – but because I was worried that by forgetting to count up I had left myself with too far to go. I’m pretty certain I can manage 7 baking endeavours in December. We will see.

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October Baking

In cooking on December 21, 2013

At the end of September, despite forgetting to count up the baking project as I went along I had managed to get to 38 bakes out of a planned 52.

  1. Apple CakeApple Cake
    This was the point where the project nearly fell apart with me starting to forget to take photos of things. If I bake and don’t take a photograph, did the bake exist? This is a photo of almost the last bite of a cake made with some windfall cooking apples.
  2. Science Biscuits IIScience Biscuits
    I couldn’t resist these periodic table style biscuit cutters when I saw them, the biscuits I made with them were very ordinary though. Not even everyday ordinary, just not right nice.

Oh dear, only 40/52 at the end of October! Can I catch up from here…

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September Baking

In cooking on December 20, 2013

My project to bake 52 things in 2013 got stalled in August when jam and ice cream took over – I don’t think either of them quite count as baking somehow. Besides I don’t have photos. I got back with the baking in September.

  1. Coconut MacaroonsCoconut Macaroons
    I used to love these as a kid, did we have them at school lunches on rare days or am I misremembering? They are still good. There is something magic about baking that has to be stuck to rice paper.
  2. Bakewell Tart IIBakewell Tart
    This began as something else in a pastry case, with a bit of jam and a topping. By the time I’d added lots of ground almonds and changed the recipe I had pretty much reinvented the bakewell tart (like the proper version from Bakewell, not the iced shop version).
  3. New York Cheesecake IINew York Cheesecake With cinnamon blueberries on the top. I made this when my brother was visiting so I wouldn’t have to eat the whole thing myself, but there wouldn’t be so many people that I wouldn’t get to eat nearly the whole thing myself. Takes careful planning, this baking lark.
  4. Lemon MacaroonsLemon Macaroons
    I was using up the egg whites from my first lot of egg custard based ice cream here. Practically forced to make macaroons.
  5. Pistachio MacaroonsPistachio Macaroons
    Also using up egg whites from ice cream making. Most of them got eaten before I got the photo taken. Not all by me.

That’s 38/52, only just slightly behind schedule. The project is looking good!

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August Not-Baking

In cooking on December 19, 2013

At the end of July I had made 33 baked items out of a plan to make 52 during 2013. This is where the plan started to fall apart. We had a nice summer and I was busy trying to make jam.

Peach & Vanilla Conserve

The Peach & Vanilla Jam was the first lot. I threw in a sachet of pectin out of the back of cupboard but it didn’t quite set right. Then I made some Strawberry & Vanilla Jam and I tried to do without pectin, but couldn’t manage it, Darren ended up getting me a bottle of liquid pectin that I’d never seen before from the local supermarket and I got it to set eventually. This was really yummilicious jam.

Then I started reading up on how to get jam to set without using added pectin and decided it was a skill I needed to learn. I began with some Redcurrant & Raspberry Jelly, ok, but not great. I tried some Cherry Jam which I thought had reached a setting point but after I had jarred it up it was still liquid. Several days later I reboiled it and ended up with Cherry Toffee. Very nice, but not quite what I was after.

I forget how many other variations I tried, there were several more, and none were really a success. Next year I will be using pectin again!

August was also the time when the stars managed to align so that I finally managed to get rid of the crappy fridge-freezer than had been haunting me for six years and get a shiny new silver appliance into my kitchen. This gave me spare freezer space – actual COLD freezer space for the first time in a long time. I celebrated by splashing out on the ice cream maker attachement for my Kenwood Chef, and have been making ice creams and sorbets regularly since. Coconut, pistachio, lemon sorbet, lemon ice cream, blackberry sorbet, choc mint chip (yes, dark choc ice cream with peppermint chips), and plain old vanilla which isn’t at all plain. That’s just the ones I can remember off the top of my head. I’ve made lots of different types of ice cream now and am still experimenting – but the egg custard vanilla one remains the one to beat.

So, baking still on 33/52 at the end of August. But plenty of other treats were coming out of the kitchen at the time!

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July Baking

In cooking on December 18, 2013

This is one of a series of belated updates figuring out whether I reached my self imposed target of baking 52 things in 2013. By the end of June I was up to 30, but that was where I started to forget to keep the records up to date…

  1. More Victoria SpongesMore Victoria Sponges
    My second set of mini Victoria Sponges were made to take to a family party.
  2. Mini Coffee & Walnut CakesMini Coffee & Walnut Cakes
    Another set of mini sandwich cakes, taken to the same family party.
  3. Strawberry & Raspberry PuddingStrawberry and Raspberry Pudding This is basically just a cake mix popped on top of some fresh berries in an individual pot and eaten warm with ice cream, on the terrace on a warm summer evening. Very yummy indeed.

That’s 33/52, which is still ahead of target for 7/12 of the way through a project.

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June Baking

In cooking on December 17, 2013

Right, I have got very, very, very behind with this yearly project! I didn’t forget my idea to bake 52 things in 2013, but I did forget all about counting and cataloging them. It’s now December and I have made the first batch of mince pies for this Christmas which reminded me to go back and tot up the score. I was on 27/52 by the end of May.

  1. Banana (& Chocolate) BreadBanana (& Chocolate Bread)
    A way to use up the overripe bananas, with some chocolate that obviously needed using up too, honest, thrown in.
  2. Chocolate EclairsChocolate Eclairs
    I have made choux pastry once before, at least a decade ago, so thought it was about time for another go. They were fine. I just came to the conclusion that ‘cream cakes’, as much loved a treat as they are, really aren’t my favourite kind of thing.
  3. Mini Victoria Sponges IMini Victoria Sponges I got the baking tray for these from Lakeland, and used their sponge recipe too. I filled them with homemade peach & vanilla jam and they were super yummy. Much more my thing than eclairs.

That’s 30/52, well on target. But at about this time I started experimenting with jam making which took some of my baking energy away. The jam making deserves a post of its own at some point.

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May Baking

In cooking on June 20, 2013

Oops, I almost forgot to post an update for May’s baking. The aim is to reach 52 during 2013.

  1. Marmalade SconeMarmalade Scones
    These were based on the idea from here, though I put a lot more marmalade in as I made tons earlier in the year that is too thick to spread and needs using up in something.
  2. Lemon BarsLemon Bars
    I am never any good at traybakes – I always seem to end up with stuff that won’t cut up nicely. I followed the Hummingbird bakery cookbook to the letter here and happily these worked out.
  3. Spinach, Feta & Olive QuicheSpinach, Feta & Olive Quiche
    A bigger than usual quiche as we had family staying. Based on our favourite of the Co-op’s ready made quiches.
  4. Everyday Fruit CakeEveryday Fruit Cake
    I didn’t think this one was as nice as the Tea Loaf I made earlier in the year. That didn’t stop me eating it though obviously!
  5. Tropical Fruit Cake
    Tropical Fruit Cake
    From the current free mag they are giving out in the Co-op. Oh, also online. Mine is lemon instead of lime as my fruit bowl was heavy on lemons and light on limes. Really far too big for a family of three! Especially as with the fresh fruit it really needed eating up quickly.

That makes 27/52. I also made a few batches of biscuits but they were not exciting or original enough to get their photos taken.

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Darbyshire’s Holmfirth Cream

In cooking on May 22, 2013

Darbyshire's Holmfirth Cream III

This isn’t baking but the recipe is so good I need to shout about it!

In fact it’s barely a recipe: pour some stuff into a bottle and swish it about. (I used a liquidizer but I think it’s a bit excessive really.)

The problem with online supermarket shopping is you actually notice how much you are spending when you are stacking your trolley up with goodies, whereas in a bricks and mortar supermarket you don’t really find out until you’ve already committed to buy it. I kept putting a new litre bottle of £20 Baileys Irish Cream in my virtual trolley, and then taking it out to save for a week when the rest of the shopping was cheaper (this never happens). Baileys always seems expensive for something that is only 17% alcohol.

Then as part of an ongoing thing I have going on with trying to buy ingredients rather than ready-made items as much as possible, I thought “Can I make it myself?” and I found a recipe at the BBC and thought it was worth checking out. Of course you still need to buy the Irish Whiskey to go in it (my “make it yourself” kick hasn’t got as far as distilling whisky… hmmm). But you only add half a bottle of Jameson’s. So only £11.50 of whiskey, plus £1 of single cream and £1.44 for a tin of condensed milk. That makes a bargain £14 for a litre of homemade Irish Cream. I’m not going to try and cost the extra bits of flavouring you add as well!

So a 30% discount over the ready made price isn’t bad. But the bonus is that it tastes really, really, really good. It was in the back of my mind that it might taste like a cheap rip off version despite the good whiskey, but it actually gives you that fabulous homemade “Whoa! Why was I buying this rather than making it?!” kick that all the best home bakes, cakes and jams do. I will see how it keeps (the recipe says two months in the fridge) but I can’t see myself buying the Baileys again.

I’m also thinking of how nice it would be to experiment with different flavours. I didn’t have any Camp coffee to use this time so I’d like to try that. More chocolatey would be good obviously. Could you add vanilla pods to infuse? I’ve had ready-made rum cream liqueur before which was nice too. Lots of ideas.

A quick count up of the calories in it actually managed to give me a lower number than Baileys which surprised me, perhaps I need to double check on that. The homemade version works out to be slightly lower alcohol content and a bit thinner than Baileys though which may account for the difference.

Overall I am really very impressed and wish I’d thought of the idea of making my own years ago.

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April Baking

In cooking on May 8, 2013

This is the round up of my baking endeavours for April. The aim is to reach 52 during 2013.

  1. Quorn Bacon & Leek QuicheQuorn Bacon & Leek Quiche
    Another quiche. Not terribly exciting but I am getting quite good at making these without the aid of a recipe! Nearly forgot to take a photo.
  2. Ginger NutsGinger Nuts
    These were slightly overdone but good. I overdid the syrup in these and had to add more flour, but preferred them to the ones I have made since so I will do that again.
  3. Malt LoafMalt Loaf
    My first attempt at making a malt loaf. Soreen must put some kind of colouring in theirs as mine looks very anaemic next to the shop bought version. It was slightly underdone but it kind of didn’t matter as it had the right malt loaf chewiness. I will be making more of this.
  4. Mushroom & Asparagus QuicheMushroom & Asparagus Quiche
    Just when I thought I was getting the hang of quiches I try to make a double recipe and my pastry wasn’t nearly as good as usual.
  5. Mini Asparagus Quiche
    Mini Asparagus Quiche
    Made at the same time as the mushroom & asparagus one for Miranda who doesn’t like mushrooms, with two extras to make some lunches out of.
  6. Pear & Meringue Trifle
    Pear & Meringue Trifle
    I realised that the rest of the month’s baking was pretty workaday and wanted to jazz it up with something a bit posher. But when my sponge came out of the oven it was too flat and paving slab like for the posh confectionary fingers it was supposed to turn into. So I invented this with some ingredients out of the cupboard instead.

That makes 22/52. Not the most exciting of baking months – I will try and get something more fancy into May…

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March Baking

In cooking on April 2, 2013

This is the round up of my baking endeavours for March. The aim is to reach 52 during 2013.

  1. Spiral Sandwich BiscuitsSpiral Sandwich Biscuits
    These were more or less made up as I went along to use up the left over butter cream from Miranda’s birthday cake. They could have done with being thinner so they could be eaten without having to pull the two halves apart.
  2. Tea LoafTea Loaf
    We are all fans of our rich fruit Christmas cake here. I’m looking for a more everyday fruit cake recipe to make regularly. This almost fat free cake has the fruit soaked in tea rather than brandy and it was very nice, though I did use regular self raising flour rather than the wholemeal suggested in the recipe.
  3. Veggie Sausage PastyVeggie Sausage Pasty
    I think these were my best pasties yet. The pastry was lovely and they are hugely filling. I was planning to make some kind of pie thing with similar ingredients, but frankly pasties are better than pies.
  4. Marvellous MacaroonsMacaroons
    Definitely the star bake of the month! I made vanilla, lemon, pistachio and chocolate. The chocolate were harder to put together than the others, replacing some of the ground almonds with cocoa seemed to make them stick to the baking trays more. I think I’ll stick to lemon and pistachio in future. (She says like she’s going to make them again…) I have no idea how they get the colours so saturated in the recipe, and I don’t think much of the buttercream recipe they give either (too much butter, not enough sugar, I added more sugar and ended up with gallons of buttercream).
  5. Asparagus Quiche
    Asparagus Quiche
    I have a new flan tin for quiches. And very happy it, and the quiche, make me too.

That makes 16/52. I also had one disaster where my breakfast pastry dough went horribly wrong in the breadmaker overnight as I’d read the recipe wrong and added far too much butter to it. I will try that again sometime! I have to go and eat macaroons now…. hard life.