Gastronomically Terrific

April 14, 2010

Why?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — thinkingdan @ 7:18 pm

This is a quick post to explain the purpose of this blog, given that it doesn’t have recipes on and is of interest to nobody outside of the immediate household. Basically the motivation was that we make a lot of recipes from books, many of which we want to make again, or try again but differently, or in fact are to be avoided. This is simply a place to put our notes.

So the blog is entirely selfish – I’m using you, the occasional reader, as a motivation to take a picture and put together some coherent thoughts whilst I remember. Despite this I hope that readers might be motivated to try things out – my personal approach is to take an idea and make it up from there, which is why I’ve left out the details of the recipes. But if anyone would get more out of it if I changed things, perhaps by including actual recipes, then let me know!

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April 10, 2010

Easter Nests

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 10:40 am

The last of our Easter Treats this year, these “fairy cakes” are so good they taste otherworldly.

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and chocolate makes a perfect combination.

I can’t quite figure out what it is about these fairy cakes that makde them so morish.  Perhaps Anna went overboard with the cocoa.  Perhaps the combination of sweet chocolate on top complements the slightly bitter cocoa in the cake.  Perhaps these were cooked to exact perfection.  Whatever the reason, there was something special about these guys that made it difficult not to stuff all 6 in my mouth in one go.

These are just ordinary chocolate fairy cakes, covered in chocolate buttercream, sprinked with chocolate flake and of course decorated with chocolate eggs.  OK, that is four types of yummy chocolate right there – perhaps that is the reason.  Anyway, I’m tempted to insist that these are a very summery type of cake this year…

Who made it: All Anna’s handiwork.

Recipe: Fairy Cakes, by Joanna Farrow, page 34.

April 5, 2010

Bittersweet Easter Basket

Filed under: Sweets — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 10:44 am

There is nothing bitter about this basket of goodness.  Take a look:

Chocolate cookies, Lindt Bunny, grapes, mini-eggs and Lindt eggs. Mmmm.

Again my photography skills have let the baking down – the chocolate cookies here are really divine; melty and oh so chocolatey. The weird thing about them is they have marmalade in.  As with all biscuits, they are actually done before they look done – the ones on the middle were soft and the edge ones were hard.  Which way you like it might be a matter of preference, but for me the gooey meltiness of the “just-done” biscuit is divine.

I’d really want to make these again and try to get the whole batch gooey because the extreme chocolatyness was overwhelmingly tasty.

Ingredients: 110g margarine, 50g soft brown sugar, 110g plain chocolate (melted into the mixture), 110g milk chocolate (chunks), 2 tablespoons marmalade, 175g self-raising flour.

Who made it: Anna did everything.

Recipe: Baking, Making and Sharing, by Susan Over, page 14.

Spiced Easter Biscuits

Filed under: Sweets — Tags: , — thinkingdan @ 10:26 am

Spiced and non-spiced, our recipe book claims that these originated in the West Country as an Easter tradition.  We’ve always been keen on tradition when it involves tasty food.

Spiced Easter Biscuits

There are two types of biscuits here – some flavoured with cinnamon with caster sugar, and others with golden caster sugar.  There is a definite difference, with the golden caster sugar giving a more subtle, buttery taste and of course the cinnamon ones tasting of cinnamon.  The cinnamon batch were just slightly overcooked so the comparison isn’t really fair, but we think the golden ones were the best.  Both are quite heavy in consistency, quite shortbread-like, and are very more-ish.

This is a tricky recipe for biscuits, involving separating egg yolk from white. Only the yolk goes into the main mixture, with the whites being painted on the top halfway through cooking to give a lovely crisp shiny appearance.  Additionally, there is mixed spice and candied peel in both types of biscuit, giving a slightly spicy flavour.  Other than that its the usual mix of butter, flour and currents, with just a dash of milk to soften the consistency.

I’d recommend trying these biscuits – they are not like anything you can buy from the supermarket, and apparently keep for a while in an airtight container (we’ll see – probably not unless it has a lock!).

Who made it: Anna did everything.

Recipe: Golden: “Cakes, bakes, puddings and prayers” by Susan Over, page 56.  Cinnamon: “Mary Berry’s Ultimate Cake Book”, page 149.

April 3, 2010

Easter Nest Torte

Filed under: Cake — Tags: , , , — thinkingdan @ 9:57 pm

There are five different uses of chocolate in this Torte, and Anna presented it so well that my feeble photography skills can’t cope.

Perfectly presented easter torte. I'd love to see the bird that made this nest!

There are only four types of chocolate visible here: mini eggs, flake, the chocolate border and the chocolate mousse.  The final one is a fairly thin layer of chocolate sponge, visible in the piece below.

Torte, open for the eating. The imperfections only appeared on the cutting.

This cake confuses me.  On the one hand, it looks amazing and everything in it tastes great individually.  For me the whole is a little less than the sum of its parts, which I think is because the mousse changes the texture of the chocolate on top and doesn’t taste very strong itself.  Now I should be clear here – it tastes really rather good.  Just not, in my opinion, as good as an ordinary chocolate sponge cake with chocolate icing and chocolate on top would have done.  Perhaps the vege-gel in the mousse is to blame, or perhaps the mousse should be made with a higher proportion of chocolate (though actually, that would be difficult…)

I can’t even begin to describe the recipe as Anna did all this when I was not here – you should have seen the silly grin on my face when I found this in the fridge!  It is moderately complicated but there are clever tricks to getting a professional finish without having to be artistic. Indeed, I would like to point out the great job Anna did with the chocolate collar, which holds the mousse in.  It was some of the most professional chocolateering to come out of our kitchen, rivalling the picture in the book for smoothness and crispness (although my photos do not rival the books… sorry!)

Who made it: All Anna’s handiwork!

Recipe:”Simply Cadbury’s Chocolate”, by Joanna Farrow, page 120.

Cider casserole

Filed under: main — Tags: , , , , — thinkingdan @ 9:29 pm

This is one of the most successful “subtle” casseroles we’ve made, having a distinctive and pleasant taste without being overbearing.

As usual with casserole, it tastes better than it looks.

The flavours in this dish all come from the cidery, creamy vegetable stock, which is a delicate taste that could easily be ruined by adding a strong-tasting vegetable or spice.  We start by frying onion, then adding leek and celery until they all soften.  Then add carrot, courgette and new potatoes and continue to fry gently until everything softens (10-15 minutes).

Then we add a finely chopped cooking apple, some cider, cream and vegetable stock, and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, when the vegetables should be tender and have absorbed many of the sauces flavours.  Finally add parsley and season.

I wouldn’t really know how this could be modified – any spices or even herbs might be too strong – and you have to like the vegetable flavour naturally as it is enhanced rather than masked.  All winter veg could potentially work, although most of my favourites are already here.

A very tasty dish that we will definitely try again.

Who made it: Dan and Anna together.

Recipe: “the complete vegetarian cookbook” by Sarah Brown, page 243.

Leek and Fennel Frittata

Filed under: starter — Tags: , , , — thinkingdan @ 9:14 pm

This is basically baked omelette, which tastes very similar to the real thing and is much easier, at the price of slightly longer cooking time.

Omelette, but baked.

So for this we fry some onion, leeks and garlic, then add some fennel.  Add some dill when the vegetables have browned off then remove from the heat.  Then eggs and goats cheese are mixed in and the whole lot is baked in the oven for 30 minutes.

The taste is very pleasant, not complex but good and hearty, and the goat’s cheese gives it a pleasant tang.  Dill works quite well by giving an earthy gentle taste, although the smell will not please everyone! I’d recommend it and will be trying it again.

However, the key thing about the recipe is that you can basically do anything that works as an omelette hear, with the advantage that it cooks reliably in the oven instead of falling apart in a frying pan.  So when cooking for a lot of people this approach would be much better than the traditional one.

Who made it: Dan and Anna together.

Recipe: “the complete vegetarian cookbook” by Sarah Brown, page 180.

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