Gastronomically Terrific

February 1, 2016

Tiramisu layer cake

Filed under: Cake, party, pudding, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 2:34 pm

To end my dinner party, I decided to make tiramisu for dessert. I’ve made tiramisu before a number of times, but I had never tried the one in Nigella’s Christmas cookbook. The majority of recipes from this book seem to come out well, and I knew that the likelihood of it being fairly alcoholic was relatively high.

Thankfully, nothing disappointed. The recipe was simple, there was plenty of alcohol, and it made for a great dessert.

I had bought a loaf cake to make this tiramisu with, but I was a little worried it was more coffee than chocolate flavoured, and I knew that without chocolate cake the coffee flavour was likely to be overwhelming. Luckily, earlier that week I had ended up making chocolate sponge traybake with my son, having failed to make sure I had the right ingredients to make apple crumble in the house (or rather, having had the ingredients but then somebody eating all the apples). So I used that in place of the shop-bought loaf I had.

Now, Nigella’s recipe states quite clearly that homemade sponge cake doesn’t tend to soak up the alcohol as well as shop-bought loaf cake. Not so my cake, which soaked up a lot of Kahlua… I had to use three times as much as suggested (I’m not sure what this says about my baking, but it meant extra booze, so I guess it’s a good thing). I was also using Kahlua rather than the suggested Tia Maria; simply because that’s what we had in the house. It seemed to work fine!

Making tiramisu is actually pretty easy – it’s mostly about creating layers. Other than beating together eggs, caster sugar, mascarpone, double cream and the Kahlua, all you need to do is layer up the cake.

Firstly, you soak the sponge in Kahlua. Then you add this to the bottom of a tin before adding a layer of the cream mixture. You basically keep going with soaked sponge and cream layers until you’re done, ensuring you end with a cream layer. It’s a good idea to use a spring-form tin because when you’re done the cream hasn’t set yet – it needs to go in the fridge for at least 12 hours for this to happen. Having a spring-form tin means the cream stays in one place – but once it has set, you can remove the sides and it looks pretty good around the edges. And tastes, hopefully, lovely and boozy!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Nigella Christmas, pg. 93-94

 

January 31, 2016

Baked salmon with parmesan crust

Baked salmonsOn to the main for my dinner party. This was even easier than the starter, but looked (and tasted) pretty good.

I seasoned four salmon fillets (one each) and put them on a roasting tin. I then made a white wine and mushroom sauce (by cooking the mushrooms in the wine, removing the mushrooms, boiling wine and cream together, then returning the mushrooms to the pan), and added a small amount of the sauce to the top of each salmon fillet.

Finally, I made a breadcrumb topping with breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, lemon and paprika. I sprinkled this topping over the salmon fillets, then baked them in the oven for 15 minutes.

I served the fillets with extra sauce over the top (saved and reheated from earlier), buttered and minted potatoes, and some rocket on the side. Whilst I wanted a decent meal, I didn’t want to stuff everybody before they had tried my tiramisu!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection, pg. 76

January 30, 2016

Mini cupcakes

Mini cupcakes CUFor a while now, I have been wanting to make the cocktail-inspired mini cupcakes that appear in my Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days recipe book. They look incredibly appealing, and I really wanted to give them a try. New Years Eve and a dinner party in mid January seemed like two really good excuses to try out 3 of the 4 recipes that appear in the book. For New Years Eve, I made the brandy chocolate mini cupcakes. For my January dinner party, I went with the Strawberry Daiquiri mini cupcakes and the Mojito mini cupcakes.

The brandy chocolate mini cupcakes turned out fairly well. The cupcake mixture was a chocolate, orange and brandy one, and the frosting was a chocolate, orange and brandy flavour too. To give the cupcakes a festive feel, I covered them in edible gold glitter. They looked stunning, and tasted pretty good. The only problem was with the amounts. The recipe claimed it made 24-30 cupcakes – I ended up with 48, which was far too many. And I still only needed two thirds of the frosting to ice all 48 cakes.

The strawberry daiquiri and mojito mini cupcakes didn’t go so well, however. Whilst the strawberry daiquiri cakes tasted OK, the frosting was really grainy and just didn’t look very impressive. Also, the bottom of the cakes are just strawberries soaked in white rum. So whilst they taste OK, they aren’t the easiest thing to eat. The mojito mini cupcakes were even worse. They had plenty of white rum in them, but you couldn’t taste any of it. They just tasted like boring tiny lime cakes. They also looked pretty bad, as the frosting for these was just as grainy as that for the strawberry daiquiri mini cupcakes. Whilst some of this may have been down to the way I baked the cakes, I’m entirely unconvinced that the recipes are particularly good ones. Whilst I was also looking after an ill baby the day I made these, she did spend a lot of time asleep, so I had plenty of time to myself to concentrate on making these… it’s unlikely to be an experiment I repeat any time soon!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days Recipes to make every day special, by Tarek Malouf and The Hummingbird Bakers, pg. 198

January 27, 2016

Baking update

Filed under: Cake, fish, main, party, starter, vegetarian — lawsonanna @ 1:18 pm

Since we returned from California in September 2015, I have done a fair amount of baking. I’ve made a mixture of old favourites, new interesting recipes, and things I think my son will be able to help with. What I haven’t done is blog about the majority of these bakes. I do have some draft posts saved here, with some pretty good photos of some of my November and December 2015 bakes.

So, instead of attempting to blog about all the baking I have done over the past few months (and really can’t remember that well), I’ll try and supplement the draft posts I’ve already written and add them to the blog.

I’ll then do my best to start blogging about my bakes and cooking experiments again! I have a good starting point for this, because last weekend I put together a 3-course meal for a few friends. To whet your appetite, this is what I made for it:

Stilton and leek tarts for starters

Baked salmon with parmesan crust for main

Tiramisu for afters…

… and some mini cocktail cupcakes for aperitifs. I’ll write proper posts about these four bakes once I’ve had a go at redrafting and posting about some of my more interesting bakes from 2015. So look out for a smattering of blog posts from me over the next week or so! I’m going to start with ladybird cupcakes…

 

May 10, 2015

Easter nest torte

Filed under: Cake, Easter, party — Tags: , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 10:04 am

Easter nest torte CUThe last of my three Easter bakes, this one was somewhat more complicated than the other two. I have made it before, which helped, and I really wanted to give it a go because it has a chocolate mousse layer – something you can’t really eat when pregnant, and there were three no-longer pregnant ladies in the house (me included) for our Easter weekend gathering.

There are four stages to making this cake. The first is to make a basic chocolate sponge, so it starts off fairly easily.

The second stage is to make a chocolate collar to go round the cake, which you need to do once the sponge has baked (so you can measure its exact circumference). Making the chocolate collar is simply a case of melting some dark chocolate and pouring it onto a strip of greaseproof paper that you’ve measured out to the right size. The tricky bit is getting the chocolate at the right time so you can wrap it around the cake without it breaking.

The third stage is to make the chocolate mousse by egg yolks, sugar, cornflour and milk. You then boil more milk, pour it over the egg yolk mixture, and cook them together gently. You then add the gelatine and chocolate to the mousse. Once the mousse has started to thicken, you add whipped cream and then pour the mousse mixture onto the top of the chocolate cake.

Once the cake has been in the fridge for a couple of hours, the fourth and final stage is to add shards of chocolate (I used Flake) to the top of the mousse layer, and some Mini eggs in the centre to make it look like a nest.

Not a recipe I attempt often because it is quite complex (made even more so by the fact that I use Vege-gel so my vegetarian husband can eat it), but if you manage to make it work, it looks and tastes amazing!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Simply Cadbury’s Chocolate. Joanna Farrow, pg. 120-121

All the Easter cakes

All my Easter bakes

September 27, 2014

Annabel’s no-bake train cake

Filed under: biscuits, Cake, party — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 8:49 pm
The evening before...

The evening before…

And so, the piece de resistance – a birthday cake that a 2-year old will love. As the title suggests, this cake actually required very little baking. This was a choice I made for two reasons; I recently made a work-intensive cake (see my baby in a pram party cake), and as I have already mentioned, my son isn’t a huge cake lover. What he does love, however, are chocolate fingers and biscuits. And trains. He really, really loves trains. That made this cake the perfect choice for him and me.

The idea behind this cake is that you buy a whole load of food that you wouldn’t normally let your child eat (chocolate fingers, chocolate swiss rolls, sweeties, jammy dodgers, chocolate Matchmakers etc), that put them together in order to form the shape of a train. It actually works really, really well – and took less than an hour to do, which I wasn’t expecting at all. We’d given ourselves a whole evening to put it together. The only things I did make were some chocolate buttercream (so that the sweeties and biscuits stuck on to the carriages), and I melted some chocolate to coat the engine. The latter wouldn’t have been necessary if we’d bought chocolate-coated swiss rolls, but we hadn’t.

... And the evening after

… And the evening after

The reaction from our son, and other guests alike, was totally worth it. Everybody was impressed beyond the effort that had gone in to creating the cake. Plus, you can make the train any length you like, meaning it can feed as many – or as few- guests as you want it to. Needless to say, we made way too much.

Who made it: Anna and Dan

Recipe: Annabel Karmel’s Complete Family Meal Planner, pg. 164-5

September 25, 2014

Gingerbread Ted

Filed under: biscuits, party — Tags: , , , — lawsonanna @ 8:40 pm

23 Gingerbread manAnd so, on to the sweet dishes for my son’s 2nd birthday party. First up was some gingerbread men. Now, I have made gingerbread men before – but I don’t do it that often, so had to follow a recipe. Whilst making gingerbread men isn’t too complicated, the dough isn’t the simplest to make, and of course you then have to (well, you can) decorate the men. The dough requires additional spices to make it taste of ginger – in this case I used ground ginger, ground cinnamon and ground cloves – which seemed to work!

The recipe books suggested that you use white fondant icing to cover the gingerbread men before decorating them with Smarties for buttons and writing icing for their mouth and eyes. I thought this might be overkill (especially considering all the other sweet things that would be on offer), so chose to just add Smarties and the writing icing. It seemed to work, and I was actually quite proud of these men. I made a lot, so there were a fair few left over – but they seemed to disappear pretty quickly in the following week when taking them to friend’s houses!

 Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hats and Bells Children’s Party Cookbook, Hatty Stead and Annabel Waley-Cohen, pg. 28-9

September 24, 2014

Cheesy farmyard friends

Filed under: biscuits, canape, party — Tags: , — lawsonanna @ 8:33 pm

Another new savoury dish, these are basically cheesy biscuits – and they’re really, really easy to make. They’re just a dough made from Cheddar cheese, self-raising flour and butter. The recipe also calls for Parmesan, but I didn’t have any, so I just used a little extra Cheddar. Basically you make a dough, roll it out and cut out animal shapes (or whatever shapes you like), then bake them for 10 (ish) minutes.

The end result does, of course, depend upon how good your cutters are. Mine came out OK, but some were better than others. The cats, for example, looked great. The pigs were a little harder to identify. But if you what you’re after is a cheesy biscuit, then you can’t really go wrong with these. There weren’t any left at the end of the party (hence the lack of a photo), and there was a lot more food than was needed!

Who made it: Anna
Recipe: Hats and Bells Children’s Party Cookbook, pg. 46-7

September 23, 2014

Rooster’s roulade

Filed under: lunch, meat, party, vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 8:17 pm
Happy 2nd birthday! Some of the party food - Rooster's Roulade are in the foreground

Happy 2nd birthday! Some of the party food – Rooster’s Roulade are in the foreground

OK, so now on to the big event – my son’s 2nd birthday. I made a lot of things for his birthday party (salmon footballs, cheese and peanut bites, apple cake etc), but many of these I have made before, so they’re not really new or exciting recipes to me. They were just things I knew would keep my guests – whether 2 or 32 – happy. I’m not going to write about those things here; instead, I’m going to focus on the items I made that were new to me. Many of these came from the Children’s Party Cook Book – a fairly recent acquisition that I ended up getting after buying it for a friend as a birthday present and deciding I wanted my own copy!

The first new thing I made were these ‘Rooster’s Roulade’ baguette-type bites. Basically a variation on your standard sandwich, they were pretty tasty and can be made in advance (always a bonus when preparing lots of things for a party). The concept is pretty simple – you get a baguette, cut off the ends, then hollow out the middle leaving a 1.5cm crust. You then fill the baguette with, well, whatever you like really. I did two versions -a veggie one and a meaty one. The veggie version contained cream cheese, rocket, cucumber and spring onions. The meaty one contained the same things but had bacon bits added.

Cream cheese is a great choice for this because it doesn’t go off – you can make these guys 2 or 3 days in advance, store them in the fridge and they still taste fine. Obviously they’re a bit nicer fresh (this is baguette after all), but they don’t suffer too badly for having been made in advance.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hats and Bells Children’s Party Cookbook, Hatty Stead and Annabel Waley-Cohen, pg. 44-5

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