Gastronomically Terrific

July 25, 2015

Hershey’s Chocolate Cakes

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonanna @ 4:55 am
40 Joe and Anna fingers pouring cake mixture

Adding the cake mix to the bowl

We’re currently spending three months in California, and I have two small children 7 days a week (no nursery for the toddler whilst we’re here). So I’ve been trying to find things to do with the toddler. Now, I would never normally buy ready-made cake mix (even after making it, as far as I can figure out it’s basically just sugar, flour and cocoa powder mixed together for you), but I thought it would be a good way to involve the toddler in baking without it taking too long.

So I bought this Hershey’s chocolate cake mix. You pour the dry ingredients into a bowl, then add oil, eggs and water before mixing it all together. You then add half the mixture to cupcake cases, pour in some melted chocolate (also provided), and cover it over with the cake mixture. My toddler loved helping add the ingredients to the bowl and mixing them together, but got bored when I was filling the cake cases. The batter is really wet, and as we’re house-sitting, I didn’t want my toddler making a really big mess. Plus, the chocolate is actually really difficult to squeeze out – I struggled, let alone getting a 2-year-old to help.

The finished product

The finished product

The end result was a pretty good one – the cat certainly enjoyed it (we have 3 less cupcakes than intended…). But it wasn’t quite the baking experience I had hoped; I was really hoping to find the type of cake mixes you get in the UK, where you mix batter and then decorate the top of the cakes with edible paper stickers – meaning your toddler can help with the majority of it. It was worth doing, but I think my toddler would have been just as happy if I’d asked him to also add the flour and sugar to the cake mix!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hershey’s packet recipe

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July 5, 2015

Raspberry ripple cheesecake

RaspberryRippleCheesecake2Wanting to make something for our dating anniversary at the end of June, I went for this no-bake cheesecake which didn’t have too many ingredients, so we wouldn’t end up wasting any before we went away for three months. The recipe is from an Annabel Karmel recipe book, and as such I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult.

Unfortunately, it’s a pretty ‘stagey’ recipe. I knew that before I started. What I didn’t know was that the recipe tried to make each stage simple – too simple, meaning the amounts weren’t really correct.

My first problem was that the recipe uses gelatine. Because hubby is vegetarian, I use vege-gel as a replacement, and, I admit, I don’t get on with that well. I love it when I can use real leaf gelatine, because it’s so easy! With vege-gel, I often seem to end up with clumps of gelatine, and that happened here.

The biscuit base was easy – just digestives and butter. That I can do.

The next stage was to make a raspberry coulis – a mixture of raspberries, icing sugar and cornflour, which you then heat. This seemed to be working well, until I heated the mixture up together. There was way too much cornflour, meaning it became much, much thicker than intended. At least it did thicken I guess. The problem was, this mixture is meant to be blobbed on top of the cream cheese mixture and then swirled to make a pattern. Whilst blobbing it was easy, it was too thick to swirl.

The cream cheese mixture itself was easy to do – just cream cheese, double cream and caster sugar. The problem here was adding the clumpy vege-gel. In the end I had to reheat the vege-gel with some of the cream cheese (I admit, I should have done the vege-gel by itself first…) to get the majority of the lumps out (there were still some). So some of the cream cheese was wetter than it should have been.

Finally, I had to put more blobs of the raspberry coulis on top of the cream cheese mixture. This time, I didn’t even try to swirl it. I did cover the whole thing in strawberries and blackberries, with a hint of melted white chocolate, so you couldn’t see that pattern anyway.

In the end, the cheesecake, on the whole, tasted fairly good – even if it didn’t look quite as good as it should have. But it was a very faffy recipe for a not brilliant result. I’ve made much better cheesecakes (in terms of taste and looks) with a lot less effort. This isn’t one that will be added to my ‘go-to’ recipes.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Annabel Karmel book

July 3, 2015

Sweetcorn soup

Filed under: lunch, Uncategorized, vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 6:10 pm

Another lunch that I made when my mum was visiting for the week (hence the continuing lack of photos), this would have been easy… if the baby hadn’t woken up, deciding she wanted a really long feed… resulting in me leaving the vegetables cooking for too long and burning them slightly.

The vegetables that burnt slightly were leek, carrot and potato, which boiled slightly dry. Luckily my mum saved it just in time. I then added sweetcorn, and whizzed together all the vegetables in a blender. I then added a stock cube and some milk before serving up the soup.

Had I not nearly burnt the soup, it would have tasted pretty good. It was also a little too thick because a little too much of the water had boiled off. But if I didn’t have a crying, hungry baby, I’d attempt this easy soup again!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter! By Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 10-11

July 2, 2015

Easter meringue tart

Filed under: pudding, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 11:04 am

Easter meringue tart very CUWanting to make a slightly different, interesting pudding for when mum was visiting, I decided to make this Easter meringue tart (even though it was in no way close to Eater). I made it the night before she arrived, and we ate it over the course of the week she was with us, as it was rather large.

The first thing I did was make a flan case using the recipe in the same book for cuddura, which is basically a sweet pastry made from flour, icing sugar and butter. That was fairly easy to do.

Once I had made that and used it to line the base, I made the rice filling – basically a rice pudding made with milk, rice, caster sugar and almond essence. That took ages because I had to wait for the rice to cook in the milk. I got a bit bored waiting. I then added egg yolks and waited for the mixture to thicken, which was much faster!

Once that was done, I covered the flan base with cherry jam, and added the rice pudding mixture.

Finally, I made the meringue mixture (by whisking the egg whites and then adding the caster sugar, teaspoon by teaspoon) and added this to the top of the tart. Once the tart was assembled, the whole thing was baked in the oven for an hour at 110C.

Whilst the tart was fun to make, and looked pretty good, it did taste a little odd. The rice filling didn’t really feel like it belonged, and we were all in agreement that really it would have been nicer (and much more normal) if it had been a standard lemon meringue tart.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter! By Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 26-29

July 1, 2015

Tomato tarte tatin

Filed under: lunch, Uncategorized, vegetarian — Tags: , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 6:01 pm

I don’t have any photos of this, because life started to get a little fraught around this time – my mum came to visit for the week (which is why I made this tatin), then we went on holiday for a week, and then two weeks later we were due to go to California for the summer. So you’ll just have to take my word for it when I tell you that this looked, well, a little odd!

It did, however, taste pretty good, and wasn’t too hard to make. I fried up some onions and dark sugar, then removed them from the dish. I then placed tomatoes on the same dish, face down, and poured over the onions and some grated cheddar. I then whisked together 2 eggs and some mustard powder before covering the whole thing in puff pastry. In order to cook it, I then placed the casserole dish in the oven and baked it for 20 minutes.

Now, half of the tatin rose VERY high, in a slightly odd manner. Presumably something to do with how I whisked the eggs… either way, it tasted fine and made for a pretty decent lunch!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter! By Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 8-9

June 16, 2015

Icthus cheese straws

Filed under: biscuits, Easter — Tags: — lawsonanna @ 9:55 pm

I decided to make these just before my mum was visiting for the week, knowing that she loves cheese straws. Can’t say I mind eating them, either.

I assumed these wouldn’t take too long to make. In terms of mixing the dough, I was right. It’s slightly different to a normal dough in that you add celery salt, paprika, grated Red Leicester cheese and cheddar.

Cutting out the straws, however, was a total faff. Once you’ve rolled out the dough, the recipe states that you should cut out 6 inch long pieces which are quarter of an inch wide. Now, I don’t know if y0u’ve ever cut food into 1/4 inch (or 6mm) pieces, but it’s SMALL. And once you’ve cut out these tiny straws, you need to bend them over into fish (icthus) shapes. If they don’t break at this point, they will when you pick them up to put them on the baking tray ready to go into the oven. Somehow I managed to salvage a number of them, but in the end I gave up and just did larger fish shapes.

They only take 10 minutes or so in the oven (if they’re larger they take a little longer), but regardless of the faff above, they’re pretty tasty. Hubby and I ate a third of them the evening I made them – and had to resist eating more so there were some left for my mum. Oops. I would advise not trying to make them 6mm wide each though – you don’t need to for them to taste (and look) good.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris, Judith Merrell, pg. 50-51

June 14, 2015

Lemon rollers

Filed under: biscuits, gift — Tags: , , — lawsonanna @ 9:49 pm

Lemon rollersAnother recipe I made for when we headed back to see our families for the weekend (the same weekend I made the Mothering Sunday sweets and the Easter bonnet cake), these were made to take to hubby’s family, and not as a birthday present.

Once again, they were pretty easy to make – a simple dough mixture with some lemon zest added in. The dough was then broken into walnut sized balls (or, when I got bored, slightly larger balls) and baked in the oven for about half an hour.

Once the biscuits were baked and had cooled down, I then added some lemon icing (made by mixing icing sugar and lemon juice together), just to make the biscuits look a bit more interesting. Of course, my 2 year old then asked for one without icing (he is a little odd) which I no longer had… but that did mean more the rest of us, and they were rather tasty!

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris, Judith Merrell, pg. 46-47

June 12, 2015

Easter bonnet cake

Filed under: Cake, Easter, gift — Tags: , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:37 pm

Easter bonnet cake from front sideAnother recipe that I made for my mum’s birthday, even though it’s officially an Easter recipe. I’ve been wanting to make this for ages (it looks good in the photos, and sounded pretty easy to make considering the potential end result), and messing up the rest of my mum’s present (basically I ordered the wrong thing) meant it was a good excuse to make this.

The cake itself is simple – it’s just a basic lemon sponge cake. The only difference is you bake it in a Pyrex dish so that it gives the right shape for a bonnet. It’s the decorating that takes time. You place the cake on a circle of icing, then cover the cake with icing after you’ve used a cake cooling rack to mark out squares. You then make flowers out of icing to place around the edge of the cake, and tie a ribbon around the bottom of the cake (which is a great device for hiding the joins in the icing!). Finally, you can create some icing butterflies to add to the cake. All relatively easy if you have the right cutters – which, for the most part, I did. And I was relatively pleased with the end result.

Unfortunately however, unlike the Mothering Sunday sweets, I didn’t get to try any of this (when offered, I foolishly went for the flapjacks. Yes, they were good – but I know what flapjacks taste like), so I can’t say if the cake was tasty or not. My mum told me it was good though, so I guess I’ll choose to believe her.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris, Judith Merrell, pg. 38-39

June 10, 2015

Lamb skewers

Filed under: Easter, lunch, meat — Tags: , , , , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:24 pm
Ready for the oven...

Ready for the oven…

Something I thought it might be nice to try making myself for lunch, these lamb skewers were actually really easy to make. The evening before I mixed together the (really rather tasty) marinade of olive oil, sherry and garlic, cut up the lamb and soaked it in the marinade.

The next day all I needed to do was cut up some pepper and courgette, peel a couple of shallots, and thread all of this (along with some button mushrooms and apricots) onto some skewers, interspersing the vegetables with chunks of marinaded meat. It took ten minutes to cook it all under the grill, and (along with some leftover rice and peas) I had a really tasty, if rather large, lunch ready really rather quickly.

... and ready to eat

… and ready to eat

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Hallelujah! Easter, by Wendy Dyer, Honor Harris and Judith Merrell, pg. 32-33

June 8, 2015

Tiramisu

Filed under: pudding — Tags: , , , , , — lawsonanna @ 9:14 pm
Tiramisu

… nearly all gone.

I’ve made this before, a number of times, but not for a while now. I love tiramisu, and this is a really easy, cheat-type version – so I decided it was time to make it again.

To make it, you put together a coffee and marsala mixture, then tip some sponge fingers into this. This makes up the sponge layers of the tiramisu. You then beat together cream and icing sugar, and fold in some mascarpone cream and marsala. This is spread over the layers of sponge fingers, ensuring you end with a layer of the cream mixture. Finally, sprinkle some chocolate over the top and leave in the fridge for all the marsala to soak up into the pudding.

Who made it: Anna

Recipe: Cheesecakes pavlovas & trifles, Australian Women’s Weekly, pg. 51

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