My First Recipe in Print

Cake Masters magazine

It’s hard to contain my excitement but I’ll try. For the very first time one of my recipes has been published. The recipe in question is my Cherry Shortbread Hearts recipe and it’s featured in the May 2014 issue of Cake Masters magazine.

Cake Masters Magazine

I wrote the Cherry Shortbread Hearts blog post in February with Valentine’s Day in mind, hence the heart shape biscuits and pretty pink decorations. I never expected a magazine to be interested but when Cake Masters approached me asking if they could publish my recipe I was delighted. I had no idea how big or small the feature would be so I was thrilled to see it spread over two pages.

If you want to check out the original recipe post just click on one of the links above or search at the top of the page.

I’ll be back very soon with more recipes, until next time.

Julie
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Raspberry and White Chocolate Ice Cream Cake

Raspberry and white chocolate ice cream cake

Whipped cream and crushed meringue frozen together are a taste sensation. I don’t know where this concept first originated or which chef or cook can claim the idea for their own but I have seen it copied and reproduced in many cookbooks. Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson and Rachel Allen all have excellent versions. Last year I created my own with dark chocolate and orange curd, which tasted so sublime I named it so.

For an extra special after dinner treat for Easter Sunday I experimented with frozen raspberries and white chocolate to create this version I’ve called an ice cream cake. It’s sliced like a cake and tastes just like soft whipped ice cream laced with tart raspberries, sweet white chocolate and crumbly meringue pieces. I’m pretty sure you’ll love this as much as my family do.

Raspberry and white chocolate ice cream cake

Ingredients (Serves 8-10)

600ml double cream
12 meringue nests (145g approx)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g frozen raspberries plus fresh raspberries for serving
100g white chocolate chips

Method

1. Line a 9 inch/23cm cake tin with 2 over hanging layers of cling film, lay one horizontally the other vertically across the bottom of the tin.

2. In a bowl whip the double cream until you reach the soft peaks stage, then stir in the vanilla extract.

3. Crush the meringue nests and crumble into the whipped cream.

4. Crush the frozen raspberries and crumble into the mixture, then add the white chocolate chips. Gently fold in so everything is mixed together.

5. Put the mixture into the lined cake tin and then cover the top with the over hanging cling film. Freeze overnight.

6. Remove from the freezer 20 minutes before serving and slice with a sharp knife. Serve with extra raspberries.

Raspberry and white chocolate ice cream cake

With hopefully the warmer weather approaching I think this dessert would be delightful to enjoy with family and friends at a garden picnic or barbecue.

Until next time.

Julie
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Easy Roast Meatballs with Tagliatelle

Roast meatballs

This is one of those real comforting dinners that everyone enjoys. After all what’s not to like about beefy meatballs in a tasty tomato sauce, tossed in tagliatelle. When I serve this, meal times are stress free as everyone happily tucks in.

This recipe has evolved from my Beefy Meatballs with Bucatini Pasta recipe and as good as that recipe is I needed to adapt it to free up my time. So I thought why not try roasting the meatballs instead of standing at the hob pan frying them and it worked. So while the meatballs are roasting and the tomato sauce is simmering I’m free to do other things. In my busy house there’s always plenty to do.

Regular blog readers will know that I like to experiment with different pasta types however on this occasion I’ve gone for tagliatelle.

Roast meatballs

Ingredients (Serves 4 adults or 2 adults and 3 children)

Meatballs

500g lean mince beef
2 slices of wholemeal bread
1 tablespoon mixed herbs or Italian mixed herbs
1 large egg (beaten)
1 teaspoon of fine sea salt
Black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Tomato Sauce

2 x 400g chopped tinned tomatoes
1 small onion (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional or amount according to taste)

400g tagliatelle
Parmesan cheese (finely grated)

Method

1. In a mini chopper or food processor whizz the bread until you get breadcrumbs.

2. In a large bowl mix together the mince beef, breadcrumbs, mixed herbs, salt, egg and a good grinding of black pepper. I tend to use my hands as it is easier to combine all the ingredients.

3. Once thoroughly combined take small chunks of the mixture and roll with your hands to get small meatballs about 3cm to 4cm in diameter. No need to be exact here but try to get them roughly the same size so they cook at the same time. Then set aside until needed in a non stick roasting tin.

4. To make the tomato sauce first heat the olive oil in a large heavy casserole pan and sauté the onions until soft.

5. Add the tinned tomatoes, dried oregano and a grinding of black pepper. Add the dried chilli flakes at this stage if you wish. I tend to add only 1/4 teaspoon of chilli flakes to half the tomato sauce, so the other half is chilli free and child friendly.

6. Bring to the boil and simmer until you have a lovely thick tomato sauce. Keep on a low heat stirring every now and again. Cook for approximately 30 minutes.

7. Meanwhile to cook the meatballs pre heat the oven to Fan 180c.

8. Drizzle over the olive oil then shake the pan so the meatballs are fully coated in the oil. Then roast the meatballs for 25 to 30 minutes until fully cooked through. Once cooked add to the tomato sauce.

9. Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelle in a large saucepan of salted boiling water, reserving a small cup of the cooking water for later.

10. Once cooked drain the tagliatelle and to the meatballs in tomato sauce along with a splash of the pasta cooking water. Heat through on the hob stirring continuously for about 30 seconds, then serve. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Roast meatballs

Enjoy with crusty garlic bread and a leafy rocket salad. I’d love to know if you try out my Easy Roast Meatballs, so don’t forget to leave me a comment in the box below.

Until next time.

Julie
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Avocado and Parma Ham Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Avocado and Parma ham salad

I don’t normally get excited about salads, cakes yes, pasta yes, salad no. However, this salad is different using some of my favourite ingredients creamy avocado, peppery rocket, salty Parmesan cheese and Parma ham in a sweet balsamic dressing this is pure heaven. For a long long time salad for me was lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes all chopped up in a bowl with no dressing and that was pretty much how I liked it. Sometimes I’d have a bit of spring onion or sliced radish but that was as adventurous as I’d get.

For some strange reason I had a massive aversion to dressing on my salad. Anyway, that changed one day after eating a side salad in a restaurant and now I’m converted. This salad is divine and is packed with Italian flavours, just pass the Prosecco and I’ll imagine I’m in Italy while I eat.

Avocado and Parma Ham Salad

Ingredients (serves 1)

A handful of rocket leaves
A handful of spinach leaves
4 pomodorino tomatoes (halved)
1/2 avocado (cubed)
2 slices of Parma ham
Parmesan cheese shavings
Balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

Method

1. Put the rocket, spinach and tomatoes in a bowl.

2. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Toss everything together and transfer to your serving plate.

3. Add the cubed avocado and sliced Parma ham (I removed the fat from mine).

4. Finish with Parmesan cheese shavings and extra balsamic vinegar if desired.

Avocado and Parma Ham Salad

Today has really felt like spring so I’m hoping to enjoy a lot more salad lunches from now on and I plan share my experiments with you.

Until next time.

Julie
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Just one last thing.

NOMINATE ME BiB 2014 FOOD

If you like reading my blog I would be totally thrilled if you would nominate me in the BiB awards. Thank you so much.

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Easter Chocolate Cupcakes

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“Mum those cakes were really nice, they were really chocolatey” said my eldest.

Created to resemble an Easter bird nest these cupcakes are extremely chocolatey and utterly delicious. I think they make the perfect Easter treat for little and big kids alike. The cupcakes bases are a moist chocolate sponge, topped with chocolate buttercream and a layer of flaked chocolate to resemble a nest then finally finished off with Cadbury’s Mini Eggs. Chocolate and more chocolate, what’s not to like about these Easter Chocolate Cupcakes?

Don’t be put off by the length of this recipe, it is actually relatively quick as the sponge cupcakes are made using the all in one method. In fact, when I made these on Sunday morning I was all done and dusted by 10am. I was impressed!

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Easter cupcakes 6

Ingredients (makes 12)

Chocolate sponge cupcakes

160g unsalted butter (very soft)
160g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
130g self raising flour
30g cocoa powder
2 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Chocolate Buttercream

100g dark chocolate (54% cocoa solids)
100g unsalted butter (very soft)
200g icing sugar (sifted)
1 tablespoon milk

Decoration

1 bag of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs
8 small or 4 regular size Cadbury’s Flakes
Creme Eggs and little furry chicks not compulsory but totally cute

Method

1. Pre heat your oven to 160c Fan (180c)

2. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases.

3. Put all the cupcake ingredients in the mixing bowl and beat well until the all the mixture is fully combined.

4. Using two dessert spoons, spoon the cake mixture into the cases and bake for 25 minutes until springy to touch.

5. Leave the cakes in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To make the buttercream begin by melting the chocolate over a bain-marie or in the microwave until fully melted, then allow to cool.

7. In a mixing bowl beat the butter and icing sugar together, then add the melted chocolate and beat again, then finally beat in the milk.

8. In a bowl crumble the flakes.

9. Using a palette knife spread each cake one at a time with the chocolate buttercream and then dip the cakes in the chocolate flakes (to create the bird nest effect).

10. Then top with 2 or 3 mini eggs. Enjoy!

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Easter cupcakes 5

I somehow think I’ll be making some more of these tasty little cupcakes in the next week or so. I hope you like them too.

Until next time.

Julie
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NOMINATE ME BiB 2014 FOOD

If you like reading my blog I would be totally thrilled if you would nominate me in the BiB awards. Thank you so much.

Link up your recipe of the week

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I’m submitting this Easter recipe into a competition with The Pink Whisk and Two Little Fleas.

Mary Berry’s Date and Cherry Butter Bars

Date and cherry butter bars

You may have noticed that I’m a huge fan of the queen of cakes Mary Berry and to my delight I received a copy of her latest book Mary Berry Cooks for Mother’s Day just gone. Unfortunately, due to life being extremely hectic at the moment I’ve not had as much time as I would like to potter in the kitchen and try out any new recipes. That said, I have book marked a few so watch this space.

Anyway, I did make these gorgeous little buttery bars a little while back but never got round to putting my review of them on the blog. This recipe is taken from my favourite book Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. Filled with chopped dates and cherries these butter bars are quite delicious. I think they are perfect with your afternoon cup of tea. Mary suggests cutting the bake into 24, however this does result in fairly small bars. I suppose there’s nothing stopping you from eating two bars instead of one!

The recipe is simplicity itself. There’s no need to get out your mixer as you make the dough by hand and then press it into the tin to bake. In fact it took no time at all, so for me it’s a great little recipe that I’ll definitely be making again.

Date and cherry butter bars

Do you have a favourite Mary Berry recipe? I would love to hear about it. Mine is probably her Chocolate Chip Brownies, which are lovely and fudgy in the middle.

Until next time, happy baking.

Julie
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NOMINATE ME BiB 2014 FOOD

If you like reading my blog I would be totally thrilled if you would nominate me in the BiB awards. Thank you so much.

Seeded Soda Bread

Seeded Wholemeal Soda Bread

For me there’s nothing more comforting than homemade bread and a bowl of hearty soup. I don’t often have enough time to bake yeasted bread so soda bread is a super speedy alternative when home baked bread is what I’m craving. For this loaf I’ve used some wholemeal flour in the dough mix along with pumpkin and sunflower seeds, resulting in a wholesome slightly nutty tasting loaf.

Seeded soda bread

Ingredients (makes 1 loaf)

225g plain flour
175g wholemeal plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
300ml buttermilk
25g pumpkin seeds
25g sunflower seeds
Extra seeds and flour for sprinkling on top

Method

1. Pre heat your oven to Fan 200c and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

2. Put all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Then, make a well in the centre.

3. Pour in the buttermilk and stir the mixture, finally bring the dough together with your hands.

4. On a floured surface shape the dough into a ball and then flatten. Place on the lined baking sheet and sprinkle with plain flour.

5. Using a sharp knife cut across the dough vertically and horizontally, forming a cross in the dough. Sprinkle a few seeds on top.

6. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.

7. Once baked the loaf will be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

So if you’re short of time but still want to bake some bread I recommend you try baking soda bread. Serve buttered with chunks of cheddar cheese or with a bowl of your favourite soup for a delicious lunch or supper.

Seeded Wholemeal Soda Bread

Seeded soda bread

If you liked this recipe take a look at my other soda bread recipes.

Cheddar Cheese and Onion Soda Bread

Cheese and Onion Soda Bread

Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Soda Bread

Freshly baked Cheese and Sundried Tomato Soda Bread

Until next time, happy baking.

Julie
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My Top 10 Cooking Ingredients

Top 10 cooking ingredients

There are certain ingredients that are staples in my kitchen. These key ingredients provide the foundation for many of my recipes. Knowing that I have these ingredients in my cupboard, fridge or freezer I feel confident that my family will always have something tasty to eat when time is short. Most of all, I’ve learnt that this is what works for us as a family and me as a home cook.

1. Tinned Chopped Tomatoes

I literally cannot survive with these in my cupboard. I always buy in bulk when they are on offer in the supermarket, so I’m able to buy the Italian ones which are of superior quality. Chopped tomatoes make great pasta sauces and bases for pizza.

2. Bucatini Pasta

To my dismay my local supermarket has stopped selling these long tubes of pasta, which I think are more substantial than spaghetti. I now buy mine from the local Italian deli. I like to eat bucantini pasta with my Beefy Meatballs.

3. Frozen spinach leaves

Jamie Oliver is a fan of this and so am I, it’s a great ingredient to have stashed away in your freezer. I often grab a handful of the frozen spinach cubes and throw them into homemade pasta sauces. Frozen spinach is very economical and versatile ingredient.

4. Frozen petit pois (peas)

To my mind another fab frozen veg. I prefer petit pois to garden peas as I think they taste sweeter. I use them with cooked chicken or pancetta in pasta dishes such as my Creamy Pesto Pancetta, Peas and Mushrooms with Spirali Pasta.

5. Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan Cheese)

I love this stuff and a little goes a long way so I think it’s worth the price.

Top 10 cooking ingredients

6. Onions

I always buy a bag of cooking onions. I usually sauté onions in olive oil until they are translucent and then build on flavours from there for stews, sauces and soups.

7. Cubetti di Pancetta

Such an amazing ingredient packed full of flavour. It usually has a long shelf life if unopen so it’s worth having in the fridge as a standby ingredient. It’s great with pasta, try it in my Spaghetti with Mushroom, Spinach and Pancetta Tomato Sauce.

8. Chorizo

Just like pancetta this cured meat has great depth of flavour and releases paprika oils into your cooking. I like to cook with chorizo in different ways. It’s brilliant on pizzas, in stews and goes well with pasta. I recommend you try my tasty Gnocchi with Chorizo Spinach and Tomato Sauce.

9. Crushed Chilli Flakes

Just a pinch of chilli flakes can liven up any dish. I use chilli flakes in sauces and soups to provide heat and warmth. Be careful as too much will spoil your dish.

10. Dried Oregano

I’m no herb snob and use dried herbs often. Dried oregano is one of my favourites and is lovely in a tomato sauce for pizzas.

These are definitely Italian and Mediterranean inspired ingredients and for now that’s where my foodie heart lies.

Until next time.

Julie
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Spicy Chorizo and Spinach Pasta

Spicy chorizo and spinach pasta

Sometimes those meals that literally get thrown together are the best ones. Taking probably no more than 15 minutes from start to finish, I was delighted with this spicy pasta creation.

Be warned it’s hot, hot, hot, so if heat is not your thing than either leave out the chilli flakes or just add a tiny pinch instead. Definitely don’t do what I did and that’s burn your top lip when testing the pasta. It hurts and worse still it’s the second time I’ve done it in as many weeks.

Ingredients (serves 1 but easily doubled)

100g spirali pasta
50g cubed cooking chorizo
2 handfuls of fresh spinach
1/8 teaspoon chilli flakes
Black pepper

Method

1. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Reserve a small cup of the cooking water.

2. Meanwhile sauté the chorizo in a dry pan until the chorizo releases it’s oils and crisps.

3. Add the cooked pasta to the pan of cooked chorizo. Then add the spinach, chilli flakes, a grinding of black pepper and a splash of the pasta cooking water.

4. Keep on the heat and stir well, cook for a further minute or so until the spinach is wilted. Then serve.

Spicy chorizo and spinach pasta

I would love to hear about your throw together dinner successes, just let me know in the box below.

Until next time.

Julie
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Spicy Potato Wedges

Spicy potato wedges

This recipe for my Spicy Potato Wedges is a fantastic way of livening up old potatoes. Spiced with cayenne pepper and smoked paprika these wedges have a bit of a kick. I served mine with pepperoni pizza and a rocket salad, which made it a brilliant Monday night dinner. It’s also worth making your own sour cream and chive dip too as that works beautifully with the spices. I generally have all these ingredients in, so I can rustle up these potato wedges in no time at all.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

530g potatoes (4 medium all purpose potatoes)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

1. Scrub clean the potatoes. Cut in half down the longest side, then cut each half in long quarters.

2. Pre heat the oven to Fan 200c

3. Par boil the potato wedges for 7-8 minutes and then drain.

4. Place the wedges in a non stick roasting tray. Drizzle over the olive oil, add a grinding of black pepper and a good pinch of salt. Then sprinkle over the cayenne pepper and smoked paprika.

5. Toss the wedges in the oil and spices so everything is fully coated

6. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the edges begin to crisp.

Spicy potato wedges

The Spicy Potato Wedges would be great served with my Chilli con Carne too.

I love to hear what you think, so don’t be shy and leave me a comment in the box below.

Until next time.

Julie
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