Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Hi, I’ve done it!! I’ve managed to make  Lemon Shortbread Cookies that are light, lemony and crumbly, but still taste of shortbread!

Lemon Shortbread Cookies - perfect on their own, or with a cup of tea!
Lemon Shortbread Cookies – perfect on their own, or with a cup of tea!

I can’t tell you how good it feels to get back to baking since my recent stay in hospital. I’m not out of the woods yet, but at least I’m on the right path! Baking relaxes me, allows my creative juices to get flowing and produces something scrummy to eat afterwards. Not bad eh???

These are so delicious, my favourite Lemon Shortbread Cookies!
These are so delicious, my favourite Lemon Shortbread Cookies!

 

Buttery, lemony, light Lemon Shortbread Cookies. The perfect biscuit, in my book anyway. I encourage you to try this recipe if you are a fan of lemon and shortbread. I think you get the picture – I LOVE THESE COOKIES!

Lemon Shortbread Cookies - my favourite!
Lemon Shortbread Cookies – my favourite!

 

Recipe : Makes 20-24 Lemon Shortbread Cookies

150g/5oz Caster Sugar

225g/8oz Unsalted Butter – room temp

1 Large Egg Yolk – free range

1tsp Vanilla Extract

1tbsp Lemon Zest – finely grated (approx 1 medium lemon)

1/4 tsp Salt

300g/10oz Plain White Flour

Extra Sugar for sprinkling

Method :

Whisk the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.

Add the room temp egg yolk, vanilla, lemon zest and salt. Whisk until thoroughly combined.

Add the flour and mix (I do this by hand) until all the ingredients are just incorporated and the cookie dough comes together.

Place half of the cookie dough onto a piece of cling film.
Place half of the cookie dough onto a piece of cling film.

Using your hands shape the dough into a log. Wrap tightly in the cling and repeat with the other half of the dough.

Tip: if you wipe your worktop/board with a damp, clean cloth, the cling film will lay flat and stay in place!

 

These cookie dough logs need to be refrigerated until firm - approx 1 hour.
These cookie dough logs need to be refrigerated until firm – approx 1 hour

 

When firm, slice the log into individual rounds.
When firm, slice the log into individual rounds.

When ready to bake preheat the oven to 175C/160C fan.

Place the uncooked Lemon Shortbread Cookies onto a non stick baking tray and sprinkle with sugar.
Place the uncooked Lemon Shortbread Cookies onto a non stick baking tray and sprinkle with sugar.

 

Bake the Lemon Shortbread Cookies for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown and set (cooking time will be slightly longer, if you’ve cut the dough rounds thicker – my first batch took 18 mins!).

Remove from the oven, when cooked and then sprinkle a little more sugar over the cookies (I use granulated sugar for sprinkling).

Leave to cool on the tray for 10 mins then transfer to a cooling rack.

These Lemon Shortbread Cookies actually improve on keeping, in an airtight container, if you can wait???

Now think of someone you know, who loves lemon, pop some cooled cookies in a cellophane bag, tied with pretty ribbon and make their day!

An unexpected gift is a wonderful way to show someone that you care and food ALWAYS tastes better when it’s shared.

Do you like to bake and share? I’d love to hear your stories.

Keep smiling, Sammie x.

 

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Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo

Hi, have I got the easiest, tastiest, make ahead side dish for you?? Oh yes I have! Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo – this dish does not disappoint – it is delicious.

Soooo delicious - Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo - the perfect Pasta side dish.
Soooo delicious – Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo – the perfect Pasta side dish.

 

Although I’ve said this is a side dish (& vegetarian), it also makes a fab light lunch. A few shavings of Parmesan would add extra oomph for lunch, served alongside some crusty, crunchy bread.

I’m getting hungry!!!!

Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo - perfect served at room temp!
Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo – perfect served at room temp!

I’ve used red onion, peas, sweetcorn and red bell pepper in this dish – but feel free to switch up the veggies (celery is good) with whatever you have on hand. All I would say is the Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo is best served at room temp, or even warmed – BUT NOT COLD!!! No matter how much lemon/oil you add, when served fridge cold the Orzo clumps together and not in a good way!!!! So there you go, an easy recipe that doesn’t take up any room in your fridge, or require any last minute fiddling. Yay!! We like easy!

Sooo easy, sooo delish - what's not to love - Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo
Sooo easy, sooo delish – what’s not to love – Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo

 

Recipe : Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo serves 6-8 as a side dish.

500g/1lb Packet Dried Orzo

Juice of 1 Large Lemon

1 x Small Red Onion

150ml/5fl oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 x Garlic Cloves – crushed

200g/7oz Frozen Peas

Medium Can Sweetcorn

Fresh Basil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method :

Put a large pan of water on to heat up for the Orzo.

Place the lemon juice and finely diced red onion into a large bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix together. Leaving the onion in the lemon juice will remove the acrid taste!

Once the water in the pan is boiling add salt and then the Orzo. Cook according to the packet instructions – taking care not to overcook or the Orzo will simply clump together!!

Whilst the Orzo is cooking gently heat the Olive Oil and garlic together, for approx 2 minutes on a medium heat so the garlic infuses the oil and is lightly cooked. Pour the garlicky oil over the onions and lemon juice.

Lemon Garlic Onions and Oil - add salt and pepper.
Lemon Garlic Onions and Oil – add salt and pepper.

 

Drain the Orzo as soon as it is cooked and pour straight into the bowl. Using a large slotted spoon immediately toss the Orzo in the oil/lemon juice – this will stop the Orzo from sticking together.

Place the frozen peas (I used petit pois) in the bowl and mix in with the hot Orzo.

Add the sweetcorn (drained) and the diced, red, bell pepper. Mix together and taste for seasoning – add salt/freshly ground pepper as necessary.

Take a handful of Basil leaves, roughly chop and sprinkle over.

Cover with cling film and serve at room temp.

Voila!!! 10 minute side dish - Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo - delish xx
Voila!!! 10 minute side dish – Lemon Garlic Vegetable Orzo – delish xx

 

This side goes fabulously with fish – Salmon especially, Chicken and Pork. It makes a fab alternative to roast potatoes and hot veggies for a Summer roast and completely seals the deal as part of a buffet. With very little effort. Gotta love that?!

Enjoy feasting on this scrumptious dish and may we have many sunny days ahead to spend with friends and family, having fun round the BBQ!

With hidden ‘Super-Soakers’ primed for action if it gets too hot – or boring!!!!

What do you look forward to now the days are longer and the sunshine is out??

Sammie x

 

 

 

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Easy Tex Mex Chicken

 

Hi, have I got the easiest, quickest meal for you? Yep, I have – Easy Tex Mex Chicken!

Easy Tex Mex Chicken tipped into a pan, ready for the oven.
Easy Tex Mex Chicken tipped into a pan, ready for the oven.

I am talking 5 minutes prep in the morning. Leave in the fridge all day and then throw in the oven for 45 mins before you want to eat. I told you it was Easy!! This delicious dish is fab served in Tortilla Wraps Fajita style, or alternatively, as I have, with potato wedges – well if you’ve got the oven already on…..

Oh my, this Easy Tex Mex Chicken served with wedges - delish!
Oh my, this Easy Tex Mex Chicken served with wedges – delish!

 

Recipe : Easy Tex Mex Chicken serves 5-6

750g/1.5lb Boned Chicken Breasts (approx 5)

1 Large Spanish Onion

3 Peppers – the colours are up to you!

1 Packet Fajita Seasoning

2 tbs Olive Oil

Method :

Pat dry the chicken breasts using kitchen paper.

Drying the chicken makes a real difference to the cooked dish.
Drying the chicken makes a real difference to the cooked dish.

 

Cut up the chicken into bite sized chunks (I used scissors) and place in a large, freezer bag.

With these 3 ingredients Easy Tex Mex Chicken is just that, EASY!
With these 3 ingredients Easy Tex Mex Chicken is just that, EASY!

 

Pour a couple of glugs of Olive Oil over the diced chicken then tip in the contents of a Fajita mix.

Massage the seasoning into the chicken.
Massage the seasoning into the chicken.

Next it’s time to get chopping!

Ooh so pretty. Choose whichever colour peppers are your favourite and...
Ooh so pretty. Choose whichever colour peppers are your favourite and…

 

Chop the Peppers and Onion so they are about the same size.
Chop the Peppers and Onion so they are about the same size.

Pop the chopped veggies into the freezer bag with the seasoned chicken and smoosh about a bit so they are covered in the spicy oil.

Easy Tex Mex Chicken in a bag!!
Easy Tex Mex Chicken in a bag!!

 

I prepared the Easy Tex Mex Chicken in the morning and then stashed it in the fridge until dinner time.

To cook, tip the contents of the freezer bag into a shallow oven proof dish. Place in a preheated oven 200C/185C fan and cook for 45 minutes.

Easy Tex Mex Chicken with softened peppers and caramelised onions - delish!
Easy Tex Mex Chicken with softened peppers and caramelised onions – delish!

 

To serve either warm some soft tortillas and load up fajita style, or, as I did tonight homemade potato wedges – simply cut 1 jacket potato per person, in half and then into long wedges, toss in Olive oil and season with salt and pepper, place on a baking sheet, put in the oven 15 mins before the Easy Tex Mex Chicken.

Well that’s dinner sorted!!

Enjoy how easy this feast is!

Sammie x

 

 

 

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Extreme Chocolate Cookies

Hi, have I got a treat for you today – Extreme Chocolate Cookies. Ooh if you love cookies and need a chocolate fix then these babies are definitely for you!

These Extreme Chocolate Cookies - perfect with a cup of tea!
These Extreme Chocolate Cookies – perfect with a cup of tea!

 

I’ve been unwell lately, including a 2 week stay in hospital (I’ll save that for another post). Having been home for 2-3 weeks now, today was the first day I really had the energy to bake. So, unashamedly I decided to make these Extreme Chocolate Cookies for our gorgeous children and my wonderful hubby, who has taken THE BEST care of me. I really do love that man.

Rows of Extreme Chocolate Cookies. Is there a better sight??
Rows of Extreme Chocolate Cookies. Is there a better sight??

 

I know that I’ve said it before, but baking or cooking for others, especially my family, is one of the ways I like to show my love for them. Chocolate is not my go-to favourite Cookie, I favour nutty, fruity, oat cookies, BUT, I obviously had to try one of these and they are my favourite chocolate cookies to date!

Extreme Chocolate Cookies - my favourite chocolate cookie ever!!
Extreme Chocolate Cookies – my favourite chocolate cookie ever!!

 

Recipe : Makes 18 Extreme Chocolate Cookies

225g/8oz Unsalted Butter softened

150g/5oz Dark Soft Brown Sugar

1 Large Egg at room temp.

1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/8 tsp Sal

225g/8oz Plain White Flour

50g/2oz Cocoa Powder

1/4 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

100g/4oz White Chocolate Chunks

150g/5oz Milk Chocolate Chunks

Method : Preheat oven to 170C/155C fan

In a large bowl add the butter, sugar and salt. Whisk until well combined and fluffy.

Add in the egg and vanilla extract to the whisked butter/sugar.
Add in the egg and vanilla extract to the whisked butter/sugar.

 

Whisk in the whole egg and vanilla extract.

Now chop up the white and milk chocolate into chunks.

These chocolate chunks are what make the cookies EXTREME!!!
These chocolate chunks are what make the cookies EXTREME!!!

 

Add the flour, cocoa, bicarb and chocolate chunks to the bowl.

Once combined these ingredients make Extreme Chocolate Cookies!
Once combined these ingredients make Extreme Chocolate Cookies!

 

Mix all of the ingredients together until just combined. Take about a tablespoon of mixture, roll into a ball shape and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat until all the mixture is used.

These cookie dough balls are about to be squished!!!
These cookie dough balls are about to be squished!!!

 

Wash your hands, they WILL look like you’ve been making mud pies!!!! Now using your fingers squish the cookie balls, they will still spread a bit whilst cooking.

The finger marks leave a pretty pattern even once baked!
The finger marks leave a pretty pattern even once baked!

 

Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 15-20 mins. I rotated my baking sheets halfway through the cooking process so that the cookies baked evenly. This is fine with cookies NOT cupcakes!!!

Once baked remove from the oven and allow the Extreme Chocolate Cookies to cool on the trays for 5 mins, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

Inhale deeply. The smell of baked Extreme Chocolate Cookies is gorgeous!
Inhale deeply. The smell of baked Extreme Chocolate Cookies is gorgeous!

 

Whilst cooling I sent the children a text (at school – rebel mummy!!!) and put the kettle on for a lovely cuppa!!

I can’t tell you how good it feels knowing I’m getting back to being me. Sooo good.

Am I alone? Why do you bake? I’d love to hear what motivates you?

Until next time have fun, feasting, sharing and smiling.

Sammie x

 

 

 

 

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Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwich

Hi, sorry for not posting recently, had a spell in hospital but home now and couldn’t eat the rest of this Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwich without sharing it’s deliciousness with you all!!

Oh my, this Herk Pulled Pork Sandwich may be the best sandwich I've ever tasted, in like, ever, in my life, since I was born. Did I mention it's soooooo good???
Oh my, this Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwich may be the best sandwich I’ve ever tasted, in like, ever, in my life, since I was born. Did I mention it’s soooooo good???

 

I had already eaten half – I’m sorry was very hungry- of this Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwich, when I had an epiphany!! It was sooooo good, I stopped eating, grabbed phone, attempted to take photos – I was in bed, so apologies for crumbs and general absence of food/photo styling – then quickly polished the last half off!!

Please note the Watercress was ABSOLUTELY not arranged for effect - it had simply fallen out of the other half I'd already eaten!!!
Please note the Watercress was ABSOLUTELY not arranged for effect – it had simply fallen out of the other half I’d already eaten!!!

 

So, we had shoulder of pork, cooked with a couple of bottles of cider, for dinner on Sunday. It was delish with mash and veg! Will post recipe when I cook it again, promise. Anyway, cooked low and slow, pork shoulder makes the best pulled pork. It was quite a large joint and made fab Fajitas for dinner on Tuesday. Rummaging around in the fridge today I realised there was still some meat left and so, not wanting any to go to waste, turned it into a fab lunch.

Ooh check out my funfetti painted nails!!!
Ooh check out my funfetti painted nails!!!

Here’s how I did it:

I used leftover pork (shoulder, roast leg or tenderloin would also work), but you can easily buy packets of pulled pork in the supermarket. Just make sure the pork is already cooked.

It’s hard to give amounts as it depends in how many Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwiches you are making and how big those sandwiches are going to be. I used sourdough bread, unbuttered and allowed a generous handful of both pork and watercress for each of the two sandwiches made.

I chopped up the pulled pork and heated it up with a good dollop of Levi Root’s Reggae Reggae Jerk Sauce until bubbling and completely reheated. The Jerk Pork was then generously place onto the bread, topped with watercress and another slice of bread.

Hey presto, one of the best hot sandwiches I’ve ever eaten was created. The best way to use up roast pork leftovers. Delish!!

Now I’ve shared the 4 ingredient recipe, feel free to add, embellish (I’m thinking panini/melted cheese/jalapeño’s) the possibilities are endless. If you make this Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwich please share your detectable, taste bud tingling results with me?

Hot, moist, peppery, meaty - Jerk Pulled Pork Sandwich - a must try for leftover pork!
Hot, moist, peppery, meaty – Jerk Pulled Pork Watercress Sandwich – a must try for leftover pork!

 

Note: I came up with the idea, my gorgeous hubby takes all the credit for ‘pulling’ it all together.

Happy Feasting and I’m hoping to get back to baking ASAP.

Sammie xx

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns

Hi there, have I got a FEAST for you, Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns. Delicious, easy to make and very more-ish!

The best Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns.
The best Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns.

Ooh are these yummy! Made with all butter puff pastry these Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns could not be easier to make and disappear fast as soon as they’re out of the oven.

The perfect portion of deliciousness! Gooey chocolate inner, crispy, crunchy, nutty topped buns.
The perfect portion of deliciousness! Gooey chocolate inner, crispy, crunchy, nutty topped buns.

It may be worth making a double batch of these, as they make the perfect portable gift, just make sure you have enough to go around as well!!!

Yum, yum and yum!!
Yum, yum and yum!!

Recipe : Makes 12 Buns

For the topping :

100g/4oz Brazil Nuts

100g/4oz Unsalted Butter – melted

75g/3oz Dark Brown Sugar

For the Buns :

1 Packet 450g/1lb All Butter Puff Pastry – thawed if frozen.

1tbsp Melted Butter

1/2 tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg

100g/4oz Dark Brown Sugar

225g/8oz Milk Chocolate Chips

100g/4oz Brazil Nuts

Method :

Preheat the oven to 200C (185C fan).

You will need a deep muffin/cupcake tin to bake these buns in. No pre-greasing of the tin is required.

The topping of these Chocolate Chunk Brazil Nut Buns is actually placed in the bottom of the muffin tin. When the buns are turned out, the bottom becomes the top!!!

For the topping mix the melted butter and sugar together. Add in the roughly chopped Brazil nuts.

The roughly chopped Brazil nuts, on the left are for the topping. The finer chopped nuts, on the right, are for inside the buns.
The roughly chopped Brazil nuts, on the left are for the topping. The finer chopped nuts, on the right, are for inside the buns.

Place about a teaspoon of the butter/sugar/nut mixture into each muffin holder in the tin.

This sweet, nutty mixture will become the topping for the Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns!
This sweet, nutty mixture will become the topping for the Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns!

Now for the buns :

My package of puff pastry came in 2 blocks. If you have 1 block, roll out the pastry to twice the width.

One half of the pastry block. Placed on a floured surface.
One half of the pastry block. Placed on a floured surface.

Roll out the pastry to 26cm/10″ wide by 29cm/11″ long.

Brush the rolled out pastry with melted butter.
Brush the rolled out pastry with melted butter.

Grate the nutmeg directly over the buttered pastry. If using ground nutmeg, sprinkle evenly over the pastry.

Freshly grated nutmeg is sooo much better if you have it.
Freshly grated nutmeg is sooo much better if you have it.

Sprinkle first the sugar, then the chocolate chips and chopped Brazil nuts evenly over the pastry (only use half of the amounts if rolling out half of the pastry, as I have).

An even layer of sugar, chocolate and nuts spread over the rolled pastry.
An even layer of sugar, chocolate and nuts spread over the rolled pastry.
Roll the pastry tightly and evenly.
Roll the pastry tightly and evenly.
Use both hands to ensure the pastry is evenly rolled.
Use both hands to ensure the pastry is evenly rolled.
Finishing with the pastry seam underneath.
Finishing with the pastry seam underneath.

Trim either end and then cut the pastry log in half.

Divide each half into 3 (for half a pastry block), or 6 if you've rolled out the entire 450g pastry block.
Divide each half into 3 (for half a pastry block), or 6 if you’ve rolled out the entire 450g pastry block.

Place each nutty, chocolate portion on top of the butter/sugar/chopped nuts in the muffin tin.

Ooh only 30 minutes away from baking deliciousness!!
Ooh only 30 minutes away from baking deliciousness!!

Place the muffin tin into the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Remove from the oven, look at how scrummy these Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns.
Remove from the oven, look at how scrummy these Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then place a baking tray over the buns. Flip the muffin tin over and prepare to be amazed!

It works every time! Perfect Brazil Nut topped buns.
It works every time! Perfect Brazil Nut topped buns.

Allow to cool as the chocolate and sugar in the centre are very hot. The perfect time to put the kettle on, invite round family, friends and neighbours and prepare to FEAST on these amazingly yummy Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns!

The best Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns.
The best Chocolate Chip Brazil Nut Buns.

If you try this recipe I’d love to here how you get on and your thoughts?

Sammie x

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Best Beef Casserole

Hi there, thank you for stopping by ; this really is the easiest Best Beef Casserole. Perfect for colder spring evenings, warming you through with minimum effort!

Delicious dinner! Best Beef Casserole, served with Creamy Mash and Broccoli.
Delicious dinner! Best Beef Casserole, served with Creamy Mash and Broccoli.

Even though it’s officially Spring, here in the UK, some evenings can still be pretty chilly and this Best Beef Casserole is the perfect antidote. Also I think I’m going down with a cold, so I wanted any easy meal (I’ve zero energy) that wasn’t too rich.

Gorgeous, melt in the mouth beef.
Gorgeous, melt in the mouth beef.

Recipe: Serves 4 Adults

1 Large Onion – finely diced

2tbsp Olive Oil

450g/1lb Beef Steak (braising/chuck)

3tbsp Plain Flour

3 Large Carrots – peeled and diced

2 Bay leaves

1 Beef Stock Cube

2tbsp Tomato Puree

Salt and Pepper to season

Method :

In a wide pan add the olive oil and warm over a medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté until translucent.

Sauté the onions until......
Sauté the onions until……

 

This!! Translucent onions - it takes approx 5 mins over a medium heat
It looks like this!! Translucent onions – it takes approx 5 mins over a medium heat.

Whilst the onions are sautéing  chop the beef into bite sized chunks.

Nice bite sized chunks of beef.
Nice bite sized chunks of beef.

Now add the 3 tablespoons of flour and season with salt and pepper.

Toss the beef chunks in the seasoned flour.
Toss the beef chunks in the seasoned flour.

Toss the flour coated beef chunks into the pan. Shake the pan so the beef is in one layer. When browned turn the chunks over, repeat until the beef chunks are browned on all sides.

Don't worry if you get sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. This means flavour!
Don’t worry if you get sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. This means flavour!

When the beef is browned all over add the diced carrots a 2 bay leaves.

Bay leaves and Beef are made for each other!
Bay leaves and Beef are made for each other!

Pour water over the pan contents, until just covered. As this heats up, the flour will thicken the casserole.

Crumble in a beef stock cube.

I used a Knorr beef stock cube.
I used a Knorr beef stock cube.

Next add the tomato purée.

The tomato purée adds flavour, colour and will also help thicken the sauce.
The tomato purée adds flavour, colour and will also help thicken the sauce.

Stir, scraping all the delicious dark, beefy residue from the bottom of the pan, so that it mixed into the sauce.

Mmmm. Simmer on a low heat, or place in a 140C oven for approx 2 - 3 hours, until the sauce is reduced and the beef is soft and tender.
Mmmm. Simmer on a low heat, or place in a 140C oven for approx 2 – 3 hours, until the sauce is reduced and the beef is soft and tender.

The beef should be tender enough, once cooked, so you can cut through it with a spoon! Delicious the Best Beef Casserole.

I served this casserole with mashed potato and broccoli.

A delicious, warming, homemade beef casserole. Just what I needed.
A delicious, warming, homemade beef casserole. Just what I needed.

This meal was absolutely scrumptious. Perfect for a weekday meal. A feast in a bowl!

Sammie x

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crusty White Bread

Hi, how are you liking my new site layout? This is my first recipe post : Crusty White Bread. Delicious and Homemade, since recovering my site from WordPress Help The WhiteScreen Of Death. It’s not completely ‘fixed’ yet – so I’m going through, remaking some of my earlier recipes and posting them, starting with Crusty White Bread.

Ooh yummy. Perfect, Crusty, White Bread
Ooh yummy. Perfect, Crusty, White Bread

This loaf of Crusty White Bread is for a small loaf (450g/1lb flour) baked in a 2lb loaf tin.

I just want to take a moment to talk about ingredients; as there are only 5 ingredients in this Crusty White Bread it really pays to use good quality flour. Shop brand, cheap bread flour WILL make a perfectly good loaf, however, if you want the BEST tasting loaf; organic, unbleached, strong bread flour will REALLY make a difference!

Yes this flour is more expensive (I buy in bulk online – it really helps bring down the cost), but when comparing the price of a homemade, organic, loaf of Crusty White Bread to a shop bought, plastic wrapped loaf, not only is the difference astoundingly smaller, but the quality of the homemade loaf is way, way better!!

The perfect slice. Lovely soft crumb inside with a nice crunchy crust.
The perfect slice. Lovely soft crumb inside with a nice crunchy crust.

Convinced yet?? Make one loaf of Crusty White Bread and try for yourself!

Buttered and slathered in strawberry jam. The best Crusty White Bread ever!!
Buttered and slathered in strawberry jam. The best Crusty White Bread ever!!

Recipe :

300ml  Tepid Tap Water

1 Sachet/7g  Active Dried Yeast

450g/1lb  Strong White Bread Flour – I use Organic, unbleached.

3/4tsp  Sea salt (1/2tsp free flowing)

25g/1oz  Unsalted Butter – cubed

Method:

For ease I use a bread maker to mix, prove and knock back the dough.

You can also make the Crusty White Bread by hand,  or use a stand mixer with a dough hook attached.

For the purpose of this and every other Bread recipe, the bowl is a large bowl/the bowl of the stand mixer/the removable container from a bread maker.

Pour 300ml of warm water into the bowl. Sprinkle over the yeast. Add the flour to the bowl. Next add the salt and butter.

Set your bread maker to mix and prove, press start, make a cup of tea!!

Set your stand mixer to slow mix, allow the dough hook to mix and knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film, place in a warm, draught free spot until doubled in size 1-2 hours.

*If making the bread by hand, rub the butter into the flour, sprinkle over the yeast/salt  and mix through the flour using your hand, make a well in the middle of the flour and add most of the water (280ml). Bring all the ingredients together using your hand (in a claw like position). Mix thoroughly adding the rest of the water if the dough seems dry. Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, using the heel of your hand push out the dough from the centre. Fold the dough back into the centre, rotate a quarter turn and repeat for 10-15 minutes until the dough feels, smooth, springy and elastic in your hands. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm draught free spot until doubled in size 1-2 hours.

Once doubled in size gently punch the dough in the oiled bowl (if using a bread maker, set to mix for 20 seconds – this will ‘knock back the dough and is the main method I use).

Turn the knocked back dough onto a lightly floured surface. Stretch the dough lengthways, then fold the ends into the middle. Rotate the dough a quarter turn and repeat the stretching/folding/rotating 3 more times – this technique builds structure into the loaf and my bread baking really improved once I’d adopted this small extra technique.

Place the dough into a buttered 2lb loaf tin. Cover with a clean tea towel, leave again to double in size, as before.

Preheat the oven to it’s hottest setting (250C in my oven). Place a deep tray, half filled with hot tap watering the bottom of the oven – this will create steam, helping build a crunchy crust.

Once the dough has doubled in size remove the towel and place the tin in the oven. Immediately turn the oven down to 225C (or down 1 gas mark).

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown (30 minutes for a thick crust). I then turn my loaf out directly onto the oven rack and continue to bake for a further 10 minutes, this allows the base and sides to get really crusty.

When baked remove from the oven and turn out of the tin immediately (if not already done). The base of the loaf should sound hollow when tapped with your knuckle. Leave to fully cool on a rack.

Nothing beats the smell of homemade bread! Mmmmm
Nothing beats the smell of homemade bread! Mmmmm

Inhale deeply, enjoy the smell of freshly homemade bread! No matter how many times I bake bread, the smell still warms my heart every time.

Ideally you should leave the loaf to cool completely, it will cut much better when cold. Who am I though to deny you warm bread, smothered in butter???

If you try to cut through the loaf, hot, straight from the oven, the inside will squish together and it will be almost impossible to spread butter on! Give the loaf at least 30 minutes to cool a bit before you start slicing.

The perfect slice. Lovely soft crumb inside with a nice crunchy crust.
The perfect slice. Lovely soft crumb inside with a nice crunchy crust.

Yummy Crusty White Bread!

The same loaf baked the following day for 20 minutes in its tin - I forgot to turn the oven temp down!!!!!
The same loaf baked the following day for 20 minutes in its tin – I forgot to turn the oven temp down!!!!!

Bread is the ultimate sharing food. Everyone sitting round the table having toast for breakfast, or dunking thick slices into warming soup. Even Jesus took bread and shared it with His disciples and when feeding the 5000. Wow what a feast that must have been?

Bake a loaf for someone – it will make them smile and feel loved?

Until next time remember Food Tastes Better When It’s Shared!

Sammie x

 

 

 

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Am I Being Silly About Silicone?

Hello there, thank you for stopping by. Do you mind me asking you a question? Am I being Silly about using Silicone???

Cute little chocolate spoons made in a Silicone mould.
Cute little chocolate spoons made in a Silicone mould.

The photo above shows gorgeous little chocolate spoons, made in a Silicone mould.

 

Silicone chocolate spoon mould, available from Lakeland.
Silicone chocolate spoon mould, available from Lakeland.

 

The little choccie spoons are made in this lovely, flexible, Silicone mould.  I’m pretty ok with that.  It’s a mould!  It doesn’t go in the oven, so I have faith that it’s ok to do the job of setting chocolate that’s poured into the little spoon shapes.

So all good so far.  Now here comes the bit I struggle with.  Baking, in the oven, using Silicone as cupcake cases, cake tins (Silicones???) and finally, as well as all the other shapes and sizes that Silicone bakeware comes in, this……..

A Silicone macaroon mould/template.
A Silicone macaroon mould/template.

 

I just can’t get my head around using something ‘plastic’ in the oven, in heat, where it’s hot, to cook something in.

I know it must be fine for use as baking equipment.  I’ve seen chefs and cooks (including Nigella – she wouldn’t steer me wrong – would she???!) use Silicone for baking on the TV and they seem fine.  It’s just, well, it’s not metal.  Cake tins are metal (the clue is in the name!!)!  They are sturdy and strong and don’t, for one moment look like they are going to MELT in the oven (don’t even get me started on whether they are safe, or if they are going to leach poisonous, plastic, chemicals into my food????).

Am I alone??? Are they really safe??  Is Silicone better than metal???  You see I’m just not convinced.  I’ve been wanting to make Macaroons for ages.  Every time I get a new Lakeland catalogue through the post, the Macaroon mould speaks to me – not literally!!! I want to make these…….

Perfect, precise, pretty Macaroons - cooked on a Silicone sheet - help???!!!
Perfect, precise, pretty Macaroons – cooked on a Silicone sheet – help???!!!

 

Please help me?  Have you cooked/baked with Silicone. Does it work?  Did you get poisoned – I’m serious here people.  Is it fiddly to work with – the Macaroon mat looks very floppy and not sturdy, if I have to put it on a baking sheet doesn’t that defeat the object of using Silicone in the first place?  Does it make food taste odd??

I really need your help to decide if I should invest in Silicone bakeware or stick with my solid metal (very reassuring that solid and metal bit!) bakeware???

Please share your thoughts and experiences with me? I really would appreciate your help with this.

Thank you.  Sammie x

Note : All pictures taken from the current Lakeland catalogue.

 

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Cranberry Oat Cookies

Hi, there. How are you today? I woke up and felt the need to bake – it’s been too long. Then I checked my posts and realise it’s been ages, I mean like a gazillion seconds, since I’ve posted a Cookie recipe!! So, today I bring you my Cranberry Oat Cookies.

Cookies - I need Cookies!!!!
Cookies – I need Cookies!!!!

 

Now that doesn’t mean I haven’t baked Cookies since the last Cookie post, just that I’ve baked Cookies I’ve already posted. Confused yet??? Any how I baked a a batch of Cranberry Oat Cookies. Oh my!! I think these may be my favourite Cookies today!!!

 

These Cookies are a mash-up of two previous recipes I’ve posted – Cranberry and Almond Cookies and Apricot and Oat Cookies!

So these delish Cranberry and Oat Cookies also have Almonds added!
So these delish Cranberry Oat Cookies also have Almonds added!

 

I really fancied Cranberries, Oats and Almonds. So I made these Cookies throwing in all the ingredients hoping they would turn out ok. Oooh they are so much more than ok they are scrumptious.

 

Scrumptious Cranberry and Oat Cookies - yum x
Scrumptious Cranberry Oat Cookies – yum x

 

Recipe :  Makes 18-20 Cranberry Oat Cookies

150g/5oz  Caster Sugar

225g/8oz  Unsalted Butter – room temp

1  Large Egg Yolk

1tsp  Vanilla Extract

1/2tsp  Almond Extract

1/4tsp  Salt – I use Kosher (no additives)

175g/6oz  Plain White Flour

175g/6oz  Oats – not quick cook

50g/2oz  Flaked Almonds

Method :

Preheat the oven to 175C (160C fan).

Into a large bowl add the butter, sugar and salt.  Beat together until pale and fluffy – I used an electric whisk, a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fixed is fine.

Add the egg yolk and vanilla/almond extracts and thoroughly mix in. Next add the flour, oats, cranberries and flaked almonds.  Mix until just combined.

Take about a heaped tablespoon of the Cookie dough and roll into a ball using your hands.  Place the Cranberry Oat Cookie dough balls onto baking sheets (line with parchment paper if not non stick).

Cookie Dough Balls
Cranberry Oat Cookie Dough Balls

 

Gently press down on the cookie dough balls so they just become flattened.
Gently press down on the cookie dough balls so they just become flattened.

 

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Then remove from the oven.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Then remove the Cranberry Oat Cookies from the oven.

 

Once golden, remove from oven and allow to fully cool on the baking sheets.  This allows the Cranberry Oat Cookies to firm up.  These Cookies are particularly scrumptious with a nice, cold glass of milk.

Cookies and milk - the perfect combination.
Cookies and milk – the perfect combination.

 

One of my best friends has been unwell recently, a fresh delivery of Cookies will be just the boost she needs.

Who will you share your Cookies with?

Remember, food always tastes better when it’s shared.

Sammie x

 

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