Recipe: Waffles

6 Feb
Picture of a waffle

Don’t think about the calories…

It turns out Bird’s Eye weren’t fibbing when they told us all in the 80s that waffles are waffley-versatile. They are incredible for breakfast, for dinner, sweet, savory, sweet AND savory.

Truly, the only downside is that they compel me to consume a week’s allowance of butter in one sitting and they don’t seem to go especially well with veg. That aside, they’re fun, filling, freezable. All the ‘Fs’ basically. What more do you want?

To buy (for 6):

*Well you’ll need a waffle maker (mine’s a Gordon Ramsey one and is dead easy to use)  *250g plain flour   *1 dessert spoon of baking powder  *2 tablespoons caster sugar   *1 teaspoon of salt   *2 eggs   *450ml milk   *2 tablespoons vegetable oil   *spray oil   *toppings of your choice (I love bacon, maple syrup and M&S salted caramel sauce… not at the same time..although..)

To make:

waffle-maker

Where the magic happens.

1. In a big bowl mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

2. Next mix the wet ingredients together – the eggs, milk and oil – and add this to the dry ingredients then mix until a smooth batter.

3. Heat your waffle maker as per the instructions and spray generously with oil.

4. Fill your waffle-maker to an appropriate level with the waffle batter, seal and cook for as long as you need (around 5 minutes in the case of a Gordon Ramsey waffle-maker).

5. Carefully open your waffle maker and gently ease the waffle out using tongs.

6. Serve the waffles so they’re hot and crispy and drowning in your favourite topping. You might want to serve alongside Buffalo chicken wings for a true Deep South experience or, if you’re about to run a marathon and need to carbo-load or don’t care much about debauched gluttony, try adding chopped-up cooked bacon to the waffle-mix AND popping a few rashers of cooked bacon on top. Hog-tastic.

Raspberry and Almond Cake and Cherry Bakwell mini-cakes

29 Jul

Pop the kettle on…

 

It’s been forever since I shared a recipe with you and I hope you aren’t too miffed. My time was swallowed, almost in it’s entirety, by my wedding which took place in June.  The last months have been hectic. There were playlists to compile, bunting to sew, table names to cross-stitch, vows to practice, flowers to pick, dresses to squeeze into, booze to buy, invites to post..  and thank goodness it was all worth it. What a day – I’m still on cloud nine. Following a mini-moon on the Isle of Wight, where the food was local, sustainable and delicious by the way, we’re in the middle of few weeks wait until we head off, in August, for a mega-moon roadtrip in the USA. It’s going to be epic… and very tasty. I’ll let you know what I eat!

In the meantime, here are a couple of easy recipes for cake that goes nicely with a cup of tea. The best kind of cake, right? I baked them this weekend in between walking my Godmother’s dog Lucy along with my Mum, Godmother and new husband (still feels weird) in the beautiful countryside; and after a long walk in the hills and sunshine this cake will recharge your batteries.

Almond and Raspberry Cake (serves 8 – 10)

You will need:

* 140g ground almonds   * 140g unsalted butter, soft   * 140g caster sugar   * 140g self-raising flour   * 2 large eggs   *1tsp vanilla extract   *250g raspberries   *2 tbsp flaked almonds

Lovely Lucy

To make:

1. Heat the oven to 180Oc/ 160Oc fan/ gas mark 4 and line a deep 20cm cake tin.  In a food processor, by hand or by a hand-held whisk combine the ground almonds, butter, sugar, flour, vanilla extract and eggs until well-combined.

2. Spread half of the mix over the cake tin and smooth over the top.  Scatter the raspberries over the mixture and then dollop the remaining cake mixture on top and spread to cover the fruit. I used my fingertips to do this.

3. Scatter flaked almonds on top of the cake and then bake for about 50 minutes or until the cake is golden and doesn’t wibble if you shake the tin.  Cool and remove from the tin. Enjoy.

 

Cherry and Almond Mini-cakes (makes about12)

* 60g ground almonds   * 75g butter   * 75g sugar   * 75g self-raising flour   * splash of milk   * 2 large eggs   * a couple of handfuls of glace cherries   * small splash of vanilla extract   *12 flaked almonds (optional)

Dinky little cake.. so why stop at one?

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190OC/ 170oC fan and pop your paper cases on a tray.  Combine the flour, ground almonds, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, milk and butter and whizz with an electric whisk, by hand or in a food processor.

2. Tip the finely chopped glace cherries into the mixture and give it a nice stir before dolloping the cake mixture evenly into the cake cases.

3. Pop in the oven for around 10-15 minutes until the cakes are golden, have risen and are springy but cooked through.  Leave to cool or heat whilst still warm with a cool glass of milk or a big mug of tea.

 

Recipe: Deep South-Style Pulled Pork Baps

29 Mar

Put Some South in your mouth.

I adore pulled pork. I am obsessed, besotted even, with it. Having driven along highways in Mississippi and Tennessee in search of it  and  prowled the wilds of Soho and Clapham (for Bodean’s, natch) to get my mouth around it, it’s fair to say I am gaga for the smoky, sweet, finger-licking gorgeousness of it. I never knew I could make pulled pork at home, or rather Josh could, and this is very dangerous knowledge indeed.

For my birthday this week (I hit the big 3-0!) one of my gifts was a slow-cooker and another was a birthday meal from him-indoors that was fit for a king. Probably actually The King.  He produced a platter of beautiful, sumptuous, pulled pork baps and you should too. They are tasty, cheap and crazily easy to make. So what’s stopping you?

To buy:

*you need a slow cooker   *1.5kg boneless shoulder of pork

For the dry rub: *1 tbsp black pepper   * tbsp white pepper   *1 -2 tsp cayenne pepper   *1 tbsp chilli powder   *4 tbsp paprika   *1 tbsp oregano   *2 tbsp dark sugar   *1 tbsp white sugar   *2 tbsp salt.

Lovely meat from Ginger Pig

For the sauce: * an onion, finely chopped   *2 tbsp Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce   *Half a cup of Heinz tomato ketchup   *2 tbsp mustard   *one third of a cup of vinegar – cider/white wine   *2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce   *2 tbsp tomato puree   *2 tbsp brown sugar

To serve: * lots of fluffy white baps or brioche   *creamy coleslaw   *a beer or some coca cola (to drink)

To make:

1. Make your rub by combining the dry rub ingredients in a bowl and mixing really well.  Wet the pork with water and then pat and rub the spices all over the meat.  Place in a container, cover with clingfilm and store in the fridge overnight or until you want to get cooking.

2. Mix the wet sauce ingredients and the chopped onions in the slow-cooker and then place the pork on top. Roll the pork around so the sauce gets into every nook and cranny.

3. Turn the slow cooker onto low and cook for at least 10 hours.  We popped it on before we left for work and it was ready  (and making the flat smell DIVINE!) when we got home.

Many many many baps.

4. If the sauce looks too watery then turn it up to High for a little while.

5. You can either serve it at this point or pop it in the oven at a very high heat to slightly burn the meat and caramelize the sauce. If using the oven then you don’t need to cook it for too long.

6. When you’re ready pull the pork apart with a couple of forks and pile high on sliced baps. Add coleslaw and a generous dollop of BBQ sauce (I like Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce of Bodean’s hickory sauce).

The recipe made a stonking 10 baps so if you want to make friends and influence people I suggest you don’t eat them all but share them with your nearest and dearest. Life will never be the same again.

(Recipe adapted from this one by James Holland, which he pinched from someone else).

Recipe: Catherine Berwick’s Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake

27 Mar

The new carrot cake?

It’s been a while since I’ve been here to say hi and I can only apologise profusely and point my finger of blame at all the wedding planning which has consumed my life for the last, um, year.. but I could write a whole blog* on that so I shall just move on quickly to a rather unusual cake I made for a friend’s birthday which I think you should try.

When I served it to guests I asked them all to guess what it was.. “it’s fruity”, it’s got “nuts in it”, “I can taste the maple syrup” the adoring crowds replied. But none of them could have guessed it was a cake made of parsnip! And lo I laugh like a maniacal loon… but seriously, it was really unusual, very moist and sweet. As ever I found it on the unimpeachable Good Food website and they billed it as the new Carrot Cake. (Not that I think there is A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G wrong with the old Carrot Cake!)

To buy:

*175g butter, and extra for greasing   *250g demerara sugar   *100ml maple syrup   *3 large eggs   *250g self-raising flour   *2 tsp baking powder   *a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon  *250g parsnips, peeled and grated   *1 medium apple, peeled, cored and grated   *50g pecans, roughly chopped   *zest and juice of one small orange   *icing sugar to serve   *250g mascarpone   *3-4 tbsp maple syrup

To make:

Golden Brown, texture like sun.

1. Heat the oven to 180Oc/ 160Oc fan/ gas 4 and grease 2 x 20cm round tins.

2. Melt the butter, sugar and maple syrup in a pan over a gentle heat and then cool slightly.

3. Whisk the eggs in the mixture, then stir in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, followed by the grated parsnip, apple, chopped pecans, orange zest and juice.

4. Bake for around 30 minutes or until the sponges are cooked through and springy to touch.

5. Cool the cakes for a while in their tins before turning out onto wire racks and cooling entirely.

6. Just before serving, blend the marscapone and the maple syrup, spread onto one sponge and then sandwich the cake. Sprinkle with icing sugar. EAT.

* My friend and fellow-bride-to-be Laura and I were going to do a wedding blog called “Right Said Wed” but needless to say we’re too lazy and busy planning the shin-digs right now! Oh what could have been..

Review: MEATliquor

3 Dec

Burger

MEATliquor

74 Welbeck Street,

London,

W1G 0BA

http://www.meatliquor.com/

**No reservations**

MEATliquor, centrally located, not far from Oxford Street, is the creation of Yianni Papoutsis (he of #meateasy and Meat Wagon fame) and Scott Collins (Capital Pubs Company) and is a) a purveyor of mighty fine burgers and lip-smacking pies, b) achingly hip and c) very nearly let-down by atrocious service.

The food, to start on a high, is exactly the kind of thing I love.  Unashamed Americana delights: juicy burgers, cheesey chilli fries, fried chicken, sweet pies and strong cocktails are all done with aplomb.  From the skinny, crisp fries drowned in spicy hot chilli topped with gooey cheese and onion and pickles to the ‘Dead Hippy Burger’ – two soft patties, sauce, huge pickles served on sweet, chewy bread – this was frigging amazing. At about £8 each they’re not a bargain but you’re not being mugged either, they’re reassuringly moderately priced.  The pies though, wow, – we tried “Crack Pie”, Key Lime and Coconut Cream – were unreal.  Only £4 a pop they were a slice of sweet heaven.

The cocktails, served in jam jars with names like Memphis Steamer and Louisiana Jam, were pretty special, and strong too. Yum.  The boys drank Meantime Lager and none of the drinks seemed wildly expensive.

Cocktails

The decor of MEATliquor is none-too-subtle.  Loud red and white walls covered in graffiti, almost no lights, low tables, rolls of kithchen roll on every table and awesome blues and rock-n-roll at an ear-splitting volume.  You may or may not like this but for playing amazing bluegrass and filthy blues alone I can’t wait to get back.

The only thing that could stop me is the service. Sweet momma it was poor.  As you can’t book a table queues grow crazy-fast and the staff were pretty obnoxious the whole time.   When you’re seated it’s incredibly tricky catching their eye and settling the bill was also a protracted affair.  With so much demand on the tables they should have been faster than a speeding bullet. They were not.

Overall though, this is a fun and delicious place to grab a beautiful burger.  If they can work on the service and work on being a little less hip and a little more helpful, then there will be next to nothing wrong with this place.  I would say go.  Go early.  Don’t wear clothes you don’t mind dripping burger-juice on and leave room for pie.

Recipe: Chocolate Cat Cake. It’s purrrrrfect, etc.

2 Dec

We need to talk about Kevin

My boss turned 40 this week and it was only right that this happy day was marked with a cat-shaped chocolate birthday cake, right?  Our chum Laura christened him Kevin and at a cake-fest in the office, Kev bravely gave his life for the enjoyment of us hungry office-workers.  Way to go Kevin.

This cake is very simple to make and keeps for a few days if you don’t hoover it up before then.

To buy:

For the cake –  *200g plain flour   *200g caster sugar   *1 teaspoon baking powder   *half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda   *40g best-quality cocoa (I used Green and Blacks)   *175g soft unsalted butter   *2 large eggs   *2 teaspoons real vanilla extract   *150ml soured cream

For the Icing –  *150g icing sugar  *100g  soft unsalted butter   *1 teaspoon vanilla extract   *a few teaspoons of cocoa   *splash of milk

For the topping –  *Bassets Licorice selection

To bake:

1.Take all of the cake ingredients out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.  Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180oC / 160Oc fan and butter 2 20cm sandwich tins.

2. Now, in a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla extract and sour cream.  Use a food processor or a hand whisk and beat until it’s smooth and thick.

Feline hungry?

3. Divide the mixture between the two greased tins and spread flat.  Bake until a skewer comes out clean but the cake has a springiness to it.  Will take around half an hour or so but check regularly.

4. Remove the cakes from the oven and press and tap out onto a wire rack and cool entirely.

5. Place one of the cakes on a drum and cut 2 triangles out of the other cake.  Using cocktail sticks fasten the triangles (ears) to the other cake (face).

6. To make the icing combine the icing sugar, butter, vanilla and a splash of milk in a bowl.  Leave a small amount of the white icing in one bowl and transfer the  lion’s share to another bowl and add cocoa to taste to this batch of icing.

7. Using a palette knife cover the cake with the chocolate icing.  Then add some of the white vanilla icing to the ears and the middle of the cat’s face.

8. I used licorice to make the cat’s eyes, heart-shaped nose and whiskers.

9. Ice a birthday message onto the drum if you like.  Add a few candles and say a special wish for the birthday boy or girl. x

Review: Starvin’ Marvins

27 Nov

What'll ya have?

Starvin’ Marvins

Central Parade,

Western Avenue,

London,

UB6 8TF

0208 998 5132

http://www.starvinmarvins.co.uk/

(Website doesn’t seem to work).

Starvin’ Marvin’s menu declares that they are “Not just a diner, but a way of life” and, you know, I totally understand that.  Americana diners are one of my all-time favourite things.   Whatever it is the formica tables, the rock n roll on the radio, the tiled floors, red leatherette bar stools, thick malt shakes, the juicy cheesey burgers or the sassy waitresses, they make me giddy.  Don’t understand what all of the fuss is about?  Have a look at Retro Roadmap to see  drool-worthy diners and roadside cafes in America  that will make you dream of hiring a Cadillac and hitting the open road.

And that’s why it is so very incongruous to see a sleek, aluminium 50s style diner, just past the Hoover building off the A40.  But there it is – decked out in neon, with a jukebox pumping out Johnny Cash and  burgers, dogs, shakes and baked cheesecakes being whipped up in the kitchen.  Roadside eating in the UK is pretty woeful, I think we can all agree.  Whether it’s the ‘Olympic‘ breakfasts at Little Chef or crazily expensive Ginsters at dreary ‘Welcome Break’ service-stations, I don’t envy truckers their lunch options.

Cheese Dawg and Fries

Starvin’ Marvins has so much of what makes travelling to the States and eating three square (read: huge) meals a day on the road fun.  The walls are decked out in Americana tat, the styling of the Diner is pretty perfect.  The food options are fun – chicken goujons, chilli cheese dogs, hot dogs with that squeezy cheese which I know I shouldn’t love (but do, I do, I do!), there are sloppy cheese burgers and more fries than you can shake a stick at.  The milkshakes were thick, malty and drizzled with syrup and scrummy.  The prices are reasonable,  but with Burger Kings and KFCs able to fill your belly for less, not as competitive as they should be.  However everything we ate was good.  Hot dogs are on the small side but tasty – in a guilty pleasure kind of way – and the fries are horribly addictive.

Where Starvin’ Marvins really lets itself down though, is the service.  Anyone who’s been to a real American Diner knows that the service is whip-smart.  Coffees are re-filled whilst you blink, the kitchen hums and the waitresses smile and call you “baby” as they serve you, fast.

Choc 'n' Malt Shake

At Starvin’ Marvins, service is slow. Glacially slow.  The Waitress didn’t acknowledge us when we arrived and took an aeon to serve us.  Unsmiling, she jotted down our order and then made it near-impossible to catch her eye.  The diner was – at most – a fifth full at any time and yet we, and other diners, found it crazy-hard to get some service.  This is no way good enough.  The waitresses were mardy and didn’t bothered about making any tips. It’s a shame that they didn’t import any American hospitality as I am sure they are losing return business.

Starvin’ Marvins was, without question, a really fun dinner.  The Ritz it aint, but unpretentious, terribly unhealthy, and lots and lots of fun.

Simple Supper: Blue Cheese Gnocchi

23 Nov

Creamy, easy, good.

So what does everyone think of John Torode? Do we like him? Is he one of the ones off the telly we like? I must confess I hardly ever watch Masterchef although I know I really should.  I’ve also never seen The Great British Bake-Off which is a sin, no question, but I like to think I atone by watching Man V. Food very nearly every day.

Anyway, so I haven’t seen much of John Torode – except for this Buttery Biscuit Base youtube sensation – but I have tried one of his recipes, namely this one from Good Food (where else?) and it was pretty darn nifty.

It doesn’t take too many ingredients – and I always like to have a bag of gnocchi lying about in the fridge as it’s cheap and can be knocked up with butter, a bit of cheese and a few sprigs of sage if you have basically no money and less inclination to cook – but this gnocchi recipe has the added value of spinach to make you feel Popeye-strong and creamy blue cheese to indulge you on a winter’s day.

To buy:

*500g gnocchi   *250g bag baby spinach   *100ml crème fraîche (half-fat if preferred)   *4 tbsp grated parmesan   *100g soft blue cheese (I used Saint Agur)

To make:

1. Cook the gnocchi in a very large pan of boiling, salted water to instructions (usually only for a couple of minutes until the first little pillow bubbles up to the surface) and plunge the spinach into the same pan and then immediately drain through a colander and get rid of any excess water.

2. Put the crème fraîche in a small ovenproof dish with the grated parmesan.  Add the hot, drained gnocchi, spinach, a load of freshly ground pepper and give it all a nice stir.  Crumble the blue cheese over the dish and make sure the seasoning’s just so.

3. Pop under a hot grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown. Serve straight away.

This meal is said to feed 4 but it only made 2 dinners and a small-ish packed lunch for me.  I am a chubalub, it’s true.

 

Memphis Dry Rub Ribs and ‘slaw

20 Nov

Love Me Tender

It’s only been a few weeks since Josh and I were expanding our waistlines in the Deep South but our cravings for wholesome, beautiful soul food have not diminished one jot.  If anything my hankering for smoky sweet pulled pork or heavenly barbecue beans or killer rum cocktails or tender spicy fried chicken has only intensified.

This weekend we did the only thing we could do.  We recreated a slice of the Deep South in the Deep South of England, in Winchester.  We bought four fine racks of pork ribs at the Good Life Farm Shop put some Howlin’ Wolf and bluegrass on the stereo, made a dry rub and slowly, slowly slowly baked the ribs. Oh my. They were incredible.  Soft, hot and spicy, juicy goodness.  Perfect with creamy slaw.  Get the best ribs you can, put aside an afternoon to potter about in your kitchen, leave your airs and graces to the side and prepare to get smudgy and devour these finger lickin’ tender ribs.

To buy (for 4 greedy people):

* 4 lovely racks of ribs   *1/4 cup paprika   *2tbsp salt   *2tbsp freshly ground black pepper   *2 tbsp onion powder   *1tbsp cayenne pepper   *2 tbsp garlic powder   *2 tbsp soft brown sugar

*half a cabbage   *2 small red onions   *a few small carrots   *splash of white vinegar   *125g mayo   *50g salad cream   *pinch of sugar   *salt and pepper

To make:

1. Mix the various spices in a bowl.  Wash the ribs and place, still damp, on a baking tray.  Sprinkle and pat the ribs – front and back – with the rub until it appears moist and fully covers the ribs.  Any rub you don’t use can be kept in an airtight container.

2. In a pre-heated oven (150OC) bake the ribs for 3 hours, or longer if you like (just turn down the oven if so).  The ribs will be blackened on the outside but soft, pink and juicy inside.

Rub a dub dub.

3. Once the ribs are in the oven make your coleslaw so that it has time to soak together and taste extra special.  With a knife or a processor shred the cabbage, onion and carrots.  In a large bowl combine and mix them then add the mayo, vinegar and salad cream.

4. Season with the salt and pepper and add a big pinch of sugar.  Give it all a good mix and leave covered in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.  Tinker with the ‘slaw and add more mayo or seasoning as you like.

5. When your ribs are ready serve with a number of napkins or paper towels, a light salad (if only to make you feel a little saintly)  your ‘slaw and then beans or sweetcorn if you feel like it.  Enjoy.

 

Simple Supper: Baked Beans and Bangers

16 Nov

A big warm hug of a dinner

This supper is perfect when you’ve spent all day drinking tea and wearing chunky jumpers but still want something warm and comforting for tea.  If you have the forethought to soak beans overnight you can do so, otherwise I just use a can of cooked beans.  Once you have the beans ready to go, the meal’s on the table in less than an hour with a minimal amount of faffing in between.

It also makes me think of this delightful clip of  Tobias Fünke in Arrested Development asking his family who wants “a banger in the mouth”. And what more can you ask for, really?

To buy (for 2 big bowls):

*200g dried haricot beans/ 1 tin cooked haricot beans   *1 tbsp olive oil   *6 lovely pork sausages   *1 red onion or a few shallots, finely sliced   *2 garlic cloves, finely chopped   *1 red chilli de-seeded and finely chopped   *2tbsp sundried tomato puree   *1tsp smoked paprika   *1 pinch of sugar   *100ml red wine   *125ml chicken stock   *1tbsp balsamic vinegar   *salt and pepper   *1 bunch of parsley, torn-up.

To make:

1. If using dried beans, soak them overnight in cold water.  Drain the water and then rinse the beans and pop them in a large pan with water.  Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until the beans are soft then drain.

2. Preheat the oven to 180Oc/gas mark 4.  Drizzle the oil in a casserole dish, add the sausages and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or so, until they’re golden brown all over.

3. Then add the onion to the dish and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and chilli and cook for a few more minutes.  Now add the beans, paprika, tomato puree, wine, stock, vinegar and seasoning. Mix well and cover with tin foil.  Pop a few holes in the tin foil and then pop in the oven.

4. Cook for 45 minutes.  If the bake is too dry add more stock, if too wet then remove the foil lid after about half an hour and cook until it’s the right consistency. Before you serve stir in the parsley.

5. Nice with buttery warm bread or spoonfuls of creamy mash.

 

 

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