Saturday, 29 January 2011

Date, Apricot and Orange Chutney

Whilst visiting family over Christmas, there was of course a ridiculous amount of food to make sure we left their shores a few pounds heavier. We definitely made the most of it and did a very good job of over indulging on all the things we can't get over here. (mmm, cadbury's chocolate, wensleydale and what would Christmas be without a mince pie - or 10?) I tell a lie. Some things they do import but unfortunately there's always a hefty price tag around it's neck. I actually saw a small jar of chutney in a department store for 8.95 euros!

So when I was rifling through my Mam's food stash and came across some homemade chutney I decided to build my lunch around it. The orange provided a great balance to the sweet apricots and dates and oh my it was good. We tried to control ourselves but, a little naughtily, we managed to finish it off in a couple of sittings. It was the perfect accompaniment to a nice bit of blue cheese and some melba toast. Mmm. Well she did say that it was there to be eaten so I did what I was told. Maybe she would've liked some too though? Oops.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I'm always looking for an excuse to bake and so when my boyfriend suggested that I could make something for him to take in for his French class I jumped at the chance. Being slightly obsessed with red I decided on these beauties which have been on my to do list for months. I realise that some people are getting a little bored of the whole cupcake thing but living in the Netherlands where cupcakes aren't available at every corner I still get excited about them. And they seemed to go down well with everyone so it was win, win for everyone involved. I got to bake and they got to eat! Now all I need is a red Kitchenaid to go with the cakes. Hint, hint.

The cupcake itself isn't too sweet and is rather plain actually as it only uses 10g of cocoa powder for 12 cupcakes. The cake is really just a platform for the deliciousness that is the cream cheese frosting which I most definitely did not eat with a spoon from the bowl. I was worried about putting too much on and them being too sweet and sickly but I honestly don't think that you can put too much on. Pile it high! This frosting would be a great base for additions too. Maybe a little lemon zest for lemon cupcakes or even a little finely chopped stem ginger if you're making ginger ones.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Proving it Works

It's taken me a while to get round to making a stab at my first official post. What with work and travelling back to the UK for Christmas things have been somewhat manic. So I thought I'd start with something that I try to make every weekend if I can. Homemade Bread! It's amazing and surprisingly easy once you get the hang of the kneading thing. In fact it's a great thing to do if you want to vent a bit of anger! I've tried quite a few recipes and methods and this weekend I thought I'd try a method that I've read about but have never been organised enough on a night to start. So, this weekend I tried the overnight proving method. The process basically involves leaving the dough to prove for the first time overnight in the fridge. This slows down the fermentation process and, so I'd read, makes for a more flavoursome loaf.

So, on Saturday night I got out the scales and gave it a go. I mixed, kneaded and covered the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and a little sceptically placed it in the fridge until the morning. I had a sneaky peak just before I went to bed and it had already started to grow which was exciting. I did have visions of opening the fridge the next morning to see that the dough hadn't stopped growing and that it had filled every available crevice. But no! It had nicely doubled in size and was still within the confines of it's bowl. So far, so good. From that point the process was the same as if you'd left the bread to prove at room temperature. I knocked it back, let it prove for a second time and then baked it.