Monthly Archives: July 2009

Tomato & Garlic Focaccia

This months challenge from Fresh from the oven is to make a Focaccia using which ever recipe we wanted to. Focaccia is becoming a staple in this house. I probably make some version of focaccia more than any other type of bread. It’s perfect for barbecues or when we have people over to dinner because it is easy to share.

I made this variant for my Birthday BBQ and it went down very well. The tomatoes give it a nice change in texture and sweetness. The only slight alteration I would make next time would be to add the garlic to the dough as it caught a bit on top when added to the oil.

Tomato & Garlic Focaccia
Makes 1 large foccacia
Based on a recipe from River Cottage – Bread

500g strong white bread flour
5g fast action yeast
10g fine salt
325ml warm water (mix 100ml boiling water with 225ml of cold water)
1 tbsp olive oil (for the dough)
2 tbsp olive oil mixed with 2 minced garlic cloves (for the topping)
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
flaky sea salt

1) Mix together the flour, yeast, salt and water. Once the ingredients are combined add the olive oil. Knead for around 10 min until the dough is smooth and silky. At the stage, if using a mixer, the bowl should be clean of dough.

2) Shape the dough into a round and leave to rise in a covered and greased bowl until it has nearly doubled in size.

3) Tip the dough out and work in a rough rectangle shape then place in an oiled baking tray. Cover and allow to rise for 20 min.

4) Preheat the oven to 250oc (or as high as it will go). When the bread has had its half hour rise prod it with your fingers to get the cratered texture then push the tomato halves into the dough. Drizzle with the garlicky olive oil then sprinkle with salt & rosemary.

5) Bake for 10 min then bake for a further 10min at 200oc. Leave to cool on a wire rack for around 10 min before serving.

Strawberry Ice Cream Cupcakes

It’s that time of year again when I break up for the summer holiday and celebrate my birthday. As Hubby & I have known each other for 9 years he knows exactly what I like. With the KitchenAid for my birthday last year and the trip to River Cottage for Christmas he outdid himself yet again this year with an iPhone for me. I’ve been talking about buying myself one for ages, but have been saving up. For my birthday I also got some beautiful flowers, lovely set of new saucepans (after the handles fell off my old ones), microplane grater, Lothian raspberry vodka from Demijohn and some other lovely foodie gifts. What you can’t see in the photo above was that 3rd Birthday was the birthday I got a Fisher Price kitchen set for my birthday, a sign of things to come?

To celebrate my birthday we had a BBQ, something of which has come a bit of a tradition. Thankfully the rain held off and in amongst the various vegetables and raised beds we had a barbecued shoulder of hogget (sourced from a smallholding friend) along with some tomato focaccia, roasted new potatoes, beetroot hummus and salad.

For after the BBQ I made a peach melba jelly and also wanted a nostalgic cake. When I saw the Ice Cream Cupcakes on Mums Who Bake a few weeks back I knew they would be perfect. As a child I can remember how much I loved the marshmallow filled ice cream cones that were a treat and any trip to the seaside was incomplete without a Mr Whippy. As strawberries often featured in my childhood birthday cakes I wanted to add the pulp from the last few strawberries from the garden into the icing.

One thing about traditional cupcakes is that I’m not a big fan of buttercream as I find it too sweet, so decided to try a cream cheese frosting. Well, I have to say I’m converted to cream cheese icing. Although it doesn’t last as long as buttercream and it isn’t as stiff, it’s not as sweet as buttercream and absolutely delicious. I could quite happily just eat the icing! I really enjoyed my making these cakes and I’m going to try and do more swirly icing on cakes now I’ve found an icing I like. Still need a bit more practice with the icing bag and I’m going to try and see if I can find bigger icing nozzles as the shops here have quite a limited selection.

One thing I did learn from this is don’t overfill the ice cream cone or it will dramatically burst and dribble cake mix down the cone.

Strawberry Ice Cream Cupcakes
Makes 8-10

For the cakes
125g plain flour
125g vanilla sugar (or caster sugar)
125g softened butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tsp baking powder
8 flat bottomed ice cream cones

For the icing
240g cream cheese, cold from the fridge (it has to be the full fat version or it won’t work)
80g softened butter
150g – 190g icing sugar (to taste)
the pulp of a few mashed strawberries
3 full sized flakes cut into 1/4

1) Preheat the oven to 180oc. Beat together the sugar, butter and eggs, then mix in the rest of the ingredients.

2) Line up the cones on a baking sheet. It does make it slightly easier if you put the cones in the cups of a bun pan.

3) Fill up the cones about 2/3 with cake mix. Don’t overfill or they go everywhere! Bake in the oven for 15 min, or until they are golden and pass the skewer test. Allow to cool on a wire rack before icing.

4) Once the cakes have cooled beat together the butter and cream cheese then mix in the sieved icing sugar to taste. Fold in the strawberries then pipe onto the the cakes. Decorate with a flake.

5) If you want the icing to be a bit firmer, chill in the fridge for a few hours.

Cherry Beer Ice Cream

I first came across Mark @ Pencil & Spoon’s recipe for beer ice cream a few months back and after making a winning raspberry beer ice cream I knew I had to try some other beers to test how they worked. This batch is for my Birthday BBQ this weekend.

I admit I’m not a huge ice cream eater. I don’t like Hagen Daz et al far too sweet and sickly for me. The best ice cream, in my opinion, is the delicious selection from Needwood Dairy…and of course this beer ice cream. I have another ice cream idea in the pipeline based on one of my favourite English cakes, but you’ll have to wait for that because I’m still developing the recipe.

To make the ice cream was also an excuse to use my newest KitchenAid Gadget – an Ice cream bowl and beater
This is not the first time I’ve made ice cream in the KitchenAid. The Damson Gin sorbet didn’t work (I had gone a bit mad with the gin!), blackberry & apple sorbet waiting to be tasted and the raspberry beer ice cream, well lets just say it didn’t last long as it was so delicious! The only think Mark says about making this is be careful with your choice of beer. Ideally you do not want a too hoppy beer as it can make the ice cream too bitter.

The beer in it gives it more of an adult flavour. Rich and fruity with a hint of bitterness to stop to being too sweet. The cherry juice in the beer gives the ice cream a beautiful cerise hue. This ice cream would be a perfect accompaniment to a rich dark chocolate brownie. I should also point out this is possibly one of the easiest ice cream recipes known to man. 3 ingredients, no egg, no faffing.

UPDATE: We ate this at my birthday BBQ and it was unanimously decided it tastes just like a Bakewell Tart. You can certainly taste almonds in it. Now this breakthrough means my grand plan to create an ice cream based on my favourite cake (a Bakewell Tart!) has now been shelved as I seem to have achieved it without trying.

Fruit Beer Ice Cream

1 can of condensed milk
300ml double cream
250ml-300ml fruit beer (I use Samuel Smith’s fruit beer range)

Gently whisk together all of the ingredients then pour into the ice cream maker. Done!

Omega Seed Brittle

With the 3-Peak Challenge looming both Hubby & I are trying to find ways to help us get through the 11am and 3pm sugar slump without reaching for the biscuit tin. To help keep on top of my snacking at work I usually pack a bento box. This helps me control portion size as well as encouraging me to have a balanced diet. Hubby is talking of taking a bento snack box to work to keep him away from the temptation of the corner shop. Hubby in particiular has a very sweet tooth so these bars are perfect for him, because not only does he get a good sugar hit it has the added benefits of slow release energy and all the good stuff that is in seeds. A Mars bar can’t promise to do that!

I always have a packet of mixed seeds in the cupboard. Not only are they great for making granola with, but also for sprinkling on cereal and adding to flapjacks. I also carry a small tupperware box of seeds and dry fruit in my handbag for low energy wobbles. This particular seed mix contains pumpkin, sunflower, sesame seeds and linseed which means it is packed with omega-3. Great for body and mind. Omega-3 is something that the body can’t produce and must be introduced through diet. I know there is some debate as to the benefits of omega oils, but I notice a significant difference in my skin and moods when I have a regular intake of it. However I don’t buy into all the products out there at the moment with “added omega-3”. I prefer to get it straight from the source. These products are just playing on public anxiety and food fads making out that Omega is a new amazing supplement, when in reality it has been something all of our bodies have needed from year dot.

The main source of Omega-3 is oily fish, but as I’m not a big fish eater I try to find other ways to getting it and this is perfect.I buy my omega seed mix from a Vegan Wholefood shop, but I have seen similar mixes in the supermarket.

When your making this, what ever you do make sure you wash the pan soon after making it or you’ll have a job getting the encrusted honey off the pan.

Omega Seed Brittle

85g (approx 6 tbsp) omega seed mix or similar
3 tbsp honey

1) Place both the honey and seeds in a frying pan and slowly heat until the honey has begun to caramelise and the nuts begin to toast.

2) Pour out onto a piece of baking parchment and allow to set in the fridge.

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