Oh my goodness. It has been AGES. I’ve come to the conclusion that I have two lives, my winter life where I cook and blog and feel all cosy and domesticated and then there is my summer life which is a lovely whirlwind of weddings and birthdays, eating out and drinking – leaving little time for cooking and blogging.
I have been cooking though and experimenting with things I haven’t tried before. My aim tonight is a bit of a whistlestop tour of recipes I’ve attempted, some have been amazing, some have failed miserably. I may do this over two posts if my fingers get tired after 18 weeks off – I feel like an MP with the length of my summer break! Anyway, on we go.
I’m making an executive decision to skip past some of the more mundane dishes and go with the show stoppers – mundane could be pasta or meatballs – stuff that’s new but not too difficult to make.
First up we had some Grown Up Mocha cupcakes, made with real coffee and the most amazingly naughty mocha topping. Whilst in my summer break I had a bit of a special birthday and hit the big 3-0 – I wasn’t all that happy about it but I did get a really lovely baking book from Mr Gem, it’s called Baking Magic and is by a lady called Kate Shirazi – this recipe is from that book. Happily another blogger out there has already written out the recipe for me so have a look: Grown-up mocha cupcakes and thank you very much to Lola and Finn’s mum for saving me the job of typing it out.
The recipe is so simple – for the cakes mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, marg, baking powder eggs and coffee together until well mixed and light and fluffy, spoon the mixture into muffin cases and bake in the oven for 20 mins. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. While the cakes are cooling make the icing, which consists of butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder and instant coffee dissolved in water. Amazing. To be honest we were lucky to get any icing on the cake, I couldn’t stop eating it!
The cakes turned out light and fluffy and nicely balanced with the chocolate and the coffee. Yummy. I don’t make this recipe very often because it is completely dangerous for the waistline!
In the same week as the cupcakes I also attempted a new recipe from Nigel Slater Kitchen Diaries:
Lamb Osso Busco with Giant Shells
Another surprisingly simple but delicious recipe, marred only by the fact I couldn’t find any Marsala wine in my local big green shop…however you can follow Madame Gourmands recipe who made a similar version and blogged about it here this is essentially a lovely casserole type dish made with onions, celery, carrots and lamb, served with buttery garlicky pasta. It was a bit different from what I normally cook, but so delicious I would definitely cook it again. Because I didn’t have any marsala I had to concoct a sauce from white wine and tomato puree, so probably didn’t really taste anything like the real thing – however still good, as soon as I get my hands on some marsala I’ll have another crack at it!
So far so good on the catch up but I have to say that one of my favourite new discoveries over the summer was another sweet bake. I don’t do much baking as I always get a bit cross when I can’t make my cakes look as pretty as I’d like. However, these cakes looked good and tasted amazing, enjoy…
Cherry Bakewell Cupcakes
These cakes are absolutely delicious – they taste exactly like a Cherry bakewell.
The recipe came out of my Good Housekeeping bakes and cakes book – I can’t find a recipe online exactly like the one I have used but there is a similar one on BBC Food the main difference between the two being that rather than use jam I used chopped up glace cherries. Making the cake was pretty standard, all the cake ingredients well mixed together until light and fluffy, then stir in the cherries. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes and then leave to cool. Then comes the icing. Mix a tablespoon of custard powder with boiled milk and stir until thickened, mix in with butter and icing sugar and leave to set a bit, then spread over your cakes – this is hands down one of the best cake toppings I ever tasted. Once you’ve iced your cakes top each one with half a glace cherry and leave to set. Yummy!
And finally for this evening I’ll finish with a risotto, old favourite basic dish but with a twist I’ve never tried before.
Pea and Mint Risotto with Seared Scallops
Now that I have a house with a bit of outdoor space I have been trying to grow some bits for myself – I have lavender, parsley, basil and a mint plant now growing so wanted to use some mint in my cooking. I decided on a pea and mind risotto after finding a recipe in Delicious magazine It was a very simple recipe, simply make a standard white risotto base, then boil some peas and pop them in the blender with mint leaves and olive oil. Stir the puree into the risotto and serve with some seared scallops and parmesan cheese. This was a really delicious but light tea, perfect for summer!
I think this is where I should conclude my update for now, I have two or three more recipes to cover but I want to do them justice so they need their own post!