Monthly Archives: May 2013

Guest Post – Cheese & Bacon Breakfast (or anytime, really) Muffins

I am writing this in your past. Days ago, actually. Days when I was unencumbered by a wailing human of seaslug proportions, cognition and capabilities (at the time of writing I am making assumptions about NewHuman which may turn out to be totally unfounded.  Doubt it).  Anyway C has ably stepped in and is offering up a guest post, comprised of savoury muffins.

Revolutionary.  I always forget muffins can be savoury.

Either way, do enjoy. I have been FREAKING AMAZING and have written two further posts which shall also appear in the future, albeit composed in the past – very confusing, this time-travelling bloggage – so keep your joy to a minimum. You’re not entirely rid of me yet.

Thanks C – read on!

Hello! I am a voluntary guest blogger filling the textual gap that will inevitably be happening during delivery of NewHuman, pleased to meet you! I should begin by declaring outright that my intuitive baking skills extend barely further than the most basic of small cakes – in fact I once managed to manufacture a supposedly simple yoghurt dip so beyond edible that I could’ve been accused of deliberate sabotage – but I have the ability to follow written instructions and I can spell most words correctly, so I was happy to take up the honoured gauntlet thrown down via twitter by B.

This particular recipe is adapted slightly from one I saw on www.goodtoknow.co.uk.

Let’s get started.

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For this cheesy, bacony deliciousness, you will need to gather together some kitchen essentials in the following amounts:

Bacon, thick cut, 4 slices – I am using smoked, it’s a personal preference
250g plain flour
15g baking powder
50g strong cheddar
75g chilled butter
1 large egg
175ml milk – I am using semi-skimmed
A little black pepper for seasoning
12-hole cake tray and muffin cases
A little extra grated cheese to top

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Begin by preheating your oven to 200°C. I always forget to do this and end up waiting for what feels like ages for it to warm up enough to cook things in, so I’m telling you this now to save you from being tempted to eat raw flour through boredom.

Next, cook the bacon. I would usually grill it but today I am using a frying pan because the lady I am dog and house-sitting for has  recently got a new kitchen and doesn’t know how to switch her grill on yet, so she couldn’t show me how to do it before she went on holiday. I could probably work it out, but I wouldn’t want to risk accidentally breaking her new oven.

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After the bacon is cool enough to handle, cut the fat off if you didn’t do that before cooking (again, personal preference) and chop the meat into reasonably small bits. Dispose of the fat as you wish – I had a couple of willing recipients.

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Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped bacon, cheese, and the black pepper. Use a cheese grater to grate the chilled butter into the bowl and stir with a fork.

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Beat the egg with the milk and stir into the dry mixture until it is just blended. Don’t overdo it, if it’s a bit lumpy that’s fine.

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Line your cake tray with the muffin cases and spoon the mixture as evenly as you can into each case. Top with the extra bit of grated cheese.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden, risen and firm to the touch. Serve the muffins warm, or cool them on a wire rack. They will be best eaten fresh, but would last a few days in an appropriate airtight container – I don’t think they’d be around long enough to store them in my house though. Bacon makes everything better.

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Giant Choc Chip & Hazelnut Cookies

These are cookies, no doubt about it. Nothing biscuity, delicate or refined about them. They are big bastard things.

Delicious, to the point of heart attack, and guaranteed disappointment-face when the boyfriend asks if there are any left and you have to tell him you gave the last one away.

The recipe is from the all recipes.co.uk website, and previous guest-poster E has also used them as a successful base recipe. She does lovely things like include peanut caramel fudge. I’m not fancy like her, so I’ve gone plainer. Relatively.

Right.

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Gather together a lot of really unhealthy stuff, in the following amounts:

250g plain flour
Half teaspoon bicarb soda
170g melted butter (recipe says unsalted, but then asks you add salt. Insanity. Just use salted butter)
200g dark brown sugar (I used light brown)
100g caster sugar (to be honest you could drop these sugar amounts by a quarter each, I reckon, if you dare)
Big slosh vanilla extract
1 egg
1 extra egg yolk
Recipe says 325g choc chips – I used 200g mixed milk and dark choc chips, and 100g chopped hazelnuts

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Preheat your oven to 170C and line some baking trays with baking paper. Might take a couple of rounds of baking to get through the mix.

Sift (or whisk) together the flour and bicarb in a bowl.

In another bowl blend the sugars and the butter, then add the vanilla and egg and egg yolks and beat till it goes light and creamy. It’s pretty obvious when that is.

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Cut in the dry ingredients, adding to the wet mix. Actually, that is what the recipe says to do. I added the wet mix to the dry. HOLY SHIT.

Things worked out fine. Do it whichever hell way you fancy the most.

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Then mix in the choc chips, nuts, etc. It’s a sticky annoyance of a mix.

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The recipe also says to then drop 4 tablespoons of mix onto the baking trays for each cookie. More insanity, unless tablespoon means something entirely different here in the UK to Australia. I dropped a heaped, single tablespoon onto the tray. Was fine. Was plenty, actually.

They spread heaps, so leave room, do, between them. Don’t flatten the dough. Leave them in big, dodgy lumps.

Stick them in the oven for about 15 mins or so, till the edges start to lightly toast.

The dog turns 3 tomorrow. She has no idea, she is a bit thick still. She thinks the delicious canned tuna she had for supper tonight was just cause she’s cute. Nope.

Right. Cookies. Pics of the final product after the jump. I should let you know you are in for a week or two of guest posts from valued contributors. I just need to duck off for a day or three and produce a NewHuman I’ve been (very) averagely baking, but will be back asap with tales of incredible bravery and swift emptying of bottles of booze, packets of stinky cheese, and half a kilo of nigiri. All things I’ve been prevented from enjoying for way too long now…. And of dealing with a jealous pup. Poor pup. She has no idea.

Till then, enjoy the cookies. Size of your face, they are. Excessive. Brilliant.

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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Blueberry Clafoutis

As I write this, everyone is getting into gear here on the European side of Earth for Eurovision. I don’t get Eurovision. Maybe you have to be European to get it. I do, supportively, watch it most years with the boyfriend. I’m excellent that way.

Today I made Clafoutis. I’ve never made clafoutis before, I had no idea what to expect in terms of taste or texture. I got the recipe via the Guardian.co.uk website – just google Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall blueberry clafoutis and you’ll find it easy enough.

It’s interesting stuff, clafoutis, assuming I’ve made it properly. I’ve read online that clafoutis should have a texture between custard and pancake – that’s definitely what I achieved, but I thought it was a bit odd in the eating. At least at first.

I’d make again but with the addition of ground almonds to the custardy batter, maybe cooking for very slightly longer. Pretty confident that’d be yum.

Far be it from me to dictate what clafoutis should be like, eh.

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Gather:-

Butter, for greasing
75g plain flour
Pinch of salt
75g caster sugar
2 medium eggs, plus 1 medium egg white
300ml whole milk
400g blueberries
A little icing sugar, to finish
Double cream, to serve

I decided to make this cause it calls for whole milk. We don’t really drink whole milk in this house, I’m all about the skimmed milk, I like it as close to water as I can get it with it still being milk. Boyfriend goes for the semi-skimmed. Reason for the whole milk being in the house is my Mum is arriving from Oz imminently, visiting with us for a while. Mum drinks whole milk. I hope she’s brought her winter clothes, for summer here is pretty much replicating a greyer winter than she might expect from back home in Perth.

Oops.

Anyway, yay! Mum! Whole milk!

Put your oven on to preheat at 190C/Gas Mark 5.

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Sift (or whisk) the flour, salt and sugar all together.

Chuck the 2 eggs and 1 egg white in a bowl and whisk.

Get the milk measured out.

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Pour the whisked eggs into a well you’ll have no doubt made in the dry ingredients, and using your whisk just beat it carefully together, slowly incorporating the flour from the sides into the mix. It’ll end up looking like the above.

Then add the milk, in parts, till all combined. Basically, to me, it looked like runny pancake mix.

Liberally butter a baking dish – something bit over 20cm square or rectangular, or 25cm round. I had oval. Rebellious.

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Tip your washed blueberries into the buttered dish and pour over the batter. Drown them, drown them ALL.

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Then into the oven, taking the time to admire the lack of true scrubbing achieved last time you washed up the dish.

Also note NewOven’s shelves could do with a wash. Admit, immediately, that they’re unlikely to get one for some time. Or ever.

Wait 30 minutes for the clafoutis to cook.

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Study of Dog Under Blanket #2

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When done it’ll look a bit puffed up and smell pretty good.

Hugh F-W reckons this is best eaten just warm, or at room temperature. I left it to cool on the stovetop whilst I had a nice afternoon nap and the boyfriend wallowed in his traditional Saturday bath.

We ate it with strawberries and double cream. I was a bit disconcerted when I saw the texture of the custardy bit – it is slightly like an undercooked, thick pancake but all together with the berries, icing sugar and cream it came up nice and I’m now happy to eat the rest of it.

Happy Eurovision, yes?

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Double Choc Vanilla Biscuits

Hullo.

You’ll be unsurprised to hear I’ve been moaning about the British weather again, but even the Brits are moaning it’s that bad.  12C today, high, in mid-May. I had my finger hovering over the central heating button this morning.  Mid-May.  Winter coat on when walking the dog at the park.  Mid-May.  I think someone/thing, somewhere, heard my cries as instead of the forecast rain this afternoon we’ve had about 90 mins of sunshine, happily coinciding with me finishing off some work and sitting in the park.  Again.  With the dog.  No winter coat this time.  Just a blazer. And scarf. And socks.  And long trousers.

Either way, it’s not due to improve at all this next week in terms of greyness, although there are weak forecasts of warmer temperatures.  WE SHALL SEE.  In the meantime, the boyfriend (quite fairly, I guess, considering I’ve been a regular weather-bitch for nigh on 18 months now, although that’s totally not my fault) will have to sigh patiently as he agrees with me that the weather is shit.

Made the below cookies last weekend. Are good.  Recipe is one adapted from the below cookbook which I found on the shelf, didn’t know I owned, after I decided to try to make more use of the books.  They just sit there watching me look at recipes online, with the accusing stairs of the elderly left abandoned by their families in grim nursing homes.

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Quite a handy book of recipes, in the end.  I’ll definitely revisit.

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I got together:-

75g/3oz butter, softened a bit but not melty

175g/6oz muscovado or light brown sugar

1 egg (recommend medium – I used a small one, needed to add a dash of water at the end)

150g/5oz self raising flour

2 tablespoons good cocoa powder

big splash of vanilla essence

50g almonds, chopped (pre-chopped ones for lazy bastards like me are the best)

100g good quality choc chips

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Pre-heat your oven to Gas Mark 4 or 180C.

You’re supposed to cream the  butter and sugar together till soft and light and creamy and stuff. My butter wasn’t soft enough so I got it to the above stage, got jack of the mess the handbeaters were making, and just added the egg.  That worked fine.

Add the rest of the ingredients.  Go on.  Commit.

If your egg was small you may need to add a (tiny) dash of water to loosen things up a bit, but essentially you want a dough like that displayed below:-

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Very sticky.  Might I recommend you cut in the almonds and choc chips (or whatever you are adding) with a metal spoon, right at the end?

Yes?

So, do.

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Roll out into balls, kind of flatten a little with your hand. This dough was stickier than the attentions of an unwanted suitor at a Sunday session, so I wet my hands a little as I went.  It helped.  This did result in the finished biscuit being a bit maybe higher and firmer than intended, so if you want try just dropping a dessertspoon of the mix onto the tray and see how you get on.

Lay them on a tray, leaving some space, using some baking paper to line the tray.

Into the oven with them, for about 8-10 mins or so.

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Study of Dog Wearing Blanket #1

Rightyo – below are the finished product.  Freaking delicious. Don’t over-cook.

Substitute the nuts for your own faves, the choc chips for whatever colour you like best.

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Ribs with Smoky Barbecue Sauce

Last weekend we bought groceries from Waitrose because we’re idiots with even less sense than we do money.  Anyway I had a grand ribs idea, so ribs it was.  I wasn’t to know that just 2 days later the boyfriend’s father would be feeding us Bank-Holiday-Monday lunch of ribs he’d made in his fancy smoker (our Xmas present to him a couple of years ago, now come to bite us) and with the boyfriend’s mum’s long-held family recipe for amazing sauce.

Unwittingly, unknowingly, and with a virgin hand, having never cooked ribs before, I rustled up the below with a bit of help from a recipe on the taste.com.au website.  I’ve visited there a bit lately.  I think using the internet to find recipes is the easy option, I hardly ever walk up to the below shelf in the sitting room…

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…and pull out a recipe book.  I bloody should.

To be fair, however, I’m pretty sure the ancient CWA cookbook wouldn’t have anything as exotic as ribs in it, although if I ever need to make a sultana scone I’m very well catered for.

Moving right along…

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Gather, for about 1.5kg of ribs (I admit to lessening my ingredients a bit because only had 1kg or so of ribs. Pig ribs.  Pig ribs are best in this instance):-

3/4 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 long red chilli, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

ribs

I also went off-recipe and added some chipotle sauce because, you know, it’s good.

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Slop everything into a big, wideish ceramic bowl and mix.  I’ve learnt that it’s better to crush the sugar lumps out before mixing.  I recommend you do.

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Mix in all the ribs, making sure they’re well covered with sauce.  The whole thing will smell peculiar – both good and rank all at once.  Like sharp, vinegary and smokey bbq, but also death.

Cover with some clingfilm and leave to marinate for at least 6 hours, or overnight if you have been incredibly well organised.

I left these for about 4 hours. It’d been a busy day.

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Pre-heat your oven to about 160C or 140C if you’ve gone fan forced

Line a nice big baking tray with foil.  Absolutely, categorically do this unless spending a few days scrubbing said baking tray, pointlessly, sounds like fun to you.

On top lay a rack, maybe the one from your oven grill?  Worked for me.  Lay your ribs on top and cover with foil.

Stick them in the oven for 90-mins, flipping and basting with the leftover sauce every time you pay them a visit.  So, if your maths is bad, you’ll do two visits, then a third.  Keep them under the foil whilst they’re in the oven.

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By the third visit they should start to look something like the above.

Take the foil off, raise the temperature to 200C/180C fan-forced, brush with more marinade and cook for another 30 mins.

Whilst this is happening you’re supposed to pour the rest of the leftover marinade into a little saucepan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes till it thickens a bit.  I couldn’t be arsed, and I didn’t really have enough left.  I probably should’ve bothered.  So, make sure you bother.

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Voila.  Charred rib of pig.

Bloody delicious, actually.

We ate with a previously-blogged coleslaw that the boyfriend threw together (found here – https://averagebaker.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/coleslaw-and-potato-salad-you-lucky-things-you/ ) .  Exceptionally good with these.

You’ll need a few napkins as it’s not polite eating, and you’ll need to not mention to the boyfriend’s father when presented with his version of pig-ribs that you’d already had enough that week, thanks very much.

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Sour Cream Brownies (with leftover Easter eggs)

 

Afternoon

We’ve spent this morning at the giant Westfield nearby, purchasing such fun things as underpants, belts and jeans for the boyfriend and food for us both.  There is now washing on, the dishwasher is running, I’ve got some ribs on to marinate and the boyfriend is making coleslaw to go with it.  The Giro wotsit Italia is on the telly so we are also kind of exercising as we go.  Kind of.

The new decking is almost complete and I’ll be sure to include a proud photo in my next post.  I’m surprisingly energised by being able to grow stuff again this year. Def getting older.

Anyway.  Made these brownies earlier this week, both cause I fancied it, cause I had some sour cream to use up, and to feed the decking dude (best to keep the tradies sweet, eh).  They were frigging amazing, mostly cause I fucked up and took them out of the oven slightly too early.  An excellent way to fuck up, if you’re making brownies.

It’s raining and sunny but with a long weekend promising actual sunny weather, London is a mostly pleasant place to be at the moment.  I do enjoy the pointless optimism fair weather brings us here in Britland.  Pointless because, come October, it’s a dark and endless place to exist.

Speaking of, it’s 12 years to the day since I landed in London, fresh-faced and unsullied, for a couple of years of work and travel.  Am still here.

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You’ll want, as this is a fairly bog-standard brownie recipe:-

200g or so of chocolate, broken up.  Darker is better for brownies, so go as good as you can

125g butter, chopped up a bit

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup plain flour

1/4 cup self raising flour

2 good tablespoons of cocoa (as usual the best cocoa you can manage)

1/2 a cup, or slightly more if you fancy it, of sour cream or creme fraiche

some extra choc bits if you like, bout 100g

nuts of your choosing.  I went with almonds, and used about half a cup

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I was going to use some old Xmas present choc the boyfriend had been keeping in the cupboard, forgotten about, but then remembered we had some leftover hazelnut praline mini eggs from the recent Rome trip, so figured might as well give them a run.

There used to be these kinds of eggs at home in Oz, at Easter time, called Noggys I think.  Bloody LOVED them.  Haven’t seen them for years.

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In a saucepan throw the chocolate and butter and melt together over a low heat.  Turn them out into a bigger bowl, using a spatula to get every last scrape out.

In the interests of science I tried a (quite lot) of this to see if the hazelnut flavour came through.  It totally did in the melted chocolate/butter mix but I don’t reckon I could tell much of a difference in the finished brownie.

Anyway add to the choc mix, in the big bowl, your sugar, stir through, and the two eggs, mixing well.

Add the flours and cocoa, then the sour cream.

 

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Then your nuts and chocolate.

As usual I’ve forgotten to tell you to preheat your oven to about 160C and to grease and line a pan.  I used a 21cm square cake tin.  They ended up quite thick brownies but, as previously referenced, properly excellently gooey.

God I wish we’d not run out of these.  I totally want one now.

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Smooth the mix out into your greased receptacle of choice and throw into the oven for around 40 mins.  I use a wooden skewer to test, and a bit of wobble as well.  Basically you want no wobble but some kind of echo of it in the middle, and you want a not-wet-but-definitely-moist-bits-on-it result on the skewer.  I then turn off the oven, crack the door a little and leave it in there for another 15 mins or so.

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Dog has no manners in bed.  She gives all the goods away for free, as you can see.  No class.

Take your brownies out after the resting time, let them cool completely in the tin, then turn out and slice into whatever size you fancy.

Eat.  It’ll gack up your gums in the absolute best way possible.  It would probably be well tasty with a dollop of creme fraiche on top, actually.  I didn’t bother.

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