Gingerbread Biscuits

Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!(Taken from the Gingerbread man song, Unknown)

Gingerbread Biscuits

Gingerbread Biscuits

If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to put up the Christmas tree, yippee!  Although you can’t go wrong with baubles, tinsel and lights- I love having a sweet treat up there as well. Purple foil-wrapped Cadbury’s chocolates hanging from gold thread are a favourite in my household but this year I’m going to try making decorations out of gingerbread.
I have some wonderful cookie cutters in the shapes of snowflakes and Christmas trees and I’ve been dying to try them out. I sometimes struggle making biscuits but these have worked out really well. I hope you like them too!

Gingerbread biscuits

(makes lots)

Ingredients

350 gr. Plain flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling out.
180 gr. Light soft brown sugar
130gr. Butter
1egg
4tbsp. Golden syrup
1tsp. Bicarbonate of soda
1tsp. Ground cinnamon
2tsp. Ground ginger

For decoration

Zest and juice of half an orange
200 gr Icing sugar
a little water may be necessary.

Method

  • In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and ginger. I like mixing with a knife.
  • Add the butter and use your fingertips to mix until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  • Stir the sugar into the mix.
  • In another bowl, (I use a measuring jug), lightly beat the egg and syrup together.
  • Use the knife to mix until fully incorporated.
  • Next, knead the mix with your hands, adding extra flour where necessary, to bring to a smooth ball.
  • Wrap the dough in Clingfilm and leave it in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4
  • Line a baking tray with baking or greaseproof paper.
  • Roll the dough out to no more than half centimetre. Preferably slightly less but not too thin either.
  • Using your cutter, preferably a lovely Christmas one, cut out the shapes.
  • If you do intend to hang them on your Christmas tree, use a skewer to make a small hole at the top of each biscuit.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
  • Leave on the tray for 10 minutes before transferring them to the cooling rack.
  • To make the icing, add the icing sugar into the bowl, add the juice and zest and mix together until smooth but not runny.
  • Put the icing sugar in a piping bag and decorate in a pattern of your choosing.

Suzy says

  • I have added some edible silver balls to my biscuits- let your festive inner spirit guide you!
  • The orange zest in the icing really adds a kick to the flavour of the gingerbread.

Finally in the words of THE Gingerbread Man from Shrek, ‘ Fire up the ovens, Muffin Man! We got a big order to fill.’

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Carroty Cupcakes

What’s up doc? (Bugs Bunny)

Carroty Cupcakes

Carroty Cupcakes

Following the several healthy recipes I have trialled over the past few weeks, I wanted to go back to what I do best….. baking cupcakes! However, I couldn’t abandon my “summery” emphasis entirely so have decided to try my hand at carrot cake cupcakes. Here is my recipe 🙂

Carroty Cupcakes

(Makes 12 cupcakes)

Ingredients

For the cupcake mixture

3 medium carrots, peeled and grated
120 gr. soft light brown sugar
120 gr. butter
180 gr. self raising flour
2 medium sized eggs
1 tbsp. golden syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon

For the cream cheese icing

50 gr. butter
100 gr. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
225 gr. icing sugar

Method

  1. Line a 12 tin cupcake tray with 12 cupcake cases
  2. Pre-heat the oven at 180C/gas 4
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until you get a lighter consistency.
  4. Stir in the golden syrup and carrots until well combined
  5. Crack two eggs into the mixture and add the flour and cinnamon.
  6. Beat until combined. You should have a dropping consistency. If not, add a little milk until you do.
  7. Spoon into the cupcake cases.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  9. They are ready when you stick a fork in the cake and it comes out clean.
  10. Remove and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack before icing.
  11. For the icing, combine all the ingredients and whisk until you get a smooth consistency.
  12. Place the mixture in a piping bag and pipe onto the cupcakes.
  13. If you don’t have a piping bag, spread some icing over the top.
  14. Serve and enjoy

Suzy says

  • Add a walnut onto each cupcake for decoration and some additional cinnamon into the icing for extra zing!

bon appétit

Lentil Curry with Chutney and Salad Mini Wrap Rolls

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well (Virginia Woolf)

Lentil Curry with Chutney and Salad Mini Wrap Rolls

Lentil Curry with Chutney and Salad Mini Wrap Rolls

Week 3 of my ‘World Cup Workout’ and I am already starting to feel the benefit! I feel more toned and my energy levels are on the up 🙂 Although I have still got a long way to go, I have to say I am really enjoying the exercises!

Sticking with the healthy theme,  the dish I have chosen this week is Lentil Curry. Although it is a guilty pleasure, I love having poppadoms and chutney with a takeaway curry. Sometimes I buy the ready-made poppadoms from the supermarket and whip up some homemade chutney to go on the side. This time, I decided to make some of the chutneys you would use with poppadoms, wrap them in a tortilla and slice into mini bites to eat with the curry. This means you don’t need to serve the curry with rice.

Lentil Curry with Chutney and Salad Mini Wrap Rolls

(Serves 4)

Ingredients

250 grams red lentils (follow the cooking instructions on the packet.)
1 large carrot
1 large courgette
1/2 a medium red onion
100 grams fresh spinach
1 tbsp. fresh coriander
For the curry paste
1 tbsp. garam masala
1 tbsp. mild curry powder (you can opt for a hotter one)
1 tsp. fenugreek
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. tomato purée mixed with half a mug of hot water.
1 tbsp. oil

For the mini wrap salad and relish rolls

100 grams of cherry tomatoes
1/2 small red onion
8cm piece of cucumber
3 tbsp. plain yoghurt
1 tsp. mint sauce
2 tbsp. mango chutney
1 tbsp. fresh coriander

Method

  1. Cook the lentils as per the cooking instructions on the packet.
  2. Whilst the lentils are cooking, chop the carrots, onion, garlic and courgettes into little pieces and fry in a large frying pan until soft.
  3. In a separate high sided frying pan, add the garam masala, curry powder, fenugreek, cumin seeds, turmeric, cinnamon and ground and heat on a low heat until you can smell an aroma (approximately 3-5 minutes) keep stirring so it doesn’t burn.
  4. Next, add the tomato purée, oil, sugar and lemon juice to make the paste.
  5. Drain the lentils and add to the curry paste and stir so the paste covers all the lentils Add the cooked vegetables and stir until fully incorporated
  6. For the mini wrap salad and relish rolls Chop the onion, cucumber and cherry tomatoes into little pieces. When chopping the tomatoes, just use the skin and take out the pulp.
  7. Keep aside a third of the cucumber.
  8. Mix the tomato, thenrest of the cucumber and onion together into a small bowl.
  9. In another small bowl, add three tablespoons of yoghurt. Add the mint sauce and stir to make your mint yoghurt sauce and add the cucumber you have kept aside into the bowl with the yoghurt.
  10. Take two tortilla wraps and spread over the mint yoghurt mixture over both wraps Roll into a tight roll and slice into small pieces.
  11. Take the other two tortilla wraps, spread the mango chutney over them and spoon over the onion, tomato and cucumber mix. Sprinkle some fresh coriander over, roll up and slice into mini wrap pieces.
  12. To serve, place some curry onto the middle of the plate and place the mini wraps around the edge. Finally sprinkle the rest of the fresh coriander over the curry.

Suzy says:

  • Experiment with your relishes. My husband likes the lime pickle, which would definitely give the wraps some spice!
  • This curry also works with chickpeas instead of lentils.

Bon appétit!

Bean Casserole

Dieting is the only game where you win when you lose (Karl Lagerfeld)

This week I have chosen a simple, tasty and healthy recipe to share with you. Here it is:

Bean Casserole

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

Bean Casserole

Bean Casserole

1 x 420 gram can of mixed beans (I use mixed beans in mild chilli sauce by Sainsburys)
2 x 400 gram cans of peeled plum tomatoes
1 x 165 gram can of sweetcorn
1x 425 gram can of baked beans (you can use the value brand for this)
Approximately 220 grams of frozen mixed peppers
1 large carrot
1 large courgette
1 medium onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tsp. Cajun spice
Salt and peppers to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil

Method

  1. In a deep sided large frying pan, heat up the olive oil.
  2. Add the frozen peppers to the pan once the oil is heated.
  3. Whilst the peppers are cooking, chop the carrots, courgette and onion into small pieces and add to the pan.
  4. Crush and chop the garlic up as small as you can and add to the pan.
  5. Fry the veg for about 10 minutes.
  6. Open up all the cans.
  7. First add the can of mixed beans and stir.
  8. Then add the sweetcorn and stir.
  9. Pour the can of beans into a sieve and place under some cold water to wash away the tomato sauce. Add to the pan and stir.
  10. Finally add the two cans of plum tomatoes, break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon and stir so all the veg are covered in the tomato sauce.
  11. If the veg are not covered, add some more water.
  12. Add the Cajun spice and some salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Leave to simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until you a happy with the consistency.
    Serve.

Suzy says:

  • Eat on its own or accompanied with rice or pasta.
  • If you like spice, add more Cajun or some hot chilli powder.
  • Try sprinkling some grated cheese on it as well. Delicious!

Bon appetit.

Hot Choc Buns

Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs, with one or two a penny hot cross buns (Poor Robin’s Amanack (1733) )

Hot Choc Buns

Hot Choc Buns

I always like to make an effort to bake something traditional and seasonal to mark special times of year and so last Easter, I  decided to try my hand at Hot Cross Buns. Only trouble is, my husband and I both can’t stand dried fruit, so as usual I opted for chocolate instead!

My first attempt was using a gluten-free recipe, which we both loved, but didn’t keep fresh for very long.  This year, I opted instead for the ‘gluten-full’ version as I was keen to try my skills at kneading dough. We loved this too!

Hot Choc Buns

(Serves 12)

Ingredients

625 grams strong white flour
1 1/2 tsp. fast action yeast
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
1tsp salt
50 grams of butter plus extra butter for greasing.
1 egg
275 ml milk
100 grams white chocolate
100 grams milk chocolate
1 tsp. cinnamon

For the topping

75 grams white chocolate
1 tbsp. golden syrup
1/2 tsp. of cinnamon

Method

  1. Add the flour, salt, cocoa and cinnamon into a large bowl.
  2. Rub in the butter to the flour mixture.
  3. Make a well and add in the honey, sugar and yeast.
  4. Beat the egg and add into the mixture.
  5. Heat the milk in a microwave for about a minute (until it is slightly warmer than room temperature) Add the milk into the mixture and mix together to form a dough.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and flatten as much as you can.
  7. Add half the white chocolate and milk chocolate and work into the dough.
  8. Flatten the dough out again and work the rest of the chocolate into the dough.
  9. Knead the dough for approximately 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
  10. Shape the dough into a ball shape.
  11. Grease the large bowl with butter and add the dough into the ball.
  12. Cover with a clean tea towel and place the bowl in a warm place for an hour to prove.
  13. After an hour, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knock back ((??)) the dough.
  14. Shape it into a ball and place back into the bowl, cover with the tea towel and leave to rise for a further 30 minutes.
  15. After 30 minutes, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, divide the mixture in two, roll out each of the two parts and divide each part into 6 equal pieces.
  16. Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten slightly to make a bun shape.
  17. Cover the 12 buns and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
  18. Grease a baking tray with butter (I greased two smaller baking trays as my oven isn’t that big) and add the buns to the tray(s).
  19. Completely cover the buns with cling film and leave to rise for 40 minutes Preheat the oven to 230C/gas 8. (I put my oven on about 15 minutes before I put the buns in the oven.)
  20. Place the buns in the oven for 10 minutes.
  21. While the buns are baking, place the golden syrup into a bowl and stir.
  22. Heat the golden syrup up in the microwave for 10-15 seconds.
  23. As soon as the buns are ready, brush the golden syrup over the buns, then place them on a wire rack to cool.
  24. After they have cooled, melt the white chocolate. To melt, I chop up the chocolate, place it into a microwaveable bowl and heat for 20 seconds at a time until just melted. In between each 20 second interval, I stir the chocolate making sure the mixture does not get too hot.
  25. Once melted, add to a piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun.
  26. Leave the chocolate to set  and serve!

Suzy says:

  • The buns taste good straight from the oven. But please remember to cool slightly before eating- ‘hot’ should not be taken too literally!
  • If you do not like cinnamon then feel free to leave this out.
  • Use dark chocolate, if you prefer it to milk. The chocolatier the better!
  • The buns taste good with butter spread over them.
  • The only difficult part to this recipe is the kneading of the dough as it is quite stiff.

………….No jokes please about buns in the oven!!

Bon appetit!

Curried Chicken Wraps

Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all (Harriet van Horne, Vogue)

Curried Chicken Wraps

Curried Chicken Wraps

When I was young, I used to be a fussy eater and would never eat anything with spices in. Now I eat almost anything! Of course, there are still some types of food I avoid but my general guideline when it comes to eating or cooking is to be daring.

Using spices is great way of adding flavour, without needlessly adding extra salt. My flavour of the moment is garam masala- I make my own curry using this and other spices. In fact, as my love of cooking grows so seemingly does my spice rack! When I cook with spices, I just shake them in the food and rely upon my own culinary judgement to shape the dish but in the recipe below I have tried to be a bit more accurate with the measurements. Therefore if you feel you want to add more spice, please do so. I do not like using ready-made sauces in my dishes so I spent some time reading up on recipes and experimenting with spices before coming up with the recipe below.  Experimenting can be fun and luckily I haven’t had too many disasters! If like me, you love the dips and relishes you get with poppadoms, you should like my recipe as I combined some of these relishes with the chicken curry and put them all in a wrap. They can be eaten for lunch or dinner and are tasty both hot and cold!

Curried chicken wraps (serves 4)

Ingredients

350-400 grams of chicken (I use chicken thigh fillets)
1 large courgette, chopped into strips of about 7 cm
2 large carrots, grated
Section of cucumber, 7cm long, halved and sliced into strips
1/2 red onion (medium/large) sliced
4 tortilla wraps
4 tbsp. of mango chutney
1 tbsp. curry powder (I use mild but feel free to spice things up more)
2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. ground fenugreek
1 tsp. sugar
1tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. of hot chilli powder
Splash of lemon juice
Pinch of mustard powder
2 tbsp. olive oil
Bunch of coriander

Method

  1. Chop the chicken into small chunks.
  2. Into a large saucepan, on a low heat, add the curry powder, garam masala, fenugreek, turmeric, cumin seeds, mustard powder and the chilli powder. Mix for three minutes ensuring the ingredients don’t burn.
  3. Add in the oil, lemon juice and sugar. This will make your curry paste.
  4. Turn the heat up on the saucepan and add the chicken to the curry paste. Remember to keep stirring so the paste covers all the chicken. Allow to cook through.
  5. Grate the carrot, slice the onion lengthways and chop the cucumber into thin strips. Mix these ingredients up in a bowl.
  6. Slice the courgettes into thin batons and add to the chicken.
  7. Once the chicken and courgettes are cooked, chop up some coriander and add to the chicken.
  8. The final part is to assemble your wrap. Heat up the tortilla wraps in the microwave.
  9. Spread 1 tbsp. of mango chutney over the tortilla wrap.
  10. Take a quarter of the carrot, onion and cucumber mixture and place onto the tortilla.
  11. Finally, add a quarter of the chicken mixture over the carrots, wrap and serve.

Hints

  • Try chopping the wraps into bite size chunks. Great for serving to guests!
  • I often buy chicken in large quantities, chop into chunks and freeze, ready to use when needed. My friend Nikki told me to flat pack the chicken in freezer bags so if you forget to take the meat out of the freezer (like I do!) it doesn’t take such a long time to defrost!

It has taken me a while to buy all the spices in the ingredient list but I started with curry powder and garam masala and just bought the others when I could. The wrap would work with these two ingredients but I like to experiment with new spices. In future, I would love to make my own curry powder mix and my own mango chutney.

Enjoy.