Peanut Butter Cookie Squares

This months Bake Club Challenge is “Square Bakes” 🙂

So after scrolling through dozens of recipes online, i decided to try Peanut Butter Cupboard Cookie Bars. Which turned out to be far more difficult than i’d first imagined. Im not the brightest button in the box when it comes to maths, so trying to calculate 1/3rd of a cup when you only have a 1 cup and a 1/4 cup measuring devices was more than my brain could take at times. But, i muddled through, and ended up with something edible lol

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Have entered into the Bake Challenge, won’t win of course, but enjoyed baking them 🙂

Only try these if you love peanut butter! Very sickly lol

Lamb On Skewers

or Arni Souvlakia, Elizabeth David tells me 😉

Her recipe is more of a recommendation than anything else…

“Cut a piece of lamb from the leg into inch cubes. Season with salt, pepper, lemon juice and Marjoram. Thread the meat on to skewers and grill them. Serve them on a thick bed of parsley or shredded lettuce, on the skewers, with quarters of lemon.”

Ok, to liven mine up a bit i used Halloumi & red peppers between the lamb, and served them with couscous that had Feta cheese in, Hummus, olives and pita breads.

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I thoroughly enjoyed it! (kids were unappreciative as usual lol). Perhaps one day i’ll be able to have them the Elizabeth David way…

“Eaten on the terrace of a primitive Cretan taverna, flavoured with wood smoke and the mountain herbs, accompanied by the strong red wine of Crete, these kebabs can be the most poetic of foods. Exquisitely simple…”

Mmmmmm….i can see myself there now *sighs* 😉

Soupe Catalane & Tiramisu

Last nights dinner was…interesting lol. I won’t say it was a complete disaster, I enjoyed it 🙂

Elizabeth David’s Soupe Catalane

  • 3 large onions
  • 50g chopped ham/bacon
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1 small stick of celery, chopped
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 pints stock or water
  • thyme
  • parsley
  • pinch of nutmeg
  1. Slice the onions thinly and brown them in olive oil or bacon fat in the pan that you’re going to cook the soup in. Stir frequently to prevent them catching. When they start to brown, add the diced ham/bacon, the tomatoes cut in quarters and the chopped celery.
  2. Cook, stirring for a few minutes then pour in the glass of wine and let it bubble. Then add the stock, the potatoes cut into small pieces and season.
  3. Cook the soup for 30 minutes. Just before serving beat the egg yolks with a few spoonfuls of the soup, then pour over the rest of the hot soup and stir well. Add a good handful of chopped parsley.

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Ok, i don’t want to criticise Ms David, i wouldn’t dare…but…this was just a little bit…meh lol. I had to double the quantities (for my lot), but i held off from doubling the amount of onions (as it was i had to take some out during the simmering stage because i knew my lot would throw a hissy fit lol). I have to admit i added a clove of garlic, not sure why, but even with that addition it was still disappointing. My middle son summed it up by saying “so i have bacon, water and bread for dinner?” Ok, well it wasn’t exactly just water, the addition of the egg yolks didn’t thicken it (was that to do with my doubling quantities?) but did give it an added richness…rich bacon water lol….and the homemade bread was good 😉

Moving on lol…For dessert i made a Tiramisu. A Gordon Ramsey version called Easy Tiramisu. Yeah, i’ll go with that. It was quick, easy, and soooo YUMMY! 🙂

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Gordon’s Easy Tiramisu Recipe

highly recommend this one. My only criticism? I didn’t put the whole 50ml of coffee in the Mascarpone. I want my Mascarpone layer to be white, or whitish…not coffee coloured. I couldn’t find Marsala (thanks Morrisons!) so i used Saunternes instead, which was a great idea…will be doing this one again. Unfortunately we ate the whole thing last night so i have none for brekkie *pouts*

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I was out last night so didn’t get to finish the bottle of Sauternes, and I’m out this evening too. Lets hope it will still be ok on Thursday, if The Hubsters not beaten me to it 🙂

Im not doing very well with dinner successes at the moment am i 😦

Texas Brisket

Friday saw me going all Texan 😉 Well, nearly lol

Nigellas Texas Brisket promised so much. But, unfortunately, fell very short. Now that wasn’t Nigella’s fault…it was the lack of liquid smoke…although she did say in the recipe that you didn’t need it.

Nigella’s Texas Brisket

  • 3 medium or 2 large onions
  • 2.5kg piece of beef brisket
  • 4 tbls cider vinegar
  • 4 tbls soy sauce
  • 4 tbls liquid smoke
  • 4 tbls Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tbls Steak sauce (i managed to get a Heinz one from Waitrose)
  • 4 tbls strong black coffee (espresso)
  1. Preheat the oven to 150 and get out a roasting tin for the brisket. It needs to be pretty deep, there was a lot of juice came out of mine.
  2. Slice the onions and arrange in the centre of the tin, to create an inion platform for the brisket to sit on.
  3. Place the brisket on top, fat side uppermost.
  4. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the brisket. Then cover with foil, sealing tightly and place in the oven for 3 and 1/2 hours.
  5. Remove from the oven and transfer the meat to a board.
  6. Transfer the onions to a blender with a little of the meat juices and blend until smooth. Then add back to the rest of the juices in the tin. Stir to mix
  7. Slice the brisket and place the slices back in the tin. Serve straight from there.

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What you end up with is beef with a very tangy sauce. Especially as Nigella says to double the Worcestershire sauce quantity if you can’t find liquid smoke. No no no, i wouldn’t recommend that!

Will i be making this again? Probably not lol…but i might get some of that liquid smoke, just incase 😉

Franks in Blanks and Blueberry Muffins

Yesterdays dinner, Nigella’s Pigs in Blankets aka Franks in Blanks turned out to be a big hit with The Fam 🙂 Although i didn’t bother with the mustard dipping sauce (that she includes with the recipe) as i knew no one would like it lol.

Pigs In Blankets

  • 1 x approx. 425g packet readyrolled puff-pastry sheets (gives 2 sheets, each approx. 28 x 21cm), defrosted if frozen
  • 1 egg
  • 2 x 350g packet frankfurters (gives 20, but you only need 16)
  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Roll out one of the rectangular puff-pastry sheets to make it just a little bit thinner, stretching the long side rather than the short side as you roll. Cut the rectangle into quarters, then cut each rectangle in half lengthwise, to give 8 small pastry strips in total. (Stay with me!)
  2. Beat the egg in a small bowl and paint each pastry section with the egg wash. Sit a frankfurter horizontally on the left-hand side of one of the pieces of pastry and roll it up until it just seals. Then do the same with the remaining 7 small pastry strips.
  3. Cut each rolled frank into 4 small pieces, pressing the pastry back around the sausage kitchen pickings | kitchen comforts if it comes loose. Then place on a baking-parchment lined baking sheet with the sealed bit down to prevent it springing open.
  4. Paint the franks in blankets with the egg wash, and put them in the oven for 15–20 minutes. The pastry should have puffed up a little and turned golden. You can get on with the other sheet of pastry while the first lot of franks are cooking and repeat the process with the remaining franks.

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I served them with salad, coleslaw, potato salad and buttered corn on the cobs. There wasn’t one left over!

For dessert it was Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins.

Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins

  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g cornmeal
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) bicarbonate of soda
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 125 ml vegetable oil
  • 125 ml buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 100g blueberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C) and line a muffin tin with papers.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, bicarb and sugar. In a measuring jug or bowl, pour the oil and buttermilk and whisk or fork in the egg.
  3. Stir the oil mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients – remembering that lumpiness is a good thing when making muffins – and fold half the blueberries into your thick golden batter.
  4. Divide this batter between each muffin case (they will be about two-thirds full) and drop the remaining blueberries on top; you should have about 3 for the top of each muffin.
  5. Cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, till a cake tester comes out cleanish (obviously it will be stained if it hits a berry). Leave the muffins in the tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins, in their cases, to the wire rack to cool a little (not too much) before you serve or eat them.

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They weren’t very sweet, which, initially i didn’t think was a good thing (warm from the oven). But when i had one for breakfast the following morning i appreciated the fact that it didn’t give me a sugar rush lol

 

You Win Some…

You lose some…

That should be on a big sign on my kitchen door.

The last couple of days have seen my mood go from disappointment to nostalgia lol

Monday i made Nigella’s Chicken Cutlets, which were disappointing 😦 A shame, because if you Google them you’ll hear everybody raving about them. I don’t know what went wrong. Too much Thyme? Too much Celery Salt? The coating had an almost bitterness to it *sighs* I will try them again, but adjust the seasoning.

CRISP CHICKEN CUTLETS

  • 4 chicken breast filet (boneless/skinless)
  • 284 ml buttermilk (1 pot)
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 15ml (tablespoon) Worcestershire sauce
  • 75g breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
  • 25 g of Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 4 tbsp Oil for frying
  • 4 x 15 ml (tablespoon) fresh chopped parsley
  1. Bash the chicken breasts between 2 pieces of cling film using a rolling pin until they are thin, but still whole.
  2. Whisk the buttermilk (i used low fat plain yoghurt) with the Worcestershire sauce in a shallow bowl (or put in a freezer bag and mix). Then add the flattened chicken to the bowl (or into the freezer bag) and leave for at least 30 minutes preferably overnight.
  3. Mix the breadcrumbs, celery salt, cayenne pepper, thyme and Parmesan and in a wide shallow dish. Then lift out the buttermilky chicken and press into the breadcrumb mixture one at time and lay them aside onto a wire rack or plate. Pat the crumbs in nicely over the chicken to make sure you get a good coating.
  4. Heat the oil and fry bigger pieces for about 3 minutes per side and smaller pieces for about 2 minutes per side.
  5. As you remove the cooked chicken, blot them on kitchen paper.

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I served them with veg and *drumroll* Nigella’s Rapid Roastini (the things that look like potato in the picture). These are in fact…Gnocchi, which you fry in olive oil, straight from the packet….WOW! They’re lovely and made up for the chicken not being great.
 
 
For dessert i did an apple crumble…but…i decided (don’t ask me why *shakes head* never again!!!!) to use Aunt Bessies ready made crumble mix…for speed and ease… BIG MISTAKE! Even The Hubster, who is a HUGE crumble fan thought it was horrible 😦
 
 
Then yesterday i did Nigellas/Ed’s Mothers Meatloaf. The Fam all thought it was great, but to me, it was like a big burger lol. Here in the UK we don’t seem to be that big on Meatloaf (or is that just my area of the UK), so I’m wondering how this version compares to a typical American Meatloaf? Anyway, it went down well and did at least look quite spectacular.
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I served it with a buttery mash potato and gravy 🙂
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For dessert i made A Birds Trifle. In the 1970’s & 80’s Birds Trifle was really popular, i didn’t even know they still made it. It was something we had in our house on a weekly basis (along with Instant Whip and Angel Delight lol). I thought my kids would love it….turns out it was only me and The Hubster who loved it and we ended up eating the whole thing between us lol
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I didn’t even have a nice pretty bowl to put it in lol
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Nostalgia over for another few years 😉
 
What dessert do you remember fondly from your childhood?
 
 

Ham & Veal Pasta

Todays culinary delight was Nigella’s Baked Ham & Veal Pasta which gave me the opportunity to use my new food processor (yes! a HUGE success).

Unfortunately i wish i could say the same for the dish, it was basically….boring lol. I think the kids thought so as well because when i got home their plates (which they had kindly left on the kitchen side for me to clear up!) were still full 😦

  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 75g pancetta, chopped roughly
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped roughly
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
  • good handful fresh parsley
  • 2 heaped tablespoons lard or 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mace
  • 3 tablespoons Marsala
  • 325g veal, ground (i couldn’t find veal so used pork)
  • 95g unsalted butter, plus more for greasing and dotting
  • 95g Italian 00 or all-purpose flour
  • pinch mace, plus ¼ teaspoon
  • salt and freshly milled white or black pepper
  • 1.4 litres whole milk
  • 5 bay leaves
  • fresh nutmeg
  • 110g Parmesan, freshly grated, plus more for grating over later
  • 500g penne or rigatoni
  1. Put the garlic cloves in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil, and boil for 7 minutes. Drain. Put the pancetta into a food processor. Peel the garlic (just press them and the cloves wil pop out of their skins) and throw into the processor with the celery, onion, carrot, and parsley, and pulse until finely chopped. Melt the lard or oil in a heavybottomed frying pan and then, when it’s hot, add the vegetable mixture. Stir well over highish heat for a minute or so, adding the paprika, mace, and Marsala, then turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring regularly to make sure it doesn’t stick, for 15 minutes.
  2. While this is happening, put water on to boil for the pasta. When the 15 minutes are up, briefly turn the heat back to high, add the ground veal, and turn well for a minute or so before, again, turning down to low for 15 minutes. While this is cooking, get on with the béchamel.
  3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the flour and pinch of mace, and cook for a couple of minutes, stil stirring, adding a fat pinch of salt and some pepper. Off the heat, slowly stir in the milk.
  4. When all the milk’s smoothly amalgamated, add the bay leaves and put back on a medium heat, stirring, until the sauce cooks and thickens, then reduce the heat to low. Although you want to cook this for  about 20 minutes, so it’s velvety, bear in mind that this is meant to be a thin, runny sauce. Toward the end of cooking time, taste for salt (though remember, you will be adding quite a bit of salty Parmesan later) and pepper and add, too, the remaining mace and grate in some nutmeg. When the sauce is cooked and the flouriness gone—taste after 12 minutes if you’re using 00 flour—turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan, beating well with your wooden spoon to make sure all is smoothly incorporated. You should by now have started cooking the pasta. You want it slightly undercooked, as it will be cooked again in the oven. On the packages of penne I have at home, the instructions are to cook for 13 minutes; for this recipe, I drain them after 10.
  5. Butter a lasagne dish or any form of shallowish casserole and pour in about a third of the béchamel; don’t bother to measure, just make a rough estimate by eye. Add the drained pasta and turn wel to coat. Add the veal and toss wel again, then another third of the béchamel and give a good final mix, adding more salt and pepper, if necessary. Level the pasta in the pan and pour over the last third of béchamel. Let cool, then put, covered, in the fridge for a couple of days or so before baking, though of course you can put it straightaway in the oven to bake if you want (in which case it will need less time than otherwise mentioned).
  6. If you’ve fridged it, take it out and make sure it’s at room temperature before you bake it. Sprinkle with more Parmesan and dot with butter and bake in a preheated 375°F oven until golden and bubbly, about 40 minutes.

Well, needless to say, i didn’t fridge it…would that have made a difference?

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I served it with some cheese and onion bread and a roasted pepper bread…both of which were much tastier than the pasta lol.

Oh well, it wouldn’t be an adventure without failure would it 😉