Tag Archives: food

A Pie In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Mouth

I spent yesterday evening hanging out with my good friend Allen, who will soon be departing for Colorado, and what better way to say farewell than to make some awesome food. Allen is the world’s biggest fan of Smitten Kitchen, and so the recipes we used came from there. For dinner we had pasta with sugar snap peas, lemon and ricotta, which was super tasty – recipe here. Then came the rhubarb and cream cheese hand pies.

Hand pies. Who knew such a thing existed? When I saw the picture I was like, hey they’re kind of like pasties. But no, no they’re not, they’re like 100 times better than any pasty you have ever eaten. Okay, so maybe you’ve had some really good pasties, but trust me. The beauty of these things is that they’re hand-sized (no s**t), so you can have one as a snack or you can eat three…I ate three. Also, awesome for picnics. I think I might eat them all summer.

We formed a kind of production line where I was responsible for rolling out and cutting the pastry into squares, Seb was on egg-wash duty and Allen did fillings and put the tops on. And then we all switched about a bit, because I can’t cut straight – anyone who has ever seen me cut a slice of bread will attest to this. Allen took over and suddenly the pies became much more square. I videoed a bit of Allen constructing, so you can see how delicious they are:

They’re pretty straightforward to make (even more so if you have 3 of you assembling them), and only take 15-20 mins to cook. You can find the recipe here. I think if Peyton & Byrne is my favourite book, Smitten Kitchen might be just about to become my favourite website.

Also a quick shout out to the lemon curd cupcakes I made the other day for Father’s Day – AMAAAZING. For a more extensive post on this subject, click here.

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On Breakfast (an Ode to Granola)

Last week I was feeling a little lost. I ran out of granola, and instead of finding alternative breakfast solutions spent the week not eating any. This led to a week of questionable levels of productivity and general hunger. A cup of tea does not suffice.

Up until the last year or so I never ate breakfast, or rarely at least. Much of my childhood was spent with my parents trying to convince me to eat something before I left for school, but it always made me feel sick or I didn’t have enough time or many many more excuses. That said, my friend’s mum used to let me eat ice cream for breakfast when I was in primary school, and I was totally cool with that. Unfortunately these ice cream breakfasts were few and far between. I kind of wonder how things would’ve been if I’d actually eaten breakfast every day. Maybe I’d be taller? Or have got better grades? Or maybe I would’ve been the same, just…less hungry.

Anyway, there ends the tale of woe of a breakfast-less childhood. Now I find it hard not to eat breakfast, and don’t really understand why I spent the best part of 23 years not bothering.

You guys, breakfast is AWESOME.

Know what’s even better? Granola. YES. This is where this is going. Back to the empty granola container on my kitchen counter. When I decided granola should be my breakfast of choice a few months ago, I started eating Dorset Cereals, which is fantastic (particularly the chocolate stuff), but prohibitively expensive. £5 for 550g? No thanks. I would weigh it into 50g portions so that I knew it would last a long time. Please, don’t judge me, it’s sensible okay! But what turned out to be more sensible was to make my own, which is a) cheaper, and b) tastier.

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GRANOLA

Enter Leon.

I love Leon, and it always makes me sad that they don’t have one in Cambridge, but their Ingredients and Recipes book helps me to pretend that I am there all the time. They have a pretty amazing granola recipe, which I have adapted slightly because I really like banana chips, and you can adapt it too, because you can put anything in granola. Even chocolate. And you could probably eat it with ice cream, if you’re anything like 6 year old me.

You will need:

150g honey

60ml sunflower or groundnut oil

250g rolled oats (the porridgey kind)

100g oatbran

150g sunflower seeds

100g hazelnuts

150g dates

100g dried apricots

100g sultanas

100g wheatgerm

(I substitute the dates with dried banana chips and more apricots, and I put 50g pumpkin seeds and 75g dried cranberries in too. I have never used the wheatgerm, because I couldn’t find it anywhere when I first made it, and it was fine without, so I don’t think you need it.)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4

2. Pour the honey and oil into a pan and heat gently until the honey has melted

3. In a bowl mix the oats, bran, sunflower seeds (and pumpkin seeds if you got them!), then pour the honey mixture on and mix well until everything is coated. Spread it out on a large baking tray

4. Roast for 20-25 mins turning everything 3 or 4 times, then leave to cool.

5. Roughly chop the hazelnuts, dates and apricots, and when the oats are cool, mix everything together with the wheatgerm (if you want) and store in an air-tight container. It’ll last about a month (unless you eat it all really quickly).

Writing out this recipe has made me want to eat breakfast again.

 

– Lizzie

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Maple Cheesecake with Maple-Glazed Pears & Cranberries

A while ago Jordi sent me a copy of ‘Fall Baking’ (which incidentally is the best baking magazine ever). It contains lots of maple recipes – this cheesecake being one of them. I thought I’d give it a go this weekend, after being told by Jordi that the response it got was ‘freakishly awesome’ when she made it. 

There are always one or two things that are likely to go wrong when you’re baking. Even more so when you’ve woken up late after spending the evening before with lovely people watching Scott Pilgrim, and are feeling too tired to bother doing anything more productive than making cheesecake. 

Maple-Glazed Pears & Cranberries

I’ve only just taken the cheesecake out of the oven – it smells glorious – but I’ve yet to taste it, fairly convinced that I overcooked the base. It’s unlikely that the packet of ground almonds that fell in the mixture as I was trying to get flour out of the cupboard will have caused any long-term impairment to the cheesecake (the downsides of having a small kitchen and disorganised cupboards – but at least the packet was sealed). I also ran out of maple syrup when making the maple-glazed pears, so decided it would be a reasonable equivalent to mix some sugar with water to make up the little bit more syrup I needed. I’ll let you know how that turned out. For reference, Sainsburys is not a reliable source of maple syrup – I spent ages wandering around trying to find it with no success. I did however find cupcake cases with snowflakes on them. This probably doesn’t make up for the sugar + water = “maple syrup” thing… 

So now for the agonising 2 hour wait for it to cool down before I can taste it. I really do hope it’s freakishly awesome…

3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or self-raising as I know it)

3 tbsp brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

3 x 8oz packs of cream cheese

1x 8oz pack of mascarpone

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 light cream (or half and half if you know what that is)

2 tbsp all purpose flour

1 tsp vanilla (extract)

3 eggs lightly beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (170C). For crust, in a medium bowl combine the 3/4 cup flour & 3 tbsp brown sugar. Cut (or rub) in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in pecans. Pat onto the bottom of a 10in springform pan. Bake for 10-12 mins or until lightly browned. Cool crust while preparing filling.

2. In a large bowl combine cream cheese and mascarpone, beat with an electric mixer (or use brute strength if you don’t own one, like me) until smooth. Add the brown sugar, 1/2 cup maple syrup, cream, flour and vanilla – beat until well mixed. Add all the eggs at once, stir until just combined.

3. Pour filling into the crust-lined pan, spreading evenly. Bake for 35-40 mins or until a 2&1/2-3 inch area around the outside edge appears set when gently shaken (centre will be soft, but will set up as the cheesecake cools).

4. Cool for 15mins, then using a thin knife loosen the crust from the sides of the pan. Cool for 30 mins more, then remove the side of the pan. Cool for 2 hours.

5. To serve, top with maple-glazed pears and cranberries.

Maple-glazed pears and cranberries

In a large skillet melt 2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add 4 medium peeled, cored and thinly sliced Bosc or Anjou pears. Cook for 4 mins, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1/4 cup pure maple syrup and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon. Cook 2-3 mins more or just until pears are tender, stirring occasionally. Serve warm over cheesecake.

Photos of the completed cheesecake to follow….

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