Monday, 28 July 2014

Interview: Kathryn Cakes



Not only do I have two very ace housemates, I am also lucky enough to live with a very talented baker! Kathryn has already promised us that come Christmas, we are to expect a gingerbread train complete with gingerbread carriages containing sweets. Of course I will have to share the pictures with you all when the time comes!

Kathryn's speciality has to be occasion cakes, she has made the most fabulous creations for Birthdays and Weddings, you can find her Facebook page and more information about her cakes here!

I have been lucky enough to persuade/badger relentlessly Kathryn into doing a little interview about her cakes.  Check out the YouTube video of my interview below (it's an audio interview with lots of pictures of her cakes.)

Hope you enjoy! X





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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sunday Summation with a Hedgerow Crumble

I hope everyone is having a lovely start to their Sunday! I am going to spend mine basking in the glorious British summer weather. It has been beautiful, if not a little too hot. Yesterday probably was not the day to go for a 20km walk across the Yorkshire countryside, I'm feeling a little sore today!

The allotment needs A LOT of work after all this sunshine, so today's task is going to be preparing the ground for my medieval herb garden. We also have some onions plants that need to go in, albeit a lot later than we would have liked.

Blackberries at the jungle style allotment!

The blackberries are also starting to ripen, I managed to pick a good load last week and I'm hoping to get some more this evening. I think it's fair to expect a jam recipe in the near future! However if anyone has any recipes or ideas for using up hedgerow fruit, I would greatly appreciate them.

Another obvious way of using up the bumper crop is to make a fruit crumble. In my case I had an array of hedgerow fruit to use up, so I decided to make a hedgerow crumble!  Now in order to control sugar levels and make my crumbles slightly healthier, I cook the filling and topping separately

To make the filling I melted 1tsp butter in a large non stick pan, to this I added peeled and diced apple, washed blackberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries and gently heated until all the fruit was soft. I then added sugar to taste (I like things pretty tart, so it's probably better not to give you a quantity for this, just keep on adding and tasting.)

Whilst the fruit was softening, I made the crumble topping by combining 2 cups of oats with 1 tbsp golden syrup and 2 tbsp melted butter. I combined this mixture thoroughly and spread it out on a baking tray to cook at 180C for 15-20 minutes, until golden.

Once the fruit is cooked through and very soft, I placed it in the bottom of a large dish and sprinkled my oat topping on top. Easy!

I couldn't even wait to photograph, I had to have some!







Friday, 25 July 2014

Easy Peasy Cheesy Recipe (Make your own Paneer!)

I was actually inspired to make paneer by this recipe from the BBC Food Website!

I have been cooking a lot of Indian inspired recipes recently, including thick daals and chickpea currys. Whilst these are no doubt hearty and enjoyable dishes, I sometimes feel that they can be missing an extra element.

 I'm currently living on a very small income, so meat is pretty much our of the question. Blocks of paneer can also be around £2-£3 from the supermarket. However, this recipe for paneer means that I can add some protein to my meal, all for the price of a pint of milk and some lemon juice!


My homemade daal topped with fried paneer and coriander
To make a small block (feeds 1)

1pint of Whole Milk
2 tsp Lemon Juice

Method

1. Bring the milk slowly to the boil in a large saucepan

2. As the milk starts to boil, add the lemon juice and stir. You should start to see the curds (opaque masses) separate from the whey (white liquid.) Take the saucepan off the heat.

3. Line a sieve with cheesecloth and drain away the whey, until you are left with the curds.

4. Wrap tightly in the cloth and hang the curds from the tap in a small ball over the sink for 20 minutes, this will drain away more of the whey.

5.  Take down the curds wrapped cheesecloth and fill a large saucepan with water and press the ball of curds under this for an hour or more (still in the cheesecloth and on a plate to catch excess liquid.)

6. The paneer is now ready to use in any way you desire! It will keep for several days immersed in water in the fridge. I cut mine into cubes and fried them until golden in a little vegetable oil.


Sunday, 22 June 2014

Middle Eastern Bread with Za'atar

This is my version of Manakeesh, a popular Levantine food consisting of bread which is most commonly topped with Za'atar.

Yotam Ottolenghi describes za'atar as "A traditional spice blend from Palestine including dried thyme (za’atar) from the hills of Jenin in the north of the West Bank mixed with ground sesame seeds plus a touch of sumac, salt and vegetable oil. Perfect as a dip with Palestinian olive oil and freshly baked bread. This zesty seasoning is served at breakfast in many Middle Eastern countries – can be used with meat, fish, cheese, eggs or sprinkled on a pizza"

I first came across za'atar whilst in Israel and bought a jar back with me to experiment with back home. When mixed with olive oil, I would say that it is somewhat like pesto, with a wonderful savoury and salty taste.  It works perfectly as a topping on fleshly baked bread.



I managed to source it back in the UK in my local organic shop, Aligator Wholefoods.  I have also seen it in Fair Trade shops.

This recipe makes a small  round loaf, double all quantities for a larger one!

Ingredients




200g Strong Wholemeal Flour
A pinch of Salt
1tsp dried Coriander Leaf
1tsp dried Parsley
1/2 tsp ground Black Pepper

50ml warm Water (body temperature)
50ml warm Milk (again, body temperature)
1 sachet of Instant Yeast
1tsp Sugar or Honey

2tsp Za'atar 
2tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Method

1. Prepare the yeast by placing the warm water and milk in a small jug, then add the sugar and sprinkle with the yeast. Leave this for 10 minutes, until the yeast is thick and frothy.

2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, herbs, salt and pepper.


3.. Slowly add the yeast mixture until a dough is formed (you may need to add a little extra warm water if the dough doesn't come together easily.) Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes.



 4. Shape the dough into a disk and place on a baking tray (I lined mine with foil.) Cover this with clingfilm and leave the dough in a warm place to rise for 1-1.5 hours.


5. Preheat the oven to 200C, Mix together the za'atar and Olive Oil in a small bowl and spread on top of the dough.


6. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and hollow when tapped underneath. Serve warm with lashings of butter!


Friday, 8 November 2013

A Tour of York Brewery*




I actually need to give myself a slap on the wrist, because even though I have lived in York for almost 4 years, I have only just got around to investigating all the beer made right here in the city! Therefore I  jumped at the opportunity to take a guided tour of York Brewery.

The brewery is situated just inside the city walls and along with a 20 barrel brew plant, it also has a Brewery Tap Room! This was a bit of a revelation to me, as I had always assumed the brewery was just a big industrial unit, but no! After taking the tour you can sample a selection of their beers on tap (the tour price even includes a pint of real ale.)

Before the tour begins, everyone waits in the cosy attic tap room, which is a real hidden gem with it's old school northern feel. This means you can get stuck in with trying a few samples. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming, I can even hear a very lively discussion about beer happening on the very next table, a sign that this is a place which attracts real enthusiasts. There is even a brewery shop should you wish to take home in a larger quantity anything that you have enjoyed!

The building is actually 300 years old, so there's a fair bit of history here. However, it hasn't always been a brewery. I was reliably told that in its time it had been both a morgue and a brothel (not at the same time, that would be just a little bit awkward!)

I don't really want to give too much away about the tour because as a novice beer drinker, I wouldn't be able to do it justice! We were lead by an extremely knowledgeable staff member who talked us through the whole brewing process. There were many facts about beer that I was previously unaware of, such as the fact that the brewing process requires hard water. Gypsum and salts are added to create the perfect levels and the result is beer with a better body and mouth feel!

I also learnt that you don't have to make beer just out of wheat, you can use anything that basically contains natural sugar! This can be oats, rye, rice or even pumpkins! (Pumpkin beer sounds amazing actually.)

So much barley is needed! The barley is the only source of sugar in the beer and is made into malt by soaking in warm water then dried.

The big plastic tub is full of hops, a vital component in the beer making process. They are also full of antioxidants, which means that beer is indeed good for you!

In the middle are hand pumps, which were actually invented in 1792 and haven't changed since!

A useful inforgraphic about the beer making process.

Not only do you get to see the raw ingredients, you also get to walk above all the  mash tuns and other vessels! The aroma is amazing, the air is laden with the smell of the malt, creating the sense you are literally walking in a mug of ovaltine.

The mash Tun is huge! The brewery has a capacity of 40 - 50,000 pints a week.

After the fascinating tour, it was time for the tasting, arguably one of the highlights! In order to get a good overview, I tried three of York Brewery's most popular pints.

First up was the York IPA, which was wonderfully light, with a spicy tang and smooth finish.

I normally prefer dark beers, so the extremely knowledgeable staff recommended that I try the Centurion's Ghost Ale. This was slightly sweeter, but is sill extremely smooth and mellow. It was actually my personal favourite, among with the majority of the staff!

Finally, after such a dark beer, I opted for something a bit lighter and tried the Guzzler. At 3.6% this is bar far the best option for a long night and is wonderfully crisp light and refreshing.

An interior wall of the tap room displaying all of the beers of 2013.

 

I would wholeheartedly recommend a visit to the brewery; the tour is £6 for adults, with discounts for students and senior citizens available. It’s a fascinating way to spend a couple of hours and you are also supporting a wonderful local business. 

 

The brewery is also hosting a  beer festival from the 7-11th November, which is right now people!

 

Entry to the beer festival is free, so no excuses for missing out!
The festival runs Thursday – Saturday, 12pm – 11pm and Sunday 12pm – 8pm.
See the website for details: 
York Brewery, 12 Toft Green, York. YO1 6JT (On the corner of Salvation
turn left up Tanner Row and carry on to Toft Green). 

*The brewery kindly allowed me to take the tour and sample the beers free of charge, an opportunity I am extremely grateful for, as it means I can tell you guys all about it! I continue to only recommend places, services and products which I feel are good quality and provide great value for money.


Monday, 21 October 2013

Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Some people might put their noses up at my choice to use shop bought pastry to make this oh so festive pumpkin pie.  My response is that life is simply too short sometimes to make pastry and the shop bought stuff isn't half bad. However, I did decide to jazz things up a little and add crushed pecans to the pastry to give it a bit of crunch. That's right ladies and gentleman, not only do I use pre made pastry, I also put PECANS IN THE PIE, NOT ON TOP. It's an unholy alliance. My only regret is that I didn't use any maple syrup, as I feel it would have added the perfect finishing sweetness to the whole thing. If you want to learn from my mistake, add about a tablespoon to the pumpkin puree mixture.

I do hope you enjoy my take on the whole pumpkin pie moment we seem to be having in the culinary world. Remember, you can always go crazy and use a butternut squash, or even sweet potato!


Ingredients:

  • 350g Shortcrust Pastry,  not pre rolled as you want to be able to quickly knead the shattered pecans in
  • 40g Pecan Nuts, smashed into smithereens
  • 750g Culinary Pumpkin peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks (keep the seeds to roast later, they make a great snack!) 
  • 2 tbsp Plain Flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough and dusting the pie tin 
  • 140g Caster Sugar 
  • ½ tsp Salt 
  • ½ tsp fresh Nutmeg, grated 
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon 
  • 2 Free Range Eggs, beaten 
  • 2tbsp of Ginger Beer (I used Crabbie's Spiced Orange Ginger Beer to add some depth of flavour) 
  • 1 tbsp Icing Sugar to dust

1. Place the pumpkin in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain pumpkin; let cool. 




2. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

3. Smash up your pecans in a pestle and mortar, you want  a mixture of larger and smaller chunks, then knead this into the pastry block



4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 15 minutes. 




5. Line the pastry with baking parchment and add baking beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes.

6. Remove the beans and paper, and cook for a further 10 minutes until the base is pale and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

7. Increase oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

8. Push the cooled pumpkin through a sieve into a large bowl to make a puree, discard any stringy bits. Add the ginger beer to this puree mixture. 

My secret weapon!


9. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and sieved flour

10. Mix in the beaten eggs, then add to the pumpkin puree and stir to combine evenly.

11. Pour into the tart shell and cook for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180C and continue to bake for 35-40 mins until the filling has just set.

12. Leave to cool and then remove the pie from the tin. Dust with icing sugar and serve plain or with cream. 


  

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Autumn Kitchen Wishlist

First of all, I would like to invite you all to sign up to my newsletter, this way you will be first to hear about any give aways or competitions on Audacity of Food!

The nights are drawing in and I have even started contemplating putting the heating on! It's official, Autumn is here. This time of year I like to dine out on stews, soups and hearty pies and maybe sneak in some comforting puddings! In order to celebrate the change of seasons and help reflect the transition happening in my kitchen, I have put together a little Autumn kitchen wish list. Obviously some are more realistic purchases than others, (even though somehow £120 for a stag mounted on a bit of glass seems totally reasonable in my strange mind!)

I hope this gives you some inspiration for your autumnal kitchen ventures!



1. Lakeland One-Cup Coffeemaker, £16.99 - I think this would be a great and simple way of getting your morning caffiene hit! It does both tea and coffee at the press of one simple bottom.

2.  Culinary Concepts Stag Cake Stand, £120 - It's a stag. On a cake stand. Beautifully pointless, and that's why I want it so much!

3. Warwickshire CountyShaped Chopping Board by County Chopper, £120 -  They aren't exactly a steal, but these chopping boards are made right down the road from me in Hull and come in the shapes of 47 counties! As I am feeling slightly homesick, the Warwickshire version would be perfect. I think these beautiful hand crafted chopping boards would also make great Christmas gifts for that annoying person who already has everything...

4.  Rituals Serenity Hand wash, £10 - I love the Rituals range in general and am an avid fan of their body products. This hand wash has my favourite scents of Sweet Almond Oil and Indian Rose. It would make a perfect addition, popped on the side of the kitchen sink, helping to make washing the dishes that bit more bearable!

5. Bettys Christmas Fruit Cake in a Tin, £18.95 - Whilst I fully appreciate that Christmas is a little while yet, good Christmas cakes will keep! Obviously anything from Bettys will be top notch and as I do live in York, it felt wrong to exclude it. Remember, the tin can also be reused long after you've scoffed the cakefor my

6.  Lakeland 1 Litre Pudding Steamer, £14.99 - This item is both a bit more practical and affordable. I am a huge lover of steamed puddings, especially those of the treacle variety! This will also come in handy for making a classic Christmas Pudding. The 1L capacity also means you will have enough to feed a fair few, unless you plan on having a date night in with just you and a comforting steamed pud.
 
7.  Hotel Chocolat Chilli Drinking Chocolate, £8.50 - Hotel Chocolat seem to have redesigned their hot chocolate packaging of late, lets hope that they are still as good! I have always particularly loved the combination of chilli and chocolate, especially in a warming drink. This will be perfect for long winter nights spent curled up under the duvet (where I am currently, no intention of leaving unless the house is on fire.)

I hope you have enjoyed my little indulgent list! I will of course keep you updated with the stag-on-glass acquisition situation. It's a toss up between paying the bills and having that little beauty tucked away somewhere. Because of course at £120, you don't expect me to use the damn thing!

Let me know if you have any further ideas for my autumn list, or if you have any of the above items and want to rate/slate them!

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