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Lump-Free White Sauce

23 Sep

I won’t keep you too long today, I’ve just got a neat little trick to tell you about.
It’s called “lump-free white sauce”.
Call me slow if you will but I’ve struggled for years with this problem and I think I’ve finally discovered what I was doing wrong.

So you melt your butter (PROPER BUTTER, please) and add an approximately equal quantity of flour to that (although you CAN use twice as much butter as flour if you want a richer smoother sauce…) and cook for a few minutes over a v low heat.
That’s technically called a ‘roux’ by the way.

Then add at least half of your milk and whisk with a balloon whisk until you have a LUMP-FREE sauce as thick as double cream (or maybe a little thicker). If you have added enough liquid to your roux, and whisked fairly vigorously, you shouldn’t have any lumps in there…

Add the remainder of your milk/ liquid and keep stirring/whisking over a low heat until the sauce is simmering and has reached the desired thickness.

There you have it, your white sauce is perfect!

You’re welcome.

Tom’s Mississippi Mud Pie

19 Sep

I have wanted to make this cake-dessert-pie since, like, forever.
Finally the opportunity arose to make it for Tom’s birthday, which was yesterday.
His eleventh birthday.
Can you believe it?!.

So Tom is a chocoholic.
And Tom asked for chocolate cake for his birthday. His ELEVENTH birthday.
(I know…..)
Perfect.

Do you like chocolate???
That is what I call a rhetorical question. Of course you like chocolate.

Anyway – should you like chocolate, please, PLEASE make this. It’s sinfully good and easy as, well, pie, really…

Biscuit base:
150g chocolate digestives
150 Oreo biscuits (or similar – Bourbons would work just as well)
75g butter

Break up all the biscuits and blitz in a food processor until they are fine crumbs.
Melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds then add to the biscuit crumbs and mix well.

Press the mixture into a greased and lined spring form cake tin, making sure it goes up the sides evenly, as well as covers the bottom of the tin.
A little like this:

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Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Filling:
135g dark/milk (mixture of both, up to you) good quality chocolate.
135g salted butter
3 large eggs
150g light soft brown sugar
150ml double (heavy) cream
25g sifted cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 180°C (fan ovens 160°C/ gas mark 4)

Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.

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Leave to cool for 10 minutes once fully melted.
Whisk up the sugar and the eggs until they become white and fluffy and have tripled in size.

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Add the cooled melted chocolate. Whisk SLOWLY.
Then add the sifted cocoa powder, and the cream, whisking till well combined but no more than that.
Pour the chocolate mixture over the biscuit base you prepared earlier, then bake in the oven for 35-40 mins.
It will still wobble when taken out of the oven, that’s normal.
It will also go down a little, that’s also normal.
Let the pie rest and cool completely, give it 1hr at room temp then place in fridge until needed (overnight is also fine)

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Topping:
200ml double cream
100g soft cream cheese
1Tbsp light brown soft sugar
2Tbsp sifted cocoa powder

Whisk cream with sugar and cocoa powder till soft peaks are reached, keeping about 1Tbsp of cream back to mix into the cream cheese.
Loosen the cream cheese with the double cream then fold into the whisked cream using a metal spoon.
Spread over the chilled pie and then sift a little extra cocoa powder over the top of the whole thing to make it look pretty – this is how mine looked once I’d put Tom’s eleven candles on:

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Trust me – this is simply exquisite. The whole family ate in silence, as if some mind blowing, earth shattering discovery had been made.

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We are never looking back.
Move over, sliced bread. A new standard has been set…

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Free Food

8 Sep

You’ve got a kilo of potatoes to make some mash. Cos mashed potato is yummy, archetypal British food, and goes so nicely with sausages.

Thing is, you need to peel your potatoes first don’t you?

But this is the other thing: you would normally throw away your potato peelings. Wouldn’t you?!? Well DON’T!!!!! No no no. Never again.

From now on, this is what you can do instead: Wash your spuds, then peel them. Spread your peelings onto a baking sheet, spray with virgin olive oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Bake at 200°C for 10 mins or so. They should come out crispy and golden. Just like Walkers crisps, except WAAAAAY better for you.

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Now eat while you’re waiting for your spuds to cook – flippin’ gorgeous.

You’re welcome.

(By the way – these homemade crispy skins are Lorraine Pascale‘s brainchild. I am just the messenger; I tried and tasted them for myself today – and was too excited about them not to share them with y’all. Take it as my contribution to world peace. Or something.)

Makes Sense

17 Aug

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= this:

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Simples!

Jamie’s Sticky Toffee Pudding – only better.

17 Jul

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So here it is.
Jamie’s medicinal Sticky Toffee Pudding – only better.

For the cake
8oz dates, pitted
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
3oz soften salted butter
6oz golden caster sugar
2 large FR eggs
6oz self raising flour
1/4tsp cinnamon
2tbsp Ovaltine (yes, its essential.)
2tbsp yoghurt (or milk or double cream)

For the Toffee Sauce
4oz softened salted butter
4oz light brown muscovado (or soft unrefined) sugar
5floz double cream

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• Preheat oven to 180°C/ gas mark 6

• Cover dates with the bicarb and 200ml boiling water to soften them. Let them soak for a few minutes.

• Start creaming the butter and sugar together in a mixer, till light and creamy.

• Drain the dates, put in a blender and blend until you have a thick purée. Add the yoghurt/ cream and blend one more time.

• Add one egg to the butter and sugar mix – beat well, add 1tbsp of the flour, beat again. Add the other egg and repeat.

• Slowly add the Ovaltine, cinnamon and flour.

• Finally add the blended dates.

You should have a cake mixture which drops off a spoon with a brisk shake – no thicker. If too thick I suggest adding a bit of milk.

• Pop your cake batter in a square ovenproof dish/pan which you have buttered and lined with greaseproof paper.
[Dimensions of mine are approx 21x21x6 (cm!)…you’re welcome!]

• Bake in middle of preheated oven for 35-45 mins – or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the cake. If you notice (as I did tonight!) that the top of the cake seems to be browning too quickly place a square of foil over it and continue baking as normal.

• While your cake is in the oven, place in a thick bottomed saucepan all three toffee sauce ingredients, slowly bring to the boil over a low heat – make sure the sugar has fully dissolved then keep on a slow simmer until it gets a little darker and thicker.

• Once the cake is out of the oven, place on a wire rack, prick all over with a toothpick (or other thin sharp object!) – then immediately pour the toffee sauce liberally all over, making sure the whole cake is well drenched, in order to soak in the buttery liquid.

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And now here’s the cool bit!

You can eat this straight out of the oven, served with lashings of double cream/ ice cream/ custard/ clotted cream – or all of the above (*heave*).
Talk about indulgent. Truly the best sort of therapy – because when you treat yourself to something as nice as this, you’re actually saying that you’re worth it

Much as you will be tempted to devour at least one (large) corner of this yummy cake as soon as it has been slathered with toffee sauce, it will actually get better with age – so enjoy it in small doses, over a few days – if you can manage to restrain yourself!

But one thing is for sure: Cold or hot, it will delight you and whoever you choose to share it with, over and over again.

Oh my.
Enjoy!!

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Medicinal Sticky Toffee

17 Jul

Right.
So anyone with half a brain reading through (and in between the lines of) this random blog of mine will have worked out by now that, yes, I am indeed suffering with a mental illness.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that.

It has, however, taken me about 3-4 months to face facts, to accept facts and to realise that I need medication to help me get better.
But the truth has finally landed – and I am both floored yet also relieved by it.

So over the next days, weeks, months – I am going to start exploring the ins and outs of depression in this blog, the issues it raises, and my journey towards deeper, better wholeness – my journey towards fuller life.

And to this means, I shall start with……well, cake – what else?!
Because I have realised one thing: while I struggle to get on with many things at the moment, while just getting through to the end of each day feels like an impossible, superhuman, monumental expedition, baking and drawing are two things that make me soar, give me life, get my blood pumping and my energy buzzing!

So hey, people, guess what: over the next few months I’m gonna be baking a whole lot! Seeing as its basically my therapy, I don’t really think I have much of a choice.

Do I.

We begin with Sticky Toffee Pudding.

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See that, in the box?
Dates.
Millions of them, straight from Saudi Arabia.
I’ll explain in another post.

But what better thing to do, when you have a few spare dates lying around, than to make this most iconic and decadent of cakes, which is really a glorified (and glorious) pudding.

On with the recipe then, which is taken and adapted from a trusted Jamie Oliver book.

(Recipe in next post! Sorry to be a tease….)
(It’s worth it. Honest.)

Micro-Houses and Monkey Bread – or a cuddly, pottering kinda day

25 Feb

Today’s the drizzly, nondescript sort of day, where one feels one has All The Time In The World, and where there is no need to do Anything In Particular.
So the kids are building Lego hotels and playing Monopoly rather amicably.
And me? I lie-in, catch up on StumbleUpon and Pinterest (my new ‘addiction’…), where I find out all sorts of Interesting Facts about Micro-Houses in Japan, and dream of Monkey Bread.
Now, I happened to have some left over bread dough after making homemade pizza for the children last night.
And had heard somewhere on the grapevine about this strange typa cake that combined bread dough with an insane amount of butter, cinnamon and sugar called ‘Monkey Bread’. So I decided to experiment. And BOY was it worth it!! We had it for pudding and all my boys (including the one in his late thirties) were begging me for seconds. And THIRDS.

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I will make some more and post a full recipe and pictures VERY soon. Because I’ve got to practice y’see…and practice makes perfect doesn’t it?!

Oh and because I’m craving it and salivating at the very thought of it.

*Sooooon*

Anyway, where was I??

I think I went off on a tangent there.
Can’t remember what else I was going to say….

My bad.

Ah well, blame it on the monkey bread!

But whatever you’re up to this dull February week-end, make sure you find some time for pottering & cuddling. It’s good for the soul…

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