Leftovers, still… 

We had an amazing Christmas. And an scrummy Christmas dinner, our turkey was a free range bronze from our fab local butcher. I tried to not go too mad with extras like cheese and things but we still ended up with a fridge full of stuff which we’ve slowly gorged ourselves on since the big day. I have been running out of ideas for how to use things up, I hate to waste food.

Today’s blog recipe is inspired by my mum. We had lunch at hers today before taking the little man swimming. She’d made some savoury scones using her cheese leftovers. Joshua happily tucked into a Stilton and cranberry one and it inspired me to use mine up in the same way.
I’d only got Brie left so this is a recipe for Brie and cranberry savoury scones. I made half into adult sized and the other half into Joshua sized portions so that I can freeze them for snacks.

Ingredients

8oz self raising flour

2 oz butter

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/4 milk

Brie – use however much you want depending on how strong you want the taste. I used about a quarter of a whole one.

Good handful of dried cranberries.

I’d forgotten how simple scones are. And you don’t need any fancy equipment. Just rub the fat into the flour using your hands until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the rest of the dried ingredients in, I chopped the brie up reasonably small to try to get an even distribution. Then add the milk to bring it together. Roll out to about 2cm thickness, cut out your shapes, coat with an egg or milk wash and bake in a hot oven for about 12 minutes. Best eaten while they are still warm I say ; )

Weaning fun

Life got a whole lot messier a month or so back when we made the decision to start weaning. I held off for as long as I felt I could (another case of feeling anxious about bloody recommended guidelines). We started off slowly at about five months with a small portion of baby rice around tea time, yes in the hope that it may of helped him sleep- it didn’t (of course) but he quickly showed signs of being ready to move on. We spent a couple of weeks trying different purees of single veg, constantly amusing ourselves with the over exaggerated faces he’d pull when trying a new flavour. We then started to move onto combinations, quite quickly he showed he preferred purees thicker and a little lumpier and by the time we got to six months he was having breakfast, lunch and tea. He’s been having a bit of finger food to play around with too.

He absolutely loves food, which has been a relief after months of bottle refusal and terrible sleeping patterns and this has been such a fun stage. 

I love cooking anyway but being able to cook for him and come up with combinations I think he may like has been a lot of fun. Every time I give him something new to try he pulls a hilarious face as if to say what the hell is this now mummy…

I’ve got a good baby recipe book (Ella’s kitchen first foods) and my friend gave me some Annabel Karmel books which have been useful but I’ve been making things up too. One recipe I came up with is a favourite – butternut squash, rice, cottage cheese and pear, so a baby take on squash risotto with a bit of sweetness. Salmon, broccoli and new potatoes which I mixed with some crème fraîche was also a big hit this week.

I’ve found you really don’t need any fancy equipment for this stage, I’ve just used a colander over a saucepan to steam things and my hand held blender. We moved on to just using a fork to mash things up fairly quickly. Some kit that I have bought which I have found useful though are these weaning trays by OXO. They use the ice cube size portions some of the Ella’s Kitchen recipes recommend and I’ve found them great for batch cooking. Once they are frozen you just pop them out, bag them up and stick them back in. Then you just take out your required portion when needed. Perfect.

Foolproof cooking & getting lean

I seem to have gone through another phase of buying lots of cookery books (getting a chance to read them all properly is another matter!). I’ve been justifying it by stopping buying food magazines. Instead I download and read them for free on the IPad using Cambridgeshire Libraries emagazine service, which is brilliant. I think this is a service that lots of local authorities run – it’s definitely worth finding out about.

So here’s a couple of short reviews on some new additions…

Mary Berry’s Foolproof Cooking
I love Mary Berry. When I grow up I want to be just like her. This book accompanied her most recent TV series, it’s full of really simple crowd pleasing recipes. I love it, so much so I had to buy another copy to give to my bestie for her birthday (we’re definitely getting old). I’ve made lots from the baking section, which is really bad as none of my clothes fit me as it is (I’m not sure how much longer I can use the ‘but I’m breastfeeding’ excuse and get away with it). It’s well laid out with simple easy to follow recipes that cater for a range of occasions. Definitely another time proof classic.

Lean in 15
I put off buying this book for as long as possible as I’m always skeptical when something’s so talked about. We’re now obsessed by it and for the last three weeks or so have been cooking most of our mid week meals from it. The guy’s a little bit too enthusiastic for my liking on his social media sites but he’s got to be applauded for what he’s doing and the amount of people he’s inspiring to make lifestyle changes. His workouts are really easy to follow too. I can honestly say of all the recipes we’ve tried (and it’s a lot of them) we have yet to come across something we don’t like. The hubby quite enjoys cooking from it too – bonus. So far our favourites are curry fried rice in a hurry, the McLeanie Burger and the chicken pie. All yummy.

I’ve also had delivered Sirocco by Sabrina Ghayour (I adore her first book), I’m yet to cook from it but I’ll report back as soon as I do, oh and a new Paul Hollywood book.

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Recipe: butternut squash & chorizo ravioli

Cooking has always been one of my favourite past times and what I do to relax. Amongst my friends I’m known as the feeder, but over the last few months cooking has been about trying to eat as healthily as possible (I’m breastfeeding) in the quickest possible way.

Earlier this week though Mr B got home from work early and I took the opportunity to get inventive in the kitchen (can anyone tell Masterchef is back on!), anyway I’m no John Torode but it was a success so I thought I’d share the recipe for homemade ravioli that I came up with…

Roasted butternut squash and chorizo ravioli with sage butter

It sounds a lot more complicated than it is but if you have a pasta machine it really doesn’t take long at all. This served two but with a fair amount of pasta left over.

First up make the pasta, I used 300g of type 00 flour (or just use strong white) with three large eggs. I used my KitchenAid with the dough hook attachment, mix till it has formed a ball with a silky texture then pop it in the fridge for an hour wrapped in cling film.

Next up get on with the filling. This I made up with what I had in the fridge. Chop up half a butternut squash and put into a roasting tray with a bit of ripped up sage, seasoning and plenty of olive oil. Roast for around 25 mins on about 160c turning now and then so it doesn’t catch. Once cooked, lightly mash with a fork, I left some chunks in it for a bit of texture, chop up some chorizo and stir through along with a little more seasoning to taste.

Then roll out your pasta sheets. I used a machine and took it down to the second setting. Lay one sheet out and spoon dollops of filling evenly along, I used a heaped teaspoon and roughly left 5cm between each one. Use water to create a seal before laying another sheet on top. Shape your ravioli, I use my hands to cup around the filling to get rid of any air then a pastry cutter to cut them out and make them the same size. The most important thing is to make sure they are properly sealed so no filling escapes when you are cooking them.

Cook them in a large pan of salted boiling water for about 4 minutes.

Whilst they are cooking make the sage butter. In a small frying pan rip up some sage and add a large knob of butter, let it melt and infuse, be careful not to catch the butter though. Serve drizzled over the cooked ravioli!

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Perfect crumble

It’s taken me a long time to find a perfect crumble recipe. In the past when I have made one I’ve called my mum to ask her for the hundredth time for her classic family recipe but a year or so ago I decided I should probably find my own. Google was my friend and I found a great recipe which incorporated oats for added texture that I could adapt. We’ve had a glut of apples off the trees in the orchard this season so I’ve been making a lot of apples crumbles (in fact the freezer is now full of ready to bake crumbles for when we’re feeling lazy). There’s always a debate over whether you should have even fruit to topping or more topping than fruit, as it’s such an individual preference I’m not including weights for the fruit part. For my apple crumble I keep it really simple with sliced apples, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Here’s the recipe for the topping:

140g plain flour
140g butter or hard marg
85g soft brown sugar
50g oats

I whizz the flour and marg together in the food processor until it resembles bread crumbs. Then I quickly whizz in the sugar. Then stir in the oats by hand so they keep their size. Tip onto your fruit so it’s even then pop in the oven, usually around 180c for 25 mins (or until you think it’s done!)

Buttery biscuits

This weekend I helped to entertain my friends little girl who is two years old. I had been promising for months to do a little baking with her so the challenge was to find something she’d enjoy and that would keep her attention span for at least 20 minutes! I decided biscuits were the way forward, planning to whip up the dough in my KitchenAid and then let her have a go at rolling out and using lots of kiddie shaped cutters. It seemed to go down well, and the dough was really easy to work with using a variety of biscuit cutters, we did manage to get some in the oven and cooled so she had the novelty of eating one too ; )

With hindsight my tip would be to make the dough beforehand to maximise attention span! We only used half the dough so I popped the rest in the fridge and rolled it out this morning, which worked fine.

Here’s the recipe, which is adapted from a Nigella Lawson one out of her How to be a Domestic Goddess book.

  • 175g Unsalted butter (ideally at room temperature)
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 capful of top quality vanilla essence
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Cream the butter and sugar together then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Then gently add all the dry ingredients. It’s quite a sticky dough so have plenty of flour on your work top and rolling pin when you come to rolling out. Bake in the oven for about 6-8 minutes at around 170c, keep a close eye on them though as they can catch quite quickly.

If you’re feeling creative why not decorate with some melted chocolate or some icing.

Butter biscuits

Bread

Back in March I blogged about starting my own personal GBBO challenge – where I would try baking a new recipe once a fortnight. I’ve pretty much stuck to it, although sometimes I’ll confess there may well of been more than a fortnight in-between. There have been some successes and failures along the way, one bake that really didn’t go well was my madeira cake, but practice makes perfect. A couple of weeks ago for the first time I made choux pastry, I’ve always avoided it as I thought it was really complicated (plus my auntie is the queen of profiteroles so I’ve never really had the need!). I couldn’t believe how simple it is, and how easy it was to get great results. I made six large choux buns which I then piped full of a rapsberry and vanilla cream – topped with more fresh berries. They went down a storm with the husband.

This weekend, (following the Great British Bake Off) it’s all about bread, which considering my background I probably should of covered first. For those that don’t know me, bread and baking is in my blood. My grandfather owned a successful bakery business until he retired around 15 years ago – and he was the third generation of his family to own a bakery business. We all worked at the family business at some point, I used to work every Saturday morning in one of the shops he owned (which was great as a teenager as I had an unlimited supply of donuts for my friends after our trips to the local pub on a Saturday evening). When my brother and I were small we used to ‘help’ out in the original bakery that he owned and he always told us we were natural kneaders. I really must get him to write down all the bread recipes he used to use as I’ve never found any supermarket bread that tastes as good. So, this weekend I’ll be trying out the perfect white loaf recipe from my Bake Off book. Whether I show my grandad the end result or not will depend on what it looks and tastes like!
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My little brother helping out at my Grandad’s first bakery – which had a traditional bread oven.