Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Chocolate Chip Ginger Cake

The Improving Cook- Chocolate Chip Ginger Cake

I love ginger cake. I love ginger in general, but ginger cake really is gorgeous, and dark chocolate accompanies it really well. The slightly bitter chocolate taste complements all that sticky golden syrup and sugar, add some chocolate buttercream and mmmmm, you've got yourself a winner!

A little while back I made a chocolate chip ginger sandwich cake, for one of my husband's colleagues who was leaving. It went down very well, lasted about 5 seconds according to my husband, but I never remembered to take any photos. I had some time spare this weekend, so I decided to have a bit of a baking/cooking day and make it again.

This chocolate chip ginger cake recipe makes a pretty foolproof sandwich cake. The ginger sponge is feather light and just slightly sticky. The only thing you need to watch out for is when you come to turn the cake out. It will stick and crack at any opportunity, so make sure that the tin is well greased and let the cake cool for several minutes before trying to turn it out!

The Improving Cook- Chocolate Chip Ginger Cake pinnable image



Sunday, May 07, 2017

Quick Summer Fruits Crumble

Quick Summer Fruit Crumble pinnable image


I am so ready for Summer to come round the corner, so I can put away my winter wardrobe, plant up up my garden and start carrying my sunglasses wherever I go. I want to eat strawberries, avocados and salad and sit in the garden on sun-loungers. Doesn't seem like much to ask, but summer is being quite contrary...

One of the other great things about summer is all the delicious fruit that comes into season- strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, apricots, blackcurrants, nectarines. I love it all! We're not quite in the season for those fruits yet in the UK, although some early British strawberries are knocking around. I use the BBC Good Food Season Table to keep an eye on when I'll be able to find the fruit I want.

In my determination to bring summer on, I decided to make a Quick Summer Fruit Crumble for dessert, using the fruit that I could find. I mixed raspberries, blackberries and blueberries together in the bottom of a ceramic dish and poured the crumble mixture over the top. No pre-cooking and no peeling required makes it a super-quick crumble to make!

There are some nice summer fruits available now, but from June, you should be able to buy British- even better.


Quick Summer Fruit Crumble pinnable image

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bruschetta Flatbreads

Bruschetta Flatbread


I tend not to be very imaginative when I order starters in an Italian restaurant. I go for the Bruschetta almost every time. I'm so predictable on this front that I could even rank all the chain restaurants by how good their Bruschettas are (Pizza Express- excellent, Zizzi- terrible).

Bruschetta is a beautifully simple dish- some type of bread, chopped, sweet, fresh tomatoes, red onion, fresh basil and away you go. I like to use different colours of tomato, like the red and yellow cherry tomatoes, because it looks so pretty when it's served. Some people like the bruschetta topping to be warm, almost like pizza, but traditionally it's cold, with the warm bread underneath. That's the way I like it- it makes me think of summer!

Making your own bruschetta is very easy. Take any good bread like French stick or ciabatta and drizzle it with garlic oil or spread it with garlic butter and grill until crisped a little. Then serve straight away with the tomato salad topping and a little salt. Delicious for lunch, starters or a snack.

If you really want to go fully home-made then try out my simple flatbread recipe below and serve freshly cooked with bruschetta topping.




Monday, April 17, 2017

Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry

 
Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry

This week I have been making vegetable curry in my slow cooker. If you like a really fiery curry, often a vegetable curry is the way to go. The veg absorbs a lot of the heat from the spices and really packs a punch! The advantage of using the slow cooker (apart from the usual bonus of leaving it to do its thing)  is that it keeps the curry very low calorie because no curry paste or oil is needed. Add that to the fact that veg and pulses in themselves are packed full of nutrients and protein, and you're on to a winner all round. This slow cooker vegetable curry has around 160 calories for a pretty big portion. Can't ask for better than that!

I love everything about having a curry. Naan bread in particular is a hot favourite for me. I would rather have curry and Naan than have any rice. I'm hoping one of my friends who are experts in Asian cooking will teach me how to make them myself one day. The shop-bought ones are such a disappointment, but I made do with them!

  For this veg curry, I used butternut squash, potato, chickpeas, orange pepper, onion, coconut milk and plenty of chilli! You could adapt it by adding or swapping out your favourite veg. Cauliflower would be a lovely one to include. I made this version quite spicy by using fresh chillis and chilli powder, but you could swap that out for a mild chilli if you prefer less heat. Make a big batch today and pop some in the freezer for next week.  

Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry

If you are following a calorie controlled diet, like My Fitness Pal, this recipe is around 160 calories per portion. If you are following Slimming World this is a 1 syn vegetable curry if you use Alpro light coconut milk. Other light coconut milks are 3-4 syns per portion.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Easter Chocolate Fridge Cake

Easter Chocolate Fridge Cake


With Easter around the corner, I was tempted to make this Easter Chocolate Fridge Cake, or Chocolate Tiffin. There's no pretending that it's anything but a very indulgent treat, but as Easter is the celebration that seems to involve the most chocolate, I think that's okay! Cadbury's Mini Eggs are my absolute favourite Easter treat, so I added plenty of them to this recipe. If you're more of a Cadbury's Creme Egg fan, you could use the mini ones of those instead. I like those too, but couldn't be faffed with unwrapping them all individually!

Chocolate tiffin usually has biscuit inside, but my Easter version doesn't. I used nuts for the crunch instead- almonds and hazelnuts (which are my favourites at the moment), but if nuts are a problem, you could switch them for the more traditional digestive biscuits or even ginger nuts. If you really want to go renegade, use banana chips!

That's part of why I love this recipe, you can change it in hundreds of different ways. I used mixed dried fruit, but you could switch it for dried apricots, or just raisins, whatever you prefer.

Easter Chocolate Fridge Cake is perfect for a family Easter get-together. I like to have a piece with a cold glass of milk or a nice cuppa, just to cut through the sweetness a little! It will keep for around 2 weeks in the fridge, so you can make it well ahead of when you need it. (Who are we kidding though, it's never going to make it through 2 weeks without disappearing!) It takes about 15 mins to make and then an hour or so in the fridge to set.

Happy Easter and enjoy!

Easter Chocolate Fridge Cake Pinnable image


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Easter Nest Cupcakes

Easter Nest Cupcakes

There are so many cute cupcake ideas to make for Easter, but when you don't have a lot of time, or you want to bake with your children, I find simple is best. I made these Easter Nest cupcakes as a variation on my Chocolate Orange Easter Nest Cake

The sponge I use is a classic yellow sponge that makes an excellent base for any cupcake you want to make. It turns out well every time; moist, buttery and delicious. Top that with real chocolate icing, crumbly Cadbury's Flake and the essential Cadbury's Mini Eggs and you've got yourself a classic Easter treat.

They don't tend to last long once people try them, so make a big batch. There were 16 in the batch that I made for work and they lasted until 1pm!


Easter Nest Cupcakes- pinnable image



Friday, March 24, 2017

Creamy Garlic Ham and Leek Pies

Ham and Leek Pies pinnable image

This week I made a batch of one of my favourite slow cooker dishes- Brown Sugar Gammon.  We had it for dinner, then the next day in sandwiches, but there was still some leftover! It's absolutely delicious, so I couldn't let it go to waste. I decided to make some ham and leek pies to use it up, as I had plenty of leeks ready to make soup.

These ham and leek pies are individual portion sizes with a creamy, garlic, ham and leek filling. The creamy sauce is really what separates them from just any old ham pie. It's essentially a classic white sauce but with garlic and double cream added. I used my leftover brown sugar gammon for the ham filling, but you can buy a ready-cooked bacon joint or use leftovers of any type of ham you have cooked recently.

I used ready-made shortcrust pastry but you can, of course make your own. I recommend this recipe: Shortcrust Pastry Recipe from BBC Good Food.

The traditional enamel pie dishes with the blue edges are the ones I use for cooking my pies in. They are incredibly durable and pastry just slides off them. You can buy them in most cook shops and Lakeland sell them too: Lakeland Enamel Pie Dishes I use the 16cm ones for individual pies.

There was a tiny bit of pastry and filling left at the end so I made a handful of  mini pies that I thought might make a nice lunch. I was a bit too over enthusiastic with the filling so they popped their tops and made a bid for freedom! Let's just gloss over that and say that, as long as you don't over-fill them, and you wet the edges enough, you can also use this recipe  to make a big batch of mini ham and leek pies. Perfect for a buffet lunch!

Ham and Leek Pies pinnable image



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...