Miss Friday's Weekly Pick

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Monday, 14 July 2014

Fruit Purée Ice Lollies



Despite the fact that it’s July, the weather seems to have been rather horrid. The past couple of days we've seen torrential downpours and intolerable sticky humid nights. Typically, the few sunny days we have had have been during the week when most of us work. Nevertheless, it is July; it is summer, even if the weather is hell bent on convincing us otherwise. Having said that, this week is set to be the hottest of the year so far...

Remember those plastic ice lolly moulds you had as a kid? Yep - you know the ones I mean, almost everyone has one of these lurking somewhere at the back of a cupboard or drawer. Perhaps it's lost at the back of the ice box in the fridge? If you've got one - find it. If you've never owned one - buy one and get making these delicious fruit purée lollies.

Today's recipe is ice lollies of course, or popsicles if you are from across the pond. Not just any old ice lollies either – healthy fruit purée lollies to help keep your bikini body in shape. These fresh and fruity lollies couldn't be easier to make and you really can pick which ever fruits you like. I choose Mango and Raspberry. You do need to add a little sugar to the raspberries as they can be quite sharp, add sugar and taste to ensure you get the balance right. You can also add a little fresh orange juice to the raspberries to dilute the tart flavour.

These lollies are simply delicious and so refreshing on hot and sunny day – the kids love them too. They will keep in the freezer for a good few months. Next I'm going to try coconut and raspberry lollies with natural yoghurt and coconut milk for a creamier lolly.

Is it just me, or are Mangos slippery little blighters? I still can’t cut one without a struggle, so hats off you if you've mastered it. Mangos have a flat long pit in the centre, the trick is to try and cut around this, a good guide for cutting them can be found here.

Mango & Raspberry Ice Lollies


1 mango, diced
1 punnet of raspberries
3 tspb of sugar

Place the mango into a large glass jug and blend into a purée using a stick blender. Do the same with the raspberries, except this time add the sugar as you blend.

Pour the mango purée into the ice lolly mould, making sure you leave room at the top for the raspberry purée . Place the mould into the freezer for 1 hour, remove the mould and add the raspberry purée – place the full moulds into the freezer and leave for at least 4 hours.
Friday, 4 July 2014

Miss Friday's 100th Blog Post

This marks my 100th post on Miss Friday’s Feast. Yes, really. Hurrah for me right? So, what does one post to mark such a milestone? The truth is this post would have come a week earlier had I been able to make my mind up. My top hundred favourite foods, my top 10 or most popular blog posts from the past, a celebration recipe...? The possibilities are endless.

I’ve decided to post a collection of pictures to give you an insight into a few of the things I’ve been up to lately. I’ve been so busy I just have to share it all with you. I managed to blag myself hospitality tickets to the Taste of London show with work, which as you can imaging was immense. Free champagne, spending money and all that delicious food, what’s not to love? That’s not even the best part, I was lucky enough to meet one of the most successful celebrity chefs – Michel Roux Jr, and had my photograph taken with him as he signed me one of his recipe books. That certainly topped my week, my month in fact.



As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one month, my dear friend Lee finished making me a new shelf/cupboard to house my recipe books, and it’s just about the most beautiful shelf I’ve ever seen. We sat down and discussed what storage I needed and what type of design I wanted. You can’t beat a beautiful bespoke piece of furniture, look how pretty she is!



So what else has been happening? Well, I ran the Pretty Muddy race and raised £198 for Cancer Research. It was such a fun day and all for a very good cause. There is still time to raise money, so if you’re feeling generous and would like to sponsor me, even £1, you can do so by clicking this link. Your support is really appreciated.



I’ve been writing Miss Friday’s Feast for almost two years now and every post has been a pleasure to plan, develop, cook, photograph, write and share with you lovely people. I’ve always taken an interest in food, but this blog has allowed me to develop that interest into a real passion. I’ve loved sharing my recipes and listening to the wonderful feedback. Knowing that people are genuinely interested and sometimes impressed by the recipes you share really does make all the difference. Which brings me on nicely to saying thank you to my readers, without you writing this blog wouldn’t be worthwhile. Don’t get me wrong there were a few hairy moments in the beginning where I thought I was the only one reading it. But, over the past (nearly) two years I’ve seen my audience grow, which makes me very happy indeed.

Writing this blog has seen me through some pretty crappy times, when I just wanted to bury my head and stay locked in the house, my blog was always there waiting to be written. Even when things were back on track and I rarely felt I had time to write, when I eventually did, here it was still waiting, just like my readers for which I am eternally grateful. 
Monday, 23 June 2014

Tuscan Inspired Ragú - #TuscanyNowCookOff

Being a food blogger often presents you with opportunities to review products and enter competitions, and when such a task presents itself I'm only too happy to get involved. Having said that, I've come to adopt rather a casual approach to cooking. The thought of making everything over fussy and complicated doesn't fill me with glee; in fact it makes me anxious at times. How can a self confessed foodie say this? Well, I've tried cooking many recipes and many variations of the same recipe and more often than not I find that simple is best. As long as you are not compromising on flavour and satisfaction, why wouldn't you choose the easier recipe? Not only does it save you hours slaving in the kitchen, but quite often it saves you money too.

It’s not to say that I don’t like taking the time to cook up something delicious and spend a little cash being indulgent with food, especially where a competition is concerned, but sometimes I prefer recipes that are undemanding - especially on a Monday. Recently, I've become a slave to the clock, work has been busy and my social life, not that I'm complaining, seems to have flourished. All in all, it’s left me feeling exhausted and in need of the sort of food that can replace a loving embrace, if you get where I'm going with that - comfort food.

So the easy part is that I've made this recipe before and you can batch cook the ragú and freeze it for days when you feel like this, making it an incredibly quick supper. 

Although we've been lucky enough to have a gloriously sunny weekend, today has been all too gloomy and overcast for my liking. Incidentally, as I write, it has just beginning to rain. And, it’s weather like this that brings me back to the thought of comfort food. Today that comfort is in the form of a delicious rich Tuscan inspired ragú.

Ragú is perfect for this lazy approach to cooking, aside from chopping a few ingredients, you pop everything into a big pot and leave the hob to do the hard work. Apart from a little stirring here and there it’s effortless. Serve it up with some delicious toasted ciabatta, rubbed with a little garlic. Top it off with some sweet cherry tomatoes, basil leaves and a few shavings of parmesan and you’ll be in comfort food heaven. Once you've poured yourself a glass of red wine that is.

And, as I finish this post the rain is lashing down on my window whilst I scoff down my delicious fuss free supper.

I was recently contacted by Tuscany Now asking if I would like to contribute to their Cook-Off Competition #TuscanyNowCookOff. This recipe is perfect as it’s a Tuscan inspired creation that is simply delicious.





Recipe makes a large batch for freezing

250g Beef mince
250g lamb mince
200g Chicken livers, finely chopped
5 tbsp Italian extra virgin olive oil (such as De Cecco Il Classico)
800g chopped tomatoes
5 tbsp tomato purée
200ml of red wine
Salt and black pepper
Handful of freshly chopped basil
10 vine tomatoes, halved
4 tbsp parmesan shavings

A combination of the following ingredients finely chopped is what the Italian’s call Soffritto, which forms the basis of many authentic Italian meals:

2 Red onions
2 Carrots
2 Celery sticks
1 sprig of rosemary (optional in most Soffritto recipes)
2 bay leaves (optional in most Soffritto recipes)

Start by heating the oil in a pan and gently frying the red onion, carrots and celery. Add the rosemary and bay leaves. Cook until golden, about 12-15 minutes. Remove the rosemary and bay leaves and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add the meats to the pan and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes. Once browned add the wine and stir well. Cook until the wine and fat from the meats has evaporated.

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée and season to taste.

Serve with toasted ciabatta, topped with a generous spoonful or ragú, a few chopped vine tomatoes, freshly chopped basil and parmesan shavings.
Monday, 16 June 2014

Many Foodie Endeavours

Yet again, time slips away from me. How is it possible that seven weeks have passed me by without a single blog post?  Now, although I've not managed to get round to blogging any recipes, many foodie endeavours have presented themselves to me over the past few weeks. I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few pictures with you, which might explain what on earth I've been up to.

I've written and had my first recipe published in the Local Network Magazine, which you can read here. Hurrah for me! I've also just submitted the July article, which will be published any day now. I've been in consultation with the magazine about doing some freelance copy editing for them. I proof read for a living, so this opportunity is quite apt. As you can image, I'm feeling rather busy at the minute.

I embarked on a two week healthy eating pre-holiday style diet, which went fairly successfully, until my uncle invited us over for a pasta making party. Yep, you heard right, pasta making party!  Everyone got stuck in and we ended up with about seven different pasta dishes, so we had a little of everything.  I've been camping in Mersea, which to my delight gave me the perfect opportunity to check out the Oyster Bar for some... yep you guessed it oysters, and lobster. And, of course, I've been on holiday to Tenerife for a week, which obviously bought many delicious delights. All in all, not a bad few weeks really! 

On top of all of this, I've had a couple of delicious picnics and beer festivals to see in the summer in proper British style. So, having given you all of my excuses as to why I've been too busy for the world of blogging, I thought it best to share with you some pictures from the last few weeks...



Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Pasta Puttanesca



Being an avid foodie, it’s almost impossible for me to pick a favourite dish, but there are a few that are certainly up there and this pasta dish certainly deserves a place in my top 5 meals. My friend Emily and I just adore this dish, mainly for its pungent delicious flavour, but also because there are few things more comforting that a big bowl of pasta. I've posted a puttanesca recipe before, but this is a variation on the last recipe, I wanted to create a super quick version of my favourite pasta dish that is just as delicious.  

If you've never tried puttanesca, I’ll warn you, it’s instantly addictive, and will most likely become a real go to meal when you’re having a busy week. You can almost make the entire meal from your store cupboard ingredients, all except the lemon juice, parsley and red chilli. Of course you could use chilli flakes, and bottled lemon juice, but the fresh parsley is a must. A word of warning, don’t add any salt to the dish, the anchovies provide all the saltiness you need.

Traditionally, you would use spaghetti in this dish, but any pasta you have knocking about is fine, and to be honest fusilli worked really well here, and for a speedy supper it’s easier to eat – that is simply my inner greed. My boyfriend always comments on how quickly I eat my meals.

Ingredients:

250g fusilli pasta
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 can of anchovies
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 red chilli roughly chopped
2 tbsp capers
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of freshly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated

Method:

Start by cooking the pasta according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile, add the anchovies to a hot pan, with the oil that they are in, using a wooden spoon break them up; the heat will turn them into a paste. Add the garlic and chilli, cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, capers and half of the parsley to the pan. Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and mix well to combine, allow this to simmer over a medium heat until the pasta is cooked.

Drain the pasta; add to the pan with a good pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Serve in warmed bowls with a sprinkling of parsley and parmesan. 
Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Tefal OptiGrill Review

Move over George Forman, there's a new kid on the block; The Tefal OptiGrill and its one mean grilling machine. I was rather excited that the lovely people at Tefal sent me one to try out last week. The poor old George Forman grill has been tossed into the trash to make way for our shiny new kitchen gadget, but to be fair; it was getting a little old and tatty.

The OpitGrill features an automatic sensor to precisely measure the cooking process and a thickness measurement to adapt to the thickness of the meat or fish you are grilling, sounds great right? It also features a colour LED screen that indicates whether your meat is rare, medium or well-done – I think this is simply great, no more guess work with your steak.

With six automatic programmes you can have the perfect grilled fish, bacon, chicken, burgers and sausages every time and other features include a manual option if you are cooking vegetables, defrost and keep warm options. Obviously, I wasted no time in putting it through its paces and grilled just about everything in sight.

The OptiGrill is a stylish kitchen gadget; it’s mainly brushed stainless, with black detailing. The automatic programme panel and controls are easy to understand and the changing light makes the grill easy to use.

So far, I have tried steak, bacon and chicken, all of which were a success. The chicken was superb, I wrapped the breasts in cling film and bashed them with a rolling pin to flatten ‘escalope’ them and rubbed them with a Cajun spice mix before grilling them. The result was a super tasty, perfectly cooked chicken breast that was also a very healthy way of cooking it.  The steak was slightly more difficult to get right, but only because I cooked four steaks, which were all different in size and thickness, which I think, confused the OptiGrill. Next time I’ll ensure the meat is all the same size and I'm sure the results would be much better. I'm keen to try fish, vegetables and toasted sandwiches in the grill too.

The OptiGrill is certainly not a small piece of kitchen equipment. It’s rather large and bulky, but if you have a spare cupboard it can be popped away. I do find it takes up quite a bit of space on the worktop, but seeing as it cooks so well I can overlook this. It also feels very durable and hardwearing. The retail price is £149 which, if I'm completely honest, is slightly expensive for a glorified George Forman grill. Don’t get me wrong, it is an intelligent piece of equipment, that undoubtedly has more features but I probably wouldn't pay over £100 for it.

Despite the objectionable price tag, the grill really does have some great features, such as the removable plates; you can completely remove them from the grill and wash them separately from the machine, which of course makes cleaning it a lot easier. We all know just how horrid these things are to clean. The plates are also dishwasher safe, which I'm sure, if you have a dishwasher, is great. Overall, I was impressed with the features of the Tefal OptiGrill and would recommend it to anyone that loves a kitchen gadget. 



Monday, 7 April 2014

Steak with Gruyere and Chive Croquette Potatoes, Red Cabbage and a Mustard Sauce with Shiitake Mushrooms






This recipe is my entry for the Maille Culinary Challenge. I was invited to participate in the challenge to create a mouth-watering recipe including at least one Maille product. They were kind enough to send me two of their delicious products free of charge and I was able to pick from a rather extensive list including many delicious ingredients. Rather than just including one of the ingredients, I decided to use both; I figured this would ensure I really thought hard about a recipe with different components. I quite often create recipes with one star piece, either the meat or fish and the sides will be fairly simple - such is my style of cooking. However, seeing as this was a culinary challenge it was only right that I challenged myself and created a dish where each element bought something special to the recipe. I chose the following ingredients:


The red cabbage worked beautifully with the balsamic glaze; it brought an intense sweetness to the dish that truly was delicious, whilst the mustard has a woody earthy flavour that compliments the shitake mushrooms wonderfully.

Fingers crossed my recipe goes down well. The first prize for the Maille Culinary Challenge is a “Food Lover London Tour” worth £390, and two runners up will receive a luxury Maille Gift Box with accessories valued at £150. Yes please!


Serves 4

Ingredients

* Half a red cabbage, finely sliced
* Half a red onion, finely sliced
* 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large potatoes
2 tbsp chives, snipped
90g Gruyere cheese, grated
Pinch white pepper
100g plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
50g golden breadcrumbs (preferably not fresh)
1 litre of vegetable oil
100g fresh shiitake mushrooms
200ml double cream
4 Sirloin Steaks


Method

Start by finely slicing the red cabbage and red onion. Place in a saucepan with 2 tbsp of butter, the garlic, balsamic glaze and water; season with salt and pepper and cook on a medium heat for about 50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes, boil for 25-30 minutes, until soft. Remove from the heat and drain well, return the potatoes to the pan. Add 2 tbsp butter, chives, cheese, white pepper and a splash of cream, roughly mash. Don’t worry if they are a little lumpy, a bit of texture works well in the croquettes. Allow the mashed potato to cool slightly.

Whilst the mash is cooling, line up three bowls, fill one with the flour, one with the egg and a tbsp of water and the other with the bread crumbs. Take a small amount of the mashed potato in your hands and roll into a small ball, slightly smaller than a golf ball, roll in the flour, shaking off any excess. Then roll the ball in the egg and finally the bread crumbs. Place aside and repeat until you have used all of the mash, set these aside while you prepare the sauce.

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan. Slice the shiitake mushrooms, place in a pan with the remaining butter and season, fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes, once softened add the mustard and cream; heat through while you cook the steak and fry the croquettes as below.

Season the steak and fry in a little oil for the desired length of time, depending on how you like your steak cooked. I had fairly thick Sirloin that I like rare, so I fried for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Once cooked, set the steak aside and allow to rest. This is very important as it lets the fibres in the meat relax and allows the juices to flow, meaning you’ll end up with a much tastier steak.

Fry the croquettes in batches for about 30 seconds, they will brown very quickly. Remove from the oil and place on kitchen towel to drain off any excess oil.

Slice and serve the steak, topped with the mustard sauce and some snipped chives, three croquettes and some red cabbage.
Thursday, 27 March 2014

Halloumi Salad



This vibrant salad is bursting with flavours; the peppery salad leaves and red onion are delicious with the cool herby yoghurt and salty halloumi. I'm going to be honest, I quite often find salads the most boring thing to eat, but a well thought out salad with balanced flavours is actually quite a delicious little dinner.

I'm trying my hardest to be good at the moment, and failing quite miserably for the most part. You may or may not have seen my previous post on indulgent chocolate buttons. I'm constantly torn between my love of food and not wanting to be fat, a battle I fear I’ll always face. But, when I am disciplined enough to be healthy, I feel quite chuffed with myself, especially when a healthy dinner turns out to be so tasty. So, if you are like me and practically turn your nose up at the thought of having a salad for dinner, just give this a go, it’s truly delicious.

It’s hard to beat grilled halloumi, but if you’re not a fan feta would work well too; essentially, it’s the salty element of this salad that I love the most. Even my meat eating carnivore of a boyfriend was happy to have a supper without meat, for once! This dish would make a wonderful side for a BBQ too now that we are coming into Spring.
  
* 250g Halloumi
* 100g Watercress, spinach and rocket salad
* 225g vine tomatoes
* 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
* 50g croutons (either bought or homemade)
* 150g low fat natural yoghurt
* Handful chopped basil
* Handful chopped dill

Preheat the oven to 160⁰C.

Mix the chopped basil and dill into the yoghurt and set aside.

Remove the tomatoes from the vine, cut in half and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, assemble the salad; place the salad leaves, red onion and croutons in a large salad bowl, top with the roasted tomatoes and yoghurt dressing.

Place a griddle over the heat and add the halloumi and fry for about 4-5 minutes on each side ensure both sides are lightly browned. Pop the halloumi on top of the salad and serve immediately. 
Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Indulgent Chocolate Buttons

Every now and again you come up with a recipe that is just spectacular, and this one is. Giant chocolate buttons encrusted with delicious dried fruit and crunchy nuts, utterly delicious! I started out thinking I’d make some chocolate bark, but changed my mind and thought giant button shaped treats would be much more decadent. I'm visiting a friend on Thursday for dinner, so I'm planning on taking a few as a gift, they’ll make the perfect after dinner treat. These would also be lovely for a Mother’s Day gift, there is surely nothing better than a homemade edible treat?

You don’t have to stick to the same ingredients I've used, you really can pick any combination of dried fruit and nuts to suit your taste, just make sure the flavours complement each other. I think the salty pistachios and cashews work beautifully with the sticky sweet cranberries and apricots. You could also try using different chocolate, white, plain, milk or dark would all be equally delicious.

I used a combination of 70% dark chocolate and milk chocolate. I love the bitterness and depth of flavour you get from dark chocolate, but combined with the milk you get a slightly more subtle flavour that would suit most pallets. Use the very best chocolate you can afford, trust me it’s worth splashing out a little. The taste of these little jewel embellished treats is only going to be as good as the quality of chocolate you use.

I'm looking forward to experimenting with various flavour combinations; I think hazelnut or honeycomb would be delicious. We have the children over the weekend so I'm guessing they will jump at the chance of making a batch of these chocolate buttons, perhaps with popping candy, marshmallows or Smarties. I’d recommend using milk chocolate for the little ones as dark would be too bitter.




* 150g Green & Black's 70% dark chocolate
* 200g Green & Black's milk chocolate
* Handful of shelled pistachios
* Handful of salted cashew nuts
* Handful of dried cranberries
* Handful of dried apricots, roughly chopped
* Baking parchment paper

Start by placing a saucepan of water (about 200ml) on the hob; position a glass bowl on top of the saucepan, ensuring that the glass does not touch the water. Heat water until just boiling, and then turn it right down to a simmer.

Break the chocolate into individual squares and place into the bowl, stir constantly with a spatula, if you continue mixing the chocolate will melt evenly and become liquefied and silky smooth. One the chocolate has melted completely, remove from the heat and place to one side.

Lay out a large section of baking parchment paper and roughly stencil out circles, to your desired size. I found a small drinking glass was the perfect size to draw around. Spoon the chocolate mixture onto the drawn circles and scatter with the fruit and nuts, ensuring that each chocolate button has a couple of pieces of each.

Leave the chocolate buttons on the counter for a couple of hours, at which point they should be hard and dry. Peel them carefully from the parchment paper and place into containers and refrigerate.

These buttons are best eaten cold straight from the fridge and washed down with a nice cup of tea.




Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Crispy Duck Pancakes




Who doesn't love crispy duck pancakes? Drizzled with sweet, sticky plum sauce I just can’t get enough of them, especially when the duck is extra crispy. Quite often Rich and I order them from our local Chinese takeaway, not bothering to attempt them at home, until now anyway.

But, having found three duck legs reduced to just £2 at the supermarket I couldn't resist picking them up. I'm fortunate in the respect that I live next door to a co-operative supermarket; which can be super useful when you run out of something, or forget to pick something up. But, perhaps what I love best about it is that it’s great for bagging a bargain; I normally pop across at the end of the day when they are reducing everything and see what cheap treats I can pick up. So, this time it was duck legs, and we knew exactly what we wanted to do with them; attempt, for the first time, crispy duck pancakes.

There is a certain technique to ensuring the meat is super tender, but the skin is super crispy. It wasn't without a bit of re-search that we realised steaming the duck first helps to keep it really moist, then deep frying it crisps up the skin so nicely. I’ll take no credit for this particular recipe as it was Richard’s wonderful dish and he really did do a splendid job.

1 ½ pints of vegetable oil
10 pancakes
2 duck legs
1 tsp Chinese five spice
1 tsp Szechuan pepper corns
Bunch of spring onions
Cucumber
Plum sauce

Start by rubbing the duck legs with the five spice and peppercorns, then place them in a steamer over boiling water. Steam the legs for about 40 minutes, until the meat is really tender and cooked through.

Remove the duck legs from the steamer and set aside on kitchen paper to absorb any excess water. Heat a pan of vegetable oil on the hob and carefully place the duck legs in and fry for about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oil and place them onto the kitchen paper for a second time to drain the excess oil. Shred the meat from the bone and place in a warmed dish to serve.

Serve with steamed pancakes, chopped spring onions and cucumber and plum sauce. 
Monday, 3 March 2014

Homemade Hummus



There is something about this pale, thick and delicious Middle Eastern dip that I just adore. Of course I'm a fan of the store bought stuff, but nothing beats making your own, and when you realise just how simple it is you’ll mostly make it yourself in future. You can experiment with the recipe and make various flavour fusions. I've stuck to a plain hummus this time, but you could try lime and coriander, lemon and garlic or sun-dried tomato. The possibilities are endless.

Hummus is perfect served with bread sticks, raw vegetables or toasted pita bread, simply brush the pita bread with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toast under the grill for about 5 minutes - the pita comes out so crispy and delicious.

Ingredients:

1 can of chickpeas, drained
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Method:

Place the chickpeas in a blender (keep a few aside) and add the lemon juice, sesame oil and garlic. With the blender on full, slowly pour in the EVOO until you have the right consistency. You want the hummus to be thick, but not so thick that it’s a solid lump when you stir it.

Season to taste a serve in a bowl drizzled with a little of the EVOO and a few of the whole chickpeas for decoration.


Monday, 17 February 2014

Lemon Cupcakes


I had a rather eventful Saturday, baking batches of cupcakes for a charity fundraising night at my local pub. Having agreed to bake around 70 cupcakes, I was delighted that my friend Sam had offered to help me, she wanted to brush up on her baking skills and I was only too happy to share the load. We decided upon three kinds of cupcakes, lemon, chocolate and coconut and raspberry. The recipes for the coconut and raspberry and chocolate ones have featured on my blog before and can be found by clicking on the links below, so I thought I’d share the lemon cupcake recipe, which comes courtesy of Mary Berry.

The charity night was in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and we raised a wonderful £647 from the door entry, raffle and cupcakes which I think is just wonderful for a small local pub. This is the first time I've put my cooking skills to use supporting a charity event, and it felt great to help raise money and the feedback was really positive. I’ll certainly volunteer in future to bake for any other events.

Lemon Cupcakes


Ingredients:


125 g soft butter
125 g self-raising flour
125 g caster sugar
2 tbsp milk
2 large eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon


For the lemon icing:


125 g soft unsalted butter
250 g icing sugar, sifted
Juice of 1 small lemon
Edible silver balls or glitter to decorate
Deep 12-hole muffin tin and 12 paper cases



Makes:  12

Method:

Line the muffin tin with the paper cases. Put all the cake ingredients into a bowl, and beat with an electric whisk until evenly combined and smooth.

Divide the mixture among the paper cases. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C/gas mark 4 for 20–25 minutes until well risen and light golden brown. Transfer the cakes in their cases to a wire rack, and leave to cool.

Make the icing: put the butter and half of the icing sugar into a bowl, and beat with an electric whisk until evenly combined and smooth. Add the lemon juice and the remaining icing sugar, and beat again until light and fluffy.

Spread the icing over the cold cup cakes, and decorate with silver balls or glitter.

Raspberry & Coconut Cupcakes








Chocolate Cupcakes



Sunday, 16 February 2014

Hot & Sour Asian Broth


A very quick, simple recipe for you folks that love Asian flavours – you’ll be amazed at just how speedy this wonderful fusion of flavours is. It’s the perfect winter warmer, the heat from the chillies and ginger will warm you right through.

This is the second recipe for a hot and sour broth I've posted on Miss Friday’s Feast; it’s such a good dish, with so many delicious Asian flavours I didn't think you’d mind another recipe that is an improvement on my last one. This recipe brings much more pungent, vibrant and fresh flavours, and makes for a perfect light meal or lunch. It’s perfect for a diet as it doesn't compromise on flavour; in fact it’s overloaded with it and will certainly leave you feeling as if you've had a healthy, but filling meal. Rich was a huge fan, he loved it, which is always a good sign.       

I've not been very precise with the ingredient quantities here as it’s really a case of tasting as you go along. Some will prefer this a little sweeter, so should add less fish sauce and lime juice, whilst others (me) will love the salty tang of the fish sauce and fresh zing of the lime juice. It’s all a matter of personal taste, so be sure to have a slurp of the broth a few times throughout the cooking process. This is something you learn to do more and more, taste your food as you go along, it’s really important as some unbalanced flavours are hard to amend once the dish is finished. This recipe serves 2.

Hot & Sour Asian Broth 

Handful of king prawns
Handful of dried mushrooms, soaked and drained
Handful of freshly chopped coriander 
500ml chicken stock
2 nests of noodles (rice noodles or Pad Thai)
1 tbsp chilli oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Small knob of ginger, minced
1 stalk of lemon grass, finely chopped
2 green finger chillies, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
Juice of half a lime

Start by boiling the kettle and soaking the noodles in boiling water.

Heat the chilli oil in a small casserole pot, add the shallots and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chillies, continue to cook for 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and prawns, cook for 5 minutes until the prawns are pink and the mushrooms softened, and then add the fish sauce, lime juice, soy and sugar. Stir well and cover with the chicken stock.

Turn the heat down to a simmer and transfer the noodles to the broth. Simmer for 15 minutes and serve in warmed bowls with a sprinkling of coriander


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Friday, 14 February 2014

Steak & Ale Pie



Bored of the age old steak dinner for Valentine’s Day? Why not impress your valentine with this super tasty steak and ale pie? If you’re planning on spending a romantic evening in with a bottle of wine and a delicious homemade treat then give this delicious pie a whirl, I promise you’ll impress you’re other half. If you’d rather not spend the whole evening cooking then you can use a readymade pastry, but make it yourself and you’ll really notice the difference, and possibly earn a few extra brownie points. What could be better than a man making pie and getting covered in flour? I digress.

This recipe serves six, so there will be plenty of leftovers (which is fortunate, because once you've tried you’ll want more and more). Once made, you can freeze the pie in individual portions ready for lunches or a quick weeknight dinner. You can also freeze any leftover pastry for up to one month, just wrap it in cling film and pop it in the freezer for another time.

The best part about this pie is in the decoration, of course for a valentines pie I perhaps should have used a heart shaped cutter, but never mind, stars it is. You can get creative with your pastry cutting skills, maybe even spell out your partners name in pastry... too tacky? Okay, moving on.









Ingredients:

* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 450g casserole steak
* 230g pack of smoked bacon, roughly chopped
* 4 carrots, roughly chopped
* 1 large onions, roughly chopped
* 2 tbsp plain flour
* 2 tsp sugar
* 300ml dark ale (a cheap own brand is fine)
* 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
* 400ml beef stock
* 1 bouquet garni
* 300g mushrooms, halved

* 650g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
* 250g cold baking butter, diced
* 1 egg, beaten

Method:

Heat oven to 160C. In a large casserole dish, fry the steak and bacon in a little olive oil until browned all over, set aside. Add the chopped carrots and onions and more oil if necessary, cook on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, then add the sugar and flour, stir well.

Add the steak and bacon back to the pan and stir well. Pour over the ale, Worcestershire sauce and stock, season well and add the bouquet garni, simmer for a few minutes before putting a lid on and transferring to the oven. Cook for 2-3 hours.

Meanwhile, measure out your flour and dice the butter, crumble them together with your (clean) fingers using a rubbing motion between your thumb, forefinger and middle finger. Add a pinch of salt. Once the butter and flour are combined, slowly add ice water and knead to form the pastry (I found that about 180mls did the trick). Wrap the pastry in cling film and pop it in the fridge while your pie cooks.

Once the steak is cooked, remove from the oven and turn the oven temperature up to 200C. Transfer the steak mixture to a pie dish and leave to cool while you roll out your pastry.  Roll out the pastry to a size that will cover the pie (you’ll want to leave another inch around the side). Pop your pastry on to the pie and cut around the edge, tucking the pastry under to form a seal. Brush the top with the egg wash and cut out your decoration. Add this to the top and brush again with egg. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.

Serve with steamed vegetables and mashed, jacket or roast potatoes.  

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