Sunday, 29 July 2012

Courgette and Feta Bake

Since Easter I have lost nearly a whole stone and have now reached a rather healthy plateau bang smack in the middle of my recommended BMI range, WOOHOO! Unfortunately for me, both high blood pressure and high cholesterol run down the female line in my family. Despite only being at the top of the healthy BMI range for her height, my Mum was recently told she needs to keep her weight down to reduce her chances of suffering a stroke like her Mum did. Understandably, now that I’ve reached this weight I want to stay here so that I don't suffer the same fate as other women in my family. As a result, I have come up with even more delicious but low-calorie recipes.

Mum and Dad are also on diets and this has become one of their firm favourites! It’s incredibly simple with just 5 ingredients (including the 1 cal spray!)
If you haven’t come across one cal sprays yet, where have you been? You can get all sorts, from olive oil and sunflower oil to even balsamic and ceaser salad dressings. By turning the oil (or dressing) into spray form you can much more easily control the amount of oil you use. If you don’t want to keep buying the sprays another alternative is to get an oil pump spray – unfortunately mine is currently in a box labelled “Emma’s House”...I don’t have any plans for moving for over a year yet but that’s another story! Anyway, I digress...

I wasn’t entirely sure what to call this recipe it to begin with – essentially it is finely sliced courgette, crumbled low-fat feta (I actually use "Be Good To Yourself Salad Cheese from Sainsburys), egg, Italian herbs and the one cal spray all baked in an oven. Spanish omelettes and frittatas traditionally contain potatoes, but the only veg inside this eggy-bake is courgette. But it’s not cooked in a pan either so it can’t be an omelette? If anyone has any insight into what this should really be called, do leave a comment!
For now I will simply call it a courgette and feta bake! I think the name of a dish should explain what it is and hopefully that does the trick.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Everyday Vegetable Juice (Carrot, Celery and Orange Juice)

Seeing as this is a cookery blog, you may not be expecting to see a drink made out of raw vegetables, but hey, there is a first time for everything!

One of the biggest things I miss already about Nottingham, is the juice bar I used to visit whenever I felt like I needed a boost! (It’s no coincidence that they are called “Juice Boost Bars” haha.)
My favourite was their “five-a-day-juice” which was made up of 2 oranges, 2 apples, 2 carrots, celery sticks, beetroot & a Detox booster. YUMMY! I swear at one particularly low point during exams and revision I was addicted to these and had one almost every day which really didn’t do my bank balance much good.

The first two weeks I returned home from university I came down with a really nasty cold. It took me so long to get rid of that I found myself behind on all sort from unpacking, to registering at law school, and I hadn’t found myself a part time job. Now a month later, I’m finally back on track, then after just a few hours with my sister she passes on her Midlands germs and I’m all stuffed up once again. I am not a happy bunny!
With no juice bar to go to for my veggie juice hit and a detox booster or two, I’ve had to improvise, so for the first time ever I decided to make my own fruit juice.

Unfortunately, I do not have a fancy juicer but I do have a liquidiser!!! So that will have to do for now. So if you don’t have a fancy machine either don’t panic anything that can blitz  and shrd your veggies into a fine pulp will do the trick.
This recipe is a variation on the 5 a day juice with 3 of my favourite ingredients that we almost always have to hand, so I could drink it every day should I choose! That’s why it’s my “everyday veggie juice”.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Gooseberry Crumble

Despite being a foodie for almost ALL of my life, fearlessly trying anything my Dad ever put in front of me and hanging off of his apron strings in the kitchen, there are still a few foods that have managed to elude me until recently, gooseberries being one of them!

My parents LOVE gooseberries, and a few years ago decided, that rather than visiting the local fruit farm every week to get their gooseberry fix that they should plant their own bush in the garden! Last year we had a huge gooseberry crop and my parents were soon asking me to whisk up various gooseberry filled dishes. You may remember that I posted a recipe for gooseberry fool, and even won a competition over for baking Gooseberry and Elderflower Butterfly Cakes!

We picked our first punnet off of our gooseberry bush just last week, and once again I was faced with the challenge of coming up with something delicious! This time, I decided to embrace the tartness of the gooseberry but top it with a rich, gooey, yet crunchy crumble top.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Lemon and Amaretti Cheesecake

This is the second of my party food posts from the weekend! First I posted a yummy Tenderstem Broccoli and Sundreid Tomato Quiche which formed part of our buffet dinner. Today I’m sharing one of the puddings, my lemon and amaretti cheesecake!

Lemon cheesecakes are perhaps my favourite cheesecakes because the acidity beautifully cuts through the rich creaminess of the cheese, but a simple lemon cheesecake is not enough, I had to jazz it up a little more.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Tenderstem Broccoli and Sundried Tomato Quiche

Quiches and tarts are the perfect dishes for sharing at summer parties and picnics. At the beginning of the summer I shared with you my Pesto Picnic Tart, and last summer I posted a recipe for a Low Fat Spinach Quiche, today I present to you Tender stem Broccoli and Sundried Tomato Quiche.

I cooked this recipe for a family party we had last weekend. We don’t often see my Dad’s side of the family even though they’re just a town away, and after a spate of funerals, they decided that it wasn’t right that the only family get-togethers had to involve death. So, at Christmas my Dad’s cousin hosted the first party, and 6 months later it was our turn!
We had initially envisaged a Hawaiian themed BBQ, but when the weatherman said that we would be getting a month’s worth of rain in a day we soon had to change the plan. Instead, Mum, Dad and I cooked up a storm creating lots of different buffet/picnic style dishes.

Along with my Broccoli and Tomato Quiche, I made individual Cardamom Cupcakes with White Chocolate and Rose Icing and a Lemon and Amoretti Cheesecake. Mum added a Meat Pie to the table, and Dad whipped up a big batch of his Potato Salad and Coleslaw!
The recipe for the cakes can be found here: Cardamom Cake with Rose and White Chocolate Buttercream (simply divide the mixture into individual cake cases), and the Cheesecake recipe will be up in a few days time!

For now though I bet you’re wondering how to make my quiche...

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Marshmallow Madness Review

When I was given the chance to review a new confectionary cook book called Marshmallow Madness I jumped at the chance! Although I normally cook savoury items, with the odd bit of baking, I have tried making sweets in the past and I must say it is a lot of fun! When making sweets you can really let your imagination run wild with flavours, shapes and colours – for this reason, marshmallows are one of the best!

As soon as the book arrived I couldn’t wait to get started (though I soon realised this wasn’t going to happen). It is an extremely fun, brightly coloured book with beautiful photographs on almost every page which really inspire you to get creative! The book as a whole definitely brings out the child in you! The front and back cover are also lightly padded so that the book feels like a giant marshmallow!!! Gimmicky? Yes! But I love it! The publishers have really gone the extra mile with this book and it pays off.
Now, when I first get my hands on a cook book I read it like a regular book, cover to cover, to get to grips with its layout, its writing style, and of course the pictures! I find this means when I come to try out the recipes I already feel familiar with them and it makes the whole cooking process much easier – it also means you don’t skip important sections on essential ingredients, tools, tips and techniques. Marshmallow madness really spells out for you everything you will need which although may mean you can’t pick up the book and get cooking straight way, it does mean that you will be fully prepared when you do!

For example the book is broken down into: the introduction, the classics, fresh and fruity, happy hour, for the mallow connoisseur, kids in a candy store and fluffy, puffy desserts!
I think it’s fair to say that most people would be daunted by the prospect of making home-made marshmallows, and I was too! They are something I’ve been hoping to try for a while, but not having the “right” equipment has always put me off, and to be honest I think rightly so! Confectionary making is often described as a “science” and all of my past sugary exploits have been supervised by my Uncle who is a trained chef, so going it alone when making marshmallows was very scary! I decided to be super organised and be as precise as I could.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Bakewell Muffins

One of my favourite treats of all time is the humble bakewell tart! Most would say it’s a heritage dish that can’t be improved...or can it...

A traditional Bakewell tart is made up of shortcrust pastry with a layer of jam and a sponge filling with almonds. This shouldn't be confused with the Bakewell Pudding which is made with flaky pastry, a layer of jam and an egg and almond filling.

The best bakewell tarts come topped with fondant icing and a glace cherry on top!

The key to both of these dishes is the use of almonds.

I’ve really gotten into ground almonds recently, I think they’re excellent to bake with giving an extra rich flavour and a moistness that can’t be achieved using flour alone, so I decided to incorporate them into a muffin sponge, but where there’s almonds, there must be cherries and glace icing!!! And so the Bakewell Muffin was born.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Hopefully you’ve all had a chance to see my delicious strawberry ice-cream recipe! It should be a summer staple for anyone who loves to cook from scratch.

I’m lucky enough to not only have parents who grow a whole variety of fruit in their garden (from eating and cooking apples to strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries) but to also have a fruit farm that allows you to “pick your own” just 15mins away! One of my favourite things about summer is going to the fruit farm to find big juicy strawberries and much, much more!
When I came home from university (FOR GOOD!) last weekend I was greeted by two huge punnets of strawberries that my parents had picked from said fruit farm. Now call me crazy, but I truly believe that these strawberries taste like they come from that particular fruit farm!

Can a human REALLY tell where a strawberry is from by taste alone? Well...I think I can!

There was no room for them in the fridge so I had to come up with a few new ideas and turn them into something delicious before they were past their best – strawberry ice-cream was first on the list and we now have a tub chilling in the freezer as we speak!

Now I could have simply doubled the batch, but...the recipe isn’t exactly good for anyone who is conscious of their weight and what they eat so I attempted a “lighter” but just as delicious strawberry frozen yogurt, and I was VERY impressed!
Whilst my home-made strawberry ice-cream is rich and velvety, the frozen yogurt is light and fresh (and best of all virtually fat free!!!!!) I definitely recommend giving this healthier option a go because let’s be can’t eat ice-cream every day and expect a beach ready bikini body!


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