Friday, 30 December 2011

Review of 2011

Phew, well that's Christmas over and done with for another year.  As with most years it flew by in a whirlwind of shopping, present wrapping, tree purchasing and, of course, cooking. Lots of cooking! Not so much blogging though unfortunately as I just haven't had the opportunity to spend any quality time with my laptop.  I plan to rectify that in the New Year, but in the meantime I thought I'd pick out a few of my favourite recipes from the past 12 months.

First up are these fabulous Blondies from Nigella's Kitchen book.  This is one of the first recipes I posted about back in January and it's become one of my favourite traybake recipes.

Next up is another Nigella recipe that I made in March - Chocolate Key Lime Pie.  This is a perfect dinner party dessert as you can make it in minutes the night before. Oh, and it tastes amazing.

This Tiramisu Trifle is a tried and tested recipe that I've used many times and, like the Chocolate Lime Pie above, it's great for gatherings.  Again, it can be made in advance and it serves 8 to 10 easily so it's great for a family barbeque or a Christmas gathering.

At last, a savoury recipe! This recipe for Tortellini with Corgette and Lemon that I posted about in May is another that I make over and over.  It's so simple to throw together and is light and (reasonably) healthy.  A great after work dinner.

These Date Bars sound rather virtuous and boring.  They're not!  A bit like flapjacks but with a gooey layer of sweet, fudgy dates in the middle, these are a very moreish treat.  I must make them again soon.

Another savoury recipe now that I made back in June.  This Lamb Byriani with Cumin, Mint and Coriander Yoghurt comes from Bill Granger's book, Every Day, a great book full of light, healthy recipes.  This was a great one-pot meal and I loved the addition of the spiced yoghurt.

I made Delia's Strawberry and Vanilla Pavlova in the summer right at the end of the strawberry season and, while I had a bit of trouble with the meringue part, in the end it turned out perfectly.  I loved the combination of fromage frais and mascarpone instead of the usual whipped cream.

Now this is recipe worth mentioning again! These amazing Peanut Butter Squares come from Nigella's book, How to be a Domestic Goddess. Salty peanut butter, chocolate and a not-inconsiderable amount of sugar and butter are combined to perfection in these delicious little squares.

I made this Rhubarb Marshmallow Meringue Roulade in October as part of a Pudding Club dinner and it was declared to be the best by almost all parties.  The clue is in the title as the meringue truly does have a wonderful marshmallowy texture and is paired perfectly with tart rhubarb and soft whipped cream. Dessert heaven.

I'll finish with two savoury dishes that I posted about in November.  The first, Nigella's Risotto Bolognese was a new discovery and definitely a keeper.  It's rich and flavourful and probably the best risotto recipe I've come across.

Last but definitely not least is this Sausage Pasta Bake recipe.  I came across this years ago in a food magazine and have made it countless times since then.  It's undoubtably my favourite pasta bake by a long way.

Happy New Year everyone! See you in 2012.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Hotel Chocolat Competition....a new winner!

As I have had a response from the previous winner I have had to rerun the draw.  As as result I can announce that the new winner is...


Please email me your address and I'll arrange for your prize to be delivered as soon as possible.

Thanks again to Hotel Chocolat for giving me the opportunity to run this great competition.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Banana & Chocolate Cookies

If I ever write a recipe book I think I'll call it "Recipes to Make Your Home Smell Fabulous" and I've already got the first recipe right here.

The recipe in question comes from Hungry?, a book I reviewed earlier in the year and I'm still using on a regular basis.  I've been wanting to try these for ages but, until this week, never quite managed to have all of the ingredients in the house at the same time.  They were definitely worth the wait though.

They're quite unusual, being wheat and egg free, and have a more cake-like texture than normal cookies but don't be put off as they taste great, especially when they're still warm from the oven.  Plus, as I mentioned above, while they're baking your kitchen will filled with the deliciously comforting aroma of banana and coconut.

Banana & Chocolate Cookies
(adapted from Hungry? from the Innocent Drinks people)

3 ripe bananas
100g/4oz butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or the seeds from 1 vanilla pod
2 large handfuls porridge oats
100g/4oz ground almonds
100g/4oz unsweetened desiccated coconut
a handful of raisins or chopped dried apricots
a pinch of ground cinnamon
100g/4oz milk or plain chocolate, chopped into small bits (or just use a bag of chocolate drops)

1) Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas mark 4.  Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper (you may need two).

2) In a big mixing bowl, mash up the bananas with a fork then add the melted butter and vanilla and give it a good stir.

3) Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the chocolate, and mix well. Fold in the chocolate pieces.  It probably won't look quite as firm as normal cookie dough but don't worry.

4) Spoon the mix onto the baking sheets, using about 2 teaspoons per cookie.  Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until golden. (The original recipe suggests leaving space for them to expand but mine didn't grow that much).

5) Leave to cook on a wire rack for a few minutes.  They're best eaten while still warm but will also keep just fine in an airtight container for up to a week.

Makes about 25