Monday, 17 February 2014
A little ditty about a new house, being too busy to blog and a herby salmon traybake - Whole Roasted Salmon with Herbs and Lemon
As it is two months since I last blogged, one could be forgiven for thinking that I had jacked the whole thing in and decided to do something else instead, and whilst I have been doing something else (let it be said, though many do not want to hear it, that the work of a teacher does not end at 3pm and that I don't spend 13 weeks a year doing nothing school worthy; my marking is in the hall and my email is on, waiting for the inevitable emails from my A level students who have reached a state of coursework panic.) But half term does afford me the time to blog and I have kinda missed it, to be fair.
Also, in between being marooned in the school stuff, Phill and I decided to pick the Christmas holidays to move house. Father Christmas visited something resembling a squat with all of us sleeping on mattresses on the floor and each room containing several boxes of junk which we really should have binned before we moved, but, it'll happen eventually, probably at Easter when I get sick of trying to find places to hide stuff I haven't used for yonks and hire a skip. You may or may not be pleased to know that the house is now resembling more of a home than a warehouse.
My dining area. Yes you're right, I do need a new table, or else I need to get the sander out...
My armoire, adorned with fairy lights, where I keep all my 'best stuff'.
Cookbook bookcase number one. Sadly I need cookbook bookcase number two and have nowhere to put it.
Flowers for my birthday
The kitchen bit. Yes, you're right, I should have shifted my empties and picked whatever that is off the floor.
Lola, in the 'hub'...
...and Finn reckons it's a great place to play 'Angry Birds'
Anyway, it is nice to have a new dining area which is part of the kitchen and has become a bit of a hub really with those who have come round so far, sitting at the table and having a bit of a gab, whilst I have been cooking or whatever. And it is true that I haven't completely turned into a 'Mum's gone to Iceland' kind of mum; I am still cooking where I can, but it's the weekend when I have more time to bang around the pots and pans. Only thing is though, I take photographs of the process but on four occasions I have not taken a photo of the finished article, so absolutely no use at all then for blogging.
However, I did manage to take pictures of the gorgeous salmon dish that I cooked for my birthday dinner on Saturday night (whisper it, I am now 40...) which if I trusted my new oven a bit more would really have been a cinch, but because I have found the oven to be a bit like its new owner, I have to err on the side of caution, which meant that the timing on the recipe below is very much a guide.
Because my mum has told me that I really need to make things easy on myself, I decided to go back to the Jamie Oliver 'throw everything in a tray' style of cooking and this, actually tasted really rather good. It was just, in essence, a series of chopping, seasoning and then bunging in the oven and it tasted great once it came out of the oven; it was certainly a meal that lends itself to a 'dig in, you're at your aunty's' type of arrangement with everyone gathering around taking what they wanted. In my nice new kitchen and eating 'hub', it was a meal that matched the occasion and the surroundings completely.
Whole Roasted Salmon with Herbs and Lemon, adapted from jamieoliver.com
2.5 kg whole salmon, from sustainable sources, ask your fishmonger, scaled and gutted (I used two half sides of salmon, mainly because they were on offer!!)
1.5 kg red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed clean and sliced into ½cm rounds
freshly ground black pepper
6 pieces baby fennel (I used a large fennel bulb and sliced it up)
1 small bunch fresh dill
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 small bunch fresh tarragon
extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to full whack. Get yourself a large roasting tray that your whole salmon will fit inside – you'll probably need to lay the fish diagonally across the tray, and it won't matter if the head and tail drape over a little.
Lay the sliced potatoes over the base of the tray and season well with salt and pepper. Scatter the slices of fennel over the top and give it all a generous drizzle of olive oil.
Next, pick half the leaves from each of the herb bunches and put them on a chopping board, keeping the remainder to one side. Grate the lemon zest over the herbs then roughly chop everything together. Scrape this mixture into a bowl and wipe the board down with a piece of kitchen paper.
Transfer your salmon to the board, then wipe it inside and out with a fresh piece of kitchen paper. Make sure there are no scales on the silvery salmon skin – the fishmonger should have taken all of these off for you. If there are any left on there, scrape them with a blunt knife until they ping off. (Surprisingly I had to do this - I bought two sides of salmon that I was planning to put on top of one another and as they had been bought pre-packed I hoped they had been descaled, but they hadn't. I used the back of a knife and scraped the scales into the sink).
Make vertical slashes in the skin on both sides of the salmon from its back towards its tummy – about 2cm deep and at an angle, so you leave a flap of skin you can stuff your herbs under. Make about 6 slashes on each side of the fish.
Sprinkle salt and pepper into each slash, then stuff with a pinch of your lemon-herb mix. Smooth the flaps down again and drizzle the fish all over with a light coating of olive oil. Lay it on top of your potatoes and fennel.
Take the leftover herb bunches and stuff them inside the belly cavity of the fish, then slice up one of the zested lemons and stuff these slices in there as well.
Bake the fish in your screaming hot oven for 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 and cook for another 30 minutes. (This is where I did not use a screaming hot oven as I was quite scared of burning the salmon, so I lowered the temperature to 180 and put some foil over the baking tray and cooked for half an hour before taking the foil off. If you know the foibles of your oven, then you'll be fine with what Jamie says, I'm sure. In total, mine took about an hour to cook.)
To check the fish is cooked, take a clean skewer and push it into the deepest part of the fish, just behind the head. Count to 10, then carefully take the skewer out and hold it against your top lip. If it's nice and warm, the fish is cooked.
Squeeze the juice of your remaining lemon over the top, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve straight from the roasting tray.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013
Given my refreshing sense of laissez-faire when it comes to life (This is my kind way of saying 'can't be arsed') I seem to have three half used jars of jam randomly arranged on my worktop and half a loaf of stale bread, because I didn't wrap it up properly, and I could have made toast and jam, but this is so predictable. Instead I decided to make it far more unhealthy by encasing the aforementioned bread and jam in a creamy vanilla custard, therefore creating, if you will, jam butty pudding. If you are not from these parts,'butty' means 'sandwich' and 'pudding' means 'something glorious' ... probably.
I could have taken the crusts off I suppose, but personally I kinda like the way they crisp up and create that wonderful textural contrast between crunch and softness. And you could use any old jam you like. This just happened to be strawberry but, you know, I could be persuaded to use any jam. I think I would like to use the quince jelly I have, which means I'll have to buy even more of it when I next go to France. Shame.
I made this so it would be a set custard, so I was working on 100ml of liquid to one egg and I did this because I wanted to pour a little cream over when I served this. I was thinking crunchy, soft, warm then cold. If you wanted to, you could increase the liquid to egg ratio for a more liquid custard. I only added about 30g of sugar because I wanted the jam to be the sweetness, but that is all about personal taste. You could also cook this, bain marie style but I'll be honest, due to my liking of laissez faire, I just bunged it in the oven with some foil on top for about 30 - 40 minutes or so, then checked if the custard was starting to solidify, which it was. Then I removed the foil and let the top brown for about 15 minutes or so.
By the way, if by some peculiar notion you happen to have leftovers, this is really quite nice the next day. Let's just say that I have eaten breakfasts that are far, far worse...
Jam Butty Pudding
Six to eight slices of stale, white bread
Half a jar of jam (I used strawberry)
150ml double cream
a vanilla pod (you could use extract)
30g sugar (or to taste)
Preheat the oven to 180c
Make jam sandwiches (take the crusts off if you want)
Cut the sandwiches into triangles that will fit snuggly into an ovenproof dish. Arrange them so that they sit in the dish reasonably tightly.
Meanwhile to make the custard, mix the liquids, the eggs and the sugar together. Slit the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the mixture. Then put the vanilla pod in. (or just use a tsp of extract).
Pour some of the custard mixture over the sandwiches and allow the bread to absorb it. Then pour the rest of the custard over.
Place the dish on a tray and cover with dish with foil. Place in the oven for about 30 - 40 minutes. Check the pudding round about 30 minutes to see if the custard is beginning to set. Take the foil off for the last 20 minutes or so to brown the top, but keep an eye on it as it could burn quickly.
Once you're happy with the colour, take the dish out of the oven. The pudding should appear quite puffed but will sink once it comes out of the oven.
Serve warm, with a splosh (or more) of cream.
Saturday, 7 December 2013
Blogging. I used to do it so often once upon a time, but now, well, I think it is going to be a 'high days and holidays' type activity, and talking of holidays, Finn's class were in charge of the cake stall for the Christmas fair, and because the Christmas holidays can't come soon, I thought I would get into the mood for it all with some festive baking.
I realised that I hadn't made anything from the amazing Rachel Allen just yet (and this blog is already two and a half years old...) so as a fan of her gorgeous cakes I thought I would use her recipe for chocolate cupcakes and then adorn them with a green swirl and a few strategically placed dragees to make them look vaguely Christmas tree like, if you really, really squint...
I decided to finish them off with some sugarpaste stars, which I ambitiously decided to cut out by hand before remembering that my mum had given me my shapes that I used to use to cut out playdoh when I was a kid. In there, I found a cute little star cutter. Problem solved.
A few musings about frosting. I don't really follow a recipe to be honest. I mix unsalted butter, some vanilla extract, icing sugar and a bit of milk to slacken it off if need's be, but I have given some approximate weights in the recipe below.
Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting from 'Cake Diaries' by Rachel Allen
Makes 12 cupcakes
100 g (31⁄2 oz) butter, softened
150 g (5oz) caster sugar
125 ml (41⁄2 fl oz) milk
175 g (6oz) plain flour
25 g (1oz) cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
For the frosting:
200g butter, at room temperature
500g icing sugar (to be added gradually and to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 - 2 tbsp. milk
holly green food colouring
a little sugarpaste
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4), and line the muffin tray with the paper cases.
Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl for a few seconds or just until mixed, then gradually add them to the butter mixture, beating all the time.
Pour in the milk and beat until mixed. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and mix gently to combine.
Divide the mixture between the muffin cases, filling each case two thirds full. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until well risen and lightly springy to the touch.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tray and place on a wire rack to finish cooling down.
Meanwhile, make the frosting. beat the butter in a mixer until it is very soft. Slowly add the icing sugar a bit at a time with a few drops of vanilla extract until you are happy with the sweetness and the consistency. You could add a little milk to slacken the mixture off or to reduce the sweetness a tiny bit.
You will need to beat the mixture for a while so that the icing sugar dissolves and the icing is smooth and becoming fluffy but spreadable (or pipeable... possibly a new word there...)
To decorate the cakes use a large star nozzle on a piping bag, and pipe a swirl on top of each cake. Then place some dragees and sprinkle some edible glitter on top of the swirls. In a final flourish, cut out stars out of sugarpaste and place them on top.
Friday, 15 November 2013
Avec un peu d'aide d'un dictionnaire, puis Google Translate quand j'étais vraiment désespéré!
C'est presque la peine de laisser vos bananes vont noir , juste pour faire ce gâteau . Personnellement , les bananes doivent être parfaitement jaune si je vais les manger. S'il y a des taches noires sur eux alors qu'ils sont trop mûr et sucré à manger . Heureusement, bananes mûres font de grands gâteaux et c'est une belle recette qui fait un gâteau qui reste humide pendant plusieurs jours si vous le gardez correctement .
J'ai hâte de blogging pour 'European Day for Multilingual Blogging' et essayer mon français pour un but réel . Depuis que j'ai étudié le français ( et en allemand) il y a de nombreuses années , les temps d'utiliser mon français ont été rarement et c'est seulement depuis que j'ai commencé à visiter régulièrement en France encore une fois que j'ai réalisé à quel point je l'aime vraiment la France. Est d'écrire en français une fois de plus un plaisir, même si je ne reçois quelques-uns des mots mal ! C'est bizarre, mais depuis longtemps je préfère la langue allemande (et je suis de mieux en mieux ) , mais maintenant , je préfère le français.
Quoi qu'il en soit , d'un intérêt à un autre . Il n'y a pas assez de gâteaux sur ce blog voici donc un autre. C'est à partir de 'The Birthday Cake Book' par Fiona Cairns et est une éponge banane garni de délicieux glaçage au caramel. J'ai essayé de décorer le dessus avec les tranches de bananes séchées , mais je ne pouvais pas trouver, donc j'ai choisi quelques caramels tendres pour décorer . Non recommandé si vous avez des plombages en vrac.Quoi qu'il en soit , voici la recette et si vous voulez la version anglaise de cette , cliquez ici.
Gateau de Banoffee adapté de 'The Birthday Cake Book ' par Fiona Cairns
Ingrédients120g de beurre non salé , ramolli , et plus encore pour les boîtes .250g de farine à gâteaux1 cuillère à café de levure chimiquePincée de sel¼ cuillère à café de noix de muscade râpée1 cuillère à café de cannelle moulue160g brun (light muscovado ) de sucre3 extrêmement mûrs, grosses bananes2 oeufs, légèrement battus1 cuillère à café d'extrait de vanille2 cuillères à soupe de lait entire
Pour la crème au beurre de caramel : (Note: j'ai réduit de moitié les quantités à produire suffisamment pour prendre en sandwich au beurre puis haut du gâteau) .
240g de beurre non salé , ramolli60g brun (light muscovado ) de sucre2 cuillères à soupe de sirop d'or1 cuillère à soupe de crème entiere
1 cuillère à café d'extrait de vanille200g de sucre glace , tamiséChips de banane , ou des bonbons au caramel pour la décoration.Méthode:Préchauffer le four à 180C/350F .
Beurre de deux moules à gâteau rond de 20 cm . Assurez-vous qu'ils sont des boîtes avec des côtés profonds ( 3 ou 4cm, peut-être) . Si nécessaire, créer un collier d'une double épaisseur de papier sulfurisé pour arriver au-dessus des côtés.
Tamiser ensemble la farine, le sel , la poudre à pâte , la cannelle et la muscade.
Battre en crème le beurre et le sucre dans un mélangeur jusqu'à ce que doux et moelleux . Pendant ce temps, écraser les bananes avec une fourchette.
Ajouter les oeufs , la vanille et le lait au mélange de beurre avec une cuillère de farine pour éviter que le mélange du fractionnement .
Plier dans le mélange la farine restante , puis les bananes , puis verser la pâte dans les moules .
Cuire au four environ 40 minutes ou jusqu'à ce qu'un cure placé dans le milieu du gâteau sort propre. .
Retirer le gâteau du four et passer un couteau autour des côtés . Prenez les gâteaux sur les boîtes et laisser refroidir .
Pour faire la crème au beurre , faire fondre 80g de beurre , la cassonade et le sirop sur feu doux jusqu'à ce qu'il soit d'une couleur caramel foncé. Prendre le mélange du feu et ajouter la crème et l'extrait de vanille . Gardez en remuant le mélange . Laisser refroidir .
Dans un mélangeur , battre le beurre restant jusqu'à ce que doux et moelleux puis ajouter le sucre glace et battez le mélange pendant au moins cinq minutes, ou jusqu'à consistance légère et crémeuse .
Ajouter le mélange de caramel refroidi et battre en bien .
Utilisez la crème au beurre pour prendre en sandwich les gâteaux ensemble. Puis couronner le gâteau généreusement avec le beurre restant .
Décorer avec des chips de banane , ou avec des caramels .
It is almost worth letting your bananas go black, just to make this cake. Personally, bananas have to be perfectly yellow if I am going to eat them. If there are black spots on them then they are too ripe and sweet to eat. Luckily, ripe bananas make great cakes and this is a lovely recipe which makes a cake that stays moist for several days if you keep it properly.
I have been looking forward to blogging for the European Day for Multilingual Blogging and trying out my French for a real purpose. There is a French version of this blog post here if you are interested. Since I studied French (and German) many years ago, the times to use my French have been seldom and it is only since I have started visiting France regularly again that I have realised just how much I really love France. To write in French once again is a pleasure, even if I do get some of the words wrong! It is odd, but for a long time I preferred the German language (and I was better at it), but now, I prefer French.
Anyway, from one interest to another. There are not enough cakes on this blog so here is another one. It is from ‘The Birthday Cake Book’ by Fiona Cairns and is a banana sponge topped with delicious toffee frosting. I tried to decorate the top with dried banana slices but I couldn’t find any, so I picked out some chewy toffees to decorate. Not recommended if you have loose fillings.
Banoffee Cake adapted from ‘The Birthday Cake Book’ by Fiona Cairns
120g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the tins.
250g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
160g brown (light muscovado) sugar
3 extremely ripe, large bananas
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons whole milk
For the toffee buttercream: (Note: I halved the quantities to produce enough buttercream to sandwich then top the cake).
240g unsalted butter, softened
60g brown (light muscovado) sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g icing sugar, sifted
Banana chips, or toffee sweets for decoration.
Preheat the oven to 180c/350F.
Butter two 20cm round cake tins. Ensure they are tins with deep sides, (3 or 4cm, maybe). If necessary, create a collar of a double thickness of baking parchment to come up above the sides.
Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Cream together the butter and the sugar in a mixer until soft and fluffy. Meanwhile, mash the bananas with a fork.
Add the eggs, vanilla and milk to the butter mixture with a spoonful of flour to prevent the mixture from splitting.
Fold in the remaining the flour mixture, then the bananas, and then pour the batter into the tins.
Bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer placed into the middle of the cake emerges clean. .
Remove the cake from the oven and run a knife around the sides. Take the cakes out of the tins and allow to cool.
To make the buttercream, melt 80g of the butter, the brown sugar and the syrup over a low heat until it is a deep caramel colour. Take the mixture off the heat and add the cream and the vanilla extract. Keep stirring the mixture. Allow to cool.
In a mixer, beat the remaining butter until soft then and fluffy add the icing sugar and beat the mixture for at least five minutes, or until light and creamy.
Add the cooled toffee mixture and beat in well.
Use the buttercream to sandwich the cakes together. Then top the cake generously with the remaining buttercream.
Decorate with banana chips, or with toffees.