Mini Nutella Palmiers

Nutella Palmiers

Happy Saint Dwynwen’s Day!  Or, for the uninitiated, Welsh Valentines Day!  I went into a little bit more detail on why exactly we celebrate Valentines Day a little earlier than the rest of the world here in Wales in this post (along with a little recipe for Blood Orange Doughnuts 🙂 ) – but it’s basically a Game of Thrones-esque story about a time when Kings had 24 daughters and princesses routinely ran off into the woods and turned their lovers into blocks of ice.  As you do.  😉

For me, I celebrate it in much the same way I’d celebrate Valentines Day; I hunt down a non-soppy card and hand it to him first thing in the morning along with something sweet that I’ve baked.  This year we’re heading off on a little road trip for the weekend so I wanted to make something bite-sized that we can scoff in the car – so I made these sweet little Palmiers filled with Nutella.  They’re as easy to make as rolling some puff pastry and cracking open a jar of Nutella (something I’m very, very good at…) and almost look like hearts… well, I tried! 🙂

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Mini Nutella Palmiers

Ingredients

  • Ready-made Puff Pastry
  • Plenty of Nutella
  • Icing Sugar
  1. Roll out your puff pastry until it’s about half a centimeter thick and then cut off the rough edges so your sheet is shaped like a rectangle.  Thinly spread (and rarely do I use the word “thinly spread” when Nutella is concerned…) your Nutella over the sheet, making sure you go right up to the edges.
  2. To roll your palmiers, think scroll; carefully roll each end into the middle until you’ve got what looks like a rolled up scroll.  Pop it in the fridge to chill for an hour, and then cut it into rounds about a centimeter thick with a sharp knife.  
  3. Spread the palmiers out evenly on a baking tray and then bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 220°.
  4. Leave to cool, then dust with icing sugar.

Nutella Palmiers

Happy St Dwynwen’s Day!

Easy Green Thai Noodle Soup

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I think 2018 will be remembered as the year I officially, head over heels fell in love with Thai food.  It’s fresh and filling and colourful (I don’t know about you, but colourful food cheers me up this time of year); more importantly, it’s so quick and easy to make!  Pad Thai (♡♡♡) and Massaman Curry are my midweek meal saviours, and even though that’s not about to change, I’ve been feeling like branching out a little and adding a few more Thai recipes to my arsenal.

I threw this soup together just before Christmas.  I had some Thai Green Curry paste in my cupboard and a can of coconut milk going spare, and, when I reached right to the back I found an old pack of instant noodles.  The filthy kind.  You know the ones, they cost about 30p (or at least they did when I used to buy them on the way back home from High School) and come with a flavour sachet.  So wrong and yet so, so right.  I was just going to whip up the curry and have the noodles with it instead of rice, but then as they were boiling away it occurred to me that the flavoured water they were bubbling in would make a pretty good stock.  So I poured one pot into the other and wham-bam, here’s your Noodle Soup, maam.  It’s vegetarian (as long as you make sure you use vegetable-flavoured noodles instead of the chicken ones, obviously) and perfect for cold and gloomy January nights at home in front of the box.  Just make sure you only add the noodles when you’re ready to eat, because they’ll start slurping up that soup before you get a chance to! 🙂

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Easy Green Thai Noodle Soup (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • Thai Green Curry Paste
  • 400ml can of Coconut Milk
  • 2 packs of vegetable-flavoured instant noodles (cheaper the better!)
  • 250ml boiling water
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • Sliced Chestnut Mushrooms
  • Shredded Red Cabbage
  • Shredded Carrot
  • Sliced Spring Onions
  • Sprinkle of black pepper and sesame seeds
  1. Heat up a deep saucepan with the vegetable oil, then add most of your vegetables – holding some spring onion slices back to garnish with later. 
  2. Stir in the green curry paste until it coats the veg, then pour in the coconut oil – stirring until it turns green. 🙂  Bring the boil, then simmer.
  3. Break the noodle block into a separate saucepan, sprinkle in the flavour sachet and then add boiling water.  Leave the noodles to bubble until they soften.
  4. Once the noodles are soft, pour the stock into the curry to create your soup.  The noodles will soak everything up quickly, so only add them to the soup once you’re ready to eat!  
  5. Garnish with the remaining spring onions, black pepper and sesame seeds – then slurp! 😉

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Happy weekend! 🍜

 

*How to Host a Banging Christmas Party in 10 Steps

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Can you believe that it’ll be Christmas Eve this time next week!?  Crazy!  How many Christmas Parties have you been to so far?  If you haven’t, then I’ll bet you’ve got one coming up this week.  Or are you hosting one yourself?  If so, then this post’s for you.  Hosting at Christmas is one of my favourite things to do (I love planning and organising around Christmas more than any other time of year), but it can also be really stressful (in fact, I wrote a whole post about it here).  So here’s my ten step guide to hosting a banging Christmas Party.  Cheers! 🙂

1. Invitations

Christmas is the busiest time of year for get-togethers and partying HARD.  Office parties, family dinners, drinks “and nibbles” with the neighbours, Black Friday Blowouts… So get that guest list written and those invites sent out as soon as you can to make sure that everyone on your guest list is wide open and able to come along.  It also gives them plenty of time to get those RSVPs in, so you can kick back and get down to planning the good stuff… (i.e. food and booze 😉 )

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2. Dress Code

When you’re writing out your invitations, make sure you let your guests know what they’re expected to wear.  Is it a super-casual friendmas with drinks and games?  Or are we talking bow ties and tiaras – or something in between?

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3. Parking, Logistics and Warning the Neighbours

Maybe this one ought to be done and dusted loooooong before you send out those invitations.  Hosting any party is tough; it’s easy enough to invite everyone around before considering how it’ll actually work.  Like, how will your guests get to your place?  If they’re driving, where can they park without pissing off the neighbours?  And speaking of the neighbours, will they mind you hosting a noisy Christmas Party (and do you care?)?  Which rooms are off limits?  Do you have enough space to host five people?  Ten people?  Your whole neigbourhood?  Where are all the coats and bags going to go?  Shoes – on or off?  Also, what’s your budget when it comes to food and drink?  Get the big questions answered and out of the way as soon as you can – it’ll save problems further down the line or worse, on the night. 🙂

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4.*Food

“Oh Baby, all I want for Christmas is fooooooooood!” Now let’s down to the good stuff!  Because let’s be honest, the best thing about Christmas is stuffing your face, innit?  Before you hit the supermarket, before you even get down to making a list (and checking it twice 😉 ) think about what kind of party you’re hosting because the kind of food you’re going to be serving will depend on that.  Are you planning on serving up a full Christmas Dinner complete with pigs in blankets and a flaming pud?  Are you putting on a “help yourself” buffet?  Or are you just serving up snacks?  Or, are you going to take the weight off and ask everyone to bring a dish (in which case you probably should mention that in your invites, right?)?

Personally, I love putting on a Christmas Buffet and pretty much do it every single year for my family on Boxing Day.  It’s easier than putting on a full Christmas Dinner, you can get it all ready before hand (instead of spending the whole party slaving away in the kitchen!), and everyone gets a little bit of what they fancy.  My go-to every Christmas for party food is *Marks and Spencer because they’re all so easy to prepare, taste amazing and there’s such a fab selection (even for vegans – with these vegan sliders). A festive scoffing sesh in my house just would not be complete without their pork belly squares, profiteroles and baked Camembert – which this year, I have to say is the best yet with its spicy and sweet chilli glaze (the only reason there’s no photo is because it got annihilated within seconds).  Yum!

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5. Party Games

It wouldn’t be a party without a little entertainment, right?  So have a think about how you’re going to keep the good times rollin’ in between catch-ups and conversations.  How about putting on a pub quiz Big Quiz of the Year style with questions based on things that have happened in the past twelve months?  What about a few drinking games to get the juices flowing?  Or go all out with a monster game of Cards Against Humanity. 🙂

6. Drinks

Once you’ve finished planning your shopping list, make a drinks list.  Check your drinks cabinet (i.e. the cupboard under the sink if you’re like me!) and see what’s in stock and what’s running out.  Put all the drinks and mixers somewhere easily accessible so your guests can help themselves throughout the party.  If you’re feeling fancy come up with a few festive cocktails in pitchers or create a suggested drinks menu! 🙂

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7. Deck the Halls

If you haven’t already got your Christmas Decorations up, now’s the time!  Consider which rooms you’re going to be using and get them looking festive with fairy lights and garlands.

8. Christmas Playlist

If you’re like me then you’ll already have one of these babies on your Spotify just ready and raring to go!  I don’t like to have a playlist that’s just chocka full of pure Christmas though – I mean, there’s only so many times you can hear The Pogues before banging your head against wall.  I’ve got all the usual numbers old and new, but I like to mix it up with some classics and a few hits from the past twelve months.  I also LOVE sneaking in a few Vitamin String Quartet covers.  If you’ve never looked them up on Spotify, its basically a group of LA-based musicians who work at recording new versions of well-known songs using a string quartet.  There’s something kind of festive about their music, and it’s fun watching people hear a song they recognise reworked in a totally different way.

9. Game Plan (timings etc)

I like coming up with a game plan before a party, especially when it comes to food.  I like to know exactly what time I need to put the oven on, put food in, take food out etc… Making a list helps me keep on top of things and saves a lot of stress on the day.  It’s also great if you’re co-hosting – that way you don’t have to keep touching base with each other, you can just check the game plan!

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10. *And if you’re going to a party…

Don’t forget to take a little something for your host!  It’s good manners and is always well appreciated.  Sure you could take a bottle of something, but how about spoiling them with an extra special box of chocolates?  This box of fancy chocs from Marks and Spencer not only looks gorgeous, but is an absolute treat.

Thanks to Marks and Spencer for the fabulous food and drink! Happy partying! 😉

*This post contains gifted items, read more about what that means here.

 

Christmas Jaffa Cake… Cake

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Bye bye November!  Hello December – which means Christmas isn’t just around the corner anymore; it’s literally on the block.  Maybe you’re ready for it, or maybe you’d prefer to just shut the curtains and pretend you’re not at home.  I might not be anywhere near ready (I say I’m going to be more organised every year and every year I fail), but I’m definitely ready for the food. Am I ever not ready for food? 😉

I haven’t baked a cake in a while and seeing as it’s the first of December tomorrow I fancied making something a little bit festive.  So, I decided to make a giant Jaffa Cake.  It’s a plain sponge threaded with orange jelly (which makes the cake really moist) and decorated with candied oranges and chocolate.  Yum!

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Jaffa Cake Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 200g Butter
  • 100g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Pack of Orange-flavoured jelly
  • 100g Chocolate
  • 25g Hazelnuts

For the candied Oranges:

  • 2 Oranges cut into slices
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200ml water
  1. Grease a 20cm cake tin and set your oven to 180°.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and caster sugar.  Stir in the eggs, then fold in the flour and baking powder.
  3. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 30 minutes (or until an inserted skewer comes out clean).  Put to the side and allow to cool.
  4. While the cake’s cooling, get started on making your candied orange slices.  First, cut your oranges into slices that are about half a centimetre thick.  Bring a deep saucepan of water to the boil and soak the orange slices for 3 minutes until the peel is soft.  Have a bowl of cold water ready, and drop the slices in there to cool.  Heat up a saucepan with the sugar and water – don’t be tempted to stir, leave it until the sugar all dissolves and then add the blood orange slices.  Let them simmer in the sugar water for 30 minutes, making sure you soak both sides, then put them on a sheet of baking paper and leave to cool.
  5. Next, use a skewer to poke holes in the cake (make sure you leave a gap in the centre and try not to poke all the way through to the base otherwise you’ll get a soggy bottom!).  Mix up your orange jelly as per the instructions on the pack and then slowly pour the mixture over the cake, concentrating on the holes you made.  Pop the cake in the fridge for a couple of hours for the jelly to set.
  6. Decorate the surface of the cake with the candied oranges, melted chocolate and hazelnuts (add a little orange zest if you want a little more zing!). 🙂

Have a lovely weekend!

Orange and Nutella Babka

Hands up then, who’s planning on putting their tree up this weekend?  I’ve got Sunday set aside purely for de-tangling fairy lights, rummaging through our decorations (Sunny and I collect decorations from all the places we’ve travelled to) and then hoovering up pine needles.  I can’t wait!  But hey, it’s a knackering job innit?  There’s nothing better than crashing onto the sofa afterwards with a hot cup of tea and something sweet!  Well, I’ve got the perfect Christmas Decorating Fuel for you; this Orange and Nutella Babka.

I spotted a few of these on Social Media before I went off to the States on Holiday and had never heard of them before, and then I saw even more out there in supermarkets and bakeries.  They’re an Eastern European invention and are basically a sweet loaf that’s stuck somewhere between bread and cake.  The dough is filled with whatever sweet filling you fancy, rolled up, snipped down the middle and twisted to form swirls.  It’s best eaten straight out of the oven warm; perfect for baking while you’re buried up to your neck in tinsel. 😉

Orange and Nutella Babka (makes one beast of a loaf, or two smaller loaves)

Ingredients

  • 250g strong white flour
  • 250g plain flour (and a little extra for dusting)
  • 15g fresh yeast (dry active)
  • 200ml soda water (a neat little trick to give your loaf a little extra rise)
  • 100ml boiling water
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50 ml melted butter (plus a little extra for greasing)
  • 1 egg (whisked)
  • 1 small jar of Nutella
  • Zest of one Orange
  • 50g Chopped Hazelnuts
  • 50g Chopped chunks of chocolate
  • A little milk to wash.
  1. First things first, you’re going to need to activate your yeast.  Pour the soda water and boiling water into a bowl.  Dissolve the sugar into the water and then sprinkle over the yeast.  Whisk and then leave the bowl somewhere warm for 15 minutes (I use my airing cupboard!) until the yeast begins to froth.
  2. Once the yeast is ready, pour in the melted butter and then add the salt, flour, cinnamon and orange zest.  Stir it together to create a sticky dough.  Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.
  3. Once the dough’s been kneaded, pop in a lightly oiled bowl and leave it to prove somewhere warm for one hour.
  4. After an hour, the dough should have doubled in size.  Turn it onto a floured surface and roll it out into a rough square shape that’s about 1cm thick.  Spread the Nutella – taking it as close to the edges as possible – then sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts (hold some back to decorate) and chocolate on top.  Roll it up like a swiss roll and seal each end.
  5. Now to shape the Babka.  Take a sharp knife and cut the dough right down the middle leaving a space at the top (it should look like a pair of legs once you’re done).  Take each leg and turn it so the sticky inside layers are facing upwards.  Now twist one leg over the other until you get a tight plait from one end to the other – making sure you keep those inside layers facing up.
  6. Grease and line a loaf tin and then fill it with your twisted dough. There’s a knack to this bit; you want to make sure the ends are folded under, while the middle is on top.  Cover it with a damp tea towel and leave the dough to prove for another hour.
  7. Set your oven to 200°. Give the surface of the babka a little wash with milk and sprinkle with a few extra chopped hazelnuts and orange zest, then bake it for 30 minutes – covering the top with foil after 15 minutes to protect those layers from burning.
  8. Scoff warm with some extra Nutella! 🙂

Happy Weekend (and happy decorating!)! ♡