The Crimbo Limbo, Twixtmas… whatever you call it, the gap between Christmas and New Year’s a bit of a weird one, isn’t it? I used to hate it as a kid; even though there’s still the New Year celebrations to come, Christmas is officially over. All the presents around the tree are gone, the family and friends who’ve come to stay are gone too and there’s about half the Sainsbury’s Cheese Counter and a Turkey carcass shoved into the fridge. It always felt a little sad to me as a kid, but now? I LOVE IT. Fridge full of cheese? Um, yes please. Enough leftovers to save me cooking for a week? Banging. A Bond film on the TV every night? Don’t mind if I do. Cake for breakfast? Why the hell not.
It’s the one time of year where adulting officially goes out the window and – even better – nobody’s going to think any less of you for it or worry that you’ve gone a bit mad. Brilliant! I was tempted to just whack my coat on over my Christmas PJs to take Bungle for his walk this morning, but changed my mind at the last minute. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere, I guess, and for me that line falls somewhere between the neighbours seeing me in my jammies and scoffing cake for breakfast. Specifically, this Almond and Raspberry Cake – which I whipped up last minute on Christmas Eve and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a total winner. It’s pretty enough to decorate a festive table, moist enough to last through the limbo, and slightly sour enough to be a fresh change when you’ve dipped into the tub of chocolates a few too many times. Eat it warm with fresh cream or cold for breakfast, that’s totally up to you – I won’t tell! 😉
Almond and Raspberry Cake
175g Caster Sugar
100g Self Raising Flour
50g Ground Almonds
Pinch of Salt
25g Flaked Almonds
Set your oven to 170° and grease a 20cm open bottom cake tin. Sprinkle with a little flour and then set aside.
In your mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar. Stir in the egg.
In a separate bowl sift together most of the dry ingredients; that’s the flour, ground almonds and salt. Combine with the wet ingredients to make a very dry batter (don’t worry, it’ll come together during the next step!).
Stir in the milk.
Pour the batter into your cake tin and smooth over the surface. Arrange the raspberries (hole down) on top, staring in the middle and working your way out to the edge.
Bake for 45 minutes, scatter with flaked almonds and powdered sugar and then serve up with cream. 🙂
Hope you’re having a lovely Crimbo Limbo/Twixtmas!
What do you get when you cross a Toasted Tea Cake with a Cinnamon Bun?
So, my husband has decided to get into baking – more specifically, baking bread – which I am absolutely over the moon about because I love scoffing bread. Soft and doughy homemade bread? Even better. The trouble is, I’ve never been very good at baking it myself; I’m too experimental and slapdash when it comes to measurements and ingredients, and I just don’t have the patience or the muscle for kneading into being the perfect, pillowy soft dough that makes a good loaf. I feel like there’s an exact science and math to bread making that just doesn’t suit my free and flippant style in the kitchen (Maths, ew!). Sunny, though? He’s exactly the opposite; baking bread suits him perfectly. He’s logical and precise to the ounce, patient enough to follow a recipe to the letter, and he’s got the knuckles and gun-show necessary for flinging dough around.
…Enough gushing about my husband’s arms.
A couple of weekends ago he tore my kitchen apart making his first ever, sweet loaf – this Orange and Cinnamon Swirl Bread, which would make the perfect addition to any Christmas breakfast table. It’s a soft dough, but slices well – and the flavours kind of remind me of toasted tea cakes and cinnamon buns (both bread items that I absolutely love!). It’s definitely a keeper… along with the hubs. 😉
Sunny’s Orange and Cinnamon Swirl Bread
30g dried active yeast
200ml lukewarm milk
85ml smooth orange juice
1 egg, beaten
30g soft butter
550g strong white flour
pinch of salt
zest from one orange
For the filling:
85g demerara sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
30g melted butter
Set up two mixing bowls. Into the first, activate the yeast with a little of the warm milk – and into the second, pour in the orange juice, butter and beaten egg with the rest of the milk. Stir the yeast gently until it’s dissolved (you should start to see a few bubbles).
Into a third bowl, sift the flour with the sugar, orange zest and salt. Make a little well in the middle, then pour in the contents of the other two bowls. Stir together to make a soft, sticky dough – then turn it out onto a clean surface and knead for at least 10 minutes. (A lot people like to flour their work surface – but I don’t like adding more flour to my dough, so I just oil my hands and prepare to get a little sticky! Perseverance is key; the dough will come together!)
Pop the dough into a greased bowl, cover with clingfilm or a damp (but clean!) tea towel and then leave somewhere warm to double in size for at least an hour.
To make the filling, mix together the demerara sugar, cinnamon, mixed spice and melted butter.
Knock back the dough and – using a little flour this time – roll it out into a rectangle. Spread the filling right to the corners, then roll tight like a swiss roll. Pop it onto a lined baking tray – seam side down, with the ends tucked under. Leave it somewhere warm to rise again for another 20 minutes or so.
So here’s the thing. I’m not a massive fan of salads – in fact, I’m not really a fan AT ALL. (Great start, I know…) I’m a big kid at heart, I need to be tricked into getting those greens; I’ll eat them, but there’s got to be a lil’ something-something tossed between the leaves to bring me to the table.
This (kind of Wimbledon-inspired!)Strawberry and Gruyere Summer Salad is really easy to make and really hits the spot served up for an al fresco lunch or alongside a barbecue. Fresh, sweet and creamy – with a sour, zingy edge thanks to the added raspberry vinaigrette – the strawberries really steal the show on this one, provided you pick the best the season has to offer. British strawberries really are in their peak season at the moment and these “Red Diamond Strawbs” from my friends at Marks and Spencer are quite possibly the juiciest I’ve ever tasted; their sweet scent filled my car on the short drive back from my local M&S Food and perfumed my fridge and kitchen all weekend! Get them while you can! 🙂
Strawberry and Gruyere Summer Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette (serves 2)
150g Strawberries, sliced
Italian Peppery Leaf Salad (spinach, lettuce, rocket)
50g Gruyere Cheese, shaved(use a potato peeler 😉 )
For the Vinaigrette:
150g raspberries (I used M&S’s Sapphire Raspberries)
25ml balsamic vinegar
100ml olive oil
1 tbsp honey
a handful of basil leaves
To make the vinaigrette, blitz together the raspberries, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and basil until smooth.
Assemble your salad, then drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and sprinkle with the shaved gruyere. Easy!
Have a great week! 🍓🍓🍓
*This post contains gifted items from Marks and Spencer, to find out more about what that means click here to read my disclaimer.
Okay, I’m well aware that it hasn’t exactly been “Ice Cream Weather” recently (it’s been so wet and windy here in Wales the past couple of weeks that I’ve had to dig my winter coat back out of storage)… so let’s call this post aspirational, shall we? Mind you, I grew up slurping down Joe’s Icecream cwtched-up in the back of the car with my Mum and Mamgu parked up on the front in Mumbles in the dead of winter so I can’t say the weather’s ever really stopped me, so…
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that making ice cream is difficult – or that you need a special machine to do it – because they’re having you on (and trying to stop you from creating your own never ending supply of the good stuff…). There are a lot of complicated recipes out there that involve creating the custard base with eggs, or stirring the mixture every hour as it freezes (ugh)… but this recipe? It’s EASY. Too easy, in fact. All you need is some double cream and condensed milk, and with some restrained whipping you’ll have yourself a simple ice cream base that freezes like a dream (no need to break your wrist when it comes to scooping!) and can be flavoured any way you like it.
Since the weather’s been a bit… autumnal, I added some marshmallow fluff and toasted marshmallows to mine to make this Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream – which I bet would be absolutely awesome served up between two cookies as a kind of Smores Ice Cream Sarnie. Yum! 😉
Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream
600ml double cream
400ml sweetened, condensed milk
100g marshmallow fluff
200g large marshmallows (plus a few more to serve!)
This recipe is so easy, it’s practically criminal. To make the ice cream base – grab a mixing bowl and whip up your double cream (whip it good) until it’s nice and thick and forming stiff peaks (if the cream becomes foamy and starts to separate then you’ve whipped too much!).
Pour in the marshmallow fluff and condensed milk and whip until everything’s combined.
Next, toast your marshmallows. It’s completely up to you how you do it; you can either pop them in the oven under the grill until they start to brown and bubble, or you can (carefully!) scorch them with a blow torch. Set them aside for a few minutes to cool down – then mix them into your ice cream!
Pour the ice cream into tubs, then freeze for at least five hours. Serve up in cones, or between a couple of cookies (yum!) or over grilled peaches with a couple of scorched marshmallows and toasted nuts on top. 🙂
I’m a pasta FIEND, but I hardly ever get to make it at home because Sunny’s not a fan (I know, what the hell did I marry???). My absolute favourite pasta dish is Spaghetti Pomodoro, which most people would label the most boring thing on the menu – but you know what? I love that it’s simple. It’s pasta in its purest form and throws the focus on the quality and flavour of each ingredient. Sweet tomato sauce, spaghetti, fresh basil and mozzarella (…the best bit!). I love it! It’s my go to whenever I’ve got a craving for some fresh pasta.
Last week, Sunny was away with work which meant I had a couple of days to get my pasta fix in. I saw the idea for these fried tomato and mozzarella balls on Pinterest and just had to give them a go and see if they could level up my basic pomodoro. I mean, deep fried mozzarella, amiright? Yuuuuuuuuum.
Spaghetti with Fried Tomato and Mozzarella Balls (serves 2)
For the balls:
125g of Mozzarella Pearls
220g of Cherry Tomatoes (I used about 20 piccalo tomatoes)
1 egg, whisked
100g breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper
For the sauce:
1 tbsp Olive Oil
200ml of Tomato Passata
1 clove of Garlic, minced
Tomato Pits, salted
Fresh Chopped Basil
1 tsp of Maple Syrup
Enough Spaghetti for 2
(More cheese, if you’re a total glutton like me 😉 )
Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the pits (set them aside, they’re going to go into the sauce later!). Fill each tomato with a mozzarella pearl and then set them aside.
Heat up the vegetable oil in a deep saucepan (you’ll know it’s ready for frying when you can drop a small bit of bread into it and see it fizzle). Batter up! Create a bit of an assembly line with the whisked egg, flour and breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Take one of your filled tomatoes and skewer it with one of the kebab skewers (it’ll keep everything together for the next step). First, coat it with a little flour, then dunk it into the whisked egg, and finally coat it with breadcrumbs. Deep fry each ball until golden brown, removing each one from the skewer as you go along.
To make the sauce, heat up your olive oil in a saucepan on a medium heat. Fry the garlic for a minute (careful not to burn it!) and then pour in both the tomato passata, pits and fresh basil. Pour in 1 tsp of Maple Syrup – sounds ridiculous, right? But trust me, it’ll take away the acidic taste from the tomatoes.
Simmer for twenty minutes, then season and serve with the fried tomato, fresh basil, mozzarella balls and spaghetti.