Sunday, 13 April 2014

CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

Good Evening to you,


I am a little late catching up with you today, as Phyllis arrived yesterday to spend the Easter Holiday with us.... and as you can imagine there has been lots of chatting and catching up.  You would not think there would be so much to talk about, as we speak to each other on the phone, a couple of times a week.  But I'm sure you will agree, there is nothing like a face to face chat, with your mother, whilst enjoying a cup of tea.

So whilst we were chatting, I asked Phyllis what sort of cake she would like today.  She could not decide whether we should bake a chocolate cake or a fruit cake..... after much thought, she decided upon,


Chocolate Brownies, with ganache and strawberries. So Chocolate Brownies it is.

I also asked Phyllis which album she would like to listen to, whilst I was baking and she said she would love to listen to Johnny Mathis..... but do you think I could find Johnny Mathis.... no sirree.... I looked everywhere.  Firstly in the place that the album should have been.... the cover was there, but not the cd..... so I searched in other likely places, but no I could not find it.  So I asked if I could suggest an album and Phyllis was happy with that.  So the album I have chosen for us to listen to, is,


Eliza Carthy.  Now Eliza's music could not be further away from Johnny Mathis, but Phyllis has a love of music and was happy to listen to Eliza.  So with Eliza singing "Walk Away" it is time to put on my pinnie and organise my ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

400g soft cream cheese
500g caster sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoonfuls of vanilla extract
250g of unsalted butter
6 tablespoonfuls of good quality cocoa powder
200g self raising flour

FOR THE GANACHE

568 ml double cream
250g dark chocolate

TO DECORATE

225g Strawberries
1 bag of chocolate buttons

Oven temperature:  180C
Baking Dish:  32cm x 22cm
Lightly butter and line baking dish

HOW TO MAKE 
CHOCOLATE BROWNIES


Mix together the cream cheese

with


2 tablespoonfuls of vanilla extract

and


25g of caster sugar
until
smooth.

Set aside for the moment.


Beat the eggs

and the


remainder of the caster sugar
until light and fluffy.

Meanwhile


place 25g of unsalted butter

and


6 tablespoonfuls of cocoa powder
into a small saucepan.
Gently heat until the butter melts.
Keep stirring until the butter and cocoa are thoroughly combined.


Then gently pour the mixture
into the sugar and eggs
and fold in carefully.


Sift the flour and
fold into the sugar, egg and cocoa mixture.
When thoroughly combined


pour half of the brownie mixture into the base of the 
baking tin.

Then add the cream cheese mixture
and smooth.

Finally,


add the rest of the brownie mixture
and smooth the surface.

Pop into a 180C oven and bake for 1 hour
or 
when a skewer is inserted into the brownie mixture
 it comes out clean.

Allow to cool.

THE GANACHE


Break the chocolate into pieces
and
place into a small saucepan.


Add the cream
and
place over a very low heat to
dissolve the chocolate.
Keep stirring
whilst the chocolate is dissolving.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

When the ganache is cool, whisk until 
it holds it's shape.


Spread the ganache over the brownie

and 
as if that was not enough chocolate,


place chocolate buttons into
the ganache.... 4 to a row.


Cut the strawberries in half and
lean them against the chocolate buttons.
You can see a rogue chocolate button
rearing it's head in the bottom left hand corner.

Allow the  the ganache to become quite firm

then,


there is nothing left to do,
but
enjoy the brownie,
with a lovely cup of coffee.

Don't you find that,
chocolate and coffee go together,
so very well.

Now, I know you make Chocolate Brownies, and you will have noticed the rather odd shape of my cut brownie.  Normally brownies are cut into squares, but Phyllis sliced the brownie and cut it the traditional way of cutting cakes.... that does not really matter, does it..... as the added bonus for us was,  we all enjoyed a larger slice of brownie..... not good for the waistlines, but oh so good on the palette.

Tomorrow is the day we hear who is the lucky winner of the Hillarys Blinds Country Craft Competition.....  I wonder how I will get on..... I will let you know one way or the other.

Take care and I will see you on Wednesday.






Wednesday, 9 April 2014

ROASTED PORK SLICES

Good Morning to you,


"Wild thing,
You make my heart sing,
You make everything groovy,
Wild thing."

The Troggs

Do you remember the song, Wild Thing, by The Troggs?  I remember listening to this record as a teenager and loving it.  I loved the name of the band.... The Troggs, it was so very different and they used words like groovy, which I thought was cool, ace and fab.

.... but that was in the 1960's, when these words were familiar to me. 

Now I am older, I do wonder if Ivy and Gramps understood what I was saying when I used the words, "ace" or "groovy" when I was talking to them. Did they smile, pretending to understand what I was saying. I do wonder.

Time has moved on, and the world has turned, and it is now my turn to hear new words and abbreviations and not understand their meaning.

 I remember not so long ago when the abbreviation "lol" meant "Lots of love" and I kept seeing "lol" at the end of sentences, but my version of "lol" did not make sense and then, I discovered it meant "laugh out loud".  When did that happen, I missed the boat on that one.

If I am sent a text by one of the younger members of the family, I often cannot understand it, as there are so many abbreviations to words.  It takes me so long to work out the abbreviations, that I almost give up the ghost..... but I do persevere and get there in the end, but it takes quite a long time. Danielle finds it funny that I use the correct word in my texts..... such as "you" and not "u".... do you know I just cannot do it, I cannot abbreviate the word as I need to know what I am talking about and if I abbreviated the word, I would be totally confused.

.... and when did the word "sic" (sick) change it's meaning.  I always thought sick  meant you were ill, but apparently not,  now it means great or fabulous.

I heard the word "dope" on a television programme the other day.  I always thought the word dope referred to drugs, but apparently not, now it also means, great or fabulous (do you see, I am using the words I feel comfortable with). 

When did I become out of step with the changing world?

I'll tell you when it happened.... when Natasha and Danielle left home to build their own lives.  When our girls lived at home, the house was always busy, there were always youngsters in and out of the house, so I would hear the words of the day and if I did not understand them, then I would ask, but the years have gone by, and the house is not full of youngsters anymore, so there is no one to guide me through the maze of change. I think, in the future, communication could become very interesting for me. I wonder, will I smile, pretending to understand what is being said to me.... yes, I do believe I will.

.... but you will have no such problem today, when I tell you what I am making..... you will understand what I am saying,


when I say, I am making Roasted Pork Slices.  I am making these for George as he loves them.  

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am playing at the moment is,



Gordon Haskell.  Listen to "How Wonderful You Are" and "All the Time in the World" and "There Goes My Heart Again".  I have chosen this album because Phyllis is coming to stay for Easter and she dances around the kitchen when I play this album.

So whilst  I am listening to "There Goes My Heart Again" I am gathering my ingredients,


INGREDIENTS

1 kg Pork Belly Slices
1 onion
4 tablespoonfuls of tomato ketchup
4 tablespoonfuls of dark soy sauce
1 teaspoonful of chilli flakes
3 star anise
2 sticks of cinnamon
2 tablespoonfuls of sunflower oil
2 tablespoonfuls of white wine vinegar
5 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce

HOW TO MAKE
ROASTED PORK SLICES

THE MARINADE


Peel and slice the onion
and set aside.


Place the star anise, chilli flakes
and
cinnamon sticks in a bowl

and


add

2 tablespoonfuls of sunflower oil,


2 tablespoonfuls of white wine vinegar,


4 tablespoonfuls of dark soy sauce

plus


4 tablespoonfuls of tomato ketchup
and


mix together


Place the Pork slices into a dish
and
cover with the sliced onions
then
add the marinade.

Cover with clingfilm and 
leave to marinate for at least 4 hours,
but preferably overnight.



Heat the oven to 200C.

Remove the clingfilm 
and
spoon 5 tablespoonfuls of sweet chilli sauce
over the pork.
( I use a silicone pastry brush to evenly distribute the sauce)

Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for 45 minutes
then remove from the oven
and 
turn the pork slices.

After the first turning, turn the pork slices every
30 minutes, but towards the end of the cooking time,
keep turning and checking 
as the sugar in the sweet chilli sauce
has a tendency to burn.

The slices took 2 hours to cook in
my oven, but the timings might be
different in yours.

You want the pork slices to be 
a rich brown colour,
but not burnt.


When the pork slices are cooked, remember to remove the
cinnamon sticks and star anise.

I'll tell you a little secret, I have been known
to forget all about the star anise and not realise
I have, until I see the look on George's face when
he has bitten into one.  Then I realise what I have done.

To create a little more heat,
 I added Wasabi covered peas to the plate.

Now, I have to tell you, this was a difficult dish to photograph, not because of what the pork slices looked like, but because they were pork slices and George loves them.  I had to get them photographed very quickly, before George realised they were cooked, but the smell of the cooking kept bringing him into the kitchen, asking if they were ready.  I snookered him though, because my camera was ready, the plate was in position and the Wasabi peas were in a dish ready to put onto the plate. So the final time he popped into the kitchen to ask if the pork slices were ready, I told a little fib and said they were still cooking.  The moment he left the kitchen, I whipped them out of the oven, displayed them on the plate, added the Wasabi peas and had a few minutes to take my photographs.... it was a rush, because the pork slices still had to be hot for George to enjoy them.... and what about telling the fib....well,  I decided George could not have eaten the pork slices straight from the oven, as they would have been too hot, but I also know he would have tried, so really, I was saving him from himself....   don't you agree?

George's face beamed when I presented him  with the pork slices, he was very happy indeed and none the wiser about the time delay.

Oh yes, just as a little note before I go,  I spoke to Phyllis about my use of teenage slang and she said, Ivy and Gramps had no problem understanding me, because I was not allowed to use teenage slang when I visited them, I had to use my manners and speak correctly. So that solves that, when Ivy and Gramps smiled..... they really did know what I was talking about.

Take care and I will see you on Sunday.

This week I will be joining,

and






Sunday, 6 April 2014

HOT APPLE AND CINNAMON DRINK

Good Morning to you,


I really enjoy a nice cup of coffee..... not too strong, but of medium strength.  The problem is, I have been enjoying a little too much coffee recently, so in a bid to decrease my coffee intake, I have been drinking herbal teas and I have set myself a limit of 2 cups of coffee a day. 

I have tried caffeine free coffee..... but do you know, it isn't the same.... it lacks something and to be honest,  I am not, as yet, enjoying my change of drink regime.

That is until Natasha came to the rescue, with an idea for a drink I have not tried before.... a hot apple and cinnamon drink.  My ears pricked up when she mentioned apples and cinnamon because, 

I love apple and cinnamon.... especially in a pie, so I thought the same flavours in a drink would work well.

Also, the weather here, is still quite cold, so a hot apple and cinnamon drink sounds just the ticket to help combat our cold, grey days.



Natasha shared the ingredients with me, but I could not use her method, as Natasha uses a Thermo Mix to make her Hot Apple and Cinnamon drink.  A Thermo Mix is as close to a saucepan as  a BMW is to a Morris Minor.  It is an amazing piece of equipment and as you know, I am not easily impressed by gadgetry.  I hear about all the wonderful dishes which Natasha creates, using this piece of equipment and I have to tell you, next time I visit Natasha, she is going to give me a lesson, on how to use a Thermo Mix, but for today, I will be using my trusty saucepan.

I was just wondering,  why a Morris Minor popped into my head, as it is not a car I have thought about for ages.  I believe they are now classed as vintage cars and you don't see many on the roads nowadays, well maybe the odd one or two. Then I remembered. When George and I first met, a friend of George's owned a Morris Minor and the memory made me smile, because do you know how he decorated his dashboard.... with red roses. In case you are impressed, they were not fresh roses, but the red plastic roses which were given as a free gift with Daz washing powder. Now I cannot remember, if the plastic roses were a bid to attract the girls.... I think they were, I also think he would have had much more luck, if the flowers had been real, but we were all in our late teens and who could afford roses in those days, certainly not us.  It was impressive that our friend  even owned a car, as he was the only person within our group, who did.

Also remember, it was the days of "Flower Power" when teenagers wore "flowers in their hair". Our friend wore his hair short, so he could not (and probably would not) wear flowers in his hair, so maybe the roses were his bid to be on the fringes of the Flower Power scene..... but I'm still going with the theory that the roses were to attract the girls.

As much as I love roses.... and not the plastic variety, I think I had better  get on and organise myself, before I start talking about the roses which are shooting in my garden. If I start talking about my garden, you will never know what I am making today. 

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to, is something a little different.  The artist is the magnificent Cesaria Evora.




I first heard Cesaria sing when I lived in Cyprus. When I listen to Cesaria singing, her voice creates a sense of calm and I just love listening to her.  

At the moment, I am trying to create an Itunes list of music which I enjoy listening to, so that when I share an album, all you have to do, is click a button.  For now, I have created the list and I had hoped that I would be able to share some of Cesaria's music with you today.... but as yet, no such luck.  I have listed the songs, but I cannot get them to appear on my blog.  That is what I enjoy about blogging, you cannot rest on your laurels, there is always something new to learn.  I will keep trying and one day, as if by magic, my Itunes list will appear for you to enjoy.


....but for now, I need to stop thinking about the Itunes widget and get on with organising my ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

6 apples 
(I used Granny Smith's apples)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoonfuls of brown sugar
1.5 litres of water

HOW TO MAKE
A
HOT 
APPLE AND CINNAMON DRINK


Wash 6 apples

then


Cut into quarters
and remove
the
core


Place the apples in a 
food processor and blitz.
If you do not own a food processor
please don't worry,
chop the apples finely using a knife.


Place
1.5 litres of water 
in to a saucepan

and


add

2 cinnamon sticks

and


2 tablespoonfuls of dark sugar.

Bring to the boil and simmer for
30 minutes.



Allow to cool a little,
then
remove the cinnamon sticks.

Sieve the apples
using a fine mesh sieve.
I sieved the apples twice, the first time pressing down
on the pulp, to increase the flavour
and the second time,
I allowed the apple juice to drain through
freely, leaving the pulp in the sieve.


Whilst the apples are draining,
choose a cup and saucer,
so that you are ready to
 pour out the Apple and Cinnamon drink.

I have chosen this lovely cup,
because it is wide and it
allows the drink to cool quickly,
plus I love the shape.


Remove the sieve containing the pulp
and
pour the apple and cinnamon liquid
into the cup.

Sit back and enjoy.

Oh yes, I also enjoyed a very nice ginger biscuit
which went exceedingly well
with my drink.

Natasha mentioned that she used ground cinnamon when she made her Hot Apple and Cinnamon drink..... I chose to use cinnamon sticks, as I have quite a few which we brought back from India.... maybe next time I will use ground cinnamon.

I did not want my drink to be too sweet, so I decided to add molasses cane sugar.  It did make the drink darker, so if you would prefer a lighter colour to your drink, then add white sugar, or even honey, but after the apples have been cooked.

All in all...... this has been a nice change. ..... and as I mentioned before, it is still chilly here, but not as much as it is in some parts of America.  I am hoping our friend Bea is reading Ivy, Phyllis and Me! today, as she is still experiencing snow, so this is a drink, which I just know, will help to keep Bea and her family, nice and warm.

So I still have my two cups of coffee a day, interspersed with herbal tea.  This apple and cinnamon drink, certainly makes my taste buds happy and it is helping me not to miss coffee.... well not too much.

Take care and I will see you on Wednesday.

This week I will be joining,


and
and






.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

SPANISH EGGS

Good Morning to you,


After all the excitement from the Woman's Weekly Magazine article and finishing my Hostess Apron for the Hillarys Blinds Country Craft Competition..... I have finally come back down to earth.... well maybe not fully.... I am still so happy and to be honest I am still flying quite high..... I have to tell you it is the most wonderful feeling.

Just as well, because the weather here has been dreadful.  Yes, I am English and yes, I do talk about the weather.  I spoke to Phyllis on Saturday and she said the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day in the South of England. Here in the North the skies are grey and the mist is relentless...... it really is time that we had some colour in our lives.

So today, I thought I would make a colourful dish to brighten the day,


a bowl of colourful Spanish Eggs. This dish is  filled with so many colours, red, yellow and green peppers, red tomatoes, orange carrots and bright green spinach. Oh yes, and not to forget the yellow eggs. Yes this is doing the trick..... the colours are lovely.

..... and then I thought about the music, what would make me think of warm sunny summer days.  There is only one album which fits the bill,


the surfing, beach sounds of the Beach Boys.  The album  I have shared with you is my 1965 33 1/3 RMP  Beach Boys Album.... can you believe, this album is 49 years old.

Where were you, when you first heard the sounds of The Beach Boys?  Was their music playing on a Juke Box? I first heard the Beach Boys singing when we visited my Aunt Margaret and her family. My cousin Lin, who is a couple of years older than me, played their single... and I loved it.  For me, The Beach Boys encapsulate summer days and so with "Do You Wanna Dance" playing, I really don't mind that the day is grey, as it feels really sunny in my kitchen.

So, it is on with the pinnie, and yes I am really singing along to "Do You Wanna Dance"..... I know all the words.....do you?

INGREDIENTS

4 medium sized potatoes
1 red onion
3 peppers
(they can be all one colour or mixed)
1 tin of tomatoes 
2 medium sized carrots
125g spinach
100g Spanish Chorizo
100g bread
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoonful of chilli flakes
4 eggs
4 tablespoonfuls of olive oil
1 cup of water
salt flakes

Oven temperature: 180C
Serves 4

HOW TO MAKE
SPANISH EGGS


Cut the bread into cubes.
Drizzle with olive oil
and bake in a 180C oven until golden brown.

Set aside.


Slice the onions
and add 1 tablespoonful of olive oil to a pan
and cook the onions until translucent.


Add the grated garlic to the onions
and cook for 1 minute.
Remove from the pan and
set aside.


Peel and chop the potatoes into cubes
and using the same pan as you used
to cook the onions,
place  another tablespoonful of olive oil
into the pan and


add 1 teaspoonful of chilli.
Cook for a couple of minutes.
then add the cubed potatoes and
 fry the potatoes until they are 
golden brown.
You might need to add a little more olive oil.


Peel and finely slice the carrots.
Add a cup of water to a pan and add the sliced carrots.
Place a lid on the pan
and cook the carrots until al dente.


Add the spinach to the carrots.
Replace the lid
and cook until the spinach has wilted.
Drain the water and set aside when cooked.


Wash and slice the peppers.

Place 1 tablespoonful of olive oil
in a pan and cook until the peppers
are slightly brown and  cooked through.

Now it is time to put the ingredients together.

Add


1 teaspoonful of salt flakes
to the


browned potatoes
and place in a wide pan.

Add
the cooked onions
and  toss together.

Add
the cooked carrots and spinach
and toss together.

Add
the cooked sliced peppers
and toss together.


Add the tinned tomatoes

and


Spanish Chorizo
and 
finally
add the 



browned, cubed bread.

Place the pan on the heat and cook for 5 minutes.
Occasionally tossing the mixture.
At this point
check the seasoning.


Meanwhile crack 4 eggs 
(1 at a time) in to a cup.



Divide the vegetables and Chorizo mixture 
between 2 oiled, heatproof dishes.

Make two wells in each bowl
and pour the cracked eggs into the wells.

Place in a 180C oven and cook
for 10 minutes or until the eggs are cooked.


When cooked,
remove from the oven 
and
allow the dish to cool a little,
 as you do 
not want to eat Spanish Eggs piping hot.

There is no need for bread.

This dish is just so delicious,
there is nothing else needed..... well
maybe a nice glass of red wine would be nice.

I love Spanish eggs and I love dunking a crouton into the runny egg, just as much as I love dunking "soldiers" into a boiled egg.

Now if you prefer, add 4 fresh tomatoes instead of the tinned tomatoes.  I usually use fresh tomatoes, but there was not a tomato in sight...... my store cupboard of tomatoes was bare. So I turned to my standby of tinned tomatoes which work well.

Also depending what is in season, I will add courgettes, aubergines or mushrooms.  This time I added carrots and spinach because I had these in my store cupboard.

Before I go, I wanted to say, thank you so much for all your wonderful comments.  You really made my heart swell with pride. I am slowly catching up with my comments and then I will be out and about visiting you.

Take care and I will see you on Sunday.

This week I will be joining,

and




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