Sunday, 18 January 2015

Jaffa Chocolate Pots



Is it just me or is there a disproportionally large number of telly programmes on at the moment about the lives of the very wealthy, their super cars, luxurious holidays, humongous mansions and considerably inflated bank accounts? 

Take the BBC's 'Inside Necker Island: A Billionaire's Paradise', on our screens the first week of January and possibly the cruelest bit of TV scheduling ever. Chilly, dark, impoverished January evenings are never, ever improved by watching an hour of rich people paying £30,000 per week to frolic in azure blue seas, sunbathe on long stretches of golden sand and sip piƱa coladas by the infinity pool. Or the uber-richskis on 'Super-Rich and Us' spending over £50,000 in all of five seconds in the back of a limo on diamond jewellery when the rest of us are counting our pennies until payday. 


The answer for us mere mortals? These Jaffa Chocolate Pots: an indulgent, glorious taste of paradise. And should you need another excuse to make them (really, you do?) lets celebrate chocolate in the week that Cadbury's rather outrageously revealed their Creme Eggs are no longer made from Daily Milk but a “standard cocoa mix chocolate”. I'm not sure what a 'standard cocoa mix chocolate' is either, but it certainly sounds unappealing vile*. 

*Sure, I haven't tasted the new version but really Cadbury's, really. 

Jaffa Chocolate Pots
(Makes 4 generous pots)

250g chocolate 
300g double cream
2 tbsp Cointrou Orange Liqour (optional)
4 clementines or satsumas
2 Cadbury's Flake (or similar)

1. Melt the chocolate in a small glass bowl suspended over a saucepan of gently simmering water, stirring regularly. Once melted, remove from the heat.
2. Whip the cream until just thickened and fold in the melted chocolate and liqour 
3. Divide between four glasses or ramekins and chill for at least two hours. Top with the clementine/satsuma segments and crushed Flake bars

Baker's notes...

  • I used Cadbury's Dairy Milk in homage to this week's events but darker chocolate would add a lovely, rich taste
  • These pots can also be left to chill overnight and are a rather fine make-ahead dessert




Sunday, 11 January 2015

Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Winter Warmer Pie


Ahhhh January. Drab, dull and for many of my friends, colleagues and, it seems most of the nation, now dry. January arrives after the jolly festivities and frivolities of December like an unwanted guest arriving as the party is ending. 

Frankly, hedgehogs have it right. We all ought to hibernate throughout these thirty one days. I most definitely have enough 'fat reserves' from Christmas to keep me going until March. But, in the event you aren't a cute but prickly little creature, I have the answer: pie. 

Put aside the detox regimes and rice cakes*: this pie is both comforting for the long dark nights and the perfect foodie antidote to January-blues. 

Beko are promoting their unique Freezer Guard technology, which allows you to store your freezer in a garage or any other unheated room and your appliance will continue to work at temperatures as low as -15°C or 5°F. As part of this campaign they are asking bloggers for freezer-friendly recipes. Such as this glorious, January-busting pie packed full of cockles-of-your-heart-warming loveliness.

*A rice cake really, really isn't a cake. Ever.


Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Winter Warmer Pie 

1 tbsp oil 
4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
8 rashers smoky bacon
1 onion, sliced
225g leeks, sliced
250g pack baby button mushrooms
2 tbsp cornflour, mixed with 2 tbsp water
400ml chicken stock
200ml milk (plus a tsp for brushing)
225g carrots, cut into thin slices 
1 heaped tbsp chopped flat-leaf or curly parsley
500g puff pastry

1. Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. 
2. Fry the chicken on a medium heat until golden brown, turning occasionally. Lift the chicken onto a plate and set aside. Tip the bacon into the pan. Fry for 5 mins until crisp. Add the onion, leeks mushrooms and fry on a high heat for another few minutes until the onions start to colour.
3. Add the flour mixture to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 min. With the pan off the heat, gradually whisk in the stock, followed by the milk, then add the chicken back to the pan. Add in the carrots and parsley 
4. Place the pan back on the heat and bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 mins. 
5. Spoon the filling into your pie dish. Leave aside to cool while preparing the pastry
6. Heat the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas mark 7
7. On a floured surface, roll the pastry to the thickness of two £1 coins. Lift the pastry over the pie, using the rolling pin to assist. Brush lightly with a tsp of milk and bake for thirty minutes or until the pastry is golden brown

Baker's notes...

  • This recipe is inspired by BBC Good Food 
  • To freeze: simply make up the pie and freeze until ready to bake 
  • What foodie delights get you through January?
With thanks to Beko, who sent vouchers to cover the cost of ingredients for this pie

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Baking Trends 2015


                             




Roll up, roll up, its time for the annual gaze into the foodie crystal ball to see exactly what 2015 has in store. Are marshmallows still going to have their moment? Will the Cronut still be king? And will we finally tire and say bye to the burger?*

Disclaimer: Please note in four years of Baking Trends, a grand total of ... erm... three two predictions have been correct.

Coconut Sugar

image:Real Food Store

Coconut water was soooo 2014. Coconut sugar is the new 'heathier' sweetener, sure to pop up in a good-for-you bake near you this year

Breakfast

Erm, our morning bowl of cereal has pretty much always been on-trend in our place, but apparently this year breakfast is going to be a 'bigger deal'.

Smoking

Not the ciggie kind. Smoked food, such as Smoked butter. You can even buy smoking guns in high street cook shops. Smoked Victoria Sponge anyone?

Salted Bacon Chocolate

All excellent, excellent ingredients. Separately that is. I'm not convinced I'll be swapping my Dairy Milk for Salted Bacon Chocolate any time soon

Mini Desserts

Nooooo, I really object to this trend! Desserts should never, ever be described as 'small', 'mini' or 'tiny'. But apparently mini puds, such as small hot chocolates and chocolate chip cookies are soon to be seen on restaurant menus

Nuts
                         
image: huffingdon post

Nuts are the number one for 2015. Think almond rose shortbread and pumpkin praline fudge

Foodie mash-ups

Expect more foodie mash-ups over the next twelve months. If the Salted Bacon Chocolate counts, I'll skip this particular trend thank you very much

No Bake Cheesecake

I'm all for no-fuss recipes such as the no-bake cheesecake


In other breaking news and for those on a New Year health kick, cauliflower is the new kale. Suffice to say, I never, ever thought I'd be writing that on this sweet-toothed blog.

Anyway, a very, very Happy New Year to you all!

* As if. You'd be more likely to see this blog feature a year's worth of cauliflower recipes than the nation giving up its favourite gourmet fast food treat.