Follow by Email

Friday, March 30, 2012

In Some Small Recognition Of the Lost Lives

There are some things in life that shouldn’t be ignored, and whilst I could sit here and talk about my latest recipe in my notebook or some random day trip out, it seems a little inappropriate to do so.

My husband is a soldier, has been for the last 24 years, he’s had a good career, one which he is proud of, and I am proud to be an Army wife, his wife. Tonight is his dine out, recognition of his years in the military. It seems however slightly bitter sweet, because down the road, a few hundred metres from my home, a young mother is mourning the death of her husband killed just days before he was due to come home from Afghanistan. Their youngest child is barely a year old, and will never get to learn the sort of person his Daddy really was. I’m sure his mother, in time, will tell him all about his Daddy, but it’s not enough and it certainly isn’t fair. He won’t ever be able to do the things young boys do with their Daddy’s. It all seems so senseless and sad. My heart breaks for her and her little boys!

Where does this leave us though, over 400 British troops have been killed out there now, and my conviction has always been that whilst very sad and heartbreaking that in this day and age so many men and women are dying for this cause, that our troops shouldn’t be pulled out, because the “job” at hand isn’t finished, it seemed to me as though pulling out our troops would then make the deaths of the soldiers even more senseless, after all if you don’t finish the job you set out to do, then what’s the point in starting it at all?

My opinion may have changed, I still think if you set out to do something you should finish it, but at what cost? Maybe it’s better over there now, maybe it isn’t, but the Taliban aren’t going to stop and if we don’t stop, it seems to me now, that it’s going to be a never ending cycle of war and death……. When is it going to end? Probably not soon enough and not without the loss of more lives.

God bless are troops and keep them safe!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chocolate Fridge Cake..... Hard to resist!


There’s not really a lot I can say about this one, other than, I bet you can’t resist taking a square every time you go to the fridge!!!!

A friend gave this recipe to me years ago! Great for chocolate lovers and children...... 

Chocolate fridge cake

6 oz  Digestives crushed
1 oz sugar
1 Tbsp golden syrup
3 oz butter
1 oz cocoa powder
Bar of melted Cadbury's chocolate to top

1. Melt butter over a low heat, add sugar, cocoa and syrup. Stir until dissolved, take off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

2. Add the biscuits to the mixture and mix well, press into a tin and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Melt chocolate and spread over the biscuit base chill again, but cut into pieces before it sets hard. Keep refrigerated.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Beef recipe a shame to miss out on


I actually added a handful of cooked shrimp to this one, at the sametime as I added the onion














This next recipe is outstanding. Glen cooked it first because of my knee issues, but I have cooked it several times since – including for guests…. It’s a seriously brilliant recipe and bound to bring that wow factor to the table. The crumbled blue cheese I used was Roquefort definitely one of the more expensive blue veined cheeses but well worth the splurge.

Beef with Mushroom and Blue Cheese Sauce

1 ½ cups soy sauce
¾ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Beef Tenderloin
4 Cloves fresh garlic minced
1 Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
300ml beef broth

SAUCE

½ cup butter cut into small pieces
½ lb mushrooms, sliced
2 Cloves fresh garlic minced
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp caraway seeds
4 scallions, thinly sliced

1. In a large zip lock freezer bag, mix the soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Add the beef; seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, turning occasionally.

2. Drain and discard marinade. Rub the beef with garlic and pepper; place in a shallow roasting pan. Add broth to the pan. Bake, uncovered, at 220˚C (425°F) for 45-55 minutes or until the meat is cooked the way you like it. Let the beef stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter, in a saucepan. Add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté until tender. Add the blue cheese, Worcestershire sauce and caraway seeds; cook over a low heat until the cheese has melted. Stir in the onions; heat through, serve with the beef.

Servings: 4




Sunday, March 25, 2012

Penis Pie?????


Ok so the “Proof is in the pudding” as they say, my husband and I, are at times incredibly childish – Ok I’m fibbing a little, we are childish most of the time, of course I am more, of a grown up than him (I am trying to save face here slightly,) I encourage his behaviour, usually by being bent over double in hysterics – age old adage, “Stop laughing at him, you’ll just encourage him,” springs to mind here. Renamed Penis Potpie, for obvious reasons – when he asked if he was allowed to ‘decorate’ it, I didn’t realise this was what he had in mind, considering he is my husband I should have known better. This is actually supposed to be Creamy Pork Potpie and is really quite good, regardless of all the jokes.

Creamy Pork Potpie

½ cup all-purpose flour
450 ml chicken stock
150 ml milk
2 ½ cups cubed cooked bacon
2 ½ cups frozen vegetables
1 ½ cups shredded cheese (I used gouda, but any favourite hard cheese will work)
½ tsp seasoned salt
Dash pepper
1 sheet frozen pastry (because I still can’t make my own)
1 lightly beaten egg

  1. In a jug, mix together the flour and the milk, until combined. In a large saucepan, add the broth and the milk, bring to a boil, stirring until thickened, it should take about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the bacon chunks, vegetables and the cheese, season and heat through. Transfer to a greased baking dish.
  3. Lightly flour your surface and roll out the pastry into a big enough, rectangle to fit your baking dish. Place over your filling and brush with the egg.
  4. Bake uncovered, at 220˚C (425˚F) for about 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Let it stand for a few minutes before serving.  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My day out at Wewelsburg Castle

Aerial view of the castle



I have spent the last four hours trying to find something to say that will do this any kind of justice, unfortunately I am struggling…. How do you possibly begin to describe it? 400 years of a castle shrouded in rich history, so I’ve decided to, rather than try and explain the undoubtedly remarkable history, to tell you about my experience there.


Curry wurst mit pommes und mayo

Wewelsburger mit pommes und mayo
Glen and I have seen the castle many times from the autobahn and the last time we drove past I said to my husband that I would like to go and see what it was all about. To be honest whilst most of the museum was all in German it didn’t disappoint me, I realise it was a little boring for my husband, he couldn’t understand very much at all and to be honest I think he was expecting lots of Nazi, swastika, stuff… After all it was Himmler’s SS Reich Leaders school. We wondered around the first of the two museums, looking a bits of old pots, coins, paintings and fossils…. Climbing flights of stairs, to see what relics the next floor contained. Peering in display cases to see what ancient things came next in the history of Paderborn and the castle, surprisingly, or not, the bit in that part of the museum we were looking forward to most was the ‘hexenkeller’ the witches dungeon, well isn’t that bit we all look forward to most? I am assuming it’s got something to do with the morbidity of it, the anticipation of climbing down all those steep steps, so you can go down into the dark dungeon, walk into one of the cells and shut the barred door behind you, and jokingly turn around and scream, ‘LET ME OUT, LET ME OUT,’ in reality we didn’t do this, mostly because it didn’t have a barred door! And it was very small, Glen would have had to go down on his knees…… A little painful and cold I would imagine.
German coffee



Side view of the castle
Next we went for lunch, German historical building requires that we stick with the German theme, and opted for a typical German meal, Glen had Currywurst mit Pommes und mayo, I had a Wewelsburger mit pommes und mayo, I still have no idea what meat was used to make this burger, I can tell you that it had a rather unusual salad in it, carrots, peppers, which have been repeating on me all afternoon, sweet corn, kraut and lettuce, to top it off we had a very German cup of coffee (thick and chewy). I toyed with the idea of an ice cream the weather was lovely and warm, but we decided to give it a miss, I was stuffed after my burger, leaving most of the fries, having a ice cream would have been pure greed.


Uniform worn by those in the concentration camp

After lunch we went round to the Megalomania and Terror of the SS museum, now this is where my morbid fascination comes into play. When I was about 12 years old, my parents took me to the Alps where we visited the Eagles Nest, we climbed from the bottom all the way to the top of the mountain, and we bought the books about Hitler and his henchmen. I found it incredibly difficult at that age to fathom, how somewhere so beautiful could be tainted with something so positively evil. Since then I have had this NEED if you like to try and understand, but ultimately words like ‘Ayran’ and Nazi, just infuriate me. As we walked around the first level, it was covered in SS leaders photo’s and the one thing that struck me was how ‘normal’ most of these men looked, I will admit I did mention to my husband at one point, after looking at one photo, that I wouldn’t want to be stuck down a dark alley with him, but in most cases, they were handsome young men. Looks can be deceiving, these men were in the SS, the men responsible for the deaths of between 11 and 17 million people. A bit further along they went on to explain that inmates were forced to work and rebuild the castle. Of the estimated 3,900 inmates, 1,285 were either murdered by the SS or died due to poor diet and starvation or sickness. I have been reading, and it says that the SS hid the genocide from the local authorities, because “normal” legal order still existed, this legal system did not allow murder and it was still a punishable offence. If the SS were hiding the killing of the people in the concentration camps, this implies to me they knew what they were doing was wrong, otherwise why hide?


Christmas Decorations

I could be here for hours and hours, explaining everything I saw and learnt today, but I fear I may go off on a tangent about Nazism, and the racist views etc. and that is not what I want to do. Instead I am going to add a link for those of you, who are interested.         





 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wewelsburg


Thursday, March 22, 2012

My husband is let loose in 'my office'


In January 2011, my knee was playing up again, the pain had started just before Christmas, but because of the girls I was trying to “get through it” but the pain was that bad, I had to go to the doctor, I was told to rest and keep it elevated. Anyway that meant for the next few weeks (it was actually more like 10 weeks) my husband was let loose in the kitchen. He would bring a chair through to the kitchen and sort out a stool, so I could rest my leg. I know he was humouring me because the kitchen is my domain, or ‘My Office’ as my husband and one of his best friends call it, after all, all I did was bark orders at him, from the recipe book – but he could have done it alone, he was just including me in one of my few pleasures. It was a miserable time.

Ravioli And Shrimp

½ large onion, finely diced
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp cornflour
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 pack fresh ravioli
400ml single cream
500g cooked shrimp
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp minced chives
 
  1. In a large skillet, sauté the onion in the butter until tender.
  2. Put the tomatoes in a blender, process until pureed, add the brown sugar and flour, then process again, now add it to the onion, add the bay leaf, clove, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, then cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the ravioli according to the instructions. Take out the bay leaf and the clove, from the sauce, reduce the heat again and slowly add the cream and then the shrimp, stir and heat through. Drain the ravioli, serve with the sauce and top with parmesan and chives.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Christmas!!!!!


I realise that I am totally out of season with this post, however you could easily cook these at anytime of year, they don’t have to be just for Christmas, I have grouped these four together because I cooked them like this, but also for a personal reason too. It was Christmas 2010 and it was our first Christmas with the girls, it was also our first Wedding Anniversary. I am incredibly sentimental…. To me all our firsts are a mile stone in my growth as a person and a wife. I am sure certain people would disagree with me, but my life has just begun. I owe a lot to my husband and he definitely doesn’t give himself enough credit, but I have experienced so many wonderful things because of him, in the past five years, my life has become full, if I was to get run over by a bus tomorrow I would die I happy woman, because everyday has been lived to it’s fullest, and whilst there is SO much left to do, that I want to do, I have not wasted anytime, I have seen so much and done so much that I can only feel blessed, and I owe all that to him. The girls are just an added extra bonus, loved as I love my own.

These following recipes are ones my mother used to make at Christmas and I wanted to try and recreate, that homey Christmas feel for the girls, that my mother used to make so special for me, after all it was OUR first as a family and I wanted desperately to make it one to remember forever!

Smoked Salmon Parcels

2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
125g Philadelphia
3 tbsp double cream
2 tsp snipped chives
Salt and pepper to taste
4 large slices smoked salmon
Four whole chives
125g mixed salad leaves
Toast to serve

Dressing

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp French mustard
Pinch of sugar

  1. Put the first six ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
  2. First, cut four pieces of cling film big enough to encase the salmon when rolled, place a slice of salmon flat on each piece of cling film, then divide the cream cheese mixture onto each slice of salmon. Roll or fold the salmon to seal the filling, tie each one with a whole chive, carefully wrap up the salmon parcel into the cling film and refrigerate until needed.
  3. To make the dressing, add all the ingredients to a jar with a tight lid and give it a good shake.
  4. Right before serving, toss together the salad and the dressing, then divide between four plates and serve with the salmon parcels and the toast.  

Oaty Stuffing Balls

500g pork sausage meat
1 onion finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
90g oatmeal
2 tsp mixed dried herbs
 
  1. Preheat the oven to 190˚C (375˚F). Place the sausage meat and onion into a bowl and season with salt and pepper, knead and mash together with your fingers (I wear gloves) until it is all well blended.
  2. Using your hands shape the mixture into 16 balls, they will be quite small. Next mix together the oatmeal and the dried herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste, then spread them out on a plate and roll your stuffing balls in the oaty mixture. (You could use breadcrumbs instead of the oats, I have used both, but prefer the oats)
  3. Place your ‘balls’ in a greased oven proof dish and bake for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
Bread Sauce

6 whole cloves
1 whole onion peeled
1 bay leaf
625 ml milk
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
60g butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Large pinch nutmeg
2 tbsp single cream
 
  1. Stick the cloves into the onion, and place into a saucepan with the bay leaf and milk, bring to a boil, remove from heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the breadcrumbs and butter to the saucepan and cook over a gentle heat for 15-20 minutes. Remove the onion and bay leaf, season the sauce with salt and pepper, if needed, and the nutmeg. Stir in the cream just before serving.
Roast Duck

2.5kg Duck
1 orange
1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small onion, chopped
Few stalks of parsley
500ml water

  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F). Remove any excess fat from the duck cavity and wipe dry with kitchen roll, cut the orange and lemon into ¼ and place into the bird, season inside and out with salt and pepper and truss.
  2. Put the bird into a deep casserole dish with the onion, parsley and the water, place on the lid and cook for an hour turning once or twice.
  3. Remove the duck from the dish and place the liquid to one side. Put the bird, breast side up onto a roasting rack, whack the heat up to 190˚C (375˚F) and roast for 10 minutes each side, until the bird is golden brown.
  4. While the duck is roasting make a sauce out of the retained liquid.






Monday, March 19, 2012

Another Pasta Dish To Add To The Mix


As I have probably already made quite clear, we love quick pasta dishes. This one covers all the basic, bases, creamy, cheesy, it has mushrooms and vegetables – has enough for leftovers, so great for a week night and next day lunch at work – or even better a “Vodka Friday” dish and hangover Saturday leftovers. Of course I am assuming you are cooking for two here, but it’s excellent as a family meal too. I have tried it on all four of our children and it went down a treat!

Tortellini Primavera

1 package of cheese tortellini
½ lb sliced mushrooms
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp butter
150ml fat-free milk
200g cream cheese, cubed
200g frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dried
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 large tomato, chopped
20g grated parmesan

  1. Cook tortellini according to the pack instructions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet with a little olive oil and the butter, gently fry the mushrooms, onion and garlic until nicely tender. Then add the milk and heat through, stir in the cream cheese until melted, add the spinach and Italian seasonings.
  2. Next drain the pasta, gently mix with the sauce and tomato and top with the parmesan cheese.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Beef Wellies


Beef Wellington or Beef-Boot as my husband calls it – there are so many different versions of this recipe, this is the one we like best. It’s quite fun to make due to the messiness. As far as I am concerned the messier the better and even more so now that I have a dishwasher – I love mixing, beating, kneading and using all of my utensils, mixers and bowls, for that reason I probably use way more than I need, just for the fun of it and I get to spend more time in the kitchen, even if it is only the clean up afterwards.

Beef Wellington (Beef Boot)

1.5 kg beef tenderloin
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
250g mushrooms, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Good glug of port
200g liver pâté
375g puff pastry
1 beaten egg
Mushroom gravy to serve

  1. Season the beef with the black pepper, cook the beef in a large skillet until it’s browned all over.
  2. Place your beef in a roasting pan and cook at 200˚C (400˚F) for about 25 minutes for rare, 30 for medium and 40 for well done, after it’s cooked allow to cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet, add the onion, garlic and mushrooms, stir continuously until softened, add the port, then increase the heat and cook until the liquid has evaporated, put to one side and allow to cool.
  4. Once the onions and mushrooms have cooled add the liver pâté, stir well to combine all the ingredients, season with salt and pepper.
  5. Next you need to wrap the beef and the mushroom mixture in pastry:- Roll out ¾ of the pastry into a large rectangle, you are going to have to wrap the beef, so it needs to be big enough to totally engulf the beef, spread ½ the mushroom mixture down the middle of the pastry, then place the beef on the mushroom mixture, next using the rest of the mushroom mixture cover the top of the beef. Brush the sides (border) of the pastry with the egg, next fold in the sides of the pastry to cover the beef, starting with the short sides and then the long ones. Turn your parcel over, and brush with some more of the egg. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into long thin strips, arrange in a lattice pattern over the beef, then glaze once more with the egg.
  6. Bake at 220˚C (425˚F) until crisp and golden, this should take about 45 minutes, after 30 minutes cover with foil to prevent it from getting too browned, allow to stand for about 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven, slice and serve with gravy.






Friday, March 16, 2012

Chicken pinwheels


Totally and utterly worth the effort, and genuinely a recipe I am proud of – it took me quite a bit of time, but I don’t mind I enjoy being “at one” with my cooking – The most complicated bit in this recipe is getting the chicken wrapped up tight enough without, squishing all the filling out. Once you have managed that, you’re away.

Chicken Pinwheels


4 skinless chicken breast halves
Melted butter for greasing
Basil sprigs to garnish

Filling

125g Garlic and herb cheese spread
2 tbsp sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped and drained
30g shredded basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Tomato and herb sauce

1 tbsp butter
1 small onion finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
400g canned tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs
1-2 tbsp single cream

Pasta to serve

  1. First make the filling. Combine all the filling ingredients and mix well.
  2. Place the chicken breasts between cling wrap and beat with a rolling pin until about ½ cm (5mm) thick, divide the filling between the four breasts and then tightly roll up.
  3. Cut four squares of baking paper (waxed paper) just big enough to wrap around each chicken roll, you’ll need a centimetre or so, over lap, then wrap that in tinfoil, twisting each end to seal. Put each of the rolls into a skillet of simmering water, cover and simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on the packet, and make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and cook for a minute or two then add the garlic, stirring often, cook until soft, stir in the tomatoes and half of the juice, boil and then simmer for 3 minutes, stir in the herbs and the cream, add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Unwrap the chicken and cut into slices, serve the pinwheels over a bed of pasta with the sauce and garnish with basil.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Greek Lamb, the beginning of my German experience


We are now moving on to my Germany experience. It’s been a little challenging to say the least – certain ingredients have been a nightmare to get hold of. If I have been able to get the ingredients, I have been paying over the odds for them. Failing that I have been substituting like mad with genuinely unsuitable products, for the recipes. The upside is that I am making it work – therefore this is a positive thing.

Greek Lamb

1kg lamb
1 large garlic clove, sliced
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp savory
Salt and pepper to taste
8 large potatoes, peeled and halved
450ml lamb and chicken stock
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley
 
  1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C.
  2. Place the lamb in a fairly large casserole dish. Sprinkle the garlic slivers, herbs, salt and pepper, over the lamb.
  3. Place the potatoes around the lamb and season a little, then pour the stock around the lamb.
  4. Cover and cook in the oven for 3 ½ hours or until the lamb is tender. Prep and make your sides during this time.
  5. Move the meat and potatoes to a serving plate. Pour the meaty juices into a saucepan and cook quickly until the liquid has reduced. Serve the juices over the meat, potatoes and chosen sides.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Scotch Eggs! Pffft..... I got scuppered....


I feel this undeniable urge to blog everyday, I need to write, although at times, in particular today I don’t always know what to say! This is why my blogs are planned and written by hand, ages in advance, I have about 20 already written and ready to go. All recipes that I have tried and enjoyed, over the past two years. I would love to think that all of my blogs are well written and not TOO boring, planning I think is the way forward…. This one has not been planned!

I work in a post office and to be honest, I have enough experience behind me for the job to be easy, and I enjoy it for the most part, sometimes I wish I didn’t have to work, sometimes I just want to stay in bed till noon, do my “Housewife” bit, and then go in the kitchen and do what I really love, COOK! However I do have to work, like a lot of us these days I can’t afford to be “Just” a housewife, as much as that appeals to me. Today I had an issue which threw me, nothing major just a slight annoyance with a customer, but it left me with long term feeling of irritation, I take forever to come down off my high horse when I get angry.

I got home to yet more son drama, although I am not sure what it was this time, from what I can tell, it was about homework, he didn’t want to do, so yet again, depending on whose story you believe, he bunked off school, he says that the woman who is meant to help, sat whistling in the class room, while he was in detention and then gave him the thumbs down sign when he asked for help. Who knows who is telling the truth; I am giving my son the benefit of the doubt and siding with him, despite my better judgement.

After my son issues I decided to calm down, by cooking a new J.O recipe, scotch eggs, my first mistake was that I over boiled the eggs, they are meant to be running and mine were hard, mostly due to the fact, I lost track of time yakking to my mother, about Alexander, my son. Never mind, this is a minor mistake in the grand scheme of things. Next I carefully wrapped the eggs in sausage meat, rolled them in flour and then dipped them in beaten egg, and followed that up by rolling them in breadcrumbs, slightly on the large side, however served with a crisp green salad, tossed with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, it should have made the perfect supper. However, I only made two and I cut one to see if it was cooked properly (they have to be deep fat fried, which I hate doing it stinks) the first one wasn’t, but only just, so I left the other one in a little longer, then removed it, cut it open and it too wasn’t cooked, wasted not one but two, I am convinced if they had been cooked through, they would have been delicious. The breaded coating was perfect and the yolk was a nice orangey colour, just the sausage meat was in places still raw…. Boo hiss, husband ended up with Tuna Salad, it took me 3 hours to regain my appetite and then I had scrambled egg and a slice of toast…

To add insult to injury, my husband whupped my rear end yet again at scrabble, I love that game….. Love of words coming out there maybe? However it’s not much fun when he ALWAYS wins! NEXT TIME it’s my turn to win, watch this space (I have been saying this all week, I am still yet to win)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Coffee, Chocolate and Cheeecake.......... Little slice of heaven..... Also quite sad!


This is a great recipe, it shows off really well due to the layers and it freezes really well too, so you could make it and cut it up into portions and freeze for a dessert later. Chocolate, coffee and cheesecake, all great things…. Well some of our favourite things anyway.

It’s a little symbolic too because it was my last baking project in America. The best time of my life - was the 11 months I spent out there. So much of life changed for the better, I grew as a woman, I found myself, I married the love of my life and I experienced some of the most wonderful things. I miss it so much and would return in a heartbeat given the opportunity.



Mocha Cheesecake

1 ½ cups Oreo cookies, crumbled
¼ cup melted butter

Filling

2tbsp plus 1 ½ tsp instant coffee
1 tbsp boiling water
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
4 packs cream cheese
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup flour
4 lightly beaten eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips, melted and cooled (semisweet are best)

Glaze

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp butter

Extra chocolate chips for decorating optional.

  1. Grease a 9” spring-pan. Mix together the cookie crumbs and butter, then press into the bottom of your pan. Wrap a double layer of tinfoil around the pan and set aside. Now in a bowl mix the water cinnamon and instant coffee together and then set that aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar and flour until nice and smooth, then beat in the eggs on a low speed until just combined, nest stir in the vanilla extract. Divide the batter into two equal parts and stir in the melted chocolate into one half and the coffee mixture into the other. Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust, then spoon the coffee layer over the chocolate layer.
  3. Bake at 350˚F (180˚C) in a water bath, for 45-50 minutes or until just set, cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the outside edge to loosen and cool for another hour before placing in the fridge over night.
  4. In a small saucepan over a low heat melt the chocolate chips and butter, stirring until smooth, then spread over the cheesecake, garnish with chocolate chips.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chocolate Mint Cookies

These are nice, as with most kitchen mishaps with me, it’s normally due to not reading the recipe all the way through before I begin – lesson you’ve learnt here? Don’t be like me – read it all the way through first. Mine ended up an odd shape because I rolled it into a log first, then chilled it in the fridge. Then I cut them which squashed the dough making them an odd shape…

Do you remember the episode of Friends, it’s Thanksgiving and Monica allows Rachel to make the dessert? Rachel ends up making trifle and Shepherds Pie because the two recipes got stuck together and she was reading and following both recipes, this is sort of what happened to me, because I hadn’t read the recipe first I made the mistake of mixing two cookie recipes together…. Ooops, to be honest silly mistakes like that are the least of my problems when I am baking.


Chocolate Mint Cookies

6 tbsp butter
1 ½ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp water
2 cups semisweet choc chips
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cup flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

For the filling

2 ½ cups icing sugar
¼ cup butter
3 tbsp milk
½ tsp mint extract

  1. In a saucepan, add the butter, brown sugar, water and chocolate chips. Stir over a low heat until all the chips have melted. Than allow to cool.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla together, then add to the cooled chocolate mixture and stir well to combine. Mix together the flour, baking soda and salt; slowly add the chocolate mixture and stir well again to combine. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking trays.
  3. Bake at 350˚F (180˚C) for about 10 minutes or until firm. Remove to wire racks to cool.
  4. Mix together the filling ingredients until smooth, spread onto half of the cookies and then top with the other remaining cookies.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

For The Coffee Fiend


My husband, Glen and I are big coffee drinkers. At home we drink instant coffee, for ease mostly and because we don’t have a coffee maker anymore. Taking into account we work until about 1630, Monday to Friday, we still manage to work our way through at least one 250g jar of Nescafe Gold Blend. In America we also went to Starbucks at least once a day. We have Starbucks here in Germany, but only in the major cities. To be honest I am spoilt, Americans know there coffee and in Starbucks in America, it was always consistent and always tasted the same, if you asked for a caramel macchiato, then that’s what you would get, here it is a little hit and miss as to whether that is what you will get here, cappuccino isn’t much better either, although better than going for a plain coffee. Every now and again I enjoy a good iced coffee, this one is rather good with a glug or three of Baileys in it.



Iced Coffee (makes 2 cups)

4 tsps coffee granules
1 cup boiling water
1 cup fat free milk
4 tsp chocolate syrup
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Ice cubes
Baileys optional

  1. In a jug, dissolve the coffee in the boiling water, stir in the milk, chocolate syrup and vanilla, mix well and serve over the ice.
  2. For an added kick, add chilled baileys.

Marinated Shrimp Salad

This marinated shrimp recipe is perfect. It hits all the right spots. It looks good, tastes good, and is easy to make. It’s great party food. I also made an ice bowl to go with it, so that I could leave it on the table for people to help themselves over a period of time and not worry about whether or not the shrimp would spoil in the heat.

Marinated Shrimp Salad

2 lbs cooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium lemon cut into slices
1 cup pitted ripe olives drained
1/2 cup evoo
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

1. In a large glass serving bowl combine the shrimp, onion, lemons and olives.

2. In a jar with a tight fitting lid, add the rest of the ingredients; shake well, and pour over the shrimp, then very carefully stir to coat.

3. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Discard the bay leaf before serving.


Friday, March 9, 2012

fruit bars

I’m slightly obsessive about food – borderline eating disorder type, I usually skip breakfast, regularly skip lunch – but will enjoy a nice dinner. Sweets, treats and all round junk food I will eat every now and again, but I am more likely to eat something savoury than sweet. These bars are lovely because they are packed full of fruit, which makes you feel good! Well not so guilty anyway!




Fruit Bars

1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup dark raisins
1/3 cup  dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried apricots, snipped
1/3 cup water or brandy
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup  butter
2 eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
icing sugar

1. In a saucepan mix together the brandy and all the dried fruit. Bring to a boil,  then remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 20 minutes, when it has cooled drain the brandy from the fruit.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F (180˚C). In a medium bowl stir together the all-purpose flour and 1/3 brown sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Press the crumb mixture into an ungreased 8 inch baking pan. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden.
3. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl beat eggs, with an electric mixer on low speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the 1 cup brown sugar, the 1/3 cup flour and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the fruit, and then pour the mixture over the baked crust spreading it out evenly.
4. Bake for about 40 minutes or until wooden toothpick comes out clean. AFTER 30 MINUTES cover with foil for the last 10 minutes to prevent it from over browning, cool on a wire rack. Once cooled cut it into bars and sprinkle with icing sugar.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Creamy Chicken Pasta

This recipe came out of one of my magazines – one of those stuck in the corner easy to miss types, unless you are like me and a recipe hoarder. This is an absolute gem, a diamond in the rough as they say, a kind of macaroni cheese with more.
Creamy Chicken Pasta

2 cups penne pasta
¾ lb boneless and skinless chicken breast, sliced
¼ cup scallions, sliced
1 tbsp evoo
1 package mushrooms, chopped
1 small tomato, seeds removed
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 ½ cups milk
4 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
½ cup grated cheese
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1. Cook the pasta as directed on the instructions. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet then add the chicken and onions, stirring often cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and no longer pink. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes and garlic, cook, stirring continuously for a few more minutes. Take off the heat and cover to keep warm.
2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Stir the flour into the milk and stir until well blended. Carefully pour the milk into the saucepan, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil; cook on a medium heat until thickened. Add cream cheese, grated cheese, salt and black pepper, cook until all the cheese has melted, and the sauce is well blended.
3. Drain the pasta, and put bake into the saucepan you cooked the pasta in, add chicken mixture and sauce: Toss to coat, top with parsley. Then serve with garlic bread.