Rosemary & Sea Salt Focaccia

Focaccia 1

There’s something supremely comforting about focaccia. Maybe it’s the sublimely salty crust, maybe the delightfully squishy insides and maybe the fact that it makes a delightful vehicle for cramming a load of olive oil and balsamic vinegar into your face. Whatever it is, I can’t get enough, but until this past weekend I’d never thought myself capable of whipping up my own loaf.

Focaccia 2

I decided to challenge myself and immediately consulted the Italian Oracle that is Gennaro Contaldo. Not only is he a total authority on Italian food, he also ranks at the top of my list of TV chefs who look like they give amazing hugs (followed closely by Tom Kerridge and Nigella Lawson. Okay so it’s clearly just a top 3).

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And, my gosh, was I glad I trusted in Gennaro! This bread has the most amazing salty, rosemary scented crust and the inside is soft and airy. It’s insanely easy to make and whilst gorgeous dipped in olive oil, it also makes a perfect sandwich with lashings of dolcelatte cheese, a handful of cherry tomatoes and a couple of cheeky basil leaves. (continue reading…)

Cranberry & Orange Crumb Cake

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I have a confession to make. Today’s post was supposed to feature an elaborate, spiced, brown butter pull apart loaf, light and fluffy with autumnal spices. However, when I finally got out of bed at 11am this morning and properly read the recipe for how to make the dough I just couldn’t muster the energy, even with one of my energy balls, which usually have a 100% success rate!

Cranberry Orange Cake 1

That’s life people, sometimes we just don’t have the energy to follow complicated instructions, get milk to an exact temperature and wait around for yeast to do it’s marvellous work. I’m hoping that sometime in the near future my energy will return and that pull apart loaf will be on my coffee table, but in the meantime I have turned to crumb cake.

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The beauty of a good crumb cake recipe is that it’s super simple and fully adaptable to pretty much whatever fruit you happen to have available. Just chop it up and pop it into the basic batter mix and you’ll have a soft, fluffy, fruity cake with a deliciously sweet and crunchy topping. Utterly irresistable! (continue reading…)

Date, Almond, Coconut & Chocolate Energy Balls

Energy Balls 1

Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you that exercise isn’t really my thing. The closest I’ve come to organised sport is a rather inappropriate Saturday job at JJB Sports whilst I was in the sixth form, not sure what I was thinking there.

Energy Balls 2

If it wasn’t for the massive amount of cake involved in writing a food blog I doubt I would ever exercise at all. As it stands, there are only 2 things that get me through a painful gym session: an old episode of Downton Abbey on my iPad (new series starts tonight!!) and one (or maybe two) of these scrumptious energy balls.

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Pop a stock of these chocolatey, coconuty, almondy balls in your fridge (or freezer) and you’ve got yourself some bite sized bursts of energy at your finger tips, just the ticket for a post-work workout. They’re also perfect for that afternoon slump, when you just can’t go on without something sweet. Just keep in mind that they’re not chocolate truffles, they’re packed full of dates, and if you get too carried away you may be spending a little more time in the smallest room of the house than you’re used to! (apologies for lowering the tone!) (continue reading…)

Cheddar & Thyme Crackers

Cheese Thyme Crackers 1

Today feels like a comfort food kind of a day, sometimes it’s the only way to alleviate that Sunday fug and when I think of comfort food, I think of cheese (and mashed potato, but that would make a pretty poor blog post). Thankfully I already had all of the ingredients necessary to make some absolutely marvellous cheese crackers, so I didn’t have to drag myself to the shops.

Cheese Thyme Crackers 2

These crackers are puffed, flakey and intensely cheesy and would be utterly brilliant at a cocktail party or with a cheeky vino on a Friday night. Alternatively just wolf them whilst slobbing out on the sofa in front of cooking show after cooking show on the Food Network. Sounds good to me.

Cheese Thyme Crackers 3

They’re predominantly made out of mature cheddar cheese and very little else, which is undoubtably what makes them so completely gorgeous. Joy the Baker’s original recipe makes 70 crackers, which would be much too dangerous in this household, so I’ve halved the recipe. I also decided to sub the spices for thyme, as the gorgeousness of cheddar combined with thyme can’t be beat, and the smell when they’re cooking, oh my word, hold me back! (continue reading…)

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons 1

For a while there I lost sight of why I started this blog. Swept away by a preoccupation with views, foodgawker and a need for validation, I forgot the reason for this blog’s existence: motivation to cook something new and to improve my photography. I spent a disproportionate amount of time evaluating whether a chocolate cookie or a quinoa salad would get me more views, rather than thinking about what I actually wanted to cook and eat. Suddenly it all felt like too much work and the enjoyment was gone. Combine that with a couple of summer holidays and moving to the other side of the Thames and you’ve got 3 months without a blog post.

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It’s time for a new beginning. From now on, I’ll cook what I want, when I want. If I don’t post every week, it’s not the end of the world. If foodgawker don’t like my photos, I’ll cope. If no one reads my posts, admittedly I’ll be a tiny bit sad but I know my mum will still tune in and that’s good enough for me.

Coconut Macaroons Ingredients

To celebrate this new attitude, I decided to whip something up using one of my favourite foods, the coconut. Coconut macaroons are my idea of heaven, mainly when accompanied with dark chocolate, rendering them reminiscent of a Bounty bar. For those unfamiliar with the Bounty (you poor things!) it’s like an Almond Joy bar but without the almond and soooo much better! (continue reading…)

Apologies!

To all of my lovely followers out there, my sincerest apologies for the lack of blog action around here lately. I’ve moved house and am currently living in mild chaos with nowhere to take pictures.

I will rectify this as soon as possible and hope to be up and running again in the near future. I’m also hoping to whip up a few posts about my new abode, if the decorating goes to plan!

In the meantime, I hope you like my new blog format, I’m currently experimenting with looks and it may change several more times in the coming months, as I am fairly fickle.

May I recommend a Chocolate Cherry Frangipane Tart while you’re waiting?

 

Cherry Chocolate Frangipane 8

 

Overnight Oats #4 – Roasted Rhubarb with Orange

Overnight Oats with Rhubarb 1

For today’s overnight oats post we’re talking rhubarb and what better accompaniment to rhubarb than orange. They play off each other so beautifully and the pink and orange colour combo is just gorgeous.

The orange, with the help of a touch of brown sugar, counteracts the tartness of the rhubarb and makes for a perfect, zingy contrast to the creamy oats. It takes a little longer to prep the night before, but keeps in the fridge for a good few days, so it’s worth a little effort.

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Overnight Oats with Roasted Rhubarb and Orange
Makes enough rhubarb for 2 servings

For the basic overnight oats recipe click here

Rhubarb ingredients:
200g (1 1/2 to 2 sticks) rhubarb
1 tbsp honey
Juice and zest of half an orange

Preheat the oven to 175C / 160C / 350F.

Slice the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces and put it in a baking tray (with sides) and pour over the honey, zest and orange juice and give it a little stir.

Cover the baking tray loosely with foil and bake the rhubarb for 20-30 minutes until soft but holding its shape.

Once cooled pop the rhubarb in a bowl in the fridge and serve over your basic overnight oats.

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Marcona Almond, Cherry & Chocolate Blondies

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Blimey these blondies are good. They’re so good that I only had time to snap a couple of incredibly dull pictures before I had to tuck in, my willpower falling to the wayside.

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The secret here, as in a lot of good things, is the almond butter. In much the same way as it adds richness to a bowl of overnight oats, here it adds an irresistible depth of flavour that blondies can sometimes lack.

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Crunchy almonds, dried sour cherries and chunks of deeply dark chocolate add just the right amount of interest and variety to every bite. (Chocolate, almonds and cherries are always a fantastic combo, see also my cherry chocolate frangipane tart, ridiculously good.) (continue reading…)

Overnight Oats #3 – Roasted Strawberries

Overnight Oats and Roasted Strawberries 1

For this week’s overnight oats episode I took a note out of Tracy Shutterbean’s book and roasted some strawberries.

Roasting strawberries intensifies their flavour, adding a cheeky splash of balsamic vinegar gives them an amazing tang and maple syrup provides just the right level of stickiness.  This method is especially effective if you’ve accidentally bought a duff batch of watery flavourless strawberries, it really perks them up.

The strawberries cut through the richness of overnight oats beautifully, but I couldn’t resist adding to the richness with a little almond butter. Any excuse!

I recommend you prepare a big batch of these strawberries as there are so many uses for them, such as Tracy’s gorgeous snack idea of popping them on graham crackers topped with ricotta. Heaven!

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Overnight Oats with Roasted Strawberries
Strawberries from Shutterbean

You can find the basic overnight oats recipe here

Ingredients:
450g strawberries, hulled and sliced in half lengthways
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 175C / 160C Fan / 350F and line a baking tray (with sides) with parchment paper.

Mix all of the ingredients except the strawberries in a small bowl. Pop the strawberries into a larger bowl and pour over the liquid. Toss the strawberries around to coat them thoroughly.

Remove the strawberries from the liquid and spread them out over the baking sheet, then dispose of the remaining liquid. Roast them for 40-45 minutes. They should stay fresh in the fridge for about a week.

Enjoy!

 

Spring Vegetable Quinoa with Feta & Mint

Spring Veg Quinoa 1

Spring is indisputably here, and one of the best thing about it, apart from sunshine, lighter evenings and Game of Thrones, has to be the arrival of spring vegetables and the queen of them all, asparagus. (Yes, asparagus is a girl, and I may have been carried away by the Game of Thrones thing)

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For me a quinoa salad is just a way of getting as many different vegetables, and usually some feta, onto my plate at the same time as possible, (see also roasted vegetable & feta quinoa) so it’s the obvious accompaniment to the glorious new selection of vegetables. It’s also insanely easy to throw together.

Spring Veg Quinoa 3

Crunchy and spicy radishes, freshly shelled broad beans (do you call these fava beans in the US? My spell check really doesn’t like it!) and chargrilled asparagus mixed through some quinoa and topped with crumbled feta and finely sliced mint leaves. It’s fresh, light and the perfect spring lunch, even better served with a side of mustardy watercress leaves. (continue reading…)