Friday 20 December 2013

chocolate snaps

Thank you to Nigel Slater for this ripper recipe. (Isn't he fabulous?)  Chocolate salty snaps are a great little pick-me-up, and a perfect small gift at Xmas time.
So- grab:
200g. dark choc
200g. white choc
nuts and dried fruits- I can't really give a measurement as it depends on how much you like and how many discs you make but I would say a good handful of nuts,  and of fruit
Use any nuts that you like- I like walnuts/pecans or macadamias;  chop 'em up into small pieces and throw into a bowl.   Then add the dried chopped fruit- I used sour dried cherries and cranberries.   Mix them together.
Melt the dark chocolate in a pyrex jug- pour out enough chocolate on a tray lined with baking paper to make a disc spanning about 6 cm, and keep pouring till all the chocolate is used up.  You will end up with about 8 discs.
Sprinkle the nuts and fruit over the discs, then throw on a dusting of crumbled-up organic rosebuds and a wee bit of sea salt flakes (this gives a real fillip to the taste).  Do the same with the white chocolate.  Refrigerate for about half an hour.  Hide them away so the rest of the family doesn't eat them all at once!
white choc ready to melt; rosebuds crumbled up, and fruit and nuts chopped

lovely stuff now on top of the dark choc discs

white choc waiting to be spread out

white choc discs also now topped and ready to pop in the fridge

yummy snaps all done!

very moreish I must say!

Tuesday 17 December 2013

cooking classes at Vanilla Zulu

I have been cooking since I was a wee one. Mum taught me how to make bechamels, cakes, roasts etc from an early age. Now many years later, I am still at it- and loving it- as Maxwell Smart would say.  But it is always good to do a refresher course so I recently enrolled in a chef's skills course at the local cooking school -Vanilla Zulu run by the charming Mel.   She is super entertaining, lively and informative and you won't be sorry if you attend any of her courses.
Classes cover meat, seafood, breads, pastries, desserts and so on.  You get to meet like-minded people, and eat great food that you have helped to prepare and cook.  It is really fun and you learn alot, so if you are keen on food and cooking, one of Mel's many courses on various cuisines including Mediterranean, Thai, Italian and Hawaiian are the go.  Just watch out for the sharp knives!
the lovely Mel handing out the Hawaiian cocktails

this little fella was gorgeous; he looked beautiful and tasted yum!

potatoes all decked out in flowery glory

the hugest prawns you have ever seen!

this pineapple tart was really yummy- except for the bit where I cut into my finger and nearly fainted at the sight of my own blood!

Mel slicing up the tart-  no blood!

Tuesday 10 December 2013

home made vanilla extract

Today was the day to strain and bottle the vanilla extract I first put up some weeks ago.   It has been happily macerating -if that's the right word- on my kitchen bench for weeks and as a friend was dropping by today to visit, I decided I had better get the stuff into a bottle (as it is a Xmas gift for his wife).
It smells divine, and all the vanilla pods and seeds have gone incredibly sticky and almost slimey to the touch; not an unpleasant sensation but I just hadn't realised that would happen.  So it is now bottled up and ready to go- hopefully into some lovely baked goods.  I made about half a litre, so a few more friends and relatives will be receiving little bottles of this dark and delicious potion.
liquid has been strained thru a brand new chux-look at those seeds!

all ready to be bottled

the old Queen extract bottle is being re-used-handy!

here it is- off to its new home.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Black Forest biscuits

Crikey- as a certain crocodile hunter used to the heck did it get this close to Xmas?  So I am now in the baking, wrapping, card writing, gift buying, tree decorating madness mode of December.  As I am sure are the rest of you!  And therefore as the aliens who control my brain instructed me to do,  I made some black forest biscuits on the weekend.  I used damn expensive American sour dried cherries but I reckon you could happily use much cheaper and more accessible craisins (dried cranberries).  You can peruse the recipe- here.  And I had an idea that you could just as easily do this in the food processor rather than beating it by hand as I had to (as I have not got a mixmaster type thingy).  I reckon it would work out just as well.  Anyway my arms got a work out.    So bake and eat with glee!
starting to beat the bejabbers out of the sugars and butter

sifting my dry ingredients to go into the batter

delicious sour dried cherries and choc drops

this is one heck of a dry mixture so keep mixing!

oh yum- biscuits just out of the oven.!  or maybe they were about to go in?!