lemon-cupcakes

Lemon Cupcakes

I had a rather eventful Saturday, baking batches of cupcakes for a charity fundraising night at my local pub. Having agreed to bake around 70 cupcakes, I was delighted that my friend Sam had offered to help me, she wanted to brush up on her baking skills and I was only too happy to share the load. We decided upon three kinds of cupcakes, lemon, chocolate and coconut and raspberry. The recipes for the coconut and raspberry and chocolate ones have featured on my blog before and can be found by clicking on the links below, so I thought I’d share the lemon cupcake recipe, which comes courtesy of Mary Berry.
The charity night was in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support and we raised a wonderful £647 from the door entry, raffle and cupcakes which I think is just wonderful for a small local pub. This is the first time I’ve put my cooking skills to use supporting a charity event, and it felt great to help raise money and the feedback was really positive. I’ll certainly volunteer in future to bake for any other events.

Click here for Mary’s Lemon Cupcakes Recipe!

Raspberry & Coconut Cupcakes

 

 

Chocolate Cupcakes

 
 
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Hot & Sour Asian Broth

A very quick, simple recipe for you folks that love Asian flavours – you’ll be amazed at just how speedy this wonderful fusion of flavours is. It’s the perfect winter warmer, the heat from the chillies and ginger will warm you right through.
This is the second recipe for a hot and sour broth I’ve posted on Miss Friday’s Feast; it’s such a good dish, with so many delicious Asian flavours I didn’t think you’d mind another recipe that is an improvement on my last one. This recipe brings much more pungent, vibrant and fresh flavours, and makes for a perfect light meal or lunch. It’s perfect for a diet as it doesn’t compromise on flavour; in fact it’s overloaded with it and will certainly leave you feeling as if you’ve had a healthy, but filling meal. Rich was a huge fan, he loved it, which is always a good sign.       
I’ve not been very precise with the ingredient quantities here as it’s really a case of tasting as you go along. Some will prefer this a little sweeter, so should add less fish sauce and lime juice, whilst others (me) will love the salty tang of the fish sauce and fresh zing of the lime juice. It’s all a matter of personal taste, so be sure to have a slurp of the broth a few times throughout the cooking process. This is something you learn to do more and more, taste your food as you go along, it’s really important as some unbalanced flavours are hard to amend once the dish is finished. This recipe serves 2.

Hot & Sour Asian Broth 

Handful of king prawns
Handful of dried mushrooms, soaked and drained
Handful of freshly chopped coriander 
500ml chicken stock
2 nests of noodles (rice noodles or Pad Thai)
1 tbsp chilli oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
Small knob of ginger, minced
1 stalk of lemon grass, finely chopped
2 green finger chillies, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
Juice of half a lime
Start by boiling the kettle and soaking the noodles in boiling water.
Heat the chilli oil in a small casserole pot, add the shallots and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chillies, continue to cook for 3 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and prawns, cook for 5 minutes until the prawns are pink and the mushrooms softened, and then add the fish sauce, lime juice, soy and sugar. Stir well and cover with the chicken stock.
Turn the heat down to a simmer and transfer the noodles to the broth. Simmer for 15 minutes and serve in warmed bowls with a sprinkling of coriander

If you enjoy my recipes then please do ‘like’ my Facebook page to keep up to speed with the latest culinary delights to come out of my kitchen. Each post features a photo and a link back to the blog where you’ll find the easy to follow recipes.  
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Steak & Ale Pie



Bored of the age old steak dinner for Valentine’s Day? Why not impress your valentine with this super tasty steak and ale pie? If you’re planning on spending a romantic evening in with a bottle of wine and a delicious homemade treat then give this delicious pie a whirl, I promise you’ll impress you’re other half. If you’d rather not spend the whole evening cooking then you can use a readymade pastry, but make it yourself and you’ll really notice the difference, and possibly earn a few extra brownie points. What could be better than a man making pie and getting covered in flour? I digress.
This recipe serves six, so there will be plenty of leftovers (which is fortunate, because once you’ve tried you’ll want more and more). Once made, you can freeze the pie in individual portions ready for lunches or a quick weeknight dinner. You can also freeze any leftover pastry for up to one month, just wrap it in cling film and pop it in the freezer for another time.
The best part about this pie is in the decoration, of course for a valentines pie I perhaps should have used a heart shaped cutter, but never mind, stars it is. You can get creative with your pastry cutting skills, maybe even spell out your partners name in pastry… too tacky? Okay, moving on.






Ingredients:
* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 450g casserole steak
* 230g pack of smoked bacon, roughly chopped
* 4 carrots, roughly chopped
* 1 large onions, roughly chopped
* 2 tbsp plain flour
* 2 tsp sugar
* 300ml dark ale (a cheap own brand is fine)
* 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
* 400ml beef stock
* 1 bouquet garni
* 300g mushrooms, halved
* 650g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
* 250g cold baking butter, diced
* 1 egg, beaten
Method:

Heat oven to 160C. In a large casserole dish, fry the steak and bacon in a little olive oil until browned all over, set aside. Add the chopped carrots and onions and more oil if necessary, cook on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, then add the sugar and flour, stir well.
Add the steak and bacon back to the pan and stir well. Pour over the ale, Worcestershire sauce and stock, season well and add the bouquet garni, simmer for a few minutes before putting a lid on and transferring to the oven. Cook for 2-3 hours.
Meanwhile, measure out your flour and dice the butter, crumble them together with your (clean) fingers using a rubbing motion between your thumb, forefinger and middle finger. Add a pinch of salt. Once the butter and flour are combined, slowly add ice water and knead to form the pastry (I found that about 180mls did the trick). Wrap the pastry in cling film and pop it in the fridge while your pie cooks.
Once the steak is cooked, remove from the oven and turn the oven temperature up to 200C. Transfer the steak mixture to a pie dish and leave to cool while you roll out your pastry.  Roll out the pastry to a size that will cover the pie (you’ll want to leave another inch around the side). Pop your pastry on to the pie and cut around the edge, tucking the pastry under to form a seal. Brush the top with the egg wash and cut out your decoration. Add this to the top and brush again with egg. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
Serve with steamed vegetables and mashed, jacket or roast potatoes.  
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Stir fried Garlic Beef with Oyster Sauce

Hoo Hing’s Chinese Supermarket


Have you ever been to a Hoo Hing’s Chinese supermarket? I had the pleasure of visiting the one in Enfield on Sunday, which was rather exciting. Really exciting actually, for a foodie it’s like an Aladdin’s cave of Chinese ingredients. You’d love it, assuming you like Chinese food that is. There is just so much to look at, it’s overwhelming really, with a hundred different sweet chilli and soy sauces, noodles and cooking utensils. I left with a receipt as long as my arm, if not longer, and still I hadn’t spent a fortune. Who knew you could buy 60 vegetable spring rolls for £2.65? I know what you’re thinking, I bet they were awful, but they are actually delicious.   
Historically, I’ve never been a fan of Chinese food, finding it all too gloopy and stodgy, often feeling like I had a hangover after eating it, seriously! I’ve always preferred Indian and Thai food, who doesn’t love a curry? But, I’m putting this down to bad experiences at poor Chinese restaurants. However, I’ve recently decided that it’s these bad restaurants that I dislike rather than Chinese cuisine itself. So, in an attempt to discover delicious authentic Chinese food I’ve decided I’d be better attempting to make my own, which prompted my visit to Hoo Hings Supermarket.
So, with my thinking cap on and a cupboard stocked to the rafters with tasty new ingredients, I set about making a delicious little beef dish with a fillet steak I picked up in Aldi for a few pounds, bargain! I marinated the beef in a little garlic oil, fresh garlic, ginger and some oyster sauce, before adding it to a hot wok and adding chillies, spring onions and green peppers and dried mushrooms (these had been soaked first). The almost sinister looking thick and sticky oyster sauce has such a wonderful sweetness that works beautifully with the steak and green peppers. Leaving it all to marinate couldn’t be easier, stir frying it takes minutes and you’ve a delicious, guilt free Chinese meal to enjoy in the comfort of your own kitchen without spending a fortune.
Before you read the list of ingredients and panic about the monosodium glutamate (MSG), let me just mention that it’s really a small amount and you use it instead of salt. All Chinese food, takeaway or otherwise will have MSG added; it’s a flavour enhancer and it really does make the world of difference – and used in moderation it’s completely fine. In fact, you’ll be surprised at just how many foods contain MSG. Next time you reach for a packet of crisps check the list of ingredients, they’ll most likely contain it – that’s why they are so morish!

Stir-fried Garlic Beef with Oyster Sauce

Serves 2

* 1 fillet steak, sliced thinly
5 tbsp Oyster sauce
2 tbsp garlic oil
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp of monosodium glutamate
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated
Knob of ginger, peeled and grated
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
Large handful of fresh bean sprouts
Half a green pepper, roughly chopped
Handful of dried mushrooms, soaked and drained
2 nests of egg noodles (thick)
1. Start by marinating the beef in a dish with the oil, soy, oyster sauce, MSG, garlic, ginger and green chillies – leave this for as long as possible, but half hour will suffice.
2. Heat a little oil in a wok (over a high heat) and add the green peppers and half of the spring onions stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add the beef and marinade and stir fry until the beef is cooked to your liking, only a couple of minutes for me. Add the bean sprouts and mushroom, stir well and continue cooking for another minute until the vegetables have softened.
3. Serve the beef on a platter, garnished with the remaining spring onion and a bowl of egg noodles on the side.
This dish is delicious washed down with an ice cold Chinese Tsingtao beer.


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Eggs Benedict (Hollandaise Sauce)










































How do you like your eggs in the morning?


I call myself a foodie, yet it struck me that I’d never attempted to make hollandaise, which quite frankly is absurd. I remember watching a series of MasterChef where one of the initial challenges was for the chefs to make a hollandaise sauce, many of them failed miserably, yet they were able to create stunning dishes that I wouldn’t even dream of being able to recreate. So, it seems that however much of a culinary expert you are the basics can sometimes get lost in the hype of creating new recipes and being all too innovative with food. Let’s face it; the basics are as important as the fancy stuff.

In all honesty, I’m slightly embarrassed to say that the technique of making hollandaise (the thought of it splitting) has always put me off, but I decided it was about time I stopped shying away from such thoughts and had a go. I’m amazed at how easy it was – and it didn’t split (pats self on back in congratulatory manner). Harrah me!
Whisking together the eggs yolks, vinegar and water is certainly the easy part, whisking only until light and frothy, it’s when you add heat to the equation that you seem to think it’s going to explode before your very eyes. Okay, that is a slight exaggeration, but my point is the thought is scarier than actually getting stuck in and having a go. You slowly whisk in the butter until you have a thick pale yellow sauce – et voila hollandaise! It really is that simple.
Ordinarily, when Saturday morning comes around I think of one thing only – eggs, normally boiled with soldiers, sometimes scrambled or poached, but never with hollandaise. From now on though, I’ll be found in the kitchen lording it up with my eggs Benedict – well, every now and then anyway. It’s the perfect breakfast in so many ways, not least because it really sets you up for the day, all that protein keeps you going for hours before feeling hungry again – perfect if you’ve a busy day lined up. Granted, it’s not exactly a healthy breakfast with all the butter, but let’s be honest, weekends were invented for indulgence, especially around the breakfast table.
I didn’t make Rich breakfast as he was sleeping off a hangover and I didn’t imagine hollandaise would sit well in his stomach. But, having seen the photos I took, he was in fact quite jealous of my delicious breakfast and has requested I have another bash at making it again soon. I guess this one is going to become a weekend staple in my household. This recipe serves two.
What have you shied away from making before, only to find it was so much simpler than you’d imagined?
Ingredients:
2 eggs
Small packet of smoked ham
1 English muffin, halved
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tbsp freshly snipped chives
For the Hollandaise:
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp water
125g softened butter, cubed
Lemon juice, to taste
Salt and ground black pepper
Method:
To make the hollandaise sauce, add the egg yolks to a heat proof glass bowl and whisk until light and frothy. Place the white wine vinegar and water into a small saucepan and reduce by half, allow to cool slightly.
Place the glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering eater and add the reduced vinegar. Ensure that the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the glass bowl. Whisk vigorously until the mixture is light and airy. Gradually add the butter a cube at a time, whisking the whole time. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice and keep warm.
Poach the eggs for 3-4 minutes and toast the muffin halves.

To serve, butter the muffins, place a couple of slices of ham on each, followed by the poached egg. Season with salt and pepper then pour over the sauce and garnish with the snipped chives.