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Adorable teddy bear sugar cookies

It’s no secret, I have an absolute obsession with Pinterest. I can idle away hours scanning through the images and picking up inspiration for recipes, tips and ideas. Back in September it was Jemima’s first birthday, so I began searching party ideas on Pinterest in the July… I was a rather excited mother. After all, it was her very first Birthday. I happened across this teddy bear picnic idea and I actually knew someone who had hosted this type of party before, so the idea was cast and I embarked on two months of party planning.

Who knew planning a party for a one year old would be so fun? Obviously from a food point of view the pressure was off as a traditional teddy bear picnic would mean everyone bringing their own lunch along. This meant that I was able to decide what food to offer without the pressure of having to provide a huge variety of sandwiches, meats and sweets etc. And, I didn’t have the worry of catering for exact numbers.

Having seen the adorable teddy bear picnic ideas on Pinterest I just had to decide which ones to run with. I’d never attempted iced sugar cookies before so it seemed a fitting time to try. I’ll be honest and say this is by no means a quick task and it requires a certain level of patience – the kind of patience I don’t normally have. However, it being Jemima’s first Birthday it warranted all the time and effort.

Everyone seemed to be greatly impressed with the effort . The food on the day turned out great and everything was so fitting with the theme. Richard’s niece Emily is an amazing baker and made Jemima a wonderful teddy bear Birthday cake – she’s also a blogger so you can check out her amazing creation here.

If teddy bears are not your thing, you could of course make any design you like. With Christmas just around the corner I’ll certainly be trying my hand at some festive designs. Most of us have made biscuits before right? So we know about making a dough that won’t spread in the oven meaning we lose the desired shape? Well, if you are shaking your head, don’t worry… there are a couple of super simple tips that will guarantee your biscuits are perfect every time.

Top tips for perfect sugar cookies

  • Don’t use baking powder – even if a recipe states you should
  • Don’t open the oven – even if you’re really tempted to check
  • Roll the dough out so it’s no thicker than a one pound coin
  • Place the cut out biscuits on a baking tray lined with parchment paper
  • Chill the dough for 45 minutes in the fridge/freezer

Chocolate teddy bear sugar cookie recipe

Iced teddy bear biscuits (sugar cookies)
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Sweet
Prep time: 
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Ingredients
  • 230g softened butter
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60g coco powder
  • 300g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl
  3. Add the egg and vanilla, mix to combine
  4. Add the dry ingredients and bring together using a wooden spoon
  5. Turn the mixture out on to a floured work surface and knead until you have formed a smooth dough (try not to handle it too much).
  6. Flatten out the dough, wrap in cling and place in the fridge for a minimum of 45 minutes
  7. Remove from fridge and roll out to the thickness of one pound coin
  8. Use a cookie cutter to cut out your cookie shapes
  9. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet
  10. Place in the center of the pre-heated oven and bake for 8 minutes

 

 

To make the flood icing

Outline the biscuits using thinned royal icing mixed with food coloring of choice (I actually used coco powder for my teddy bears), use a thin piping nozzle. Once you have piped the outline, immediately flood the rest of the biscuit with icing using a slightly thicker nozzle. Use a wooden skewer (or a scribe if you have one) to evenly distribute the icing. Gently tap the biscuit to settle the icing. . If using other colours such as the black and white you can add these after the initial colour has set for about 30 minutes. Allow 8-12 hours for the icing to thoroughly set

I found YouTube a great help when learning how to flood the icing.

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Persian Love Cake and a Marriage Proposal

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Heavily spiced and beautifully balanced – Iranian cuisine is definitely a new interest of mine. I was lucky enough to attend a Persian dinner party on Saturday with some good friends. I was also fortunate enough to receive a marriage proposal! Of course I accepted – so this has definitely been a Valentine’s weekend to remember. In fact, it has been the best weekend I’ve had for a long time – the food was exceptional, the proposal unexpected and the hangover, well rather inevitable.

I’m not one to attend a dinner party empty handed. Of course taking wine is perfectly expectable, but whipping up a delicious, decadent dessert is even better. Given that the theme for the evening was Persian food, I set about researching some recipes and I found myself confused as to why I hadn’t discovered Iranian food sooner. It all looks so wonderfully unfamiliar and exotic – that excites me a little. There is certainly nothing boring about cardamom, saffron and rose water all rolled into the one recipe. I stumbled upon a recipe for a Persian Love Cake on the brilliant Twigg Studios blog written by Aimee Twigger. What better recipe for a Persian dinner party on Valentine’s weekend?

There is something quite wonderful about a cake decorated with crimson rose petals and bright green pistachios – it’s a real show-stopper. I couldn’t quite believe how well it complemented the Raan (roast leg of lamb in yogurt that Bryan cooked) with spiced side dishes of spinach, cauliflower, rice and potatoes.

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Our friend Bryan’s surname is Haines and we call him the Haines Manual, because he is a endless fountain of knowledge. I asked him for the Raan recipe and he bought out this book, the cover fell apart from the pages as I opened it – obviously a rather old and well used book. Bryan tells me it has many a delicious Iranian recipe – The Yoghurt Book by Arto Der Haroutunian (Syrian born). The book was first published in 1983, but I’m hoping I can find a copy online. I will have a go at the dish myself at some point and share the recipe with you, once I have photographs to go with it.

The Persian Love Cake was made with many of the same ingredients, cardamom, saffron, almonds and complemented the meal beautifully. You can view the recipe here.

I still can’t quite believe that I’m engaged – let the wedding planning commence.

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Blueberry & Almond Pancakes

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Ordinarily, I’m a fan of pancakes with sugar and lemon. It’s reminiscent of my childhood, when mum and dad would goof around in the kitchen and more of the pancakes would end up on the wall, the ceiling and the floor than on the plate. But we’ve all made bog standard pancakes right?

If you are one of those people who buy the ‘pancake mix’ already made, this is the part where you should hang your head in shame, for you are essentially buying overpriced flour. Pancakes are not difficult to make – flour, eggs, milk and vegetable oil. It doesn’t get much simpler than that, does it?

We decided to make our pancakes over the weekend, for one of two reasons really. We had Richard’s children and we knew they would want a piece of the action, and secondly because I barely have time to feed myself in the week now, let alone lark about making pancakes and photographing them for my blog. Oh and of course, so that I can strategically post this on my blog the day before Pancake Day.

We managed to find a spare hour on Sunday, so we set about making them; of course everyone wanted something different. I had to be the odd one out and decide I didn’t want plain pancakes. I wanted to make something a little more interesting – I decided on American style blueberry and almond pancakes. They are that bit more substantial, not great for the diet mind. This recipe makes around 10 pancakes.

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Blueberry & Almond Pancakes
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 50g plain flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150ml milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 150g fresh blueberries
  • 1tbsp powdered sweetener
  • Maple syrup (optional)
Instructions
  1. Separate the egg whites from the yolks, placing each in their own large mixing bowl. Add the almonds, flour, baking powder and milk to the yolk. Mix well to form a thick batter.
  2. Add the salt to the egg whites and whisk until you have stiff peaks. Fold this into the batter.
  3. Heat a pan on a medium heat. Using a ladle pour your batter into the pan, topping the pancake with 5-6 blueberries. Once the pancake starts to look golden around the edges, flip the pancake using a spatula. These pancakes only take about 1 minute on each side in a hot pan.
  4. In a separate saucepan, place 100g blueberries over a high heat, sprinkle with 1 tbsp powered sweetener and allow to cook until the berries have burst and are a deep purple liquid.
  5. Serve the pancakes stacked and drizzled with blueberry sauce. You can also add a splash of maple syrup if it takes your fancy.

 

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Crunchy Coconut Biscuits

Generally speaking, I’m not the best baker. In fact, if truth be told, I’m terrible. Richard often makes fun of the fact that most of my bakes end up with some deformity or another – soggy bottom, flat cake – you see where this is going. For someone who has such a passion for food and cooking I suck at baking! That said, I persevere time and again – I figure one of these days I’ll create something wonderful.

This week I decided to make coconut biscuits. If you’ve ever tasted coconut rings, they are fairly similar, perhaps just a little crunchier. They actually turned out well, much to my own surprise – so I thought I’d share the recipe with you. Coconut is one of my favourite ingredients, it’s the versatility of it that I love – use it in sweet and savoury dishes, either way it’s delicious.

This recipe is an adaptation of Coconut Biscuits from a book called Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits, which despite it’s very un-snappy title is a wonderfully illustrated book packed with fabulous looking (and tasting) biscuits. The book has everything from old fashioned favourites, such as custard creams and bourbons to iced baby shower, birthday, Easter and Christmas themed biscuits.

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Coconut Biscuits
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Sweet
Prep time: 
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Delicate coconut flavoured biscuits with a crunchy texture
Ingredients
  • 350g Plain flour
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 140g granulated sugar
  • 100g desiccated coconut
  • 125g butter, diced
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Place the flours, sugar and coconut into a mixing bowl and stir to combine the ingredients.
  2. Add the cubed butter and tub together with the dry ingredients using the tips of your fingers until you have a fine breadcrumb consistency.
  3. Make a well in the centre and add the egg and golden syrup, bring the mixture together using your hands, drawing in the flour from the sides of the bowl until you have a dough that comes together.
  4. Transfer the dough to your worktop and flatten into a disc, cover with cling film and chill for 20 minutes before rolling out.
  5. Preheat your oven to 160 degrees (fan). Place baking paper onto a baking sheet ready for the biscuits.
  6. Roll out the dough until it is the thickness of a pound coin, cut out your biscuits using a cookie cutter and bake for 13-14 minutes (until lightly golden).

And of course, no biscuit would be complete without a hot beverage for dunking…

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Miss Friday is back with a delicious peace offering of Blueberry Muffins

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Roll up and accept my peace offering of delicious blueberry muffins! Evidently, it’s been too long – being pregnant has turned me into a strange being. I’ve struggled with eating to be honest, and this heat hasn’t helped things much. I spent the first three months being very sick  and now I’m finding it hard to regain my old appetite. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had more than a healthy appetite, so I guess cutting back a bit won’t hurt. I’ve certainly lost a few pounds (without the baby weight that is of course).

That said, I can’t complain really, everything seems to be going rather well at the minute and I’m slowly starting to feel like the old Miss Friday again! I only have ten weeks left until I can meet my baby and I’m rather excited about that. Between work and baby preparations, I’ve been getting back into the swing of things in the kitchen, much to Richard’s relief. I think he was becoming worried I’d lost my touch and he’d be cooking his own meals forever more. He has lost over half a stone in weight – claims it’s because I’ve not been cooking for him as much. No one likes a skinny man, so it’s about time I got back to my usual schedule and made him happy again.

I’m hoping that my absence hasn’t done too much to damage to my blogging stats. The trouble is, trying to keep up with a regular blogging schedule and working, and being pregnant is easier said than done. Although, I’ll be on maternity leave from mid August, so I hope to be able to re-establish a regular pattern of posts for you lovely people.

Seeing as I’ve been away for too long, I thought it was only fair to come with my tail between my legs and offer this Blueberry Muffin recipe as a peace offering – when you taste them I’m certain you’ll forgive me. They went down a treat with the family. Having posted a snap to my Facebook page I was then bombarded with requests “Can you make me some?” or “Oh, these look nice, can we sample them?”. It’s fair to say this recipe was a hit.

As unlikely as it is, if you’re not a blueberry muffin fan, the basic mixture can be used for many other muffin recipes, omit the blueberries and chuck in whatever takes your fancy. Why not try pecan and chocolate chip, or raspberry and white chocolate? You really could try any combination based on your preferred taste.

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Blueberry Muffins
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Baking
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Delicious blueberry muffins, perfect for breakfast or with afternoon tea. The blueberries will burst and ooze out delicious juices making these muffins look utterly irresistible!
Ingredients
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 145g caster sugar
  • 170ml semi skimmed milk
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 150ml vegetable oil
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120g fresh blueberries
Instructions
  1. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases and preheat your oven to 180⁰C (160⁰C if using a fan oven).
  2. Add all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl (except the blueberries). Mix until well combined. Gently stir in the blueberries.
  3. Divide mixture into the 12 muffin cases and bake for 25 minutes until risen and slightly golden. The blueberries will have burst and oozed out their delicious juices making these muffins look utterly irresistible!