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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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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: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
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: 
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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!

 

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Raspberry & Coconut Celebration Cake

It’s the truth universally acknowledged that it isn’t a birthday without a cake, and I’ve been hard at work creating the perfect celebration cake. The combination of coconut and raspberries is something I adore and here it works beautifully. I’ve made coconut and raspberry cupcakes a few times, which are delicious, but a birthday calls for one big cake, rather than lots of individual ones. I hope you’ll agree that the cake looks really impressive. I guess this doesn’t have to be just a birthday cake recipe, you could make this cake over the Christmas time too.

I’ve used two layers of cake, but you could always cut the two cakes into four if you wanted more layers. My boyfriend was disappointed that I made this cake for my auntie. He moaned that I always make other people the ‘really nice ones’ – so I guess I’ll have to make another one soon. Coconut is his favourite!

You might have noticed that the ingredient quantities are quite large, that’s because I wanted a very large cake, a smaller one just wouldn’t have looked as good – and probably wouldn’t have been enough to go around.

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Raspberry & Coconut Celebration Cake
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Coconut & Raspberry Celebration Cake
Cuisine: Desserts
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The perfect Birthday cake (for adults)!
Ingredients
  • For the cake:
  • 220g butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 110g desiccated coconut
  • 440g self raising flour
  • Splash of milk
  • For the icing:
  • 125g softened butter
  • 300g cream cheese (I used light/low-fat)
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g flaked coconut (or desiccated if you can’t find flaked)
  • 300g of raspberries
  • 100g of blueberries (optional)
  • About 4 heaped tbsp raspberry conserve (or jam)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C and line two 20cm round cake tins (using greaseproof paper) and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, vanilla extract and milk. Fold in the coconut and flour.
  3. Pour the cake mixture evenly between the two tins and pop into the oven for 30 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
  4. Once the cakes are cooked, turn them out onto a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
  5. Meanwhile, make the icing by creaming the butter, vanilla extract, cream cheese and icing sugar together in a bowl.
  6. Once the cakes have cooled completely, spread one with the raspberry jam and the other with a little of the cream cheese icing, sandwich the two cakes together. Then using the rest of the icing, ice the cake using a pallet knife, remember to do the sides too.
  7. Using your hands start to press the flaked coconut all over the cake, ensuring that the whole thing is covered. Then dip each raspberry into the icing and place on top of the cake until the top is completely covered, scatter over the blueberries if using.

 

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Gingerbread Muffins

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I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to post this recipe just yet, I mean it is only the beginning of November, but seeing as Food Network are already showing festive specials and my Facebook news feed is filling up with all things Christmas I decided that it isn’t too early after all. So this is a recipe for those of you who (like me) don’t mind Christmas being shoved at you from early November. We are big on Christmas in my house, in fact we love it, from wrapping gifts, choosing a massive Christmas tree and decorating it to baking some delicious goodies, we know how to celebrate the festive season.

In some respects Christmas has come early to our house anyway, I’ve baked about two hundred mince pies over the last week to give away as samples at a Christmas open day and have already taken lots of orders for them. I’m certainly going to have a busy December.

Apart from the obvious mince pies, there are some things you just associate with Christmas and gingerbread is definitely one of them. The aromatic blend of mixed spice; cinnamon and ground ginger give the kind of warmth only Christmas could, which makes them perfect for Christmas morning. They will make the whole house smell magical and the dry ingredients can be weighed out the night before – so you only need spend minutes whisking in the wet ingredients on Christmas morning. Let’s face it, we all have plenty to do Christmas morning without running around making muffins.

They make wonderful gifts for friends; package them up into pretty wicker baskets with beautiful red ribbons. But, whether you decide to eat them yourself or give them away to a lucky friend, they absolutely must be served with a pot of freshly brewed tea to really appreciate them.

This recipe makes 12 scrumptious muffins, but I’ve found that making two batches is sensible as they seem to disappear rather quickly. The children really seemed to enjoy them, which I imagine is because they taste like a gingerbread man, only in muffin form.

Gingerbread Muffins
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Cakes
Cuisine: Festive
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 250g softened butter
  • 220g dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200ml milk
  • 250g self raising flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy, and then add the vanilla extract.
  3. Add the spices, salt, milk and eggs, whisk for a couple of minutes until combined.
  4. Slowly add the flour whisking until combined into the mixture. It will be quite thick (this is normal). Evenly spoon the mixture into the muffin cases.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, leave to cool and dust with icing sugar.

 

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The Ultimate Festive Feast Give-away & Cranberry Mince Pies

Click here to enter the give-away

Okay, so the title might have been a bit misleading, I’m not providing you with Christmas dinner ready prepared and cooked, nor am I supplying you with free mince pies. This give-away is for a book called The Ultimate Festive Feast – and I’ve thrown in the fabulous mince pie recipe for good measure.

Do you get bored of the same old festive fair at Christmas time? Once you’ve had one mince pie… and all that!

Well, I bought this book a couple of years ago and I’ve used it for the past two Christmases – It has a wonderful array of recipes and has been my go-to kitchen handbook for the month of December. It gives you some really interesting takes on classic Christmas recipes, as well as some perfect party nibbles that will knock the socks off those horrible supermarket party selection things (you know the ones that come in the freezer section and all taste the same). It’s such a great find that I just had to order another copy and run a give-away. This post isn’t sponsored in anyway – it’s just a great book that I wanted to share with you.

The book features a fantastic collection of seasonal recipes that will see you through the festive period in the most delicious way possible. It has some great tips on planning and preparing your ultimate festive feast. Many wonderful chefs contributed to it, including Mary Berry, James Martin, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Michel Roux Jr to name a few. The book has various chapters to help guide you through the festive season, staring with a Christmas countdown and on to starters, mains, sides, stuffing, sauces and desserts. There are also recipes for leftovers, party food and drinks, as well as useful menu planning ideas.

If you would like to be in with a chance of winning a free copy of this fabulous festive book then fill in your details using this link. This give-away is open to UK residents only. Entries will close at 5pm on November the 23rd and a winner will be selected at random.

Good luck!

Cranberry Mince Pies by Gordon Ramsay (from the book)

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Click here for the recipe! 

Click on the following link to enter: Enter Now

The Ultimate Festive Feast Book Cover