Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Jamie's 30 minute brownies

While watching repeats of Jamie's 30 minute meals, he made these pretty easy looking brownies.  Now, I want to say how hard it has been to find the type of brownie recipe that isn't cake-like but more chewy like the brownies I usually made in the states.  A simple box from Betty Crocker always gave me nice chewy brownies.

In his show he uses a food processor to break up everything.  I used a water bath to melt the chocolate and butter together.  Also he says they bake in 12-15 minutes, but it took at least 30 minutes.  Instead of adding all the nuts and other stuff, I just added some marshmallows.  Overall, it turned out nice. Not as chewy as I would like it to be so I am still searching for that really good brownie recipe here in the UK.

2x100g bars of good quality dark chocolate
250g (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
200g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
6 level tablespoons of cocoa powder
4 heaped tablespoons of self-raising flour
2 tablespoons of crystallized ginger (optional)
4 eggs
zest of 1 orange (optional)

Smash the chocolate and chop the butter into rough chunks- you can put the chocolate and butter in a water bath to melt completely if you don't have a food processor. When they have both melted and soft, add 200g caster sugar, 6 level tablespoons of cocoa powder, 4 heaped tablespoons of self-raising flour, a pinch of salt and the crystallized ginger. Mix together with a hand held electric whisk. Crack in the eggs and whiz.
Grease a non-stick baking tray (approx. 32x26cm) with butter and place a piece of greaseproof paper. Use a spatula to spoon and spread the brownie mixture evenly into the tray of about 2.5 cm thickness. Grate over the zest of the orange (optional). Bake for about 30 mins at 180 deg C/350 degree F.

Monday, April 8, 2013

How to make icing

I found this simple recipe from BBC food to make icing for cakes. It is pretty sweet, but it does the job.  You'll get a nice icing you can use to cover a victoria sponge cake.


Preparation method

  1. Put the butter into a large bowl and beat with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Sift in the icing sugar, then work it into the butter, starting slowly at first, then beating more vigorously once all the sugar is combined.
  3. Add the milk and the vanilla, then beat until creamy and smooth.
  4. If the mixture is too stiff, add a little more milk.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all the icing sugar is incorporated. Continue to whisk until light and creamy.
  6. You can colour the buttercream at this stage, or add flavourings such as cocoa or melted chocolate, or lemon or orange zest.

Union Jack cake

In honor of getting my UK visa, I decided to bake a Union  Jack cake!  The cake is a victoria sponge, a traditional cake which is commonly served at tea times. The recipe is from Mary Berry, and I adjusted the quantity a tad so that I could use one block of butter.  For the icing I used this recipe from BBC food. I've posted it on my blog as well. This is probably one of the easiest and tastiest cakes to make. Everyone will love it. I also did a different design as well with just raspberries using the same cake and icing recipe.

Here is the recipe for the victoria sponge:

4 free range eggs
250g (1cup)caster sugar
250g (1cup)self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
250g (2 sticks) baking spread(margarine) or butter at room temperature plus extra to grease tins.
4 tablespoon raspberry jam

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. Grease and line 2 x 20cm/8in sandwich tins: use a piece of baking or silicone paper to rub a little baking spread or butter around the inside of the tins until the sides and base are lightly coated. Line the bottom of the tins with a circle of baking or silicone paper (to do this, draw around the base of the tin onto the paper and cut out).
  3. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, then add the sugar, flour, baking powder and baking spread.
  4. Mix everything together until well combined. The easiest way to do this is with an electric hand mixer, but you can use a wooden spoon. Put a damp cloth under your bowl when you’re mixing to stop it moving around. Be careful not to over-mix – as soon as everything is blended you should stop. The finished mixture should be of a soft ‘dropping’ consistency – it should fall off a spoon easily.
  5. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins: this doesn’t need to be exact, but you can weigh the filled tins if you want to check. Use a spatula to remove all of the mixture from the bowl and gently smooth the surface of the cakes.
  6. Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Don't be tempted to open the door while they're cooking, but after 25 minutes do look through the door to check them.
  7. The cakes are done when they’re golden-brown and coming away from the edge of the tins. Press them gently to check – they should be springy to the touch. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool in their tins for five minutes. Then run a palette or rounded butter knife around the inside edge of the tin and carefully turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack.
  8. To take your cakes out of the tins without leaving a wire rack mark on the top, put the clean tea towel over the tin, put your hand onto the tea towel and turn the tin upside-down. The cake should come out onto your hand and the tea towel – then you can turn it from your hand onto the wire rack.
  9. Set aside to cool completely.
  10. To assemble the cake, place one cake upside down onto a plate and spread it with plenty of jam. If you want to, you can spread over whipped cream too.
  11. Top with the second cake, top-side up. Frost with icing and decorate your fruit accordingly. If you're not making a union jack cake, just dust with icing sugar (powdered sugar).

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chicken pot pie

This week I decided to make some comfort food for my husband. So for dinner we had chicken pot pie.  I found an easy recipe from Nigella, but I tweaked it a bit. I added some green beans as well as sweet corn to the mix. Sadly I didn't have any bacon or marsala wine to use to I had to leave those things add. And I used store bought puff pastry which is so convenient.  Just roll out and use it.  Overall, I thought it turned out pretty nicely.  I managed to assemble it and pop it into the oven before I had to go pick up my hubby at the train station.  It was almost ready by the time we returned.  As we ate it, I added a drop of sriracha sauce to each bite. He kept staring at me as if I was an alien for using hot sauce.  Let's face it... a chicken pot pie is nice, but a bit hot sauce adds a nice kick to it.


  • 3 rashers streaky bacon, cut or scissored into 2.5cm strips
  • 1 teaspoon garlic oil
  • 125g chestnut (cremini) mushrooms, sliced into 5mm pieces
  • 250g chicken thigh fillets cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 25g flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon butter
  • 300ml hot chicken stock
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon Marsala
  • 1 x 375g (23 x 40cm) sheet all-butter ready-rolled puff pastry


Serves: 2
  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. In a heavy-based frying pan, fry the bacon strips in the oil until beginning to crisp, then add the sliced mushrooms and soften them in the pan with the bacon.
  2. Turn the chicken strips in the flour and thyme (you could toss them about in a freezer bag), and then melt the butter in the bacon-and-mushroom pan before adding the floury chicken and all the flour left in the bag. Stir around with the bacon and mushrooms until the chicken begins to colour.
  3. Pour in the hot stock and Marsala, stirring to form a sauce, and let this bubble away for about 5 minutes.
  4. Take two 300ml pie-pots (if yours are deeper, don't worry, there will simply be more space between contents and puff pastry top) and make a pastry rim for each one - by this I mean an approx. 1cm strip curled around the top of each pot. Dampen the edges with a little water to make the pastry stick.
  5. Cut a circle bigger than the top of each pie-pot for the lid, and then divide the chicken filling between the two pots.
  6. Dampen the rim of the pastry again and then pop on the lid of each pie, sealing the edges with your fingers or the underneath of the prongs of a fork.
  7. Cook the pies for about 20 minutes turning them around halfway through cooking. Once cooked, they should have puffed up magnificently.