Carrot Cake Cupcakes

CarrotCake Cupcakes

Wow it has been nearly two months since I last posted! What have I been doing! Well the answer is a lot of traveling, a lot of wedding planning, a lot of exercise, a lot of work – so in general a lot. All in all that equalled not a lot of blogging.

Now things seem to be busy, but at least I am at home so I can actually cook and photograph etc. so hopefully everything should be getting back to normal.

So let’s kick things with a good old fashioned cake.

You won’t believe me when I tell you before a few weeks ago I had never made a carrot cake. Yes, that is correct never. This is really odd for two reasons – One: I love to bake and two: I love carrot cake. Do a life time without making them is just bizarre. However now I have rectified this great wrong.

I really loved making these carrot cake cupcakes, they were so easy – especially if you have a food processor and they were delicious. Only problem is the fat content of the cream cheese icing – but every now and then this can be overlooked. Especially for the sake of good cake.

Baking may not suit the beautiful weather we are having right now, but these are too good not to share so without further ado here is the recipe for Carrot Cake Cupcakes.

Ingredients
200ml Sunflower Oil
4 free-range eggs
4 tbsp Clear Honey
8oz Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
4 Carrots Grated
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
2oz Raisins

2 ½oz Cream Cheese
2tbsp Butter
12oz Icing Sugar,
1tsp Vanilla Essence

Method
1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees
2. In a bowl whisk together the oil, eggs and honey
3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and mix
4. Grate the carrots and stir in with the raisins and vanilla essence, stir until everything is combined
5. Spoon into your cupcake cases and bake for 15-20mins
6. Remove from the oven and leave to cool
7. In the meantime beat together your cream cheese and butter until it is light and fluffy
8. Add the vanilla essence and then sift in the icing sugar – stir until everything is combined
9. Once your cupcakes have cooled ice and garnish with crushed walnuts

 And that is up. So if like me you have never given Carrot Cake ago I throughly recommend testing this out.

 

Seasonal Tastes: January

Seasonal Tastes January

With a new year comes new seasonal delights and whilst it may seem like we are living in a blanket of grey in truth allsorts of jewel toned foods are popping up everywhere. I love a bit of colour in January usually in the form of some sort of colourful jean, but when I can have rich and bright foods on my plate I am even happier.

So bring on the Oranges and Pomegranates.

I have already been mixing all of the above into my now daily salad, but have also been on the look out with some other options for these fantastic January treasures. So why not have a go at some of the below.

These Honeyed Carrots and Oranges looks delicious 

Although I am not much of a fan of Marmalade, there is something so attractive about making preserves so I may well have a go. 

These Pistachio, Orange and Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls look like the perfect Sunday Morning treat.

Pomegranates seem to make the perfect topping to so many yummy looking dishes. 

Like this Roasted Pink Radishes & Carrot Salad 

or the scrumptious looking Cardamon and Plum Trifle - definitely on my dessert list.

Also these Avocado and Pomegranate Crostini look like a simple and delicious snack

So after all that holiday excess, why not ease your way back into the new year with some simple weekend cooking.

images: Oranges found here, Pomegranates found here

Autumnal Dream Cake

pumpkin cake 2

Hurray for Halloween. I realised this halloween that I still think of myself as a child. This realisation came when I sat in my living room slightly scared of the witches in Hocus Pocus just incase they came and wanted to suck the life out of me. Then I realised they wouldn’t want to do that – they only go after children and I am not a child anymore. Oh well. Hopefully the fear will one day subside but until then it makes Halloween that little bit more exciting.

The other exciting thing about Halloween – Pumpkin Cake. Yes pumpkin cake, with toasted marshmallow filling and cinnamon icing. It sounds good right? Well it was pretty delicious, nice and moist and very autumnal. So if you have the odd pumpkin lying about and fancy having a go I thoroughly recommend it.

Pumpkin Cake

Makes 4 Mini cakes ( 12 cupcakes) (1 small cake)

Ingredients

4 oz Butter

4 oz Caster sugar

2 Eggs

5oz Self Raising flour

The flesh of half a Small Pumpkin – peel, chopped, steamed and mashed ( or you can buy canned pumpkin)

½ tsp Cinnamon

½tsp Nutmeg

For the filling:

3 handfuls of Mini Marshmallows

1oz Butter

3oz Icing Sugar

For topping

2 oz Butter

4oz Icing Sugar

¼ tsp Cinnamon

A handful of Pecans for decoration

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and prep your pumpkin
  2. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar
  3. Then whisk the eggs until they are light and fluffy
  4. Measure out your flour, cinnamon and nutmeg, add the eggs to your creamed butter and sugar bit by bit, intermixing with your flour if it gets too runny
  5. Add the rest of you flour and stir until everything is combine
  6. Finally carefully add your mashed pumpkin and stir gently to combine
  7. Pour into your cake tins and bake in the oven for about 25 mins (the timing differs depending on what tins you are using so keep and eye on this)
  8. Whilst your cake is baking you can sort out the filling and the icing
  9. For the filling cream the butter and icing sugar together and set to one side
  10. For the Icing cream the butter, icing sugar and cinnamon together and set to one side
  11. Once your cakes have cooked remove them from the oven and leave to cool for about 15/20 mins
  12. In the meantime place your marshmallows on a non stick baking tray
  13. Place in the oven and let them colour slightly and melt – this does not take long ( about 1 min) and you don’t want burnt marshmallows so keep and eye on them
  14. Once they have softened remove from the oven and quickly mix into your filing mixture, they will clump a bit but if you just keep stirring you should get a nice consistency
  15. Once you cakes have cooked place the filling in the middle and sandwich your two sponges together
  16. Finally add a touch (literally a few drops) or water to your cinnamon icing to loosen it slightly and ice the top of your cakes. Sprinkle with pecan nuts and serve

Voila the perfect autumnal cake, ideal for eating in a warm house with a cup of tea. Looks like my afternoon is planned perfectly!

 

Pumpkin Soup

I love pumpkins

After my weekend post I suspect you won’t be surprised to find I am currently throwing my culinary tastes at all things involving Pumpkins. There are so many good pumpkin recipes out there for everything from savoury treats to sweet pumpkin pie. It’s pretty hard not to get swept up in all the orangeness. 

I decided the best place to start would be pumpkin soup. I love a good soup, so far this week has felt very rainy and autumnal so my craving for warm and comforting food has definitely started to kick in. 

My associations with pumpkin always seem to be slightly sweet so I usually add either carrot or parsnip to my soup just to give it the slight edge and avoid me tipping actual sugar into the soup. I would use carrot or parsnip interchangeably, but you do whatever you prefer.

I also wanted to have a go at extracting my own pumpkin seeds from there shells – this was an exciting experience – I am not convinced I did it quite right and I ended up eating some of the shell as well – but it actually tasted delicious. It’s pretty simple you just dry of the seeds place them in a dry pan over a low heat and let them cook for about 5/10 mins, (it’s very exciting as they start spinning around in the pan all of there own accord) keep moving them around so they don’t burn  - then pour them out and crush in a pestle and mortar. Not sure if I would recommend this method completely as I did eat some shell and I don’t know if you are supposed to eat them or not – but oh well! 

Pumpkin Seeds

Anyway enough of the garnish and on with the main event. 

Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients 

1/2 a regular Pumpkin, peeled, deseeded/ fleshed and chopped into chunks

1 Carrot (or Parsnip) peeled, and chopped

2 Garlic Cloves

1cm Ginger

1/2 Red Chilli

1 small Onion

1 handful Red Lentils

500ml Vegetable Stock 

A few sprigs of Thyme 

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method 

  1. Chop your onion, place in a pan and fry on a low heat to soften 
  2. Add your chopped pumpkin and chopped carrot and leave to soften slightly 
  3. Then add chopped garlic, chilli and ginger and stir in 
  4. Pour on your vegetable stock, pour in the lentils, put the lid on and leave to slowly simmer for about 20-25mins, adding more liquid if necessary
  5. In the meantime toast your seeds ( as I instructed above)
  6. After 25mins check your soup and if everything has softened blend with a hand blender, pour into bowls, and serve with a sprinkle of Pumpkin seeds. If the vegetables still feel a little hard, let them simmer for a further 5mins, adding more liquid if necessary (although try not to add too much excess liquid at this point as it will dilute the lovely flavour)

Pumpkin Soup

And that is it – Simple Pumpkin and Lentil soup, nice and hearty and a great comforting antidote to feeling cold. 

 

 

Sunday Night Desserts

Apple Galette

I don’t know about you, but in our house we tend to steer clear of eating dessert every night. Really it’s because I could easily eat an entire tub of ice cream if I was having dessert and even the most indulgent of us know, that doing that every night maybe isn’t the best decision. Sunday’s however are different. Sunday nights seem to be the perfect dessert night.

For me Sunday’s usually mean spending a bit of time in the kitchen whipping up something for dinner. Especially as the nights get darker, slow cooked stews, casseroles and curry’s, roast dinners and lovingly cooked hunks of meat take over from the fresher fair of summer. With that change comes the need for dessert. Because there is nothing more satisfying that finishing a hearty autumnal meal with some delicious dessert.

As a result of this habit I am getting quite good at last minute Sunday night desserts. And this Sunday was no different. I decided that with some excess apples in the house the time was right to make an Apple Galette.

One of the simplest of all desserts. Ok I made mine with puff pastry but you can use normal pastry or buy puff pastry so actually its pretty simple. And delicious – especially with custard.

I will try and share more Sunday desserts as I have been on a reasonably successful run of late – I have a sticky toffee pudding that I need to recreate – it was so good – so I will definitely do that and share. But in the meantime why not take heart in this lovely Apple Galette.

Ingredients

4 Apples – I did a mixture of Cox and Braeburn

1 ½ tsp Cinnamon

1 1/2 tbsp Demerara sugar ( you can use less but I was craving something super sweet)

350g puff pastry ( or shortcrust) 

Custard to serve

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C Degrees
  2. Peel and core your apples, then slice evenly
  3. Place in a bowl and add sugar and cinnamon and mix
  4. Roll out your pastry into a large circle, you want the dough to be about 5mm thick
  5. Pour your apple mixture into the centre of the pastry and then fold the edge up and around ( I folded bit by bit at diagonals to ensure the apple was inclosed)
  6. Sprinkle 1/2tbsp of demerara sugar over the pastry and place on a baking sheet
  7. Bake in the oven for 1hr until golden (turn the pastry half way through – well if you have an uneven cooking oven!)

And that is it. All it needs is a bit of warm custard to finish it off. A Sunday night dessert of dreams.

More desserts coming soon. I promise. It is cold after all and we all know baking is the antidote to cold days.  

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Watermelon and Feta1

I think after my last blog you can probably tell I have gone a bit crazy for Watermelon. And I promised you recipes. So thought I would share my favourite recipe so far.

Watermelon and Feta Salad. Honestly I would rather eat this salad than most other food – It is so delicious. Sweet juice watermelon making love to warm crumbly tangy feta. I mean come on. It’s like the Sonny and Cher of flavour combinations. Now eating feta without watermelon seems like going to the cinema and not getting popcorn. It think this was a match made in heaven. 

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A long cool drink on a hot summers day

Peach Iced Tea

Boy was it was hot yesterday. Like really really hot. The sort of hot that forced me to get my fan out on the bus –  yes I was that girl. But let’s face it when it’s the temperature of Mediterranean Europe why not use fan? I would argue it was a sensible decision.

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Seasonal Tastes: July

In Season July

The joy of july is you don’t just get to eat the rainbow, you get to eat the alphabet. All of the really really yummy food is good right now. Apricots, Peaches, Melons, Cherries, Aubergine, Courgette, Peas, Crab, Lamb, Tomatoes. Don’t worry though, this carries on into August, so you don’t have to stuff your face with Peaches right now, but make sure you make the most of what I am pretty sure is one of the best food months in the Calendar. I certainly will be. 

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Andalusian Dream Salad

Dream Salad

What is better in life than food that reminds you of being on holiday. The nostalgia almost makes it better than the original. (Ok so obviously the holiday is better, but I said almost!) As I said earlier in the week I have been living in a little Andalusian dream, so decided to put together a dish that was tipfying all my cravings – Orange, Cous Cous, Almonds. These three Ingredients in particular have such warmth and richness to them, that they can’t help but evoke the sun dappled streets lined with orange trees.

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