Party Prep 🥂

Tomorrow we are hosting a Birthday BBQ for our Daughter and her friends for her 21st.

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Today is prep day and we have been out shopping, the BBQ meat is from Iceland, as I saved some vouchers especially for this purpose- just the normal Burgers, sausages plus spices Chicken Wings and Tiger Prawns as they are her favourite – we are not going OTT. I have some Field Mushroom and Halloumi for the Veggies 😋

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I also got some frozen Macaron- they are so pretty and taste amazing and at this price I couldn’t make them.

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For a healthy sweet kick, sliced watermelon

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To go with savoury I am making 2 basic salads, one a giant Cous Cous Salad – I boil this in plenty of water for 10 minutes or until tender, drain and pop back into the pan with a good glug of olive oil to keep it from sticking together – I am leaving this to cool, and will add finely sliced spring onion, cucumber, red pepper and a whole pack of chopped coriander and mint, Stir though with salt, pepper and lemon juice till ‘right’

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The other a homemade coleslaw

IMG_4089I make this in the Magimix with the slicing and grating blades – I could make it in the Thermomix, but it Chops the veg and I prefer it sliced – this will be finalised tomorrow.

Instead of a Birthday cake, I am making 21 cupcakes, the base recipe I use is from Nigella’s Domestic Goddess book. These will be made tomorrow.

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I make my own icing sugar in the Thermomix a kilo of icing sugar costs £1.70 on Sainsbury’s website, a kilo of Aldi granulated sugar is 59p

IMG_4067I add 250g of sugar and a teaspoon of cornflour to the Thermomix bowl and whizz at speed 10 for 10 seconds, stop, shake the bowl, and whizz again for another 10 seconds – I pop a sheet of kitchen roll between the measuring cup and the lid to prevent a billow of icing sugar

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Repeat this till the sugar is used – hey presto – a kilo of icing sugar 🤗

I am keeping these simple with pale pink rosette icing with shop bought ‘toppers’

When Grace was tiny, she couldn’t pronounce ‘Grace’ and as everyone called her Gracie, she shortened her own name to Ce-Ce (see-see) that was lengthened to Cupcake – like Families do 🙄  So her birthday cake had to be Cupcakes 😇

IMG_4080For drinks, I said I would provide a toast drink, we are making Strawberry Dachari’s for those who like them from Homemade frozen Stawberry purée , vodka, Lime juice, crushed ice, whizzed up in the Thermomix 😉 Aparently Cocktails are very ‘in’, I personally would prefer an Expresso Martini 😇

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We also have a huge bottle of Prosecco to toast her with – I might even share it with others 🤣 Loads of soft drinks too

I am sure she will have a fab night, they are going onto a night club afterwards – we will be on Cleanup duty then flaking out 🤣 Just one more 21st to go (youngest) then they can arrange their own parties 🤗

Celebration Mud Cake 🤗 Great for Mothers Day 😉

My darling daughter passed her Driving Test this week – we are so proud of her 😊

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A ‘snap’ I took of her on her first trip out in her own car on Wednesday

It is going to improve her life so much as prior to her passing, she spent upto 2 hours getting to work by bus, then the same back – not much fun when you work shifts and start at 7am on an early and finish at 10pm on a late.

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Anyway, as a little celebration, I thought I’d make a Chocolate Cake, to be specific a Mud Cake 😇 Rich and gooey and a real treat – sorry to those of you observing Lent 😮

This would make a wonderful Mothers Day treat for any Mum too ….

I use a Thermomix recipe (surprise 😋) but the is a traditional method too, here,s the link for the  Traditional method  the Thermomix one is Here

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Into the Thermomix bowl I add 250g chopped butter, 200g broken dark chocolate and 375ml strong coffee – heat this for 5 mins, heat 50, speed 3 till melted and blended.

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Add 400g of sugar and cook again at heat 60 for another 3 minutes, speed 2.

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The add, 175g plain flour, 50g Cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking powder and a blob of vanilla bean paste – mix on speed 4 and whilst blades are running crack 2 eggs through the lid till just blended – scrape down bowl and mix for another few seconds if needed.

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Pour into a lined 8 inch lined tin and into a preheated oven at 180 for 50 minutes.

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Remove from oven and allow to cool – I top this rich cake with an even richer Ganache.

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In the rinsed Thermomix bowl

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I add 200g of dark chocolate and 100ml double cream, cook at heat 50 speed 2 till melted and blended.

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Beautiful thick glossy topping

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cool and top the cake I added freeze dried Rasberries but plain or decorated – you choose 😍

It is of course obligatory to lick the bowl clean 🤣

 

 

There’s No Place like Home… Perfect Pork Chops, Comfort food to the Max

It’s mid January, cold, wet and generally yucky.

Sundays like this are perfect for snuggling up at home, in my favourite room – the kitchen, the radio on, the warmth of the oven – my happy place 😇 Hubby is in front of the roaring wood burner, getting his history fix, catching up on missed tv – a proper Sunday in my eyes.

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Dinner will be butcher cut Pork chops served with Creamy Mustard mash, steamed broccoli and carrots and lashings of herbed gravy.

I have ‘scored’ the rind of the Chops to ensure as much of the fat renders down as possible, I want the rind crispy and the meat soft and tender.

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I melt some butter, with a glug of Rapeseed oil and add some fresh rosemary and thyme, some chopped leek, a bashed clove of garlic, salt and pepper.

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When hot, pop in the chops and cook for a few minutes on each side till browned but not cooked through.

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The sliced apple is for Hubby, I have made some apple sauce for him too

Put into a hot oven for 10-15 minutes, then out to rest for another 10 minutes. Save the herby juices for the gravy.

 

For the Mash, I use a large Potato each, and wash and chop. Boil in salted water till tender, drain, then add a knob of butter, a splash of milk and a teaspoon of grained mustard.

Steam the broccoli and carrots, ready to serve up.

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Take the meat juices and make a simple gravy, I use a teaspoon of cornflour, 300g of chicken stock and the juices, heat over a medium flame, till it starts to thicken.

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I chucked in a couple of Christmas Stuffing balls from the freezer stash.

Simple and delicious- just what is needed on a dreary day.

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I also need to use up some of the bits and pieces in my cupboards, so whilst I am playing housewife, I will make some carrot cakes as I have made them previously (see the recipe Here)

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And some Rice pop cakes, as I appear to have loads of cereal left and some marshmallows to use up – I know I have no kids to feed, but I have yet to find an Adult who can turn down a hit of utter nostalgia 😊

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I started by gently melting 50g of unsalted butter in a large pan, when this is melted add 200g of marshmallows, I had mini pink and white ones, but it doesn’t really matter. Stir these in over a low heat till melted.

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Then add 100g of Rice Krispie, I have used Aldi own brand, but, again it doesn’t matter. I have used a disposable tray bake tin, as I had one leftover from some Christmas baking, but any lined tray will do.  I sometimes made these in a loaf tin, as they were easy to slice for the kids lunch boxes.

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When the cereal and marshmallows have been thoroughly mixed in, press into your tin and leave to firm up.

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I have topped with milk chocolate, just to use some of the Christmas stock, cut into whatever shape you like and try not to eat them all at once 😉

What do you do on a wet, dank day that cheers you up?

Birthday Treats and Baking…

My Birthday is 3 days before Christmas, as a child it was a pain, never had Birthday parties, as friends would be away visiting family, or we would be and it all sort of merged into one with Christmas. As an adult, going out for a birthday meal is no fun, full of Office Christmas parties and tinsel and Turkey.

When I met my lovely Hubby, he surprised me with an ‘Unbirthday’ a month before my real one, and this has carried on. He is treating me to a very special meal out tonight at a very upmarket restaurant which uses as much local produce as much as it can, and the food is out of this world….  the last time we went was 2 years ago and  we still talk about the meal, it was that good 😊 It not the type of place you take photo’s but here’s the link to their website of anyone is interested Thompsons

Anyway, it is also my Mum in Laws Birthday on Sunday, she will be 85. We are taking her out for lunch at a place she loves i.e. They do massive puddings – I think it must be a hangover from war time rationing, but a lot of older people I know are the same, they do love a good pud 😉 And if I make it to 85, I will eat whatever I please 😇

She has most things she could want, she has 4 children who all do their bit in one way or another, so I decided to bake her some cupcakes, as I know they will be appreciated.

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I use a basic Nigella recipe from ‘How to be a domestic goddess’ here’s the Link

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I start by making the icing sugar for the frosting in the Thermomix 200g granulated sugar whizzed on speed 10 for 30 seconds, I put some kitchen paper under the measuring cup to prevent a snow storm 😇 Then add 10g of cornflour, this acts as anti caking, you can leave out if you like, then blitz on speed 10 for another 30 seconds – done 🤓 I make this in batches and store in a lock and lock as I Bake quiet a lot .

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I am making the cake batter in the Kitchen Aid, as I like to see the consistency. Pre heat the oven to 200, then Weigh out into the mixer bowl 125g sugar, 125g chopped butter, 125g self raising flour, 2 large eggs, a blob of vanilla bean paste and a splash of milk.  Using the beater attachment, start slowly and build up the speed till the mix is smooth and silky, you want this dropping consistency.

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I line a muffin tin with individual cupcake papers, and I use an icecream scoop to put the mixture in each case, I put the ice cream  scoop in a jug of water, this stops the cake mix from sticking.  The scoop method ensures you have even amounts of mix for each cake too 👍

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Bake the cakes for 15-20 minutes till golden on top, remove from oven and place the cupcakes on a cooling wrack.

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Time to make the icing – now this is where you can get creative, the colour and flavours are up to you, I am doing 2 lots, one lemon flavoured with a splash of yellow colouring, the other vanilla flavoured pink icing. For each batch, I start with 120g butter and 350g icing sugar, whisk together for approx 4 minutes till pale, add your flavouring I did 1 tsp of lemon flavouring (more intense) and 2 drops of yellow colouring for lemon, and a half teaspoon of vanilla extract and 2 drops of pink colouring.

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I have put piping nozzles into each icing bag, 1 large star and 1 small star, fill the piping bags with the icing, I then put them into the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up a bit, not too much or it will be too hard to pipe.

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I am not the best at piping, and I watch in awe and admiration these amazing people who say, just do this and that and they have produced a stunning product which you would not want to ruin by eating…..  I do my best and I think it look pretty.

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The Boy is back in Town..

My youngest has popped back to see us for the weekend…. he wanted to surprise Hubby, and it worked, there were hugs, tears and a Chinese Takeaway 😇

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Hubby treated us to a lovely lunch at one of our favourite Isle of Wight pubs called ‘The Taveners’ in a village called Godshill – I took a picture of their ‘specials’ board, they always use local, seasonal produce where possible and their food is so good.  I,ve got no links to them just wanted to show you what we were treated to 😋

I’ve  also made him a Victoria Sponge as its his favourite…

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I use the Kitchen Aid for this as I like to ‘see’ when it is the right texture. I use Mary Berry,s 8-8-8-4 all in one method for an 8inch tin. I use liners, which is the easiest thing to do, but if you don’t have them, or lining paper, then grease the tins with butter then shake some flour round the tins to stop the mixture from sticking.

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8 oz (225g)sugar, 8 oz (225g)softened butter, 8 oz (225g)SR Flour, 4 eggs and 2 tsp of baking power.

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Preheat the oven to 180 fan, put it all into a mixing bowl, start slow so,that you don’t get covered, as you can see I have a splatter guard, but that doesn’t stop a snow storm of flour 😏 then beat till,pale, split between to lined sponge tins, bake for 25 minutes, remove from oven leave to cool.

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I am using Aldi Rasberry Jam to sandwich them together, but use whatever floats your boat 😍

 

 

 

 

That Friday Feeling …

 

Feeling happy that it’s Friday, feeling sad because my week off paid work is over 😏

My dear Hubby is out tonight for a couple of birthday drinks with a friend (friends Bday, not Hubbys), it won’t be a late one as they both have to work Saturday – Boo…..

I have put a special request in for Fish and Chips, I have been craving them saw someone on TV tucking in to a bag of chips and that was it – NEED THEM!!!!! No self control 😳

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As I don’t have to cook today, I thought I would bake…. I have a couple of oranges that need using, so a Orange Cake sounds good, found on Pinterest here’s the link.

http://createbakemake.com/2016/06/15/thermomix-orange-cake-recipe/

I’m doubling up the recipe as I have the oven on I may as well bake 2 😇 1 will live in the freezer till Monday…

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I start by adding 250g of chopped butter to the bowl, and 300g of sugar, the grated zest of 2 oranges, then mix in speed 5 for 2/3 mins till the mix is light and fluffy, you may need to scrape the bowl down half way through.  Then add the juice of 2 oranges, 450g self raising flour, 4 whole eggs and a splash of milk.

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Mix this again on speed 5 for a minute till mixed together and spoon into 2 lined 2lb loaf tins – these go into a preheated oven at 180 for 30-40 mins.

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When done leave to cool completely, then you can make some icing, I have made Lemon icing, as I thought Orange would be a bit too much.

One of the great things about a Thermomix, is that you can make your own icing sugar, I tipped 500g of sugar into a clean dry Thermomix bowl (I have 3) and wizz at speed 10 for approx 5-7 mins – stop and stir it every couple of minutes as it does warm up, and I put a sheet of kitchen towel between the hole in the lid and the measuring cup, to avoid the kitchen being covered in powdered sugar….

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Take a quarter of the icing sugar, and drip fresh lemon juice into it and stir – jiggle till you get a thick but runny icing and top the cakes – yummmm…

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Whilst the cakes were cooking, I made a quick Pizza sauce for the weekend –  add a medium peeled and halved onion, a large peeled clove of garlic to the Thermomix bowl, add a bit of salt and pepper and wizz for 5 seconds on speed 6, scrape the bowl down, add a good glug of olive oil and cook at heat 100, speed stir for 5 mins – then add a can of chopped tomatoes, a big squidge of tomato puree and large pinch of oragano and a half teaspoon of sugar and cook for 15 mins at Varoma heat on speed 1 – when finished wizz at speed 5 for a few seconds to blend and that’s it – who needs jars….

Weekend Eve…..

You have got to love a Friday, especially as we get a bonus extra Sunday (Bank Holiday) this weekend.

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Tonight, my dear Hubby will escort me to our local for a few drinks with friends, then provide food :). So no cooking for me.

I will do some baking though and fancied a bit of Jamacian Ginger cake, or as close to it as I can find. It’s quiet cheap to make, the spices are very good value at Aldi and their baking butter is cheap as …I normally double the mixture and make a spare for the freezer, really sliced great for packed lunches.

I have had this recipe for ages, but for the life of me cannot remember where I found it – so if it was you, my tummy says thank you 😚 I would love to provide a link to the Author.

Edit: Thank you to ‘Waffle On’ who reminded me that the original recipe was from ‘Mortgage Free in Three’ and here’s the link  http://mortgagefreeinthree.com/2013/02/jamaica-ginger-cake/

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It’s a very ‘wet’ mix and very pale, and you think it will never work, but it does, and it it really tasty.

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JAMAICAN GINGER CAKE

In a bowl melt 125g golden syrup and 60g margarine in the microwave

Into a bowl sift:

25g SR Flour
100g Plain Flour
Pinch of salt
100g caster sugar
1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
0.5 tsp mixed spice

Measure out 125ml of full fat milk and beat in one egg.

Add the ‘secret” ingredient – 0.25 tsp of freshly ground black pepper.
Mix the egg and milk mixture into the dry flour until fully incorporated.

Pour on the melted margarine and syrup mixture – don’t worry if you think it is going to split …… Just give it a good beat and it will go all smooth and silky and glossy.

Pour into a 2lb loaf tin. I use a cake liner it saves a lot of faff, and washing up 🙃

Doesn’t it look pale? Don’t worry this will come out really, really dark brown……. just like this after about 55 minutes at 170. Check with a skewer and it is done when it comes out clean.

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I used double the recipe, because 1 is never enough.