Bun in the Oven

foodie adventure though conception and beyond

Rocky road brownies

 

Now whether you are trying to conceive or actually pregnant, some times you just need a treat. And if you are gonna do it, do it properly. At work last week we were part of Macmillan’s World’s Largest Coffee Morning. For this all the staff were asked to bake cakes to be given away for a donation. These were the most indulant thing I could think of, and went down a storm!

Ingredients:

120 g 70% dark chocolate, snapped into small pieces

113 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

200g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean extract

2 lg eggs

95 g plain flour, sieved

1/4 tsp salt

Topping:

85 grams dark chocolate chips

250 ml miniature marshmallows

3 hobnob biscuits

 

Preheat oven to 165C and place rack in centre of oven. Butter a 20 cm square baking pan. 

Melt the chocolate and butter in a large stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar.

Next, whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Finally, stir in the flour and salt.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle the brownies with the chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows and crumbled biscuits.

Return the brownies to the oven and bake for about 5 minutes, or just until the marshmallows start to melt. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. 

Makes 9 large brownies or 18 small.

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Breakfast Burrito:

I find it difficult to get excited about breakfast which is dry and comes in a box. I do have a wonderful Super fruit granola that I have on a regular basis, but sometime you just need a hot breakfast to kick start your day.

What you need;

Wholewheat tortilla wrap

3 eggs

splash of skimmed milk

1/4 red onion

5 cherry tomatoes

1/4 red or yellow pepper

1 tsp sweet paprika

Salt and pepper

Slice the onion and peeper, and quarter the tomatoes. Add to a hot dry pan, and “fry” until tomatoes and onions a start to soften.

Add the paprika, and “fry” until it seems ready, (It should be gooey and soft).

Meanwhile make your scrambled eggs, I do this with a splash of milk in with the whisked eggs. Into a warm pan, and keep it moving until it is a loose consistency. Take off heat, and season. Put tortilla in the microwave for 20 seconds to warm.

Place the tomato and onion mix on the tortilla, and then the eggs, fold into a pocket and serve!

This is such a satisfying breakfast and takes about 5 minutes to prepare!

Bliss

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Creamy Blackberry and Bilberry Tart

For those times when you just need a desert, whether it is a family gathering, or a special meal for you and your spouse, this pie is a simple and tasty desert which is full of bilberries (you may know them as blueberries, which are high in antioxidents whiich are fantastic for women who are trying to conciece, or are already pregnant. I got this recipe from a friend who moved to Canada last year and has found that she loves to bake. I have reduced the size of the pie from her original recipe, and added a few little twists to make it mine, but I would like to thank her, as I think this is a true gem of a recipe, which is why I am sharing it with you!

Ingredients;

Infued Sugar;

10g fennel  seeds

10g dried juniper berries

zest of 1 lemon

160g caster sugar.

 

Shortcrust Pastry;

190 g plain white flour

2 pinches of salt

115 g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

90 ml ice water

 

Blackberry syrup;

100g blackberries

10g infused sugar

20ml water

Tart;

200 g fresh blueberries

 9 inch loose based cake or pie tin

For the Custard:

100 g infused sugar

20 g white flour

pinch of salt 

1 egg, beaten

60 g sour cream

For the Topping:

50 g infused sugar

30 g plain flour

30 g unsalted butter

Infused Sugar;

I usually have a box of this sat on my baking shelf, it keeps really well and is a lovely addition to many cakes and pastries. It is very simple. Zest 1 lemon into a motor, and add the fennel seeds and dried juniper berried. Grind up, and once it is a fine power, add a teaspoon of sugar, continue to grind, this should soak up the oils that they have produced. Then mix with the rest of the sugar and store in a jar or airtight container at least overnight before use.

Shortcrust pastry.

I love making pastry, but I understand that not everyone can  or wants to. So if you want to buy pre-made pastry, please make sure it is all butter variety.

The first thing with shortcrust pastry is to make sure the butter is properly chilled, along with the water needed. Weigh out the ingredients, and Sift the flour into a large bowl.  Take the butter and cut into small pieces and coat each in the flour. Handle the butter as little as possible. You do not want it to melt.

So now you have little pieces of butter coated in flour. With both hands, take the pieces and squeeze and drop back into the flour. Do this until the mixture starts to look like breadcrumbs. It should be a fine crumb, and this is the point you can start adding the water. Do it a little at a time until it forms a smooth paste. Do not over work it. As soon as it looks right, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for  an hour.

Melt a small amount of butter, an using a pastry brush, butter the tin and chill for 10 minutes. When the pastry is ready, take out of the cling film, and warm slightly with your hands, this stops the edges splitting when you roll is out. Dust a flat surface lightly with flour, and with a rolling pin,  roll it out to about 1/2cm thickness. To make sure it is large enough place your tin on top, and make sure the is at least 7cm all the way around. roll it up on the rolling pin, and unroll it over the cake tin. Carefully push the pastry around the tin, making sure there are no cracks or splits. If this does happen, wet the edge of the crack with water, and using some of the excess pastry patch it, and smooth. Once the tin is lined put back in the fridge of 30 minutes.

Making the blackberry syrup;

I’m very lucky, I have wild blackberries in my garden, which grow over form my neighbours garden. So I am able to go outside and pick these bad boys 🙂

But most grocers, markets and supermarkets will stock them in August – October if you can’t get them wild.

To make the syrup, heat the water in a pan, and desolve the sugar into it. Add the blackberries, and heat until it is all gooey and and soft. Press through a sieve, so that you have a smooth syrup. If you think it is to thick, thin it with a little boiling water.

With a pastry brush, spread this evenly over the pastry base.

Next sprinkle the bilberries in a single layer over the base and place back into the fridge.

To make the custard;

Sieve the flour and sugar into a bowl. Add  The salt. Whisk you egg and add to bowl with the sour cream. Fold all together until you have a smooth custard. Pour this over the bilberries until totally covered.

To make the topping;

This is quite simalar to the method used to make the pastry. Sieve the flour and infused sugar, add chilled butter cut into small pieces, and make into the a bread crumb like consistency. Sprinkle onto the top of the tart, and if you want, carefully draw patterns in the crumbs.

Place into a preheated oven at 175c for 55minutes or until the crumbs are browned.

Place on cooling rack. When cool, trim edges with a knife and carefully remove from the tin. Let completely cool before putting in an air tight container in fridge until needed.

Serve with frozen yogurt, or my favourite, Alpro Blackberry yogurt!

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Cheesy Aubergine Bake

My Cheesy Aubergine bake, is great as an easy lunch, or as a side dish to your evening meal. It is tasty and very very easy.

All you need is an aubergine, an onion, some garlic (I’m using smoked as I love the taste), some cheddar and a bit of margarine to sweat the onions in.

First, slice your onions and place them in a preheated pan to sweat for about 5 minutes. Then add in two cloves of crushed garlic and friy for about a minute.

While the onion is sweating, slice the aubergine into disks (about 1/2cm thick) and layer into a dish.

This is also a good time to grate your cheddar ready for the bake. I used 50g.

Season, and scatter 1/2 of the onions and garlic over the first layer you have made. Now scatter some of the cheddar over this layer.

Repeat this for the next layer. MAke sure the top layer is neat, as once the cheese melts it will be visable.

Place in a preheated oven at 180c for about 25 minutes.

This could be spiced up to go with a nice lamb chop by adding apricots and a pinch of  each ground coriander, cumin, paprika, cinnamon and brown sugar.

Or it could be on the side of one of your two fish portions for the week.

I personally like it with an egg on top (not runny of course) as an easy lunch 🙂

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Blog of the Week; Local kitchen

bruschetta risotto

http://localkitchenblog.com/2012/08/11/bruschetta-risotto/

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Sorry for the lack of blogs;

Hi all, sorry it’s been a while since my last proper blog – I thought I should explain. I have landed myself a job running a wonderful little cafe in a farm shop in Meriden, in the West Midlands.Image

We have reopened this week after a large kitchen extension, and I am currently creating a new menu for the cafe. The farm is a pig farm, so I have lots of wonderful fresh pork available, as well as fabulous fresh produce to cook with. Currently the cafe is busy on the weekends but quite quiet during the week, so I’m planning promotions on things like cream teas and OAP specials. I am also trying to get the local CAMRA members in to enjoy the locally brewed ale that we stock.

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Please follow my venture on Twitter and Facebook 

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Blog of the week; In the pursuit of more

Image

www.inpursuitofmore.com

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Gok Cooks Chinese; Super speedy noodles


Talk about good timing, last night on Channel 4 was one of my favourite cookery shows – Gok Cooks Chinese; and today the spinach and spring onions in my veg patch were ready to harvest! I was inspired to make his super speedy pork and ginger noodles. Rather then going out and buying the recommended pork tenderloin, I had decided to use left over chicken from the fridge, and to add the spinach and sesame seeds for extra folic acid.
For those who don’t know, Gok Wan is an English fashion consultant, author and television presenter. He is of chinese/british origin, and he was brought up in Leicester. His father is a chef, and has been a huge influence on him. Most famous for his fashion programmes; “How to Look Good Naked” and “Gok’s Fashion Fix” this is his first adventure into the world of food. The book is available at most good book shops, and the tv show is on Monday evening, and on 4OD.

Gok Wan lighter b&w

  • 2oog shredded chichen ( I used left over chicken from the weekend roast)
  • Neutral oil such as groundnut, for frying
  • 3cm knob of ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  •  1 tbsp Chinese shrimp paste (replace with 1 tbsp dried shrimp, soaked and ground if unavailable) – use more if you like a stronger taste
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce, or to taste
  • ½ tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
  • 400g fresh thin egg noodles
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely julienned
  • 1 spring onions, trimmed and finely julienned
  • Handful of fresh spinach roughly chopped.
  • Sesame oil
  • Sesame seeds to garnish
  1. Heat a pan of water and when boiling, drop the noodles in, after 3 minutes, drain noodles and set aside.
  2.  Prepare your spring onions, spinach and carrots. Finely chop the garlic, chilli and ginger. If you are using fresh meat then stir fry for a couple of minutes in a little bit of oil. If using left over meat, then heat up in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  3. Heat the wok over a high heat and add a dash of oil. Add the ginger, chilli and garlic and stir-fry for 20 seconds until softened a little. Add the shrimp paste (or soaked ground dried shrimp if using) and continue to stir-fry until aromatic – about 2 minutes.
  4. Add a glug of water to create a sauce. Add the soy sauce and fish sauce (you may not need the fish sauce, depending on how strong your brand of fish paste is) and cook for 10 seconds then adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. Separate the noodles and toss through the wok for a minute to warm through and coat in the sauce. Then add the meat and stir through quickly to warm. Toss in the spinach and let it wilt a little. Once warm, remove from the heat and garnish with the raw carrot and spring onion. Season with a couple of drops of sesame oil and serve garnished with sesame seeds.

Gok cooks Chinese, catch up on 4od

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Recommended Podcast; Spilled MIlk – Spinach

I have been obsessed with a podcast from America called Spilled Milk for over a year now. Molly and Matthew who host Spilled milk are charming, knowledgeable, and most of all very entertaining. The review packet food, look at ingredients, and recently have talked about their favourite essential utensils for the kitchen. Many of the podcasts they do are about packet food that they have a nostalgic feeling about, but the true gems are when “they cook something delicious and you can’t have any!” One of the recent gems has been about Spinach, and I would definitely recommend it for giggle values alone.

Spinach podcast from Spilled MIlk

The podcast is available both on iTunes and www.spilledmilkpodcast.com/

Both presenters have there own blogs which are also with checking out.

Matthew Amster-Burton – his blog Roots and Grubs; www.rootsandgrubs.com/

And his book “Hungry Monkeys” , which is about his mission to raise his children as adventurous eaters.

Molly Wizenburg – her critically acclaimed blog Orangette – www.orangette.blogspot.co.uk

And her book  “A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table”

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Folic Acid

When talking to my doctor about pregnancy and discussing the things I had to do to make myself ready to conceive, folic acid was the key supplement that I was advised to take. Folic Acid is a B vitamin that has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of your baby having a spine malformation (such as spina-bifida). It also plays a pivotal role in cell division. On top of this, studies show that women who take folic acid before becoming pregnant are less likely to go into premature labour. Vitamin D and Omega -3 can also help with preventing pre-term labour. Some experts recommend that all women of childbearing age should be taking vitamin supplements that include folic acid, but this can be seen as expensive and unnecessary. As with many vitamins and minerals, if you can simply eat the correct things then there is no need to take vitamin supplements. I try to do both. I have bought a complete vitamin and mineral supplement made by Vitabiotics especially for couples trying to conceive. Among other things this tablet contains folic acid, Inositol (helps support ovarian function), L-arginine (for healthy follicular blood flow) and Vitamin B-12 (which maintains healthy ovarian function and reproductive health.) There are many of these supplements on the market but I chose this one due to good reviews, and the fact they sell a combined pack including a daily tablet for your partner. It is recommend that these are taken for between 4-6 months before you begin trying to make a baby. The same brand can be continued into pregnancy, which was useful for me as we conceived so much faster then we expected! They also do a comprehensive range of vitamins for pregnancy, breastfeeding and new mums combinations to aide recovery. There are plenty of other brands and supermarket own-brands out there, which cover the same areas, but these were highly recommended by midwives and have won various awards including a Boots 2012 product award.

When I started looking into this it was for conception purposes, so I researched into the preparation my husband could do for conception, and it turns out there is little he needed to do. The two things that seemed important were limiting alcohol consumption to the recommended daily allowance (so no more then 3-4 units a day). Also not taking scolding hot baths – as it affects the production and mobility of sperm. It is a good idea for men to be eating healthily (especially if you are, as it helps to motivate you.) and the vitamins and minerals that will boost their sexual health and make the sperm stronger and more mobile. Personally I think the men get off lightly, but my husband eats the same things that I am to an extent, so is also kind of on a diet. He has also automatically cut down his alcohol consumption, as I no longer join him in a drink in the evening.

Folic acid is of course found naturally in many green leafy vegetables such as brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli and spring greens. It is also found in bananas, asparagus, peas, citrus juices and pulses. You must remember that most of these must be eaten raw or lightly cooked to get the folic acid out and into your system rather then cooked away. So try things like using raw broccoli and lightly steamed asparagus as crudités with hummus, or baby leaf spinach as salad leaves, a banana or orange as a snack or even buying bread or cereals with added folic acid (see packets for details). Also brown rice, pumpkin and baked potatoes are a good source.

It is recommended that on a daily basis that you should be taking 400mcg. If you have a family history of neural tube defects or chronic health problems then this should be increase to 5000mcg. It is an important issue, so much so, some countries add folic acid to a staple food source, such as Chile where it is in bread and spina bifida has almost totally been eradicated. It is worth talking to you GP if you are aware of any issues that have occurred within your family.

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