Monday, 30 May 2011

Put the lime in the coconut

I made dinner for my sisters and their partners yesterday. Early on i had decided on mexican food for the main course but dessert required quite a lot of thought. You see, my sister Sarah and her fiance Ayaz dont like chocolate and that fact that it needed to be vegetarian also ruled out jelly or panna cotta. Which is why i am so glad i came across Shutterbeans recipe for Coconut Lime Semifreddo which she recently posted on her fabulous blog.

Semifreddos are great as they have all the qualities of ice cream without the need for churning and the use of a machine. I'm so glad i made this. Creamy and mildy coconutty, the lime zest adds a refreshing almost tropical quality to the dessert. Now i can understand why the lady put the lime in the coconut.

As it requires at least 6 hours of freezing time, it can be made well in advance, requiring nothing more than 20 minutes to defrost and the arranging of some sliced mango on top for serving.

Although the semifreddo turned out well, the same cannot be said of the photo. I was frustrated at not being able to get the lightining and camera settings right. The end result being that the mango was awkwardly draped on the semifreddo with too much light reflecting off the plate. Anyway, a good excuse to make it again and do a re-shoot. 

Recipe - Coconut-lime semifreddo from Shutterbean 

  • I used a 2lb loaf tin which was abit too big. Consequently the semifreddo wasnt as deep as it would have been with a smaller loaf tin. 
  • When heating the mix the condensed milk started to solidify into small lumps but this didnt make any different to the consistency of the end result. 
  •  I left out the shredded coconut
  • Also the whipped cream didnt mix very well into the condensed milk and coconut milk mixture, possibly because i over whipped the cream. After whisking with a hand whisk, everything blended together without any problems.

Serves 12

  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk 400g
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk 397g
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 284mls double cream
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1 mango, thinly sliced

Line a 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch loaf pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang on each side. Prepare a large bowl of ice water, set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk and the sweetened condensed milk together and bring to a boil over high heat.  

Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer until the mixture starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt & lime zest. Place saucepan over the bowl of ice water and stir the mixture until it's cool, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat cream with a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the coconut milk mixture. Pour into the loaf pan and top with coconut. Freeze until firm, 6 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, let the semifreddo sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Invert on a platter, remove the parchment and top with the sliced mango.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I returned home yesterday from a lovely break in the Cotswolds. We ate alot of very good food and as a result i promised myself afew days of healthy eating and moderation. However, I woke up this morning with a sore throat, aches and shivers and the weather outside was grey and overcast. I needed something to brighten up my day and Joy The Bakers' recipe for Chocolate Chip Pancakes came to mind.

I have been following Joys' baking blog for awhile now. Its fun and light-hearted and her recipes are always inventive and very tempting. The buttermilk in these pancakes create a light and fluffy texture and the oozing chocolate chips makes them more indulgent than the average pancake. But adding a drizzle of Maple syrup on top of them takes these pancakes to another level...

Moderation totally out the window, happiness factor increased considerably. Everything looks better after a plate of these.

Recipe - Chocolate Chip Pancakes by Joy The Baker

I halved this recipe which made enough for 3 of us. As it is an american recipe, the measurements are in cups. If you are wanting to try US recipes, its worth buying a set of measuring cups which are readily available in supermarkets.

One thing i found with these pancakes was that despite cooking them on a low heat they burned quite easily. They do need constant checking of the sides to prevent them from overcooking.

2 eggs
2 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2- 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips (depending on how chippy you feel)
oil or cooking spray (for cooking)

In a large bowl beat eggs. Add buttermilk, butter and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well until mostly smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and let batter set for a few minutes.

Heat pan over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil to the pan or spray with cooking spray. You can test to see if the pan is hot enough by adding a few drops of water, if or when the drops start to dance its hot enough.
Pour 2 Tablespoons of batter onto the griddle. Cook on the first side until bubbles that form start to pop. You can also gently lift up the pancake to make sure the bottom is not overcooking, if it is the pan may be too hot and you will need to adjust the heat. Flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook until golden brown. Repeat until all the batter is gone. Let cooked pancakes rest on a heat proof plate in a 200 degree F oven until ready to serve.

Drizzle Maple syrup on top if desired.


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Chocolate Melting Puddings

My cousin Doris (hi Doris) mentioned she is soon to be part-taking in a Come Dine With Me competition with a group of her friends. I've seen afew episodes on TV and find that whilst most competitors make an effort to cook up elaborate starter and main courses, their desserts often seem to be a bit of a let down. One example of exotic fruit kebabs springs to mind.

I'll invariably choose a chocolate dessert when i'm eating out, as i think it makes a good end to a meal. But when it comes to making chocolate desserts myself, i have to admit i lack the experience. Time to get some practice in.

Having tried this Nigella Lawson recipe, i think that these  Chocolate Melting Puddings would make a good option in a competitive situation. They are quick to make, requiring minimal preparation and attention. Additionally, the melting chocolate in the centre means that these are self saucing puddings, bonus.

These are rich, deeply chocolatey and best eaten warm. Serve each pudding alongside some raspberries and creme fraiche, both of which cut into the intensity of the molten chocolatey goo in the middle. Ice cream or whipped double cream might be nice too.

Good luck Doris, i'm sure you'll do great. Do let us know how the competition goes!

Recipe - Melting Chocolate Puddings from Nigella Lawsons 'How to be a domestic goddess'

50g soft unsalted butter and extra for greasing         
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
350g best dark chocolate                                          
50g plain or italian 00 flour
150g caster sugar                                                      4 large eggs, beaten with a punch of salt                  

6 individual pudding moulds, buttered baking parchment

Serve 6 people.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/gas mark 6 and place a baking sheet in the oven. Fold a sheet of baking parchment in half and lay 3 of the moulds onto the parchment. Draw around them, remove moulds and cut out the disks. Butter the disks and place them into the base of the moulds.

Melt the chocolate. I did this in a pan on a very low heat, sometimes taking the pan off the heat when i thought the chocolate was melting too fast. You can melt the chocolate in the microwave. As it is easy to burn the chocolate microwave in 10 second increments, checking each time, until completely melted. Let the chocolate cool slightly.

Cream together the butter and sugar, then gradually beat in the eggs with salt and vanilla extract. Add the flour and beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and continue to beat until it is a smooth batter.

Divide the mixture into the 6 moulds, up to about 3/4 of the way up the moulds. Quickly take the baking sheet out of the oven and place the puddings on it and replace in the oven.

Cook for 10-12 minutes (the extra 2 minutes are required only if the puddings have been in the fridge when you start). As soon as the puddings come out of the oven, turn them out on to a plate to serve. The moulds will be very hot so use a tea towel to handle them.

Note - you can prepare the mixture afew hours in advance and put it in the prepared pudding moulds which go in the fridge ready for the oven when you are near ready to serve them.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Food Films

Food films, all the joy of food with none of the calories. Here is a list of my favourites, not to be watched on an empty stomach.

1) Julie & Julia (2009)
Julie in New York sets herself the mammoth task of cooking her way through Julia Childs' 'Mastering the art of french cooking' within a year and blogging about it. A charming and inspiring film about two women who stumble on their passion for cookery and food and the struggles they go through to achieve what they want. 

2) Chocolat (2000)
 A single mother and her daughter move to  
 a French village and open up a chocolate 
 shop. Cue lots of gratuitous shots of
 melting chocolate. Towards the end of the
 film the village priest Reynauld breaks into
 the shop. After fasting for days during
 Lent, he stuffs his face on the chocolate 
 Easter display and falls asleep. Gorging 
 on chocolate after a period of abstinence,
 we've all been there.

3) Eat drink man woman (1994)
A Taiwanese film about food and family.
Despite losing his taste buds, the head chef cooks dinner of epic proportions every sunday night for his wife and three unappreciative daughters. I found the care and attention the chef put in to making these delicious meals for his family very endearing.

4) Waitress (2007)
Waitress Jemma is unhappily married, pregnant and trapped in an abusive relationship with her husband. She has a talent for baking imaginative pies such as 'I hate my husband pie'. 

5) Ratatouille (2007)
A rat named Remy dreams of becoming a great French chef and ends up in a restaurant in Paris. Because of his passion for good food, he inadvertantly helps kitchen boy Linguini start a career as a Chef. A film about a rat cooking - promoting good food hygiene? no, cute? definitely. 

A note on Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

The scene in which the family sit down for a dinner of fried chicken and salad caused us to pause the film and promptly drive to KFC for a fried chicken dinner of our own.


Sunday, 15 May 2011

Coffee & Walnut Cake

I dont enjoy drinking coffee. Its too bitter and makes me feel slightly on edge. But its the essential beverage of choice for so many people and i feel alittle annoyed at myself for not liking it. I do however love the taste of it in chocolate and in cake form.

Eating coffee cake allows me to feel like a sophisticated coffee drinker minus the displeasing aftertaste. This cake, made with espresso powder (is that why, after one small slice, i feel alittle jittery?)is light and delicious.  

The frosting is mascarpone cream cheese based and its creamy smoothness compliments the edginess of the espresso well. I enjoyed it with a cup of Darjeeling and didnt feel quite so bad for not being a coffee drinker.


Cake sponge - recipe by Nigella Lawson from HOW TO BE A DOMESTIC GODDESS
1 cup unsalted butter, very soft
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder (if using food processor)
3-4 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

2 x 21cm cake tins (about 5cm deep)

Coffee and walnut frosting - recipe from food blog The Goddesses Kitchen
250g Mascarpone cream cheese
85g icing sugar - sieved
1 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder
1 1/2 teaspoon hot water

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/gas mark 4. Butter cake tins and line with baking parchment.

Mix all ingredients - excluding milk, for the sponge in the food processor until it turns into a smooth batter. Gradually pouring the milk down the funnel of the food processor, pulse mix until you have a soft dropping consistency. It may curdle if your ingredients are too cold but this doesnt seem to make a difference to the lightness of the sponge. 

If making without a food processor, beat the butter and sugar add vanilla and the eggs one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour between each. Fold in the flour and cornflour - you dont need to add any baking powder into this mix. When all incorporated add milk if needed.

Pour mix into the cake tins and bake for 25 minutes. Once ready the cakes should begin to come away at the edges and are springy to touch at the top, with the cake tester coming out clean. Leave cakes to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out and leave to cool completely.

For the frosting add the hot water to the instant espresso coffee powder and mix, beat this with the mascarpone cream cheese and sieved icing sugar until it is all incorporated and smooth. 

Take one cake layer and spread less than half of the frosting on top. Place the other cake layer on top, using the remaining frosting spread and decorate with walnuts.


First post

Hi! Welcome to the first post on my blog. Thoughts of food (particularly chocolate and cake) occupy a lot of space in my head as anyone who knows me would attest to. I thought a blog would be a good outlet for my obsession as well as helping me to further develop skills in photography and baking.

Its taken afew weeks to get this up and running. The name alone took a week to think of. There are a lot of food blogs out there and it was difficult finding something which someone else hadnt thought of. Thank you to Mel - no 'Afternoon Delight' is not a good name for a food blog! and Michael for listening to my ideas. Also to Zohra for your suggestions and helpfully advising me to stay away from names such as 'Mandys sticky buns' and 'Mandys tasty treats'.

I've been constantly fiddling about with the layout and design of the blog, it will continue to be a working progress.

It was fun doing my first photoshoot today. I took 60 shots! Thank you to Sarah who has kindly allowed me to borrow her super duper digital camera (Canon 450D) to practice on.

I hope you like it and that this is somewhere you can come to to share your foodie thoughts

Thank you for stopping by.

Mandy x