Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Just a Small Favour...

Hello everyone!!

So today, instead of a recipe, I'm going to do a shameless plug for a personal projects of mine. But first, a little bit of an explanation. A while ago, I applied for a exchange opportunity offered by my university which would allow me to study my subject abroad in another university of my choice for a term. I obviously jumped at the idea, especially when I found out that I could go and study in Japan; a country that I've wanted to visit for years! Thankfully, about a month ago, I got an email from the Nagoya University of Arts (NUA) accepting my application to study there from the beginning of April. Since then, not much has happened, because I've been waiting for various forms to go through before I can book any flights, but I have been frantically saving and earning every penny that I can to be able to pay for this trip.

This brings me to the subject of today's plea. Whilst I have managed to save up for my rend and flights, funds for my living costs are still looking pretty thin on the ground, so last week, I cam up with an enterprising idea. I have set up a Kickstarter campaign in an attempt to raise the remaining funds needed. My goal is £500 and the pledges start at £5 for a handwritten postcard from me when I'm in Japan, and go all the way up to £40! Aside from the £5 pledge, all pledges offer some of my art (mostly dog related) as the reward, and all of them offer a handwritten postcard from Japan as well. Prints can be shipped to the UK for free, the EU for £1 and the US for £2, and the postcards can be sent anywhere in the world. Having said that, if you would like to pledge for a print, but you don't live in the UK, EU or US, please let me know and I will add your country to the mailing list.

So what are you waiting for?! Make my day, help me not starve when I get to Japan and get some handmade art all in one fell swoop! It's a win-win!

You can access my Kickstarter campaign by clicking here, and please share it around with anyone you know who might like my work, it would mean so much to me!

That's all the butt kissing for now, next time: food.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Classic Hot Chocolate

Nowadays, if someone suggests a hot chocolate to you, they most likely mean the kind where you use teaspoons upon teaspoons of sugary, bubbly 'chocolate' powder. As nice as that is, I have recently been converted. Following this recipe from my old school cookery book, not only is my hot chocolate
richer and creamier, but it has way less sugar in, so I can pile on the marshmallows without worrying about my sugar intake! Here is the recipe I was following:


In the recipe, it suggests on teaspoonful of castor sugar, but really, that's up to you. It totally depends on what kind of chocolate you are using and how sweet you like your hot chocolate to be. I was using dark cooking chocolate (54% cocoa solids) and I didn't feel the need to add any sugar, but I did have some marshmallows on the top.

Classic Hot Chocolate (makes one mug)
Bare Necessities:
1oz/28g Chocolate
1/2pint/285ml Milk
Sugar to taste (optional)
Marshmallows to top (optional)

1. In a small saucepan, put the milk, chocolate and sugar on a medium-low heat and stir slowly but continuously.
2. Once all of the chocolate has melted and the drink is piping hot, pour into a mug.
3. Top with marshmallows as desired.
4. Enjoy! (careful, it's very hot!!)

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Traditional Chocolate Cake

Let me just say something right off the bat. My Kitchenaid has made me lazy AF. I kind of knew this was the case, but it was really brought to light when I decided to make a chocolate cake from my old cookery book with nothing but a wooden spoon and a plastic bowl. Let's just say I really earned a slice of cake at the end of this.

As we all know, I have made many an endeavour down the chocolate cake path. It's a classic, and deserves to be given a twist every once in a while. So why not have a crack and an original? Here's the recipe I was working from:

My main difficulty here was that I was making this whilst at uni, so I didn't have a set of weighing scales, nor did I want to spend the money on some, so I had to get creative with my cups and spoons measuring. I was also a little confused when the recipe called for "sweet chocolate", so I went for a 52% cooks chocolate. When I was making the cake, I was a little unsure about the proportions. Usually with a sponge cake, there are more or less equal proportions of flour, butter and sugar, and I thought it odd that there was no cocoa powder involved. When I put the mixture into the tin it felt quite stiff, and I was worried that the cake would turn out to be dense and not that chocolatey. Luckily, I was wrong! I mean, it definitely would have been lighter had I used my electric mixer, and I'm probably going to come back to this recipe and mess around with it a little bit, but all in all, it was pretty yummy. I would recommend eating this when warm, but if it is cold, you can put a slice in the microwave for about 10 seconds to warm it up and serve with a dollop of cream - delicious!

Traditional Chocolate Cake (makes 1 large sponge)
Bare Necessities:
6oz/170g/1 1/2cups Plain Flour
4oz/115g/1/2cup Sugar
4oz/115g/1/2cup Butter
3oz/85g/~1/2cup Chocolate
3small Eggs
2tsp Baking Powder
dash Vanilla Essence
2tbsp Milk

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350F/Gas Mark 4.
2. Grease and line one cake tin.

3. Break the chocolate up and put on a low heat with the milk.
4. Stir until the chocolate is fully melted and then take off the heat.
5. Cream together the butter and sugar.
6. Slowly add the eggs, flour and baking powder, alternating between the wet and dry until fully combined.
7. Mix in the chocolate and vanilla, and stir until fully combined.
8. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and smooth over slightly.
9. Pop in the oven for 45mins or until cooked through.
10. Place on a rack to cool.
11. Serve up with a dollop of cream (or ice cream) and enjoy!

Monday, 23 January 2017

Apple Jelly

I know what you're thinking. Apply Jelly? Are you sure? Well, to be perfectly honest, no, I'm not. I saw it in my old cookery book and thought it would be worth a try. As it turns out, it's quite nice! It's not like your modern day jellies, because its not transparent, and it doesn't have anything aritificial in. It's literally stewed apple, pushed through a sieve and jellified. It was also the first jelly I've ever made and I really enjoyed myself! Here is the recipe I was working from:

In the recipe, it mentions using powdered gelatine, with the 2tbsp of water for dissolving it in. However, I only managed to find sheet gelatine, which you soften in cold water and then add to the recipe, so I've adjusted my ingredients accordingly. It does also say in the original recipe what proportions to use with the Gelatine, however I found it to be too stiff because I didn't have a hair sieve, only a normal one, so I've reduced it slightly so that the jelly will have more wibble-wobble.

Apple Jelly (serves 2)
Bare Necessities:
1lb/450g Apples
2oz/60g Sugar
1piece Lemon Rind
1/2pint/1cup/250ml Water
6g Gelatine

1. Peel and slice the apples, taking care to remove all of the skin and core.
2. Pop them in the pan, along with the sugar, lemon rind and water.
3. Put the lid on the pan and stew until soft.
4. Rub the stewed apple through a sieve. It seems like it won't all go through, but trust me, it will. Just remember to scrape off the under side of the sieve every once in a while.
5. Follow the instructions on the packet of gelatine and then add to the apple puree.
6. Stir until the gelatine is fully combined and then pour into your mould. I didn't have a mould so I just used two glasses.
7. Pop in the fridge until the Jelly is stiff and enjoy!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Old School Rice Pudding

For Christmas, my mum gave me a really old cookery book called The Edinburgh Book of Plain Cookery Recipes which is an incredibly cool book published in 1932, and the official book for the Edinburgh School of Cookery and Domestic Economy, which is where her mum studied back in the day! This book contains recipes for literally everything you could ever need, from tea, to sponge cake to rabbit soup, and I've decided to give a few of these recipes a go.

As many of you may know, my search for the perfect rice pudding has been a long and arduous one, with varying degrees of success, so of course the first recipe I decided to try from this book was going to be rice pudding. It turns out that the recipe is not that different from the one my mum used to make my brother and me rice pudding when we were younger. It seems like a ludicrously long time to cook rice pudding for, and the skin on top can seem a tad off putting, but it's totally normal. I personally don't like the skin on top, but lots of people do, so eat it with your rice pudding if you want to, or push it to one side if you don't! Here is the recipe that I was working from:

Working from a very old recipe such as this one has it's difficulties, as I was beginning to realise. Firstly, I had no idea what Carolina rice was, and I didn't know what on earth a 'moderate oven' was. A bit of research told me that Carolina rice was simply a type of long grain rice, and that a moderate oven was approximately 180c. Also, as I don't like nutmeg, I decided to replace it with cinnamon.

Old School Rice Pudding (Serves 1-2)
Bare Necessities:
1 1/2ouces/45g/3tbsp Long Grain Rice
1pint/2cups/500ml Milk
1tbsp Sugar
1-2pinches Cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350F/Gas Mark 4
2. Grease a dish.
3. Wash the rice, and put in the dish, along with the sugar and the cinnamon.
4. Pour in the milk and give it a little stir.
5. Pop in the oven for 2 hours.
6. Once cooked, serve up with a dollop of jam on top and enjoy!

Monday, 4 July 2016

Rhubarb Crumble

Now there's no denying my love for crumbles; no matter how full I am, I can never say no to one for dessert! However, the creme de la creme of crumbles (or should I say, creme de la crumble) has to be rhubarb. Slightly sharp, a great texture, and with a perfect, deep, pinkish colour to boot - for me, nothing can beat it.

Serve up hot with a large dollop of extra thick double cream or custard for the perfect summer dessert.


Rhubarb Crumble
The Bare Necessities
For the Rhubarb:
700-750g Rhubarb (roughly how much you see in the picture)
140g Sugar
100ml Water

For the Crumble:
150g Flour
90g Butter
50g Sugar

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/Gas mark 6/390F.
2.Wash the rhubarb thoroughly.
3. Chop the rhubarb up into medium sized chunks - about an inch or so long. They don't need to all be exactly the same size.
4. Pop into a saucepan with the water and sugar, and put on a medium heat until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. It's important to stir occasionally to make sure that all of the rhubarb cooks, but don't stir it too much or else it'll completely turn to mush!
5. Pour the rhubarb into a dish and leave it to sit. This allows some of the excess liquid to evaporate and also lets the rhubarb form a slight skin on the top, better enabling the crumble to rest on the rhubarb without sinking in.
6. In a bowl, pour in the flour and the butter. Rub the flour and butter between your fingertips until you get breadcrumbs.
7. Stir in the sugar.
8. Using a spoon, gently pour the crumble on top of the rhubarb. I use a sifting action with the spoon to prevent it from sinking.
9. Pop the crumble in the oven for approximately 
half an hour, or until the crumble has turned golden brown.
10. Serve up and enjoy!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Nectarine Ice Cream

Most people who know me know that I'm not a summer person. I don't do well with the heat, the bugs, or the sun. In fact, I think that there are only 2 redeeming features of summer; Pimms and ice cream. I might tackle Pimms another day, but today I'm doing nectarine ice cream. Chocolate ice creams are great, but nothing beats the refreshment that a fruit ice cream like this one provides. I've used nectarines here, but you could easily substitute them for peaches, just make sure you peel the peaches when you slice them up.

Nectarine Ice Cream
The Bear Necessities
600g Nectarines (roughly 5 nectarines)
125ml/1/2cup Water
150g/2/3cup Sugar
150ml Sour Cream
300ml Double Cream
1/4tsp Vanilla extract

1. Slice the nectarines in half to remove the stones and chop the nectarines into medium sized chunks.
2. Put the nectarines pieces into a medium saucepan with the water.
3. Cover and put on a medium until soft and cooked through (approximately 10 minutes).
4. Once cooked, take the saucepan off the heat, stir in the sugar and allow to cool (or if, like me, you're impatient, put it in an ice bath).
5. Once cooled, put the nectarines, their juices, the sour cream, double cream and vanilla extract into a food processor.
6. Blitz the mixture, but not until it's smooth, leave a few lumps in there to add texture. Unless, of course, you prefer a totally smooth ice cream.
7. Pour the mixture into the ice cream machine and follow the manufacture's instructions.
8. Freeze until you want to eat it, or serve up and enjoy!!