Thursday, 12 January 2012

Long Overdue!

Wow! I think that's the best way to start. I have so many things to blog, I've had a super busy start to this year and it feels like forever since I posted but I'm back now with loads of updates coming your way.

I've got to start off by telling you all my big news, I mentioned that I was entering a cooking competition a while back and after what feels like months of practising, my local heat finally came yesterday. After a slight issue with pastry, an oven that did not want to cook anything and an agonising wait, I found out that I'd come first and therefore gone through to the regional final. I'm so excited, I made it this far last year and came third at the regional final but this year my eyes are 100% on the prize, I want to make it to the national final. Well actually, I want to win the national final but for now I'm just working hard and keeping everything crossed, any luck sent my way would be much appreciated!

I promise that I will catch up with some posts this week and you can see/hear all about my Yule log; first trip to the Hummingbird Bakery (Finally!); black bottom cupcakes; competition menu; wild mushroom risotto; sun-dried tomato, mozzarella and rocket tarts; mini chocolate tarts and no doubt something else that I've forgotten!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Whoopie Pies

Firstly, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and now for my first post of 2012, it came around very quickly!

I mentioned in my last post that I'd been making Whoopie Pies and here they are. I've often looked at them on the Humming Bird Bakery website and wanted to make them for ages but I've never quite got around to it. I came across this recipe a couple of weeks ago though and thought I'd give it a go.

The results were amazing! I can't fault the cakey-bits- anybody know what they are called?- but I had a few problems with the filling. It was a little too thin, this is probably partially due to me getting bored of whisking it after about half the recommended time and partially because it was a recipe that didn't use marshmallow fluff. A little more icing sugar and some time in the fridge got it to just about spreadable consistency though and it still tasted great so all was not lost.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Cooking

School holidays mean loads of extra time on my hands and loads of extra time to cook. Today I made pizza from scratch; at the start of the week I made whoopie pies; a few days ago I made lasagne and I think everyone is sick of my competition meal the amount of times I've cooked that.

Yesterday I spent pretty much my entire day making a gingerbread house, I was really happy with how it turned out. Until this morning. It looked like it had been hit by a gingerbread bomb. I think it taught me two things. 1) I should follow recipes and 2) I should learn that bigger isn't better when it comes to baking and start off small when it's my first time making something. I know I won't learn from either of those but I will be trying another gingerbread house next year.

Of course Christmas means presents too so I did lots of baking and made some little boxes full of baked goods for my friends. I made Chocolate meringues, Chocolate truffles, Christmas biscuits and Christmas crackles.  I know, a lot of chocolate but people who don't like chocolate are just strange.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Maple and Pecan Muffins

I mentioned that I'd made these in my last post and I've got around to posting them now. Finally.

These were the best muffins I've ever had. And nothing ever beats chocolate for me. I'd even consider them as the best cake I've ever made and I've made a lot of cakes.

I used the recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery book and shock horror, I didn't change it one bit! I'm definitely going to be making these again in case you hadn't guessed already. Oh and I almost forgot to mention, the house smelt amazing with these in the oven!

They weren't the best shape, I think I over filled the cases a bit and I didn't have a muffin tin (That has now been rectified) but it didn't really matter.

Sorry for the slow posts but I'm going to get back on it this week, got loads of Christmassy cooking planned!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Pecan Pie

I mentioned in my Thanksgiving post that I'd been wanted to make some Pecan Pie and I finally did so here's the post I promised about it.

I've had a good week of cooking, my lamb casserole was so nice, not blowing my own trumpet or anything but it is the perfect winter dinner. And I made and tried dumplings for the first time, I'm not sure how I feel about them, any fans out there? Yesterday we got a bit festive and had a turkey risotto which I really enjoyed. My brother thought he'd take charge of making some French beans to go with it and managed to blow them up... No one's worked out how to use our new space age microwave yet.

Today I've been busy practising for my competition which is creeping up on me pretty fast now but, my dishes are going well and I'm really proud that they're something I've created. Pictures are on their way but not till the first round's done, I don't want to give too much away!

And last but my favourite creation of the week, Pecan and Maple muffins. Again, not to blow my own trumpet but there were ama-zing. I'll definitely be posting them in the near future.

Anyway back to the Pecan Pie, I used the Hummingbird Bakery recipe and I it was brill, the pie disappeared pretty quick so it's safe to say everyone liked it.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

BBC Good Food Show

Last week, the BBC Good Food Show was at the NEC so of course I went along. Twice actually, I pretty much spent my whole weekend there I hadn't planned to but I couldn't say no to a second day of free testers, demonstrations and recipe inspiration.

On Saturday, I saw Glynn Purnell,  head chef at Purnell's in Birmingham- who I met last year when he judged a competition I was competing in- and Mark Sargeant, former head chef of Claridges, cooking Venison on the Saturday kitchen stage and picked up some really good tips for cooking meat.

On Sunday, I saw a demonstration from the Sorted Chefs at the Kenwood stand which gave me some good ideas. I was gutted that I missed Holly Bell, my favourite contestant from this years Great British Bake Off, cooking there but I managed to taste some of her cake and can definitely say it was yum. I also went over to the Saturday kitchen stage and once again saw Mark Sargeant, this time cooking lamb rump with Moroccan ratatouille which I cannot wait to cook.

Lamb's got to be one of my favourites meats at the moment. I had an amazing lamb shank when we went out for my Mum's Birthday last week and I'm cooking a lamb casserole at school next week but I'd never seen a rump of lamb before last week. It looks like a fillet steak and done as it was with spiced vegetables looked delicious, keep an eye out as I'm sure I'll be blogging my attempt in the not so distant future!

Oh and I can't forget my visit to the World Cheese Awards section... I have no idea what won but I have never ever seen so much cheese in my life. And one of the friends I was with hates cheese so she absolutely loved going in there.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Bonfire Banana Bread

I promised lots of posts and here is the first one. I made this on Bonfire night (Doesn't it feel like ages ago already?) it's a perfect autumn/winter cake and is even better when eaten warm.

I added cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate to the original recipe to make it that bit more seasonal and I'll definitely be making it again soon.