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.










Thursday, 24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Okay so I'm not American and nor do I celebrate Thanksgiving but I feel like I'm in need of a new post and today is Thanksgiving so a big Happy Thanks Giving to everyone who reads my blog, it's been over 8 months since I started posting now so I am thankful to all 1,182 of you who've visited over that time. There's plenty more blog posts coming, I was featured on another blog for the first time this week and I've got a few things in the pipeline that I'm excited for everyone to find out about.

I'm always cooking and much to the annoyance of my family, taking photos before they're allowed to eat anything so I have a tonne of things I need to post! Watch this space for Birthday Cake, Cake Pops, Banana Bread, Rock Cakes, More Mousse, Biscuits and that's just the stuff I've already made!

I've been cooking today, unfortunately not anything Thanksgiving-y but I've been meaning to make a Pecan Pie for ages and that's American so I think I have an excuse to make it this weekend?! Back to what I have made though, I had to make soup in my Home Ec. class so I made a rustic Italian soup called 'Pesce รจ feud' literally translated, that is dialect for 'The fish is gone' but I'll save my explanation of that for my post on it, you'll have to check back for it!

The second thing I've been making is chocolate tart. A pretty special chocolate tart that I'm going to be making a lot over the next few weeks, I'll probably be sick of it soon! It is special because it is the main component of my dessert for a competition I'm entering, I won't give too much away in-case one of my opponents is reading but, wish me luck for 11th January!

I made it for the first time last week and I loved it as soon as I tasted it with the rest of the dessert, I was confident it was a winner. Then I took it home and my brother told me it was 'dry, heavy and you'll never win anything with that' being me, instead of accepting the criticism and changing the recipe, I decided not only to stick to my guns but also bet him £100 that I'd win the entire competition. Didn't really think through the fact that I'll only have that money if I win but hey,  I don't plan on loosing!

And I think I was right, having cooking fourth period means I turn up to my French lesson with a tub full of food and distract everyone while they look at what I've been making on that day, my teacher loves me for that. Anyway the point I'm making is that being the giving person I am, I let a few of the people around me try what I'd been making and they said it was 'really nice', 'amazing' and 'If I pay you will you come and make these in my kitchen all day?'

I think I'm going to take their comments instead and fingers crossed, lots more practise, an awesome main (I have this planned but I don't want to reveal it just yet) and I'll be onto a winner!

Keep up to date with all my latest ventures on Twitter and I'll be posting again soon! 

Friday, 18 November 2011

Children In Need Cupcakes

As I'm sure yo all know, today is Children In Need. I decided to get involved and bake some Pudsey cupcakes. You may have seen them featured on The Great British Baking Club along with lots of others.

I've had an own clothes day at school and we've been doing lots of fundraising. Last year Children In Need raised around £18 million for disadvantaged children in the UK and I'm sure this year the total we be even higher so if you haven't got involved yet then go on, tune in to the appeal on BBC1 tonight and give what you can, even the smallest amount of money will make a difference!







Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Chocolate Mousse and Tuile Baskets

I had a late, well very late, Birthday party a few weeks ago- I will post my cake at some point, timings not my strong point as you can see- and I got The Great British Bake Off book from one of my friends so this week I  made my first recipe from it.

Chocolate mousse, not strictly baking but it was, at five o'clock on Sunday night, one of the only things I could find all the ingredients for. And I can, for a change say that I did follow the recipe. Not exactly of course, I couldn't resist making a few additions but I had the book open which is more than I can normally say. I added rum and orange juice to it which I thought worked really well, it gave the flavour more depth. 

To serve them I made tuile baskets but, I used a Masterchef at home recipe and probably should have stuck with Mary Berry as they didn't mould quite as well as I'd hoped.






Sunday, 13 November 2011

You Can't Beat a Good Pizza

Being Italian it just wouldn't be right if I didn't like Pizza and being Italian and fancying myself as the next big chef, it definitely wouldn't be right if I couldn't cook a decent Pizza would it?

So having asked my friends round for lunch in half term a few weeks ago, I realised that it had been a long time since I'd made a proper pizza, from scratch and Pizza is, in my opinion at least, the best lunch food ever.

It had to be good because I'm always complaining about shop brought ones. Making the dough can be a bit of a chore, especially leaving it to rise but it is so worth it. In our house, we normally buy the bases and I'll make the tomato sauce and top them, it takes no longer than taking the ten different layers of packaging off a ready made one but, the Tesco down the road from me decided they would stop stocking bases the other day, I was not happy. I was even less happy I got home from school last week to find a ready-made pizza in our fridge, one bite and it was even worse than I remembered. I had an omelette.

Take a look at how a real Pizza should look here and maybe one day you can come to my restaurant/buy my recipe book and see how it should taste too...

I made a Peperoni and a Margherita pizza






Pizza and garlic bread, you can't go wrong.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Focaccia

First off, sorry for the lack of posts recently, me and technology haven't been getting on too well. But, we're friends again now (Touchwood) and there's been lots of cooking going on that can now go on here.

Being a big fan of The Great British Bake Off and of Italian food, I had to have a go at the focaccia technical bake.

I must admit, I didn't use all the water but I did use most of it and manage to make a lot of mess in out kitchen with the dough but I was really pleased with the result. I made two loaves, one was traditionally topped with sea salt and rosemary, the other with the addition of sliced cherry tomatoes. It had a good, crispy crust and the air holes look pretty irregular. Not quite star baker material maybe but  I don't think I would have come last in the technical bake!

Everyone enjoyed it, I've made it again since and I'm sure I'll be making it again soon!







Monday, 10 October 2011

Swiss Roll

Having started my GCSE's this year, I've been loving my cooking lessons. Our third practical of the year was swiss roll which I had never made before.

Of course, being me, I couldn't go down the standard jam route, I had to put cream in too. I got my cake out of the oven and rolled it without any problems (apart from dropping and breaking the electric whisk I was using for the cream-Sorry Miss!), I put greaseproof paper in the middle so I could unroll it and add the cream once it had cooled and wouldn't melt it. Then it went in the fridge to cool down.

I added my cream and jam, re-rolled it and it was all done. Once I got it home, it was gone the next day so that has to be a good sign right?