Saturday, August 19, 2006


Well, there's not much I can say about this one, other than it was a creation of leftover pie dough. I had some dough leftover from a pie I made for dinner one night and I hate to throw things away, so I made some supper too. Except it turned into snacks for the family the next day.

Hams & Spring Onion Quiche

Pie Crust
150ml Semi-skimmed Milk
3 Large Eggs
2tbsn All-purpose Flour
150g Cheddar Cheese (grated)
150g Wafer-thin Ham (sliced)
50g Spring Onions (chopped)
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Place pie crust into a greased quiche dish
2. Add the ham and spring onion into the crust and sprinkle cheese over the top
3. In a bowl, mix the eggs, milk and flour into a lump-free custard
4. Pour the mixture into the pie dish, covering the filling
5. Bake at 180ºC for 30 minutes or until the custard is completely set

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

English Pancakes

When I first moved in with my fiance's family I was shocked to hear that they never celebrated Shrove Tuesday, and so Jason (my fiance) had never tried proper english pancakes. I insisted that I would make pancakes for the family next Pancake Day.

Well, as promised, I did. Unfortunately, Jason didn't enjoy the pancakes and his mother (who suffers from a sensative stomach) wasn't keen on the idea, either. However, his father (Colin) and uncle (Tony) couldn't get enough of them. The entire pile of around 15 pancakes was devoured by mainly us three.

Ever since, I've been saying that I'd have to make them again. So, when it came to trying out some of my new kitchen toys, Tony suggested that I make some pancakes. Of course, I was more than happy to make them and I suspect that he and Colin were happy too (they didn't last long :P)

English Pancakes

250g Plain Flour
550ml Milk
2 Large Eggs
Pinch of Salt

1. Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the center
2. In a seperate bowl combine the eggs, milk and salt
3. Pour the milk mixture into the flour and whisk until you get a thin, lump-free batter, sieving if needed.
4. Heat a small amount of oil in a large frying pan until very hot
5. Pour batter into the pan with a ladel and spread out into a thin layer with the back of the ladel
6. Fry the pancake until it becomes golden brown. Flip, and cook the other side until also golden brown
7. Blot with kitchen paper to remove the excess oil

I will warn you now that generally, the first pancake usually ends up in the bin (or in the cook's mouth) because they don't end up looking very presentable. After the first one or two, the rest should turn out a lot better.

Serving suggestions: These are wonderfully eaten sweet with sugar and lemon, maple syrup or fruit, but also delicious eaten with a savory filling such bacon, chicken or even minced meat fried with onions. Yummy!

Friday, August 04, 2006

'Nilla Iced Coffee

I can't think of anything better to drink on a warm, sticky, British summer day than a cold, creamy, sweet, home-made iced coffee. I was originally inspired to make my own iced coffee while reading "Everybody Likes Sandwiches" on a very(!) hot, clammy day.

Kickpleat posted about how she likes to use leftover coffee and turn it into a yummy glass-full of what summer's all about. This inspired me to try my own, since I was very hot, very miserable and craving something sweet.

I tweaked the "recipe" slightly and added extra sugar to the syrup, lots and lots of milk and a dash of vanilla essence. Well, it was a hit! The 2 litres (or so) that I made was gone within hours and since then, I've made it a number of times on request.

Vanilla Iced Coffee

These are just rough measurements, since I usually just measure by eye

800ml Coffee (very strong)
1 litre Milk
100ml Water
200g Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Essence
Lots of Ice

1. Brew up 800ml of very strong coffee (about 6-8 tpsns if using instant) and pour into a large bowl or jug
2. Add plenty of ice and stir until melted. Add the milk
3. In a saucepan bring the water and sugar to the boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture thickens a little
4. Stir the syrup into the coffee, tasting as you add. Make sure not too add too much because it can become too sweet very quickly
5. Finally, stir in the vanilla essence and leave to chill in the fridge

I've previously served this with crushed ice (blitz ice cubes in a food processor) and squirty-cream on top (chocolate flavored, to be exact). With or without either of them, this iced coffee is a must-drink on a hot day. Or any other day for that matter!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sweetcorn Fritters

There are a lot of things I miss from my childhood, but one of the things I miss the most is the amazing sweetcorn fritters my mother used to make. I remember cutting the center out first and leaving the edges until last because that was the best part. It was so crispy and tasty, just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

A few weeks back I had a real craving for them and I just had to try them myself. The first time I attempted them they came out lovely and crisp, but a little bland. The next time I added extra seasoning but still they were a little bland.

So this time I experimented with extra vegetables and even more seasonings and I was suprised at how much better they turned out. I made these ones larger than I normally do, so they didn't end up as crispy as usual, but boy, were they good!

Sweetcorn Fritters

100g Plain Flour
100ml Milk
150g Sweetcorn
1 Spring Onion (chopped)
1 tspn Baking Powder
½ tspn Dried Mixed Herbs (or fresh if you have them)
½ tspn Paprika
20g Cheese (optional)

1. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking power, herbs and paprika
2. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk. Whisk well until you get a stiff, lump-free batter
3. Add the sweetcorn, spring onion and cheese into the mixture and stir
4. Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to just cover the bottom
5. Once the pan is nice and hot, drop the mixture by spoonfulls into the oil
6. Fry on both sides until golden and crisp
7. Blot dry with kitchen tissue before serving to remove any excess oil

These can be served with Spring Onion & Sweetcorn Mayo (as seen in the pictures) or salsa as a starter or as an accompaniment to a main meal. They're also great just eaten alone as a snack. The choice is yours.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Mmm... Pretzels

Since I haven't really felt like doing any complicated cooking / baking recently, with the ridiculously hot weather we've been getting recently, my first main post will include an old project. Pretzels.

My fiance's favorite snack is pretzels, but only ones we've ever found are the small, crunchy ones that come in packets. We've never managed to find those stalls that sell warm, big, doughy pretzels you see in America, that come in a variety flavors and with a vast selection of toppings.

So, I thought I'd take a shot at making my own. I went for your basic salty pretzels, just to be safe. As annoying as it was shaping them, it was actually rather fun. I haven't messed around with dough like that since I was a kid, playing with that colorful play-dough that all children seem to love.

They are rather nice. Obviously, a much more breadish taste than the ones we're used to, but they make a nice change. I've halved the original recipe here because the recipe I followed made quite a large batch and we found that they are best eaten within two days at the most, otherwise they just dry out and go tough.

American-Mall-style Pretzels

150ml Warm Water
400g Plain Flour
1 tspn Active Dry Yeast
½ tspn Salt
1 tspn Sugar
1 small Egg (beaten)
Coarse Sea Salt

1. Mix together the yeast, salt and sugar. Dissolve in the warm water
2. In a large bowl blend flour and yeast solution and mix well
3. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes on a clean surface
4. Place in a bowl and cover. Leave to rest for 10 minutes
5. Separate into walnut-sized balls. Place back into bowl and cover, taking as needed
6. Roll each ball into a rope (thickness as desired) and shape into pretzels
7. Place on cookie sheets and brush with the beaten egg
8. Sprinkle on salt to taste
9. Bake at 200ºC for 15 minute or until golden brown
10. Allow to cool on a wire rack