Monday, 24 May 2010

Burnt Butter Cupcakes

To celebrate the visit of my dear twitter (and real life) chum @blueberryathome it seemed fitting to not only roll out the red carpet but also to bake, bake, bake.

A perfect opportunity to try out one of the many recipes I had earmarked to try. And a perfect lesson in how NOT to press ahead without giving it a proper read through first...

I admit it was ambitious to plan biscuits and cakes given I had just an hour in which to prepare them - an hour which also included tidying the house and occupying the toddler. A flawed plan borne of over ambition.

To be fair, had it been your bog standard fairy buns it wouldn't have been an issue, but the clue to my undoing lies in the title of the recipe. Burnt butter.

So - how come if you are NOT intending to burn butter it blackens in seconds and yet here, as I stirred and stirred and waited and waited, it seemed to take an eternity. Not only this - but I came further unstuck when I read on to discover that after this lengthy process it was essential to allow the butter to resolidify before incorporating with the rest of the ingredients. It goes without saying that it was an unseasonably warm day and this took forever. And a couple of days.

I knocked up the biscuits (old faithfuls, Rachel Allen - sorry) while I waited and managed to get the cupcakes into the oven in the nick of time.

And then I read the rest of the recipe.

Buttercream icing? No sweat until...the same process again with the butter????? Why didn't it just tell me that at the beginning and let me get the whole darned process over in one go? (Or - to be fair - why did I not actually read the recipe that has been sitting on my shelf for the last year and work this out for myself)

Time was against me and bog standard buttercream it was, cakes barely iced before the doorbell rang.

I was possibly too frazzled to provide an in-depth assessment of the results but the golden colour and nutty taste were duly noted by the rest of those who consumed them with gusto and the whole lot vanished so fast I figure I'm going to have to do them again (and properly!) - but perhaps not against the clock next time...

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Girls Night In (& Guilt...)

There is much to feel guilty about...

...telling the toddler that a mouse ate the chocolate from her party bag (in my defence it was a) delicious and b) surely this is ok for the sake of her teeth?)

...neglecting my blog for too long (though to be fair I have been cooking - just not writing about it til now)

Oh so many things.

And then a girls' night in, a week or so ago, when I turned to a Delia standby even though the post it notes sticking out of the top of my Nigella collection (yellow for 'made', white for 'still to try', orange for 'ran out of yellow') seemed to taunt me with my disloyalty every time I turned my head.

To be fair, between work and the toddler there was no time for shopping so it was a case of what's in the fridge? And what on earth can I do with that little lot?

The answer is roasted vegetables with couscous and a harissa style dressing - though (as is my wont) I didn't so much follow the recipe as use it as a guide. The veg were aubergine, sweet potato, red onion, field mushrooms and baby plum tomatoes, as that's what I had and that's what I like - oh and a stray red pepper found its way into the mix as well. I'm not sure what the recipe advises but I do this bit pretty often (great with a piece of salmon) so I went slightly off piste, learning my lesson at the end when I went for the traditional slug of balsamic to bring out the flavour of the caramelised veg - and realised that n a fug of exhaustion and absentmindedness I had accidentally used sake instead. Um...Japan meets the Med anyone? Er...fusion?

Luckily you couldn't really taste it and the rest was easy. Chop some feta and mix into the cooled veg (Delia says goats cheese but a) there was none in the fridge and b) feta seemed a safer bet as goats cheese seems to provoke strong and not always positive reactions. Plonk (not a culinary term I have heard Nigella or Delia use but hey ho) on top of a bed of couscous and whack some rocket on top. Whip up a dressing of olive oil, lime juice, tomato puree and cayenne pepper (you are meant to use cumin too but I'm not a great fan - so I didn't) and hey presto. Supper for four, demolished faster than you can say "sorry Nigella, promise to use one of yours next time...honest."

For pud fresh strawberries and a batch of Ms Lawson's Rocky Road (see earlier entry - this time I remembered to turn off the heat before adding the marshmallows so they didn't melt - hurrah). Made enough for a small army - but hey, it was a girls' night and hey, it was chocolate.

My husband was singularly unimpressed with what we left him - just one little teeny tiny little square. Oops