Category Archives: Food

Valentines Cupcakes

Its Valentines Day! Admittedly not one of my favourite holidays but any day that encourages more love is pretty good in my books. Sweets are traditional for Valentines day and who doesn’t want to spread the love with delicious treats? For Valentines I wanted a sweet cupcake with some traditional pink colouring so I went with a white chocolate cupcake with strawberry buttercream. This cupcake is moist and buttery with a smooth clean chocolate flavour and the strawberry buttercream is sweet and fluffy (plus a pretty pink without any artificial colourings!)

White chocolate and Strawberry

White chocolate and Strawberry

White Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 cup of butter
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 325’F. Line a cupcake pan, I recommend using liners on the small side because these cupcakes do shrink as the cool and may pull away from the liners. I used Valentines ones with hearts!
  2. Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light & fluffy, usually takes a couple of minutes!
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time and then stir in the chocolate and vanilla, mixing well. 
  5. Add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk. Mix well after each addition. Divide batter evenly into prepared cupcake pan (fill slightly more than usual).
  6. Bake 20-22 minutes or until cupcakes spring back.
Strawberry Buttercream
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 6-8 strawberries pureed till smooth
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 lb icing sugar (as needed)
  1. Cream butter until very soft, add strawberries and vanilla and beat in.
  2. Slowly add icing sugar about a cup at a time until the consistency and taste seem right.
  3. Turn up the mixer and beat for a couple of minutes until fluffy.

 

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Food

Coconut Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

Coconut Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

Coconut Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream

Coconut is so summery and tropical. I find even when its the dark of winter one of these cupcakes can cheer almost anyone. I made these for a friend’s birthday as coconut is her favourite and I can rarely make them without her requiring one for herself! I love this combination of coconut and white chocolate – almost like a bounty bar! If the buttercream was changed to a milk or dark chocolate then I would certainly call these Bounty Cupcakes. The cupcake would also be well-suited by a fruit or a coconut frosting.

Coconut Cupcakes
  • 1 1/2 cups  flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, soft
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (or reduced coconut milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12 muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk flour, salt, baking powder into a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Add vanilla to coconut milk and stir to combine. Set aside.
  4. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluff. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add flour mixture and coconut milk mixture in 3 additions, beating after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl so batter is evenly mixed. Fold in shredded coconut.
  6. Fill muffin cups evenly, about 3/4 full. Bake cupcakes until cakes gently spring back when touched, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  7. Let cupcakes rest in pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely before frosting.
White Chocolate Buttercream
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • a couple tbsp milk or cream 
  • 6 oz. good quality white chocolate, melted and cooled
  1. Cream the butter and salt together, adding sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beating until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and a tbsp of milk or cream at time mixing until fully incorporated.
  2. Stir in the melted white chocolate gently.
  3. Beat frosting for an additional 3 minutes until fluffy. Add more sugar or milk if needed.
  4. Ice cupcakes and sprinkle with toasted coconut if desired.

1 Comment

Filed under Food

Lahmachun

When Janice and I were in Bulgaria we stayed with a Turkish guy who introduced us to his favourite Turkish food from back home. We got a ton of advice on what to eat when we were in Turkey (especially useful seeing as Turkey was our next destination!) The number one recommendation was Lahmachun which is sort of like a Turkish version of pizza. Its comprised of crispy thin dough and topped with a ground meat and spice mixture. Its served with a plate of fresh vegetables and you roll the lahmachun around the vegetables and eat it sort of like an open-ended tortilla. Its generally served as an appetizer in Turkey and Janice and I must have eaten it with almost every meal! Our friend in Bulgaria gave me a recipe for trying at home and here it is! (The pomegranate seeds were my addition, just something I had lying around!)

Dough:

• 1 tsp dry active yeast
• ½ tsp sugar
• 1 ½ cup of warm water
• 4 ½ cups of flour
• Olive oil

Topping:

• 12 oz of minced lamb
• 1 large onion, minced
• 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
• 2 Tbsp of butter
• 1 bunch curly parsley, chopped
• 1 cup of fresh mint, chopped
• 2 tomatoes, diced
• 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
• 1 tsp of chili pepper or 1-2 red chilies, minced
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1 tsp of cumin
• salt
• Juice of 1 lemon

Directions for the dough:

In a small bowl mix yeast and the sugar. Add 1/2 cup of warm water, stir well. Cover and let proof for about 15 minutes.
In a large bowl combine the remaining water, flour and the yeast mixture. Mix until it comes together and then kneed it into a soft, springy dough. Put about a tablespoon of oil in the bottom of the large clean bowl and add the ball of dough, flip to coat, cover with damp cloth and leave it to rise in a warm place. In about an hour the dough should have doubled in size.

After the dough has doubled, deflate it and cut into 10-12 pieces on a floured surface. Roll each into a ball and cover with a damp cloth and let it stand until your topping is ready (around half an hour). Preheat the oven to 420 F.

Directions for the topping:

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. Once melted add the onion and garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 more minutes. Take the skillet off the burner and cool the onion mixture. Add the onion mixture to the ground lamb and the rest of the topping ingredients and mix well.

Take one ball of dough and roll into a round, flat circle about 5 mm thick.
Sprinkle some olive oil will work on a couple baking sheets and place rolled dough on the sheet. Brush dough with some olive oil and top up with 2 Tbsp of the ready topping. Spread the topping evenly and very thinly.

Bake, rotating trays part way through once the top tray begins to look a little crispy. I found they took about 7 minutes, but keep a careful eye out! Because the oven door is opened a lot during this process the ideal oven temperature is about 370F. When done the Lahmacuns are crispy at the ends and softer in the middle. Take them off the baking sheet to a wider container and cover with a towel until you are done. (Or eat them crispy!) Humidity under the towel will soften Lahmacuns, making it very easy for you to roll them around fresh ingredients. I like Lahmacuns rolled around onions, parsley, lettuce, more fresh tomato or cucumber and lemon juice. (But I got too excited to eat at this stage and forgot to take a photo!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Food

Vanilla Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

I love raspberries. I love all berries truthfully and summer is certainly the season for berries. Unfortunately because of all the rain and cold here, Britain hasn’t has a very good berry season. The brave little berries struggled through and made it to my grocery’s shelves where there were snapped up by me! I must admit I may have gone a bit overboard because I ended up with a fridge full of punnets! I found that of the three punnets of raspberries I could only eat so many straight from the fridge. I needed a new plan! I was making cupcakes for a farewell party at work so the raspberries had to go into them. I didn’t want to bake the raspberries and lose the freshness, so into the buttercream they went!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the lemon zest, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. With the mixer on low-speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 17 – 20 minutes or just until set and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.  Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing. If you want flat-topped cupcakes then slice off the dome of each cupcake before frosting.

Raspberry Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
  1. Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low-speed until blended and smooth after each addition.
  3. Be sure to wash and thoroughly dry raspberries before adding to frosting.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food

Baklava

I love baklava – I have since my first bite which was long before my trip to either Greece or Turkey this year. Fortunately for me baklava in both Greece and Turkey is the best in the world and I managed to eat a lot of it! Greek and Turkish baklava is quite different and I must admit I do prefer the Turkish variety – I find it more moist! Unfortunately I rarely get enough baklava and although expensive (due to the nuts) and a bit time consuming, its relatively simple to make at home. And then you can share it with your colleagues, or eat it all yourself. I won’t judge!

Baklava

  • 18 sheets ready-made filo pastry (unwrap and keep under a damp tea-towel until you are ready to use)
  • 225g/8oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 225g/8oz mixed pistachios and walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom

For the syrup

  • 350g/12oz granulated sugar
  • 300ml/10 fl oz water
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp orange blossom water
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 17cm x 28cm (11in x 7in) baking tray with butter.
  2. Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan over low heat.
  3. Lay 10 sheets of filo pastry, one at a time, into the tray, brushing each sheet with butter before adding the next.
  4. In a clean bowl, mix together the nuts, sugar, juice and cardamom and spread the mixture over the pastry in the tray.
  5. Layer the remaining sheets on top of the nut mixture, brushing each sheet with butter, as before.
  6. Using a sharp knife, cut a criss-cross pattern into the top layers of the pastry.
  7. Place baklava in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 300F and cook for an additional half hour to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is slightly puffed and golden on top. Do not allow the top to burn.
  8. For the syrup, heat the sugar, water, lemon juice and orange blossom water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the sugar has melted and a syrup is formed. (This will take about 20 minutes or so.)
  9. Pour the syrup over hot baklava and place back in the oven (turn the oven off) for 3-5 minutes to help absorb. Remove from over and leave to cool. Cut into small diamond-shaped pieces and serve.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food

Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day from across the pond! Canada day in my family is normally celebrated at the cottage with a bonfire and the appropriate alcoholic beverages! That’s what the rest of my family is doing currently, while I spent my day in Nottingham making Chinese Dumplings and Canada Day Cupcakes while listening to my Canada day playlist! (Highlights from the playlist include Mother Mother, the Black Keys and, of course, Great Big Sea!)

I didn’t feel like traditional red and white cupcakes (I wanted chocolate!) and I already had Canada flag cupcake liners courtesy of Janice’s trip back to Canada, so my red and white was already covered! I decided to make dark chocolate lemon cupcakes with lemonade buttercream. They were moist and delicious (Janice certainly agreed!)

Dark Chocolate and Lemon Cupcakes

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • 200 grams dark chocolate
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line 12 cupcake cups with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, baking soda, sugar and zest. Stir to combine.
  3. Melt chocolate and allow to cool.
  4. Add eggs, sour cream, oil, vanilla and melted chocolate to dry ingredients, stirring until combined.
  5. Fill liners 3/4 full with cupcake batter and bake for 15-18 minutes or until baked through. Let cool completely.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Food

Homemade Perogies

In university perogies were a bit of a staple on our household, so I’m surprised I was never inclined to make them from scratch before! But suddenly the idea was in and I had to make them asap, so I dragged Janice around the grocery store hunting for the perfect potatoes (floury and red skinned) and then hauled everything home to make that very night!

Perogies

  • 2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, plus extra to serve with the pierogi
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into small pieces
  • butter and onions for sauteing
  • 5 large potatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • Knob of butter
  • 4-8oz of grated cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Pierogi Dough
To prepare the pierogi dough, mix together the flour and salt. Beat the egg, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Add the 1/2 cup sour cream and the softened butter pieces and work until the dough loses most of its stickiness (about 5-7 minutes). You can use a food processor with a dough hook for this, but be careful not to overbeat. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or overnight; the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Potato, Cheese & Onion Filling

Peel and boil potatoes until soft. While the potatoes are boiling, finely chop onion and saute in butter until soft and translucent. Mash the potatoes with the sauted onions and cheddar cheese, adding salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some fresh parsley, bacon, chives, or other enhancements if you desire. Let the potato mixture cool and then form into 1″ balls.

Prepare the Pierogies
Roll the pierogi dough on a floured board or countertop until 1/8″ thick. Cut circles of dough (2″ for small pierogies and 3-3 1/2″ for large pierogies) with a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a small ball of filling (about a tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over, forming a semi-circle. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork.

Boil the perogies a few at a time in a large pot of water. They are done when they float to the top (about 8-10 minutes). Rinse in cool water and let dry. Saute chopped onions in butter in a large pan until onions are soft. Then add pierogies and pan fry until lightly crispy. Serve with sour cream.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food