Recipes, Tips & More

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...Need I say more ? With the darker, colder nights and mornings, the busyness of the longest school term and the run-up to Christmas we all need a little comfort food, a little sweetness to ease the rush and so why not prepare some rocky road...

No oven is needed - just a saucepan and you can freeze it too          
 (cut it up in squares before you do)
Use a sheet of greaseproof paper over the tray to set the rocky road in to easily access it! 

I try and make this Rocky Road a little healthier (!) and crunchier and tastier by adding raisins, sunflower & pumpkins seeds....

Rocky Road

Enough to fill a small take-away foil container

3 portions

2 digestives biscuits

2 rich tea biscuits

1 ginger biscuit

2 tsp. marshmallows

2 tsp. each of sunflower and pumpkin seeds

1 tsp. raisins

Syrup – 1 tbsp.

Unsalted butter – 30g

Cooking milk chocolate – 45g

(Children prefer milk chocolate but you can use dark cooking chocolate if you prefer)

Decorations – sprinkles/edible stars/silver & gold balls and/or sprinkle of sieved icing sugar

1. Bash the biscuits in a small plastic bag with a rolling pin until either fine pieces or chunky pieces - as you wish!

2. Add the pumpkin & sunflower seeds & raisins

3. Melt gently the syrup, unsalted butter and chocolate

4. Mix into the dry ingredients thoroughly and carefully

5. When the chocolate has cooled a bit add the marshmallows

6. Put into a tray on greaseproof paper and flatten with the back of a spoon

7. Decorate with sprinkles/edible stars/silver & gold balls or sprinkle with sieved icing sugar

8. Chill in fridge (or freezer if in a rush)

Decorate with a mixture of: edible silver & gold edible spray/chopped hazelnuts/squiggles of white melted chocolate
Give the Rocky Road a sweeter feel by adding extra chocolates; Revels/Smarties/Broken pieces of Crunchie/M&M's/Broken Mint or Orange Matchmakers
Give the Rocky Road a Christmassy feel by adding in 1 tsp of cranberries and pieces of honeycomb. 
Give the Rocky Road a nutty feel by adding roasted & chopped hazelnuts, flaked almonds and topped with partly crushed pistachios

...During this time of darker evenings, colder mornings and a hunkering down to the annual feel good shows of the GBBO and Strictly, its the culinary season of pies, pickles & soups, and this soup is the quickest ever to make as you don't have to peel the veg!....

This can be made even quicker with pre-prepared garlic & onion!
Just be careful not to make the soup too watery - start with a small amount of water that just covers the vegetables 

I love having a homemade soup at the weekends but sometimes the thought of peeling more veg after a week of cooking with the Mix & Munch classes and my families daily needs, I just cant face peeling more carrots or hacking through an uncooked butternut squash!

This soup is so easy, tastes delicious, uses an interesting ingredient (in a soup!) and ensures you are getting some vitamins into you and your families diet in these wintery months!

Cucumber & Courgette Soup (or just Courgette soup!)

Knob of Butter

1 onion - diced

2 garlic cloves - crushed

2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves/Mixed Herbs

1 diluted vegetable stock cube (not too much water 500ml to start with)

2 courgettes - roughly cut (double if you are using just courgettes)

2 cucumbers - roughly cut

White wine - splash (optional)

Single cream - tbsp in each portion (optional)

1. Gently melt the butter and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 5-10 minutes until the onions are translucent.

2. Add the salt & pepper and mixed herbs/thyme leaves.

3. Chop the cucumber and courgettes and add into the pan with the stock, thoroughly mix.

4. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes

5. Blend and enjoy!

Peas & Mint - Add some peas in with the courgettes & cucumber and decorate with sprigs of mint

Leek & Nutmeg - Add some leeks into the soup (again no peeling required!) and flavour with 1 tsp ground nutmeg
Replace the vegetable stock with Chicken Stock
Decorate with Shavings of Parmesan or Chopped Chives or Crumbles of Feta

...I finally made these the other week after a few years of having one of those specific Madeleine tins and having been prompted to as whilst on holiday I was offered one each morning for breakfast. How could I resist ? After-all each Madeleine is only one dessert spoon of mixture!

Savoury or Sweet ? Once you make the rich buttery batter for a Madeleine you can add any flavour...Raspberry & Lime, Lemon & Poppy Seeds, Lemon & Vanilla, Orange Zest & Chocolate Chips, Strawberry & White Chocolate, Cardamom & Nutmeg and can dip the ends (once cooled) in melted white/milk or dark chocolate...and cover with sprinkles/freeze dried raspberries/edible gold spray/ground pistachios or almonds or hazelnuts...the list is unending!

To get the most out of the batter you need to allow it to rest for around 30 minutes apart from that - they are very quick to make....

To make 18 Madeleines

Basic Batter Mix:

100g caster sugar

3 medium eggs

90g unsalted butter (melted) plus extra to grease the moulds

100g plain flour (sieved) plus a little extra for the moulds

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 tbsp honey

1. Combine the sugar and eggs in a large bowl and whisk until light and fluffy

2. Add the cooled melted butter, plain flour, baking powder, pinch of salt and honey.

3. Mix into a batter and let it rest for 30 minutes.

4. Grease your Madeleine moulds with some of the extra melted butter and dust slightly with the extra flour.

5. Spoon only 1 dessert spoon into the moulds.

6. Bake at 180 degrees non fan for 10-12 minutes until risen and golden.

Mocha - Add 15g of sieved cocoa and 1 tbsp of diluted instant coffee to the batter mixture

Lemon & Poppy Seeds - Add 2 tsp of poppy seeds and the juice and zest of 3 lemons to the batter mixture

Lime & Blackberry/Raspberry/Strawberry - Add the juice and zest of 2 limes to the batter mixture and put a Blackberry/Raspberry/Strawberry into each of Madeleine moulds after the batter has been added

Honey & Vanilla - Add an additional 1 tbsp of runny honey and 1 tbsp of vanilla extract to the batter mixture

Pistachio & Orange - Add 50g of crushed pistachios & the zest of 2 oranges & 1 tbsp of orange blossom water to the batter mixture