Saturday, December 24, 2011

Easiest Ever Vanilla Fudge

This fudge is great. You have all the ingredients in the house already and don't need to go to the corner shop in the rain looking for a large tin of condensed milk as you would for most other fudges. You can make it right now as long as you've got a sugar thermometer or don't mind taking a risk.

Makes enough for 2 last-minute Christmas Eve gift bags
350g golden cater sugar
300ml whole milk (would probably work with semi-skimmed too)
100g butter
few drops of vanilla extract

1 Place the milk, sugar and butter in a pan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves. You get a better end texture if you make sure all the sure has dissolved before you start to boil the mixture.

2 Bring to the boil and bubble vigorously for 20 minutes, stirring regularly until it reaches past 116C on the sugar thermometer. This is the soft ball stage, if you don't have a thermometer, drop a spot into a cup of cold water and see if sets squidgily for you.

3 Turn off the heat and beat in the vanilla extract, keep stirring for about 5 minutes until the fudge starts to thicken.Pour into a buttered or lined non-stick tin (I used a small square one but it depends on how thick you want your fudge).

4 Leave it to set for a few hours, if you remember, mark out the little squares with a knife before it's fully set - we forgot to so the surface wrinkled a little but was otherwise fine. Cut into squares, pack into gift boxes or cellophane bags.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jamaican Ginger Cake

Thanks to all this damp and misty weather, Landcroft House is currently going through an afternoon tea and cake obsession. Here's today's simple offering. I like the last minute addition of a sticky orange glaze but it isn't very authentic and traditional Jamaican ginger cake often has grated root ginger in for a bit of heat - try adding some if you fancy it.
Serves 10
175g butter
175g light brown or muscovado sugar
175g black treacle
250g plain flour
11/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 - 3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
200ml milk
2 eggs
finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
50g caster sugar

1 Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas 4. Melt then butter, brown sugar and treacle together in a pan.
Scrape into a bowl and add the flour, bicarb, spices, milk, eggs and orange zest and beat with a hand-held whisk for a couple of minutes until smooth.

2 Pour into a lined tin (mine was 20cm x 26cm) and bake for 30 - 40 minutes.

3 While the cake is baking, squeeze the orange juice into a small bowl, add the caster sugar, stir well together and set aside.

4 Take the cake out of the oven, drizzle over the orange sugar and leave to cool before cutting.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bats, Brains and Spiders

Fabio and I have been hard at work getting ready for today's school Halloween cake sale. Cutting out the bat's wings took far far too long and anyway we liked the brains best. The idea for those came from Lily Vanilli's terrifying cupcake book, we just added few maggots

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Child-friendly Cucumber Sushi

Cucumber rolls are a good introduction to sushi. They're enjoyable to make and there's nothing in them even the terrible two year old could object to eating. This will be us next week !

Serves 2
150g sushi rice
1 tbsp rice vinegar
large pinch caster sugar
5cm piece cucumber, cut into batons
2 sheets nori seaweed
1 tbsp sesame seeds
sweet soy sauce

1 Put the rice in a small pan with 300ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Stir in the vinegar and sugar, cover and leave to cool completely.

2 Divide the rice between the 2 sheets of nori, spreading it out evenly over the seaweed but leave a 1cm clear border at the bottom. and 3cm at the top. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the rice then lay the cucumber batons across the centre.

3 Fold the bottom edge of the seaweed over the filling then roll it up firmly. Dampen the top border with a little water to help it to seal the roll. Continue with the second roll then wrap them individually in cling film and chill until ready to serve.

4 Using a serrated knife, cut each roll into 8 rounds. Serve with sweet soy sauce for dipping.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Fishy Fingers

Makes 12

250g skinless, boneless white fish
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
6 tbsp bread crumbs
2 tbsp plain flour
1 egg, beaten
olive oil, for shallow frying

1 Cut the fish into chunky fingers.

2 Mix together the cheese and breadcrumbs.

3 Dip the fish first in the flour, then the egg and finally the cheesy crumbs.

4 Heat some oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Cook the fish fingers for 5 - 8 minutes until crunchy and dark golden.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Thank You Someone Nice on Crystal Palace Road

Look what I found on my way to the pub last night. How kind!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Squashy Marshmallows

This is not one for children to attempt on their own as it involves boiling sugar but the finished marshmallows are so much yummier than commercial ones, they're really worth having a go. The liquid glucose is not strictly necessary but is an insurance against the sugar crystalising and you having to start all over again.

Makes 100

30g icing sugar
30g cornflour
9 sheets gelatine
450g granulated sugar
1 tbsp liquid glucose
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Line a 20cm x 30cm tin with baking paper.

2 Sift together the icing sugar and cornflour and sprinkle half into the tin.

3 Put the gelatine into a large glass jug with 150ml water and set aside.

4 Put the sugar, glucose and 200ml of water into a pan and bring gently to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes without stirring until the syrup reaches 125C on a thermometer.

5 Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites until stiff.

6 Take the syrup off the heat and let the bubbles subside. Carefully pour the syrup into the gelatine jug and mix well.

7 With the beaters switched on, steadily pour in the hot syrup and the vanilla. The mixture will slacked but keep whisking on full speed (5 - 10 minutes) and once it's nicely thickened, pour into the prepared tin. Leave to set for a couple of hours.

8 Peel off the parchment and cut into squers, rolling them in the reserved icing sugar mixture. Store in an airtight container.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer School - Buttermilk Pancakes

Given a choice between two pages from a writing workbook or to cook a dish and write up a recipe every day, Fabio has chosen the second option. Say hello, to the Landcroft House cookery school for seven year olds. So far, we have made toad in the hole, fruit smoothies, chorizo omlettes, chocolate chip cookies and fresh pesto (not used any knives yet...)
Today, buttermilk pancakes for breakfast

Makes a lot
You could halve the recipe but then you're left with half a pot of buttermilk you'll never use. Any leftover pancakes can be toasted tomorrow.
250g self raising flour
3 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
100ml milk
2 eggs
284ml buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp melted butter
sunflower oil
butter and maple syrup, to serve

1 In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder.

2 Pour the milk into a jug, crack in the eggs and beat well. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla and butter then mix into the dry ingredients to make a smooth batter.

3 Pour a tiny bit of oil into a large, non-stick frying pan and cook spoonfuls for a minute or 2 on each side until puffed and golden brown. Eat with butter and maple syrup - also good with a handful of blueberries or some sausages.