I hope you'll join me in creating memories and sharing the passion of experimentation.

Anything goes, but food, sewing, hosting and DIY are my favourites, what are yours?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Pinny of the Month

This month I thought I'd show you all some pinnies (or a whole website) with the fun factor! Wearing a pinny isn't exactly a necessary accessory, so why not lighten the mood in the kitchen with something from  Bambino Amore ?

Bambino Amore is an Etsy based shop selling retro inspired pinny's which focus on the large heart shaped stiff front panel... gorgeous.

I haven't been able to choose my favourite from this site because you could use so many of them for different occasions. I love their floral and fun patterned designs....

....but their whimsical 'party pieces' are real show stoppers, and i'm so tempted to buy one of the designs below....

Harley Quinn

Can you imagine hosting a themed dinner party in them? Even if you weren't going to use them in the kitchen, they'd make a really fun fancy dress outfit.

Help me decide?? Please :)

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Cookie Time Saver

Don't you sometimes wish you could have just one (or two) freshly baked cookies without having to make and cook a whole batch?

Here's how you can do it!

Take your favourite cookie recipe (mine is the chewy kind - see this one I have on my blog if you're looking for one) and make more dough than you need.

Form balls of dough, just like you would if you were baking the cookies, and lay them on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet flat in the freezer for 2-3 hours.

Once fully hardened, you can remove the baking sheet, and place all of the uncooked cookie balls in a plastic bag and pop the bag back in the freezer.

Then, when you fancy one, place one in the oven on a small lined baking tray and cook as per your cookie baking recipe, adding on 1 or so minutes to the cooking time!

And there you go, in a matter of minutes you'll have one freshly baked cookie without all the faff of mixing the dough. YUM!!!

Chewy Cookies - the best kind I think!

I know some people like the crispy kind of cookies, but they're just not for me...well, i'm not going to say no to any kind of cookie actually, but the chewy kind are always far superior in my opinion.

I've searched and searched for a good recipe, but they always spread out too much, go too thin, end up being crunchy, and have a slight taste of burnt sugar. BUT recently I found it, the secret of getting beautifully puffed up chewy cookies... Cornflour!

Have a look at this recipe, try it out and let me know how you get on :)

170g unsalted butter at room temperature
150g brown sugar (I like to use a mixture of light brown sugar and a muscovado sugar of some kind)
50g granulated sugar
250g plain flour
25g corn flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp salt
1 egg, beaten - free range please
2tsp vanilla extract, or a drop of vanilla paste
150g chocolate chips
Optional: Add two pieces of stem ginger cut finely for an extra wow factor

TIP: You can have fun with the chocolate chips - white, dark or a mix. Or try substituting the chocolate chips for caramel drops, fudge pieces, dried fruit or jelly sweets (it really works). Have fun with it - experiment.

Serving: around 20 cookies

1) Cream together the butter and both sugars in a large mixing bowl until it becomes light, pale and fluffy. It may take a long time, but getting it to turn pale really is the secret to baking
2) Beat in the vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture
3) Sieve the flour, cornflour, bicarb of soda and salt together into a medium sized bowl
4) Alternate adding the egg and flour mixture gradually until a soft dough forms
5) Now add your chocolate chips, make sure they're evenly spaced in the dough
6) Preheat your oven to 175degrees (155degrees for a fan oven)
7) Take a baking sheet and cover it in greaseproof paper
8) Take a ping pong ball amount of dough, roll it roughly into a ball and place on the sheet. Repeat this until you've used up all of your dough

9) Place the baking sheet into the fridge for 20 minutes to allow the dough to cool. TIP: This step is crucial to getting thicker chewier cookies, as it stops the cookies spreading out as quickly when they cook
10) Take your cookies out of the fridge and bake in the oven for 8-10minutes
11) The cookies are done when they are JUST starting to turn golden around the edges (they shouldn't brown on the top). Don't cook them for over 10 minutes, or you'll end up with crispy cookies. The cookies continue to cook when they're out of the oven, so don't worry.
12) Allow to cool (a little... I know how tempting warm cookies are) and there you go, beautifully chewy cookies for everyone to enjoy :)

Time Saver: These cookies are pretty quick to make, but if you find yourself wanting some cookies but only have 10 minutes to spare, try freezing the cookies when they're still balls of dough. You can bake the cookies in exactly the same way from frozen (adding a minute or so to the cooking time) - have a look at this blog post to see how.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Sunday Treats - Shortbread Brownies

Last weekend I was in a quandary ... did I fancy shortbread or brownies? It was like Sophie's choice (I exaggerate....kind of)

So, after spending about 20minutes searching for pictures of each to see if my eyes and stomach could make a decision, I decided... Shortbread Brownies!

I took my favourite brownie recipe, my favourite shortbread recipe and combined the two. I definitely made the right decision - it was exactly what I fancied!!
120g butter, softened
55g golden caster sugar
130g plain flour
40g dry semolina
pinch of salt

275g golden caster sugar
190g unsalted butter
185g good quality chocolate (I like to use 80% cocoa) but standard plain chocolate will do the job just fine
90g plain flour
3 large eggs (free range please guys - or even better...fresh!)
Optional: 70g Rice Crispies

The brownie recipe also works perfectly well without the shortbread. My favourite recipe as it's not too rich :)
Serving: 24 triangles

1) Start with the shortbread. Beat the softened butter with the sugar and salt until pale and creamy. TIP: It's hard work creaming butter and sugar together until pale, but it really is the secret of successful desserts :)
2) Sift the flour over the creamy mixture and add the semolina. Beat until combined and it forms a dough - it should just about stick together
3) Line a large baking sheet with parchment or baking paper

If you haven't already, get the kids involved. And if you don't have kids, YOU get to act like one now!

4) Time to take little bits of the dough and roll them into many many little balls. The balls should be around a 1cm across
5) Once you've used up all the dough, place the tray in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to firm up again. Preheat your oven to 150degrees (130degrees fan oven)
6) Place the shortbread into the oven for 30minutes. You don't want the shortbread to brown, so if you can see signs of them turning golden, reduce the heat. Take out the oven and leave to cool

Lets start the brownies!

7) Break up the butter and chocolate into small pieces and place in a Pirex bowl. Half fill a small saucepan with water and place the bowl just inside the saucepan so that the bowl is resting on the edges of the saucepan. Make sure the water isn't touching the bottom of the bowl. This is a type of Bain Marie
8) Place the Bain Marie on a low heat and gently melt the butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally. Once melted, leave to cool

9) Take a large mixing bowl, break your eggs into it and add the sugar. Whisk them together until they form a thick, pale, creamy consistency which is about double its original volume. This may take around 5 minutes - if you want to cheat a little, use an electric whisk on a medium speed for 2-3 minutes

10) Slowly pour in the chocolate mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Gently fold the chocolate in, until everything has combined. Fold instead of mix to keep the air in - this way your brownies will stay light and airy

11) Sieve the flour and cocoa powder into the mixture. Gently fold together until a glossy gooey mixture forms, but don't fold too much or you'll loose that lovely airy texture

Everything is about to come together... eek, can't wait!!

12) Fold in the cooled shortbread - or the shortbread you have left... I can guarantee quite a few of the little drops of heaven have already been consumed! TIP: Now is the time to add those optional Rice Crispies. The Rice Crispies go soft and make the brownie a little more chewy.Turn up the oven to 180degrees (160degrees for a fan oven) once the shortbread has been removed
13) Line a brownie tin (around 24x20cm) and pour the mixture in. Place in the oven for 25minutes. If after 25minutes the middle of the brownie still feels wobbly, pop it back in for 5 minutes

14) Remove from oven. Once it has cooled slightly, take a knife and mark out your brownies

15) Now this might be the hardest thing in the world, but you SHOULD allow the brownies to cool completely before turning them out. I'll leave that decision up to you

YOU'RE DONE! Eat, enjoy, freeze some (yer right), take them to a picnic and give some to friends (again, yer right)

Time Saver: I must confess that this is definitely a 'Sunday Treat' and isn't the quickest thing to make... BUT both the shortbread and brownies on their own are pretty quick and simple. PLUS you could double the brownie mixture, cook them all and then freeze the ones you don't want for another day - simple pop them in the oven for 10minutes to warm through. OR make double the shortbread mixture and freeze the other half - I recommend freezing the dough in the shapes you like (cut out biscuit fingers for example) rather than the cooked shortbread, as it turns out much better

TIP: If you want to use the shortbread recipe on it's own to make thicker shortbread fingers, leave in the oven for around an hour and sprinkle them with brown sugar once they've just come out of the oven. Mmmm tasty!

Have you combined two recipes to make one giant success? I'd love to know!