Category: Yummies

Scoff Club

Ross and I are in a dinner club with the rest of his family.  Every second week, two couples will dine together and each couple will have a turn at hosting.  The aim is to cook something different and out of the ordinary.  Realizing my delicious lasagne wouldn’t suffice, Ross and I gave it some thought and ultimately decided on the following:

For Mains:

Fillet steak with a Chocolate-Chilli sauce served on a bed of crispy vermicelli and rocket salad with a side of Potato Dauphinoise.

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For Dessert:

Vanilla Bean Panna cotta served with Fresh Berries

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This meal did coincide with my latest bout of healthy eating and losing weight but I managed to work around having too much of the mains – I must admit that I did annihilate the Panna cotta though – I have an insatiable sweet tooth – and it was divine, if I do say so myself!

Andy’s Millionaire’s Shortbread

I love baking, and I make some killer Millionaire’s Shortbread, if I do say so myself.  I really recommend you try this yourself – although it takes quite a bit of effort, the results make it all worth it.

You start off by making your own shortbread.  That’s right – always make your pastry/base – it’s easier than you think.  Blitz 225g plain flour, 80g castor sugar and 175g of butter (cut into cubes) in your food processor until it resembles a sandy texture.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this with your hands but that’s just not as much fun and you will need to work quickly so that the butter doesn’t start to melt in your hands..

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Once you have your sandy texture, pour it into a square dish that is about 8cm deep and 20cm across and lined with greaseproof paper.  Lay it flat, and prick a fork all over the surface to keep the base slightly loose.  Bake it at 180 for 25 minutes or so – until the colour becomes golden.  Keep an eye on it though, and be sure not to keep it in for too long, as the last thing you want is hard shortbread.

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The next step is to make your own caramel.  That’s right!  No store-bought rubbish here, homemade caramel makes the world of difference.  To do this, you need to melt 400ml sweetened condensed milk, 200g of butter (mmm, more butter) and 65ml golden syrup together.

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Heat this mix gradually, over a lower heat until it starts to bubble.  Note: stir this continuously.  Don’t stop for a second, because (as from personal experience) this caramel sticks to the base of your pan and burns super easily.  You need to keep stirring for a good couple minutes – it has, on occasion, taken up to 20 minutes to get it to the perfect caramel consistency.

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Once the mixture darkens and becomes decidedly caramel (without becoming fudge) it is ready.  Pour the mixture onto your now-cooled base, and try not to eat it all prior to this.

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Leave the caramel to set for an hour or so prior to making your final topping (and arguably the best part) – the chocolate layer.

The recipe I originally used advised using 150g milk chocolate with 150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids).  I found that not only was this rather pricey (Lindt is the only dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids I could find), but it takes the richness of this treat to a whole new level.  I happily substitute this with ordinary dark chocolate with around 20-30% cocoa solids instead.  The downside of this is you don’t see the different chocolate colours as easily in your top layer but don’t worry – it tastes just as good!

Simply melt the two chocolates together in a heatproof bowl over a pot of boiling water.  I like to melt the milk chocolate first and then add in the dark chocolate to help get a nice blend of dark and light chocolate colours.

Pour your melted chocolate over the now-set caramel and leave this to cool again.  I find it’s best if you leave it overnight to set as it tends to take quite a while.

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Once it has set, lift out your big block of shortbready, caramelly, chocolatey goodness (I use the greaseproof paper ‘handles’) and put it on a chopping block.  When cutting your Millionaire’s Shortbread, be sure to use a very sharp knife – otherwise, you will find that the chocolate cracks and breaks into lots of little pieces.  Not that this is much of a problem, to be honest.

ImageCut this treat into squares – I comfortably get about 16 decent-sized squares – and serve.  It is a very sweet and rich treat that goes well with late-afternoon tea and coffee.

Enjoy!

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Basil Pesto – How-to

Last night, I made my first basil pesto using basil I grew in my own garden. I’ve been feeling very chuffed, so I thought I’d share how I went about making this simple pesto.

You will need:
Fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups worth). It looks like a lot but once ground down, amounts to very little.
Cheese – preferably pecorino or parmesan (about 1/2 cup).
Extra virgin olive oil – about a 1/2 cup.
Pine nuts (1/3 cup).
A clove or two of garlic.
Salt and pepper to taste.

*Note: Pesto should be made to taste, based on the ingredients you have, so you can adjust the ingredients to your taste.

How-To
Using a mortar and pestle, grind down the basil with some of the olive oil. Add more oil whenever it starts to look dry.

Add each ingredient, one by one, grinding again after each addition until it reaches the consistency you want. Remember to scrape the sides in after each addition so everything mixes well.

Have a small taste after each addition so you are aware of how each ingredient affects the flavour.

Another option (which I chose to do last night) is to make a basil pesto mayonnaise. Add the pesto bit by bit into your mayo (I used 4 tablespoons of mayo) and mix well.

It is so delicious, it can be served with anything and everything. You can freeze the pesto, but if you do, rather omit the cheese as it doesn’t freeze well.

Enjoy! :)

Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto

Oreo Cheesecake

I recently made this for some friends and it’s a deeelicious, rich cheesecake – best served with a glass of cold milk.

Ingredients:

24 Oreo cookies, divided
3 tbsp butter, melted
3 x 250g packs Philadelphia brick cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs

Method:

1. Heat oven to 180’C. Place 16 cookies in a ziploc bag, remove excess air and seal. Finely crush cookies by rolling a rolling pin across the bag. Place in bowl. Add butter and mix well. Press firmly onto bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

2. Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Chop or crush remaining 8 cookies. Gently stir half of the chopped cookies into cream cheese batter. Pour over prepared crust; sprinkle with remaining chopped cookies.

3. Bake for 45 minutes or until centre is almost set. Cool. Refirgerate for 3 hours or overnight.