Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Coconut Cream Brownies

You know those days when you really want something rich and chocolatey but there is not much in your cupboards and it's too rainy to go to the shop? Well, I had one of those days recently. All day people had been talking about chocolate brownies (it was just one of those days) and I needed movie-watching snacks, but then come home time it was raining so hard that I just couldn't face going to the supermarket. So I improvised. Ages and ages ago I tried to make a brownie with coconut cream because I was short on butter and eggs and I've been meaning to make the recipe better all this time, but never quite got around to it. Until now. Now I have figured out a recipe for a perfectly gooey, dark, rich chocolate brownie that uses coconut cream instead of butter, which makes it dairy free, but not really any healthier. However, it was absolutely delicious and what is the point of brownie if it is healthy anyway? This particular brownie was quite good fresh out of the oven, but even better cold the next day.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies are amazing. I'm not even sure what it is that makes them so good, but there is just something extra delicious about them that may shift them into the position of my favourite cookie recipe. They might even be better than my original chocolate chip cookie recipe, and that's saying a lot. I found the recipe on a blog hop and they were called 'I want to marry you' cookies. I figured that I had to try something that is purported to be so good, but the first time I made them I screwed the recipe up and forgot the oats. They were still good, but these are better. The original recipe calls for the butter to be melted instead of creamed into the sugar and I forgot to do that this time around but I'm still pleased with the results. I swapped some of the butter for peanut butter so I still have to make this recipe once more, sticking to the original, just to see what they are like. But these have already been given a huge vote of confidence - one of my friends said that they were her favourite cookie that I make, which is odd because I had never made them before and she insists that she doesn't like peanut butter. So that's pretty high praise.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Peach Whiskey Chicken

I found this recipe on a blog hop and I am so glad that I saved it and made it - it was delicious!  It was very saucy and sort of sweet and the chicken was falling off of the bone. For me here in Ireland it really wasn't the cheapest meal to make - as well as whiskey this dish features BBQ sauce, which is not a huge thing over here, peach preserves, which were also really hard to find and quite expensive, and finally fresh peaches, which sadly are really quite pricey over here. You could probably use canned peaches, but I would rather live in a warmer country that can grow its own fruit. In fact, I would love to have my own fruit trees because summer fruits are my favourites, especially peaches and apricots. And strawberries and cherries. Although I'd probably eat so much of it that it would make me sick. Still, imagine how easy it would be to bake pies and fruit muffins and top pavlovas if you could just pop out to the garden and pick a big pile of fruit. I'm clearly in the wrong climate. But at least I have lots of yummy leftovers to get me through this cold, rainy excuse for a summer that Ireland has provided us with this year.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Maple Pecan Cookies

This recipe is my latest cookie invention. It may not be very original, but the amazing-ness that is maple syrup is new to me, and I just had to use up the rest of the bottle in some cookies. They did not have such a strong maple flavour as the maple cupcakes, but they were still really good. The addition of pecans to these cookies is on account of some ice-cream that I ate too much of over the weekend - Ben & Jerry's Vermonster, with maple flavoured ice-cream, caramelised pecans and a caramel swirl. It was so yummy! I could have eaten an entire tub of just the pecans, so when I found a big bag of them at the supermarket I had to buy them. I tried to caramelise the, but they did not turn out so well as the ones in the ice-cream. I tried too different ways and the best result was to smother the pecans in brown sugar and then heat them in a frying pan until the sugar started to melt. I also tried it with butter, but I found that with butter the nuts just got greasy and the sugar didn't really stick to them. I think next time I might just make caramel sauce, drizzle it over the pecans and bake them for a little while. Or maybe I won't - the pecans were so yummy that I used half in the cookies and just ate the rest, they're clearly a dangerous snack to have around the house.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Steak & Mushroom Pie

A couple of weeks ago the Volvo Ocean Race arrived in Galway for the grand finale and to celebrate we had a race-village set up at the docks, full of stands selling all sort of yummy food. You wanna know the one that I got the most excited about? The pie stand! It was from Pie-Minister, a UK pie shop, and the pies were amazing! I had a steak pie that was so good that I was craving meat pie for the rest of the week. I couldn't just go back and buy one though, they were way too expensive! 5 euro for a pie - that's like 8 NZ dollars, for just one pie! It was worth it, but only the once. Instead, it is time to formulate a recipe for an amazing steak and gravy pie that will leave people drooling for more. Over the weekend I stayed out of the rain and in the kitchen making a thick beef and mushroom stew and shortcrust pastry.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Courgette Soup

Here in Galway we are not really having much of a summer. We had one really good week with high temperatures and sunshine, then a month or so later we had another. That was pretty much it. Through June it didn't really rain much, but now that it's July it is getting cold already and we've had a couple of weeks of really awful rain. So anyway, my point is that it's not too hot for soup. I had some courgette in the fridge that I didn't know what to do with, so I looked up courgette soup and found this one from the BBC food website. It was really yummy and is probably my new favourite way to eat courgette. Plus it was really fast to make. Soup is a great way to add more vegetables to your diet and I would recommend soup all year round, but then again, I live in a cold place. If I ever live somewhere that is too hot in the summer to enjoy hot soup, I will simply have to experiment with cold soups, like gazpacho, so that I don't have to forego my soup fix. As for this delicious green soup, the only thing that I might change next time is to use less liquid, as I generally like my soups to be quite thick.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Today I really feel like quitting my PhD and just baking all day. Unfortunately it has gotten to the point where I've come so far that I really might as well finish. Yet at the same time, what is the point, when all I want to do is bake cakes? These cupcakes were made for a friend's birthday - I doubled the recipe and then tried to stretch it to make 30 instead of 24 cupcakes. Not a great idea, some of those cupcakes were more frosting then cake. Luckily the frosting was really good. I wanted to make my cupcakes glitter, like the ones that you see in cafe's these days, but the cake decorating shop that is here in Galway did not have proper cake glitter.  I ended up with a shimmery gold dust that was not at all sprinkle-able. I have to find some real cake glitter for the next time. I already have a great idea for the next batch of cupcakes so now I just need somebody to have a birthday.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tangy Mushroom Sauce (for steak)

This recipe comes from a meal that I made for myself and my flatmate a couple of weeks ago. We both try to stay fit and get plenty of exercise and sometimes that leaves a person craving a protein packed meal - not to mention the rainy weather that we've been having lately makes warm comfort food seem very appealing. So steak and chips was on the menu, only the chips were sweet potato chips and the steak was dressed up with a creamy, tangy sauce that I found on one of the many websites that feature Gordon Ramsay. But I didn't have everything that he did, so I had to make some changes, like substituting vermouth for sherry. I have never been overly fond of red meat so I only rarely cook steak, but you know, this sauce was so delicious that I might just have to eat steak more often, so that I have an excuse to have piles of yummy sauce!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Peanut Brownies

Peanut brownies are a type of cookie from New Zealand - one of those ones that everybody's grandma makes and can be found in the Edmond's Cookbook. They're simply a chocolate cookie packed full of peanuts. They're also really yummy. So is the raw cookie dough. But that doesn't mean that you should eat a lot of it, because if you do you will end up with a sore tummy, like I did. Yet that didn't stop me from trying  the cookies as soon as they came out of the oven, and then again the next morning just to make sure they were still good. Which they were. Simple and sweet and salty. Crunchy and chocolatey (I may have included just a bit more cocoa than the recipe specified). This recipe is extremely easy to put together so I would recommend mixing up a batch right away!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Something Really Unusual...

It's cooking challenge time again! This month is savoury food instead of something baked, which I am usually not so keen on, but I was actually really excited about this month's challenge! You see, this month's challenge is fried chicken, something that is very popular in America but not really the done thing in my part of the world, so it's something that I have never made and when I first read this month's challenge topic I thought it would be a good chance to find a great recipe to fall back on when people need a treat. I always find it a bit hard to find blog recipes so I went to that old stand-by, the erecipecards website. This is the part where I got really excited about this month's challenge, enough so that I made this nearly a month before the due date. What I found was a way to turn this month's challenge into a sweet, baked treat! It turns out that in America you can have fried chicken with waffles and maple syrup for breakfast and this amazingly creative blogger turned that breakfast into a maple waffle fried chicken cupcake!! I saw it, I thought about it for maybe two minutes, and I knew that I absolutely had to try it. I mean, topping a cupcake with chicken? What sort of crazy person does that? Well, me, for one! And you know what? They were actually really good, in a strange sort of way.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Porcini Pasta

In my kitchen there has been a packet of dried mushrooms sitting in the cupboard for ages - months at least, maybe close to a  year! They have been sitting there so long because I was not sure how to use them. Finally I looked it up and it turns out that rehydrating mushrooms is a piece of cake, so I decided to turn that packet of mushrooms into a creamy pasta dish. What I created contained way more dairy than I have had in a long time, which perhaps wasn't the smartest idea because it was incredibly rich and afterward I felt like bursting. But that's not so much the dairy as the overeating, which had to be done because this pasta was delicious! The only problem with such a rich, creamy pasta was that it cooled and congealed rather quickly, so next time I should probably serve it on a hot plate!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

Mmmm cupcakes. Cupcakes are why I love birthdays. This time the flavour was a difficult choice, but I have seen a lot of salted caramel recipes around lately, it's clearly the newest craze. In my file of recipes to try there are salted caramel brownies, cupcakes, ice-cream, even hot chocolate. So I finally decided on chocolate cupcakes with caramel frosting and more caramel on top. I forgot the salted part, but they were amazing without the caramel being salted. Baking the cupcakes really cheered me up after a long week, but probably as a result of my long week I made a few stupid mistakes. I tried a caramel recipe from The Baker Chick to begin with and I burn the sugar - the resulting caramel tasted awful! So I threw it out and tried again. The next recipe, from Bird On A Cake, was much better. However, I nearly ran out of butter by the time I got around to making the frosting and that was when I realised that I had put way too much butter in the cupcakes. That is why you should always weigh stuff. Somehow I had just gotten completely confused and forgotten how much a pat of butter weighed, for some reason I thought it was 250 grams but really it's 500 grams. So my cupcakes had twice the amount of butter than they should have. It just goes to show that while baking is a precise thing, you can also fuck it up and things will still turn out fine. The cupcakes were dense and brownie-like, the frosting was really delicious and the caramel sauce on top made them look really pretty.