Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sugar Cookie Crisis


2 sticks of butter, softened
2 cups white fine sugar
2 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
half a teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice and the zest of two lemons


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least an hour (or overnight).

Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on un-greased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Problems - when things go wrong.

1. Cookies change shape:-

Find an adult with a steady hand and a sharp knife. Ask the adult to use the knife or the original cookie cutter to stamp out the correct shape whilst the cookies are still warm when they come out of the oven. Try to use words and an ordinary voice to your adult helper. All adults are old and if you shout at them they are less efficient, which means slower. If you want an adult to move fast, try small quiet words.

2. Cookies are hard:-

American cookies are crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. If your cookies are like bricks, don't panic, you've actually made English Biscuits by accident - clever you! They're still tasty, just different. If you don't want to make European biscuits again, next time try not to handle the dough too much. 'Handle' means touch, roll, poke and squeeze. If you accidentally handle them too much you can always put them back in the fridge for another hour to become firm again.

If the dough turns grey and oily it probably needs a chill [in the fridge]

3. Cookies don't match the picture in the book:-

Find your adult helper and a camera. Make the adult take a picture of your superior cookies, print out the photograph and tape it over the book's inferior picture - now they match perfectly.

4. Cookies are double or triple the size indicated by the recipe:-

Most foolish people think that more is better.

Recipes are often wrong. This is very bad. You have my every sympathy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pre-trifle - Jelly Custard

You will need:-

One packet of red jello [check flavor carefully]

32 fluid ounces of Bird's Custard made up

Make the jello first and leave to set in the fridge for an hour until firm

Meanwhile make up the hot custard and leave to cool with a sheet of greaseproof paper or Saran Wrap / Cling film over the surface so that it doesn't form a skin.

When the jelly is set and the custard is cold, pour the custard evening over the jello and refrigerate for an hour.

Try and eat both substances together with a bit of red and a bit of yellow on the same spoon.

Once you have mastered this technique you can advance to the next stage and add a layer of whipped cream on top - 3 flavors, 3 textures, 3 colors, 3 smells. Up for the challenge?

Only a few wee mouthfuls away from Trifle......or so we hope.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Chelsea Buns

These are the UK equivalent of Cinnabons [without the frosting]

2 lbs of white bread dough
one cup of raisins plumped in boiling water with a squirt of lemon juice [drain once cooled]
half a cup of light brown sugar
one egg beaten to a froth
one teaspoon of ground nutmeg and one of cinnamon

1. Spread out the dough onto a floured surface and form into a large rectangle - about 18 inches by 12 inches

2. Spread with the beaten egg using a brush

3. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the surface

4. Roll up into a sausage shape

5. Cut sausage in half

6. Cut each piece in half again and then cut each quarter into fourths

7. Place each roll in a well greased baking tin

8. Cover with a damp cloth or greased paper and leave to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.

9. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for twenty minutes.

Eat whilst still warm with lots of salted butter.

Score = 5 as long as you skip the butter.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Coconut puffs

You will need:-
1 packet of puff pastry thawed to room temperature
half a cup of dessicated coconut
nine mini marshmallows
Parchment paper on a cookie tray

Unfold the pastry and cut into nine even squares
Put a small pile of coconut in the centre of each one
Pop a mini marshmallow on top
Dampen the edge of the square - brush with water
pull up the corners to form parcels and squeeze tight
bake in a pre-heated over at 425 degrees for about 12 minutes

Leave to cool for at least 5 minutes on the parchment paper [if you transfer them they will glue themselves to whatever you put them on / in

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jaffa Dogs - Barbequed desserts

An easy, popular summer dessert for the barbeque.

You wil need:-
One or two cans of Nectar
A hot dog bun per person
Philadelphia Cheese
Bag of mini 3 Musketeers
Pam cooking spray
Table knife for spreading

1. Tear off a sheet of foil about 12 inches square
2. Lay it flat on the surface and spray it with Pam
3. Split a hot dog bun in half and spread the bottom of the bottom [!] with a thick layer of Nutella. Put the bottom, Nutella side down on the sprayed foil in the middle
4. Put the other half of the bun next to the one you’ve been working on.
5. Curve the foil up around the bun like a little protective bath
6. Pour a few tablespoons of nectar over both buns
7. Spread the soggy bun with another layer of Nutella
8. Spread a layer of Philadelphia cheese on top of the Nutella
9. Place three mini Musketeer candies on top
10. Put the plain but soggy top bun on top
11. Spread the top with another layer of Nutella
12. Scrunch up the foil until it is hidden a bit like a cracker.
13. When you sit down to eat your barbeque put the foil packages on the barbeque on the lowest heat and leave there for about 10 minutes
14. After ten minutes remove from the barbeque and open the packages to let the steam escape – ask an adult to do this bit for you as the dessert is very hot indeed.
15. Either eat in the foil to save washing up or tip out into a bowl.
Variations:- serve with cream or ice cream to speed up the cooling down process.

Eaten to quickly for an 'after' photo!

You may wish to enter your own "contribution," to NPR.

Score = 10 but only if you avoid the vile ice-cream

Inoffensive Kebabs

You will need:-
Precooked Hot dogs [one per person]
Cherry tomatoes [six per person]
Kebab sticks soaked in water so that they don’t burn when you put them on the barbeque

1. Turn the barbeque on to heat up
2. cut the hot dogs into bite sized pieces
3. push one piece of hot dog onto the stick followed by a cherry tomato
4. repeat until the stick is nearly full but with enough room each end for you to hold the stick
5. cook the kebabs on a medium heat for about 5 minutes.
6. Turn them over half way through so that they get dark lines on both sides
7. Serve with fresh bread and green salad

Score = 7 [minus the black marks]

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Strawberry pudding recipe

You will need:-
One pound of washed strawberries hulled [take off the green bit]
Sugar to taste about one or two tablespoons [if you use Demerara sugar it gives a pleasant caramel taste]
2 tablespoons of Bird’s Instant Custard
One pint of full cream milk which is 20 fluid ounces

One big bowl
One little bowl
Measuring spoon
Wooden spoon to stir
Cuisinart /Magimix to whiz the mixture smooth.
Serving bowl
Rubber spatula
Cling film

1.Mix the custard powder and sugar together in the small bowl and add some of milk, about a quarter cup or a few tablespoons.
2.Stir it until it looks like a paste.
3.Heat the rest of the milk in the microwave until it is hot, about two minutes.
4.Add the custard paste to the hot milk in the big bowl and stir.
5.Return to the microwave and heat for two more minutes.
6.Take out and stir.
7.Put it back into the microwave and heat for one minute.
8.Take out and stir. Now it should be getting thicker and less liquidy. Repeat until it is really thick.
9.Scrape into the magimix and add the strawberries.
10.Whizz until there are no lumps but only teeny tiny specks of strawberry.
11.If the tiny specks are still too hideous you can sieve the mixture to remove the bits. [and any accidental lumps]
12.Pour the mixture into the serving bowl and cover with wetted cling film which will stop the pudding from forming a disgusting skin.
13.Place in the refrigerator to chill for an hour.

[Note = you can make the custard in the traditional saucepan method if you have graduated to open flames or electric ring burners]

Monday, July 13, 2009

No cook corrupted Caprese Salad

You will need:-
One pound of tomatoes
One pound of Mozarella cheese
One jar of Kalamata olives
One jar of roasted red bell peppers
One bunch of fresh basil
Olive oil

1.Chop the cheese into bite sized squares
2.Pull off the basil leaves from the stalks
3. Cut the tomatoes into bite sized pieces
4. Mix the tomatoes, cheese and basil in a big bowl
5. Drain the bell peppers in a sieve and chop into bite sized pieces
6. Drain the olives in a sieve and chop into bite sized pieces
7. Add a quarter cup of good vinegar
8. Add half a cup of olive oil
9. Mix well
10. Chill in the refridgerator for an hour.
11. Serve with fresh warm bread.

Score = 4 but not the olives. Also brown cheese is very peculiar

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Green bean, Tomato and Coriander Salad

You will need:-
One pound of tomatoes
One pound of green beans
One bunch of fresh coriander [cilantro]
Olive oil

1.Chop of the tops and tails from the beans [you can use scissors for this]
2.Place water in the steamer and then steam the beans for ten minutes
3. Cut the tomatoes into bite sized pieces
4. Chop the coriander [cilantro] roughly and mix into the tomatoes
5. Pull out the beans, drain the water and plunge into cold water [this makes them stay green and stops the colour draining away.]
6. Add a quarter cup of good vinegar
7. Add half a cup of olive oil
8. When the beans are cold pour into a sieve and then pat dry with a tea towel
9. Mix in the beans
10. Chill in the refridgerator for an hour.
11. Serve with fresh warm bread.

Score = 3 but not the beans

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Real Scottish Shortbread

Taken from Leith's Cookery Bible:-

This makes 6 to 8 biscuits [cookies]
4 ounces of butter at room temperature
2 ounces of caster /superfine sugar [do not use granulated]
4 ounces of plain flour [not all purpose or it will rise]
2 ounces of rice flour [this is what gives it the effect of gluing it to the roof of your mouth. Some people use Semolina but that's unobtainable around here]

We doubled the ingredients to make American sized portions.

1.Turn on the over to 325 degrees F.
2.Beat the butter and sugar in the mixer until it changes colour and looks creamy and fluffy.
3.Sift the flours together and then add to the mixer on ‘slow’ until you have one big lump of shortbread.
4. Place a fluted shortbread ring onto a baking tray and tip the big lump onto the tray in the middle of the ring.
5. Squish out to the ends of the ring.
6. prick the surface all over with a fork
7. draw lines with a knife on the circle of shortcake to look like spokes of a bicycle wheel.
8. Bake for about 40 minutes until very pale.
9. Leave to cool for five minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

If you don’t have a shortbread ring you can just roll the dough out into a circle and crimp the edges with your fingers. Put flour on your hands first or the dough will stick to you.

Score = 10 out of 10

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Snack on a Stick - corn dog variation

You will need:-
One packet of fat hot dogs
One large 'can' of Grands biscuits [which are bread rolls]


lollipop sticks soaked in water
one baking tray

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
2. Unwrap the hot dogs and insert a lollipop stick in each one
3. Unwrap the biscuits and squish them all together
4. Take a piece of dough and roll it into a thin long sausage
5. Wrap the dough sausage around the hot dog sausage in a spiral
6. Repeat four and five until all the hot dogs are covered
7. Bake in the oven for between 8 and 12 minutes until gold brown.
8. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for a little while as they are very hot.

Score = 10 out of 10 for total yumminess

Monday, July 6, 2009

Traffic light salad

You will need:-

1 can of kidney beans
1 can of white corn
1 x 10 ounce packet of frozen peas [thawed]
One finely diced carrot
2 lbs of broad beans shelled [taken out of the pod]
Bunch of Spring onions chopped
1 cup of your Mother's favourite vinaigrette

Big bowl
mixing spoon
can opener
measuring cup

Open each can and empty into the sieve and rinse under the tap.

Put each one into the big bowl and add the vinaigrette.

Stir thoroughly and chill for an hour in the fridge.

If you skip the corn or carrots then it’s stop and go salad.

Green Salad for Vegetable haters

Half a pound of Orzo [pasta that looks like rice]
2 tablespoons of ready made green Pesto
Handful of fresh basil leaves [washed in water and dried with a tea towel]
One head of innocuous salad leaves finely shredded [cut into very thin strips]

The chef’s job is to stir stuff. The chef’s helper does the chopping and hot stuff.

Boil the orzo in water for about 10 minutes until soft [ask an adult to open the box for you so you can pour the pasta into the pan]
Drain the orzo in a sieve [ask for adult help] and tip the pasta back into the warm saucepan. Stir in the pesto sauce until all the cream coloured pasta has turned green.

Stir in the basil leaves.
Stir in the chopped lettuce.
Keep stirring until all the green leaves turn floppy in the heat.
Leave to cool to room temperature and eat with barbequed food.

Score = minus infinity but the basil leaves aren't too bad.

Castle Puddings

From “My Fun-to-Cook Book by Ursula Sedgwick and illustrated by Martin Mayhew
We doubled the recipe for American sized portions.

4 ounces butter or margarine
4 ounces of Castor sugar [baker’s]
2 eggs
4 ounces of self raising [all purpose] flour
Syrup, preferably Tate and Lyle’s [available from you local British store and sometimes Lunardi’s]

1. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees
2. Grease and flour dariole mould [tea cups will do if they’re oven proof]
3. Put a teaspoonful of syrup in each
4. Cream the butter and sugar
5. Break the egg beat with a fork
6. Add beaten egg to the creamed mixture
7. Fold in the flour gently with a metal spoon
8. Fill each mould two thirds full.
9. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes
10. Remove from oven and leave to cool for five minutes
11. Take a knife and slide it around the edge and pop it out into a dish
12. You can add extra syrup as suggested in the original recipe but it doesn’t really need any
13. Goes well with custard, ice cream or cream.

Use jam instead of syrup
Use Maple syrup instead of Tate and Lyle

One of the reasons that I really like this book is that the ‘illustrations’ are hand drawn rather than photographs which provides much more room to manovre for those who require perfection.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cheese Straws

1 lb of puff pastry [thawed]
flour to dust
I egg
4 ounces of strong cheese

1. 1.Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
2. place a piece of parchment paper on a large baking sheet
3. lightly flour a clean work surface or board and roll out the pastry into a large rectangle.
4. crack the egg and beat in a high sided jug to avoid splashes
5. brush the pasty with the beaten egg
6. grate the cheese and then sprinkle over on half of the pastry.
7. fold the pasty in half and pat down lightly
8. cut the pastry into strips
9. lift each strip and place on the baking sheet.
10. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.

Add coarsely ground pepper at number 6
Add chilli flakes at 6
Twist the strips before you put them on the baking sheet which is very fiddly as the filling may fall out

Editors notes:-
Pizza cutters are just as dangerous and scary as knives
Ditto graters
Whilst hygiene is very important avoid reference to Salmonella and raw eggs.

When we return from the UK we hope to practice making desserts on the Barbeque which apparently is entirely possible. He picked up this "slice" from the "radio." Since the black Weber barbeque is in the category of Satan's weapons this should prove quite a challenge for all of us. You may wish to enter your own "contribution," to NPR. Over here, it will be our long term summer goal.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Great Granny's Chocolate Biscuit Cake

Not Necessarily in date order:-

16 ounces of chocolate
1 packet of tea biscuits
8 ounces [two sticks] of salted butter.

1.Line an old ice cube tray with saran wrap [cling film]
2.Clear a space big enough in the fridge for the tray to fit.

3.Melt the butter
4.Melt the chocolate
5.Mix together
6.Pour the liquid into the bottom of the tray and swish around until you have a thin layer of coverage. the biscuits in a line on the chocolate.
8.Add another thin layer of chocolate liquid
9.Add another layer of biscuits.
10.Repeat 8 and 9 until you run out of chocolate or biscuits
11. put the tray in the fridge to chill
12. wash up
13.put all the food away
14.tidy up
15. after 12,13 and 14 the biscuit cake will be ready to eat.