Hey everyone! I hope you’ve been having a good few weeks. I have been out of sorts lately. December is not my month – I’m not too big on Christmas. I do the usual stuff and J and I have our family over for lunch which proceeds into afternoon tea and evening drinks. We don’t mind at all, but I cannot deny that by the end of the day I’ll be totally zonked out. It is a quiet day, and I make sure to plan ahead. This year I’m still going through lists and things, and year after year I feel like I’m falling behind. However it all turns out all right in the end so I’m not going to worry. I decided it’s just not worth it.
We had a couple of scones lately for tea. I’m loving this British afternoon tea tradition! Everything looked so pretty so I asked J to take some snaps. This is one of them, which I plan to turn into a large poster and hang it in the kitchen space. I wish I could say that I don’t eat these often. But lately I couldn’t resist. I know I know…I shouldn’t and I am following your advice – for the time being that is. Scones go with almost everything – my favourites are either with a teaspoon of vanilla extract in some whipped double cream and layered with strawberries (see photo) or if I could choose a dessert before I die it would have to be a scone with clotted cream and golden syrup. If you have not tried this before, please do. Just once.
A month ago we had a tennis fiesta in Wimbledon and very recently we had brilliant Olympic tennis, also in Wimbledon. Need another excuse? Nope!
Click here for Nigella’s buttermilk scone recipe, from her book Kitchen. Truly yummy stuff.
Breakfast is and will continue to be the bane of my life. I’ve always loved this expression, even though it may be too melodramatic. This seems a good time to use it! Seriously though, breakfast should be the most important meal of the day, and yet it’s so tough to be creative. I don’t know about you but that’s where I am. You see, at “insanely-early-o’clock-in-the-morning” I don’t have the necessary strength to think about anything. Especially before my coffee. So I am desperately trying to find ways to make my morning meal a little more interesting.
A pantry staple in this house is porridge. Boring. Well I say this almost all the time and I can even hear you say it. And we might even be right. You see, I like porridge but I find it hard to come up with ideas on how to make it. I get bored very easily, especially when it comes to breakfast food. Apparently I’m not the only one; you only need to flip through a cookbook or two to find that in the breakfast section (if there is one) you can literally count the recipes with one hand. Well…perhaps a bit more…
So I asked some friends of mine on Facebook (real friends in case you’re asking) for simple ideas on how they like their porridge in the morning. The feedback was fantastic. These are some which I loved. (Incidentally you can tell a lot about people from the things they love, and food is one of them.) My old school friend Elaine (‘old’ as in I’ve known her since our school days! She looks fabulous!) told me she loves to add manuka honey, cinnamon, pomegranate, bananas or apples. Very sophisticated. A friend from our days in Michigan, Alice, said that she loves pumpkin and apple bakes. (She did give me the link but I cannot find it anywhere in my bookmarks.) I can totally see that – they are as sweet and lovely as her! One of my very first loyal readers, Joanne, likes oats with Greek yoghurt, mashed bananas, sunflower or pumpkin seeds (or both I’m guessing), honey and almonds. Great combo. Lovely, happy ingredients, just like her smile. An interesting (in the positive sense) and one of my favourites is Edward’s take: coconut or honey, one or two drops of vanilla and flaked almonds. The best ideas in life are the simplest ones. (Could this be Ed’s mantra?)
I would add some chocolate chips with the coconut version, but that’s just because I love chocolate in anything! However I was being good so last week I made mine with a pinch of salt and a spoonful of golden syrup. (As if adding golden syrup is good! *snort*) Incidentally this would be a great meal just before heading to town to watch the Olympic torch passing through, which for us is today. Thank goodness I won’t be the one doing the running. If you are reading this and you have more ideas please share…It’ll be great! In the meantime here’s a recipe by Nigel Slater to get you started:
Ignore any superstitions! Enjoy!
I remember the day when I discovered that marshmellowy divine gooeyness that is Rocky Road. It’s something that I loved immediately, one of the reasons being of course, that it was so easy and quick to make. The *only* thing that I didn’t like was that it had to sit in the fridge to set for a few hours. But boy oh boy was my patience rewarded from that first bite. My many trips to the gym hasn’t made a big difference in deterring that bit of extra weight but that hasn’t prevented me from making them again and again. OK…one *again* is enough!
That was a few years ago. More recently I discovered another jewel in the crown: Nigella’s sweet and salty nut crunch bars. Now if I were to choose, most probably I would go for the salty stuff, even if it’s not that good for you. J says that I’m the personification of contradiction, if that could really exist. I love baking anything sweet, but when it comes to taste I do favour the odd bit of cheese. So unashamedly I confirm once more the fact that I can easily eat a whole tin of anchovies with some bread given the freedom to do that. Unfortunately I don’t have that anymore! What I can say is that this recipe satisfies both the sweet and savoury palate and I really don’t know what can be easier than this. I made these babies again a few days ago and they are waiting for me…*cough*…us quietly in the cold. And since I conveniently forgot all about them until now, I’m having a piece, thank you very much. Please don’t judge me! I won’t do that to you if you try making these. One piece of advice though – they are addictive so go slow.
So the easiest recipe in the world goes something like this:
- 200g dark chocolate, broken into cubes
- 100g milk chocolate, also broken into cubes
- 125g butter, unsalted and make sure it’s soft
- 45ml golden syrup (3 tablespoons, heaped)
- 200g peanuts, salted
- 4 Crunchie bars (40g each)
- Line a standard round cake tin with kitchen foil, or use a foil tin. Whatever you prefer.
- In a saucepan (preferably with a heavy base) tip the broken chocolate, the soft butter and golden syrup, and place these over a low heat. When the chocolate has melted completely remove the pan from the heat. Now add the salted peanuts.
- To crush the Crunchie bars, place them into a piece of kitchen foil, grab a rolling pin and bash them with it, till you have some bits that are rubble and some that are relatively whole, but not quite. (I’m sure you get me here!)
- Add the Crunchies into the melted chocolate concoction and stir everything together. All you have to do now is to pour the mixture into the cake tin and press it down with a spatula or something flat.
- Place in the fridge and let it set for around four hours. I’ve tried to make the waiting time a bit less, but unfortunately it doesn’t work…
Enjoy making and eating these, and don’t forget to send me some!