Tag Archives: parties

Margarita and 7 years of C&T

Margaritas (6073)

Happy 2018 everyone. I meant to write something sooner but I’ve been having some back issues since forever actually, but the day after Christmas it got worse. I won’t go into this much – it’s been tough and I just couldn’t sit or stand, or do anything else for that matter, for long. Sitting at my desk was a no-no, but since yesterday I have been feeling much better and I wanted to get back here to post a little something. It’s been too long.

Continue reading Margarita and 7 years of C&T

Easy Brownies

Everyday-Brownies-(6359)

I have to say that the following recipe has nothing to do with Christmas. This year, unfortunately or not, I didn’t really bother much with the preparations, especially when it comes to food. I left everything to the last minute, because I can afford it since I won’t have lots of guests. But I’ll be making some mince pies and a traditional Maltese Christmas log during the weekend (which is simpler than the one they make here. I plan to post something about these in the coming days, with photos of course).

However there’s nothing to stop you from making these beautiful babies for the kids or indeed for a cocktail party, when you want something sweet and dare I say it, easy to eat when your guests are standing up. I promise you that whoever has a taste of these brownies will never guess you made them with ordinary newsagent chocolate. They are really good and not expensive to make, which is indeed useful during the festive season. You need:

  • 150g unsalted butter,
  • 300g light brown sugar
  • 75g cocoa powder, sifted
  • 150g plain or all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150 milk chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • icing sugar, for dusting
  1. Grease and line a square tin (23 to 25cm; which ever you have) with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  2. Melt the butter very gently in a medium pan to avoid burning and stir in the sugar. Allow the sugar to melt into the butter.
  3. In a bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add these in the pan with the butter mixture and stir. You will have a very dry mixture here but do not worry. Now remove the pan from the heat.
  4. In a jug (or indeed in the now empty bowl you used for sifting the dry ingredients) whisk the eggs and vanilla extract together, and add these to the pan with the other ingredients.
  5. Stir in the chopped chunks of chocolate and use a spatula to scrape and spread the brownie mixture into your prepared square tin. Bake for around 25 minutes, till the brownies are dry on top but still squidgy in the middle. They will continue to cook for a little while outside of the oven anyway so don’t leave them in too long, even though you will be tempted to. A skewer or knife should *not* come out clean here.
  6. Let them cool and then cut them into 12 to 16 large pieces, but that’s totally up to you. Sprinkle some icing sugar on the top, imagining it was snow if you like. I left mine bare, but I shouldn’t have really!

Enjoy and Happy Holidays! I wish you all the best!

Rob x

(Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home, Chatto & Windus, 2010.)

Pasties

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I love to read old recipe books. In fact, the older they are the more I enjoy them. I don’t know what makes them so appealing, but it’s just how it is. My mum didn’t have lots of recipe books, and she didn’t inherit any from her mum either. She does have one though, in her head, but you have to be a Vulcan and go through a mind-meld to get hold of that! (My mum is always amused when I ask for advice on a recipe; before I got married I didn’t have any idea how to cook or bake. Could she have thought that I would never learn?! mm…) She’s this type of cook: when you ask her for a recipe she says: “oh so, do you have a pen & paper?…yes?…OK…you need…a bit of mixed spice, a bit of curry, some onions…” and on and on. Sounds familiar? And I fume! But hey, since I love her very much, I just say “awww thanks ma – you’re so sweet”, and I then try to get as close as possible to the recipe later on in the kitchen. The same goes for J’s lovely granny. “That’s delicious Na. What did you use?” “A little bit of this & a little bit of that”…etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! I also think though, that there’s something really endearing about that. But I digress…

Cornish-Pasties-(4666)Cornish-Pasties-(4667)

My first memory of the following recipe is my mother’s kitchen. I was very little and she baked her socks off every time she threw me some sort of party. She catered for every one, and to this day I don’t know how she did it. What I clearly remember are the kitchen and dining tables full of pigs in blankets (or sausage rolls to you and me) and all sorts of little savoury pies, all filed up on baking trays, ready for the oven, like rows and rows of toy soldiers ready for battle!

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Now what I prefer to bake are the bigger versions, because I’m older I guess! Unfortunately I don’t like the fiddly and never-ending process of assembling small portions of the same thing. Though I have to admit that managing smaller quantities of shortcrust is easier than rolling out a whole pie lid. So this is what I do: I call in the troupes…well my husband…to give us a hand. J tells me that these are good for the weekend; he finds it therapeutic. I really can’t get this, one: because of all the sticky cleaning up afterwards, and two: because flour has a tendency to get under a kitchen’s skin, like icing sugar. (No, I don’t have a dishwasher in case you’re asking.) But a messy kitchen is a happy kitchen so it’s OK!

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In case you have no note of my shortcrust pastry recipe, you can find it here. With 16 oz of pastry you will roughly get 8 decent sized pies. As a cutter I use my soup bowls which measure 17.5cm across. If you have a cookie cutter that big then by all means use it. There will be less risk of breakage. For the filling I used the following:

  • 600g minced beef or beef cut into small chunks
  • 6 small potatoes, cut into smallish dice
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon mixed spice
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • around 2 tablespoons or so of milk for brushing the tops (or a beaten egg)
  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas mark 7.
  2. Place the minced beef, potatoes and onions in a bowl. If you have a mortar and pestle use that to grind the salt, peppercorns, fenugreek and thyme. Use ground salt and pepper if you prefer. Add these to the beef mixture, together with the ground spices. If you’re not squeemish mix everything by hand. If you are, you could ask someone else to help you!
  3. Cut 8 rounds of pastry with your cutter. Loosen them from the surface with a spatula and divide the mixture on one side of each pie as equally as you can between them. Place a thin layer of milk or water on the other side of the pastry, fold and press the edges together, sealing everything well. You can fold the edges on themselves too. Brush the pies with milk or a beaten egg.
  4. Bake at 220ºC (see equivalent above) for the first 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 175ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 and bake for another 40 minutes or so, till the pies turn golden brown.

These pies are ideal for picnics or to eat on the go. You can also prepare them before you need them and store them uncooked in the fridge. Tell me what you think if you do try them. Apologies for not posting a picture of the cooked pies. I have some on my Facebook page just in case you want to take a quick look. Thanks. Enjoy!

Rob x