29 December 2008

NO, I havent dropped off the face of the earth...

but I can see why regular readers may assume I have done so. I havent posted since the beginning of December and I really don't know where the time went. On top of the regular December madness I was ill, had sick kids to deal with and was without internet access for over a week (that was worse then being ill) however I have still been cooking and hopefully before New year I will at least show pics of what we ate over Christmas.

Another apology to the Daring bakers, I was unable to take part in this months very tricky challenge.

This month's challenge was brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand, and you can look at the hundreds of Daring bakers take on this challenge by checking out the blog roll.
Hopefully things will be back to normal by next month and I can look forward to another challenge.
Once again, my sincere apologies, I hope to back very soon. I hope everybody had a fabulous Christmas and has a prosperous New year.

07 December 2008

Maple chicken

This is always a hit, and always requested by my son, the recipe comes from Nigella Express and in the original recipe you use chicken and ribs, my son loved the original recipe so much that it toppled Elvis' backyard ribs from his top spot, he is extremely fussy about his ribs, I will blog Elvis' ribs one day, they are so good that they never hang around long enough to have their picture taken.

Like most people I am forever looking for ways to jazz up chicken drumsticks so I simply left out the ribs and used this tasty marinade, made with store cupboard staples.

Great for a simple supper.

The original recipe from Nigella Express

Maple chicken 'N' ribs

12 pork spare ribs

12 chicken portions, skin and bone still on

250ml apple juice, as sharp as possible

4 x 15ml tablespoons Maple syrup

2 x 15ml tablespoons vegetable oil

2 x 15ml tablespoons soy sauce

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick, halved

6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

Put the ribs and chicken in a couple of large freezer bags or into a dish.
Add the remaining ingrediants, squelching everything together well, before sealing the bag or covering the dish.
Leave to marinate in the fridge overnight or up to a couple of days.
When marinating time is up, take the dish out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 200c/ gas mark 6.
Pour the contents of the freezer bag into one or two large roasting tins ( making sure the chicken is skin side up), place in the oven and cook for about a hour and a quarter, by which time everything should be sticky and glossed conker-brown.

Serves 6-8.

This is such a simple recipe and I always have everything to hand in the store cupboard for it, the flavours are subtle though so overnight marinating is essential. It really is delicious, a slight sweetness against the savouriness of the chicken and as always, sticky food is always delicious.

05 December 2008

Sparkly gingerbread

I came to gingerbread quite late in life, gingersnaps, yes, fresh ginger, yes, gingerbread, no, not for me. That changed earlier this year when once again I was baking a cake I didn't like (i.e gingerbread), so I wouldn't eat it. I know, I know, I need to stop doing that as I always give in and find, yes, actually I do like that particular cake.

Anyway, in January I made Nigella's stem ginger gingerbread from How to Eat and I was converted, it is a wonderful cake and I will blog it one day, I just try not to bake it as I know I will eat it (I know, I know). Since then I have tried many gingerbread recipes but I always go back to Nigella's recipes.

These gingerbread muffins are Nigella's Christmas morning muffins, mine too now, but I make them often, not just for Christmas, as they are always welcomed by my family. This recipe is very easy and very, very tasty. Looking in Feast this week I noticed that Nigella suggests rubbing some edible gold leaf on these muffins as soon as they come out of the oven, and when my gold disco glitter arrived this week I knew it would be perfect on top of these muffins.

I am a magpie for anything sparkly, glittery or shiny, I love it and at Christmas I have a excuse to have glitter everywhere...even on my food.

Gingerbread muffins, from Feast

250g plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 egg

50g dark muscovado sugar

50g light muscovado sugar

150ml full fat milk

1/4 ts balsamic vinegar

6 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil

4 tablespoon golden syrup

4 tablespoon black treacle

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/ 200c. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin papers. Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and spices in a large bowl. Whisk the egg in a large measuring jug then add the sugars, breaking up any lumps. Add the milk and vinegar then measure in the oil with a tablespoon. Use the same oily spoon to add the syrup and treacle so they don't stick to it. Whisk the mixture to combine and add to the flour and spices.

Stir until mixed but still fairly lumpy - the mixture may be more runny than you expect for muffins - but you need the dense stickiness of gingerbread, rather than a cakey crumb.

Spoon or pour the mixture into the muffin papers and bake for about 20minutes until the tops are dry; the muffins will still feel squidgy when you take them out of the tins to cool on a rack.

Sprinkle lightly with gold glitter.

These fabulous muffins keep very well, unlike regular muffins, in fact like most gingerbread they get better the longer you keep them. I am rather surprised the glitter shows up in the photo, although it looks like a rather subtle dusting of it I actually drenched them with it.