25 August 2013

Baileys Cupcakes

I've been wanting to make cupcakes for some time now, but haven't been able to pick out a good recipe to try and then I remembered that after watching the Danish version of the Great British Bake-Off, I downloaded a whole bunch of really nice recipes. Thus, I started working my way through the list alphabetically and hit a jackpot at B already:


Makes 13 - 14
200 g caster sugar
150 g soft unsalted butter
3 large eggs
150 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
50 ml Bailey's

Butter cream 340 g icing sugar
170 g soft unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp instant coffee
0.5 tbsp water


  1. Line a muffin tin with paper cases. Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees C.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the sugar and butter until pale and creamy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and whisk until fully incorporated.
  4. In another bowl, stir together flour and baking powder and make sure they are well mixed.
  5. Add the flour to the batter and incorporate well.
  6. Finally whisk in the vanilla essence and the Bailey's
  7. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases, filling about two-thirds up.
  8. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 - 25 minutes, check with a toothpick for readiness.
  9. Remove and let cool on a wire rack.
  10. While the muffins are baking, make the butter cream by whisking together the icing sugar and the soft butter.
  11. Add the vanilla essence.
  12. Stir together the instant coffee and water first, then add to the butter cream and make sure everything is well combined.
  13. When the muffins have cooled completely, decorate with the butter cream.

The recipe didn't mention how many muffins this would result in and since my muffin tins take 12, I divided the batter into 12 pieces. This resulted in a certain amount of overflow, which I clumsily trimmed. I think 13 or 14 would be better. Otherwise they baked quite well.


A word of warning. The butter cream has a quite strong flavour and unfortunately I didn't take this into consideration and piped away like nobody's business and used it all up. This meant that the Bailey's flavour was completely lost. So either make half the amounts listed above or just save the leftover for another time. Or as Lundulph suggested - just use plain icing.


I might experiment in getting Bailey's flavour into the butter cream as well next time. But still I need to focus on using less of the butter cream, it's way too sweet for my liking. I had a cupcake an hour ago and my tongue is still tingling from all the sweetness. My piping could have been better too, but the kitchen had become quite hot from the baking, so I placed the butter cream in the fridge to prevent it from melting. I piped it straight from the fridge and I should have massaged it a bit in the piping bag before doing that. Oh well...

24 August 2013

Risi E Bisi


Finally I managed to locate the peas in our PYO farm. They were well hidden among a lot of very large weeds, I had to ask for directions, no way I would have found them on my own. But I managed to pick what I hoped was 2 kg in order to try out a recipe from my book Polpo. I've mentioned it before, back in January, when I ended up doing something different, but it never left the back of my mind and today I finally got the fresh peas in their pods as the recipe demands.

I also got some lovely pancetta lardons from our butcher,who kindly sliced it thinly for me.

Thus, back home from harvesting, I washed all the pea pods as some had managed to get a bit muddy. I pretty much filled the sink with them and it took a while to give each one a scrub.

Then I drained them and made myself comfortable in front of the TV with a couple of large bowls - one for the peas and an even larger one for the pods. It's quite fiddly and as the PYO is organic, I had to keep an eye on the opened pods - I had a few that came with "live protein" so to speak. Took time to get all the peas shelled too and they filled up my 6 litre pressure cooker:


The book also mentions that one should buy about 20% more than needed, as one invariably would be tempted to eat some of the raw peas. I tried a couple - one small one, which was very tasty and one larger one, which wasn't as nice, there was a floury taste and feel to it. I guess I should have gone for the slightly under-ripe ones.


Anyway here goes what I did:

1.7 - 2 kg fresh peas in their pods
2.5 l water
2 large onions
50 ml olive oil
60 g butter
150 g pancetta
400 g risotto rice, carnaroli is recommended
salt and pepper
1 handful of chopped fresh mint leaves
1 handful of chopped frozen parsley


  1. Wash and shell the peas, saving the pods.
  2. Set the peas aside. Bring the water to boil in a large pot. Peel the onions, cut one of them in half and finely chop the other one.
  3. Once the water boils, add the saved pea pods and the halved onion. Bring to the boil and let simmer for 2 minutes, then discard the pea pods and onions. Sieve the liquid and it's ready to use for the risotto.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat up the olive oil and half of the butter on low heat, then sweat the chopped onion on low heat until it begins to go translucent.
  5. Cut the pancetta into smallish pieces and add to the onions, frying for a further 3 - 4 minutes.
  6. Add the rice and stir well to get all the grains coated with the fat.
  7. Turn down the heat to low and start adding liquid to the rice mixture, a couple of ladle-fulls at a time, stiring constantly. Only add more liquid when the previous has been absorbed and the rice appears a little dry.
  8. Taste the readiness of the rice. Add the peas towards the end, season with salt and pepper and add half of the mint and half of the parsley and stir in well.
  9. The whole cooking takes about 30 minutes, it is crucial that it is cooked slowly, and constant stirring to allow the rice to release its starch.
  10. This particular risotto should also be runnier, so keep adding the liquid until all has been used up. When the rice is ready, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Stir in the remaining mint and parsley and serve.

I actually bought 250 g of pancetta, so the remainder I put on the rack of the grill pan and grilled for a few minutes, turning to get things crispy. It was all very tasty, but I'd forgotten to add salt and had added way too little pepper as well, so the risotto was creamy, but bland. The grilled pancetta was ever so tasty and worked nicely with the risotto, adding a little saltiness and crunch.

The book states that the above amounts are for 6 people. This is far from the truth, in fact, I suspect up to 10 people could happily eat this, and even more, if it is served as a side dish. And it looks like my risotto had more peas in it than the one on the photo in the book. So the recipe wasn't too precise it seems, but ever so tasty.

On the whole it was an interesting recipe to try and despite its easy appearance, it is quite time consuming and requires a good portion of a day, so not something to do on a whim. Using frozen chopped parsley was not a good idea, fresh is better and I think a little dill might be nice too.

19 August 2013

Falafel Attempt Nr 1


Lately I've been feeling that I'm doing the same four recipes over and over again. Lundulph is a patient man and hasn't complained, but I'm sure he'd love something different. So I spotted some of my Waitrose recipe cards sticking out on top of the rest of the cook books, so I took them out and flicked through them. And what luck - one was for Garlic and herb falafels.

Reading through it, the ingredients seemed a bit unorthodox, but the whole thing seemed simple and looked very nice on the photo, so why not. I did make some changes in the cooking method...

Makes 12 large falafels
4 salad onions (140 g)
1 carrot (100 g)
2 x 400 g cans of chickpeas
70 g garlic and herb water biscuits
1 large egg
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 dl sesame seeds (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C and place a baking tray in to warm up.
  2. Trim and wash the onions, peel and wash the carrot. Cut the onion as finely as possible and finely grate and then chop the carrot.
  3. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
  4. Break up the biscuits in a food processor to fine crumbs, then add the chickpeas and try to process as finely as possible - this will likely require stirring help as there's not enough liquid to allow a smooth processing.
  5. Stir in the onions, carrot, egg, paprika, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
  6. Divide into 12 parts and roll to roundish patties. Dip into sesame seeds if you like.
  7. Heat up a tbsp of the olive oil in a large pan and fry the first six, 2 - 3 minutes on each side, then place on the hot baking tray and finish baking in the oven. Repeat for the remaining six falafels.

First a word on the onions and carrot. The recipe stated "salad onions", but the supermarket used this term for both what I call salad onions:


and for what I normally would call spring onions - i. e. the green ones without big heads. And the recipe called for six as well as a carrot, which means the end result could be wildly different, so I weighed the onions and carrot I used.

As Lundulph is a carnivore, I fried some lovely Turkish garlic sausage to go with the falafels and served with a large lettuce leaf and some cherry tomatoes. The falafels tasted OK, though the texture wasn't quite right - it was too smooth for my liking. And mind you, I followed the instructions in the recipe and had tremendous trouble getting everything processed, it was just too thick. So next time, I'll make sure to chop things as finely as possible, rather than use my tiny food processor.


We also added a little piri-piri sauce, it seems we're in a mood for spicier foods lately and piri-piri is just so tasty. I would have preferred to incorporate this spiciness in the falafel mixture though.

I rolled the falafels in sesame seeds because I was worried they would stick together, however, this isn't necessary. Lundulph thought the sesame flavour dominated entirely. But they looked pretty and combined with the garlic sausage, flavours worked very nicely.


They were nice re-heated as well and I suspect would freeze well too. For my next attempt however, I'll aim for more texture. And I've already found a couple of rather interesting recipes.

16 August 2013

Salmon Fillet Baked In Paper


In my book on Bulgarian national cuisine, there is a recipe for feta cheese baked in paper. I've always found it rather intriguing, but never tried it and with Lundulph being anti-cheese, chances are I won't try it out ever.

But it got me thinking - why not bake something else in paper? And so, when I managed to get hold of a lovely and large salmon fillet the other day, I thought it would be the perfect thing to try out. It also turned out to be fairly quick to make, so we ended up with a relatively festive mid-week dinner as a bonus.


250 g waxy potatoes
100 g carrots
100 g French beans
30 g butter
salt and pepper
3 - 4 tbsp piri-piri marinade (shop bought)
400 g skinless salmon fillet
baking paper large enough to wrap the salmon into a parcel


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C. Place an oven-safe dish inside to heat up.
  2. Prepare the sheet of baking paper by spreading half of the piri-piri marinade in the middle.
  3. Place the salmon fillet over the marinade and move it around a little, so that the bottom side gets coated, then brush the remaining marinade on the top side.
  4. Wrap the paper around the salmon into a tight parcel. If you feel inclined use a second paper to make sure it's securely wrapped. Then place in the middle of the oven and let bake for 30 - 35 minutes.
  5. In the mean time, prepare the vegetables. If necessary peel and wash the potatoes, then steam until cooked.
  6. Peel and cut the carrots into sticks, trim and wash the French beans. Steam first the carrots, and add the French beans to the steam pot for the last five minutes.
  7. Heat up a large frying pan, melt the butter and get it bubbling, then fry off the potatoes, carrots and French beans for a few minutes just to give them a bit of colour, while stirring often. It's easier to do the potatoes separately from the carrots and beans. Season with salt and pepper while sautéing.
  8. Transfer the sautéed vegetables to the pre-heated dish and keep warm until the salmon is ready. Keep the remaining butter in the pan for serving.
  9. When the salmon is ready, serve immediately with potatoes, carrots and French beans. Drizzle some of the butter over the vegetables for extra flavour.

I think using baking paper rather than metal foil does make a difference in the taste, especially since I suspect the metal may well react with the marinade. A downside perhaps is that baking paper doesn't conduct heat as well as a metal foil would, so a longer baking time is required. I was hoping 20 minutes would be enough, but a careful look inside the salmon parcel revealed that it wasn't and I wrapped it back up and continued baking for another 15 minutes.

We had a fancy and very nice wine with our dinner too,
and the whole thing was quite a success. I particularly liked the French beans, I'd picked them a couple of days earlier from our local Pick-Your-Own. In fact I gobbled up the remaining beans instead of dessert...

Pickled Carrots

The other day, I had a lovely salad consisting of edamame beans, pickled cucumber and carrots and since I've managed to land myself with a whole kilogram of baby carrots with no good idea of what to do with them, I decided it's time to try out a new pickling recipe.

I believe the salad I had was a East Asian type of pickling and so I selected this recipe. It seemed very straight forward.

I originally planned to add some spicing to it, but decided against it, this being the first time I try this out. I had different amounts of course and had to convert to metric. As I was getting prepared, it occurred to me that if I were to cut all carrots the same way, I'd have a kilo of pickled carrots in 3 days' time, so it wouldn't really solve things with all the carrots. So I decided to pick out the smallest ones and keep them whole. Then from the remainder, I quartered some and cut into Julienne strips the rest of them. My thinking was that the Julienne strips would be ready first and we'd manage to eat them by the time the quartered pieces get ready and at the end, the whole baby carrots would be ready.


1 kg peeled baby carrots
4.5 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp salt
3 tbsp granulated sugar
10.5 dl warm water


  1. Cut the carrots into desired sizes, pat dry with kitchen paper if damp, then distribute into jars.
  2. Mix together vinegar, salt, sugar and warm water and stir for about a minute until the dry ingredients have dissolved completely.
  3. Pour over the carrots, filling the jars to cover everything completely. Close the jars tightly and allow the water to cool down, before placing in the fridge.
  4. If the carrots were cut very thinly, they should be ready in 3 - 5 days, the larger pieces would take longer.
  5. If the carrots were finely grated, then they could be ready to eat after about an hour.

As this is an experiment, we tried the carrots after one day and after two days as well. On the whole, OK, but not very impressive. The carrots are still crunchy, but not as stiff as when raw. The liquid has made them quite salty, but that's it. I would have liked more flavour. There wasn't too big a difference over the days and since I have three jars of these things, I'll need to come up with a way to add some interest to them.

Update on 18th August: Actually, things have improved - after a week, the carrots which were sliced thinnest were properly ready to eat. Lundulph ate most of the ones I'd served as a side to our salad. They were crunchy and salty and pickled. So I stand corrected and we have two more jars of these lovely things to munch on.

1 August 2013

Müsli Recipe Evolved

The other day as I was mixing another batch of müsli, I realised that it has changed quite a bit since I first blogged about it. I've been scribbling changes in my notebook where I first wrote it down, crossing some things out, more scribblings... Some changes were forced due to not being able to find a particular ingredient - like the shredded coconut. Others are things that have recently become available outside London.

So I thought I'd update the blog with the new mixture.

1 pi puffed rice
1 pi cornflakes
1 pi high fibre bran or all bran flakes
1.5 pi porridge oats
130 g sultanas
200 g diced dried apricots
100 g sunflower seeds
75 g sesame seeds
100 g dessicated coconut
75 g dried blueberries
200 g mixed chopped nuts
75 g dried cherries
100 g goji berries
50 g milled flaxseed

I still mix everything together in the same box as before and on the whole it lasts us two weeks. It's a bit sweeter now that there's more fruit in it.