Monthly Archives: March 2015

Curly’s Cooking’s 1st Birthday!

Curly’s Cooking is 1 year old!

I can’t believe it was year ago that I posted my first blog post – it has flown by! I started this blog as a way of recording recipes I had found/adapted with the hope that someone might look at it from time to time. If you would have told me that a year into blogging, I would have received over 15,000 views I wouldn’t have believed you. I know compared to other blogs this won’t sound like very many, but I am chuffed!

This blog has turned baking and cooking from a hobby into almost an obsession. I am constantly thinking about what I’m going to make next. I feel uneasy if I haven’t baked something or cooked something interesting in a few days. When I get back from a holiday, one of my first thoughts is what I’m going to make first.

As well as my food skills and knowledge, my photography has improved too. Thanks to help from Greedy Betty and looking at other people’s blogs, I am started to understand what makes a good food photograph more. Don’t get me wrong I still have plenty of room for improvement, but I am going in the right direction!

I’m going to share with you a few of my favourite posts from the past year as well as my most viewed post. It was hard to pick just a few but here they are!

Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread 2

One of my favourite recipes from the last year is Money Bread. It is one of the bakes I took along to Greedy Betty’s photography session. I don’t make it often because it is so big and not the healthiest of recipes, but it is absolutely amazing. I love the pieces that have remained hidden in the middle and are soft and fluffy.

http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=1042

Pulled Pork

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Over the last couple of years, pork has become my favourite meat. This recipe is a delicious way of cooking pork that gives it a great flavour as well as making it very tender. Although it takes a while to cook, there is very little prep needed for such a great result.

http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=1137

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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These are my most popular cupcakes which I have made countless times this year. You can’t have carrot cupcakes without cream cheese frosting in my opinion. I definitely recommend everyone to give these a go.

http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=215

New York Cheesecake 

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My most viewed blog post is for New York Cheesecake. It has had over 4000 views alone which is nearly ten times more than my next post popular post. I took a recipe found on BBC Good Food’s website and worded it in an easier to follow, clearer way. I have received lots of comments thanking me for my version which is always nice.

http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=1209

I’d love to hear which blog posts have been your favourite, so please leave me a comment.

Thank you to everyone who has visited my blog over the last year. Bring on year 2!

Curly x

Bakewell Slices

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My Mum has been asking me to make Bakewell Slices for months. She had one from Pret A Manger a while ago and thought it was delicious so she asked me if I could make them for her. I thought Mother’s Day was the perfect time to make them for her, but it did mean keeping her waiting for a while!

I had tried to throw her off the scent by telling her I had made her cupcakes. She does like my cupcakes, but like me isn’t really a fan of buttercream so it wouldn’t be the best thing to make her for Mother’s Day. When I went over to my parent’s house on Mother’s Day, I gave Mum the box and said “here are your cupcakes”. When she opened the box and saw the Bakewell Slices her face lit up, she looked so happy! It was so lovely to see her so excited, I don’t think I could have got her a present she would have liked more. She ate one in seconds and said how tasty it was and she even joked and said Dad would be lucky if she let him have one!

Mum did say she hadn’t expected me to make my own pastry, but this was so simple and quick I thought it would be more fuss to use pre-made pastry! Feel free to use pre-made shortcrust pastry if you find this easier.

Mary advised to use roughly four tablespoons of jam but at the same time said to be generous. I didn’t actually measure the jam out, I just used enough to make a good thick layer which turned out to be about half a jar. The last thing I would have wanted would be a thin layer of jam!

A tip for this recipe is to dot the sponge mix around instead of adding it all in one area. Then using a spatula, spread it out carefully making sure you don’t mix the jam in with the sponge mix. It may look a little messy when you’ve finished but don’t worry after it has baked it will look great.

 For the shortcrust pastry
175g plain flour
75g butter 
2 – 3 tbsp cold water 

For the sponge 
100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
175g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
½ tsp almond extract 

To finish
Approximately 4 tbsp raspberry jam
Flaked almonds to sprinkle on top

  1.  Start by making the pastry. Measure the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
  2. Add enough water to form a soft dough. Add it gradually because you might not need to add all three tablespoons

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  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Roll the dough out on a slightly floured surface and line the bottom of the tin with it

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  1. Measure all of the sponge ingredients into a bowl and beat until all of the ingredients are combined
  2. Spread the pastry with the raspberry jam and then top with the sponge mix and spread out making sure you completely cover the jam

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  1. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the cake has shrunk from the sides of the tin and springs back when you press the centre with your finger

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  1. Leave to cool in the tin and then turn out and cut into slices

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I can’t remember eating that many Bakewell Slices to be honest but after making this recipe, I will definitely be making them time and time again. The recipe was simple and quicker than I thought it would be. I really loved the three layers; the cake was light an fluffy followed by a lovely layer of raspberry jam and finished with a layer of pastry.

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I found the recipe in Mary Berry’s baking bible. Yet another fantastic recipe from a a great book.

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Gym Bunny Mummy

American Pancakes

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If I have a craving for pancakes, it is always for American pancakes. They’re thick and fluffy and make a perfect breakfast accompanied with bacon and maple syrup – yum!

I first came across American pancakes when we went on a family holiday to America (obviously). Back then I don’t think it was very common for people to consider having bacon with pancakes as a lot of people associated pancakes with thin crepe style pancakes served with sweet toppings. I am a fan of a wafer thin crepe with lashings of Nutella but I think they are best left to the professionals. I had a lovely crepe when we went to Berlin last December for the Christmas Markets, they’re cooked in less than a minute and are delicious. Crepes are lovely for a treat, but I wouldn’t think of making them at home.

Since our first trip to America it has become a tradition in my family to have American pancakes and bacon for breakfast on Christmas Day; after all Christmas is all about indulging! My Mum bought an American pancake maker which plugs in and can be put on the table so the pancakes can be cooked there and then without someone being stuck in the kitchen or the pancakes getting cold. She makes the batter up and can then cook six little pancakes at the same time.

I made these on pancake day which is the perfect excuse to have breakfast for dinner. This recipe is simple and makes lovely thick and fluffy pancakes.

135g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
130ml milk
1 large egg
2 tbsp butter, melted and allowed to cool slightly
spray oil

  1.  Sift the flour, baking power, salt and caster sugar into a large bowl
  2. In a jug add the milk and egg and whisk lightly before adding the melted butter and whisking again
  3. Pour the milk mix into the flour mix and whisk until you have a smooth batter. If you have any lumps, just keep whisking until they disappear
  4. Let the batter stand for a approximately 15 minutes

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  1. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and spray with oil. When the pan is hot, add a ladle of batter to the pan. If your pan is big enough you can add two at the same time. Don’t worry if the batter seems thick, it is meant to be. When the top of the pancake begins to form small bubbles, it is ready to flip onto the other side. In total it should cook for roughly a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown. You don’t want the heat to be too high or else the pancakes will brown on the outside but not be cooked in the middle

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  1. Keep going until you have used up all of the batter. The cooked pancakes can be kept warm in a low oven or under some kitchen paper

Sausage, Apple & Leek Pie

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It’s British Pie Week!

I love a nice comforting pie, especially when its cold. but I don’t tend to associate pies with being healthy or low in calories. I managed to make this pie for under 500 calories per portion which I thought was quite impressive as there is absolutely no compromise on taste.

As well as being low in calories, it was also quite quick and very simple. Some pies I’ve made before take a while to prep before all of the ingredients can actually get topped with pastry and put in the oven This pie has a couple of easy steps before you can put it in the oven and forget about it. To make it quicker I used a pack of ready made shortcrust pastry because I had some in the freezer. You can use the ready-rolled pastry to make it even quicker but if I had done this I would have used more pastry as it is quite thick when it is ready-rolled thick which would have meant more calories. As I was conscious of the calories, I used just enough pastry to cover my dish which meant as it cooked, the pastry shrunk slightly. This left it with a rustic look when it came out of the oven which I didn’t mind because it looked homemade. Feel free to use as much pastry as you like.

Another reason I like this recipe is that you don’t need any additional fat. By frying the sausages in the pan first, they create the fat needed to soften the leeks. It also doesn’t need any any dairy like creme fraiche to create the sauce which again cuts down on the calories and fat.

The below recipe makes enough for two portions.

4 pork sausages
2 leeks
1 apple
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
200ml vegetable stock
100g shortcrust pastry
1 egg, beaten
Salt & Pepper 

  1. Heat the oven to 200ºC/180ºC fan. Fry the sausages in a non stick pan on a medium heat until browned all over and then remove from the pan

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  1. If your sausages have left more than a tablespoon or so of fat, pour this off so roughly one tablespoon remains. Add the leeks and allow them to soften gently for roughly 10 minutes. As your leeks are softening peel and slice the apple and then add to the pan and cook for another minute

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  1. Stir in the flour and mustard. Pour in the stock and let it bubble for 2 minutes
  2. Slice the sausages into chunks and return them to the pan and stir. Don’t worry if they are still a little pink in the middle, they will finish off cooking in the oven

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  1. Tip everything into a large ovenproof dish and then top with the pastry. I make the pastry larger than the dish and then cut off the excess.  Brush with the beaten egg and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown

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Like I said before, the pie isn’t the prettiest because I was trying to use the smallest amount of pastry as I could. If you use more pastry, it will look a bit more uniform.

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The whole plate I made including the sides came to less than 800 calories, and that is definitely not a small plate! This pie is delicious and it doesn’t compromise on flavour at all.

The original recipe can be found at http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1039643/sausage-apple-and-leek-pie

Welsh Cakes

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Welsh Cakes are one of my friends Millie’s favourite things. She’s a bit of an expert as she has tried every Welsh Cake out there; but her favourite are from Waitrose. I knew I had a lot to live up to, but when she asked me to make them for her, I accepted the challenge!

Where better to look for a great baking recipe than the legend that is Mary Berry? Rien bought me one of her books, A Bakng Bible, after I went for afternoon tea with my Mum months ago and had the most delicious orange cake (I still need to make that!) but couldn’t find the recipe on the internet. For traditional British recipes I always look to Mary Berry first because her recipes have always been fantastic.

The weekend my Uni friends came I went a little over the top with baking. I made Reece’s Peanut Buttercup Brownies (http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=1354), Gluten-Free Sundried Tomato Bread (http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=1443), Gluten Free Apple Crumble and these Welsh Cakes. I had a lovely assistant helping me make these though.

The original recipe says to use currants, but I don’t like them as much as sultanas and raisins so I decided to use sultanas instead. It was when Zoe was cutting them out she said she thought the reason why the recipe said to use currants was because they’re smaller so might get in the way less when you’re cutting them out. Use whichever you prefer!

Zoe has since made the recipe using gluten free flour and she said it works just as well so it is really easy to adapt this recipe if you would like to.

350g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
175g butter
115g caster sugar
100g sultanas
¾ tsp mixed spice
1 large egg
2 tbsp milk
Spray oil

  1. Add the flour and baking powder into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs

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  1. Add the sultanas, sultanas and mixed spice
  2. Beat the egg and milk together and then add to the mixture. Mix to form firm dough adding a little more milk if needed

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  1. Lightly flour your surface and roll out the dough to a thickness of approximately 5mm

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  1. Cut them out using a round cutter

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  1. Heat a frying pan on a low heat and spray with oil. Cook the Welsh Cakes on a low heat for approximately 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Make sure you don’t cook them too quickly or else they will turn brown on the outside and won’t be cooked inside

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  1. Cool on a wire rack

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You can sprinkle them with caster sugar and eat them spread with butter if you like. Or if you’re like Millie, you can eat them straight out of the pan! She told me they were even better than Waitrose which was definitely a compliment!

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Gym Bunny Mummy
Cupcakery