chocolate chunk brownies

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I don’t know what it is about someone coming to stay, but I feel the urge to have something yummy made. It’s like part of getting ready, making beds, hoovering and then…baking. I suppose I’m quite lucky, I don’t work so my job is at home and fortunately I love the cooking and baking part of the job. Not so much the cleaning and washing, I always get that done as fast as possible so that I have time to spend trying out a new recipe or making an old time favourite. Here’s an old time favourite of mine

CHOCOLATE CHUNK BROWNIES

175g butter
40g cocoa
2 eggs
175g muscavado sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g dark chocolate chopped into chunks
50g self raising flour
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Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease then line a 20cm square with grease proof paper. Melt the butter and stir in the cocoa. Leave to cool. Beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla. Then stir in the cooled cocoa mixture and next the chocolate chunks. Sift in the flour and fold in. Pour into the tin and bake for 25-30 minutes. It will continue to cook out of the oven so you want it to still be a little soft. Leave to cool in the tin and eat when the chocolate has solidified.
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It’s not as hard as you think, Risotto

I really don’t know what all the fuss is, I certainly was put off making risotto because of its reputation. Time wise, it’s not a lengthy process, no longer than 30 minutes and skill wise…well just follow the recipe. If you don’t have dried porcini (I got them in my local Lidl in the veg section) leave them out or use fresh mushrooms.
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DRIED PORCINI BACON AND THYME RISOTTO

55g dried porcini
1 pint boiling water
1 litre vegetable stock
Olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1-2 sticks of celery finely chopped
6 slices of smokey bacon chopped onto small pieces
500g risotto rice
Large glass of white wine
50g Parmesan grated
Tablespoon of butter
Small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves only
Salt n pepper
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First of all soak your porcini in 1 pint of boiling water. Then pour the stock into a pan and leave on a low heat. Using a large pan heat a good splash of olive oil and add the onion and celery and cook on a low heat for 8 minutes or till soft( but not browned). Add the bacon and cook for a further two minutes. Add the rice and a pinch of salt and cook for two minutes stirring the onion and bacon through. Add the wine and cook till absorbed. Add two ladles of stock and stir. At this point scoop out your soaked porcini and add to the pan. Pour the juices from the porcini through a muslin into the stock and mix in. Add another couple of ladles of stock, stir and allow to be cooked into the rice before adding more. Keep doing this for 16-17 minutes or till the rice is just cooked or al dente. You want the mixture to be quite loose and sloppy at this point because the rice will continue to suck up the juices while its resting. Take the pan off the heat stir in your butter, Parmesan and thyme leaves. Season to taste. Allow to rest with the lid on for two minutes. Serve your nice oozing risotto with a little extra Parmesan and thyme leaves.

After school cookies

When the kids rush in from school, the first thing on their minds is….you guessed it,food. Their favourite thing is a mug of hot chocolate and buttery toast, or what my eldest likes is what he calls ‘toast but not toast’. Bread toasted for only a minute or two so its warm but not crisp, yea pretty gross if you ask me. So today it’s gona be the ultimate cookie, crunchy nutty and chocolatey.
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ULTIMATE COOKIES

100g butter
50g soft brown sugar
50g Demerara sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla extract
25g desiccated coconut
200g chopped dark chocolate
50g sunflower seeds
50g flaked almonds
90 g oat bran
100g self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
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Preheat the oven to 160 C. Line two greased trays with grease proof paper. Cream the butter and sugars. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence. Stir in the coconut, chocolate, sunflower seeds, and almonds. Measure out the oat bran, flour, bicarbonate and salt and mix. Add to the wet mixture till combined. Form into about 16 golf balls and place them on the tray allowing space for expansion. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden. Cool for a minute on the tray and then transfer to a rack to cool. Yummy with a glass of milk.
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Strawbarb cheesecake pots

With my attempts at rhubarb growing not being very successful, a friend of mine kindly shares hers with me and countless other friends! Yea she’s got that much…show off! So I gladly accept and try various recipes out on it. You can’t beat good old rhubarb crumble and custard but here’s something a little more summery.
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STRAWBARB CHEESECAKE POTS

500g rhubarb cut into bite size pieces and stewed with 5 tbsp sugar till soft
300g strawberries cut in half and stewed with 1 tbsp sugar till just soft
100g digestive biscuits
35g melted butter
250g mascarpone cheese
250g fresh cream
50g icing sugar
1 lemon zest and juice

Combine the rhubarb and strawberries draining off any excess juice. Chill. Wizz up the digestive biscuits in a food processor. Add the melted butter and mix through well. Press a little into six or seven small dishes. Chill. Whisk up the mascarpone, cream, icing sugar, lemon zest and juice until smooth and slightly thickened. Layer the mascarpone onto the biscuit base then the fruit and continue to layer as you please. Chill or eat straight away!
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Recipe critic….Jamie Oliver

A new feature on my blog, testing celebrity chefs recipes as to ease of cooking and how it goes down with the husband and kids. They are my best critics when it comes to the food I make so why not try them out on some famous chefs! Todays recipe comes from Jamie Oliver. You’ll find it in Jamie’s Ministry of food. Love the book, go out and buy it.
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PERFECT ROAST PORK

1.4 kg loin of pork
2 medium onions
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
1 bulb of garlic
Small bunch of fresh thyme, rosemary, bay or sage or a mixture
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

TO PREPARE YOUR PORK

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Take the pork out of the fridge 30 minutes before it goes into oven. Preheat oven to 240 C. No need to peel vegetables, give them a wash and roughly chop them. Break garlic into cloves leaving them unpeeled. Pile all the veg, garlic and herbs into the middle of a roasting dish and drizzle with olive oil. You will be using this veg to make the gravy later. Using a sharp knife, score the skin ( skin and fat only) all the way along. Drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper rubbing it in well. Place pork on the vegetables

TO COOK YOUR PORK

Place dish into oven. Turn down to 200 C and cook for 1 hour and twenty minutes. Bast the pork halfway through. If your vegetables are looking dry add a splash of water. When cooked take out of the oven and place pork on a board to rest. Mean while get on with your gravy.

A CONSISTENTLY GOOD GRAVY

Cooked veg and juice from pork
1 heaped dessertspoon plain flour
A wine glass of white wine or cider
1 litre of vegetable stock

TO MAKE YOUR GRAVY

Put the dish with the vegetables and pork juices onto the hob on a high heat. Add the flour and mash into the veg until it becomes a pulp with a potato masher. No worries about lumps. Add alcohol and then stock and cook away. Let it boil for a few minutes then stir and reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour through a sieve into a pan and using a ladle really pushing all the goodness through. You can further reduce if its too thin. Serve with your pork, roast potatoes and veg.

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THE VERDICT

So easy to follow and the results were delicious. The only change I made was to turn the heat up at the end of cooking the pork to crisp up the skin.
The husband and kids absolutely loved it and it was wolfed down in no time, and that gravy is so good the bread and butter came out at the end to mop every drop up. We give this recipe 5 out of 5, plate licking good. *****

Chicken saag

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Indian, my absolute favourite food to make. Those exquisite spices, heady aromatic smells, and the explosion of flavour on your taste buds. There’s nothing quite like it, to transport you out of rain and cloud, into a Bollywood movie, full of sunshine, colour and life. Happy food. Once you’ve acquired a selection of spices, I assure you it’s one of the most fun foods to make, even in the cooking you’ll feel good. I love this recipe, I love the colour green and it tastes amazing.

Chicken saag

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 chicken fillets
1 tin of spinach 400g
1 tin of tomatoes 400g
1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger grated
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 chilli finely chopped seeds discarded
2 bay leaves
6 peppercorns
1 onion finely chopped
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons natural yogurt

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Put the spinach, garlic, ginger and chilli into a blender or food processor and pulse till smooth. In a large frying pan heat the oil and cook the peppercorns and bay leaves for two minutes. Add the onion and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, curry powder, chilli powder and salt and cook for five minutes. Add the spinach mixture, natural yogurt and the diced chicken fillets. Cook for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Mean while cook your basmati rice. Serve with natural yogurt and a sprinkle of chilli powder.
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Happy hearts

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There aren’t many anniversary cards that I really like, most have big swirly writing and some cheesy quote inside. Now don’t get me wrong I appreciate any we get (it’s the thought that counts), but when it comes to picking one for someone else I’m pretty fussy. These days though I get great pleasure in making one myself so this is another one I’ve made.

Happy heart card

Patterned craft paper
Pritstick
Card

Make your self a template heart and cut out 2 hearts for each 3d heart you plan to make. Fold each heart in half patterned side in. Glue the left hand side of one heart to the right hand side of the other so that you have a heart with a flap in the middle. Glue numerous 3d hearts all over you card.
Write your own cheesy quote inside!
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