baking

Adventure Comfort Food

Picture the scene:

You’re out on an adventure.  You might be on a long family walk or a boat trip or camping.  It’s fun and you’re really enjoying being outside, but it’s a bit windy and damp.  Your mind starts to think about the snacks that you have brought with you…

…this is usually our scene. Before we have even parked the car and begun the journey, the cry for ‘I hope you brought snacks‘ is let loose and somehow, it’s my fault if I’ve forgotten, or the snack choice (a slightly browning banana) is not up to par.  I’ve also been in that awful situation where you think you’ve been ever-so-well prepared and you whip out your thermos with a flourish only to find that the tea you made earlier tastes of plastic and something you can’t quite put a name to.

This Autumn, this situation is all going to change my friends. This time, I will come prepared. This is the year of the adventure comfort food.

cheese straws detail shot

… cheese straws – the perfect first step …

This first round of adventure comfort food was inspired by cheese.  I was kind enough to be sent some cheese from Wyke Farms to try.  When I took a sniff of their mature cheddar, soft, melty cheese straws came flooding into my mind. I am pretty certain that if a tub of cheese straws was produced at just the right moment during an outside excursion, the exclamations of joy from all around would be enormous. (Why don’t you try – let’s see who can get the loudest whoops)?

I used an easy recipe from BBC Good Food, but I left out the mustard powder and substituted it with a little black pepper.

wyke farm extra mature… Wyke Farm Extra Mature Cheddar …

cheese straws

… this snack will surely keep you out of jeopardy during extreme outdoorsing …

So next time I have to pack some sustenance for some serious outside activity, these are going to be the first thing that I prepare and take.  I wonder if there is a good dip or sauce that goes well with cheese straws?

I now need to think about what else to bring.  What are the best uses for a thermos, for example, as tea definitely doesn’t seem to suit one?! I’d love to hear your ideas…

Speak soon x

baking

An Odd Collection of Happenings

This post might seem a little disjointed but my week followed a similarly randomised pattern. Although, looking at my feeds on Instagram and Facebook, recent events still surround my favourite themes: the outdoors, food and crochet. Funny that!

maize fields dorset

… a rapidly growing maize crop with a great view …

As we’ve been so lucky to have all of this deliciously warm weather, we have been getting out for our daily walk a little earlier than usual.  With our various routes all quiet, dewy and with the promise of spotting a deer or two it has been one of the best parts of my day.  We finish up with breakfast, cups of tea outside and a quick read of a book before the day’s jobs start properly.

pissaladiere monegasque

… Pissaladiere …

I tried my hand at making Mr D-F’s favourite – Pissaladiere.  Well, actually this is how it went down; my mother-in-law kindly sent us a recipe book of traditional Monegasque recipes and that very same day Mr D-F said that he would like me to make some of this delicacy.

For his lunch.

“Yes please, here are the onions you need,” he said.

Right then.

So, to avoid the sad look of disappointment on his face, which is the worst thing to behold ever. I had a go. I was a little dubious about parts of the recipe, but sure enough, it allowed me to make a pretty authentic attempt.

…and the verdict? “This is the best, thank you so much,” he declared.

Air-fist-pump to me!

“But you can just tell it’s not the same as the real sort. It’s the English tomatoes,” he continued.

…hmmm….

If you want to have a go at the Nice version, there is an easy recipe on BBC Good Food here.

Enjoy x

 

baking

A Truly Foolproof Recipe | Marble Cake

I must start by apologising for this quick and rather brief post.  Things at the Finca have become a little, um… hectic in the last few days.  I’ll explain at a later date – promise!

However, this saviour of a baking book needs no apologies as it truly lives up to its name of ‘Foolproof Cakes.’

Mary Berry, of TGBBO fame wrote this book quite a while ago and it still remains one of the favourites in our kitchen.  Easy peasy recipes and pretty much guaranteed results. Perfect if you are a little nervous when it comes to cooking or baking.

Mary Berry Foolproof Cakes

Mary Berry’s Foolproof Cakes

The other day, we had friends coming round for cake in the morning and I had approximately an hour and a half to whip something up to serve and look all housewifely.

I knew this book would come to my rescue and I chose to make the Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Cake.  The pictures were enticing and the ingredients list didn’t have me running for the nearest shop, luckily I had everything in the pantry that I needed.

chocolate and vanilla marble cake

I did use slightly less sugar and butter than the recipe and the cake needed the full hour in the oven, but it came out well and looked great.

The best bit was when we sliced it up…

chocolate and vanilla marble cake slice

I couldn’t believe how the two mixtures stayed separate during baking – doesn’t it look cool (yes, this was my first time making a marble cake, can you tell)?

…and boy did it taste good?!

Have a great Sunday x

Animals · baking

The Perfect Present For Your Pup | Fishy Treats

Before Brinks was born we did a lot of reading about motivating puppies to learn.

The general message of my research was… ‘Some dogs will be food motivated, others will work hard for toys or even praise.’ 

Well Brinkley is definitely in the food category. He likes to be told he’s doing a good job and he adores the games that we play with his favourite toy, but when training requires him to use his thinking brain, he figures things out awfully quickly if there is food reward involved.

He already woofs down his meals, which we get delivered from Lily’s Kitchen and in our last food box, we also received a recipe for Fishy Treats.  They were bound to be a hit, so I made up a batch straight away…

sniffing out treats

Here is the recipe…

You will need:

1 x 200g tin of tuna or salmon in oil

1 egg, beaten

100g flour

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 180 C and lightly grease a baking sheet.

Empty the fish and its oil into a bowl and flake with a fork. Add the beaten egg and stir well to combine.

Add the flour and mix together so that you have a lumpy dough. I cut out my dough into little bite-size squares.

Place the squares onto the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden.

Once they are cooled, you can keep them in a container, in the fridge, for up to 2 weeks.

fishy dog treats

They were so easy and quick to make. I love the fact that I know exactly what has gone into them and that Brinks will be getting one or two healthy snacks as part of his training.

I think I will also be making up batches to give to my friends who have dogs in their families.  They might catch on as the new hostess gift. Forget a bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine – nothing softens people’s hearts up more than gifts for their bestest buddies!

gift wrapped fishy dog treats

Might you give them a go?

Have a lovely weekend x

baking

Easy Hot Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

Do you sometimes wish for that perfect moment of housewifely-ness?

That instant of knowing that you are totally in control of your day?  The yes, I have time to make delicious pastries from scratch feeling? The yes, you have just caught me wiping my floury hands on my handmade apron and looking like I spend all day doing this sort of thing feeling?

This recipe promises to do all of this and, on top of that, provide you with the most deliciously special breakfast (or afternoon tea) that you can imagine. It’s that sort of recipe. A life changer.

hot cinnamon buns

For the Dough

1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup warm water
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, room temp
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 cups bread flour
3 tsps quick acting yeast

If you’re making this in either a bread maker or an upright mixer then all you need to do is pop all the ingredients into the bowl and have your machine mix it all together until it forms an elastic ball of dough. If it looks too dry then add milk, a tbsp at a time to achieve your desired consistency. If it is too sticky, add flour, a tbsp at a time until it is ready.

Next, leave your dough in the mixing bowl and cover it with cling film to rise for 10 minutes, somewhere warm.

Whilst you wait for the dough to prove you can lightly oil a work top space ready for kneading. You can also prepare the filling.

Cinnamon Filling

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed soft brown sugar
4-5 tbsp cinnamon.

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Now back to your dough. Again if you are using machines you can set them to knead for you, I prefer to do this by hand though. On your oiled work space, knead the dough firmly for 10 minutes. Now you are ready to roll it out into a large rectangle shape approx 2cm thick.

Next, leaving a small margin all the way round the outer edge of your dough spread your butter thickly. Then liberally cover your butter with the cinnamon sugar, (I find there is often too much cinnamon sugar and so I use what’s left over to sprinkle over the rolls once they are cut and in the tray ready for baking). You can now roll up your dough lengthways into a firm sausage shape. Be careful not to roll it too tightly though. Pinch together the end of your roll with the body of the sausage, (like pleating pastry on a pie crust) and you can begin to cut your rolls now.

Using a serrated knife cut your roll into slices, about 3 cm thick and place carefully onto a greased baking tray, evenly spaced out, to allow rising. Sprinkle with any remaining sugar and pop into a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C, they will need 10-12 minutes to cook.

Now you can make the frosting.

cinnamon bun cross section

Frosting

1 packet of salted butter
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 500g box icing sugar
2 tbsps milk.

This is mixed up like a normal butter cream and spread onto the hot rolls as soon as they come out the oven.

If you want to make it in advance, it is possible to freeze them pre baking. When you are ready, just thaw and bring to room temp before cooking as per instructions.

Happy baking! x

This recipe was kindly provided by the wonderful CakeNess. Find them on Facebook here.

baking

Paleo Banana Bread Discovery

With having limited time due to the arrival of Brinks, our diet has definitely suffered. In the days before the squealing puppy, I would ensure that we attempted (as often as possible) to cook food and snacks that contained more whole foods than those of the processed variety.  Recently, it’s been more a case of ‘grab what’s easiest and requires little or no washing up’.

As the hound has started to settle into a routine and I can be in the kitchen without any dramatic howling ensuing, I decided to do some baking. I was keen for Mr D-F to take some slightly healthier snacks into work to give him a mid-afternoon energy boost.

paleo banana bread slice

A very good friend, and Paleo advocate, recommended this amazing Paleo banana bread.  Naturally sweet enough to make you feel that you are actually eating a piece of cake but super healthy in comparison.  No sugar, grain free and quick to cobble together.

The recipe that he sent me, was this one from the Civilized Caveman Cooking blog.

paleo banana bread close up

I was surprised at the consistency of the batter once it was mixed and ready to be poured into the loaf tin.  In fact, it was so runny that I slopped a good chunk over the side of the tin before I had even started. Ooops!

Surely this runny batter wouldn’t come together to make a cut-able loaf cake like a conventional lemon drizzle?

In fact, my initial worries were proved utterly wrong.  The mixture rose quickly and took about 55 minutes at 180 C. The skewer came out clean and once cooled, the cake cut like any other.

The difference was that this Paleo banana bread was light, airy and moist.  It doesn’t leave you with a heavy feeling and I had no worries about packing Mr D-F with a good few slices.

wrapped up lunchbox banana bread

I am desperate to try out some more ‘healthy’ snacks and treats.  This recipe showed me that cake doesn’t have to be loaded up with sugar for it to taste just as good.

Do you have any suggestions as to what I can try next? All I can come up with is cheese straws… hmmm… I love cheese straws. Probably not too healthy though, hey?!

See you soon x