Monday 29 February 2016

Meal Planning Monday Week 10

It was a busy weekend as I went down to Dorset for my wedding hair and makeup trial - and this week I have to finish a cake for a showstopper challenge at work, which I'm probably going to have to make on Sunday, decorate on Tuesday and hope it is still OK to take into work on Wednesday!
Monday – out at a blog event
Tuesday – something quick that my fiancé can cook as I need to finish my cake for a bake-off at work tomorrow! Chicken burgers and chips
Wednesday – out at cake decorating course
Thursday- fish and vegetables for me, gammon and mashed potatoes for him
Friday – working from home. Butternut squash and goat's cheese enchiladas from Slow Cooker book
Lunch- pasta bake
Dinner-  roast chicken leg with roast potatoes. Dessert: slow cooker ginger cake
Lunch- with my family for mothers’ day
Dinner – probably back late

Sunday 28 February 2016

Sweet Potato Soup with Pomegranate and Sumac

Sumac is a spice I have only started using recently, and since I bought a packet I’ve kept a look out for any recipes that used it. When I was planning to have a vegan friend over for lunch (which didn’t actually happen in the end) I was looking for an easy recipe I could make in advance and heat up for lunch and came across this Sainsbury’s recipe for sweet potato, pomegranate and sumac soup.
As I’d bought the pomegranate already before the lunch was cancelled, I decided to go ahead and make it anyway and was glad I did! The soup did me a couple of days worth of lunches and was really filling and tasty.

To serve 2, you need:
half an onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped, or a pinch of dried chilli flakes or Very Lazy chopped chilli to taste
1/2 tsp sumac
1/2 tbsp. coconut oil
200g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
150g tomatoes, chopped - the recipe said to use vine tomatoes but I used tinned as I wanted to make this using store cupboard ingredients
400ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses (available in big supermarkets)
to garnish:
pinch of sumac
pomegranate seeds
thin slice of lime

Fry the onion, garlic, chilli and sumac in the coconut oil and 1 tbsp. water until the onion has softened.

Add the sweet potatoes, tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer until the sweet potato is soft.

 Add the pomegranate molasses and blend until smooth in a food processor or blender.

I returned the soup to the pan and added a little more water as it was too thick

Finally, garnish with pomegranate seeds and a slice of lime.

This was a really tasty, filling soup and has the added advantage of being both vegetarian and vegan.

I'm sharing this with Extra Veg, the blog challenge hosted by Michelle at Utterly Scrummy this month and also Helen at Fuss Free Flavours.

I'm also sending it to No Croutons Required, the soup and salad challenge hosted by Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes.

Saturday 27 February 2016

Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras in February is celebrated in different ways all over the world, but the festival is perhaps most synonymous with New Orleans. I visited New Orleans as part of a US road trip in September - you can read my travel review here - but while we missed Mardi Gras, we were able to see behind the scenes at Mardi Gras World.

Essentially a factory tour, we were able to see the floats and giant centrepieces of the parade being built and painted. Our visit began by watching a film explaining the origins and workings of the parade and we were able to try on some costumes, and eat some King Cake.

King Cake, we were told, is eaten from epiphany until Mardi Gras, and represents the three kings who went to visit the baby Jesus. It is made from a sweet dough that is sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and rolled up into a ring or crown shape, then always decorated with the same three colours - purple, which symbolises justice, green, which represents faith, and gold for power.

I found it quite amusing that in the same way that traditional English Christmas puddings contain a silver sixpence, bringing luck to the person who finds it in their portion, King Cake for the same reason contains.. a little plastic baby Jesus. I saw packet mixes for the cake which proclaimed on the front of the box "complete with plastic baby". Quite.

I decided to make a King Cake this month for Mardi Gras and to remind myself of my trip to New Orleans, but I was a bit delayed as I ordered the sanding sugar in the correct colours online - from different sellers - and the gold never turned up! I found I had some yellow at home already but it was about 10 days after Mardi Gras by the time I got around to making this.

Mardi Gras World

You know how your mother or school teacher always said "make sure you read the recipe properly first?" Mary Berry always advises that on the Great British Bake Off technical challenge as well. I feel that I've properly learnt my lesson  after searching for a King Cake recipe online and choosing this one from My It was only as I added the flour - one of the last ingredients - that I thought the quantity of ingredients seemed a lot, and went back and looked at the recipe again. And saw at the top it said "makes two cakes".

Why? Why would you do that? This isn't a cake where you bake two layers and sandwich them together - you literally end up with two separate cakes. One for you, and one for a friend I guess! By the time I realised it was too late, so I did indeed end up with two cakes.

Go to the link above for the full recipe - it's quite long but pretty straightforward. Here I'm melting the butter with sour cream

I used my Kitchenaid to knead the dough

It was very easy to roll out - pliable but not too sticky. I sprinkled the top with sugar and cinnamon though in retrospect I would have used more.

Roll up and form into a ring

After baking in the oven it is very puffed up!

I mixed up some icing and spread it over the cake

Adding the coloured sugars in sections

The King Cake in all its glory, complete with Mardi Gras necklaces and a mask I bought in New Orleans. The cake was delicious - it reminded me more of an iced bun as it's a milky sweet pastry rather than a cake really. I didn't put a plastic baby into mine but I think it's none the worse for it!

I'm sending this to Love Cake, hosted by Ness at JibberJabberUK.

I'm also sharing it with the Food Year Linkup, hosted by Charlotte's Lively Kitchen.

Food Year Linkup February 2016

Friday 26 February 2016

Alphabakes Round-up February 2016: Y

We didn't have the easiest letter for Alphabakes this month and I think it may have left a lot of you wondering why.... or Y! Unsurprisingly there were a lot of yogurt entries and a fabulous looking one involving a giant Yorkshire pudding. Here are the recipes you shared with us this time.

I love the name of this Morning Glory yogurt loaf from Suelle at Mainly Baking. It's a breakfast bread popular in America and very moist as it contains pineapple as well as coconut and raisins. Suelle says it's a bit like what we call in the UK a tea bread and I definitely like the idea of cake for breakfast!
I made this chocolate Yule log just after Christmas but didn't get around to blogging about it until this month! It's a less sinful recipe from Lorraine Pascale's Lighter Way to Bake.

I also made this fruity yogurt brulee which is a lovely light dessert and also really nice for breakfast! It was nice to find a use for my cook's blowtorch again.

This is a very healthy and quite unusual recipe from Chardonnay and Samphire. Here we have yuzu-spiked cauliflower and roasted buckwheat. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit with a distinctive zesty taste that apparently goes really well with cauliflower; this sounds great either as a side dish or a main course.
Yuzu Spiked Cauliflower & Roasted Buckwheat

My Alphabakes co-host Ros at The More Than Occasional Baker made this plum and blueberry yogurt cake; the blueberries on top look very bright and colourful. The addition of yogurt makes it nice and light.
This Greek yogurt and honey cake with a honey yogurt buttercream glaze from Dom at Belleau Kitchen was actually inspired by Ros's cake above. You can tell just from looking how light and fluffy it is.

I had some yogurt left over from my yogurt brulee so decided to use it in these fruity yogurt cookies. I made them gluten-free so a colleague at work could enjoy them too. They are not much to look at, but tasted good!

Jean at Baking in Franglais made this orange and ginger bundt cake using natural yogurt; the shape of the cake was inspired by the song 'River Deep, Mountain High'!

orange and ginger cake2

Here's a great idea from Dom at Belleau Kitchen - a Yorkshire pudding dinner plate. Basically you can serve an entire roast dinner, or anything else, on top of a giant Yorkshire pudding and then eat that too! It's been ages since I've had one of these but it might be making a reappearance on my menu soon.
Thanks to everyone who entere - visit Ros' site on March 1 to find out which letter we are baking with next month!