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Friday, 3 July 2015

Pimms and Elderflower Iced Lollies

Well, summer has FINALLY arrived, and what does everyone do? complain that it's too hot! Such a typically British thing to do, but if you can't stand the heat then get out of the kitchen, which definitely applies in my case, as the kitchen is the hottest room in the house this time of the year. Even the hamsters have gone on vacation to the deepest, darkest (and coolest) depths of the teen cave to cool down.

This explains why my blog has been quiet for a few days (ok, it was a whole week), because who wants to be stuck in the kitchen when the weather is so nice. I've either been at my desk in the coolest part of the lounge (warmest in winter as it's next to the radiator) or up at the allotment, planting, watering and building (more on my DIY pallet bench another time).

This weekend is set to be another scorcher, so these iced lollies will help to cool you down. If you don't have any sparkling elderflower you can make up some cordial with sparkling water or lemonade, or just use regular lemonade, whichever you prefer. This recipe makes 6 lollies but you may need to adjust the quantities depending on the size of your lolly moulds.

Pimms and Elderflower Iced Lollies

Pimms and Elderflower Iced Lollies - makes 6

100ml Pimms
300ml sparkling elderflower (I used Cawston Press Elderflower Lemonade)
a few thin slices of strawberry
a few thin slices of cucumber
  • mix the Pimms and elderflower together
  • pop a couple of slices of strawberry & a slice of cucumber into each lolly mould
  • fill the moulds with the Pimms mixture & pop a stick in
  • freeze overnight
Pimms and Elderflower Iced Lollies Pimms and Elderflower Iced Lollies

Enjoy! (and no moaning about the weather, we want it to stay like this for a while)

Friday, 26 June 2015

Mexican Jam Jar Salad

As anyone that reads this blog (or indeed knows me) knows that I'm always up for a challenge, especially when it comes to food. Bernard Matthews set me a challenge of creating a lunch recipe for their new campaign, but this wouldn't be just a regular sandwich, wrap or pitta, as it was to be a 'Breadless Lunch Challenge', without any kind of bread at all.

I don't often eat bread for lunch so I'm used to making something other than a sandwich, which is easy enough when working from home, but can be more of a challenge when going out for the day and taking a packed lunch or picnic.

Using a pack of Bernard Matthews sweet chilli turkey breast chunks I put together some layered salads in jam jars, which are then easily transported for eating out.

Mexican Jam Jar Salad

The kids loved these and ate one each as an after school snack - Hanna ate hers straight from the jar but the boys requested that theirs were warmed up and served in a bowl (obviously I didn't warm the lettuce up, and this was served alongside the warm salad). I haven't listed quantities here as it would depend on the size of your jar, so just layer up each ingredient to fill the jar.

Mexican Jam Jar Salad

cooked & cooled long grain rice
mixed beans in chilli sauce
Bernard Matthews sweet chilli turkey breast chunks
sweetcorn
grated cheese
shredded lettuce
  • layer the ingredients in the jar in the order above
  • place a lid on and keep in the fridge until needed
Mexican Jam Jar Salad Mexican Jam Jar Salad
IT'S SURPRISING HOW MUCH YOU CAN FIT IN A JAR



this recipe has been commissioned by Bernard Matthews

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns

I haven't made bread in ages, but the return of some warm weather gave me a good excuse, as it means I don't have to try and find a space in the airing cupboard (which doesn't get that warm anyway) to place the dough to prove.

I wanted to make buns, and as I've made a few flavours previously (toffee apple,  strawberry & lemon curd, sticky plum, cherry, cinnamon, and Nutella) I wanted to try something new this time, and opted for chocolate orange as I knew the kids would love them.

When it comes to bread making you need a little patience, so don't try and rush the process. Make sure you allow yourself enough time for proving twice, so starting in the morning is a good idea. It comes down to a little trial and error at first, and getting used to the feel of the dough, and knowing whether you need to add a little more water/milk or a little more flour. Different flours absorb water differently so measurements of liquid are not always exact, and you may need to add more or less than a recipe states because of this - like I said, it's trial and error at first.

I use my food mixer to mix the dough, but it's not necessary and can all be done by hand - I'm just lazy when it comes to kneading, plus having carpal tunnel & arthritis in my right hand doesn't help!

  Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns - makes 12-15

for the dough
500g white bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
50g caster sugar
50g butter, melted
7g yeast
225ml milk (approx)

filling
25g butter, melted
zest of 2 oranges
150g good quality dark chocolate chips - I used Callebaut Belgian chocolate

chocolate orange glaze
50g butter, melted
juice of half an orange (2 tbsp)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tbsp icing sugar

  • add the flour, salt, sugar, butter and yeast to the food mixer
  • with a dough hook attached and the motor running slowly, add almost all of the milk, adding more if it's looking a little dry
  • keep mixing until everything has been mixed together
  • speed the motor up a little until the dough is smooth and elastic
  • place dough in a lightly floured bowl and cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm spot until it's doubled in size (approx 2 hours)
  • turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out into a large rectangle
  • brush with melted butter and sprinkle with chocolate chips and grate the zest over it, evenly
  • roll the dough up tightly into a long sausage
  • using a sharp knife cut slices approx 1cm in width and place in a greased ovenproof dish or baking sheet - if you bake them closer together they will be softer and deeper, if you space them out they will spread out more, be firmer and larger - see pics of both options below
  • cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm spot again until approx double in size
  • Once proved for the second time, preheat the oven to 200C, remove the clingfilm and bake the buns for approx 15-20 minutes until lightly golden brown
  • leave to cool slightly before making the glaze by whisking all the ingredients together until smooth and then pouring over the buns

These are delicious when eaten slightly warm but are equally delicious if kept in the fridge and eaten cold, as the glaze firms up a little and the chocolate chips are hard

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns
LEAVE ENOUGH SPACE TO INCREASE IN SIZE

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns
AFTER THE SECOND PROVE

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns
THESE WERE BAKED WITH PLENTY OF SPACE AROUND (BEFORE GLAZING)

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns
THESE WERE BAKED CLOSER TOGETHER - A SOFTER TEXTURE AROUND THE EDGES

Sticky Chocolate Orange Buns
SOFT & GOOEY!




Make Sure Your New Oven Has these Fantastic Features

On the hunt for a new oven? Most people only purchase a new oven when their old model has broken down beyond repair, meaning it’s probably years and years since you last dipped into the market. You’ve only got to look at pictures of ovens considered state-of-the-art going back in five, or ten, year intervals to see how rapidly the technology and range of features available is evolving. The best ovens today have the following features, so make sure you check for these before you make a decision.

Make Sure Your New Oven Has these Fantastic Features

Recipe programmes
Gone are the days when you had to fill your shelves with heavy cookbooks and go through them for inspiration every mealtime. The cookers at the top end of the market today are equipped with multimedia touchscreen cookbooks, which allow you to select from a range of recipes with just a few taps and swipes.

Cooking programmes
Some recipes on your new oven may even have their own cooking function, which will automatically adjust the heat, intensity and method of cooking inside the oven for you – meaning you simply need to prepare a dish and come back to one which is cooked to perfection.

Self-cleaning
Cleaning the oven has to be one of the grimmest and most arduous household chores there is. But go for a state-of-the-art oven and getting down on your hands and knees and scrubbing oven grime away for hours will become a thing of the past thanks to the aqualytic and pyrolytic cleaning systems many are equipped with. An aqualytic cleaning system uses steam to break down any accumulated grease and leave it easy to wipe away, while a pyrolytic cleaning system does the same by heating up the interior to around 490⁰c.

AMICA oven / cooker features  photo cookbook_zpshtbxhtoh.jpg

Energy-efficiency
Be sure to look for the energy-efficiency label when shopping for an oven. A quality oven will have an energy rating of A, A+ or A++, leaving you not only feeling great about doing your bit for the environment, but also with more money in your pocket through big savings on your energy bills.

Safety features
Looking for an oven with the best safety features should be a priority, particularly if you have young children. A good oven door should be double- or triple-glazed and have a cooling system making it safe to touch, as well as telescopic guides meaning you don’t have to reach into the oven to check on a dish. If you’re searching for an oven-hob combo, be sure to look for automatic ignition and burner safety valves, which prevent unwanted gas leakage.

If you’re wondering who could manufacture ovens with such a variety of time- and money-saving features, look no further than Amica, whose range of freestanding and integrated appliances provide intelligent solutions to everyday problems encountered at home and in the kitchen. With the time and money you’ll save after swapping your clunky, chunky old oven for one of the sleek, modern, intuitive and innovative models available on the market today, the only regret you’ll have is not making the switch sooner.


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