The Crazy Kitchen: August 2013

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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Chocolate, Cheese, Yoghurt, Coffee & Kitchen Gadgets

What a fast month August has been. I can't believe the summer is over already and my baby boy is starting school, how did that happen?

This month we tried out the following foods and drinks :

Gran Luchito
Made from rare Mexican chillies the Gran Luchito range is extremely spicy so you don't need much. It has a lovely smokey flavour and the honey, paste and mayonnaise are great used as dips, sauces and marinades. I used some of the honey to marinade some pork loin steaks before barbecuing.

Gran Luchito 

A range of fat free yoghurts that have been strained to make them creamier. The website shows you how you can use the yoghurts to replace higher fat ingredients in recipes. I used the natural yoghurt in my potato salad. Lots of flavours with a layer of fruit at the bottom.

chobani yoghurt 

French's Fried Onions
I was expecting these to be like the little fried onion pieces that you get on the salad bar at Pizza Hut, but they were completely different - not different in a bad way, just in a different way. They are light and crisp and salty and make a nice addition to salads - you could even use them as a crispy coating for chicken or to to burgers.

French's Fried Onions 

I love Boursin, it brings back fond memories of a day trip to France during my College days when we enjoyed a French stick, garlic and herb Boursin and a bottle of wine in a park in Calais. I was sent 3 flavours of Boursin to try this month, garlic & herb, tomato, onion & chive and black pepper. I mixed some of the garlic and herb with yoghurt for a potato salad and stirred some of the black pepper version through steamed baby leeks.

boursin and leeks  

I'm trying to eat a lot healthier at the moment - whole foods, nuts and pulses and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Linwoods superfoods seem a great way to add a variety of nutrients into your daily diet, and I have been enjoying some of their milled flaxseed, almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts and co-enzyme Q10 on a banana drenched in almond milk for breakfast. A spoonful adds a touch of nuttiness and just one serving (30g) gives you 30mg of Co-Q10, a highly effective antioxidant.


Lyons Coffee
I've tried one cup tea bags but not coffee bags. Lyons coffee bags are placed in a cup of freshly boiled water and allowed to brew for 3-4 minutes to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee that tastes like ground. I brewed a Gourmet Italian bag for 5 minutes...maybe I'm too used to strong coffee now as I thought it tasted quite week, although the husband was very happy to take it off my hands.

Lyons coffee

Lindt Hello bars
We had a selection of Lindt chocolate bars - Berry, Strawberry, Lime, Coconut and Coffee. All were white chocolate apart from the coffee and were a bit sweet for my taste, although the Lime was really good and tasted like a cheesecake. Even the kids thought the berry and coconut flavours were too sweet. I would definitely have the coffee and lime again though.

Lindt Hello my name is

This month I received some Costa Caramel Latte t-discs to use in my Tassimo machine. As with the other milk based coffee drinks they come in 2 parts, a creamer disc and a coffee one. The creamer is flavoured with caramel and makes a really creamy drink. I don't usually have sugar in coffee so I couldn't manage to drink too many of these as they are quite sweet but they do make a nice start to the day, and I was surprised that, considering how sweet & creamy the drink is, they are only 94 calories per serving.

Tassimo Costa Caramel latte

Beanies Flavour Co
There are a few smells that remind me of our time living in the US, one of them being the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the shopping malls. As soon as I opened up the jar of Beanies French Vanilla instant coffee I was immediately whisked to Ross Park Mall, one of my favourite places in Pittsburgh. The coffee is so nice and the husband loves it too, so much so that we are down to the last few grains in our jar. There are some flavours available in Sainsbury's but others are available online.
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A new product that Beanies is launching this month is Yogart, a make at home yoghurt in 6 flavours - vanilla, apple & pomegranate, strawberry, lemon, bio and greek style. We were sent an electric yoghurt maker to make it in, however you can use a thermal water model if you have one. We tried the pomegranate, vanilla and greek style and I have to say that my favourite was the vanilla, with a mild taste and lovely and smooth and creamy, perfect over fruit and cereal. The yoghurt making process couldn't be simpler - mix the sachet with a litre of water, place in the machine for 8 hours and hey presto you have a litre of delicious yoghurt.

 photo yogart_zpsa8617ac6.jpg

Essential Equipment for the Kitchen
A sourcebook by Charlotte & Peter Fiell of the World's best designs. Not surprisingly it shows a Kitchen Aid Artisan food mixer on the front as this has to be my best kitchen purchase ever. I have a grey model which I've now owned for around 7 or 8 years. I loved looking through this book, it's like having my own wishlist - I may have to get some sticky tabs for certain pages and leave the book laying around to see if anyone takes the hint. It's good to see that some of my favourite brands such as OXO good grips and Pyrex have made it into the book, along with some very sleek German and Scandinavian designers. Everyday items from garlic presses and vegetable peelers to kitchens and large appliances.

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I was sent the products mentioned above for the purpose of review

Friday, 30 August 2013

Gin & Elderflower Muffins

Last week I had a bit of addiction according to my daughter "you used to be addicted to making muffins, and then it was cookies and then it was Hello Fresh and now back to muffins", and then she sighed like only a 10 year old girl can.

I don't think she was complaining about my muffin making addiction though as the batches of muffins disappeared from the tins before I could even make myself a cuppa. I knew there was only one thing for it, make muffins that the kids won't eat. There's not a lot that my kids won't eat but things with alcohol in is one of them - they can even tell if there's a hint of red wine in a casserole. I was sent some supplies to make cocktails and two of the ingredients were gin and elderflower cordial, a marriage made in heaven so I thought I would pair them up in a muffin and see how they tasted. I was really pleased how they turned out but unfortunately the husband was too and he was making the most of his sugar levels being in the normal range. If you prefer the taste of elderflower more than the gin I would recommend that you switch the quantities as they were quite strong!

gin and elderflower muffins

Gin & Elderflower Muffins - makes 8

125g Plain flour
50g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
50ml vegetable oil
1 egg
50ml gin
25ml Elderflower cordial

  • Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together
  • Beat the egg with the oil, gin & elderflower cordial
  • Mix the dry ingredients quickly into the wet until just mixed
  • Spoon into muffin cases
  • Bake in a 180 C oven for approx 20 minutes
  • For a syrupy topping mix equal parts gin, elderflower and sugar together & spoon over the muffins as soon as they come out of the oven
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Chocolate & Lime Cheesecake

What do you do when you drop a carton of cream cheese out of the fridge and it splits?
Make cheesecake of course.

I had also just made a litre of natural yoghurt so it was a perfect way to combine the 2 in a dessert for the weekend. I strained the yoghurt through a sieve lined with kitchen paper to remove any of the excess juice beforehand but you could use a thick set yoghurt or double cream instead.

    Chocolate & Lime Cheesecake

Chocolate & Lime Cheesecake

1 litre of natural yoghurt (or use 600ml lightly whipped double cream)
250g Digestive biscuits
25g Cocoa powder
85g butter, melted
1 block of Lime jelly
300g full fat cream cheese
100ml boiling water
  • Strain the excess liquid from the yoghurt as mentioned above & discard the liquid
  • In the meantime crush the biscuits until they are a fine crumb
  • Stir in the cocoa powder and melted butter and mix well
  • Press into the base of a loose bottomed or springform cake tin & refrigerate
  • Stir the block of jelly into the boiling water until dissolved & allow to cool
  • Beat the cream cheese gradually into the yoghurt & stir in the cooled jelly
  • Pour onto the base and place in the fridge for around 4 hours until set
  • Decorate with cocoa powder or melted chocolate

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Great Bloggers Bake Off - Week 2 - Brioche

Week 2 of the Great British Bake Off is here and the theme is bread. The smell of freshly baked bread is one of the best smells. the smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns is even better. I've made quite a lot of bread myself, mostly in a breadmaker but more recently I've been using my Kitchen Aid mixer to knead the dough and have made bloomers and french sticks using Mr Hollywood's recipes from his 'Bread' book. The main thing to remember when making bread is that it can't be rushed. If you become impatient and don't leave to prove for long enough the bread won't be soft and light. Often you need to prove the dough twice and recipes can take as long as 7 or 8 hours to make from start to finish.

I spotted a recipe for brioche in the book a while ago so thought I would give it a try this week as I've never made it before. I did expect it to be similar to making other bread and was surprised that the mixture resembled cake batter at one point. I thought it had gone wrong and read the recipe over and over to make sure I'd added the correct quantities and very almost added some extra flour. I carried on though, and I'm glad I did as it turned out just fine in the end - you just need a little patience. If you do try this recipe don't be put off by the consistency of the mixture, it will be fine in the end.

It's actually a very simple recipe that doesn't involve all the usual kneading that comes with making other breads and you can make the dough one day and leave overnight to prove and bake the next if you're short of time.

Chocolate Orange Brioche

Chocolate and Orange Brioche

250g strong white bread flour
3g salt
30g caster sugar
5g dried yeast
80ml tepid milk
2 eggs, at room temperature
grated zest of 1 orange
juice of half an orange
130g butter, at room temperature
100g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
egg beaten with a little milk for the glaze

  • Put the flour in a food mixer fitted with a dough hook
  • Add the salt and sugar to one side & the yeast to the other
  • Add the milk, eggs, zest and juice and mix on a slow speed until fully combined
  • Turn up to a medium speed and mix for 4 minutes
  • Add the softened butter a little at a time and keep mixing for another 4 minutes
  • Add the chocolate and mix briefly

  • Tip the dough into a greased bowl, cover & chill for at least 5 hours
  • Once the dough has chilled tip it onto a floured surface and form into a sausage & cut into 8 pieces
  • Lightly roll the pieces into balls and place in a greased loaf tin,place in a large plastic bag and leave to prove for around 2 hours until the dough has risen above the rim of the tin
chocolate orange brioche

  • Brush the brioche lightly with the egg wash glaze and place in a 200C preheated oven for around 20-25 minutes (or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean)
  • Leave in the tin for 5 minutes to cool before removing and leaving on a wire rack to cool
  • serve warm or cold

If you want to join in with the Great Bloggers Bake Off please take the time to read the rules below, link up your own recipe and show some comment love on the other entrants.

  • all recipes must be a new post and not an old one linked up
  • all recipes must fit the themes set by that week’s Great British Bake Off episode
  • all entries must carry the GBBO badge (designed by Annie – thank you)
  • all entries must also carry these links to Jenny and myself please  and
  • all entries must be linked up on either mine or Jenny Berry’s blog by 8pm each Sunday night (click on our GBBO badges to find the linky posts)
  • please tweet myself @jessies_kitchen and/or @JennyPaulin using the hashtag #GreatBloggersBakeOff and we will RT all entries that we see
Grab our button
and join in

We can't wait to see what you've baked!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Great Bloggers Bake Off - Week 1 Round-up

It's been a great first week of our challenge on the theme of CAKE, we've been overwhelmed with the support we've had and are truly grateful to everyone that has joined in and baked as well as tweeted, commented and shared posts.

First up was virgin baker Lianne aka GHD Queen with her luscious looking Strawberry & Vanilla Sandwich. Well done on your first bake Lianne, keep up the good work!

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Next we have another sandwich cake from Sarah at The Watts Family Begins, this time with raspberries added into the batter and elderflower and mascarpone into the cream and white chocolate fingers around the edge - look how fresh those raspberries are.

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If you like mint chocolate you will love the next entry from Munchies and Munchkins as it is another sandwich cake, this time infused with mint from the garden in the cake, buttercream filling and icing, and then decorated with chocolate leaves - very indulgent.

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The first Angel food cake linked up came from Cat at Yellow Days, and it was definitely a good one and would put some of the GBBO entrants to shame. Cat added orange & lemon juice to the cake and decorated it with fresh cream and home made orange curd to use up some of those yolks.

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The second Angel Food Cake comes from Aimee, Wallflower Girl, who has made a delicious looking cake, this time with the addition of poppy seeds and topped with a lemon icing.

Lemon Poppyseed Angel Food Cake

Jo from Jo's Kitchen made a delicious sounding rhubarb and custard sandwich cake, topped with pink & green icing which she also used on 'gender reveal cupcakes' - you'll have to visit her sister blog to find out whether it's a boy or a girl though!

 photo rhubarbcustard_zps8d321750.jpg

Gill from Pigling Bland has made, in her words, a very retro looking angel food cake. Like myself she topped hers off with lemon curd, but unlike me she made her own!

 photo AngelFoodCakewithLemonCurd_zpsfeea944a.jpg

Next up we have another sandwich cake from Chloe at Vanilla Stitches, this time it's decorated with very impressive looking pink and white piped roses as well as a very clever hidden marzipan heart through the middle of the cake. 

 photo RoseHeartCake_zps2f5dd157.jpg

Now I do love these mini sandwich cakes from Blue at Bluebirdsunshine, filled with Delia's passionfruit sponge filling - I wonder if I could fit one of those in my mouth whole!


Another lemon & poppyseed cake comes from Mary at Keynko, this time a sandwich cake and gluten free too! It looks delicious and I would never know that it was gluten free.

gluten free lemon and poppyseed

Our second chocolate cake this week comes from Emma at Helvetia. Emma describes the cake as a little messy looking. In my opinion there is absolutely nothing messy looking about a cake sitting in a sea of chocolate - apart from my face after I've devoured it!

 photo chocolatecake_zpsa0a8b284.jpg

Another delicious looking white chocolate and raspberry combination came in the form of a Raspberry Ripple sandwich cake with white chocolate ganache from Mummy Makes Cakes, very luxurious looking.

 photo Raspberryripplesandwichcakeampwhitechocolateganache_zps0ab29da0.jpg

The further I get down this post the hungrier I get and this is one cake I wouldn't mind a slice of right now with it's delicious mascarpone, cream & blueberry filling courtesy of Denise from Snaffle's Mummy.

 photo BlueberryampAlmondCake_zps2f23fa22.jpg

Next up, from my old mate Julia, a wannabe foodie , is a sandwich cake / angel food cake kind of combination - with light (butter free) sponge sandwiched with lemon syrup and curd and slathered in meringue - delicious!

Lemon Meringue (Sandwich) cake

Another rose infused cake is from Helen at The Good Life Mum, but this time it's an Angel Food Cake, and decorated with beautiful white chocolate ganache swirls and rose petals.

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Another delicious chocolate sandwich cake was made by Emma at Cakes and Scribbles, sandwiched with both chocolate icing and chocolate cream. Emma says it's one of the best cakes she's ever made - we hope she's got the baking bug now!

Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cake

Andrea from All you need is love & cake jumped in at the deep end in this first week and made an Angel Food cake topped with white chocolate cream and summer berries. If this is only half of Mary Berry's recipe it's hard to imagine how big the 10 egg version would be!

 photo AngelFoodCakewithSummerBerries_zps754d8444.jpg

After watching The Great British Bake Off with her mum, 10 year old Miss Frugal from The Diary of a Frugal Family made this very impressive looking chocolate sandwich cake topped with chocolate chips. Well done Miss Frugal.

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Jennifer from Jennifer's Little World took on the challenge with her children, and for their Summer theme day made a very colourful underwater Victoria sponge with fondant fish.
 photo UndertheSeaVictoriaSponge_zpsb88457de.jpg

Plans for a chocolate show stopper didn't quite go to plan for Debs from Super Busy Mum when she realised that she hadn't added the cocoa powder to her sponges..she didn't let that stop her though and instead made a delicious Victoria sponge with raspberry jam and whipped cream.
 photo Victoriasponge_zps5fded1b2.png

Nikki from Stressy Mummy would describe her Lemon Meringue sponge cake as 'a little messy', but I would have to disagree - the sponge layers are very neat and that is the biggest meringue I have ever seen on top of a cake! 

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I love nuts in cakes so this Walnut Buttermilk Blueberry cake from Multi Layer Mummy really appealed to me. Combined with whipped cream and blueberries it sounds like heaven on a plate.

 photo WalnutButtermilkBlueberryCake_zps777da718.jpg

Leanne from Little Life of Scrap was going to make a bannoffee sandwich cake but as it was her birthday her husband took over and made an impressive looking chocolate peanut butter chess cake for her, and it was only his 4th baking attempt ever - well done Mr Little Life of Scrap!

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Debbie from Johnson Babies was determined to try something other than her usual victoria sponge cake and made her husband drive her around looking for an Angel Food Cake tin. Alas she could only find Bundt tins and despite having a little trouble getting it out of the tin it turned out great, and she even made her own lemon curd!

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Karin from Cafe Bebe is a Coeliac and therefore needs to follow a gluten free diet, which can made cake baking a bit of a challenge. Her Muddy Flourless chocolate cake looks & sounds delicious though and was a big hit with her daughter.

 photo MuddyFlourlessChocolateCake_zpsd7264ec8.jpg

Talented cake maker Angie from Cakes Photos Life  decided on a chocolate show stopper  for this week's challenge and it really is a show stopper covered in chocolate paste and topped with white chocolate buttercream and decorations made from more chocolate paste. 

 photo ChocolateTruffleCake_zpsc0a37e66.jpg

Sarah from Sarah's Wacky World had never made a Victoria sponge before and made an excellent job, with some great looking sponges!

 photo VictoriaSandwichsarah_zpsba0484aa.jpg

If you're watching your waistline then Rebecca from Here Come The Girls has the perfect cake for you..calorie free sponge cake...made from actual sponge, yes the kind that you have in your bath!

 photo SpongeCakemadeofsponge_zps3aa18ad5.jpg

Bryony from Love Bryony has made one deliciously moist looking orange sponge cake sandwiched and covered in a white chocolate & creme fraiche frosting

 photo orangeandwhitechocolatecake_zpscd7db365.jpg

The final victoria sponge of the week comes from Mrs C (Being Mrs C) who may possibly have used jam that was just too posh for her perfect sponges making the filling slide out - but we donb't cake about formalities like that - it all goes down the same way. 

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An extremely impressive looking chocolate show stopper was provided by Nickki at Cookies Cakes & Bakes, with a lace chocolate collar and topped with some popular chocolates.

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The last, but by no means least, Angel Food Cake, is from Lindsay at Baking, Making & Crafting, who will admit to having a little crumb in her cream, personally I don't see any problem with that, it all goes down the same way.

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Something a little different was made by Emma at Crazy With Twins who made cupcakes inspired by a Victoria Sponge, and filled the centres with buttercream and jam.

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There may have been a few more entries but unfortunately myself and Jenny aren't allowed to enter the linky challenge, but please don't let that stop you looking!

Anyway, the important part of the proceedings has arrived and myself and Jenny have had much difficulty deciding who would be our very first Star Baker.

We have been overwhelmed by all the entries, especially by those that have never baked a cake before and those that have never made an Angel Food Cake before, and especially 10 year old Miss Frugal and Leanne's husband who made her a fab birthday cake.

After much deliberation we have decided that Helen from The Goodlife Mum would be our Star Baker for week 1 with her elderflower and rose infused angel food cake, topped with gorgeous piped white chocolate roses.

Well done Helen, we will send you a special Star Baker badge to wear with pride on your blog!

Please go and show our #GreatBloggersBakeOff bakers some comment love, I'm sure they will appreciate it.

The next theme is bread and you will find the linky on here and my partner in crime Jenny Berry's blog which you will find here. The linky will open tomorrow and close at 8pm on Sunday and the round up will be on next Tuesday over on Jenny's blog.


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