The Crazy Kitchen: July 2014

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Strawberry Cheesecake Sundae Strawberry Cheesecake Pimms Pavlova Ciabatta Ice Cream Cupcakes Raspberry Tarts

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz

A few months ago I had never heard of an Aperol Spritz, but my lovely blogging friend Steph raved about it.  Fast forward to June of this year when I met up with Steph at The Taste of London in Regent's Park and she introduced me to this mighty fine cocktail.

Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz

It's been a slippery slope for me and the Aperol ever since. Later that month I mixed up two litres of the lucozade looking concoction in an old plastic water bottle (glass bottles were not allowed) to take to a Jessie J concert with friends in the middle of Cannock Chase forest. I'm definitely not 'into' Jessie J and the Aperol helped me to not care what I was listening to.

Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz

A couple of days ago I had been busy baking and cooking dinner, and the sweat was pouring off me. As soon as the husband came in from work I retired to my quiet corner of the garden where I enjoyed an ice cold Aperol Spritz (or two) courtesy of World Duty Free, who are currently hosting their Summer Drinks Festival.

Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz

After a while I was joined in the garden by Jack, who came out to fix his goal. I kept quite and still and he didn't notice I was there, allowing the peace to continue for a little longer.

Perfect Summer Drink - Aperol Spritz

To make an Aperol Spritz you will need :

3 parts Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 splash of soda
slice of orange
lots of ice
  • pour Prosecco, Aperol and soda over ice and stir
  • garnish with a slice of orange 


Sunday 27 July 2014

Taking the Sunshine on Holiday

Last week we enjoyed a break in the Isle of Wight. It was a bit of a rush with Sam only arriving back from his trip to France with the school at 10.30pm, leaving me little time to get his clothes washed before we left for Southampton at 7.30 the following morning.

As usual the contents of the boot of the car fitted together like a precision cut jigsaw, however, I made sure that there was room for my bottles of Lindeman's wine.

 photo 6_zps70b06228.jpg

Whilst away I cooked a family meal for us and our friends who were holidaying on the same site. I'd planned the meal before going, taking a risk that everyone would like what I had planned.

Pulled pork
Baked potatoes
Corn on the Cob
Crusty Bread

Pulled Pork Family Meal
I would never make a teacher with blackboard writing that bad!

There was a fussy one amongst us, my friend's 15 year old son, who didn't like the sound of pulled pork but said he would give it a try anyway. His mum wasn't much better, declaring 'I don't usually like pork, but for you I will try it'.

I usually cook my pulled pork in the slow cooker but didn't have the boot space to take it on holiday so had planned to oven roast it. Thankfully there was a slow cooker in my friend's [posher] caravan that was large enough for the 2kg of pork that I'd bought. It's such an easy recipe and a perfect dish to make if you're going to be out all day as it can be cooked all day in the slow cooker and then shredded just before serving, or can be made in advance and reheated.
Pulled Pork Family Meal

Pulled Pork - serves 8-10 

2kg Pork shoulder 
2 quantities of bbq rub (used here for ribs - I made it at home & took it with me in a zip lock bag)
2 onions, sliced in half around the middle
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
125ml cola or Dr pepper
bbq sauce

  • Rub the bbq rub all over the pork shoulder & leave in the fridge overnight if you can
  • Preheat a slow cooker and place the onions into the base, along with the garlic cloves
  • Place the pork on top and pour over the cola
  • Cook on high for around 6 hours, or until the pork falls apart
  • Take the pork out and remove the fat
  • Set aside some of the juices for later
  • Using two forks shred the pork
  • Mix around 100ml of the juices with an equivalent quantity of bbq sauce and spoon over the pork - you want it to be moist but not dripping in sauce

Pulled Pork Family Meal

For dessert I made a lemon and berry cheesecake, with ice cream and a selection of sprinkles for the kids to enjoy. I took a muffin pan with me as I knew there wouldn't be enough bowls in the caravan to serve all the sprinkles and sauces and this is an idea I've seen a few times for serving things like this, and more recently I saw Lucy using it at her amazing pink party (unfortunately no fancy scoops for me).

Pulled Pork Family Meal Pulled Pork Family Meal - Lemon & Berry Cheesecake

You can find my cheesecake recipe here. This time I didn't add any strawberries to the inside of the cheesecake and topped with fresh strawberries and frozen (and thawed) mixed berries.

The meal went down a storm! the fussy one absolutely LOVED the pulled pork, as did his Mum. I will forgive him for not wanting to try the cheesecake though as it meant more for the rest of us!

We enjoyed a bottle (or two) of Lindeman's Bin 35 Rosé (my current favourite from the Bin range) with our meal, and it was particularly delicious with the dessert.

A couple of days later I fancied a Sangria but unfortunately there wasn't a jug large enough to make it in, so I called upon my [limited] craft skills and improvised.

diy Sangria jug

Sangria to cool me down in the heat whilst the kids were kept busy with sidewalk chalk.

I am working together with Lindeman's to help spread news of their wines

Seasonal Recipes - Rhubarb and Custard Roulade

We've just returned from a gloriously sunny week in the Isle of Wight. The sunflowers and green beans in our garden were looking a little parched but the rhubarb seems to have loved the hot weather and has grown rather rapidly, ready to fill my freezer.

If you've also got rhubarb growing in abundance but feel it's too hot for rhubarb crumble then why not try this chilled dessert instead. It uses the delicious pairing of rhubarb and custard, but in a roulade instead of a pie - think trifle in a roll.

I made it during my birthday week and it made a great alternative to store bought chocolate cake that the husband usually buys for my birthday!

You can find the full step by step recipe on the Great British Chefs website here.
    Rhubarb and Custard RouladeRhubarb and Custard Roulade Rhubarb and Custard Roulade

Friday 18 July 2014

Lactofree Shakes #SayYestoSummer

The next in my #SayYestoSummer challenges with Lactofree was to create some summer shakes using Lactofree products. There is a shake for every taste, whether you like it full of berries or maybe even banana and peanut butter.

Lactofree #sayyestosummer

For my first shake I was inspired by one of my favourite cakes, the carrot cake. Carrot cake is full of so many flavours so why not bring these flavours into a milkshake - so simple yet so tasty.

carrot cake milkshake

I used a ready made slice of carrot cake but you might want to make your own to ensure that it's lactose free. It was topped with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting which makes it really indulgent and not for those counting their calories.

carrot cake milkshake

Carrot Cake Shake 

1 slice of carrot cake - approx 100g
200ml Lactofree milk
handful of ice cubes
75g Lactofree soft cheese
75ml Lactofree cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
walnuts (optional)
  • Place the carrot cake, milk and ice cubes in a blender & blend until smooth
  • Whisk the soft cheese with the cream and cinnamon until it forms soft peaks
  • Pour the carrot make milk into a glass and top with the cream cheese frosting
  • Top with crumbled carrot cake and walnuts

carrot cake milkshake

The second shake was a little more on the healthy side, with less indulgence and more fruit. This one combines the summer fruits of strawberry and rhubarb along with vanilla.

rhubarb strawberry milkshake

Strawberry and Rhubarb Shake

1 stalk of rhubarb
1 vanilla pod
1 tbsp demerara sugar
handful of strawberries, hulled and halved
handful of ice cubes
200ml Lactofree milk
75ml Lactofree cream

  • Cut the rhubarb into 2cm pieces and place in a small baking dish with the seeds from the vanilla pod and demerara sugar
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 10 minutes
  • Add the strawberries and bake for an additional 10 minutes until the fruits are tender, allow to cool
  • Once the fruit is cool add it to a blender with the ice cubes, milk and cream
  • Blend until smooth and serve in a sundae glass

rhubarb strawberry milkshake

The final two involved less preparation and can be made in seconds.

lactofree shakes

Banana and Raspberry Shake

1 banana
handful of frozen raspberries
200ml Lactofree milk
  • Blend everything together & serve

Vanilla Iced Coffee

1 shot Espresso coffee
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
200ml Lactofree milk
handful of ice cubes
  • Blend everything together and serve

You can find more Lactofree summer recipes here, and also check out the Lactofree Facebook page for giveaways and inspiration.

I'm working together with Lactofree to provide inspiration and recipes over the summer. For this second challenge I was provided with a fabulous cool bag of products. 

lactofree #sayyestosummer

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Seasonal Recipes - Pimms Pavlovas

I do enjoy a glass (or jug) of Pimms in the garden in the summer, and last weekend I decided to use a drop or two of my Pimms to create a dessert. This is perfect to serve at a dinner party as they can be fully prepared in advance, as well as looking a little bit special, which will impress your friends.

They may not look that easy to make, but trust me, they are a lot easier than they look. As long as you have a food mixer or electric whisk they won't even take much effort.

Pimms Pavlovas Pimms Pavlovas

Pimms Pavlovas Pimms Pavlovas

Seasonal Recipes - Pimms Pavlovas

For more seasonal recipes follow my Pinterest board

Olive and Rosemary Focaccia

When I need to make bread and I don't have a lot of time for kneading and second proving, my go-to recipe is Foccacia. It has to be the easiest bread that I've ever made. There is no kneading involved so you don't even need to get your hands dirty. You do really need a food mixer though as I can't imagine how much beating by hand it would take if you didn't.

Rosemary is one of my favourite flavours to add to the bread, and this time I added some olives to the dough too. It's a lovely soft and light bread that is great for tearing and sharing.

Olive and Rosemary Focaccia

Olive and Rosemary Focaccia

350g strong white bread flour 
7g yeast
7g salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
75ml olive oil 
280ml cool water
few sprigs of fresh rosemary 
150g mixed olives
  • Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, salt & oil and half of the water together in a food mixer
  • Add the rest of the water with the motor running until you get a thick cake like batter, adding more water if necessary
  • Mix for approx 5-10 10 mins on high speed
  • Put dough in a large oiled silicone baking pan & cover with clingfilm - I used 2 square silicone pans
  • Leave in a warm place to prove for approx 2 hours
  • Gently make some indentations with your fingers and drizzle over a little olive oil, sea salt and pop some sprigs of rosemary in some of the holes
  • Bake in a 200 C oven for approx 15 minutes until golden on the top
Olive and Rosemary Focaccia Olive and Rosemary Focaccia

I was recently sent some olives along with a copy of Olive it!- the essential olive recipe book, which is packed full of tasty looking recipes using olives, as well as information on the Olive it! campaign, history and healthy facts.

The book contains many inviting recipes for marinades, tapenades and tapas and plenty of colourful photos to tempt you.

olive it! cookbook

Sunday 13 July 2014

Seasonal Recipes - Cherry Buns

One of the great things about Summer is the abundance of fresh local fruit. We have a small strawberry plant in our garden that has produced a handful of berries and a rhubarb plant that has provided us with enough for a couple of crumbles so far. We also have an apple tree that should be ready for picking soon and I'm lucky to have friends with allotments that supply my with more rhubarb and produce throughout the season.

Seasonal Recipes - Cherry Buns

Unfortunately I don't have my own supplier of cherries, but as the cherry season is in full swing they can be picked up very reasonably priced in shops. I have recently started writing for Great British Chefs and, as National Cherry Day is coming up this week, I decided that my first recipe would be cherry buns, made with fresh juicy cherries.

Seasonal Recipes - Cherry Buns

Seasonal Recipes - Cherry Buns

Saturday 12 July 2014

Street Food : Spicy Wingless Chicken Wings

A few years ago, when we lived in America we would eat out a lot more than we do now. At the time we could suit ourselves where we went, and never had to take kids menus, highchairs or babysitters into consideration. We didn't usually go to posh restaurants though, and instead would enjoy going to a local bar and sharing a basket of spicy wings - we knew how to live the high life.

When Vue Cinemas contacted me and asked me to create a street food recipe to celebrate the launch of Chef I knew that I wanted to try and recreate those spicy wings. I decided that they would be less messy than eating chicken wings by using bite sized pieces of chicken breast instead.

Street Food : Spicy Wingless Chicken Wings

You can see this recipe, along with other tasty street food recipes on the Vue Cinemas website.

Street Food : Spicy Wingless Chicken Wings Street Food : Spicy Wingless Chicken Wings Street Food : Spicy Wingless Chicken Wings

I was compensated for my time spent creating this recipe

Friday 11 July 2014

Maple and Walnut Cookies

If you're a fan of Sport you're probably already looking forward to the World Cup Final on Sunday and the start of the Commonwealth Games in less than two weeks time. Since 14th June the Queen's Baton Relay has been travelling the length and breadth of Scotland in the build up to the Games in Glasgow. It will travel for 40 days, covering 400 communities with 4000 batonbearers.

If just thinking about all that gets you in a sweat then grab a cuppa, sit down, follow the baton live on BBC and have one of my Commonwealth Games inspired cookies.

Maple and Walnut Cookies

Maple Syrup originates from Canada and is a syrup made from the sap of Maple trees, and is traditionally eaten on pancakes and waffles. I decided to substitute the golden syrup usually used in these cookies with some Maple syrup and add a few walnuts, which is a great pairing with the syrup, along with a touch of cinnamon.

Maple and Walnut Cookies

115g Butter, softened
230g Caster sugar
35g Maple syrup
1 Egg
230g Self Raising Flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tsp cinnamon
50g Walnuts
  • Beat the butter and sugar together
  • Mix in the syrup & egg
  • Stir the flour, bicarbonate of soda & cinnamon together and add to the butter/sugar mixture along with the walnuts & mix well
  • Roll mixture into small balls (approx tbsp) and place on a greased baking sheet, spaced well apart
  • Bake in a preheated 170 C oven for approx 10-12 minutes, until golden brown
  • Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack

    Maple and Walnut Cookies Maple and Walnut Cookies

 I was provided with a supermarket voucher to cover my costs for this challenge, but the recipe is my own

Thursday 10 July 2014

Strawberry and Lemon Cheesecake Sundae

After the success of my Strawberry and Lemon Cheesecake at the weekend I decided to put together a quicker version, in individual portions (albeit very large portions) for a challenge by Mövenpick. The challenge is to create a Sundae using one or more ice creams from their range (available from Ocado), with a prize of a masterclass with The Langham's pastry chef and afternoon tea at The Palm Court.

I'm not normally a fan of Strawberry ice cream but this was not like any usual strawberry ice cream. Containing no artificial colours or flavours it is intensely creamy and tastes of real strawberries, rather than a strawberry flavour, and has pieces of real fruit, and lots of them. 

My sundae was made up of layers of crushed biscuits, lemon cheesecake filling, strawberry ice cream and fresh strawberries.
    Strawberry and Lemon Cheesecake Sundae
movenpick strawberry ice cream

Strawberry and Lemon Cheesecake Sundae - makes 2 sundaes

200g Full fat cream cheese
30g caster sugar + 1 tsp
Juice & zest of 1 lemon
200ml Double cream
handful of strawberries + 1 extra for decoration
2 Digestive biscuits, crushed
A few scoops of Mövenpick Strawberry ice cream
  • Beat the cream cheese together with 30g caster sugar and the lemon zest and juice
  • Beat the cream in a little at a time until well combined and smooth
  • Mix the strawberries with 1 tsp caster sugar and mash gently with a fork (reserve a little of the syrup for drizzling over the finished sundae)
  • Layer up the sundae as follows - biscuit crumbs, lemon mixture, crushed strawberries, lemon mixture, ice cream, lemon mixture, crushed strawberries, lemon mixture, ice cream, strawberry syrup, half a fresh strawberry

Strawberry and Lemon Cheesecake Sundae Strawberry and Lemon Cheesecake Sundae

I was provided with supermarket vouchers towards the cost of my ingredients, along with sundae glasses and spoons

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