Traditional Florentines

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Ingredients

50g butter
50g demerara sugar (I used caster)
50g golden syrup
50g plain flour
4 red or natural glacé cherries, finely chopped
50g finely chopped candied peel
50g finely chopped mixed almonds and walnuts (I used only flaked almonds)
50g plain chocolate (39 percent cocoa solids)

Yields approximately 18 florentines.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Line 3 baking trays with non-stick baking parchment.

2. Measure the butter, sugar and syrup into a small pan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and add the flour, chopped cherries, candied peel and nuts to the pan and stir well to mix. Spoon teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking trays, leaving plenty of room for them to spread.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 8–10 minutes or until golden brown. Leave the Florentines to cool before lifting onto a cooling rack. If the Florentines become too hard to remove, put them back into the oven for a few moments to allow them to soften.

4. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in the microwave and taking care not to burn the chocolate. Spread a little melted chocolate over the flat base of each Florentine using a palette knife, and leave to set, chocolate-side up, on the cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Note 1: Florentines don’t have to contain just nuts and candied fruits. Henri Le Roux, Paris uses a variety of different ingredients in his recipes.

Note 2: Original recipe comes from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible (2009)

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Coconut & Almond Macaroons

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Ingredients

2 egg whites
115g icing sugar
115g or ground almonds
¼ teaspoon vanilla paste (I used Taylor & Colledge)
115g dessicated coconut
½ tsp plain flour
25g plain chocolate

Yields approximately 12 macaroons.


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C (Gas 2). Grease two baking trays.

2. Whisk the egg whites until stiff but moist. Sift in the icing sugar and gently fold into the egg whites. Gently fold in the almonds (if using), vanilla paste and dessicated coconut until the mixture is combined, forming a sticky dough.

3. Spoon walnut-sized pieces of the mixture onto the baking trays.

4. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the macaroons are crisp and golden on the outside.

5. Transfer to a cooling rack.

6. When cool drizzle with melted chocolate.


Traditional Carrot Cake

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Ingredients – Serves 10

300g wholemeal flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g soft brown sugar
4 eggs
250ml sunflower oil
1 orange zest
1 lemon zest
200g carrots, finely grated (squeeze to release moisture)
150g chopped walnuts

Optional Cream Cheese Frosting:

100g softened unsalted butter
50g icing sugar
250g cream cheese
1 orange zest

Use 20cm round loose bottomed tin.

Method

1. Heat the oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2. Line a 20cm, 10cm deep cake tin. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together and stir in the sugar. Beat the eggs with the oil and citrus zests.

2. Stir in the carrots and fold everything into the flour mixture. Fold in the walnuts and pineapple if using. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

3. For the frosting, beat the butter and icing sugar together until soft and then beat in the cream cheese. Chill the mixture until it’s thick but spreadable. Spread a thick layer on top of the cake, making sure the side of the icing is flat and continues upwards from the side of the cake. Scatter over the other orange zest.

Optional Decorations:


(Photo: cashandcardigans @ Blogspot)
‘crushed graham crackers (digestive biscuits) & molded orange Starburst shaped into carrots and cut green sour strings to represent the stalk’


(Photo: The Hungry Housewife)
‘I used a 50/50 mix of fondant and gum paste. Rolled the up into carrot shapes and scored them for the realistic look. I also “painted” them with some brown food paste mixed with vodka to give them some shading’ – note: just using fondant icing and food paste/colouring works just as well.

Almond Shortbread

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Ingredients

100g plain flour
100g butter
50g caster sugar, extra for dusting
50g ground almonds
25g flaked almonds

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160′C/Gas mark 3. Lightly grease a 23cm diameter tart tin.

2. Mix the flour, ground almonds and caster sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Knead the mixture together until it forms a dough,

3. Press into the base of the prepared tin, then sprinkle over the ground almonds. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 30-35 minutes or until firm to the touch and very lightly browned. Cool in the tin.

4. Lightly dust with caster sugar and cut into twelths.

Loganberry Jelly

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Ingredients – Serves 4

300g loganberries (blackberry x raspberry hybrid)
1 tbsp agar flakes
water

I used Kitchen Craft – Individual Plastic Jelly Moulds.

Method

1. Place loganberries in food processor and blend until finely pureed.
2. Pour into measuring jug, then top up with water until it reaches 600ml.
3. Add agar flakes and stir until completely dissolved, transfer into pan and heat until boiled.
4. Optional: Transfer the hot mixture back into the measuring jug.
5. Pour jelly mixture into individual moulds, leave at room temperature until firmly set, then refridgerate.

Quick & Easy Pasta Cheese Bake

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Ingredients – Serves 4

300g pasta (I used conchiglie)
120g cream cheese
150ml semi skimmed milk
100g grated cheddar cheese
200g sweetcorn

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190 C/gas 5. Cook the pasta according to instructions on pack.

2. Mix the cream cheese, milk, sweetcorn and half of the cheddar in a bowl.

3. When pasta is ready drain, then pour into ovenproof dish. Pour over the cream cheese mix, then top with remaining cheddar.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes until light golden brown.

Cucumber Jelly

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Ingredients – Serves 4

1 whole cucumber
1 tbsp agar flakes
water

I used Kitchen Craft – Individual Plastic Jelly Moulds.

Method

1. Peel and chop cucumber, then place in food processor and blend until finely pureed.
2. Pour into measuring jug, then top up with water until it reaches 600ml.
3. Add agar flakes and stir until completely dissolved, transfer into pan and heat until boiled.
4. Optional: Transfer the hot mixture back into the measuring jug.
5. Pour jelly mixture into individual moulds, leave at room temperature until firmly set, then refridgerate.

Mushroom Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes, Portobello Mushrooms & Pesto

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Ingredients – Serves 2

125g any variety of pasta (La Campofilone Fettucine Ai Funghi)
4 portobello mushrooms
50g sundried tomatoes
4tsp pesto (Sacla Original)
2 handfuls of fresh mixed salad
20g grated parmesan
olive oil

Method

1. Rehydrate sundried tomatoes in boiling water.
2. Lightly drizzle olive oil over thinly sliced portobello mushrooms, place under grill until oil is bubbling.
3. Grate the parmesan.
4. Boil 2 litres (minimum) of salted water in a large saucepan, add pasta, mushrooms and sundried tomatoes and cook as instructed on the packet.
5. When ready drain in a colander.
6. Divide into two dishes, add side salad, parmesan cheese and then 2 teaspoons of pesto per dish!

Baked Berry Cheesecake

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Ingredients – Serves 8

12 digestive biscuits
50g butter, melted
600g light cream cheese
2 tbsp plain flour
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
150-300ml pot soured cream
300g frozen berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or mixture)
Single cream, to serve

Optional Decoration:

50g dark chocolate
8 fresh berries (same as ones used in cheesecake)

Use 20cm round loose bottomed tin.

Method

1. Heat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Crush 12 digestive biscuits to crumbs. Mix with 50g melted butter. Press into a 20cm springform tin and bake for 10-15 minutes, then cool.
2. Beat 600g cream cheese with 2 tbsp flour, 100g caster sugar, 2 eggs with 150-300ml pot of soured cream. Stir in 280g berries and pour into the tin. Add remaining 20g of berries on top.
3. Bake for 40 minutes at 180C/gas 4 and then check, it should be set but slightly wobbly in the centre. Cool in tin.
4. To decorate, melt 50g dark chocolate in microwave and dollop 8 tsp of mixture separately onto baking paper, lightly push one berry into each chocolate then place in refridgerator.
5. Remove cooled cheesecake from tin and place chocolate/berry dollops around edge.
6. Refridgerate and when ready serve with cream.