/* ]]> */

Sarah Miles

Oct 282013
 

meringueAh, yes. The fluffy pillows of billowing meringue….crunchy on the outside, chewy within. Add a splurge of cream and some tart berries and just dissolve into a taste and texture sensation that is hard to resist.

So, why did it take me years to actually feel brave enough to make it? Perhaps because whenever I have suggested making it I envisage the pursed lips of my grandmother, shaking her head, ‘FAR too difficult, dear. Stick to rock cakes.’

My son LOVES meringue (just as is) and it was only after we stood wide-eyed in the foyer of Carluccio’s, dribbling over their enormous meringues, that I decided, ‘What the hell. I am going to have a go myself.’ (I feel I must clarify we were not literally dribbling over the meringues. Then we would have had to buy them all. And eat them. Dammit, why didn’t we actually dribble on them….)

Anyway, here is my tried and tested recipe for lovely meringues. I just make them in haphazard dollops which suits my aesthetics but feel free to pipe and swirl to your heart’s content. Or spread into a circle to make a pavlova base (which if you drop, like I did, turns into a cracking Eton Mess!). Just watch the baking time…my dollops take about 1¼ hours in my temperamental fan oven but I guess the thinner the meringue, the shorter amount of time it takes. You could always try one to see….

INGREDIENTS

4 large egg whites

115g caster sugar

115g icing sugar

kitchenaid meringuePreheat your oven to 110ºC (100ºC fan) and lay out two baking trays with baking parchment on (I find parchment is the only thing that doesn’t stick).

I use a Kitchenaid to make my meringue and unless you have arms of Thor, you will need some sort of electric whisk.  I also use a metal bowl which is super clean – any grease on the whisk or bowl will cause trouble.

Whisk the four eggs whites on a medium speed until they resemble billowy cumulus clouds and stand in stiff peaks when the whisk is removed (this takes me around 5 mins with the Kitchenaid on no. 6).  Then, upping the speed, add the caster sugar a dessertspoonful at a time, waiting about 3 secs in between each spoonful.

When all the sugar is whisked in sift in one third of the icing sugar and carefully fold into the meringue using a metal spoon. Repeat with the next third, then the last. Be very careful doing this because you don;t want to lose the air in your meringue.

Using a couple of tablespoons scoop out dollops of the mixture and place on the baking parchment.  My dollops are about the size of a lemon. More than a mouthful…just.

Bake for about 1¼-1½ hours.

Sometimes I sift about 2 tbsps of cocoa powder into the finished mixture before baking and fold it through gently, giving a slight choclatey swirl. But they are delicious with or without

chocolate meringues

Apr 272013
 

DSCF5242I know, I hear your cries. Pesto Schmesto.  I make that all the time.

Well, I don’t.  I tried it once before, forgot to secure the lid on the liquidiser and had bloody pesto EVERYWHERE. Over the ceiling, the worktops, the carpet (yes, IN the kitchen – it was my first flat) and pesto all over me.

It’s a bugger to clean up and very easy to buy in a jar, so since then I have never tried.  Until now.

I bought a tub from M&S and thought…hang on a minute, surely I could give it a go….again.

So, I researched recipes and OMG are there lots! Salt, no salt. Garlic, no garlic. Parmesan, Pecorino. Extra virgin olive oil, or normal?

So I went with a basic recipe from Felicity Loake and adapted it to what I had. As such, I do NOT attribute this to her, or anyone.  But, this is how it went:

basil

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsps pine nuts

Pinch (or 3) of salt

125g basil leaves

30g Parmesan

125ml Extra virgin olive oil

First of all you need to lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry pan and leave them to cool.  Now, I was supposed to crush everything up in a mortar and pestle, but I gave up within 2 minutes and switched to the food processor. Sorry.

So, add the pine nuts, basil and cheese to the food processor and whizz up (I pulsed).  Through the funnel thing, dribble in the olive oil until you have….well, pesto!  Hey Pesto!  (Sorry. Again)

Pop it into a jar and drizzle a little oil over the top to seal.  It should keep in the fridge for up to 6 months.

DSCF5239

VERDICT

Well, mine tasted like it needed more salt.  Perhaps because half the cheese was meant to be pecorino and I didn’t have any.  Well, my Tesco local didn’t sell any.  So, I added a couple of pinches more and it was better. BUT still not as good as the pot I bought from M&S.  Also, next time I would use regular olive oil rather than extra vrigin as the taste was strong.

So, when I have harvested a bucket load more basil I will try a variation.  However, it is perfectly nice and will be scoffed on some beautiful, home-made pasta BUT it could be better.  But, hey. If this blog was all about how marvellous I am at cooking…well, it would be a big fat lie.  I am ‘adequate’ at cooking, but trying to get better.  That’s what this blog’s about.  Share and share alike.

On that note, if anyone has any pearls of wisdom or better recipes, PLEASE post in the comments or email me.  I would be very grateful for any tips and happy to credit you, of course!

Apr 162013
 

oven dried tomatoesI am a lover of tomatoes, in all forms, but I must admit I prefer them cooked.  And yes, I was one of those people who had sun-dried tomatoes with/on everything a few years ago.  I’ve been having a play with a few suggested recipes for a sort of DIY version and wanted to share.  There’s not a great deal of skill or cooking involved (perfect for me then!) and it is the sort of thing you have to fine-tune according to your own tastes and oven.  My oven is a fiery little beggar and cooks like a demon in the blazes of hell.  Yours might be somewhat more tempered or, if you are very lucky, you might have an Aga.  Something I fear will still be on my wish list when I hit 80.

Anyway, I made oven-dried tomatoes which, after many hours, delivered scrummy, squishy but still firm, tasty little scarlet morsels for me to throw into a salad with a carefree nonchalance that did not belie my impatient waiting for about 12 hours for them to be ready.

I used vine tomatoes, because I think they are more flavoursome.  I simply halved them and laid them in an oven-proof dish, flat side up. Then I sprinkled them with 1 tbsp of sugar and 1 tsp salt.  Over this I had strewn about 1 tbsp dried oregano (but I might try fresh thyme next) and then drizzled them with about 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.

Having heated the oven to about 200ºC I popped them in and after 10 minutes turned the oven off BUT did not open the door until the next morning.  No, not even for a little peep.

Hey presto! Next morning I had my very own orbs of oily beauty to add to salad, pizza or just scoff as they are.  I added them to some salad leaves and chunks of torn mozzarella.  Then I add 1 tbsp of lemon juice to the leftover oil in the dish they cooked in and dribbled that over the salad.  We ate it with my homemade pizza until our bellies were about twice the size they should be!

oven dried tomato mozzarella salad

Apr 142013
 

joseph joseph rolling pin set

I am a fan of Joseph Joseph stuff – I love the colours, quality and the practicality of it all.  So imagine my delight, when recently I was sent a Joseph Joseph gift set to review with a much coveted rolling-pin in its contents.  I know.  Most people set their hearts on a Tiffany necklaces or an iPad mini….not me, I have my covetous eyes lurking over rolling pins and kitchen gadgetry.

Anyway, the very nice people at Amara Living sent me the gift set, worth £40, to try out.  Can I just say, that for forty quid I think it’s a really nice pressie for someone…it comes beautifully presented with rolling-pin, silicone brush, spatula and timer.  I might get one for a wedding coming up this year…

joseph joseph adjustable rolling pin

…I digress.  What makes this particular rolling-pin a ‘must-have’ is the fact that it is adjustable.  It has three discs either end that you can easily take on and off and in doing so you can choose the thickness of whatever you are rolling.  I wish I’d had it at Christmas when I was rolling out my dough for my gingerbread tree.  There I was, ruler in hand, trying to ascertain whether it was 5mm think or not, but with this roller, I just pop on the 5mm discs and roll away!

baking-gift-set-multihome made biscuits

I have used it to make all sorts of biscuits and yesterday I made a rather delicious apple pie, with a perfectly even crust!

Marvellous.

IMG_0999

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Mar 182013
 

Today I offer a brand new recipe:  BiBlogo

Ingredients:

  • A large dollop of admiration for What Would Nigella Do?
  • A computer, tablet or smart phone
  • 2 minutes of your time
  • A generous amount of loveliness

 

Method:

  1. Take your large dollop of admiration and mix it gently with your loveliness.
  2. Using your device of choice, click on the picture in this post (or on the sidebar).
  3. Set your timer for 2 minutes and fill in the nomination form, citing http://whatwouldnigellado.com for the FOOD Award.
  4. If you have any spare time, also nominate http://thevoiceofsarahmiles.com for LIFESTYLE and http://supperandsyntax.com for WRITER
  5. Wait for the anticipation to rise (approx. 3 months)

 

End Product:

If you and all your friends have followed the above steps, I will be at the BiB Awards in London, as a finalist, waiting to see if I get the cherry on the cake….

Thank you,

 

Sarah xx
Feb 152013
 

kcmchb69_main

Following a bit of twittering with the lovely Mat from Bakestore, he volunteered to send me a 12-hole brownie pan and asked me to come up with a brownie/Easter type idea. The pan is a brilliant thing.  It is of fantastic quality and is non-stick. It makes the perfect size brownies and they come out beautifully formed and ready to serve.  I also plan to use it with other traybake recipes, especially when I am sending in kids cakes to school for birthdays. I find traybakes much less hassle than cupcakes for such occasions, and this will thwart the need to cut it all up and try to make it look pretty.

easter teacher gift idea

Anyway, back to the brownies.  Having pondered recreating Jesus’ tomb out of stacked brownies, I had a much better idea. Lemon brownies. I really should be calling these ‘yellowies’ but it doesn’t really have the same ring to it, does it?

Now, I am a sucker for all things lemon. Not literally *winces* BUT it is absolutely my favourite flavour for pudding or cake. It is also the lovely sunny colour we associate with Easter. Add a few of those bizarre little chicks (which I have a great fondness for) and a generous helping of mini-eggs and I reckon you have yourself a gorgeous pudding for Easter lunch. Who am I kidding? I am going to be scoffing them at every opportunity over the Easter hols and, as you will see, they package up rather nicely as a gift for friends, family or teachers. Much prettier than a box of Creme eggs and some hastily picked daffs.

I tried a few recipes and in the end, fell back on my lemon drizzle cake recipe for the sponge.  Then, for the icing, I mixed 200g sifted icing sugar with the juice of one lemon and a couple of drops of lemon colouring.  Gently spread the icing on top of the cool sponges and hastily scatter with springtime sprinkles before the icing dries.

easter lemon brownies

Now, if all this leaves you thinking ‘But I want CHOCOLATE!’ then fear not.  I have a chocolate brownie recipe for you too.  All that Lentian abstinence can be rewarded with a few of these on Easter Day.

Ingredients:

    • 100g unsalted butter, cubed
    • 200g milk chocolate
    • 4 medium eggs
    • 250g caster sugar
    • 100g plain flour
    • 1tsp baking powder
    • 30g unsweetened cocoa powder

Grease and lightly flour your brownie tin (I am using an individual brownie tin from Bakestore)
Preheat oven to 180°C (160° fan)

  1. In a bowl over a simmering pan of water, melt the chocolate and butter and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Then, using the paddle attachment on your blender or hand-held whisk, mix the sugar and eggs together until pale and thick.
  3. Next, carefully fold the chocolate mixture into the whisked sugar and eggs.
  4. Sieve the flour. baking powder and cocoa powder into the mixture and carefully fold in.
  5. Put a generous tablespoonful of the mixture into each hole in the pan.  They should be about half-full.
  6. Bake for 10-12 mins until crusted on the top but gooey in the middle.
  7. Leave to cool in the tin for 5-10 mins before removing to wire rack.  Dust with icing sugar and serve whilst warm!

Makes 24

brownies

Don’t forget if you enter code ‘nigella’ at checkout you can get 10% and free delivery at Bakestore!

bakestore

Feb 092013
 

refridgerator cakeRefrigerator cake is a sneaky cake if ever there was one.  Everybody’s recipe is different and changing a single ingredient can send people spiralling off into tirades, completely incensed that you might suggest an alternative! Some call it refrigerator cake, some call it tiffin, some call it rocky road.  They are all made on the same premise and I cannot work out the difference between them.  Whatever you call it, it’s very popular and decadently delicious.  Kate and Wills had it for a wedding cake – who needs a higher accolade?

The recipe I am sharing with you includes one of my favourite flavours, ginger.  Mixed with the honeycomb of the Crunchie bars and the gooey marshmallows, this is my absolutely favourite version of this very moorish cake.  I’ll be interested to hear what yours are.

crunchie barsIngredients
  • 450g milk chocolate
  • 150g ginger biscuits, broken up haphazardly
  • 100g small marshmallows
  • 2 x 40g Crunchie bars, cut into 1cm chunks

How to make it

Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment.

Place the milk chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt slowly. Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and allow the chocolate to cool to just above room temperature, otherwise it will melt the marshmallows.

Stir in the other ingredients and press into the prepared tin. Place in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours or until set, then cut into squares and serve!

 ginger refridgerator cake

Yum