Since I’ve been living in the UK, I’ve discovered rhubarb. I don’t recall seeing it much at home, but maybe I was just never looking. There’s something so nice about the sharp, sweet and tangy flavor that’s perfect for a summertime crumble. It’s also a very low maintenance dessert that’s sure to impress.
10 stalks of rhubarb cut into large chunks
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 orange (juice and zest)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 small piece of ginger peeled and cut
Preheat your oven to 350°F Put the rhubarb and half the sugar into a pan. Add the orange juice and zest, put a lid on top, bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for around 5 more minutes, until the rhubarb has softened slightly. Spoon into an ovenproof baking dish and spread out evenly across the bottom.
To make your crumble topping, use your fingers to lightly rub together the flour and butter until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in the oats, the rest of the sugar and the ginger. Sprinkle the crumble over the rhubarb and bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the rhubarb is bubbling up and crumble is golden. Scoop into bowls and serve with vanilla ice cream.
I found that there was way more crumble topping than necessary (and I’m a girl who likes a lot of topping), so I only used half. It just means you have an excuse to make another one!
Mexican food is one of my favorite food groups, but sometimes the meals get a bit repetitive. This TexMex twist always goes down well and is one of my reliable recipes.
4 chicken breasts halved
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1 can of black beans drained
1 cup salsa
For the spice mixture:
1 tsp paprika
1/2 – 1 tsp chili powder (depending how hot you like it)
1 tsp ground pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic salt
Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Coat the chicken breasts in half the spice mixture. Fry with olive oil until golden brown. Mix the remaining spice mixture with the black beans. Place chicken in a baking dish. Scatter salsa over the chicken, top with black beans and cheese. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Serve with a side of rice and guacamole. This dish is also one that tastes better the next day.
Brownies are one of my favorite desserts, so I’m glad I’ve finally found the perfect recipe. This week a friend tipped me on Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc brownie recipe. I’ve only baked these once and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to any other recipe. My version is a slight adaptation from the original.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
3/4 pound (or 340 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into chip-sized pieces ( about 1 1/2 cups)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour your tray (either 13 x 9 or 9 x 9). Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside. Melt half the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Put the remaining butter in a medium bowl. Pour the melted butter and stir to melt the butter. The butter should look creamy, with small bits of unmelted butter, and be at room temperature. Mix together the eggs and sugar until think and very pale. (I whisked for approximately 5 minutes because I don’t have the luxury of a KitchenAid). Add one-third of the dry ingredients, then add one-third of the butter, and continue alternating the remaining flour and butter. Gently mix after each addition. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. Spread the batter evenly in the pan. (Side note: the batter is delicious and I’ve tasted my fair share of brownie batter. It is definitely a sign of the goodness that is to come.)
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes if using a 9 x 9 or 30 to 35 minutes if using a 13 x 9 pan, until a cake tester or wooden skewer poked into the center comes out with clean.
Allow to cool and serve while still warm with some vanilla ice cream and hot fudge if you’re really lucky. And you’re welcome.
I’m not a huge Valentine’s person and my favorite way to spend the night is with a nice home cooked meal, a good bottle of wine and some chocolate. Any excuse for those things it’s fine by me!
One of my favorite recipes is spaghetti and meatballs. It is a relatively simple meal to prepare, especially since the meatballs can be made in advance, but it always goes down well. The dish is perfect for Valentine’s day ever since Lady and the Tramp made it the most romantic eating scene in any Disney movie…
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
3/4 cups fresh white bread crumbs (about 3 slices, crusts removed)
1 tablespoon mixed herbs (or fresh parsley if you have it)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
2 cloves garlic minced
1 egg, beaten
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup red wine
1 (14-ounce) can pureed tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can chopped or diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon mixed herbs (or fresh parsley if you have it)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350F. To make the meatballs, add beef, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, onion powder, egg, and 1/4 cup warm water in a large mixing bowl. Combine very lightly with a wooden spoon. Using your hands, lightly form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. Arrange meatballs on an baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes in the oil for a minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add meatballs to the sauce, cover, and simmer on the low heat for 25 to 30 minutes. While the sauce is cooking make spaghetti. Serve the spaghetti with a generous helping of sauce and meatballs with some freshly grated parmesan on top. Also goes well with some nice garlic bread and the rest of your wine.
Burns Night is a Scottish holiday celebrated on the 25 January to honor the famous poet Robert Burns. On the day, to celebrate his birth Scots eat haggis, neeps and tatties (turnips and mashed potatoes). Burns wrote a famous poem called ‘Address to a Haggis’ that is traditionally read at Burns night just before you eat. We skipped all these formalities and just went straight for the eating. If you don’t know what haggis is, look it up. But, I promise it tastes much better than it sounds.
For dessert, I made Cranachan, a traditional Scottish dessert. It’s very simple, but extremely satisfying, especially if you like whisky.
Toast oats in a skillet over medium heat. (I did mine for around 5 minutes) Whip the cream until it is forming soft peaks. Add in honey, sugar, vanilla and whisky and gently stir to combine. Put a handful of raspberries in the bottom on each ramekin and smash with the back of a spoon. Layer the cream and top with remaining raspberries. If you’re ramekins are bigger than mine you can add an extra layer of raspberries and cream. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Yields 4 (and some leftover cream if you’re lucky). It also goes well with a wee dram of whisky.
I’ve come down with the annual cold. Naturally, it happens during the Christmas party season and just a few days before I have to get on a plane. But life goes on… One thing my cold has taught me this year is the importance of hot water with lemon and honey to soothe a sore throat. Given my adult tastebuds and the desperate need for a good night’s sleep, I’ve starting adding whisky to my drinks. Low and behold, you have a Hot Toddy. It’s about the easiest cocktail to make and it’s perfectly acceptable to drink it while you’re moping on the couch with piles of tissues and wiling the time away with Netflix. It also soothes the throat and the cough. (None of these are prerequisites to make a Hot Toddy though.) Win win win, I say.
Whisky or bourbon (whatever brand you prefer)
Boil enough water to fill a mug. Put 1 tsp of honey in the mug. Pour water into the mug and stir well. Add 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Top off with 1-2 tbsp of whisky or bourbon. Enjoy! Lots of receipes say to add the whisky before the water, I however prefer it the other way around. To me it makes a difference, I don’t really know why.
Probably best not to drink this all day, but I won’t judge! Also, you probably shouldn’t drink this and take medicine, but it’s your call.
A few years ago, I was looking through Southern Living and a delicious looking macaroni and cheese caught my eye. This was just before Thanksgiving so I decided to add it to our Thanksgiving menu. It’s become a regular dish at our Thanksgiving and always goes down well. I know, I know… the Pilgrims probably did not include mac’n’cheese at their first feast, but don’t knock until you try.
I swear by this recipe and always get complements when I make it. I’ve slightly adapted the recipe to use buttermilk instead of milk. It makes for a thicker and creamier component than milk and adds the perfect tang to the recipe. I can’t seem to find this recipe on their website and always have to refer to the printed edition.
8oz elbow macaroni (I also like conchiglie)
2 cups milk or buttermilk
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp onion salt
4 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup soft breadcrumbs (I usually cut 4 slices of white bread)
1/4 cup butter melted
Cook macaroni according to package. Drain and set aside. Place milk, flour, onion salt in a quart jar. Cover and shake well. Stir together flour mixture, 3 1/2 cups cheese and macaroni. Pour macaroni mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan. Sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs and remaining 1 cup of cheese; Drizzle evenly with melted butter.
Bake at 350F degrees for 45 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!
Apologies for the lack of photos. I was a bit too eager to delve in and forgot to take one.
One of my favorite fall recipes is Apple Pie. It always hits the spot and I can’t think of a better way of to use delicious apples after a day of apple picking. (Not that I get to do that in London, but I’ll pretend I’m back in the Southeast specifically for that reason.)
I am a firm believer in homemade pastry. It’s really not very difficult and the flaky, buttery goodness is so much better than the pre-made stuff. My go-to pastry recipe is the smitten kitchen’s all butter, really flaky pie dough. The recipe is aptly named and the results never disappoint.
For the dough:
2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and put in freezer. Dice the butter into 1/2-inch pieces. (I like to put mine in the freezer for 10 minutes while I gather the rest of my ingredients.) Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with the pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly. When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas stop. The dough may look uneven, but don’t worry about it, as this helps with the flake.
Drizzle 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. You’ll probably need an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, but add it a tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there. Gather the disparate damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together into a round disk.
Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap and let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, or in the freezer for half an hour before rolling it out. This isn’t entirely necessary, but it will make your life easier when you roll it out.
While your dough is chilling you can prepare the ingredients for the pie.
For the pie filling:
4-6 medium apples (something tart like Granny Smith or Macintosh)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp lemon juice
Peel and thinly slice the apples. Place in a bowl and add the lemon juice. In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour. Add the dry ingredients to the apples and mix well.
On a floured surface roll out half your dough and line the base of your pie dish. Pour filling into the pie dish. Roll out the second half of the dough and place over the filling. Make sure both pastry layers have an inch overhang on the dish. Trim and crimp sides. Use any excess dough to decorate the top of your pie. Be sure to add at least two slits in the top pastry layer to allow the steam to escape.
Bake pie at 375F for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
I recently did a beer making workshop. More of that to come later… In case you didn’t already know, barley is one of the core ingredients in beer. The batch I made required almost 6kg of barley and after the initial brewing stage it’s no longer necessary. During this stage the barley is just rinsed with water, so it’s actually still perfectly good to use. A lot of the flavor is gone, hence why beer tastes so nice, but the grains can still be used for baking, etc. I’ve never baked with barley, but thought it would be a perfectly good time to give it a try. Barley is just like any other grain and can be used for bread, pizza dough, cookies, muffins, etc. I decided to try it in some muffins first. The barley tastes quite nice on its own, but I was afraid it would overwhelm the muffins. They turned out really nice and the barley adds a wholegrain flavor, without changing the texture. The recipe is adapted from good ole Betty Crocker‘s Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins. Since barley is thicker and absorbs moisture more than oats, I had to modify the amount of flour and I also added a little more oil to ensure the muffins weren’t dry. (When cooking with barley you need to use two or three times the amount of flour, i.e. 1 cup of barley to 2 cups of flour.)
For the muffins:
1 cup barley (any kind will do. I used primarily Maris Otter)
1 cup Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup blueberries
Optional streusel and oat topping:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 tablespoon rolled oats
Heat oven to 400°F. Place paper baking cups in 12 regular-size muffin cups, or grease bottoms only of muffin cups.In small bowl, mix yogurt and barley. In large bowl, mix egg, oil and brown sugar. Stir in flours, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and yogurt mixture (batter will be lumpy). Gently stir in blueberries. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. To make the streusel,combine the flour, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon. Add in the butter. Using your hands, cut into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Divide streusel topping among muffins and sprinkle on top. Bake 18-20 min or until golden brown. Immediately remove from pan.