Monday, December 24, 2012

Basil Oil

Last year while unemployed I made Basil Oil as a birthday gift. It's really simple and delicious.

Buy, acquire, grow a basil plant. It needs to be bushy and full. Over pluck the plant until it's just stalks with small / little leaves on. Never pick the small leaves, only the medium to big ones.

Place in a saucepan (I used a sauce / milk pan and the amount of leaves I picked filled it a third full, approx. 2.5 inches deep) and add 75cl of Extra Virgin Oil. Put on an extremely low heat and leave until the oil starts to simmer (Do NOT let it boil). Let the oil simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. When you return to it an hour or two later, the oil will now be a green misty colour.

Find the appropriate receptacle for the oil. I like to use old glass drinking bottles (but you could easily purchase some from here or use alternatives). Using a funnel and sieve, pour the oil in to the bottles, wrap with a bow and add a tag, stating when it was made.

I'd advise it be stored in a cool dark cupboard and consumed within 30 days - although it might need to be used way before this. I eat mine with freshly baked bread, on salads and it tastes great with anything parmesan based.

Photo to follow....

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Iced Spiced Biscuits

When I was a child, my family had this awesome cook book, which is ideal for children of all ages and I highly recommend it. I spent most of the younger years with my nose stuck in it, making all sorts of things from brownies (in fact this brownie recipe is a variant of the one from this book) to Welsh Rarebit, etc. It features very simple easy recipes, which are enjoyable to make.

Now, one of the most tortured pages in our copy of this book was the Iced Spiced Biscuits. I've no idea how many of these I've made over the last 30 years, in fact I dread to think. But here is my version of the recipe...

Ingredients required:

250g Plain Flour
125g Butter / margarine
125g Brown Sugar / golden caster sugar
1 beaten egg (I normally use medium)
2 teaspoons of Mixed Spice
A pinch of Salt

Measure out and throw all of the ingredients in to the bowl. Mix together until the dough is dry-ish and biscuit like. Sprinkle flour on to the side and roll out to your required thickness. Cut in to all sorts of shapes and put on to a tray covered in greaseproof paper, or grease up a tray with some butter.

Place the tray in to the middle of a pre heated oven, 190 C / 375 F or Gas Mark 5. Cook for 15-20 minutes, depending on their colouring.

Once out of the oven, place on to a cooling rack. In the mean while, mix up some icing.

125g Icing Sugar
1-2 teaspoons of tepid water
Food colouring of your choice

Decorate the biscuits accordingly, you can add Smarties, Jelly Tots, etc. and gorge away....

These are perfect for Christmas, as they have a lovely spiced flavour and can be decorated in all sorts of Christmas colours, etc. and hung on the tree. They also make great presents for your noisy neighbours who stomp around their flat at all hours of the night...I'm the only person who has this, oh I do apologise.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 wrap up...

My intention at the beginning of 2012 was to write more frequently than I did during 2011, I've completely failed, due to work expecting me to actually work, and not only work, but work above and beyond.

2012 has basically seen Tom and I often get home from work, eat and then head to bed by 11pm, due to being exhausted. Tom spends all day being his most charming self on the phone and through emails, and I spend my days juggling eggs and running around like a mentalist, at least I never need to go to the gym, due to it.

We are finally getting to enjoy some relaxing time off, due to both of our companies being closed during Christmas. Today I wrapped all of my presents, I only have two presents left to buy, which surprised me, I thought I'd hardly bought anything. I also made a couple of final presents, see here. Tomorrow, I'm looking forward to cooking some biscuits and possibly some bread, although I'm fully aware that Tom's bread is better than mine, so maybe not...

I'm also celebrating Christmas this year with my first real Christmas tree (we always had an artificial one when I was a child), of course I had to find a fairy to go on the top and luckily my first Sindy doll came to the rescue, her dress is made out of some remnants.

Hopefully next year I might get to be more creative and have time to write the random brain waves of my mind down here, like the olden days. I knew moving to London was never going to be easy, I just didn't realise that it would be this tiring...maybe I'll just learn to survive on 6 hours sleep a night?!

Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Stockings

I've been extremely lethargic lately, work has been crazy and all I seem to do outside of work is sleep. Personally, I'm looking forward to a calmer time, if such a thing exists.

But, due to the beloved festive period being here, today I have sewn some stockings for my two god-daughters, admittedly they won't get to enjoy the splendour this year, but next year, Christmas should be pretty epic for them...yep, that is right, I am going to claim that these stockings will change their future Christmas experiences!

These particular stockings are made from Moda's 2011 Christmas range, with a plain white lining.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cake Biscuits

While in the pub on Boxing Day with some friends, we discussed cooking / baking styles, I'm the kind of baker who throws caution to the wind and takes chances on not having the right ingredients, throwing additional things in or varying other aspects, it's drives Tom mad, as he is more of a precise follow the recipe kind of person.

This recipe is the perfect example; I started out trying to make cookies, adapted the recipe due to the lack of chocolate and ended up making some form of cake shaped like biscuits and they are delicious, so I thought I'd share them, enjoy!

Preheat the oven at 190 C / 375 F / Gas Mark 5.

Mixed together -
200g Drinking Chocolate
350g Plain Flour
3 tsp of Baking Powder
1 tsp of Salt

Cream together -
225g Butter
175g Caster Sugar
175g Soft Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Medium Eggs

Slowly add the dry mix to the creamed mix and add 6 tbsp of Semi-Skimmed Milk to ensure the mix stays moist. Once everything is added together please add 100g of crumbled Dark Chocolate (Try to make it epic dark chocolate, 75% cocoa content and up).

Place large dollops of mixture on to greaseproof papered tray spaced wide apart and put in the top of the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, pull out of oven, allow to cool and serve with ice cream, double cream or eat plain.

I've no idea what the calories contents is, it's probably about 1000 per cake, I've eaten at least 5 in the last day, oops!