I think pears are annoying. Lovely, but annoying. They sit around in the fruit bowl looking all delicious and they’re never ripe. Then, when one is ready to eat the rest immediately go ripe too and then you have to eat them all at once. Well I’m not standing for it any longer, I decided that I would use the pears while they are under ripe so I can enjoy them while waiting for the others to ripen. The word ripe has lost all meaning. These mini toffee pear pies are made from surprisingly few ingredients (if you buy readymade pastry) and are just perfect for celebrating the pear in all its I’m-never-quite-ready-ok-now-I’m-too-ready glory.
I’m not sure these Peanut Butter and Raspberry Brownies need an introduction; just the name gets my mouth watering and a hankering for a piece with a coffee shortly follows. I’ll be honest from the outset, these are not exactly what you’d call healthy. They are full fat, properly indulgent, to-hell-with-it brownies. And frankly, when you’ve been working hard all day coming home to one of these and a cuppa is like a hug for the soul. A gooey, chocolatey, nutty…stop it…slice of comfort.
I do love the expression ‘fart-arsing around’. When it came to making and decorating these dark chocolate orange and pistachio biscuits I wasn’t going to be fart-arsing around with any of it. An all in one biscuit dough means it’s easy to mix and haphazard throwing around of melted chocolate makes the decoration a breeze. No dunking of biscuits in chocolate for the perfect edge, no placing of individual caramelised pistachios with tweezers and you know what? I think they taste all the better for it.
When I was in Spain I ordered a dessert on the assumption that there had been a translation error on the menu. They can’t mean cheese ice cream, surely, they must mean cheeseCAKE ice cream, that’ll be delicious. Nope. Along came some cheese ice cream with a massive cracker on the side. What a revelation it was. The ‘cracker’ was actually a slightly sweet, very thin, fennel infused biscuit covered in sticky honey, which when dunked in the cheese ice cream was really rather delicious. I wanted to attempt something similar to this at home, so here are my Spanish fennel biscuits served with cream cheese and honey alongside some cracking fino sherry.
After double, these cookies could only be improved by making them triple; perhaps a drizzle or dunk of white chocolate on each. As they stand however, my Double Chocolate and Orange Cookies are just splendid as they are. Especially straight from the oven. The smell as they bake is hard to beat. I like to use dark chocolate when making cookies as sweet as these because I think it adds some welcome bitterness. When it comes to rolling the cookies, for reasons I am not sure of, I always seem to manage to end up with thirteen; a perfect baker’s dozen.
I like to look forward to my lunches; whether I’m using up some leftovers to make a quick salad, sticking all sorts of ingredients in a sandwich or slurping on soup. Sometimes it can be very tempting to just grab the quickest thing in the kitchen but if I do that I am invariably disappointed at lunch time. So say hello to my three easy soup toppings which can all be made in less than five minutes, using ingredients you probably already have and can be made in advance to enjoy at work.
New Covent Garden Soups are currently encouraging everyone to revive their lunch life, something I was really keen to get involved with as I think lunch can make or break a day. Below are my three easy soup toppings and the soups that I chose to serve them with. You can get creative and add any of the toppings to any of the soups and have a go at putting your own twist on them too.
While in Gothenburg last year I think I had a Kanelbullar every day. When it’s cold and windy outside sinking your teeth into one of these alongside a hot cup of coffee is just perfect. Slightly sticky, full of cinnamon and normally covered with nibbed sugar you can smell them before you see them in the cafés of Sweden. After trying a few different recipes I have come up with my own Kanelbullar recipe; the ideal balance of bread, wholesomeness and sweetness.
You will need (for 12 Kanelbullar):
- 40g butter
- 225ml milk
- 7g sachet fast action yeast
- 30g caster sugar
- Pinch salt
- 250g wholemeal flour
- 250g strong white bread flour
For the filling
Part biscuit and part flapjack, these Chocolate Rolled Oat Biscuits are a doddle to make. All mixed in one bowl and baked in one dish; minimum fuss and washing up, maximum baking satisfaction. I like that these biscuits aren’t too sweet and the generous amount of oats used means they are really filling. I’m not sure if they are technically a flapjack or a biscuit though; the lack of honey or golden syrup isn’t very flapjack-y but then the oaty flavour is so familiar it’s hard to believe it’s not a flapjack! I am sticking with calling them a biscuit on account of the crunch.
There’s something you need to know about these turnovers. Although they are most excellent for using up leftovers they are more than worth baking up in their own right. Am I the only one who couldn’t say no if offered Smoked Cheddar and Pickled Onion Turnovers? Didn’t think so. Perfect for using up roast or mashed potatoes, pickled onions or chutneys and whatever hunk of cheese you have lying around. Completely versatile and a little bit too tasty to believe you can knock them up out of some odds and ends.
When I was young I baked with my Granny at any opportunity. She’s got mad cooking skills and will beat anything together that looks like it’s not going to work, portion up a raw chicken to freeze in the blink of an eye and somehow manages to produce amazing food from seemingly nothing. Safe to say, she knows what she’s doing. However, we made these biscuits once together and, thanks to a timely phone call from my Mum, somehow both forgot to add any sugar to the dough. We made some very successful crackers but it wasn’t quite what we were aiming for. Almost 20 years later I thought it was probably time to give Granny’s Oat Biscuits another try.