Thursday, 23 August 2012

Summer Porridge

After posts full of cake and chocolate yesterday, I though it was time for something healthier.

This is one of my favourite summer breakfasts and I often have some variation on it. It's so quick and easy, the only hard part is remembering to put the oats to soak the night before!

Start the night before, by putting the oats in a bowl. I use about 40g per person. Pour on your choice of milk until it comes just above the level of the oats. I tend to use oat milk to cut down on the dairy I eat, a good apple juice also works well. Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning coarsely grate half an apple per person and stir into the oats. Top with your choice of fruits, I used a mixture of cherries, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. It's also good to add some dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots. Sprinkle with a few chopped nuts and drizzle on some good honey, if desired. My favourite is Greek honey which is dark and has an almost caramel like flavour.


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

First Birthday Chocolates

I was recently contacted by the PR company of a boutique chocolate club. I only like to give reviews of products I would potentially buy and chocolate is definitely one of them! Plus as it is my blog's first birthday I thought it would make a good present!

The Cocoa Boutique is a chocolate club who send you handmade chocolates through the post. I love the idea of receiving a surprise, handpicked selection of chocolates.

The chocolate are made by various people, including master chocolatiers.

The box and packaging was beautiful...

As were the chocolates...

I tries really hard to savour the chocolates, but after one sitting there aren't many left. They were too good! My favourite was made by Barry Colenso and was a Cocoa Dusted Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel. The balance of sweet and salt was just perfect.

Personally I wasn't keen on the ones with alcohol in but I'm sure some people would love them.

I think this would make a great, unusual gift for a chocolate loving friend.

Happy First Birthday Sarah's Kitchen Diary

This is my 83rd post and one year since I started my blog on 22nd August 2011.

I wanted to mark the first anniversary in some way. I've been interested in cooking since I was a very small girl. I'd help my mum and my nan in the kitchen and I especially love baking. I think I've mentioned before my first baking book was Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book, which has been revamped and republished in various guises over the years. I've lost count of the number of copies I've bought as gifts and genuinely every recipe works! My copy, although well looked after, is also well loved. The recipes I've baked the most invariably have a smudge of cake batter or chocolate on them. These days a lot of the recipes that I've made time and time again are committed to memory and in even when I play around and create a recipe 'from scratch' the starting point and the baking knowledge is likely to come either from my mum or Mary Berry.

So in making a first 'birthday' cake I had to make something influenced by my mum and Mary Berry.

I have taken Mary Berry's basic Victoria sponge but added some fresh raspberries to the batter. This is something my mum used to do for a quick pudding when I was young, typically served with custard and using whatever fruit was in season, raspberries, blackberries or apples.

I also added some white chocolate to the buttercream as I think this makes it more of a celebration cake and goes very well with the raspberries.

I toyed with the idea of making a sophisticated celebration cake with minimal decoration but decided that because I could and as it was a first 'birthday' I would go to town with the decoration. So I decorated the cake with plenty of sprinkles and sparkles and topped with some long silver candles.

If you want to recreate this please remember that the addition of raspberries to the cake will make it very moist and prone to go off quickly so eat it or freeze it within a day or two otherwise you'll end up with a mouldy mess. I never seem to have that problem as cake never lasts long in my house!

Here is a picture of my creation.

Happy First 'Birthday' to
Sarah's Kitchen Diary!

Here is a picture of the bottom when it came out of the oven. You can see the raspberries.

Here is my bible!


8oz self raising flour (I use sponge flour as I think it gives a better texture)
8oz caster sugar (I use unrefined)
8oz margarine or butter (I always use Stork as I think it gives a better texture and have seen Mary Berry do the same so much be good)
4 large free range eggs
2 tsp baking powder
A couple of handful's of raspberries

For the icing:
250g butter
500g icing sugar
100g white chocolate

Start by pre-heating the oven to 180C.

Line two 8" round cake tins

Put all of the cake ingredients, apart from the raspberries, in a bowl and mix until blended.

Pour half of the mixture into each cake tin and place in the pre-heated own for 30-40 mins until a skewer, when placed into the cake, comes out clean and they are springy to the touch. Remember from the tins and put on a wire rack to cool completely.

Whilst the cakes are cooling make the icing. Put the butter in a stand mixer and beat for a few minutes until very pale, light and fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all of the icing sugar is incorporated leave the icing to keep mixing, whilst you melt the chocolate, as this will make the icing lighter and fluffier.

I always melt chocolate in the microwave on full power but for bursts of 15-30 secs stirring in between each one, but I know some people are scared of the chocolate burning so feel free to melt it in a pan suspended over a bowl of boiling water. Once the chocolate is melted, stop the mixer and put the chocolate to one side to cool slightly. This avoids the hot chocolate melting the butter and ruining your icing.

Once the chocolate is cooler pour it into the mixing bowl and blend until it is incorporated into the icing.

Put half of the icing on one cake and then place the other cake on the top to create a sandwich. Add the remaining icing to the top and then decorate with your choice of sprinkles, sparkles and candles.


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Herby Rainbow Coleslaw

I love summer. The long warm days, light nights and the feeling that there is time to achieve anything. I know this summer hadn't been perfect but, in London at least, we've had enough decent weather to make my mood more buoyant.

This is a quick salad I made on a lovely summers evening. I had some leftover fresh beetroot and decide to make a take on coleslaw.

I shredded beetroot, carrot and cabbage (you could also add onion but I'm not a fan of raw onion) and then added a tarted up mayonnaise.

My friend who is pregnant was eating with us so I used bought mayonnaise to avoid raw egg and enhanced it with a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, seasoning, lemon juice and finely chopped parsley and mint and then mixed it with the vegetables to form a fabulously colourful salad.

This is great with a BBQ or a cooked chicken and salad.

The herbs came from my garden

Friday, 17 August 2012

Pork escalopes with lemon and parsely

I eat almost anything but I'm really not the biggest fan of pork but this recipe is so simple and so good that it almost has me converted!

It was another recipe which my mum and I picked up during our cooking holiday in Italy. Matilde, the teacher we had was the queen of making something delicious out of a handful of ingredients, extremely good ingredients admittedly.

I always advocate buying the best quality meat you can afford. Maybe eating it less often or cheaper cuts to do so. It makes me sad thinking about how some of the poor animals are treated and I genuinely think decent meat tastes better. Not to mention the antibiotics and growth hormones they pump into factory farmed meat.

Start by taking some thinly sliced pork loin, place it between two layers of cling film and bash it flatter with a meat cleaver, rolling pin or something else heavy. You want to make the pork quite thin without breaking it completely. Dust with flour.

Take a hot pan and a little oil and fry the pork in batches, cooking for a couple of minutes on each side. Once cooked place on some kitchen roll on a plate and season well. Repeat until all the pork is cooked.

Return all of the meat to the hot pan. Add a handful of finely chopped parsley, the juice of one lemon and top with slices of lemon. Place the lid on the pan and turn the pan off. Leave to rest for a few minutes.

I served with green veg and salad.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo so I'll have to make it again sometime soon.