Nutella* Brownie Bars

So many apologies for not posting recently, but I hope you will forgive me when you see what I’ve got for you today 🙂

My friend posted a recipe link on Facebook and I just couldn’t resist…

I made them but found they were a little too squidgey for my liking and the modification began 🙂

They are so simple to make and ideal for a kids baking project. Small person whipped them up in a matter of minutes.

200g of nutella*
2 medium eggs
200g flour
20cl milk

*nutella is of course a brand name, but most supermarkets will sell this as chocolate hazelnut spread.

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mush them all together until well mixed.

This is where you can add a handful of whatever you like to give it a little texture. I halved the mixture and added a handful of crushed peanuts to one half and a handful of sugar balls ( more usual on the top of cakes I know, but they make a really fun multicoloured interior for small people)

Stir any of your extra ingredients into the mixture and it’s ready to be baked.

If, like me, you have two flavours but only one want to do one bake, just line your tin with paper as normal, but make a peak fold in the middle and voila, as they say in these parts, you can fill up each half with a different mixture.

Bake at 200 degrees for around 20 minutes, until you can poke it with a cocktail stick and it comes out with a tiny smudge of mixture on it. You have to make sure you don’t over bake this as it is supposed to be slightly gooey in the centre.

Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes then transfer onto a cooling rack. As tempting as it is to dive straight in it’s best to try and wait at least 30 minutes so they don’t crumble too much when you cut them.

When cooled, cut into bars or squares and store in an airtight tin.

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**more pictures will be uploaded as soon as small person has stopped hogging the pc 🙂

Catastrophic Carrot Chutney

Let me start by saying that, despite the title, this is one of the nicest chutneys I have made so far. It’s zesty and tangy, has a lovely rich colour and packs a real punch with a mature cheddar.

I’m never making it again.

You see every time I make this something goes horribly wrong. Not with the chutney, it’s one of the few things I will remake to the exact recipe, just with the surrounding circumstances.

For example ; The first time I made this delicious chutney I rather overdid the quantity and even after giving some jars away to my friends/guinea pigs there were still quite a few leftover. So I decided, in my infinite wisdom, to pack up a few jars (along with some excess jam)  and take them as gifts on our imminent visit to the UK. What could possibly go wrong?

As we were traveling by Eurostar suitcase weight was not an issue so I tightly packed in the many jars amongst my belongings and off we trundled. All went well until we reached the Victoria line underground interchange.

At rush hour.

On a Friday.

By this time I had a very tired small person on one hand, her luggage, my handbag, a VERY heavy suitcase and a dead arm. A very kind gentleman offered to take my suitcase onto the tube and found a tiny corner amid the sea of humanity to wedge it in.

With his foot.
Of course his foot connected with one of the jars. The one I squeezed in at the last minute because there was a tiny space left. The one that wasn’t wrapped in a plastic bag.

By the time we left the tube there was a rather pungent aroma emanating from my case and a small orangey brown puddle on the train floor.  We fought our way through Waterloo station leaving a sticky trail behind us and located the train heading out to Richmond. By the end of the half hour journey we, rather unsurprisingly, had the carriage to ourselves.

At my friends flat it was time to assess the damage. Rather wisely I elected to leave the case in the downstairs hall while I picked out the broken glass and sticky pickle from my belongings. Even the clothes that hadn’t come into direct contact with the chutney needed washing due to the smell. When we left a few days later I’m embarrassed to say the hall still carried a heady lingering aroma.

(Almost two years later there is still a vague whiff every time the suitcase gets unzipped – which is not very often as it has been relegated to shed and used for ‘storage’).

Rather ironically when we got back one of my friends here was desperately disappointed when I told her there was none left as her husband had finished the whole jar in the 10 days we had been gone. She has been dropping hints ever since that he would really like some more.

Last week I found myself with a surplus of carrots so thought I’d be kind and make a jar or two for Mr.W.

So what went wrong this time?  (I hear you ask) Read on to find out why this is the last time.

Carrot Chutney

300g brown Sugar

150g Sultanas

1 Orange (zest and juice)

1 Lemon (zest and juice)

3tsp mixed Peppercorns

2tsp wholegrain Mustard

2tsp clear Honey

1tsp mixed Spice

2 cloves of Garlic (minced)

500ml Red wine vinegar

250ml White vinegar

250ml Tarragon vinegar (if you cant get tarragon vinegar then just use 500ml of white vinegar and add 1/2 tsp of tarragon)

600g Carrots

2 Onions

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan combine all the ingredients except the carrots and onions and bring to the biol stirring to ensure the sugar doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

While your vinegar mix is heating, grate the carrots and onions.

When the vinegar mixture is boiling add the vegetables and boil for 5 minutes stirring at all times

Now turn down the heat until you get a gentle simmer and leave it bubbling away for around 2 hours, stirring occasionally. When the liquid has reduced by around a 1/3 and is sticky on your spoon it’s time to take it off the heat and ladle into sterilised jars .

Top Tip – If you are using jars with metal lids make sure you cover the pickle with a wax disc or some greaseproof paper as the acid in the vinegar can react with the metal and cause it to rust.

This amount of ingredients should give you a enough to fill 4 regular jars or two large ones.

Unless of course you are an idiot.

Don’t worry Mr. W – the only remaining jar has your name on it!

A Bientôt

Apples apples and more apples.

As I mentioned in the last post we haven’t had much luck with the garden this year. Last year our old apple tree yielded around 150 to 200 kg of fruit, much more than we could ever use, but this year we had a total of 6. Not 6 kilos, 6 apples, barely enough for a crumble. So when my friend asked me if I could use ‘a few’ from her garden I was understandably keen. Her definition of ‘a few’ equals slightly more than mine.

APPLES!

So 3 crates of apples and no freezer…. I managed to offload ‘a few’ to my neighbours within minutes of arriving home decreasing the crate count to 2, but that’s still quite a lot of apples to be getting on with. So let’s  do just that shall we?

A quick forage in the cupboards and everything was gathered and ready for a spot of  jamming.

Apple pie jam

300g sultanas
100 ml pumpkin jelly*
100 ml water

Gently heat the water and and jelly until the jelly has dissolved then take off the heat and add the sultanas. Soak the sultanas in the liquid while you are peeling the apples to plump them up nicely. *If you don’t happen to have any pumpkin jelly in your fridge then apricot jelly or jam is perfectly sufficient.

Now pull up a chair, put something interesting on the telly, get yourself a cuppa and settle down for the decidedly boring task of peeling, coring and dicing apples…

2 kg of peeled and diced apples
200g finely chopped crystallised ginger**
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 kg sugar.

** if you do not have crystallised ginger then use finely chopped ginger root and add 100g of sugar to the overall amount.

Usually for jam you would use a kilo of sugar for each kilo of fruit, but because of the extra sugar in the crystallised Ginger and the Pumpkin Jelly used to soak the sultanas, I reduced the amount to 1 kg.
Once the apples are ready, add them to the pan with the sultanas, ginger, cinnamon and sugar and heat gently, stirring until the mixture begins to boil. Simmer the mixture for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pan.

just keep stirring
After 30 minutes of simmering the apple pieces should be soft and spongy and full of flavour, and now is the time to turn up the heat. Boil furiously for 10 to 15 minutes until the liquid is sticky and thick. Take off the heat and pot up into sterilised jars. Screw the lids on tightly and allow to cool for several hours. These quantities will make around 5 standard sized pots of jam, or 6 or 7 pots if you have a collection of higgledy piggledy jars like I do.

higgledy piggledy jars
This is a chunky thick jam with a strong flavour and is fantastic dolloped onto warm scones or freshly buttered toast, it also makes a delicious filling for jam tarts.

Well that’s 1/2 a crate of apples gone, now what to do with the rest?

A Bientôt.

Everything pickle

It all started with an aubergine. You see I absolutely hate throwing anything away, and the leftover aubergine was about a day away from the compost heap and was calling out to me every time I walked in the kitchen. What with that and the plaintive calls of the half parsnip, going to the kitchen was becoming quite a noisy affair. I knew that I would be out with friends for the whole of the next day so there was going to be little opportunity muck about in the kitchen so the moment was seized and I decided to cook.

What I was going to cook was still slightly up in the air so it was time to see what else needed using up. As it turns out there was rather a lot, and when presented together there was really only one answer.

Cheeky Chunky Chili Chutney

1 Aubergine
3 Carrots
2 Onions
1 Fennel
1/2 a large Parsnip
2 Tomatoes
6 Baby corn
2 tsp of chopped fresh Chillies
1 heaped tsp of wholegrain Mustard
300 ml of brown Vinegar
200 ml of white Vinegar
50 ml of cider Vinegar
100 ml of Red Wine
50 ml of ginger syrup
300 g of brown Sugar
Cold Water.

Don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients, and in particular the vinegar varieties. As I said I was using up odds and ends of stuff so as long as the volume of vinegar remains the same as the total in the recipe it really doesn’t matter what type you use. And if you need the recipe for ginger syrup you will find it on the chrystallised ginger post 🙂

Anyway….

Roughly chop all the veg, not too small this is a chunky chutney, and place in a large heavy bottomed pan.

Add the chillies and mustard, then pour in all the vinegars, red wine and ginger syrup.

If the liquid doesn’t cover all the ingredients, top up with cold water and stir well.

Turn on the heat and bring to the boil stirring all the time.

Once the chutney is just boiling add the brown sugar and stir till completely dissolved.

Turn down the heat to a good simmer and walk away, put you feet up, watch a bit of Telly.

The chutney needs to sit and simmer for about 2 hours with the occasional stir to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pan.

After a couple of hours the liquid should be a rich glossy dark brown, thick and sticky. Now is the perfect time to pot. Fill washed and sterilised jars to the top and screw the lid on tight.

 

Now you can eat this the following day ( which is just as well as a jar of it ended up at my friends barbecue the following evening ), and it has a really nice taste and a cheeky little bit of spice to it, but I’ve got a feeling that by around Christmas time, it will be sensational. I am trying to ignore the two pots left in my cupboard. It’s really not that easy you know.

A Bientôt

There will be pictures added to this post as soon as a small technical issue* has been rectified.

*The technical issue being that I’ve put them somewhere and I can’t seem to find them….