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 🙂

Couscous Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

My Small person announced in the supermarket the other day that she ‘really liked that frilly kind of cabbage’. When I picked myself up off the floor and put the savoy cabbage in my trolley it occurred to me that there are quite a number of leaves a whole cabbage and only 2 people in our house at the moment so I had better come up with some cabbage recipes quick smart.

My big sister has also been asking for some good low fat healthy recipes, not something HillyWillys kitchen is known for, so I thought I should try and come up for something for her as well. Hopefully she’ll like it as much as small person did.

This is a great tasting low fat dish on its own as a starter or served with a green salad and coleslaw as a main. If you happen to have any parcels left over wrap them in foil and keep in the fridge overnight and they can be eaten cold as a snack.

Couscous Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

Ingredients

6 large Savoy Cabbage leaves
500ml Vegetable stock
200g pre-cooked couscous*

*You can put just about anything into couscous to jazz up the flavour, but this is what I used in mine.

150g of dried couscous
25g raisins
Pinch of dried mint
1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
2tsp dried mixed pepper
(if you wish to use fresh pepper add 20g of finely chopped mixed peppers with the chopped tomato)

Place ingredients into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover and leave for 5 minutes. Once the water has absorbed into the grain stir in 1tsp of olive oil, 1tsp lemon juice and 1 finely chopped cherry tomato .

Take the cabbage leaves and cut away the hard white stalk
Image. Drop the leaves into boiling vegetable stock and blanch for 1 minute ( if you are using red or white cabbage you may have to leave for an extra minute) until slightly softened.

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Take each leaf ( bring together the two edges where the stalk was cut away so you have a solid flat leaf ) and place a small amount of couscous in the middle of the leaf.

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Wrap the leaf into a small bundle by bringing the bottom of the leaf up to cover the filling, then fold in the left then right sides and roll the bundle upwards.

Tightly pack the stuffed leaves into an oven proof dish and cover with the stock you used to boil the leaves. Cover and place in a 200 degree oven for 25 minutes. Uncover and cook for a further 10.

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If you wish you can serve with a spoonful of low fat crème fraiche or a sprinkle of grated cheese on top.

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A Bientot.

Apple and Ginger Surprise Loaf

What’s the surprise? (I hear you ask)
The surprise is that I made it.
I was actually just in the kitchen making a coffee and bemoaning the lack of biscuits to go with said coffee and my eyes began to wander and before I knew what was happening I had a bowl full of cake mix in front of me.

I was going to knock up a batch of biscuits as cheeky treat, but then I noticed a banana that had seen better days loitering in the fruit bowl trying it’s best to corrupt a lonesome apple and my head decided that the best place for them was inside a cake, rather than have them join forces and ruin what was left of the innocent ginger root. Ah now ginger, that would be nice with apple….

So the mixing began in earnest and i remembered the tin of chrystallised ginger in the cupboard that I’ve been forgetting about for the last 2 months, and when I was rummaging I found a jar if ginger syrup ( left over from the chrystallising ). Then I thought this might actually turn out to be rather awesome and I really should be taking pictures for the blog, but as my camera was in the somewhere, and my iPad was charging in the somewhere else I just decided to crack on before the baking muse decided to join them. It also occurred to me that I should probably be writing this down. And measuring the ingredients rather than just chucking and sloshing.

The following is a recipe of all the things I remember putting in it, in their approximated quantities. And even if I do say so myself it’s rather delicious.

Apple & Ginger loaf.

*75g Butter (softened)
*50g Sugar
1 Egg
*275g Flour
*2 level tsp Baking powder
1 overripe Banana
**75ml Ginger Syrup
**75ml Creme Fraiche
1 Apple (peeled and diced)
**100g Chrystallised Ginger ( finely chopped )

*these ingredients I did measure
**these ingredients I didn’t, but its a good ‘guesstimate’

In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until pale and smooth.
Beat the egg and stir in gradually, adding a spoonful of flour each time you add some egg to avoid curdling. When all the egg has been stirred in , sift in the rest of the flour and baking powder and stir well.

In a smaller bowl mash the banana and mix with the ginger syrup and creme fraiche, then add this to your large bowl and stir well. The mixture should be slightly ‘gloopy’ in consistency, but not quite pourable. If it is too dry at this point add a little more creme fraiche. Now throw in the chopped apple and chrystallised ginger and mix thoroughly.

Transfer the mixture to a 2lb greased and lined loaf tin, cover the top loosely with greaseproof paper and place in an oven preheated to 170degrees. Bake for 1 hr and 15 minutes then uncover and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes. Poke a skewer or knife into the centre of the cake and if it comes out clean then it’s done. If not return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes ( you may need to recover the top to stop it getting singed).

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Take out of the oven and leave in the tin for 15 minutes, then remove it, take off the lining paper and leave on a cooling rack for as long as you can. The longer you leave it too cool, the easier it is to slice, but if you are impatient like I am, warm chunks are more than acceptable.

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A Bientôt.

Marvellous Moreish Muffins

I haven’t actually been in the kitchen very much of late as my lovely hubby has been cooking up a succession of delicious curries and Thai dishes for us, I’m hoping he’ll guest spot here one day with his fabulous spicy pork salad but up till now he can’t be persuaded.

That said I have been allowed in to make the odd dessert or two and I have found one of the simplest and most reliable muffin recipe I’ve ever used. And this is what I’m going to share today. This is a quick bake too- no more than 30 minutes start to finish.

This is so simple and delicious that it’s great for novice bakers, kids and old hands alike, and the variety of flavours are as limitless as your imagination!

I will start by giving the plain muffin mix recipe and method then go through a few variations after. These ingredients are enough for 6 large muffins. If you happen to have run out of muffin cases then it works just as well in cupcake cases and you will get 10 ( guess how I found that out!)

Marvellous Moreish Muffins.

In a Bowl

150g Plain Flour
1tsp baking powder

In a large Jug

1 egg
60g sugar
2tbsp oil
100ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
ingredients (Now for the chocoholics amongst us if you want to make chocolate sponge as well, simply replace 25g of your flour with cocoa powder)
Mix the egg,milk, oil and sugar together in the jug.

Pour the egg mixture into the bowl gradually and mix until combined *
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Spoon mixture into cake cases and put the tray in the oven at 160C for 20 until set and cracked at the top if not quite set put back in for a further 5-10 mins
So the plain muffins are delicious, but they are well, plain so let’s have some fun!

*Just before you spoon the mixture into the cups is a great time to start being creative. You can add just about anything here, chunks of fruit, chocolate, nuts or combinations of all 3 of those things. I have found that around 100g of ‘extras’ is about right, but if you are adding things like oats or desiccated coconut you may need a tiny bit more milk as they will absorb some of the moisture in your mix.
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(Now for the chocoholics amongst us if you want to make chocolate sponge as well, simply replace 25g of your flour with cocoa powder)

Here are a few flavours I’ve already tried;
Oatmeal honey and raisin
Apple and cinnamon
Chocolate chunk
Chocolate cranberry and coconut.
Marvellous Moreish Muffins
I’m quite sure I’ll be making more, I’m already tempted for a chocolate and orange, but do let me know what flavours are your favourite.

A Bientôt

HillyWillys Homemade Haggis

Well it’s that time of year again when all the Scots around the world get slightly stronger accents, forget the weather and long for home.

My heart’s in the Highlands, my heart is not here,
My heart’s in the Highlands, a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild deer, and following the roe,
My heart’s in the Highlands, wherever I go.

Yes it’s Burns night, so to all my compatriots across the globe, Slaintemhath.

Anyway….. The reason for this post is not just a rose coloured reminisce, but to give you all an easy ( and non stomach churning ) haggis recipe should you want to try this wonderful Scottish delicacy.

Traditionally a haggis is made with what is called a sheep’s ‘pluck’. Those of you with tender dispositions should look away now. The ‘pluck’ comprises of the heart, liver, kidney and lungs of the sheep. To make a haggis the pluck is minced up with onions, oatmeal and seasoning then stitched back into sheep’s washed out stomach lining, sewn up and steamed for around 5 hours.

Having once been party a traditional haggis cooking session I can assure you that this is not for the feint of heart or indeed stomach and I will NEVER be doing it again. ( I can still remember the smell vividly after 7 years.)

This recipe is a lot more palatable to the modern-day cook and won’t take half a day to cook either. In my opinion the results are just as delicious and will make enough haggis for around 6 people.

HillyWillys Homemade Haggis

ingredients
250g lambs liver*
250g shredded suet*
350g oatmeal
1 large onion
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper to season
500ml vegetable stock

*for a Vegetarian option in place of liver use

*150g of shredded mushrooms
*100g of mashed kidney beans
*250g vegetable suet

No Burns supper is complete without the accompanying bashed tatties and neeps so you will also need

1kg potatoes
2 large yellow turnips
A little Butter and cream to mash.
First gently fry off the liver in a pan with a little oil till brown and firm. Remove from the heat and allow to cool then grate into a large bowl.

Grate cooked liver

Place the oats into a large dry pan and heat,stirring frequently, until toasted, then add to the liver.
Toast oats and cook onion
Finely chop the onion and cook with 50 g of suet for about 5 minutes until the onion is soft and begins to turn translucent then add the rest of the suet to the pan and melt. When fully melted pour into the bowl and mix well.
add onion and suet  to the bowl
Add your cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper and 500 ml of vegetable stock and stir the mixture.
grease foil
Now take a large piece of foil and brush generously with oil. Place about half of your mixture in the centre of the foil and shape into a large sausage then bring the sides of the foil to the middle and gently twist the ends (it looks rather like an enormous Christmas cracker at this point) and fold the ends to the middle.

wrap haggis

Now wrap again in foil and place in a large oven proof dish.
Repeat this step for the rest of your mixture.

place in large dish

Pour boiling water into the dish to about half way and place the dish in a hot oven (225 degrees) and cook for an hour and a half. Don’t forget to check the water levels in your dish throughout the cooking time and top up as needed.

After about an hour set your potatoes and turnips ( in seperate pans) to boil.

Once they are boiled mash the potatoes with a little cream and butter, and mash the turnip with just a little butter.
unwrap
Remove the haggis from the oven and take from the dish. Carefully remove the foil and serve up with the bashed tatties and neeps and a little onion gravy.
Haggis Basht tatties and neeps
Of course if you’re doing this properly you will address the haggis before eating with the words of Rabbie Burns himself.

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!

This is the much abbreviated version, (the full text can be found here), because I just can’t wait to start eating it 🙂

A Bientot and ( for today only ) Scots Wah hae!

Cranberry, Orange and Cinnamon Muffins

Happy New Year!

Yes I know, it’s a little belated but we have all been under the weather here in the last few weeks, fortunately Christmas itself was sickness free, but we’ve been making up for it since…

Now that the veil of flu is lifting from HillyWillys house, it’s long past time to get back into the kitchen.

After the most wonderful Christmas eve meal small person and a sumptuous dinner from Hubby the kitchen has been a relatively HillyWilly free zone. Time to put that right 🙂

But what to cook? After the excess eating of Christmas and new year I thought perhaps I should try something slightly less …. decadent, but still super tasty of course so I have opted to give you some healthy, low fat muffins, I can assure you they are still delicious and as they are lower in fat that means you can eat more of them…… 😉

Cranberry, Orange and Cinnamon Muffins.

300g flour
1tsp Baking Powder
25g Brown Sugar (plus a little extra to sprinkle on top)
1tsp Cinnamon
1 Orange (zest and flesh)
100g Dried unsweetened Cranberries
100ml Skimmed Milk
100ml Orange Juice
1 Egg
25g Salted Butter ( melted )

About an hour before you are ready to bake soak the cranberries in the orange juice. This will give them a nice plumpness and add a bit of sharpness to the flavour.

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In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Add to this the zest and flesh of your orange and the drained cranberries and stir well.

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In a separate bowl beat the egg and add the milk and orange juice and stir well. Melt the butter and whisk it into the liquid. If you wish to substitute the butter for sunflower oil you can do so, but don’t forget to add a generous pinch of salt.

Add the liquid to the dry bowl and beat until fully combined.

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Divide the mixture into muffin cases ( this amount should make 12) and place in a preheated oven.bake at 200degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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When the muffins come out you can if you wish add a sprinkle of brown sugar to the top, or if you are being really good you can skip this step 🙂

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Allow to cool and enjoy.

A Bientôt.

Orange Curd

This week has been a bit of a dead loss when it comes to my kitchen. As I explained in the previous post I’ve had a very poorly small person to look after and food has been WAY down the agenda. Thankfully now she is on the road to recovery and my thoughts turn back to the kitchen.

Despite the fact there are a million and one things to be getting ready for Christmas I needed to relax so I decided to make one of my favourite preserves before even thinking about what I should be doing.

Curd was always something of a mystery to me until a few years ago when I watched a dear friend whip up a batch of lemon and since then there has been no stopping me!

I have ( of course ) experimented with lots of different flavours* and textures, but I always come back to orange as my ‘comfort’ food standby.

*great flavours I have tried include; Kiwi, Raspberry, Passion fruit. There is something about the consistency of curd that, for me, demands a flavour with a bit of a bite to them so I always find that slightly acidic fruits work best. I’ll let you know how Mango turns out once I get round to it!

Another tip when making a different flavour is to always combine your fruit juice or pulp with the juice of 1 lemon as this will greatly improve the set and reduce the overall cooking time.

Orange Curd

100g unsalted butter

200g granulated sugar

3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

2 oranges

1 lemon

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Bring to the boil half a a pan of water, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Place a glass bowl on the rim of the pan and ensure that the boiling water is not touching the bottom of the bowl.

Put your butter into the bowl and melt.

While the butter is melting, juice and zest your oranges and lemon and in a separate bowl beat your eggs.

When the butter has just melted pour in the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.

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When the mixture is smooth add the combined juice of the oranges and lemon and stir gently, but well.

When the mixture is well combined slowly pour in the beaten eggs, stirring the mixture at all times.

ImageYou MUST stir this mixture gently (do not beat) for around 5 minutes to ensure that the egg well mixed with the other ingredients. if you do not combine the ingredients corectly at this point you may well end up with ‘strings’ of egg in you finished curd.

After around 5 minutes the mixture should be smooth and pale orange in colour, now is the time to add the zest. Of course this is a matter for personal taste and I know a lot of people prefer their curd to be totally smooth in which case just don’t add it.

Now you have to be patient.

Heat the curd over the water for 25-30 minutes. During this time stir occasionally and make sure there is still enough water in your pan!

After about 20 minutes of simmering you should notice the mixture begin to thicken. Using a metal spoon now, stir the mixture and ensure that you scrape around the sides and the bottom of the glass bowl as the curd will thicken round the edges of the bowl more quickly and you will not get an even consistency.

Dont worry if it takes a little longer for your mixture to thicken as it depends on the type of oranges you use and how big they are. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat, just leave it until it thickens of its own accord.

When it is ‘done’ is also a matter of personal preference. I prefer a slightly runny set for my curd so when the mixture clings to the back of my mixing spoon and coats it without running off this is my perfect potting temperature!

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If you prefer a thicker set then just leave the curd to cook for a few more minutes.

Pot up into sterilised jars and seal immediately.

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These quantities will make enough for around 2 100g jars. Unless you are making this as a gift I wouldn’t advise making much more than this at a time as it only keeps for between 2 and 3 weeks.

Once your jars have cooled store the curd in the fridge and enjoy at your leisure.

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I can thoroughly recommend it on toast!

A Bientôt.