Izzy Does It

Kichen Chaos, the Izzy way

Tres Leches Cake

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When I was young and care free and gap yaaaaaaaring around Asia, coffee was usually served with condensed milk. At the time I didn’t like coffee, but I did enjoy spoonful after spoonful of condensed milk (to keep my travel partner and her coffee company……of course). I think that is maybe why I came back from travelling with ‘more baggage’ than I left with!

This recipe for Tres Leches Cake from Pioneer Woman (lives on a remote cattle ranch in Oklahoma, has a massive kitchen/family, calls her husband Marlboro Man and has her own television show…..what a life!) not only contains a tin of my beloved (yet addictive) condensed milk, but also evaporated milk and cream (so not for the lactose intolerant I’m afraid).

The Tres Leches cake, (which is very popular in Central and Southern America, hence the name; ‘Tres Leches’, meaning ‘three milks’ in Spanish) has a very light sponge cake base which acts, well…..like a sponge, soaking up the three milks which are poured over the cake after baking.  The magic of this is that it doesn’t become soggy, but just extremely moist and seriously delicious. I brought the leftover into work the next day and my colleagues each had three squares; breakfast, lunch and dinner!

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Pioneer Woman decorates each of her squares with a Maraschino cherries but I have never been a fan of them (unless they are in a cocktail!) so I sprinkled Demerara sugar on the top just before serving. Make sure you sprinkle the sugar on last minute otherwise it dissolves into the cream leaving little brown marks, yum!

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Ingredients
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Makes 12 squares

Cake
125g plain flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp.  salt
5 eggs separated
225g sugar, divided
1 tsp.  vanilla extract
80ml (1/3 cup) milk
1 can (170g) Evaporated Milk
1 can (170g) Condensed Milk
60ml (1/4 cup) Heavy Cream

Topping
500ml Double cream
3 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp. Demerara sugar

To begin, grease a 9 x 13 inch square pan and preheat the oven to 180°C.

In a large bowl combine the flour baking powder, and salt and set aside. In your mixer whisk the egg yolks with 170g of the sugar on high until the mixture becomes a soft, pale yellow. Mix in the milk and vanilla and pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients, stirring lightly until just combined.

Clean the bowl of your mixer (making sure it’s very clean as the egg whites will react to any grease; I sometimes run half a lemon onto the surface of the bowl to counteract any grease that may be there, but only if I’m feeling particularly finicky).

Whisk the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Turn your mixer down to medium-low and gradually add the remaining sugar. Return the speed to high and whisk until stiff peaks form; be careful not to over whisk.

Add the egg whites to the batter mixture and gently fold them in; trying not to lose too much volume. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and gently spread to create an even surface.

Bake in the oven for 35 – 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle, comes away clean. Turn the cake out onto a rimmed platter or dish (I only had an old metal drinks tray for this) and leave to cool.

While the cake is cooling add the condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream into a jug and stir to combine. Once the cake has cooled, prick the surface all over with a fork and slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the entire cake, including the edges. You will probably be left with about a cup of the milk mixture that can’t be absorbed. Leave cake to absorb the mixture for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile whisk your heavy cream with the 3 tablespoons of sugar until it is nice and thick but still spreadable.  Once the cake has absorbed the liquid, spread the cream over the top. When you are ready to serve sprinkle the top with Demerara sugar and cut into 12 squares.

This kept in my fridge for about 3 days before it started getting a little fridgey/bleurrgh.

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Two Perfect Tomato Sauces

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I am a simple soul (!?), or maybe I’m a bit boring/unimaginative; but when I go to an new Italian restaurant I usually order the Spaghetti Pomodoro or a Margherita Pizza. I shouldn’t admit that considering I am writing a food blog, but I do have my reasons. Firstly, my thinking is; if you can’t get those dishes right, then you are not a good Italian restaurant, so in that sense it’s a test. Another is that it is comforting to have something simple and filling that has been cooked really really well. But mainly it’s because to me, the combination of tomato, cheese and carbohydrate is irresistible in its simplicity. Anyway, enough justification.

Considering my obsession with a simple tomato sauce I started doing my research to find a restaurant quality recipe, and I quickly found it. It came from Smitten Kitchen (of course! Who else!), it was delicious; it contained butter (yes! Believe me, it adds a lot of flavour and a richness that the traditional olive oil can’t give), and it was packed full of flavour! It did however, involve me pealing and removing the seeds from fresh tomatoes, and although it was so so worth it in the end, there are times when the prospect of that doesn’t appeal. Then Adam Roberts from Amateur Gourmet (another obsession) wrote about Marcella Hazan’s recipe for tomato sauce (click here to read about her, she was amazing) which has a bit of a cult following and considering the recipe required minimal amount of effort, minimal amount of equipment and a large amount of butter, it thought it might just be perfect.

And it was, which is why I am now posting both of them; one for the nights where you feel like some cooking therapy by sticking your hands into a bowl of slippery tomatoes and one for when you don’t. They both contain butter so why not!

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I doubled the quantity of Adam’s take on Marcella Hazan’s recipe to make 4 hefty restaurant size portions. I left the Smitten Kitchen recipe as is and again I was able to make 4 good size portions from it, although the sauce was a little thin for some so if you prefer a thick coating, maybe multiply the sauce. The pictures you see are from the Hazan recipe and I used Napolina Bronze Die Tortiglioni as my pasta of choice, as it has a nice rough surface for the sauce to cling to. To serve both sauces cook the pasta in salted water (“the water shood be as shalty as di Mediterranean Sea” said in an Italian accent, can’t remember where I head that; but it is true) and then follow the recipe from there.

Simple; No Need for Cooking Therapy, Tomato Sauce Recipe
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Ingredients
2 cans of whole plum tomatoes
140g butter
2 Large onions
Salt to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)
500g pasta

Open both cans of tomatoes and chop while still in the can using a knife. Peel the onions and remove any fluffy ends, chop in half vertically.

Add the tomatoes to a medium saucepan with the butter and halved onions and let simmer on a low heat, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard the onions and toss the sauce with your cooked pasta of choice, cooking in the sauce for a further minute or so. Salt to taste and serve with a sprinkling of the parmesan

 

More Complicated; In Need of Cooking Therapy, Tomato Sauce Recipe
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Ingredients
1.4kg good quality tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large clove garlic,
Small handful whole basil leaves plus extra for garnish
60ml olive oil
30g butter
400g pasta
Parmesan cheese (optional)

To make peeling your tomatoes easier, bring a large pot of water to the boil and prepare a large bowl of iced water.  Cut a small ‘x’ at the bottom of each tomato and add (in groups if needed) to the pot of boiling water and blanch for 10-30 seconds, remove from water and place in the ice bath. Peel the cooled tomatoes staring from the x and discard the skins.

Cut the tomatoes in half vertically and remove all the seeds with your fingertips into a sieve set over a bowl. Discard the seeds but keep the juices that have dripped into the bowl below.

Add the tomatoes and salt to a large saucepan on a medium to high heat. Use a potato masher to break down the tomatoes until they are of a desired consistency. Once the sauce is boiling, reduce the temperature to medium to low heat and let simmer for 35-45 minutes uncovered (do not make the mistake I made once of leaving the lid on; the sauce will be watery). If the sauce does start to look a little dry use the reserved tomato juice to thin it out a little.

While your tomatoes cook, thinly slice the garlic and combine with the olive oil and whole basil leaves in a small saucepan over the lowest possible heat until they come to a slow simmer. Immediately remove from the heat at this point and discard the basil leaves and garlic setting the now flavoured oil aside for later.

Once the tomatoes have been simmering for about 25 minutes, cook your pasta until al dente (still with a little bite) in salty water. Once at this stage, drain, reserving a half cup of the pasta water.

Once the tomatoes have cooked to the desired consistency add the reserved olive oil and salt to taste if needed. Add the pasta and half the reserved pasta water to the sauce and toss until coated, cooking for a further minute or so. If you feel it needs thinning add the remaining pasta water. Stir in the butter and serve immediately with some extra basil leaves for garnish. Top with Parmesan but only if you have to, it’s so good without.

Categorising Cacophony

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I have a list of food blogs that I trawl for inspiration/a bit of light food porn to make the day more bearable. When I find a recipe that makes the drool command centre in my brain kick into gear, I send it to myself via email. This started off working well; just adding them to a folder called ‘must cook’, but as I carried on, I realised this folder was pages long and it was all getting out of hand (I could have dramatically reduced the numbers if I removed anything that had ‘cookie dough’ in the title, but that is like deleting a part of me). So divided it up into categories, and this happened:

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I don’t want to count how many categories and sub categories I have here, not to mention the crazy number of actual recipes I have saved. And maybe it’s not the most logical way to categorize everything but I figured if my brain was going to go looking for a recipe I better let it take the reins on the categorizing.   I am also fully aware that I will never be able to make them all as I cook something from it about twice a week and add 5 a day so…..well…. I was never very good at maths.

So there…. a little insight into my inbox.

 

p.s I am now also aware I can’t spell ‘biscuit’ without a spell check (yes I just spell checked that).

Salted Caramel Brownies

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I have a little mission to find the best version of what I deem to be life’s ‘basics’ so I am compiling a list of recipes for the perfect roast chicken/ tomato sauce/ chocolate chip cookie/ vanilla cake/ chocolate cake/ pizza dough/ roast potato/ pancake/ waffle/ pie crust/ basic loaf/ fresh pasta etc. etc.

First up is the brownie. Welcome, dear friends, to the best brownies you will ever eat. These really are flawless; slightly crisp on top with soft, gooey deliciousness on the inside. The recipe is from Ina Garten’s (of course) book; Barefoot Contessa, Foolproof, and the lady yet again outperforms. Sorry to have two Ina Garten recipes in a row but that’s what happened when I get a new cook book; I get over excited and make only those recipes for a month before eventually calming down and moving on.

Right back to the brownies. I had read about Ina Garten’s basic brownie recipe and new it was highly praised (I had already bookmarked it as my number one). In this version of her original perfect brownie recipe she drizzles caramel and a little salt over the top. You can take away the salted caramel if it’s not your thing (you worry me) or even add your own twist (chopped up caramels inside?) but please just make these brownies, they will change your life. Your kids (or future kids) will be arguing who’s Mum/Dad makes the best brownies, and your kid will win (just me?). Finally one of the great things about this recipe is there is no need for a mixer, so even the most badly equipped kitchens can rustle up these brownies. So they are easy, simple and crazy good, so basically, yes, PERFECT. The holy grail of brownies.

I have made a few tiny tiny tweaks to the recipe; firstly she uses chocolate chips as in the USA chocolate chips come in large bags which means they use them for melting as there is no chopping involved, but alas in England we only get little bags so I have swapped out for bars of chocolate chopped up as they are much cheaper. However you do add chips at the end so I have left that ingredient as is (except I have swapped out half of the dark chocolate chips for milk, because that’s all I had and I actually really like the further caramel essence they added to the mix). I have omitted the coffee granules as I don’t like coffee (as I have said before, I’m very childish when it comes to my sweet things) and I have also swapped ounces and pounds for grams, hence the slightly odd measurements. Lastly Ina has added shop bought caramel to the top of hers but I topped mine with more of my batch of David Lebovit’s salted caramel I mentioned here (seriously this stuff just keeps on giving/I sound like a Stepford Wife), so use that if you have any left over from the icebox cake.

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Ingredients
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Makes 12 Brownies

Brownies
230g unsalted butter
310g good quality dark chocolate
85g dark chocolate chips
85g milk chocolate chips
3 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
250g sugar
60g plus 2 tbsp. flour, divided
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. fine salt

Topping
170g high quality caramel sauce
2 – 3 tbsp. flaky sea salt

Butter and flour a 9x12x1.5 inch baking pan and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 180°C.

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl with the unsalted butter. Place bowl over a simmering pan of water and melt, stirring, careful not to get any water inside the chocolate. Set aside and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

In a large bowl gently stir together the eggs, vanilla and sugar.  Once the chocolate mixture has cooled for 15 minutes stir it into egg mixture. Allow this mixture to cool until room temperature, do not skip this step as otherwise the chocolate chips will melt when you add them to the mix.

In a medium bowl sift the flour (leaving the 2 tbsp. for later), baking powder and fine salt and add to the now cooled chocolate mixture. In a small bowl add the chocolate chips and the remaining 2 tbsp. flour and toss to coat the chips. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture and stir to combine.

Spread the mixture evenly into your prepared pan and bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until a toothpick come away clean. It is really important not to over bake, remember that there are melted chocolate chips in there so the toothpick might be dirty when pulled out. Always better to under bake than over bake with brownies.

Once the brownies are out of the oven, warm your caramel in the microwave or pan, stirring as you go, until pourable and smooth. Drizzle the caramel over the brownies and finish with a scattering of the sea salt. Leave to cool and then cut into 12 individual brownies. Pat yourself on the back for fining a perfect recipe and try not to drool.

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Perfect Burgers with Bacon Onion Balsamic Jam

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Sometimes you just want a burger, and if you’re anything like me; once that thought enters your head, nothing else will suffice. For me a burger always has to be juicy, on a soft toasted roll, with cheese, and the juice should run down my chin, so I look gross but happy! Yes!

For once it has been sunny in London, resulting in rising numbers of barbeque occasions, so I felt it was time to get involved and make a perfect hamburger.  And this is it. The recipe comes from the unbeatable Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame. I have always been a massive fan; her recipes were the first I ever made (after Peppermint Creams from one of the Dorling Kindersley children’s cookbook, those where the days!) and she has never, ever failed me. When the time came for burgers, I searched her name plus ‘burgers’ and found this recipe. And she didn’t disappoint. Not at all. The first bite got a moan, the second a smile and the last a feeling of deep satisfaction and a belly rub.

She uses full fat minced beef as the fat really does add a lot of flavour,  and, let’s face it, if you are going down the burger line you are not thinking of your thighs in the first place. One last little, tiny and insignificant thing is you also add a sliver of butter to the centre of each burger. Sorry did I not mention that? Yes, add some fat to fat. It’s worth it.  It creates the most dreamy, moist burger imaginable.

I made a slight change to Ina’s original recipe as I used normal full fat ground/minced beef rather than “ground chuck” and “ground sirloin”, because when I asked the butcher for ground sirloin he looked at me like I was mad and was dismayed at the idea of mincing sirloin, which I had to agree with.  I would, however, advise going to a local butcher and buying  good quality mince as;  A. you can taste the difference and, B. you can cook it until it’s nice and pink in the middle (medium rare- how I like it) without worrying if it will revisit you the same evening.

To top this perfect burger,  I made the ‘bacon onion balsamic jam’ from an Annie’s Eats recipe. I made this “jam” last year at a barbeque where I also spent hours/days/weeks making two types of burgers, buttermilk chicken, salads and four flavours of ice cream with sauces etc. etc. and I’m pretty sure the only thing anyone remembers is this jam. That’s barbeque focus groups for you! I have tripled the ingredients to make enough for the 12 burgers (original was for 4 burgers) feel free to cut down according to your burger quantities, but I would suggest making more than you need and freezing the rest for any boring weeknight meals that would benefit from being jazzed!

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Ingredients
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Makes 12 burgers

Jam
12 thick slices of smoked back or streaky bacon
3 large red onions
240ml balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
240ml water
Salt and pepper

Burgers
6 lbs or 2721g full fat minced beef
3 tablespoons steak sauce (I used French’s Classic Steak Sauce)
6 extra-large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
60g cold unsalted butter
12 hamburger buns

To make the jam, chop the bacon into ½ inch pieces and thinly slice the onions.  Add the bacon to a large frying pan on a medium heat and cook until lightly browned but not crispy. Transfer the cooked bacon to a plate covered in kitchen roll to drain. Remove some of the bacon fat from the pan (leaving about 6 tablespoons), add the onions and cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Uncover and add a splash of water, scraping the bottom of the pan to lift any browned bits on the bottom. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are cooked through and beginning to brown.

Uncover and add the vinegar, water, mustard and cooked bacon, stir together and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture, uncovered, until it has thickened and most of the liquid has been absorbed, approximately 5 minutes. Season to taste.  Remove from the heat and let cool, ready to top the burgers.

To make the burgers; in a large bowl mix all of the ingredients together with a fork, trying not to mash it. Divide the mixture into twelve equal portions and form each into a ball. Take a thin slice of the butter and press it into the ball creating an indentation and form the meat around the butter into a burger patty, making sure none of the butter shows.

To cook the burgers you can either use a barbeque, griddle pan or frying pan. If you want to toast your buns, brush the griddle/frying pan with a light coating of oil and fry until brown (just put strait onto the barbeque if using) and put to the side ready for the burger. Place the burgers straight onto the hot pan/barbeque and cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side (depending on how pink you like them). Once cooked place in the toasted buns and top with cheese and the jam. Tuck in and let the juice run down your chin so you look gross.

Biscoff Icebox Cake

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I once wrote about healthy breakfast bars and I now feel this gives me licence to turn this blog into a sphere of gluttony; my gluttony. This recipe is a wonderful example of this; I start with a biscuit full of sugar and butter and for good measure I add double cream and caramel.  This is all kinds of wrong, which in my gluttonous brain makes it oh so many kinds of right. If the above description makes you think “eww this girl has a problem” you may reading the wrong blog. But…. bear with me here, this pudding is so gorgeous, unbelievable simple and cheap, and really is one of those very naughty things that are totally worth the calories.

The concept of an ‘icebox cake’ seems to be prolific in the America but I had never personally heard of them.  Simply put; biscuits or wafers are stacked with cream and left overnight in the fridge (“icebox”) where the biscuits soften and form a cake like layer. This particular recipe from Willow Bird Baking uses Biscoff or Lotus biscuits (the little caramel spiced biscuits you often get with coffee) which I have always loved, so combining that with cream sounded like heaven and I set to work.

In the original recipe she used shop bought caramel and poured it over the top of the cake. I had some homemade salted caramel sauce left over in the freezer (as you do) from a recent ice cream making extravaganza so thought I would use that instead, and on every layer,  just to up the decadence. I have added the recipe (from David Lebovitz’s, The Perfect Scoop) below as it is so amazingly perfect you should have a batch on hand for everything (included a salted caramel brownie recipe I will post asap). My final tweak was removing the Goldschläger (I’m a child when it come to my deserts) and adding some vanilla essence and cinnamon to the cream in its place.

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Now I have made this icebox cake a world of ideas have opened up to me. It would be amazing with a layer of banana, or apple butter after the biscuit layer. Or maybe chocolate? They are now making the lotus biscuits with a chocolate coating on top and maybe that would be marvellous, like a cream and biscuit Vienetta! But I’m getting carried away. For the time being I will post the original recipe and I’m sure I will add to it in due time. I decided on a glass fruit bowl for my cake so you could see the layering but any dish will do. The measurements I have used match said fruit bowl which held 1.5 litres so amend according to the size of your vessel.

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For the Salted Butter Caramel Sauce:
(makes 375 ml)

Ingredients:
85 g salted butter
150 g caster sugar
250ml Double cream
1 ¼ tsps. Flaky salt

Take a large heavy bottomed saucepan, and melt the butter on a medium heat. Once melted add the sugar and stir frequently until the mixture is a deep golden brown and starts to smoke slightly. Remove from the heat and instantly pour in half of the cream. Bear in mind it will splutter and foam so you should use an oven glove to protect yourself. Once it has calmed stir in the remaining cream, vanilla extract and the salt. You may be left with a few lumps of caramel and if so return to a low heat and whisk the mixture until they have gone. Let cool.

The mixture can be kept in the fridge for around two weeks, or frozen for longer. To bring back from frozen allow the sauce to defrost before heating (to bring it make to the right consistency) in a small saucepan.

For the Icebox Cake

Ingredients:
600ml double cream
½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
¼ tsp. cinnamon
70g icing sugar
2 packs Lotus Biscoff biscuits (I only used 1 ¼)

For the icebox cake add the cream to your mixing bowl and sift the icing sugar over the top. Add the cinnamon and vanilla extract and whisk (using a hand held whisk or your mixer) on a high speed until stiff peaks form.

Drizzle a layer of the (cooled) caramel followed by a layer of the biscuits (you may need to break the biscuits in half to fit them in) on the bottom of your dish. On top of this plop and then smooth some of the cream to form a layer about ½ – ¾ inch thick. Repeat this layering until the dish is full, ending with a top layer of cream. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge overnight. When the time comes to indulge, remove from the fridge and decorate the top with a drizzle of caramel, and a crushed biscuit over the top. Serve individual portions with a whole biscuit.

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Jam Doughnut Cupcakes

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I don’t really know how I feel about Hummingbird Bakery. When I was working in the event industry I was yelled at by an entitled client that her baby shower cupcakes “must be Hummingbird!”, resulting in a 2 hour long round trip to fetch them, shaking in the aftermath of her wrath. It left a bad taste in my mouth.  I also wanted to order a large red velvet cake for The Dishwashers birthday a month ago and the total cost came in at around £50! Needless to say that idea was scrapped. On the other hand I do have two of their cookbooks, they do make good (if expensive) cakes and they have a very high ogle factor.

Last month their special cupcake was a Jam Doughnut Cupcake, which really sounded like perfection to me. What’s not to love with that idea? I love doughnuts, I love cupcakes, I love jam (I love fat, I love sugar and I may have a problem). But sooner than the thought of trekking to my nearest bakery to sample said masterpiece occurred, the cupcake was discontinued.   However…… once I get an idea/craving into my head, that’s it, so I set about trying to recreate the un-sampled cupcake at home.

Reading on their website they described the cake as consisting of vanilla cake filled with jam, with cinnamon buttercream icing, sprinkled with sugar and topped with a small round doughnut. I used the vanilla cupcake recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook for the base of my experiment. From there I added cinnamon to the buttercream, filled them with raspberry jam and sprinkled a cinnamon sugar mixture on top. I searched the internet for a doughnut hole recipe to make the doughnut balls and came across one on here, braved the deep frying process and was awarded with about 30 doughnut holes! From all these elements a half plagiarised, semi original little cupcake was born, and oh boy what a jam doughnuty cupcake.

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The little doughnut balls on top were surprisingly easy to make despite the deep frying element.  I usually run and hide when a recipe mentions deep frying, but then when I finally do pluck up the courage I end up wondering why I worry! As long as you make sure you take all precautions this really is as easy as pie, and totally worth it. I have made changes to the original recipe, added cinnamon not nutmeg and covered the holes in a cinnamon sugar mix rather than icing sugar. I have also elaborated on the original recipe to give a more detailed step by step guide which hopefully makes this less daunting (I promise it’s easy).  From the 30 the recipe makes, at least half of them will turn out perfect and the rest can be eaten with molten chocolate! The holes don’t keep very well so would be best to make on the day of eating.

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For all of your mixing you can either use a hand held electric whisk or a freestanding mixer. I have used a mixer throughout but feel free to swap out. Although donuts are traditionally filled with strawberry jam I felt the raspberry (with a little added lemon juice), which is lightly tarter would cut through the sweetness of the rest of the cakes.

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p.s I got a new camera for my birthday! I hope it shows!

Ingredients
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Makes 12-16 cupcakes

Cupcakes
80g softened unsalted butter
280g caster sugar
240g plain flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
240ml whole milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Icing
160g softened unsalted butter
500g icing sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
50ml whole milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Filling
170g seedless raspberry jam
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Topping
½ tsp. cinnamon
85g granulated sugar

Doughnut balls
190g plain flour
75g caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
120ml milk
30g butter, melted
500ml -750ml vegetable oil (depending on size of pan)

Sugar coating for balls
120g caster sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F and line a cupcake/muffin tin with cupcake liners. Cream the butter and sugar in your mixer and add the flour and baking powder. Beat until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.

In a jug, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla and with the mixer on a low speed pour three-quarters of the liquid into the dry ingredients. Beat together and scrape down the sides. Pour the remaining liquid in and beat again on a medium speed until the batter is smooth.

Spoon the batter into the cases until they are about two thirds full. If you have any leftover batter (I ended up with 15 cupcakes) fill further cases in a separate tin. Put the cakes in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the top is springy and a toothpick comes out clean. If you have two tins in the oven remember to swap them over halfway through the baking time. Once baked remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

To make the buttercream, sift the icing sugar and cinnamon into a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter in your mixer, add the dry ingredients and beat until combined and sandy in consistency. Add the vanilla extract to the milk and, with the mixer on low, slowly pour the milk into the mixture.  Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. Set aside

For the doughnut balls, first create an assembly line. Take an empty dinner plate/chopping board and cover in kitchen towel and set aside, near your stove. Take another bowl, add the cinnamon and sugar, mix to combine and set next to the kitchen towels.

In a bowl combine together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl add the egg, milk and melted butter and whisk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat to combine. Set aside.

Pour the vegetable oil into a heavy bottomed saucepan to about 1½ inches deep. Place a good accurate thermometer in the oil (this one is my favourite thing ever) and heat until it reaches 190°C/375°F. Turn the heat to low to keep the temperature constant.

Take two teaspoons and scoop up half a teaspoons worth of batter (they puff up in the oil) and use the other teaspoon to scrape the batter of the first teaspoon and continue this action until a semi ball shape is formed, drop the batter ball into the oil. Fry until browned (2 minutes) turning occasionally and once browned remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the kitchen towels. Once drained (2 minutes) add ball to the sugar mixture and shake to cover.  Repeat the process with the rest of the batter in batches keeping only about 5-6 balls in the oil at one time to avoid the oil cooling.  Leave to the side to fully cool.

To fill the cakes, spoon the raspberry jam into a bowl and add the lemon juice, stir the mixture until the jam has softened a little and the juice is incorporated. Once the cakes have fully cooled, take a small sharp knife and cut a cone out of the centre of the cupcake. Take the cone and cut off the tip and discard (into your tummy). Fill the hole in the cupcake with the jam mix and replace the top of the cone over the top of the jam, sealing it inside.

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Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping and set aside. Take each filled cupcake and smooth the icing on with a palate knife. Wipe the palate knife clean and even up the icing further in a swirling motion. Sprinkle over a layer of the sugar cinnamon mixture and top with a doughnut ball. Sit back and admire your hard work. Then eat your hard work.

Tomato Glazed Meatloaves

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I should prove that I don’t spend my life eating cake batter and other non-food, sugar loaded items so a savoury recipe is called for. This is the promised second recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and has already become a staple for us with two batches sitting in my freezer already.

I had never had meatloaf, the idea of a dry, square lump of mushed up meat never really appealed. There was something too spam like about it. As a kid I only knew it existed because of Marge making it in The Simpsons and her family hating it (don’t know why that stuck with me). My only other memory of meatloaf is my father ordering it at a bad restaurant in the midst of a family tension on holiday; it was as disappointing as the evening. These combined meant I judged the poor meatloaf before trying it.  This recipe showed me there was light at the end of my meatloaf aversion tunnel. As Smitten Kitchen explains these meatloaves are basically large meatballs and I can jump on board with that!

These giant meatballs are unbelievably moist and flavourful; the opposite of all my preconceptions. Add the tangy, sweet glaze combined with buttery mashed potatoes and I’m drooling. I have added my own recipe for mashed potato which is basically heart attack mashed potatoes (a whole block of butter!). Smitten Kitchen uses less butter and adds buttermilk and has a few extra steps but I was being speedy so I made my usual recipe. Feel free to swap out for her recipe or your favourite mash method. Please also excuse the dingy photos; I made this in a rush at night and didn’t have the time/patience/imagination to make them look less like monsters eyes on a mash potato face!

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Ingredients
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Glaze
4 tsp. sunflower oil
4 tbsp.  Tomato puree
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt

Meatloaves
2 slices sandwich bread
1 medium stalk of celery
1 medium carrot
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove
1 tsp. of salt, plus more for vegetables.
900g minced beef
1 tbsp. tomato puree
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
120 ml milk.
Olive oil for cooking

Mash Potatoes
1kg potatoes
250g butter
2 tbsp. double cream.

To make the glaze, put all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Take off the heat and set aside.

For the meatloaves start by adding chunks of the bread to a food processor and whizz to create breadcrumbs. Put the breadcrumbs in a large bowl and add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic to the food processor and pulse them until they are finely chopped. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat until hot and coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Add the chopped vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables until they begin to brown, stirring frequently. This should take 10-15 minutes.

Once cooked add the vegetables to the large bowl with the breadcrumbs and add the remaining ingredients. Stir together with a fork/your hands. Once combined, form the mixture into 12 balls using wet hands. Each ball should be about 7.5cm wide and weigh about 115g each. Arrange meatballs in an ovenproof dish so they are not touching and add a teaspoon of the glaze on top of each. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until they are cooked through

To make the mash, peel and chop the potatoes into roughly one inch pieces. Rinse the cubes under cold water to remove any surface starch. Boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked through (15-20 minutes). While the potatoes are boiling melt the butter in a separate pan, stirring frequently, until the butter solids have turned golden brown.  As I have said before, keep an eye on the butter as it goes from foamy and bubbly to brown very quickly.  Remove from the heat. Once the potatoes are cooked, put the potatoes through a potato ricer (I only recently got one of these and it really makes a difference) into the pan with the browned butter or add to the butter pan and mash by hand. Stir in the double cream and season to taste.

To serve, place a pile of the mash on the plate and add the meatballs/meatloaves on top followed by and juice from the baking dish. Try and make your masterpiece look less like two eyes (or something else I won’t mention) and enjoy!

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook – A Review

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This blog is quickly turning into ‘The Appreciation Society of Smitten Kitchen’. I promise I will vary my sources but why not start with the best?!  I discovered Deb Perelman’s blog about 5 years ago when I was searching for a for red velvet cake (when it was still a rarity in the UK). It was love at first recipe. The cake was perfect beyond belief and no one believed I had made it (“did you get that from Hummingbird Bakery?”). From that point on I was hooked on her stories, recipes and personality. She is my ‘go to’ for any breakfast/lunch/dinner, be it just me and The Dishwasher or a room full of tipsy friends, her dishes always win. Naturally I was extremely excited to receive her cookbook, and just in case you were wondering where this review was going; (as if you were) it lived up to my expectations and added a cherry on top of them.

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With the weekly updates on her blog, I look forward to her stories as much as I do the gobbling of her finished dishes. Every story is sharp and entertaining and adds to the recipe, never detracts. The book matches her blog format so each recipe is rounded out by an anecdote which means I was able to sit down with it and read it like a book at work, at home, on the tube and in the bath, from start to finish, ogling at her beautiful pictures as I go. This book is my food porn, seriously. 

With my trusty page markers I began to earmark recipes that I just had to make, until, getting a quarter way through, I realised I had put a marker on every page. So I gave up marking and started cooking.

All recipes have been a huge success and were, as always, extremely easy to follow and simple to do. With a lot of them she has cook tips, basically answering the questions she thinks we would ask if it was her blog, which really helps. Really the finished products speak for themselves. So far I have made five gorgeous, amazing, scrumptious dishes, two of which I will post shortly and one of which (Breakfast Bars) has already appeared on this blog.

I don’t want to put up too many recipes because then I would just spoil the fun of receiving a new cookbook. I know space is always limited, so I would only suggest a cookbook that I knew you would want to use again and again. And trust me when I say this is one of those. No fads, no gimmicks, no pictures of beautiful people standing around drinking beautiful drinks on a roof top in Paris in an unattainable tableau of cool.  Just honest, well thought out recipes, that will become week night staples, show stoppers and memorable, ego stroking ‘’Izzy, you really must make YOUR …….’’ dishes.

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Cookie Dough and Cookie Dough Ice Cream

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I like cake batter more than cake, cookie dough more than cookies. Obviously I love the end product too, but there is a reason I try to only bake on a cheat day, as I will consume so much batter/dough if you stuck me in the oven instead I would rise. I think it harps back to the days of fighting over the mixing bowl with my sister to get the last dregs of batter. It instilled a fighting spirit in me to scrounge every last smear. Except now there is no one to fight with, so I always win but my waistline doesn’t. I have made myself physically sick from this practice and I do not advise it.

I do, however, advise this very cookie doughy cookie dough ice cream. Most cookie dough ice creams have small tasteless pieces of cookie dough in boring vanilla ice cream so I had always found them disappointing. Annie over at Annie’s Eats felt the same way and decided to make ice cream that actually tastes like cookie dough and then added yummy cookie dough pieces and chocolate chips to make this magnificent creamy mass of gorgeousness. It satisfies my dough needs without making me sick, what more could I ask for?

If you like ice cream I highly recommend buying an ice cream maker. I have a small one that I bought for under £20 which does the job perfectly so no need for big expensive equipment. It is getting a little tired two years later so I am looking to upgrade but if you only plan on using your machine occasionally stick with the cheaper models.  The perfect pairing for your maker is David Lebovitz’s Perfect Scoop which is a gem of a cookbook and all you will ever need for perfect ice creams/sorbets/granitas/toppings/vessels. His roasted banana ice cream is a thing of genius!

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Ingredients
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Ice cream
45g unsalted butter
470ml double cream
150g dark brown sugar
4 large egg yolks
Pinch of coarse salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
350ml whole milk
150g dark chocolate chips

Cookie dough
70g salted butter melted
70g packed light brown sugar
40g flour
½ tsp. vanilla extract
130g chocolate chips

If you are using an ice cream maker with a removable bowl, make sure you place your bowl in the freezer 24hours before you plan on having your ice cream mix ready for freezing. To avoid any ice burn, always wrap your bowl in a plastic bag.

For the ice cream, add the butter to a midsize saucepan and melt over a medium heat until golden brown. Keep watching the butter at this stage as it goes from no colour to burnt very quickly. Once browned whisk in the heavy cream and continue whisking slowly until it comes to a gentle simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Using your mixer, whisk together the brown sugar and egg yolks until light and fluffy. Once the cream mixture in the pan is warm, slowly add it to the yolks with the whisk running, a little at a time. Once incorporated add the salt and whisk.

Set aside a bowl with sieve placed upon it. Add the mixture back into the pan and heat until slightly thickened (it should coat the back of your spoon). Quickly remove from the heat and pour through the sieve into the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and whole milk and stir.

At this point (depending on how long you have) either place the mixture in an ice bath to speed things up (fill your sink/washing up bowl with cold water and ice and place bowl within it, careful not to get any water in the mixture)  or cover mixture and pop in the fridge.

For the cookie dough pieces, cream the butter and sugar in your mixer until smooth. Add the vanilla extract and beat followed by the flour. Once all ingredients are incorporated, remove bowl from the mixer and stir in the chocolate chips.  Form dough into a flat disk cover in cling film and refrigerate.

Once your ice cream mixture is completely cooled, pour into the ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instruction.

While the mix is freezing remove your dough disk from the fridge and cut into small chunks. When your ice cream is churned and ready for the freezer, stir in the chocolate chips and the cookie dough pieces, pour into an airtight container and place in your freezer until firm. Let soften before serving (time depends on the heat in your kitchen). Enjoy with a spoonful of raw cake batter (JOKING!)

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