Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ultimate Rocky Road

I had intended to post this before Christmas but of course as usual I got caught up with the rush and bustle of the season. That plus my son's Christening on boxing day and his 1st Birthday on the 27th meant I was three times as busy! However I had to post this recipe as it is too good to miss out on.... so better late than never, my Ultimate Rocky Road.

Ultimate Rocky Road
I couldn’t decide whether to call this ‘Ultimate Rocky Road’ or ‘Million Calorie Rocky Road’! This really is for special occasions when only chocolate will do – perfect for Christmas, the season of over indulging! The inspiration for using all of the chocolate bars came from the recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, however I changed the rest of the recipe to suit my tastes and what I consider to more of a rocky road. I’ve suggested using Double Deckers (available in the UK), Snickers, Mars bars and Crunchies, however feel free to change the chocolate bars to whatever you like – mini Rolo’s and Turkish Delight are both on my list to try next!

These also make lovely edible gifts, especially if you package them nicely. Either put some squares in a clear bag and tie with ribbon and if you want add a sprig of holly, or if you can find some mini loaf tin wrappers and make individual Rocky Road bars – a perfect, personal and delicious gift!

*A little tip – I don’t recommend using Cadbury’s chocolate for this recipe. I tried it and despite using very low heat it didn’t melt smoothly and turned into a horrible, gritty mess! After a little searching on the internet I discovered that apparently Cadbury’s milk chocolate is designed to melt in the mouth and won’t stand up to any sort of high temperature! (I’m not sure if they are using a new recipe as I used to use Cadbury’s all of the time without any problems.....)

2 Double Deckers
2 Snickers
2 Mars bars
2 Crunchies
135g Maltesers
100g glace cherries
100g dried cranberries
100g digestive biscuits
100g mini marshmallows
600g milk chocolate
150g butter
4 tbsp golden syrup
Edible glitter and edible gold stars to decorate (optional but so pretty and Christmassy!)

Line a rectangular baking tray (with deep sides) with baking parchment (or alternatively use little individual loaf cases – available from specialist cook shops or Lakeland).

Chop up all of the chocolate bars into small pieces (I cut them into small slices then each slice in half) then add to a large bowl. Roughly chop the maltesers and add to the rest of the chocolate bars. Do the same with the cherries and add to the bowl along with the dried cranberries. Break up the digestive biscuits into small pieces (I like a mixture of sizes and some crushed up rubble as well) and add to the rest of the ingredients then finish by adding the mini marshmallows. Stir everything together so that it’s well mixed the set aside.

In a separate bowl add the chocolate, butter and syrup. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and gently melt everything together until smooth and evenly melted. Remove the bowl from the pan and leave to cool for a few minutes before adding to the bowl of ingredients. Stir really well so that everything is covered in the chocolate then pour the mix into the lined baking tray and press down with a spatula or the back of the spoon. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight if you wait that long.

Once set, tip the rocky road upside down to remove from the tray and put onto a chopping board. Sprinkle over the glitter and stars if using, then cut into squares or rectangles.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone - I hope you all have a fantastic day with lots of good company, food and drinks. Be safe and happy x

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quick and Easy Nibbles

At this time of year when you have people popping by for a festive drink it’s always good to have a few fast nibbles that you can have ready to go or that you can whip up in a hurry. The following recipes are ideal for that and also make lovely gifts when packaged nicely.

Marinated Olives

The perfect nibble for making ahead of time as the olives can just marinate in the jar kept in the fridge. I normally use a 500ml mason jar so the quantities below fit into that – you can vary the quantity of olives and oil though as needed. Once you have eaten the olives you can use the flavoured oil to drizzle over pasta, pizza or for a salad dressing – delicious!

265g/ 9oz approx. Mixed black and green olives
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
Zest of ½ orange or 1 satsuma
1 tsp rosemary, chopped
½ tsp thyme
Good pinch of dried chilli flakes
225ml approx. olive oil

Put all of the ingredients into a jar and top with the oil. Put a tight-fitting lid on the jar and shake a few times so everything is evenly mixed (alternatively put everything into a small bowl and mix well with a spoon). The olives can be kept covered in the fridge but take them out early and serve at room temperature.

Hot Spiced Nuts

Crunchy, hot nuts turned amber with a chilli and paprika infused oil – perfect party food.

500g mixed nuts (Almonds, cashews, pecans, Brazil nuts and unsalted peanuts all work well)
1 tbsp mild olive oil
Good pinch of maldon sea salt
½ tsp red chilli flakes
½ tsp smoked paprika (use sweet or hot paprika depending on how spicy you want them to be)

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the nuts and stir or shake the pan so that all of the nuts are coated in the oil. Add the salt, chilli and paprika and cook for a couple of minutes to warm through. Serve immediately.

Chocolate & caramel popcorn

And for something sweet, who can resist some chocolate and caramel popcorn?!

85g/ 3oz/ ½ cup popcorn kernels
125ml/ ½ cup sugar
125ml/ ½ cup water
55g/ 2oz milk or dark chocolate
55g/ 2oz white chocolate

Using a popcorn maker pop the corn according to the manufactures instructions (alternatively put the corn in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover with a lid or plate and cook on high for 2 ½ - 3 minutes until the sound of popping has slowed right down). Put the popcorn onto a large baking tray in a single layer and set aside.

Add the sugar and water to a small pan and gently dissolve the sugar without stirring (you can swirl it around if need be but do not stir it as it will crystallize). Once the sugar has completely dissolved continue to simmer it until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from the heat and drizzle over the popcorn. (Be very careful as caramelized sugar is very hot). Leave to set while you melt the chocolate. In a small bowls melt the chocolate in the microwave with 20 second bursts until it is evenly melted and is silky smooth. Drizzle the milk chocolate over the popcorn then repeat with the white chocolate. Leave to set then put into a large serving bowl or individual bags and dive in – you won’t be able to resist it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Prawn & Butternut Squash Curry

At this time of year when we are so busy with work, Christmas parties, shopping, decorating and everything else December entails, its nice to have a few quick and easy recipes that you can make at the last minute. This recipe is exactly that as it is takes no time at all but is delicious and very comforting. If you prefer you can use sweet potato instead of the squash and for a completely vegetarian meal use mushrooms instead of the prawns.

Prawn & Butternut Squash Curry

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp ginger, finely grated
1 red chilli, finely sliced
2 stalks of lemongrass, tender part finely sliced (or ½ tsp pureed lemongrass)
2 tsp yellow curry paste
500g (approx.) butternut squash, peeled & cut into bite-sized pieces
400ml coconut milk
250ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp peanut butter
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves, very thinly sliced
225g/ 8oz peeled & cooked prawns
Handful of coriander leaves
½ lime

To serve:
225g/ 8oz Jasmine or white rice
Lime wedges
Naan bread (optional)

In a large pan heat the oil then add the onion and saute for roughly 5 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and lemongrass and cook for a further minute before adding the curry paste. Cook for another minute then add the squash and toss with the onion and spice mix. Add the coconut milk, stock, peanut butter, sugar, fish sauce and kaffir lime leaves and bring to a simmer then cook for roughly 12 minutes or until the squash is just tender.

While the curry is cooking cook your rice.

Taste to check the seasoning and adjust if necessary then add the prawns and cook until just warmed through. Finish by sprinkling over the coriander and spritzing with a squeeze of lime juice.

Serve with rice, additional lime wedges and if you like some Naan bread.
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