Salted Caramel Macaroons

Not only are Macaroons the basis of most Bake Off showstoppers, they are a fantastic way to bond with people. In fact if I can’t have a meaningful conversation with someone over a coffee and a macaroon, I rarely keep in touch.

Believe it or not, I’m very fussy with food. I would say till the age of 18 I had a phobia of Fruit and Veg. It’s one of the reasons I got into baking, to allow me to explore foods on my own terms. A problem arises when I go to dinner parties though. As I don’t eat the food, I get lots of concerned looks, but usually the macaroons come out and the tension dies down.

One such occasion happened a few months ago. I was at a consultants house discussing research when his cousin Jenna noticed I wasn’t eating. After the meal instead of asking if I was ok, she simply placed an espresso and a macaroon next to me. What followed I can’t fully recall, some conversation about paradox of medicine and science fiction perhaps. All I recall was the macaroon, salted caramel with a hint of chocolate for dressing.

Here is my version of that macaroon – To my knowledge Dr Coleman bought them so I can’t steal his recipe for a direct comparison.

Macaroons

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Ingredients

  • 7oz Icing sugar
  • 4oz ground almonds
  • 3 egg separated – Whites (with no yolk)
  • 2oz Caster Sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Start by taking a pretty picture of the ingredients (including the caramel ingredients) with a set of vintage scales. These were my Grans – except they’ve been repainted.

Now, combine the icing sugar and ground almonds in a bowl and mix well. Then sieve to remove any large bits of almonds, these will cause the tops of the finished macaroons to split.

In a spotless, dry bowl add the egg whites with a pinch of salt. Whisk on high-speed, as if making meringues. When they have reached firm peaks (tested by holding over your head), add the caster sugar a spoon at a time.

Fold in the almond/sugar mix to the egg whites using a large metal spoon till completely incorporated. The end result will be a light but glossy mixture which runs slowly off the spoon.

Transfer to a piping bag with approx 1cm opening and pipe the size of macaroons you want to make onto baking paper. I always thing about the size of an old penny is correct.

The next bit is important, leave them for between 15mins to 1hr to form a crust. When the outside is firm, not sticky/tacky/soft, transfer to a preheated oven at 170C and bake for 10mins.

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Remove from the oven when the tops are crisp and the bottoms dry. Leave to cool completely on the baking tray.

 

Salted Caramel Buttercream

Ingredients

  • 2oz Butter
  • 2oz  Sugar
  • 100ml Double cream
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 2oz unsalted Butter
  • 4oz Icing sugar

After weighing all the ingredients, start by heating the sugar and water till it has reduced down to produce a thick syrup with a light brown colour. Don’t stir during this period, it will act as a point of crystallisation and mean you have to start again.

Once the syrup is ready, add in the butter and cream. This bit is the part you don’t want to be stood with your face over the pan…….. it causes a lot of steam.

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After this, it’s simply a case of cooking the caramel down until a temperature of 118C is reached. At this point, it’s ready; you can add in the salt now or even a kick of vanilla, lavender or just leave it deliciously plain. Obviously I’ve added a bit of French sea salt…

Cream the unsalted butter together with the icing sugar till no lumps remain. Then add a healthy spoon of the salted caramel and a dash of double cream.

Right, all that remains is to combine 2 shells of the macaroons with a generous helping of the caramel buttercream and put the coffee on. Whilst it brews, pipe a few decorative lines of chocolate onto the top shell.

Let’s eat

So there you have it, delicious salted caramel Macaroons. Crunchy on the outside with a chewy core, the sweet filling partly offset by the bitter edge of the sea salt.

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All you need now is someone to share them with – a friendly actress usually helps.

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Sloe Gin and Honey Roasted Ham

It’s nearly Christmas and that means that a very large amount of food is currently resting in my fridge…….. Beef, Turkey, a small chicken, but the one I’m most excited about is the “Gammon Joint”. Not because I like Gammon, but because it’s the makings of my Boxing Day Ham.

It’s a tradition to have jacket potatoes on Boxing day with the left overs, and the Cox household is no exception. Along with the cold turkey, we always have a homemade ham. I perfected the recipe a few years ago and it’s a festive mix of sloes, honey and clovers.

Boxing Day Ham

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Ingredients

  • 3Kg Unsmoked Gammon Joint
  • Apple Juice
  • Cloves and Sloes
  • Thyme, Coriander, Sage
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Carrots, Celery and Onion
  • Brown Sugar
  • Honey
  • Sloe Gin

It’s best to make the Ham a couple of days before Christmas, then it can rest in the fridge and carved when needed.

Start by roughly chopping the celery, onions and carrots. They add flavour to the boiling stock and also stop the meat sticking to the pan. Add to the pan and then place the Gammon joint on top.

To the pan add the herbs and spices. The Sloes are ones I have left over from a recently finished batch of sloe gin. It’s kind of like recycling, same excuse I use when drinking the gin……..

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All that remains is to add enough apple juice to cover the meat. If you have any cider lying around add that to the pot as well.

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Simmer on the slow hob of the Aga (mid heat on an electric/gas) for an hour per pound. During the 3 hours you might need to skim the top of the pan or add a bit more water to keep the Ham covered.

After the Ham has boiled, take out of the cooking liquor and transfer to a roasting pan. Then channel your inner engineer and use a handful of bamboo skewers to support the Ham standing vertically.

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Using a sharp knife, strip the skin off the meat leaving the fat below. Cut this into diamonds and then stud with cloves.

Mix the 2 heaped tablespoons of the sugar, a shot of sloe gin and a good squeeze of he honey in a mug and warm till melted together. I find leaving it on the top of the age for 5 mins works, but a minute in the microwave would work just as well. Paint the glaze onto the ham, concentrating on the top.

Cook in the oven for 45mins at 180C or the middle of the Aga. Remember to keep a close eye on it though, the sugar can burn if it gets too hot.

Let’s Eat

Once cooked, allow the ham to cool before transferring onto a board. All that remains is get a sharp knife and carve a few slices – as thick as you like them. If you can’t wait for Boxing day; french bread, pickle and a few silver skins make a good accompaniment.

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Otherwise a simple Ham and mustard on white would be perfect in my eyes.

Homemade Mince Pies

Merry Christmas everyone.

I love Christmas, not because of the presents or the fact my birthday is close, but because it brings the family together. The hall is decorated with holly, a massive 9ft tree covered in vintage glass baubles stands in the corner and the house is filled with the smells of delicious food. Of course in the weeks before christmas, the hall is used to host friends for a glass of mulled wine and one of Grans famous mince pies. One year it even hosted a choir, but thats a different tale………

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The key to a good mince-pie is thin crisp pastry, lots of filling and a generous amount of brandy butter. I don’t think its worth making your own mincemeat. Robertsons makes probably the best, but adding more fruit, spices and lots of alcohol take it to the next level.

 

Grandma Reynold’s Mince Pies

Ingredients

  • 9oz Plain Flour
  • 6oz Butter
  • 2oz Caster Sugar
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • Whole Milk
  • 1 Large Jar Robertsons Mincemeat
  • 6oz Sultanas
  • Christmas Spirits
  • Cinnamon, Nutmeg and ground ginger

Start by making the pastry. You can use a mixer with a K beater or just use your hands.

Start by weighting out the flour, butter and sugar and rubbing together. If you have cold hands then fantastic, aim to keep the butter as cold as possible. Overworking the butter will cause it to melt and leave you with chewy, not flaky pastry.

When the mix resembles breadcrumbs, add the egg yolks and milk a tablespoon at a time  until the pastry comes together.

Then wrap in cling film and chill for an hour.

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Whilst the pastry chills, make the mincemeat filling. Combine the jar, fruit, spices and alcohol . Don’t add too much, the fruit will soak up some alcohol but not a whole bottle. Again, leave to steep for an hour whilst the pastry chills. It’s about the perfect length of time to put the lights up on the tree.

Once the pastry as rested, roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin on a well floured board. Remember to roll away from yourself and turn the pastry a 1/4 turn each time.

Using 2 cutters, stamp out the base and lid to each mince-pie. The pastry will make around 30 in total. I sometimes make a double batch and give them away as gifts. However as the tea room is open, they will be sold this time. Cheers Mum.

Grease a mince pie tin liberally with butter or Stork. The one I’m using is a vintage tray I bought Gran for Christmas when I was 8 from a long closed Antique shop. Its got a patterned base which makes a pretty mice pie.

Press the base pastry disc into the tin and add a healthy dessertspoonful of mincemeat into the case. Then add the lid, I tend to paint the edge of the pastry with a little water to help it stick. Press the lid into the base to produce a good seal and then glaze with egg wash.

Cook in a hot Aga (or conventional oven at 200) for 15mins, turning half way through the bake time.

When the mince-pies are golden brown, take out the oven and rest on a cooling rack till completely cooled. Don’t be tempted to remove before they have cooled though, they will just break apart.

 

Lets Eat

Grab a glass of mulled wine or a spiced Latte, open the brandy butter and slightly warm a mince-pie in the Aga. Then all that’s left to do is get the family together and enjoy the festive spirit. It seems like a good occasion to use some Emma Bridgewater pottery as well – Thats if the Polar Bear will give up any mince pies at all though……….

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A night at Searcys- Harissa mayo, chips and champagne

I like to think our tea room is a bit unique. Although it’s only open two days a week, the food doesn’t get rolled over. If it doesn’t sell, it gets eaten by us or given to the wildlife (foxy and badger do well). Now some argue this isn’t good for the accounts, but it’s better for the costumers and gives me loads of stuff to use for blogs. This week we had about 4 jackets left over on Sunday, so I decided to make some wedges.  The only tricky bit was what to have with them.

Well, I’m a bit of a superstitious person. If I’m test flying I give the ground team my mobile and if I’m in London I always have champagne and chips with spicy mayo at Searcys at St Pancras Station. This started when I took and passed my first surgical exam!! With results of the second exam out and a pass achieved, I thought I might give making the spicy mayo a go. It’s flavoured with harissa and amazing with chips and a glass of Verve.

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Harissa mayo

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Ingredients

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 125ml olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon White wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each of caraway, cumin and coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • Jacket potatoes – for the wedges

 

Start by checking you have all the ingredients ready and also a friend on hand to help. Luckily dad’s around.

Start by separating the egg, you only need the yolk so you can either throw away the white or use it in something else. Transfer this to a bowl and gently whisk to break up.  Now the fun begins, add the oil a drop at a time and whisk till fully mixed.

 

Mayo at this point will split if you add the oil too fast and it doesn’t get incorporated. You can save it by adding another egg yolk if it does split.

Continue adding the oil a drop at a time (hence the need for dad) until the mix starts to thicken up. Then add the vinegar – it helps to stabilise the mayo.

 

Now, using your assistant again add the remaining oil in a continuous slow stream whilst frantically whisking. What results is homemade mayo – you can add some mustard, salt and pepper to make lively normal mayo or……..add harissa paste to make something special.

 

Harissa is sort of like a spicy North African ketchup alternative. It’s made by combining Caraway, Cumin and coriander seeds and gently toasting in a dry pan for a couple of minutes. These are then added to the chilli and ground up in a pestle and mortar.

 

Then add the finely chopped garlic and grind again in the trusty pestle and mortar. You can add a bit of oil to form a paste at the end.

 

All that remains is to combine the mayo with the Harissa paste and fold together.

 

Let’s eat

Make a few wedges with the left over jacket potatoes by chopping into 8 and cooking on the Aga in a bit of oil. Season with some salt and pepper.

 

Serve the wedges with a little ramekin of the mayo, a few olives and some perfectly chilled champagne (Jennie gets Verve, Alice-Moet, Holly edged towards Rothschild but when it’s just me – Pommery)

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Bonfire Toffee

I have a soft place in my heart for bonfires; I find the soft glow, the wood smoke and the occasional crackle of the fire romantic. Now, the foods of bonfire nights are rather varied, each year I vary what I make for my party. In FY1 it was pulled pork and mini Mac & Cheese, for CT1 it was hotdogs. This year I’ve been making corndogs, just because………but each year there is always one item on the menu, bonfire toffee.

Bonfire toffee is a bit of a Halloween and bonfire night tradition. It’s a hard candy made with black treacle, golden syrup and sugar. Usually served in small grease proof bags, it needs to be eaten on the day. If you can’t be bothered to make it, shame on you………… shop bought bonfire toffee tends to bitter, homemade is far better. Plus, unlike my normal blog posts, this only takes about an hour to make.

Bonfire Toffee

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Ingredients

  • 8oz Dark brown Sugar
  • 65ml Water
  • 2oz Black treacle
  • 2oz Golden Syrup 
  • Sprinkle of cream of tartar

As usual, start by collecting all the ingredients together and taking a pretty picture – add a kitten into the background if required.

Weigh out the sugar and add to a large pan, combine with the water and melt together on a gentle heat. Try to resist the urge to stir the sugar, it will cause it to precipitate out and you will have a horrible grainy mess.

Whilst the sugar melts, measure out the Golden syrup and Black treacle. This will produce a wonderfully sticky mess which then needs pouring into the sugar mix. Then, the temperature needs turning up……

Add the cream of tartar and heat. You can occasionally swirl the pan to get an even heating, the temperature that you are aiming for is 140C. This takes around 30mins to achieve.

When 140C has been reached you want to hold the toffee mix at the temperature for a few minutes. Whilst the toffee boils, quickly oil a large tin, this will allow the toffee to be  turned out easily when cold.

Pour the boiling toffee mix into the prepared tin and leave to cool completely.

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Lets eat

All that remains is to turn the toffee out of the tin. Hit the base a few times to break it up.

Then retire to the bonfire with a few pieces, a pretty girl and enjoy the fireworks.

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Dr Cox @ The Supper Club – Chicken Flowerpot Pie

To date I’ve held 4 Supper clubs – After the first 2 I had a waiting list approx. 4x longer than the number of spaces available. So, let’s see how fast this one sells out……….

Do you recall the 4th July post when I made Pretzels to celebrate the beer renowned Jazz musician/brewer Greg Maskalic made? Well, on 18th Nov we will be teaming up, Greg on Piano and myself on the AGA. The menu will be delicious food, cooked well and you can even bring your own alcohol. What’s not to love?

Menu

Nibbles to start

Homemade Chicken Pie

Pulled Pork Topped Burger with Rosemary chips

Vegetarian Chill with a homemade cornbread

A selection of Deserts

Coffee with Homemade Chocolates

Over the next few weeks I’ll put up a couple of the recipes. But for now here’s Homemade chicken pie – cooked in a flowerpot obviously.

 

Chicken Flowerpot Pie

 

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Ingredients

  • 1 medium chicken
  • 2 onions
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Good quality chicken stock
  • 8oz Plain Floour
  • 4oz Butter – plus a little more for the chicken
  • Olive oil
  • Sage, Thyme, salt and pepper.

Start by preparing the chicken. Start by rubbing in a couple of teaspoons of olive oil. Then top with butter and the herbs and rub into the skin.

Chicken has a lovely taste on its own if cooked well, so theere’s no need to drown the flavours.  Roast in an over at around 170 till the leg can be pulled off cleanly.

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This normally takes around 1hr 20mins – but obviously this will vary with size. Once it’s cooked, let the bird rest and then strip off the meat.IMG_0673

With the meat ready it’s time to get on with the rest of the filling. Finely chop an onion and soften on a medium heat. Whilst this softens, peel and chop a couple of carrots and cut into small cubes – boil for 10 mins till soft.

To the softened onions, add the torn chicken and the chicken stock. You can also add a dash of wine at this point as well.  Reduce the stock down in the pan till a lovely rich filling has been created.

Ok, confession time. The pies should have carrots and peas in them, and will for the supper club, but I’m not a fan of Veg. They taste better with them in though………….

 

Pastry Cases

Whilst the chicken cooks, multitask and make the pastry. It’s just a basic shortcrust. Start by weighing out the butter and plain flour with a pinch of salt.

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Add these to the mixer and rub in the butter – Of course you can do this by hand but it takes a lot longer. Use a couple of tablespoons of cold water to bring the pastry together.

Wrap the pastry in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for an hour – it needs the time to rest, otherwise it’s just rubbery and tough.

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Roll out the pastry on a well floured board – ideally you should only roll away from yourself, rotating the pastry each time – but in reality everyone does it differently. You are aiming for about a £1 coin thickness

Then line the well greased flowerpots with the pastry, trim around the top and leave to rest again for another hour. The resting stops the pastry shrinking back in the oven.

Once rested, fill with baking beans and cook in the AGA (approx 180) for 10mins before removing the beans and giving the pastry another 5mins to crisp up – No soggy bottoms here…………….

 

Pie Time

Right, on the home straight now.

Fill the pastry cases with the pie filling, roll out a lid and use a little egg wash to attach to the case. Then with a fork, gently crimp around the top of the pie. Make a small hole to allow the steam to escape. Glaze the top of the pie with egg wash and bake for 30mins at around 180C, until golden.

Serve with some rosemary chips and minty mushy peas. The wine and flowers of optional.

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So there we have it. The first teaser of Supper Club. If you fancy coming for the food or more likely the wonderful Jazz music, pop in.

 

Cuban Burgers, D-types and the Mille

“She held my hand and told me to be kind and gentle”

These sadly weren’t the words of a lover to me, but a close friends advice in my final year at Medschool. You see, during that year I had become a bit of a dictator; I had rewrote the curriculum, won a major Wellcome trust grant, deposed the head of the Academic Society. This was alongside becoming a favourite of the Urology team, getting a job offer and a myth about a Jag.

I love myths, this one related to a crashed D-type somewhere in Cuba. Well, I say myth, it’s currently on its way to my workshop. During my trip to rescue her, I stumbled upon a little bar by the beach. Here I had my first Cuban burger. These are a heady mix of lean beef, spicy chorizo, chillis and served in a soft Cuban roll with a side of skinny fries and topped with pulled pork if you’re feeling hungry

Now, I’m just finishing another long run of night shifts on the assessment unit, so fancy a treat. Time to make a few Cubanos and get some food.

Fennel Pulled Pork

As you can tell from the previous blogs, I like pulled pork. Whilst on the trail of my mythical Jag I kind of fell in love with an aromatically flavored Fennel Pork. It again is cooked overnight in a low oven, so those with Agas are at a distinct advantage.

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Ingredients

  • Pork Shoulder
  • Fennel seeds
  • Mustard seeds
  • Coriander Seads
  • Onions, Celery and Carrots
  • Course sea salt and pepper
  • Caster Sugar
  • Thornbrudge Jaipur IPA (or a good pale ale)

 

Start by making your dry rub. Combine the fennel, mustard, coriander, salt, sugar and celery salt in a pestle and motor and grind to a coarse powder. This relieves some of the pent up stress of finding parts of a Jag race engine.

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Next it’s time for a bit of chopping. Layer the bottom of a large Le Cresuet with onion, carrot, celery and a bit of bay leaf if you have any. On top of this place the shoulder of pork.

Massage the dry rub into the Pork and then add a hearty glug of Worcester sauce and a pint of a good quality beer.
As you can tell I’ve been drinking a lot of Juipur recently and it made sense finish the Keg off.

Cook in the bottom Aga (approx 100) for around 12-18hrs depending on the Pork – if you stick a fork in and it falls apart it’s done.

Cuban bread

Having first had this in a little bakery in Havana and falling in love, I persuaded the owner to teach me how to bake them. She used an old enamel cup to weigh the flour out so I’m being true to this. They are sort of an enriched dough, but lack the eggs of a brioche style. Soft and slightly buttery, you can see why they make a fantastic sandwich.

Ingredients 

  • 2cups strong white flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tea spoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Start by weighing out the ingredients and then combine in the bowl of the mixer.
Using the doughook slowly add the water till a soft dough has formed. Then keep kneading at a medium pace for around 5mins.


The same principle can be used to hand knead the dough, it will help with any bingo wings which are starting to form as well. 
Let the dough rest in an oiled bowl for around 1hr or until doubled in size. In the mean time I would suggest fixing yourself a rum based drink or working out where to get more Jag parts from.


After an hour, your dough should be nicely proved. Knock the dough back and turn out onto a well floured surface.
Divide the dough into 4 and shape into balls, taking care to tuck the bottoms under to aid in the rise.


Prove again for around an hour until doubled in size -more Rum would be my suggestion here.


Cut a cross into the top of the rolls and bake at 190C till brown and delicious -around 15mins. In the last 5 mins you can sprinkle with flour for effect.

Cuban Burger

Basically a burger, but so so much more

Ingredients

  • 1lb. 70/30 lean beef coarsely ground
  • 1 small onion
  • 4oz Chorizo
  • 1 small chilli
  • Parsley, sage and a sprig of thyme

 

I’m not going to lie, I don’t know if the Cuban burger is one which originated in Cuba, or was a bit of an American import during the roaring 30’s. Either way it’s delicious. A mix of smokey chorizo, good quality beef and a kick of chilli.

You can either mince the beef yourself, using something like chuck/brisket or get your butcher to grind it for you as I have. Start by dicing the chorizo into small pieces, approximately the size of a pea.

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After this, finely chop the chilli, onion and herbs. You can leave this coarse, if you prefer a chunkier nature to your burger.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and, using your hands, mix together and divide into 4 balls. This gives you burgers somewhere a smudge over 1/4lb………….

Although I have a burger press, the rustic nature of the burgers at the bar on the beach would be disrespected if I were to use it. Therefore using the palm of your hand, flatten into discs.

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All that’s left to do is cook them in a hot pan with a dash of oil. Flip over after around 5mins when a good char has been achieved.

Lets Eat

All that remains is to assemble the burger. I find that it’s best to toast the rolls to give them some structural integrity. Then just add a good smear of mayo, the burger, some cheese, the Pulled Pork and the bbq sauce. Serve with a side of crispy potatoes, coleslaw and obviously a token salad leaf…………….

 

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Oh, I nearly forgot. The car, well I promised the friend who gave me the advice that I would run the Mille Miglia with her when we both became consultants. Should have the D’ restored by then……..

Pretzels and Beer – any excuse will do……… aka Happy 4th July

“Mike, I’m making a special beer for the 4th of July” – News such as this calls for a special kind of bar snack I thought to myself.

I’ve been over to America few times now, mainly on business but once I went just for a long weekend to test fly a jet. That was a couple of years ago, but whilst I was there I was fortunate enough to stumble across a little brewery that served cold beer and fresh soft pretzels. They really are the perfect evening snack.
Fast forward to 2017 and my old music teacher/famous Jazz mucisan Greg dropped the bomb shell: – a 4th July party and beer launch – well there was only one obvious food to go with it………..

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Soft Pretzels

Finally, I have my own wot-not to display pretty Emma Bridgewater in the background of shots.

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Ingredients

  • 1lb strong white flour
  • 1tsp dry yeast
  • 2tsp salt
  • 2oz molten butter
  • approx. 4oz sourdough
  • 300ml warm water
  • 1lt boiling water + 7g Bicarbonate of Soda for bathing
  • Butter, salt, sugar, cinnamon and poppy seeds to finish

Start by weighing out the flour, salt and yeast – I’ve finally gone back to dried as I’m laying off Carbs atm so don’t make as much bread. FYI- The scales are from my grandma and at least twice as old as me……

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Combine in the kitchen aid with the sough dough starter and gently incorporate.

Now its time to add the water. You might not need it all, depending on your starter – but you are aiming for a soft, but not wet dough.

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Once all together, knead with the dough hook for 10mins until a shiny, elastic dough is formed.

Place this in a well oiled bowel and cover with cling film. You can now fetch the first of your beers to celebrate July 4th whilst it proved…………..

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Ideally it should be left overnight in a cool area (fridge) or if impatient/short on time then at room temperature until doubled.

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Now comes the fun part. Divide the dough into 16 equal balls. This will make the perfect sized bar pretzels. (Divide into 8 if you want big ones – greedy)

Taking 1 ball of dough, pretend you are back in pre-school and making play dough sausages – using the palms of your hands roll the dough into a long cylinder.

Then, taking the 2 ends up into the air and producing a U – spin the base around itself to produce a twist at the top end and lay the dough back down, pressing the ends into the base of the U.

Alternatively you can use cross them over whilst its flat on the work surface – a lot easier and more reliable………….

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To get the lovely deep drown appearance normally found on Pretzels, the next step is important. After making each Pretzel, dip it into boiling water mixed with Bicarb. You can then sprinkle on either salt, poppy seeds etc to finish.

Once you have made a whole tray, transfer to an oven at 200C for 10 mins or until golden brown.

Lastly, whilst still hot out the oven, glaze with a little melted butter…….

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Or butter, cinnamon and sugar if you are feeling like dessert.

Let’s Eat

All that remains is to grab a pint, tell Swifty that you’ve stollen her jazz pianist but will give him back later and enjoy the 4th in style.

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P.s I never did tell TS…… wonder if that’s why she cancelled her part. Anyway, I’d like to thank Greg, Pat and the Draycott Brewing team for a fantastic 4th of July x

BBQ time – Vension Burgers

I just bought a microbrewery to celebrate Bake Off – but more on that later.

According to my friend who works as a BBC weather presenter – it is summer, and that can only mean 1 thing – BBQs. I have many happy childhood memories of these.  One of my favourites was the annual trip to a small country pub called the Beeheive for the August bank holiday. The pub would put on a big BBQ, we would take dads Alfa Spider, there would be Maypole dancing and Morris men. Infact it might have been at one of these I had my first pint, held in one chubby teenage hand whilst the other was grasping a burger.

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Well, with the offer of a perfusion PhD in America on my desk once again, I thought I would relive the memory…………but in slightly more fancy style – venison burgers, ciabatta rolls and wild garlic mayo!!!!!

Ciabatta Rolls

  • 1lb Strong flour
  • 1tspn Salt
  • 5g Dry Yeast or a knob of Fresh Yeast
  • 50ml Olive Oil
  • 300ml Water
  • 6 Poaching Rings

Ok, so I realise that ciabatta is a bit of a controversial bread choice for a burger, but I have reasons. I regularly take my F1s out for dinner and at one meal Harry started eating his burger with a knife and fork. He claims the bun wasn’t strong enough, I claim  he needs to man up. Anyway, ciabatta is strong so no need for a fork.

Start by weighing out the flour, salt, yeast and combining in the kitchenaid. To this add the oil and water.

The dough is relatively wet, so it is much easier to make in a mixer with a dough hook. If you want to make it by hand, just remember to oil them and be patient.

Mix on a relatively high speed for 10mins until a highly stretchable dough has been made.

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As the dough is so wet it needs a frame to prove in. Otherwise it would just be a bit of a mess. The poaching rings from my pulled pork blog once again have been pressed into service. Place on a well floured baking tray.

Cover with oiled cling film and leave to prove for around an hour or until it has doubled in size. When well risen, and you have managed to sink a few Gin and Tonics, it’s time to bake. Make a cross cut onto the top and  transfer into a preheated oven at 200C.

Bake until golden brown – this varies due to size, but around 20mins.

Venison Burgers

Nothing goes with Venison quite like gin, well juniper to be precise. Sadly, I can’t lay claim to having discovered this having stolen the idea from Hide burger a few years ago.

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Ingredient

  • 1lb Venison mince
  • Juniper berrys
  • Gin
  • 2 small white onions
  • Sage, Parsley and Pepper

Start a few hours before you are planning on eating by soaking the juniper berrys in Gin. This allows you to impart the subtle flavours of Gin into your burger. Lets face it, who doesn’t like Gin.

Finely dice the onion, herbs, Juniper and combine with the Venison mince. Season with a twist of salt and pepper. Now to the fun bit of forming.

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Divide the burger mix into 4 and mould to shape. A burger press can be really helpful to get the shape just right. Leave in the fridge for 30mins to firm up.

Now, there are lots of different ways to cook a burger; steam, oven, pan but BBQ has to be king. Given this blog is in honour of the Beehieve, only a BBQ will do. Cook for around 5mins on each side, brushing with oil to stop sticking.

Time to Eat

Right, time to relive the glory days – Burger anyone?

Lightly toast the ciabatta bun then assemble the burger with a generous helping of wild garlic mayo, Bloody Mary Ketchup and a handful of salad. Finish with a side of homemade slaw and a beer.

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P.s I’ll mini blog the Mayo and Ketchup for you all soon x

Lets live like Kings – Millionaires Shortbread

“There is an island to which no airline flies. Its boarders are not open to you and I, for they are guarded by youth”

I love Millionaires shortbread, it is a memory of childhood captured in cake form. The first place I ever had it was at a little tea room called Mintons, now long gone. Every week the owner Roger would make a batch and keep a piece back for me.

Well, given that I still need to cram in a bit more practice before bake off, I thought I would make a batch of my own. Relive my youth, its boarders are still open to me after all……..

 

Millionaires Shortbread

I will apologies now; to make the caramel you have to stir constantly and it will give you arm ache for a few days,

Ingredients

Shortbread

  • 9oz plain flour
  • 8oz butter
  • 3oz caster sugar

Caramel

  • 2 tins condensed mild
  • 2oz light muscavardo sugar
  • 2oz dark muscavardo sugar
  • 4oz butter

Chocolate – lots of it

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Ignore the eggs, milk and yeast – I  was making brioche as well, more on that later….

Making the shortbread is very easy. Combine the ingredient in a mixing bowl and work together into a breadcrumb stage. As it has such a large butter content this will start clumping together. When it starts to combine into a large ball, spread evenly in a lined and greased tin. Relieve some inner tension and poke it a few times with  a fork to create the familiar pattern we all know and love.

Now bake this at about 180 ( middle of an Aga) until golden brown; you may need to turn half way through. When done, set aside to cool…………. The fun is about to begin.

Normally I would encourage you to multitask, but concentration with caramel is key. Its simple to make, but even simpler to mess up. Start by combining the ingredients in a large pan and melting the butter and sugar.

When everything is melted it’s time to turn up the heat. On a medium heat keep stirring, and for gods sake do not stop. Even if the cute brunette from before is calling you up to arrange a secret weekend, just ignore it…….. The moment you leave the caramel, disaster will strike – it catches on the bottom of the pan and burns. You will not look away now, will you?!!

When the caramel feels thick and is stiff to turn (about 10 mins after your arm has dropped off) test it – get a friend or wandering old person (dad) to dip a spoon of it  into some cold water. When cool, if it is just solid enough to hold its shape when you push it off the spoon, its done. The friend can now try the caramel for taste as well.

f at this stage you want to get really fancy, you can add salt, coffee or even lavender to make the caramel even more special. After this, simply pour onto the shortbread and leave to cool.

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When it’s all cool, top temper some milk chocolate and pour on top. I learnt to temper chocolate a couple of years ago to impress a fellow F1…….. Completely useless skill at the time, but now with bake off looming – cheers H.

 

Time for a treat

So, there you have it – Millionaires shortbread.  All that remains to do is grab a coffee and eat. The great news is that this batch is for sale in the tea room this weekend.

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p.s thats the correct ratio of shortbread to caramel. Don’t forget to pop in this weekend and have a piece for yourself x