The Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge: Hot Chocolate Souffle

 It´s been awhile since I´ve done a GBBO technical challenge and when trying to decide what to make for Valentine´s Day this year, I knew that this Hot Chocolate Souffle was the perfect dessert for this special day.

My husband isn´t a fan of fondant or buttercream and while I like to experiment and perfect different skills on Valentine´s bakes...it is pretty much wasted on him. However, he does love anything chocolately so thought I´d be onto a winner with this souffle.And this delectable, gooey,chocolately yet light souffle did not disappoint.Chocolate is always a necessity on Valentine´s Day!! I think both of us could even have gone back for seconds!!!

This is not the first souffle I´ve made as I´ve already made Mary Berry´s lemon souffle(here´s a link to my previous GBBO souffle challenge) also for a GBBO challenge, and they were also delicious if a little sunken.This is only the secod time I´ve made souffles and the first time being out of chocolate. The recipe(click here for the Queen of Baking Mary Berry´s recipe!) itself is actually fairly simple if you follow it closely although I think it´d be a whole lot more difficult under the time pressures and only the basic outlines of the recipe that the contestants had to face. The hardest part for me was adding the cooled cocoa milk to the eggs and whisking as I thought it hadn´t cooled enough so I thought the eggs had started cooking and then when I put it back on the heat , it didn´t appear to be thickening!I thought it was going to be a complete disaster!!
                                                  The only changes I made to the recipe were that I only made half the amount as the original recipe is enough for 8 people and as I don´t have a souffle dish big enough, I decided to make it in individual ramekins,which were pefect portion sizes. Half the recipe made 3 and 1/2 ramekins-thought the 1/2 portion would´ve been ideal for my toddler but he didn´t seem too keen and surprizingly (or maybe not!) my daughter wouldn´t even try it! Oh well,more for us...tomorrow´s dessert is sorted out too!! I also made a heart template and dusted the souffles with icing sugar to decorate it more for Valentine´s Day. Served warm with a nice dollop of cream or ice cream and you have the perfect Valentine´s dessert to dive into.This dessert has now become a new favourite of mine and one that I will be making again!                    


Cooking England County by County: Buckinghamshire:Buckinghamshire Cherry Bumpers

I love anything with cherries or cherry flavoured from yoghurt to Cherry Coke and especially cherry desserts so when I came across this recipe I knew I had to make it! Even though cherries aren´t in season at the moment I had a big jar of pitted cherries just begging to be used!

Apparently these cherry bumpers are traditional at the end of the cherry picking season in August and are made "bumper" sized for the pickers!!Here is my version of Buckinghamshire Cherry Bumpers based on this version from the blog AllKitchenRecipes. I only made 3 due to their size!!They are delicious served warm with some cream or ice cream!!

100g plain flour
1/8 tsp salt
50g butter
4- 4 1/2 tsp cold water
125-135g fresh cherries(pitted) or cherry pie filling
1/4-1/2 tsp brown sugar(depending on how sweet you like it)
To glaze: milk & caster sugar


1. Prepare shortcrust pastry by rubbing butter into flour and salt until it ressembles breadcrumbs, add cold water and mix till it all comes together in a dough.
2. Roll out the pastry till it is 5mm/1/4inch thick and cut rounds using a medium sized saucer.
3. Place cherries in one half of the round leaving a 1cm border and sprinkle brown sugar over the cherries.
4.Damp the border with water and fold over the rest of the pastry to form a pasty shape and then press a fork around the edges, then put a cross at the top of the bumper. Don´t overfill the cherry bumpers or the filling will ooze out.
5. Brush with milk and sprinkle caster sugar on top of the cherry bumper and place on a baking tray covered with baking parchement.
6. Bake in preheated oven at 180ºC for around 20minutes until golden brown.

Our verdict: Delicious!! Like I said I love anything cherry flavoured or with cherries.

My kids verdict: My daughter wouldn´t even try them unfortunately and my son who usually eats everything didn´t seem too keen either!


Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge: C for Cabbage: Fried Cabbage with bacon

So we´ve arrived at the second C for cabbage recipe in the Eat More Variety Challenge,in which I decided to use cabbage as a side dish. Cabbage is a vegetable we hardly eat and neither of my children have tried it before and this is a great way to jazz up cabbage and make it more palatable for fussy eaters or those who aren´t keen on it. Add bacon and garlic and what´s not to like??We loved it and even my 1 year old gobbled it down although my elder daughter wouldn´t  even try it. So an epic fail on trying to get my fussy eater to eat more variety and get more veggies down her! I won´t be giving up though, I have found some other cabbage recipes that I´m going to try out and hopefully eventually one of them will persuade her to try it!!I do know that I´ll be repeating this cabbage dish and cabbage is going to become a vegetable we consume more often.

The recipe I used was adapted from Delia Smith´s Complete Cookery Course, with the changes being that I used less cabbage than in the original recipe.I used around 350g as although we are 4 I knew that both my 1yr old and my daughter wouldn´t eat a huge amount of cabbage and I think there was plenty...we even had leftovers. I still used the full amount of bacon though. I´d definitely reccommend trying this dish as the bacon gives the cabbage a lovely taste and the crispy charred bits of cabbage and bacon are full of flavour.

Don´t forget that you are welcome to join in the Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge anytime. All you have to do is publish  your cabbage recipe on your blog linking it back to this post and leaving a comment on this post and at the end of this month I will publish a round up of all the recipes with links to your blog.


Cooking Spain Region by Region: Asturias: Tortilla de Manzana(Apple Omelette)

Despite not having published a recipe for my Cooking Spain Region by Region, it doesn´t mean that I haven´t been trying out some dishes from Asturias, one of them being Patatas en Salsa Verde(Potatoes in Green Sauce) and although they were ok,the results weren´t as successful as I´d hoped.So I thought I´d try my luck with a typical dessert or cake from Asturias,seeing as I haven´t made any yet.
 I decided on this Tortilla de Manzana or Apple Omelette because of it´s orginality and because I thought we would enjoy it and I was definitely not disappointed. Furthermore, it´s the first "trampantojo" I´ve ever made...a "trampantojo" is a Spanish word to describe food that looks like another food e.g. a burger which is actually made of chocolate etc so is sweet but looks like a normal hamburger. This tortilla looks like a normal Spanish omelette but is actually made of apple and is a dessert. This dessert could probably be eaten hot or cold but I definitely reccommend eating it warm and with a nice big dollop of ice cream or                                                           fresh cream.I went back for seconds.

I´ve adapted and translated this recipe from a book about cuisine in Asturias but I can´t remember the name. So without further ado onto the recipe:

IngredientsI(2-4 people....I halved the recipe which was for 4 people but I think it´s enough for four people)
                      2 big apples(I used Ambrosia)
                      2 eggs
                      50g butter
                      1 tbsp sugar
                     1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
                     1/2tbsp breadcrumbs
                                                      1. Core and peel apples and chop into thin slices.
                               2.Put apple slices in a pan with  172 tbsp of butter, ground cinnamon and 1/3 cup of  water as shown in the photo above(I would reduce the amount of water to 1/4 cup next time I make the recipe as I believe there was too much water) and cook on a gentle to medium heat for about 15-20mins or until the apples are soft (The recipe I was following was a bit vague and didn´t say how long to cook the apples for...)
3. Add the sugar and stir well and then add the breadcrumbs until well combined.
  4. Place apple slices in a bowl(drain if there is too much liquid or juice)     and add the beaten eggs.                                                                      5.Melt some butter (I used around 35g of the 50g which I think was         plenty) and fry until the eggs start to set,then using a plate flip the tortilla over and fry until golden brown and cooked through.

My verdict: A new favourite Spanish dessert. I´ll definitely be making it again and c´mon apple & cinnamon and eggs-what´s not to like?

My kids vedict: Unfortunately my kids were a little less enthusiastic. My daughter wouldn´t even try it just for a change and my son tried it but spat out the apple slices. He´s never appeared to be very keen on eating apple slices or chunks though.Oh well,more for us! Maybe I´ll have better luck with them eating it next time.


Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge C for Cabbage: Bubble & Squeak

Hello,it´s been awhile and I won´t kid you, what with a teething, clingy baby turned toddler and two night owls by the time I get them off to sleep, I´m usually pretty exhausted myself and barely have time during theday to cook and bake,never mind blog!!

So here is the long overdue monthly Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge...this time it´s the letter C´s turn and I chose cabbage. I neither love nor hate cabbage..I can take it or leave it but it´s something we don´t eat a lot of as it´s not my favourite. Plus it smells like farts when you cook it so the whole house stinks and it makes you fart-hehehe!

Cabbage is a good source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C and dietary fibre and in fact contains more than 20% of the daily value for each of these nutrients per serving. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6 and folate.Studies suggest that cabbage and other similar leafy vegetables may have protective effects against colon cancer. Red cabbage may also contain potential anti-carcinogenic properties.

I decided to make the British classic,Bubble & Squeak, despite never having facied trying it before and was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it actually it. It is a great dish to use up leftovers, particularly leftover cabbage and is also vegetarian. Sorry about the photo...it tastes a lot nicer than it looks...but like I said as everything is done in a rush and I didn´t want my Bubble & Squeak to go cold, didn´t have much time to spend taking a better photo! Apparently, Bubble & Squeak was a popular dish during World War 2 because it´s an easy way to use up leftovers during a time when food was subject to rationing. I used the following Delia Smith recipe and the only alterations I made were that I didn´t use a whole cabbage and instead of using beef dripping for frying, I used either olive oil or sunflower oil. I´d definitely make these again as it´s a tasty way to use up leftovers and eat cabbage. Unfortunately I couldn´t persuade my daughter to try it though!


The Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge: Bakewell Tart

OMG, I started doing this blog post about 2 months ago at least and didn´t get any further with it!! Things have been really hectic what with birthday parties, ballet shows, parent´s visits etc, not to mention a 10 mnth old screaming baby that is spending more and more time awake and is not happy to be sat anywhere and is constantly disgruntled....hence making it difficult to do anything, let alone blog or even bake and/or cook!!! By the time, I finally get the kids off to bed I´m not so far behind myself as I am constantly knackered!!!
So going to keep this blog post really short but sweet...kind of like me,really....hehehe!!!As I love both Cherry Bakewells and Almond Slices, both of which you can find the recipes on my blog if you click on the links, and as I´ve never actually made a Bakewell Tart before, I decided to make it for this "month´s" Great British Bakeoff Technical Challenge. I wasn´t worried about this bake as I´ve already mentioned I´ve made both Cherry Bakewell tarts and Almond slices which are very similiar and in my opinion fairly easy bakes. I can imagine that they could be more difficult if you didn´t have a recipe to follow though. The hardest part is the shortcrust pastry as it got very sticky and broke quite a lot...I think the best tip I can give you here is to roll it out on top of clingfilm and then place another layer of clingfilm on top of the pastry so it´s between the rolling pin. However, this Mary Berry recipe(click on the link for the recipe) does not disappoint and it is worth the effort as it´s delicious...I´ll definitely be making this again!!As I made it quite awhile ago, I don´t remember if there were any other issues or difficulties in making this bake.


Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge: B: Barley: Irish Stew

April is here, which means the start of spring and better weather but also plenty of April showers. Spring is my favourite time of year, especially living in Spain as it´s not too cold nor too hot and it´s ideal for picnics, BBQ´S ,walks in the country, bike rides...need I go on!!!Also, all the flowers and the trees are starting to blossom and bloom and the air is fragrant with their perfume and of course you can´t forget all the cute baby animals being born!!So, just as the weather is changing and we are preparing to move onto the letter C in our Eat More Variety Alphabet Challenge, we have room for just one more hearty, warming winter dish,which is comfort food at its best, Irish stew.

When I started writing this post, the weather had changed to bright, sunny, blue skies and the temperature had started to warm up but now we are back to dull, dreary and very wet weather, ideal for this stew!!I had originally wanted to make Irish stew in time for St. Patrick´s Day but unfortunately couldn´t find the right cut of lamb so delayed it and ended up buying a quarter of lamb for half the price of the usual fillets I buy!!It´s all separated and bagged up and in the freezer, ready to be used. I think I have enough for at least 3 or 4 different meals!!Unfortunately, my daughter who usually eats stew at both of her grandparent´s house took one look at it and said she didn´t like it and wouldn´t even try it...so much for getting her to eat more variety and try new things!!!

The recipe is adapted from Classic Potato Dishes edited by Lisa Dyer and also included parsley dumplings which would be delicious with it but I didn´t have all the ingredients for the dumplings so left them out but it´d also be great with some crusty bread or French baguette to mop up the juices, anyway without further ado on to the recipe:

Ingredients(4 people)
2tbsp olive oil
1/2  or 1 large onion, sliced
1 leek, sliced
1 large carrot,sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
about 700g lean lamb cutlets or lamb shoulder, cubed
60g pearl barley
900ml lamb/beef stock(I used a beef Oxo cube as didn´t have any lamb stock)
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
salt & pepper
fresh parsley to garnish

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan and gently fry onions, leek,carrot and celery for 5 mins,without browning.
2. Add stock,lamb and pearl barley and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat.
3. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes,adding the potatoes after 20 minutes.
4. Season with salt & pepper and serve garnished with fresh parsley(picked straight out of my garden!)

I loved this hearty stew and it will become a staple during the cold winter months from now on. I´m glad I tried barley as I love the taste and texture it gives to dishes...am looking forward to experimenting more with barley and hopefully I´ve inspired you to try it and experiment with it too!Maybe one day I´ll also manage to get my daughter to try it too.I also had plenty of leftovers too which I could freeze to take out for a day when I haven´t got time to cook!!

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