Baby Feet Cupcakes & my own Kitchen Nightmares!

One of my closest friends gave birth to her first child last week and I´ve been wanting to make some cupcakes to mark the special occasion so out came the apron and the electric whisk today. Unfortunately, like Alma from the blog Objectivo Cupcake I went to my cupboard only to find it bare, like Old Mother Hubbard....well, not exactly bare but I hadn´t realised that I´d run out of icing sugar. Don´t you just hate it when that happens? As it is a Sunday and all the shops are shut apart from a few little shops that sell basic food stuffs such as the imaginatively named Open Shop (which in desperation I tried but to no avail) there was no getting hold of icing sugar!

In the end I ended up having to improvise and this was the start of my Kitchen Nightmare! First of all I whipped up these basic vanilla sponge cupcakes/fairy cakes from Hannah Miles´s book Big Book of Cakes and Cookies, which is why again I haven´t included the recipe. The cakes seem really airy and light. I really love this book and up to now every recipe I´ve tried has turned out perfectly! So far,so good!

I decided to use some leftover Ballena fondant/royal icing from my Christmas Biscuit decorating course so set about melting it in a glass bowl placed inside a pan of boiling water (somehow the water always ends up boiling over and spilling everywhere). I then filled a disposable piping bag with a nozzle but the icing was so hot it was burning my hands. Plus the icing wasn´t coming out of the nozzle so quickly (I think I used too small a nozzle) plus maybe I made the consistency of the icing too thick and it soon started to set. I scrapped that idea and cut the icing bag and then tried to ice the cakes with a knife but as the cakes are so light and spongy, they started to crumble and break.

I then decided on option c....leftover fondant. As it had been stored in the fridge, it was rock hard and took a lot of working and kneading with my hands until it was workable. I then rolled it out finely and cut circles out to cover the top of the cupcakes, using apricot jam to stick it on. Using a decorating brush I applied some water to the pink baby footprints that my Mum had got me from Whittinghams in the UK to stick them onto the fondant. I tried to use my pink icing witing pen to write Congrats but didn´t like how it turned out so ended up leaving them as they were. Sometimes simple is the best anyway! I think I need a lot more cake decorating practice! It´s a good job I enjoy baking/ cake decorating as I spent almost the whole morning making them! The main thing is that hopefully my friend and her husband will appreciate them!


Easy Sausage, Fennel & Red Pepper Pasta

I love sausages but they´re something I don´t really eat a lot of: 1) because I miss the big, juicy British bangers and 2) because they aren´t very healthy. Every once in awhile though, it´s ok to indulge. I came across this recipe the other day when wondering what type of pasta dish to make (pasta features at least once a week on my daily meal repertoire) in Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book and I have adapted it slightly. One of my favourite types of sausages which I discovered when I was in the US, are Italian sausages and I miss them as I can´t get them here in Spain. The orginal recipe actually calls for Italian sausage and as I had some leftover fennel, I added it to the dish, which is the next best thing!

Ingredients (for 2)

pasta shells or bow ties for two (I used tricolour pasta shells)
4 (6 oz.) pork sausages, sliced
1/2-1/4 fennel, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/4 to 1/3 cup (depending how much sauce you like) vegetable stock (I used vegetable Oxo stock cube)
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp frozen/dried parsley
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Fry pepper and fennel in olive oil until tender.
2. In meantime, cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente and drain. Keep warm.
3. Add sausage and cook until sausages are brown or completely cooked through.
4. Add black pepper, vegetable stock and parsley and bring to boiling, lower heat and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Serve with pasta.


Vegetables with Polenta

I didn´t take many photos as I was making this dish as I wasn´t thinking of blogging it but it looked so tasty(and was) that I´ve ended up posting it. As I eat a lot of meat, I sometimes like to eat a healthier, vegetarian option but find it really difficult to find different vegetarian recipes that I don´t find too bland or boring. I was flicking through my Weight Watchers Made to Measure Cookbook by Ann Page Wood when I came across this recipe and as I had some polenta lurking at the back of my cupboards waiting to be used up, I thought this was recipe was ideal.

Ingredients (serves 2) (adapted from Weight Watchers Made to Measure Cookbook)

1/2 pint (300ml) water
2 oz (60g) polenta (I used quick cooking polenta)
15g Parmesan cheese & 30g grated Cheddar cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 oz (120g ) leeks, sliced
45 g fennel, thinly sliced
1/2 -1/4 red pepper, cut into squares
2 oz (60g) canned sweetcorn, drained
2 oz (135 g) drained canned chickpeas & 2 tbsp of chickpea liquid
1/2 tin of tinned tomatoes
1/4 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt & pepper to taste

1. Boil the water and add polenta (add salt to taste) and cook for about 15 minutes till polenta thickens and absorbs all the water (keep stirring so polenta doesn´t stick to the saucepan).
2. Take pan off the heat and add all of the Parmesan and some of the Cheddar and mix.
3. Wet a chopping board and spread the polenta on board till about 2cm thick and leave to set.
4. Heat olive oil in a saucepan and add garlic, leeks, pepper and fennel. Cover and cook on a low heat for 5-6 minutes.
5. Add the rest of the ingredients and season with salt & pepper.
6.Cover and cook for about 20 minutes.
7. Place vegetables in a casserole dish and place polenta, cut into triangles, on top and sprinkle remaining Cheddar cheese over everything.
8.Place under a preheated grill until golden brown and bubbling.

* I´m not sure how English this dish is but seeing as it´s in a British recipe book, it´s now British!


Traditional Bread & Butter Pudding

I´ve just realized that the majority of British recipes on here are dessert or cake recipes. I´ll have to post some more main dish courses but I suppose it´s because what I miss the most about British cuisine and it´s also what I most enjoy cooking -and eating! ; )

This is a great recipe for using up stale or leftover bread but in my case, it was also to use up some of the dried fruit leftover from making my Christmas cake. This recipe is based on how my mum and gran make their Bread & Butter Pudding with a sneak peak at Delia Smith´s version in The Complete Cookery Course for quantities. The end result is a lovely,traditional, stodgy(ish) but delicious pudding, which is ideal for a cold winter´s day or night. Comfort food at it´s best!

Ingredients (for 2 people)

4oz bread (about 5 small slices), with the crusts cut off


1 egg

5 fl oz milk

37g(about 1 1/2oz) sugar

3oz(about 82g) mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas & currants)

a pinch of grated nutmeg (optional)


1. Butter bread on both sides ( you could just butter one side or use margarine if you are watching your weight).Don´t worry if the bread tears when buttering as it will all be mixed up eventually.
2. Place bread in layers in Pyrex or other oven proof dish.
3. Sprinkle sugar and mixed fruit on top of bread.
4. Beat egg and milk together and pour on top of bread, sugar and mixed fruit.
5. Mix all mixture together so bread soaks all egg and milk up and mixed fruit is combined (I like the mixed fruit to run all the way through the pudding, not just to be at the top).
6. Place in preheated oven at 180 ºC (350ºF) for 20-30 minutes.
7. Serve with custard or cream.

Cranberry sauce, Red onion and Mozzarella Pizza

I have the people on the BBC Food Messageboard to thank for the idea of this recipe. I had almost 1/2 jar of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce left over from Christmas and didn´t have any ideas what to do with it. One of the suggestions was pizza with cranberry sauce instead of tomato sauce, red onions and Brie or goats cheese. As I am pregnant and didn´t want to risk eating Brie or goat´s cheese, I decided to use Mozzarella cheese, which I had lurking in my fridge waiting to be used.

The resulting pizza was absolutely delicious...in fact probably one of the nicest I´ve ever made. I only wish I had taken a photo of it for the blog.

Ingredients (for 2)

1 ready made pizza base (I used Carrefour´s)
a couple of spoonfuls of leftover cranberry sauce
1/2 red onion
5-6 mushrooms,sliced
1/2 courgette, sliced
Mozzarella cheese
olive oil

1.Prick pizza base with fork and spoon over cranberry sauce, not too much otherwise it will be too sweet.
2. Fry onion, mushroom and courgette in olive oil till semi-tender, then place on top of pizza base.
3. Finally slice Mozzarella and place on top of the vegetables.
4.Cook in pre-heated oven at about 200-220ºC for about 15-20 mins (cook according to packaging instructions)


Aubergines in Chinese Style-Sauce

I always find it difficult to find new vegetarian recipes and usually end up cooking the same recipes over and over but when I tried this, I discovered that it was a keeper. It´s based on a recipe in my Cocinar con Wok book by Anne Wilson, which I´ve adapted, mainly as I can´t get some of the ingredients and although it would probably taste more authentic with those ingredients, I think you can still end up with a tasty Chinese style dish without them!

Ingredients (for 2 people)

1 large(ish) aubergine, chopped into small squares of 2cm
1 tbsp of peanut/groundnut oil (if you haven´t buy this, you could just use vegetable or olive oil)
3 spring(green) onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
about 1 inch of ginger, peeled and diced
60 ml of vegetable stock (I used 1 vegetable Bisto cube made up with water)
30ml white wine (use rice wine if available)
20 ml white wine vinegar (use rice vinegar if available)
1/2 tbsp tomato puree
5g sugar (white or brown)
20ml soy sauce
1/4 tsp chilli flakes/powder
1/2 tsp cornflour

1. Heat oil in frying pan or wok and when hot, fry spring onions, ginger and garlic.
2.Add aubergine and fry till tender or golden.
3. Add wine, vinegar, sugar, tomato paste, vegetable stock, soy sauce and chilli flakes and cook for a minute.
4. Mix cornflour with 1 teaspoon of water to make a paste and add to pan.
5. Heat till it starts to boil then lower the heat and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes till sauce has thickened. Add more water if necessary.
6. Serve with boiled rice.
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