Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Home made Guacamole - As easy as 123!



I first made guacamole a little over two years ago when I was having a dinner party. I wasn't entirely sure what went into it but decided to experiment. This time, I made it with a slight twist of red chillies and it turned out pretty good. The photo of course doesn't say much but the taste was fantastic and fresh! 

Ingredients:
2 ripe avocados
1 to 2 red chillies - depending on how spicy you want it to be.
1 red onion
1 lime
a handful of mint leaves
a handful of coriander leaves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar

Method:
  1. Firstly, finely dice red onions and finely chop the mint leaves and coriander leaves and place into a mixing bowl. Next deseed the red chillies and finely dice them before adding it to the mixing bowl.
  2. Next cut through the avocados by running the knife down the middle and circle it along the seed. Twist the avocado and it'll separate. Use a spoon to remove the seed and then proceed to scrape the avocado flesh off the skin into the bowl straight. Continue doing the same with the second avocado.
  3. Next add the juice of 1 lime, the salt and sugar. Using a fork, mash the contents together. 
  4. Taste to see if it needs additional seasoning and you're good to go.
  5. Serve it up with anything really from tortilla chips to even pappadoms.
Savoury cheese spread coming up!

The Innovative Baker

Monday, 20 February 2012

Useful Kitchen Utensils: Toothpicks


How are toothpicks useful? Aside from picking your teeth that is. Well, I use them to prick my cakes and cupcakes to test whether they're cooked through! I of course am a fan of many gadgets in the kitchen and actually invested in a cake tester:

But, for those who don't really bake often and don't want to have to spend that money, then toothpicks are your best bet. They do come in different lengths so longer ones can be used to test the centre of a very tall cake while shorter ones are for shorter cakes! Go figure...hahahaha!!! In any case, it is your cheaper alternative and you do not need to spend a load of money to bake a cake. 

Toothpicks are also good to pin your choice of meat together after filling it up with your choice of filling before roasting / baking / frying. Or if you are making vegetables parcels, use them to hold one side before steaming them. Or perhaps you are baking paper wrapped chicken or banana wrapped fish, then a toothpick is fantastic as a fastener to ensure the juices from the chicken or fish do not escape and the flavours are locked in!

Know more useful tips on how to use your toothpicks in the cooking process? Then leave a comment! 

A recipe is always being brewed,
The Innovative Baker

Monday, 13 February 2012

Valentine's Day - your perfect meal :)



Valentine's Day is always tricky when it comes to pleasing the other half. And while I may have suggested a number of cupcakes and snacks for the special day, I figured why not devise a menu from the many recipes I've written to help those who have no clue what to serve up! So here's a couple of suggestions that perhaps would serve the day well...and mind you, they are easy and too fussy as well!

Starters:

Mains:

Desert:

Happy cooking you love birds :)

The Innovative Baker

Spicy Sausage Rolls


I am a big fan of sausage rolls and whilst it isn't the healthiest of snacking options, I do enjoy the occasional sausage roll from Greg's. Then I figured why not make my own. So I did! This recipe was easy! And since I haven't had much time in the kitchen to really roll out self-made puff pastry, I bought ready-rolled puff pastry from the supermarket and proceeded to making them:

Ingredients:
500gms sausages
1 yellow onion - diced finely
1 tbsp chilli flakes
freshly ground black pepper
2 carrots - finely grated or diced finely
100gms stilton cheese - finely grated
1 packet of ready-rolled puff pastry
1 egg - to hold pastry together and to brown the pastry

Method:
  1. Take out your ready-rolled puff pastry out of the fridge to defrost for a bit so that when you unroll it, it won't crack. Then crank up your oven to 180 Degree Celcius. Line a baking pan with greaseproof paper and set aside.
  2. Next in a food processor, add in your sausages. Here I used german sausages that were coarsely chopped into smaller pieces. Pulse the sausages first to make them coarsely ground. Then add in the diced yellow onion, chilli flakes, black pepper, cheese and carrots and pulse them again. You could opt for a coarse filling or a denser one, it is entirely up to you. There is no need for salt and the sausages are normally salted already. Beat the egg and set aside.
  3. Next...unroll your pastry on to a chopping board. Then using your hands, line a row of the filling along the pastry about 5cm away from the pastry border as you will fold the pastry over the filling. 
  4. Once you have finished lining the filling, use a brush or your finger tips and dip into the beaten egg and brush along the edges of the pastry and the filling. Fold the pastry over the filling and pack it firmly leaving no pockets of air. 
  5. Press the pastry along the areas where the beaten egg was brushed on. Then cut along the edges of the filled pastry. You will have a very long pastry that looks like a sausage naturally. Then cut the filled pastry into smaller pieces and slice the top of the pastry to give it more character. 
  6. Brush the pastry tops with the egg wash and line it on the baking pan. Repeat the process until there is no more pastry or no more filling. Save whatever that is leftover and you can reuse it for a different occassion.
  7. Pop the rolls into the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let it rest on the baking pan before serving it up warm!
You can opt to not make them into rolls by using a pastry mould and the effect will be the same just bigger or smaller portions.

Safe to say this can be something you can make for Valentine's Day as well and it is quick to make without much hassle. So who says you can't make sausage rolls eh?

The Innovative Baker looking to make currypuffs next!


Monday, 6 February 2012

Chocolate cupcakes with Whisky Chocolate Cream, Pink Elderflower Frosting and chocolate decorations


Ah yes... Valentine's Day is coming and for all you love birds out there, I'm sure you're wondering what you can do on a budget to surprise your loved one.

Now I'm not usually someone who does much for Valentine's Day but I have had many people asking what they can do to impress their significant other. The cupcakes I made was a combination of three recipes put together using the best elements for each part. The chocolate decorations you see especially the hearts can be bought of shelves from supermarkets to make your life easier. 

So here's the recipe:

Cake ingredients:
225g caster sugar
100g butter - very soft
300g self-raising flour
15g (1 1/2 tsp) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
100g melted dark chocolate
250ml whole milk
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Whisky Chocolate Cream ingredients:
300g cream cheese
294ml double cream
100g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp or more whisky
200g melted dark chocolate

Pink Elderflower frosting:
100g cream cheese
100g double cream
1 tbsp elderflower syrup / cordial
2 tbsp honey
2 squirts of red food colouring. 

Method:
  1. Crank up your oven to 180 Celsius and line your cupcake trays with cupcake cups. Put aside.
  2. Sift the dry cake ingredients together and then beat the sugar and butter together until light and creamy. In the meantime mix the red wine vinegar with the whole milk and set aside. It will curdle a little bit but don't worry. 
  3. Add in eggs to the butter sugar mixture one at a time before adding half the flour and half the milk portions. Continue beating until well mixed before adding in the remaining flour and milk.
  4. Finally, add in the melted chocolate and mix well.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop equal portions into the cupcake cups and pop them into the over for no longer than 15 minutes or when pricked with a toothpick, it comes out clean. Repeat the process until batter finishes.
  6. Whilst waiting for the cupcakes to bake, make your chocolate cream. Mix together all the ingredients until firm peaks start forming. Set aside. The same goes with the pink elderflower frosting. 
  7. Once your cupcakes have fully rested and are cooled down, prepare your piping bag with what ever nozzles you feel like using. A bigger one for the whisky and chocolate cream while a smaller one for the pink elderflower frosting. Pipe the whisky chocolate cream first before the pink elderflower frosting. Then finally decorate it with chocolate hearts or chocolate fingers whichever you fancy. If you fancy more booze, then buy chocolate hearts with alcohol centres. Add a finishing touch with a raspberry, blueberry or half a strawberry. 
  8. Additionally you can prick your cupcakes before piping the cream with toothpicks and spoon over more whisky to soak the cupcakes.

And there you have it! For the non-bakers, you can do this by simply buying pre-baked plain chocolate cupcakes, whip up the cream yourself, and decorate away! No nozzles or piping bag? Don't worry, use a zip log bag, cut a bit of the edge away to allow air to escape as well as allow the cream to go through. 

Other suggestions for Valentine's Day are:

I bet you your date will be impressed and all loved up!

A savoury attempt coming soon!

The Innovative Baker

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