Monday, 28 February 2011

Tetley's 21st

Yesterday it was my lovely boyfriend Tetley's 21st birthday.  Here is Tetley in his typical attire, if you want to find out more about him then visit his blog Betterccino, which mainly features plagiarism and otters; or his other blog, A Ramble into Territories Homer, which has Sherlock Holmes-eque stories involving our friend Homer's bumbling crime fighting experiences.

Tetley's whole birthday weekend was a great success, as well as being possibly the first sunny weekend of the year.  We woke up to the sun streaming through the curtains, and I made Tetley a special birthday breakfast.  It's becoming a tradition with us to have Buck's Fizz for breakfast on special occasions, I believe that it's nice to start the day as you mean to go on!

We spent the day with our friends and then had a party at night with a Masquerade theme.  We had planned to go to a Burlesque Masquerade night at a local club but it was too expensive for us poor students, so we had the theme for our flat party instead.  Tetley is getting worryingly fond of gambling (which I probably endorsed by buying him a set of Vegas poker chips for his birthday...) so we played some poker, and then drinking games as the night went on.  Laura also made Tetley an amazing 3D dinosaur cake, he was almost too cute to eat, and impressively constructed with matchmakers for a spine!

One of my fondest memories of birthday parties as a child was eating marshmallow top hats, so I was shocked to find out that Tetley, with his love of all things top hats, had never heard of them!  Maybe it's a Scottish thing?  I made some for him and stupidly forgot to take a picture, but here's one from Google images to prove that they are a thing that exists:

These are super tasty and literally only take 10 minutes to make.  All you have to do is break up a large chocolate bar into a glass bowl and melt the chocolate by putting the bowl on top of a pan of boiling water.  Then spoon the melted chocolate into cupcake cases, stick in the marshmallows and stick a Smartie or another colourful sweet on the top of each one with a little dot of chocolate.  Sadly mine were not as pretty as this picture as I apparently have no glass bowl, and melting chocolate straight in the pan doesn't make it turn out so smooth-looking and attractive...  They still tasted great, although we did eat them after several drinks so I feel that I am not the best person to comment on this!

Here are a couple of photos of some the amazing and creepy masks that people created for the party:

My mask is from Accessorize, I love it but part of me wished that I had made one of my own after seeing the boys' masks, home-made costumes are always my favourite.  I think a Masquerade theme is perfect for a student party as you can dress up as cheaply or as extravagantly as you want.  My 21st is in a couple of months, so I'm currently brainstorming some ideas for that - I can't wait!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Extremely Delicious Pecan Pie

Another recipe from the fabulous Hummingbird Bakery for you all today!  This Pecan Pie is probably the tastiest dessert I've ever made myself, and it requires hardly any ingredients, it's like magic... 

For the pastry you will need:
  • 260g plain flour
  • 110g unsalted butter
For the filling you will need:
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 250ml dark corn syrup (this is another foodstuff that doesn't seem to exist in Dundee, so I used golden syrup)
  • 3 eggs
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100g shelled pecan nuts

1. First of all, make your pastry.  As I have a) no pie dish or baking beans and b) no time right now, I bought this top quality pastry case from the supermarket for 69p.  If you are more of a baking puritan than me,  follow Hummingbird's advice and make your own pastry by mixing together the flour and butter and adding tablespoons of water until it reaches a doughy consistency, then leaving to rest wrapped in clingfilm for an hour (see what I mean about not having the time?).  Next, roll out the dough, place it in the pie dish and cover with greaseproof paper and baking beans.  Bake in an oven preheated to 170 degrees for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and baking beans and bake for another 10 minutes.

2. If you haven't fallen into a coma reading the previous step, finely chop the pecans, reserving some nice looking ones to stick on top of the pie for decoration if you wish.  Hummingbird's pecan pie is also pictured below, to show what you're really aspiring to.

3. Put the sugar and syrup in a saucepan with a pinch of salt and bring to the boil.  My hand always looks really odd when it makes it into these in photos, I assure you it's normal in real life though!

4. When the syrup and sugar mixture looks like the picture below, remove from the heat and leave to cool.  I left mine for far too long as I was scared by Hummingbird's warning about the eggs scrambling if the mixture wasn't cool enough, and it all solidified, so I would suggest only leaving to cool for about 15 minutes.

5. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and pour in the warm syrup mixture, stirring quickly.  Add the butter and vanilla extract and stir until the butter all melts.  If you leave the mixture to cool for too long like I did and the butter stays in ominous lumps (hence the lack of photo for this step) use the microwave to melt the butter.

6. Put the chopped pecans in the pie dish and pour the mixture on top.  Bake in an oven preheated to 170 degrees for about 50 minutes.  Arrange the whole pecans on the top for decoration when the pie comes out of the oven as they will burn otherwise.

Here is the finished pie, I forgot to take a photo of it when it was whole as I was too hungry, sorry!  The ice cream is Vanilla Caramel Brownie from Lidl, I suggest giving Lidl ice creams a go as they are really cheap but taste amazing.  The pie was also super tasty, you should give it a try even if you're not the biggest fan of nuts as it doesn't have a strong nutty taste at all, even Tetley likes it and he's the most fussy person ever!

Monday, 21 February 2011

More stuff should come in Pterodactyl Print

As you've probably gathered, I love food and cooking.  However, there are lots of other things I love as well, and when I find something that really excites me I want to share it with everyone.  My absolute favourite blogs to read are definitely those where people write about lots of diferent things in their lives, like the lovely Fiona, who blogs about fashion, music, films and lots of other things I enjoy.  That's why I've decided to start doing some non-food related posts - I'll still be posting just as many recipes as before, so feel free to just look at them if you like!

Recently I've been on a bit of a clothes shopping spree - the weather is still disgusting here in Scotland, but all the shops are so full of pretty spring clothes that I couldn't resist!  I am especially loving all the bird print clothes that seem to be fashionable right now, they're so quirky and feminine and birds always remind me of spring time and sunny days.  I bought this sheer bird print shirt from New Look and I absolutely love it:

I apologise for the terrible lighting in the photo, as I said the sun hasn't been out for a week so dingy indoor photos are the best I can do right now!  I'm also wearing my new high-waisted shorts from Miss Selfridge.  Here is a better picture of the shirt:
 While browing online I have come across lots of other cute bird print clothes, like this green dress from Modcloth.  I spend far too much time on this website, pining pathetically over beautiful things I can never own as postage from the USA is far more than my student budget can stretch to.  I've only caved twice, once to buy the perfect dress for my 1920s themed birthday party last year, and once to buy my prized stag's head toothbrush holder (named 'Fawned of Hygiene' by the website, I also love Modcloth for their terrible/amazing puns)...  Anyway, look at this dress:

I actually love everything about it, the material, the colours, the sleeves... And take a closer look at the print, the birds are wearing tiny little top hats!  Oh Modcloth, you're just too whimsical for your own good!

Another gorgeous bird print comes in the form of this dress from Get Cutie.  I love the retro style of the print, and the best thing about Get Cutie is that you can choose from 9 different styles of dresses and loads of different prints, so you can get something that's a lot more unique than your average chain store purchase.

Next up is something that's slightly more within my price range, this super-cute top from Asos.  It's a really subtle take on the bird print look that's perfect for people who aren't into really girly clothes.

You can only see the birds when you closely, making a plain stripy top into something a lot more fun.

If you're really strapped for cash then get some bird accessories - this beautiful peacock necklace from Accessorize is only £12, and there's matching earrings too, although having three peacocks dangling from your body at once may be going a bit too far.

I've left my absolute favourite bird print item till last, this amazing blue dress which is also from Modcloth.  At first glance it's just your average prom dress...

...Then take a closer look and it's covered in pterodactyls! What more could a girl want?  (I am aware that pterodactyls are not birds, but they have wings so I feel that they still count.)  This is the reason I love Modcloth, I'm very girly yet also quite geeky so this dress gives me the best of both worlds.

Have any of you bought any cute clothes lately?  Or do you know where I can find more dinosaur related apparel?  All comments are very welcome!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Comfort Food Friday

It's been terrible weather all week here in Dundee, and in such situations I find that there's nothing like a hearty, winter meal to cheer me up.  This fish pie is perfect comfort food for a rainy day, and it's pretty quick and easy to make as well! 
 For the fish pie, you will need:
  • 1 fillet of fish per person (I tried to find something other than cod but Tesco failed me yet again and I ended up with a pack of 'fish pie mix' with cod, haddock and salmon - sorry Jamie Oliver!)
  • 3 potatoes per person
  • 1 leek
  • 1 onion
  • 2 ounces plain flour
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 1 pint of milk
  • Dill and/or parsley
1. Peel the potatoes and chop them into small chunks.  Boil for about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, chop the onion and the white part of the leek and cook in some sunflower oil over a low heat, stirring occasionally.

 3. Chop the fish into small pieces and arrange in the pie dish.  I normally use prawns in fish pie but I forgot to buy them this time, but you can use any fish or seafood that you like in this dish.

4. Next, make the white sauce.  I apologise for the old-fashioned measurements, I got the recipe for this sauce from some ancient recipe book.  If you can't be bothered measuring, it's basically a spoonful of butter, two spoonfuls of flour and enough milk to make it a nice looking consistency.  Firstly, mix the butter and flour together into a paste as shown:

5. Then, add the milk a little at a time, stirring constantly, until the sauce is smooth and slightly bubbling.  Don't forget about the potatoes while you're doing this, if they're cooked then drain them and set them aside until the sauce is done.

 6. Add the leek and onion to the pie dish and pour the sauce on top, then sprinkle with the herbs.  Mash the potatoes with a little bit of milk and butter and spread on top of the sauce.  Grate some cheese over the top if you like, I did mine half and half as Tetley will only eat cheese in food if he can't see it, much like his attitude to vegetables.

7. Bake in an oven preheated to 200 degrees for about half an hour.

Here is the finished pie, it's not the most aesthetically pleasing dish but it tastes so lovely!  It's basically a meal in itself, but serve it with some green vegetables or carrots if you want some bonus vitamins.  The white sauce is handy for lots of meals, throw in a handful of grated cheese and serve with macaroni for a super quick and easy macaroni cheese dish.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Valentine's heart-shaped Biscuits

Valentine’s Day is still a pretty big novelty for me, as this is only the second Valentine’s Day of my life on which I’ve actually been in a relationship.  Tetley and I did get together in 2009, but we started going out a week after Valentine’s Day, what terrible timing!  I’ll ask you to humour my excitement and the terrible girlyness of today’s recipe, I’ll make zombie-shaped cookies or something next time to make up for it…

For the biscuits, you will need:
·         150g butter at room temperature
·         100g caster sugar
·         2 egg yolks
·         200g plain four
·         25g cocoa powder
·         ½ tsp vanilla extract
·         300g icing sugar
·         Food colouring (I used a tiny amount of red and blue to get pastel-ish colours)
1.  First of all, beat the butter until it is smooth.  I find that putting it in the microwave for 10 seconds before doing this greatly saves my limited upper body strength.  Add the sugar and cream the butter and sugar together until they look like this:

2. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and mix in the yolks.  To do this, gently break the egg over a separate bowl to your main mixing bowl and tip the yolk from one half of the eggshell to the other until the white has drained into the bowl below.

3.  Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and add the vanilla extract.  Mix everything together, using your hands to squish the dough together at the final stage.  If the dough takes on the consistency of really terrible dried out playdough, add a little bit of water.
4. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Use this time to finish making the card for your boyfriend if you, like me, are both very disorganised and have a boyfriend who literally will not notice anything you are doing in the same room as him if he’s playing on his Xbox.
5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to the thickness of about 1cm.  I discovered that I have no rolling pin at this point, but being a master of improvisation I used a bottle of peach schnapps instead.  Classy!

6. Cut out heart shapes with a cookie cutter.  For non-Valentine’s themed biscuits, use a different cutter, or if you don’t have any cutters, use a sharp knife to cut your own shapes or an upside-down glass to make circles.

7. Put the biscuits onto a baking-paper lined tray and cook in a preheated oven at 160 degrees for 12 minutes.  Take out and leave to cool.
8. Mix the icing sugar with a little water and food colouring and drizzle onto the biscuits with a teaspoon.
I got this recipe from the Asda magazine and it worked very well, my only criticism is that it claimed that the given quantities would make 24 biscuits and I only ended up with 10, I feel that Asda’s biscuits must have been freakishly small.  If I was making for more than two people, I would definitely double the quantities!  I leave you with a gloriously geeky Valentine’s picture:

Friday, 11 February 2011

Turkey Stroganoff

Looking over my blog, I've realised that a lot of my meals are tomato based or have tomato sauces - I know how to cook with tomatoes and I know what goes with them, so I tend to revert back to them maybe more than I should.  This week, I've decided to break free from my tomatoey comfort zone and increase my cooking repertoire, starting with this turkey stroganoff recipe that I found in an Asda magazine that my Mum gave me. I'd eaten stroganoff before at my job waitressing for weddings, as they often did a mushroom stroganoff for the vegetarian option. Believe it or not, you rapidly get sick of the usual wedding main course of chicken stuffed with haggis if you have to eat it every single day...  I'm pleased to say my stroganoff turned out as nice as my work's standards, so I was pretty proud!         
 For the stroganoff you will need:
  • 1 turkey breast per person
  • 1 onion
  • 250g mushrooms (this is Asda's suggestion but I feel that weighing mushrooms is going too far, use however many you want)
  • 2 peppers
  • 1 chicken stock cube, dissolved in 150ml boiling water
  • 1 tbsp coarse grain mustard
  • 100g soured cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
1. Firstly, prepare all your ingredients.  Finely dice the onion, slice the mushrooms and peppers.  Always wash or wipe mushrooms before use as they tend to have dirt on them.  Cut the turkey into strips or cubes.

 2. Heat some sunflower oil in a large frying pan or wok and cook the onion until it is soft.  Add the butter and the mushrooms and cook until all the juices come out of the mushrooms and start bubbling, as in the picture.
 3. Add the peppers and cook over a high heat until the juices evaporate.  Tip all the vegetables into a bowl.

4. Add a little more oil to the pan and cook the turkey pieces for 3-4 minutes.  Do this in two batches if the turkey won't all fit properly in the pan.  Add the stock and mustard and simmer until the liquid has reduced,  Asda suggests this will take 5 minutes but it took more like 10 for me.  I apologise for the terrible quality of the photo of this stage, this is the only one I managed to take that wasn't entirely obscured by dramatic steam.
 5. Return the vegetables to the pan and give them a few minutes to reheat.  Stir in the soured cream and heat until it is gently bubbling.

This meal is perfect served with rice.  I feel that it would be nice with mashed potatoes too, but I eat potatoes with anything so I may be biased!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Super Healthy yet Super Tasty Lasagna

At this time of year (is it too late to say this?) we all try to cut back and eat healthier food.  However, this doesn't mean that our food has to be bland and boring, because living off salads while it's raining sleet outside is pretty depressing.  This vegetable lasagna is my Mum's recipe and it's really tasty and simple to make.  Speaking of my Mum, she says she's going to attempt to conquer her fears of the computer stealing her bank details this week and try and look at my blog, so if you make it here, Mum, hi!

 For the lasagna, you will need:
  • Lasagna sheets
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 peppers
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • Basil and oregano
  • 3 large handfuls of cheese (to be even healthier use a low-fat cheese like edam)
A note before I go on - please never ever buy value cheese! I use supermarket value versions of all the other things in this recipe, but value cheese is gross and will make your life miserable.  Moving on.

1. Finely chop all the vegetables.  Heat some oil in a pot or wok and cook the vegetables over a low heat until golden, stirring occasionally.  Add the chopped tomatoes and a lot of tomato puree, plus a good sized sprinkle of the herbs.

2. Layer up your ingredients in a dish as shown below - start with some of the sauce, then a handful of cheese, then lasagna sheets.  Repeat till you run out of sauce, but always make the top layer sauce and cheese, I did it once with lasagna sheets on the top and they turned black, not a good look.

 3. Cover with tinfoil and cook in an oven preheated to 200 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Easy!

Here is the finished lasagna.  It tastes great with garlic bread, or with a salad to make it look even healthier as in my photo above.  Perfect for your vegetarian friends!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Rolo Cupcakes

Every Monday, my friends and I have a movie night and we all take turns to bake for it, with results ranging from Laura's professional baking to Malik's "Lasagna Cake" which broke a large carving knife and smelt of marzipan and death.  However, this week it was my turn to bake, and in an attempt to use up some of my obscene amounts of leftover Christmas chocolate, I decided to make rolo cupcakes.  I found this recipe online, and while my cakes look nowhere near as pretty as Hannah's, they still tasted good!

 For the cake you will need:
  • 112g butter at room temperature
  • 112g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 85g self-raising flour
  • 30g cocoa (I used Bournville, it gives the cake a nice dark colour)
  • 12 rolos (there are 10 in a packet so you'll have to buy 2)
For the frosting, you need:
  • 280g icing sugar
  • 125g butter at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • vanilla essence
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.  Cream together the butter and the sugar, then add the eggs one at a time and mix them in.  Add the flour and cocoa powder.

 2. Half fill the cupcake cases with the mixture, then place a rolo into the centre of each one.  Cover the rolos with the rest of the mixture.  Don't worry if you can still see them a little as the frosting will hide them.

 3. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cakes spring back when you touch them.  Mine all have dents in them from me checking if they were ready once too often, so try not to do this.

 4. When the cakes have cooled, make the frosting by mixing together the butter, icing sugar, milk and a few drops of vanilla essence.  Spread on top of the cakes - if you have a piping bag this will look a lot more pretty and professional but sadly I do not.  If you top the cakes with mini rolos and place them on a pretentious gold plate though hopefully no one will notice.

The cakes turned out very sweet so they're perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth.  Why not make them for Valentine's Day as a cakey variation on giving your loved one your last rolo?