Chocolate Raspberry Tarts

these were delicious and really cute. here's the recipe...

...recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess
175g flour
30g cocoa powder
50g castor sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
125g butter
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon iced water
for the filling
50g white chocolate
250g mascarpone
100 milliliters double cream
500g raspberries

You need 6 4-inch tartlet tins with loose bottoms.

In a mixer or food processor mix together the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter into small pieces and cut it into the flour mixture with the mixer until it looks crumbly. Beat the egg yolk with the ice water and add to the mixture with the mixture running to bind the pastry. When it starts to clump together turn it out of the bowl and work it together into two discs with your hands. Wrap the discs in clingfilm and rest the pastry in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out one of the dough discs. It will be hard to roll out and it will break, but it does patch very easily, so don't worry. Cut out 3 rough squares or circles slightly bigger than the tin. Line each tin with the pastry, patching if necessary. Repeat with the other dough disc and line all six tins. Freeze the tins for about 30 minutes or until they feel frozen. While the pastry is in the freezer turn the oven on to 180 C and slip a baking sheet in at the same time to heat up.

Put the tartlets straight on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the pastry feels cooked and dry. While the pastry is cooking melt the white chocolate.

When the pastry cases are cool slip them out of their tins and finish the filling. Beat the mascarpone and double cream together and fold in the cooled melted white chocolate. Fill the pastry cases with cream and top with the raspberries.


Virtual Cookie Swap

the round-up for the cookie swap is here if you want to see the other cookie entries.

this month's combined SFH/IMBB is hosted by jennifer of the domestic goddess and alberto of il forno. for the cookie swap i decided to make one of my all time favorite cookies and to try something new. my all time favorite christmas cookies are to-die-fors. this isn't their actual name, which is something boring that i can't remember. my mom gave them a new name several years ago and it is fitting because they are actually to-die-for. try them and you'll see! the new cookies i tried are sweet and salty peanut biscuits. my latest favorite cookbook author is nigella lawson and i've been wanting to try one of her cookie recipes. these cookies were really yummy and a nice not as sweet addition to the holiday cookie plate. they are light and crumbly and nigella recomends eating them with vanilla ice cream. here are the recipes...

...recipe for to-die-fors
2 sticks butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans
graham crackers
chocolate chips

Line a jelly roll pan with foil, including sides. Line the pan with graham crackers to completely cover the foil. Melt butter, sugar, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Add pecans. Pour the mixture over the graham crackers. Bake @ 350 F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and spread while hot. Place in fridge and chill. Peel the foil off and break into pieces.

Note: I cannot get graham crackers here in London so I used a shortbread type of biscuit instead. This worked fairly well, but they were a little thicker than a graham cracker. I've never tried it, but I think something like a saltine cracker or a Jacob's cream cracker would also work well too and add a little saltiness to the cookie, which I think would be good.

...recipe for sweet and salty peanut biscuits from How to Be a Domestic Goddessby nigella lawson
75g light muscavado sugar, plus more for dipping
100g butter
50g shortening
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
175g self-raising flour
125g salted peanuts

Line baking sheets with parchement paper. Preheat oven to 190 C.

In a large bowl, beat with and electric mixer, sugar, butter, shortening, egg, and vanilla. Stir in flour and then add the peanuts. Drop the dough by rounded teaspoons onto baking sheets. Lightly oil the bottom of a glass, and then dip it into some of the extra light muscavado sugar and then press gently on the biscuits to flatten them slightly.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool.



today is thanksgiving. we were supposed to be spending the day with our friends. i was in charge of bringing dessert and green bean casserole. however our girls are sick today so we didn't go. we are now spending the day hanging out at home and at the mall and have two pies, a cheesecake, and a green bean casserole to eat. i think dan and i are going to get take out from outback steakhouse tonight. this is not exactly a traditional thanksgiving, but it has been a nice low key day. the recipe i used for the green bean casserole is here. the recipe for my cheesecake is here. here are the recipes for my pies...

...apple crumb pie recipe from my mom

1 9-inch pie crust
6 or 7 granny smith apples peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
cinnamon and sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 stick butter, cut into small pieces.

Line a 9 inch pie plate with the pie crust. Mix the apples with cinnamon and sugar and place in the pie. Mix the flour and sugar together and cut in the butter until crumbly, I do this in my mixer. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the apples evenly. Bake at 400 F for about 45 minutes.

...pumpkin pie recipe from the Joy of Cooking

instead of using pumpkin for this recipe i used butternut squash because i think it has more flavor than pumpkin. i was going to give you the recipe, but i just decided that it was too long and drawn out and i don't feel like it. it is much easier to just use pumpkin out of a can, if you can get it. i couldn't find it here in london. but basically i mixed together eggs, sugar, brown sugar, squash puree, and a bunch of spices. if you want to make it from scratch i would recomend buying the joy of cooking. i did have to cook mine a whole lot longer than the recipe said to get the middle done.

...recipe for pear cardamom tarts my own creation

after rolling out the crusts for the pies i had a little bit of crust left over so i rolled them out into little tart pans. i didn't have any extra apples so i decided to experiment with pear tarts. i got the idea for the cardamom and pears from Perfect Pastryhere's what i did...

...first blind bake the tart shells for about 15 minutes. then take the foil off put back in the oven to brown for about 10 minutes. remove from the oven and brush with an egg wash and then put back in the oven for 1-2 minutes to set the egg wash. peel, core, and quarter about 3 pears. melt 1/4 cup butter in a frying pan and sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar and the seeds from about 4 cardamom pods over the butter. place pear quarters in the butter mixture round side down and cook until the sugar starts to bubble and brown. place two pear quarters in each tart shell and spoon some of the sugar mixture over the pears. put back into the oven at about 325 F for about 15 minutes. serve warm.


Cinnamon Buns

i made these this morning to take to moms and toddlers. they were really yummy! i got the recipe from one of my new nigella lawson cookbooks. they were fairly easy to make, but they did take a little bit of time to let them rise. the icing was my own addition. i melted some butter and mixed it with cream cheese and icing sugar and then spread it on the buns while they were still hot. here's the recipe...

...recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess : Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking
600 grams flour
100 grams sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
21 grams easy-blend yeast (3 sachets) or 45g fresh yeast
100 grams butter
400 milliliters milk
2 eggs

for the filling
150 grams butter, soft
150 grams sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 230 C. Line a large square tin with parchment paper.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Melt the butter and whisk it into the milk and eggs, then stir into the flour mixture. Mix to combine and then knead either by hand or by using a dough hook in a mixer until it is smooth and springy. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for about 25 minutes.

Take 1/3 of the dough and roll or stretch it to fit your tin; this will form the bottom of each bun. Roll out the rest of the dough on a lightly floured surface, aiming to get a rectangle of roughly 50 x 25 cm. Mix the filling ingredients in a small bowl and then spread the rectangle with the buttery cinnamon mixture. Try to cover it evenly. Roll it up from the longest side until you have a giant sausage. Cut the roll into 2 cm slices which should make about 20 rounds. Sit the rounds in lines on top of the dough in the tin, swirly cut side up. Brush them with the egg and then let them rise again for about 15 minutes to let them get duly puffy.

Put in the hot oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, by which time the buns will have risen and will be golden-brown in color. Remove them from the thin and leave to cool slightly on a rack. It is easy to just pick up the whole sheet of parchment and transfer them.


Jam-Doughtnut Muffins

the girls and i made these this afternoon. they were really yummy and really easy to make. here's the recipe...

...recipe from How to Be a Domestic Goddess : Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking
125 milliliters milk
85 milliliters vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
200 grams self-raising flour
100 grams castor sugar
24 teaspoons strawberry jam
100 grams butter
150 grams granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 190 C. Grease a 24 mini muffin pan.

With a fork beat together the milk, oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir this into the flour and sugar to combine. It will be lumpy. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, only filling about half way. Then put a teaspoon of jam into each muffin cup and cover with more batter, filling the muffing cup to the top.

Put in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile melt the butter in the microwave and put the sugar in a wide shallow bowl. As soon as the muffins are ready take them out of the tins and dip them in butter and then roll in the sugar. Eat warm.

Cream of Chicken and Mushroom Soup

this is one of my favourite soups. i got this recipe from my friend tonya a couple of years ago. she made it for us the summer we spent in spain as housemates. we had lots of fun that summer cooking together and swapping recipes. i always think about her everytime i make this. here's the recipe...

1/4 cup butter
6 chicken thighs
salt & pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups white wine
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup cream
2 ounces noodles

1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in dutch oven. Brown chicken 3 minutes on each side, lightly salt and pepper. Remove chicken.
2. Add mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan. Add bay leaves, stock, wine, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Let simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove chicken. When chicken is cool enough to handle, tear off bite sized pieces and add it to the soup.
3. Bring small pot of water to a boil for noodles. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a medium sauce pan and stir in flour. Cook over medium heat and stir 1 minute, then stir in cream. When it thickens gradually whisk in a couple cups of the broth and stir until it thickens. Stir this mixture back into the soup pot. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as needed.
4. When water boils, add noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain and add noodles to the soup. Simmer several more minutes, then serve.



i've been in a sushi mood lately. i made it for lunch today and i made it for lunch on saturday. it was delicious. i put in shrimp, cucumber, and cream cheese. sushi is surprisingly easy to make. if you want to learn how to do it i would recomend buying a book that tells you how to do it. it is easy to make, but hard to explain without pictures to show you each step of the way. Easy Sushi is a good book to start with.

Coffee Cake with Pecan Brittle

i made this cake at home this afternoon to as a test run for making it at the cafe. i saw the recipe in a magazine and thought it would be good for the cafe, but wanted to try it first. i think i'll make it on thursday morning when i go in. it is really delicious. here's the recipe...

...recipe from the december 2006 issue of Bbc Good Food
for the cake
225g/8oz butter, softened
225g/8oz light muscavado sugar (this is sort of like light brown sugar)
4 eggs, beaten
225g/8oz self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons instant coffee, mixed with 2Tablespoons boiling water
85g/3oz pecans, finely chopped

for the pecan brittle
100g/4oz sugar
3 Tablespoons water
75g/3oz pecans

for the coffee filling
100g/4oz natural icing sugar
1 Tablespoon instant coffee, mixed with 1Tablespoon boiling water

for the coffee icing
140g/5oz natural icing sugar
100g/4oz butter, softened
1 Tablespoon instant coffee, mixed with 1Tablespoon boiling water

1. Heat oven to 180 C. Grease and flour 2 20cm sandwich tins. Place all the cake ingredients in a mixer and beat until well blended. Divide the cake mixture between the two tins and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

2.Next make the brittle: prepare a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper on top. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and shake so it cooks evenly (don't stir or the sugar may clump). Cook until it reaches a golden coulor, then take off the heat and add the pecans. Pour the mixture evenly over the prepared baking sheet and leave to cool.

3. Make the filling: simply beat all the ingredients together until smooth. Do the same with the icing. Thickly spread the filling over one of the cakes. Place the other cake on top and, using a pallete knife, smooth the icing over the top. Finally, break the pecans into 2cm irregular pieces and place on top of the cake as decoration.


Cookie Decorating

this morning the girls and i cut out and decorated cookies. i just made a basic sugar cookie recipe. i used the recipe from nigella lawson's book Feast : Food That Celebrates Life. the girls had a great time rolling out the dough, cutting the shapes and then decorating them. they even let me do a few.

Andi's creations

Jodie's creations

Somer's creations


Cake Decorating 2

last night i had my last cake decorating class. we learned how to make roses, leaves, and ribbon. by the end of the class we all had a fully decorated cake! i was pleased with how mine turned out, considering it was my first time ever making roses. the roses didn't look all that great individually, but when they all got put together on the cake they looked much better. it just sort of all comes together in the end. hope you enjoy the pictures. the girls will certainly enjoy getting to eat it.

Baked Mushrooms Stuffed with Crabmeat Imperial

we had these for dinner last night and they were delicious. i've made them before and these mushrooms are one of my favourites. i've also made them before with small mushrooms and eaten them as an appetizer instead of the main dish. either way they are delicious. the recipe is from emeril lagasse on the food network. you can get the recipe here.



when i made the cupcakes earlier this week to decorate i decided to pur some of the batter in these individual cake molds instead of using them all to make cupcakes. so this evening i made a different dessert with them. in the microwave i melted together some dark choclate with cream and some white chocolate with cream to make two different chocolate sauces. then i took the dark chocolate sauce and spread a little bit in the middle of the plate and placed the cake on top of it. after that i poured some tia maria onto the cake gradually to let it soak in. then i spooned more dark choclate sauce over the top and then drizzled it with the white chocolate sauce. they turned out really good. dan said he would like them better with more white chocolate and less dark chocolate, so you could make them the opposite way instead; spoon the white chocolate over and then just drizzle with the dark chocolate. for the cake part the chocolate cake recipe that i always use is here

Cauliflower Cheese

tonight for dinner we had a ribeye steak and i served this cauliflower cheese with it which was really good and really rich. it is almost like eating cheese fondue with a little bit of cauliflower in it. mmm... i found this in a new cookbook i bought recently, which might be one of my new favourites. here's the recipe...

...recipe from Feast: Food to Celebrate Life by Nigella Lawson
1 large head of cauliflower
2 bay leaves
110 grams butter
2 teaspoons english mustard or dijon
50 grams flour
500 milliliters milk
275 grams strong cheddar, grated
50 grams strong cheddar, grated for sprinkling

Cut the cauliflower into small florets and and put in a saucepan with cold water and bay leaves. Sprinkle with salt. Bring to a boil, then drain and then refresh with cold water. Let the water drain in a colander. Then put the cauliflower in an even layer in an ovenproof dish.

Preheat your oven to 220 C. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and then whisk in flour and mustard, and cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk off of the heat, and then put it back on the heat and keep stirring until it becomes thick and begins to bubble.

Sprinkle in the 275 grams grated cheese and stir over heat until it has melted into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower in the dish, and scatter remaining cheese over the top. Cook for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is hot and bubbly and the cheese has browned slightly on the top.