Tag Archives: eat

Make: Blinis


With only one to go until pancake day I was chastising my food and lifestyle blogging self for not having marked the occasion. Forget christmas, pancake day is the big one, and having injudiciously missed the boat on national Nutella day last week I was anxious to meet this brief, yet completely without inspiration. That is until I visited leicester wholefoods co-op at the weekend.

If you are Leicester based and have not visited this delightful treasure trove of wholesome delights drop everything and go, go now! It’s an inspiring place. I was accompanying C who was picking up ingredients for work and I had promised myself I would just window shop, but it wasn’t to be. £20.00 later I was armed with Buckwheat flour, coconut palm sugar, agar, dried shitake mushrooms, Liquorice yogi tea and I even threw in some physilium husk (A key ingredient in the life changing loaf of bread) for good measure.

So, lets talk about buckwheat for a minute, the name is misleading as it’s not a grain, rather a pseudocerial or seed more closely related to sorrel and rhubarb than wheat, It’s high in nutrients and a great source of protein. Buckwheat is often to be found lining the shelves of the supermarkets in groat format though it’s not often I see buckwheat flour and I don’t recall ever having baked or cooked with it so I seized the opportunity, buckwheat was exactly what I needed for my pancake recipe of choice this year.

Now onto Blinis, This humble yeasted pancake hails from Russia, traditionally made with buckwheat flour and served to mark the beginning of lent. These delicate, cloud like morsels offer a sophisticated bite sized pancake that can hold up a multitude of toppings. The addition of yeast does keen you need to be a little patient, but the end results are well worth it!

blini making

Buckwheat blinis- you will need:

  • 125ml milk
  • 40g plain flour
  • 30g buckwheat flour
  • 2.5g fast action dried yeast
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 egg whites

This recipe makes 35-40 canapé size blini, I made mine a little larger, around 5cm diameter with  yield of 20

  1. Gently warm the milk to blood temp and mix in the yeast and 15g of the plain flour. Cover and set aside in a warm place for two hours*
  2. Mix in the remaining flours, the yolks and salt. Cover and leave for a further 1/2 hour.
  3. Whip the whites to stiff peaks and fold into the mix.
  4. lightly oil a frying pan and on a medium high heat fry the blinis in batches and watch as the batter bubbles up delightfully. Flip the pancakes halfway through so they are an even golden colour on both sides.

*If you have a dehydrator you can cut the time down by setting the dehydrator to 30°C and warming the milk mix through for just one hour, rather than two.

blinis 1

Now time to get creative, lets talk about toppings…..

I’ve gone down the savoury route here, blinis have a great affinity with smoked fish so I couldn’t deny them a little smoked salmon and cream cheese. I also opted for semi dried tomatoes, avocado and Sirancha, and red pepper pesto, cherry tomato and and olive.

Sweet works a treat here too, I suggest any of your favourite pancake toppings, e.g. honey and blueberry, maple and banana or Nutella and orange, anything goes!

Happy pancake day to all!

creative toppings

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Looking Back: 2015

Happy new year to all! As we head into 2016 we thought we would have a little look back at all the Make, Do and spend activities over the last year…..

sharpen pencils


Getting Organised

blood orange and pistachio cakes


Blood orange, almond and Pistachio Cakes and Rhubarb Rum

b outfit 2


The Big Clothes swap  & an exclusive interview with Richard III on the day of his burial



A guest Post from our Friend Holly Loves Cake & Those Doughnuts 



Bluebell Woods

elderflower sugar 1


Elderflower Sugar & Mango Frozen Yoghurt 



B & E do Italy, plus Jam Tarts  & Macarons

watermelon cake 5


Watermelon Cake



B Visited Copenhagen, E made Elderberry Vodka



Pumpkin & Spice Sugar Buns


What November?!

grown up hot chocolate


Amaretto Hot Chocolate

All best wishes for 2016!

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Bake: Blood orange, almond and pistachio cakes


As much as I love living in Leicester I’m often a little envious when I see London based bloggers nabbing all the rare and exotic produce. I know the world is a small place now and most ingredients are only a click of a mouse away but today I’m talking about the fresh stuff, the ingredients that won’t fit through your letterbox and that deserve to be selected and packed into a brown paper bag by your own fair hand. This leads me to the blood orange, I’ve been reeling at the torturous sight of all the blood oranges popping up on Instagram lately. From Holly’s beautiful blood orange, bitter chocolate and honey cupcakes to Ed Kimber’s Jaffa cakes there’s been some inspirational baking happening and i’ve been dying to sniff out some of these little tinkers for myself. With the season coming to an end I had almost given up hope, that is until C and I went out to dinner at Carluccios last week.

C spotted them first, I was so distracted by the multi coloured pasta selection I had neglected to check out the window display. Nestled amongst the usual meringues, biscuits and chocolate tarts sat a crate full of Sicilian Moro blood oranges just waiting to be snaffled. They are a lot smaller than your average orange with a red tinge to the skin and crimson red flesh. At 50p a pop they are slightly pricier, but they do have quite a bit more to offer, aside from being the most beautiful orange you could ever hope to cut into they are higher in antioxidants and superior in flavour. The first thing I did was squeeze one and drink it fresh. Amazing. Next job was to deliberate over what I could make with them, a tough decision which took quite some time with so many ideas and only 6 little fruits to play with. Sunday lunch was in the making so I eventually plumped for cake. Not just any old cake, something puddingy and indulgent for a sunday afternoon. This recipe only uses two blood oranges so I had enough left over to make a sorbet toO.

This makes 4 generous cakes or alternatively the recipe will work in an 18cm tin, just increase the bake time to 45-50 minutes. DSC00815

You will need:

  • 4 dariole moulds
  • 100g unsalted butter plus extra to grease the moulds
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g pistachios
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 blood oranges

Pre- heat the oven to 145ºC prepare the tins by melting a little butter and painting it into the inside of the mould. Zest one of the blood oranges and reserve. Thinly slice the other blood orange so you have 4 perfect cross sections, flick out and discard any seeds. Place the slices into the base of the moulds. Juice the remaining blood oranges and distribute the juice between the moulds.

Lightly chop the pistachios and toast in the oven for 5-8 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool.

Cream together the butter, sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy. Whilst this is happening weigh the almonds, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and keep close to hand. Break the eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork until well mixed. Slowly add 1/3 of the egg into the butter and sugar mix and beat well to incorporate, then add a spoonful of the almond mix. Continue to add the egg and almonds in alterations until all incorporated. Divide the mixture between the 4 moulds and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inverted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

These cakes are best served warm, once they are cool enough to handle run a knife around the outside of the cake to loosen then invert onto a plate, sprinkle with a little ground pistachio (I ground mine in a coffee grinder- a new toy, massive excitement!)

blood orange and pistachio cakesblood orange pistachio cakes

So exotic Leicester wins again and I think I’ve ticked off all my winter food wishes this season. I’m ready for spring now, bring on the rhubarb…

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Bake: Passion fruit meringue pie

passionfruit meringue pie

I’m really into hibernating right now. Maybe it’s the miserable weather, or maybe a few monstrously busy weeks at work is taking its toll. Either way when the weekend hits i’ve been trying not to leave the house unless absolutely necessary. This has lead to plenty of making and baking. Weekend baking is certainly one of my favourite pastimes and if it involves sweet things then all the better. I got a little carried away with my passion fruit curd making and found myself with a little left over. This recipe makes 4 small individual tarts, I used four 8cm tins but this recipe would also work in a larger 15cm round cake tin. The good news is that they freeze, so if you’re planning a meal for two you can pop the other two finished desserts into the freezer for a later date.

They look pretty fancy too, here’s what you will need…..

For the Pastry:

  • 120g plain flour
  • 60g butter
  • 40g cater sugar
  • 1 egg yolk

For the filling:

1 jar of passion fruit curd

For the Itallian meringue topping:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 120g caster sugar
  • roughly 60 ml water
  • a sugar thermometer

lining pastry cases

Begin by making the pastry. Using a handheld mixer or Kitchen aid with beater attachment cream together the butter and sugar until smooth, pale and the grain of the sugar is no longer visible. Add the egg yolk and blend to a smooth light batter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl during mixing if necessary. Add the flour, mix briefly so the mix comes together to a light smooth dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 25-30 minutes to relax. in the meantime pre-heat your oven to 160°C ready to blind bake the pastry

Once the pastry is cool roll the pastry out and line the tins. I like to roll my pastry out to a thickness of around 3mm, line the tins and cut off the excess pastry. Place some silicone paper into the lined tins then pour in baking beans to fill the tart cases. You need enough beans to fill the entire case so the pastry is held in place, this will prevent the pastry from shrinking. For little tarts I like to use paper cupcake cases to line the tin, I use dried chickpeas rather than ceramic baking beans, they are a little cheaper and work just as well, you can re-use them quite a few times also.

Bake the little cases for 25-30 minutes until they are a light golden brown in colour then allow to cool completely before removing the beans.

If you have any pastry left over pop it in the freezer and it will keep for up to 3 months.

kithcen aid

For the Italian meringue begin by placing the sugar into a saucepan then slowly pour in the water so the sugar is just covered. Place the thermometer into the pan and heat the sugar so it comes to a rolling boil. Meanwhile separate the eggs, place the whites into the bowl of an electric mixer or into a mixing bowl with a hand held mixer. The yolks can be kept in the fridge for up to 2-3 days, depending on the age of the egg. Save them to make a creme brûlée or custard based pudding at a later date. Whisk the egg whites to a soft peak whilst the sugar comes up to temperature. Heat the sugar to a temperature of 116-118°C – soft ball. Re-whisk the egg whites, this time to a stiff peak, slowly pour the sugar mixture in a steady stream down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture. Once all the sugar is added continue to whip the mixture until it is cool. The meringue should be a soft, billowy marshmallow consistency.

Set the meringue aside whilst assembling the tarts.

filling the cases

Spoon the passion fruit curd into the pastry cases so they are around 3/4 full. Pipe or spoon over the meringue mixture so the passionfruit curd is completely covered. Toast the meringue with a blow torch or under a hot grill for a couple of minutes, allow to cool and the pies are ready to serve.

passion fruit meringue pieeat pie

What have you been baking recently?

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Make: Sour Cherry & Apple Bircher Muesli

bircher museli prep

I am by no means a morning person, rather than bouncing out of bed awake and alert I prefer to snatch a few more precious moments of sleep snuggled deeply beneath a cozy duvet. My alarm is always on snooze and usually wakes everybody else in the house up before me. Ive taken this aproch to mornings for as long as I can remember and  it invariably means I skip breakfast, particularly in the winter on dark frosty mornings. Yes, I know this is very naughty but on days where the choice is being late for work versus skipping breakfast I always choose the latter (And usually wind up a few minutes late for work anyway!) So in a bid to look after myself I thought breakfast on the go would be a wise decision. 

This overnight oats recipe is great for a portable breakfast and it can be prepared the night before (Leading to a bonus extra 2 mins in bed as a reward for being so organised!) Then grabbed quickly from the fridge before running to the car the following morning. I made up a batch in jam jars for easy transportation too.

Ingredients for 1 jam jar:

  • 1 apple, cut ito halves and one half grated
  • 75g rolled oats
  • 150ml pressed apple juice/pinapple juice/apple and mango juice
  • 50g of dried fruit, I use sour cherries but sultanas and raisins work well too

……and to finish you will need:

  • The other half of the above apple
  • a sprinkling of toasted nuts
  • a drizzle of honey
  • a spoonful of greek yoghurt

The night before combine the grated apple, oats, fruit juice and dried fruit in a jam jar, stir well to combine then pop the lid back on the jam jar and place in the fridge overnight. The oats and cherries will soak up all the fruit juice resulting in a fruity porridge-esque breakfast ready to go for the next day. Place the honey and yoghurt together in a separate pot and refrigerate overnight alongside the oat mixture. I also like to prepare my nuts the eve before and leave them on the kitchen side, all ready to go.

The following morning choose either of the following options, whichever is most suited to you

  1. Awake a minute or two before your alarm is set to go off. Tiptoe downstairs so as not to wake the rest of the household, make a nice cup of tea and remove bircher Muesli from the fridge. Neatly slice the remaining half of the apple and add this along with the nuts, honey and yoghurt to the top of the oat mix then sit calmly on the sofa doing something constructive like reading a good book or watching the morning news, safe in the knowledge you have plenty of time to prepare for the day ahead (How I wish my mornings started)
  2. Awake 20/30 minutes after your alarm goes off, usually with a cat sitting on my head or a vigorous shake from C telling me i’ve woken everybody else up by sleeping through my alarm and it’s really time to get up now. Stumble downstairs to make a cup of tea, which I probably won’t have time to drink, shower and get dressed (Clothes I also prepare the night before to avoid that just thrown on look) grab bircher muesli and run to the car, drive swiftly (but safely) to work, realise that despite my bed best efforts (yes I’m still wishing I was back in bed) I have forgotten the honey yoghurt and nuts diligently prepared the previous evening (no worries here, breakfast will still taste good) eat breakfast at the desk with a few disapproving looks from more organised/motivated colleagues. (how my morning actually starts)

Are you a morning person? 

bircher mueslibreakfast to go

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