Monday, 27 October 2008

Off to a cookware party tonight

I have been invited to a party tonight. It is for Pampered Chef cookware. I have just been browsing their website and it looks as though they sell some wonderful things. I will have to be careful and make sure I don't spend too much this evening. Apparently the consultant will use some of the products to cook something that we can all taste. I've never been to anything like this before so I'm really lookin forward it. It sounds vaguely similar to Tupperware parties that my mum used to go to. I couldn't resist the chance to go to party that is all about kitchen goodies and cookware. If nothing else it will be lovely to spend the evening with some friends.

I'm liking the look of these pretty spotty cups and bowls. There is a whole lot of stuff in this range and from the pictures on the website I think it looks lovely.

Has anyone else been to one of these parties? If so are there any products that you would recommend? I'll let you know how I get on and if I can resist the temptation to buy anything.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Molten Chocolate Babycakes

I adore chocolate couldn't imagie a world without chocolate in it. I wanted to make a chocolate dessert and as I was flicking through Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess I came across these. The picture in the book is wonderful and I wanted to dive in and eat the ones on the page. Nigella says in the book "These are the acceptable face of culinary cute: their intensity guarantees the triumph of chic over prettiness". I couldn't agree more with that statement.

These are so easy to make and if you want to then you can make up the mixture a few hours in advance. I found the most fiddly bit of this recipe was preparing the individual pudding moulds but the end result was definately worth it.

I served these up to my husband and my inlaws. They went down a storm and my father in law has requested them next time he comes for dinner. Perhaps I should pass on the recipe and he could make them himself. These really were delicious and I will definately be making them again.

This recipe makes 6 little chocolate desserts. I served mine with a little cream but I also think that some vanilla ice cream would be scrumptious with these.

The recipe:

50g soft unsalted butter plus more for greasing the moulds
350g very good dark chocolate
150g caster sugar
4 large eggs beaten with a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g plain or Italian 00 flour

You will need 6 individual pudding moulds and some baking parchment.

These need to be cooked just at the moment you are ready to eat them.

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6 and put a baking sheet in the oven. Lay 3 of the moulds on a sheet of doubled baking parchment. Draw round them and then cut out the disks. Grease the pudding moulds with unsalted butter and place a parchment disk in the base of each one.

Melt the chocolate and let it cool slightly. Cream together the butter and sugar and gradually beat in the eggs and salt, then the vanilla. Now add the flour and when it is all smoothly combined scrape in the cooled chocolate, blending it to a smooth batter.

Divide the batter between the 6 moulds. Quckly whip the baking sheet out of the oven, arrange the moulds on it and replace in the oven. Cook for 10 -12 minutes. The extra 2 minutes will be required if you made these in advance and they are cold from the fridge. As soon as you take them out of the oven, tip them out onto small plates or bowls. Serve with cream or ice cream.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Tomato and Basil Soup

Soups are very versatile and can be made using so many different ingredients. One of the great things I find about soup is that you can put a selection of ingredients into a pan with some stock, let the mixture bubble away for a little while and within no time at all you have made a delicious, flavourful, home-made soup with very little effort.

Many soups are very quick and easy to make and this is no exception. You can simply combine a few key ingredients with some herbs or spices and after a little while have a delicious bowl of soup. Some soups make ideal appetizers to a meal while others are enough to be a meal in themselves. I had this soup for my dinner along with some homemade crusty bread and it was delicious. There are light and refreshing soups that are chille and are ideal for summer dining. Then there are rich and creamy soups perfect for an autumn meal shared with family. Whichever kind of soup you choose it is well worth the effort to create your own fresh and flavourful soup in your own kitchen.

I really fancied a bowl of soup last night when I got home. I had a fridge full of tomatoes as my lovely father in law has been growing them in his greenhouse and has rather a lot. So I thought the perfect way to use some up was by making soup. This recipe is so quick and easy to do yet completely delicious.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
25g butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
900g ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
750ml vegetable stock
120ml dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomator puree
2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil plus a few whole leaves to garnish
150ml double cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil and butter in a large pan until foaming. Add the onion and cook gently for about five minutes, stirring frequently until softenened but don't allow to brown.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes and garlic then add the stock, white wine and tomato puree with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil then lower the heat. Cover the pan and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour the soup into a food processor or blender. Add the shredded basil and blend to a puree. Using a wooden spoon press the soup through a sieve into a clean pan.

Stir in the double cream to the soup and heat through. Do not allow the soup to boil. Check the consistancy and add a little more stock if it is too thick. Adjust the seaoning to your taste and then pour into bowls. Garnish with some whole basil leaves and serve with some crusty bread.