Happy 2nd Birthday Chocolate Cake and Oil Paint!

Today is my blog’s 2nd birthday!

What better way to celebrate than share with you my favourite recipes from the past two years? (Apart from eating cake, of course!)

Rainbow Cake (Feb 15, 2013) was a huge hit- delicious and beautiful! Perfect for a party.

DSCF5211 DSCF5219

Surprise Inside Cake (March 25, 2013) is another crowd pleaser. Maybe not the most highbrow cake ever baked, but sure to get a great reaction!

 DSCF5283Lambeth-20130322-00070

Blueberry Lemon Cake with Poppyseed Icing  (September 25, 2014) was also a winner. Blueberries are without a doubt my favourite fruit, and poppyseed icing is a complete revelation. This is the perfect cake for a summer day.

IMG_6513 IMG_6514

Lime Cake with Pomegranate Icing (May 15, 2014) is another lovely cake for a birthday, or even just a weekend afternoon. It’s light and fresh and zingy.

img_3429 IMG_2766

 

These Creme Egg Inspired Cupcakes (April 2, 2013) are really fun to make and even more fun to eat!

P1000899 P1000904

Raspberry Frangipane Tart  (June 12, 2014) HAS to be on this list. It is my go-to dessert for any occasion. So simple to make and perfect every time! It can also be given a Christmassy twist- as I did only a few a weeks ago with this cranberry version.

IMG_7344 IMG_3880

Apple pie is of course a classic, and these Mini Apple Pies (October 14, 2014) are a wonderful new twist on an old favourite.

IMG_6594

 Foccacia (November 3, 2013) is the perfect bread for a cold winter lunch.

 IMG_1409IMG_1406

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf (October 12, 2013) was and still is the best thing ever. Seriously, ask anyone who tried it.

IMG_1336 IMG_1348

Cinnamon Spiced Courrone (January 17, 2014) is basically a giant cinnamon roll. What’s not to love?!

IMG_2328 IMG_2331

It’s all about blueberries for breakfast. Pancakes, buckle, on their own…

IMG_6144 IMG_5814 IMG_3347 IMG_3377

Chocolate Fondants (July 16, 2014), need I say more?

IMG_5030 IMG_5023

 

I love Sugar Cookies (December 6, 2014) for any occasion- but especially Christmas. Try making  hearts for Valentine’s Day or eggs and bunnies for Easter if you just can’t wait that long (I can’t)!

IMG_7147 IMG_7146

Mexican food is my all time favourite. This Mexican feast (July 29, 2013) is honestly the best in vegetarian Mexican.

IMG_0357 IMG_0342 IMG_0348 IMG_0350

BBQ Pizzas (July 7, 2013) are the perfect summer supper. You have to try them. It will change your outlook on pizza forever.

untitled11 untitled15

Thank you all so much for baking with me for the last two years, and continuing to do so!

All my love,

xxR

 

Vegan Feast: Quinoa with Roasted Tomatoes and Aubergine

This is the final instalment in my vegan feast.

IMG_7712

This was adapted from a couscous salad I had a few times over the summer, but quinoa is much better for you, especially if you are tying to cut back on gluten!

IMG_7709

It’s (again) very simple and very delicious!

IMG_7732

Quinoa with Roasted Tomatoes and Aubergine

1/2 an aubergine

1 punnet of cherry tomatoes

2 teaspoons of soft brown sugar

about 1 cup of quinoa

1/2 a veggie stock cube

handful of mint leaves

olive oil

salt and pepper

Cut the aubergine into small chunks, coat with olive oil and roast for about half an hour in a 180 degree oven. It should be soft and slightly brown around the edges.

Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange, cut side up, in a roasting dish. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, and sprinkle the sugar on top. (The sugar is optional, so if you are trying to reduce your sugar intake, you don’t need to use it, but it makes the tomatoes slightly caramelised and crispy on the top which is really delicious!) Roast for about 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are bubbling and the skin is blistering.

Put the quinoa in a saucepan with about double the amount of boiling water and the stock cube. I never really follow the instructions on the packet for cooking quinoa because I think it always asks for too much water and becomes a bit porridgy. Instead, just keep an eye on it. If the water runs out and it’s still hard, add more. Of course this is up to you, but I like my quinoa with a tiny bit of bite still, so am always keen to avoid over cooking. I always add half a stock cube to give my quinoa a bit of flavour, but again, if you have another method that you prefer, do that!

When the quinoa is cooked, put it into a bowl and fluff it up with a fork. Add the aubergine and tomatoes. Finely chop the mint and add that too. Drizzle it with olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper and enjoy!

IMG_7711

xxR

Vegan Feast: Pesto and Butterbean Salad

Pulses are one of my favourite foods- I eat beans or lentils nearly every day!

IMG_7697 IMG_7722

This is a really simple way of jazzing up butter beans. It’s great on its own, or as a side, or part of a selection. This salad serves two (or one as the main course), but it’s very easy to scale it up or down if you want to feed more- just add another tin of butter beans and increase the quantities of everything else!

IMG_7692

Pesto and Butterbean Salad

For the pesto:

1 big bunch of basil leaves

2 cloves of garlic

about 2 tablespoons of olive oil

handful of pine nuts

salt and pepper

This is very simple- it’s just a case of throwing all the ingredients into a food processor and whizzing them up until it resembles a fine paste. Keep tasting it- if you think it needs more garlic/ salt/ pepper add it!

For the salad:

1 tin or carton of butter beans

about half a bag of rocket

handful of sunflower seeds

Once the pesto is done and tastes right, fry the butter beans in the pesto until all the beans are coated and warmed through. They should also start to go slightly crispy on the outside.

Put them in a bowl with the rocket.

Gently toast the pumpkin seeds in a frying pan for a few minutes until they start to darken slightly. Be careful not to burn them, they should just be slightly darker than normal.

Toss them into the salad and give it all a good mix.

IMG_7697

xxR

Vegan Feast: Kale Salad

This salad is the simplest thing ever. It’s literally two ingredients- and then some salt and pepper.

IMG_7698

Raw kale might sound unappealing, but trust me, this is good. The lemon juice starts to break down the kale, so it becomes softer and easier to eat. My mum makes this all the time for lunch. It’s an absolute staple in our house and I love it!

IMG_7722

Kale Salad

1 large bowl of kale, finely chopped

juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

good pinch of salt and pepper

toasted pumpkin seeds, optional

Make sure that all the hard, stem parts of the kale are cut off- those are really gross to eat.

In a jar or small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Then drizzle over the kale. Sprinkle in the pumpkin seeds if you’re using them, and toss.

IMG_7700

xxR

Vegan Feast: Sweet Potato, Lentil and Mint Salad

Sweet potatoes are the ultimate food. They are so easy to cook- you just throw them in the oven- and they always taste delicious.

  IMG_7732IMG_7703

This salad combines sweet potatoes with brown lentils and lots of fresh mint. Let me assure you- this combination is a winner. And very very simple.

IMG_7730

Sweet Potato, Lentil and Mint Salad 

250ml dried green, brown or Puy lentils- your choice!

1 litre boiling water

1/2 veggie stock cube

3 large sweet potatoes

handful of mint leaves, finely chopped

salt and pepper

Roast the sweet potatoes at 180 degrees for around 30 minutes, or until they are really soft.

Boil the lentils in the water with the stock cube for about 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils have gone a bit tender but not too soft and mushy. Rinse under cold water and set to one side.

When the potatoes are cool, you can really easily peel off the skin. Chop the potatoes into chunks. I left mine quite big, but it’s up to you.

Mix the lentils and sweet potatoes together, then add the mint leaves and a good pinch of salt and pepper.

IMG_7725

xxR

Vegan Feast: Houmous

Homemade houmous is probably one of life’s best kept secrets. I feel like no one does it, but it’s so good! Endlessly satisfying, very cheap, super easy and simply delicious. It’s also very good for you- tahini is really good for your skin, it’s full of calcium and loads of other minerals, and homemade houmous doesn’t have all the weird additives that are often lurking in shop bought food.

IMG_7690 IMG_7686

It’s definitely better than the shop bought equivalent, and making it yourself allows you play around with the flavours. This is a pretty basic version. All you’ll need is….

IMG_7682

Houmous

1 can of chickpeas

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

3 cloves of garlic

small handful of basil leaves

good pinch of salt and pepper

Put the chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor and whiz it up until it has formed a smoothish paste. Then taste it- if it needs more garlic or lemon (or anything else- you can get pretty creative here) add it.

Add in the basil leaves and salt and pepper and give it another quick whiz. Put it into a bowl, drizzle with a little more olive oil and decorate with a few chopped basil leaves. Easy!

xxR

Vegan Feast: Baguettes

A lot of my nearest and dearest have recently become vegan- my littlest sister made the change from straightforward veggie to dairy free a few weeks ago, and one of my good friends is also making the transition.

Personally, I’m thinking about creeping that way too. Almost a year ago I stopped drinking cow’s milk in favour of the almond variety, and I’m eating less and less dairy in other guises too. The meals I eat tend to be vegan- it’s just the baking that lets me down!

IMG_7729

Last night my newly vegan friend and another friend came to dinner, so I cooked up a feast of all my favourite vegan dishes. My diet tends to be very based around salads- so these are also some of my personal favourite things to eat anyway!

IMG_7721

I think vegan food can be as exciting and delicious as non-vegan, however there is still such a stigma around it that it’s boring or hard to cook or whatever. Well that, my friend, is completely wrong. Vegan food, when done well, is totally delicious- and really good for you!

This feast consisted of:

butterbean and pesto salad

sweet potato, lentil and mint salad

kale salad

quinoa with roasted tomatoes and aubergine

homemade houmous

and freshly baked baguettes…

IMG_1972

As you may know, my new thing is bread, so I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to fire up my oven and bake a few loaves! Okay, so I admit- baguettes are not really good for you. But you’re of course allowed to have a little bit of slippage…

Baguettes 

makes two good sized loaves

200g strong white flour

50g wholemeal flour

5g salt

5g fast action yeast

30ml olive oil

180ml water

Begin by weighing your flour and placing it into a large bowl. Add the salt, yeas, olive oil and most of the water and mix together to form a dough. You can do this in a machine or by hand.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, then cover and leave to rise for an hour to an hour and a half.

Once it has risen, tip the dough out only a lightly floured surface. Knock the air out of it, divide into two and roll each into a baguette shape. Put them onto a greased baking tray and leave to rise again until doubled in size- about 40 minutes to an hour.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Put a roasting tray full of water in the bottom of the oven- this will create steam which will give the baguette a nice crunchy crust. Right before you put them in, slash the top of each baguette three times at a slight diagonal to help it rise.

Bake the baguettes for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to 200 degrees and cook for 10 more minutes. Enjoy straight from the oven with lashings of homemade houmous (coming tomorrow…)

IMG_7719

xxR

Tea Cupcakes with Honey Buttercream

These cakes are the bees knees.

IMG_7634 IMG_7627

A small, perfectly formed tea infused cupcake, topped with the most deliciously decadent honey flavoured buttercream. They are a tiny amount of spring in this otherwise very wintery, mid-January landscape. This week has been so sunny that it’s really started to feel like spring. My flat has south facing french doors, so the sun really beams in, giving me an illusion that it’s warmer outside than it actually is! Always a bit of a shock when I finally step outside and realise that the ground is covered with a thick layer of frost…

IMG_7628

They are basically an afternoon tea, all in one bite, and topped with dried petals, just to prolong the illusion of spring even more!

I got these rose and cornflower petals for Christmas. They’re from a company called Steenbergs which sells organic teas, spices and dried petals! Everything is organic, and most things are fair-trade and ethically sourced, so definitely a good thing to check out!

IMG_7625 IMG_7624

Sometimes going back to school or work after Christmas is a little painful, but I’m actually very happy to be back. I’m excited to get back in the kitchen, and start cooking up more weird and wonderful (hopefully less weird than wonderful!) treats. And I’m excited to get back to uni, even though I’m really just faced with a mountain of reading and essay writing!

IMG_7622_2

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, these cakes are the perfect accompaniment. Trust me!

IMG_7637

Tea Cupcakes with Honey Buttercream

For the cupcakes:

235ml milk

3 normal tea bags

55g butter

225g sugar

2 eggs

60ml vegetable oil (I used rapeseed, which is my new favourite thing- much healthier than olive oil, but not weird and processed like most of the vegetable oils out there. But any veg oil would be fine!)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

175g self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Begin by warming the milk in a saucepan to nearly boiling- but don’t burn it because burnt milk is absolutely horrible! Cut the teabags and pour the tealeaves directly into the milk, then allow to infuse and cool.

Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs. Mix in the vegetable oil and vanilla. Gradually add in the flour and baking powder.

Strain the tea leaves out of the milk. (I did this by pouring the milk back through the teabags because the holes on my sieve were too big). Then add the milk to the flour mixture.

Spoon into cupcake cases and bake for about 20 minutes.

For the buttercream:

125g butter

250g icing sugar

3 teaspoons honey (or more)

Whisk the butter and icing sugar, then add the honey. I used three teaspoons, but do this to taste. I didn’t want it to be too sweet and sickly, but it’s up to you! This is also a good excuse to stick your finger in the icing…

IMG_7616_2

Spread the icing on each cupcake, and decorate as you wish. Devour immediately with a big cup of tea.

IMG_7620_2 IMG_7618_2

xxR

Pesto Twist Bread

I’m turning over a new loaf.

(Sorry…)

IMG_7599  IMG_7607

This year, I want to bake more bread- starting now. This is the first step in my 2015 exploration into bread.

Actually- that’s a lie- I baked this exact same bread last weekend. But there were all kinds of issues: overproved (I think?!), not enough salt… I baked it not in a tin, so it was kind of just like some weird flat thing. Not good.

IMG_7596

This is attempt number two. I’ve made some pretty serious changes, and now it’s amazing (if I do say so myself!) It’s the perfect lunchtime bread, to eat with cheese. Think savoury cinnamon roll (that kinda texture- sort bread which almost flakes apart in pesto-y layers). You’re left with a beautiful greyish swirl inside the bread, as well as the most impressive looking top anyone’s every seen. Pesto, bread and cheese, what could be better?

IMG_7592_2

Please join me in ushering in the new year (albeit about two weeks late)!

Pesto Twist Bread

IMG_7601_2

For the pesto:

1 small clove of garlic

pinch of sea salt

pinch of pepper

about 3 handfuls of basil

1 handful of pine nuts

1 tablespoon olive oil

Pulse together all the ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped and mixed together, and pesto consistency!

For the bread:

200g wholegrain bread flour

50g white flour

1 teaspoon quick dried yeast

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons caster sugar

2 teaspoons butter

Put both flours, the yeast, salt, sugar and butter into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in about 150ml warm water- not too hot, just hand warm. Begin mixing until it starts to come together into a dough. Add more water if necessary. It should be soft but not too wet.

Once it has formed a ball, knead on a lightly floured surface for at least 10 minutes. The longer the better, I always think! Leave the dough to rise in an oiled bowl for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the it has doubled in size.

Once it has risen, turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll it out to a rectangle- it should be about 1 cm thick. Spread a thick layer of pesto over the dough, then roll it up like a sausage.

IMG_7543

Cut the dough sausage in half lengthways to expose the pesto inside, then twist the two strands together. Have the exposed pesto facing the top. Lightly oil a loaf tin, then lay the twist in the tin. You’ll probably need to wrap it around a bit, but just sort of shove it in- rustic is good!

IMG_7583

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees, then, right before putting the bread in, fill a roasting tray with water and put it in the bottom of the oven to create steam. This will give the bread a crunchy crust. Turn the oven down to 200 degrees, put the loaf in and bake for about 30 minutes. When it’s cooked, it should be slightly brown on top, and make a hollow sound when the bottom is tapped.

IMG_7585

Enjoy straight from the oven!

xxR