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24 Feb 2011

Spicy Cheese Scones

For the past week I have had an intense craving for warm cheese scones.  I'm sure you're all aware that there isn't much worse in life than a bland supermarket scone, so there was only one option. Get my tush in the kitchen and bake my own.  


Luckily I'd just been up to my favorite farm shop for a big slab of delicious and extra strong Snowdonia Little Black Bomber cheese. Oh I do love a strong cheese.  I often mourn the loss of the olde stylee dairy they used to run at Beamish. They did a cheese so strong it could pull the gums over your teeth, sigh.


 The best thing about this recipe is it contains no butter which I'm quite sure means they're good for you...right?  So, if you want delicious and light scones in a hurry, this is for you!


Spicy Cheese Scones

Ingredients:

250g self raising flour
3tsp baking powder
large pinch salt
sprinkle of cayenne pepper/chilli powder (optional but recommended)
200g strong cheddar cheese, grated
3tsp vegetable oil
125 ml milk (maybe a bit more depending on how it mixes)
1 large, free range egg

Method:
 
Preheat oven to 180C and grease a large baking tray.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper into a large bowl. Add the cheese and mix through the flour mixture. 

Beat the egg and milk together in a separate bowl and add the oil. The oil replaces the butter/margarine that usually gets used to rub into the flour. By using the oil you cut down on the dreaded calories and it saves a lot of time. 

Pour the milk/egg/oil mixture into the flour mixture and using a metal spoon / fork, mix the dough until it clumps together, but is not too dry. If too dry, splash a bit more milk in to use up the flour. 

Press the dough out on a flat clean floured surface until it is about 5mm thick, then fold it over ontop of itself (this gives the finished scones the natural "break" to cut open), flatten it again, using the palm of your hand. Do not use a rolling pin as it is too heavy and will prevent the scones from rising. 

Cut out your scones out by using a round cutter (you decide on the size) or if you don't have a cutter handy use a drinking glass. Place them on a baking tray and brush them with a little milk, pop them in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Serve, still warm, with lashings of butter, cheese, jams and honey.

18 Feb 2011

Afternoon Tea: Betty's Tea Room

After my delivery boy upped sticks and moved to sunny Barcelona my intake of delicious treats from the famous tea room Betty's has declined dramatically.  Now I have to wait for Kris to be in a driving mood before I beg for a day out in Harrogate or York.  Luckily for me Kris felt guilty about leaving me home alone for a lads night out and I saw my chance.  This time, I had Northallerton in my sights for a spot of charity shopping and of course, Afternoon Tea at Betty's.
 























The savory selection at Betty's is one of my very favorites, the beetroot and goats cheese sandwich is just amazing! Unfortunately, the cakes don't quite meet the same standard as the sandwiches and scones but who cares when you have lashings of caramalised onion chutney and smoked chicken, yum!

Of course, no trip to Betty's would be complete without a visit to the shop. Sadly this branch didn't stock macarons so I had to make do with a selection of adorable treats including my very favorite, marzipan cauliflower.




I think Northallerton Betty's is my favorite of the group. Located in a beautiful building with stunning skylights allowing the sunshine to stream in while you're enjoying a steaming cup of earl grey.  If you haven't been, please go soon, I beg of you!  Pick me up a box of violet and rose creams while you're there ;)

Where is your favorite place for Afternoon Tea?



15 Feb 2011

Be My Valentine

Valentines Day isn't really a big deal to us.  Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the sentiment and quite frankly found myself annoyed at all of the 'urgh, screw valentines, be nice 365 days a year not just one' messages spewed all over the Internet.  I just feel that Valentines day is probably more poignant for couples new to the world, those who grasp any and every opportunity to show the world how much they care for each other, and I think that's sweet.  To me, Valentines day is just an excuse to make a fancier than usual dinner, so that's exactly what I did!


We started with a goats cheese and roasted red pepper tower with pesto reduced olive oil and balsamic glaze.


Followed by pan fried fillet steak served on creamed peas with pommes Anna.  Served rare, of course.


Completed by a pretty cliched, but delicious chocolate fondant with warmed raspberries and vanilla cream.

**************

 As Kris was working at the studio most of yesterday we decided to take a little trip out to The Side Gallery to see a very moving photographic exhibition detailing life in a Polish ghetto during the Holocaust, very sad but I highly recommend going to see it. We then jaunted across the bridge to The Baltic to make up for me spending the majority of yesterday home alone.  Unfortunately for us, most of the floors were closed for exhibit changeover, reopening on Friday.  Good job the shop is always entertaining.



I'm always a little obsessed with the mottled mirrored ceilings in the foyer.


Just as I am with the rusted walls outside. Kinda want to lick them.... is that wrong?


But I have to admit, my favorite part of Valentines day was when my true love came home from work with a stunning Mulberry Oversized Alexa just for me! He's a keeper!


I hope you all had a wonderful Valentines Day spent with the people you love most, be it your other half, your family, best friends or even your faithful kitty cats.  I know I did! 

13 Feb 2011

Cookies and Cream Brownies

Everybody loves brownies, everybody loves Oreo cookies so when I saw Lorraine Pascale put the two together in her current show Baking Made Easy I just had to give it a go! 


I'm not a fan of those weeny small brownies, I just don't see the point of baking in a 8" square pan when you can use something bigger and reap more chocolatey goodness from your efforts.  So girls, ignore those piddly square pan recipes and have a go at my fool proof, add anything you desire and bake it in a big pan brownies!



Katies Cookies and Cream Brownies

Ingredients:

250g good quality plain chocolate (70% solids are best)
250g butter
350g caster sugar
5 large free range eggs
150g plain flour
4 packs of mini oreo cookies or 1 pack of regular sized cookies roughly broken

Method:

Preheat the oven to 175C and line a 13" by 9" brownie pan with baking paper or do what I do and use a disposable foil tray!

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large saucepan over a low heat, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture catching.  Once the mixture is fully combined and smooth take the pan off the heat and add the sugar, mixing with a large balloon whisk.  Once sugar is combined whisk the eggs together in a large bowl and add to the brownie mixture, mixing till smooth.  Add the flour and a third of the pack of cookies (or 2 packs of the minis) stirring till combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and crumble the remaining cookies over the top. No need to crumble if using the minis, just sprinkle them evenly, pressing them in slightly.

Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 35 minutes. The top should be papery and cracked where the middle should be delightfully gooey!  Leave to cool before cutting and arranging the brownies on your favorite cake stand and dusting with a blanket of icing sugar.

Serve with a mug of steaming tea and enjoy!



11 Feb 2011

Glitter Jam Cookies


 Those of you who follow me on twitter will probably remember my excited tweets about this awesome product I discovered while in London.  I was browsing the Harrods food hall, oohing and ahhing at every little mouthwatering morsel I came across when something stopped me in my tracks.  Harrods limited edition glittery jam!  What can I say, this jam is pure and indulgent genius!  I never would have thought to create something so decedent in a million years, I just had to have some.  I would have bought the whole selection of flavours if it hadn't have been priced at £9.95 per jar.  After a while I decided that £20 was quite enough to be spending on glamorous preserves and left with two jars flavoured with Strawberry and Rose.


I've been waiting for the perfect time to use these beautiful jams.  Time after time I've had to beat Kris' hands away from the jar at breakfast time. Something this lovely simply can not be used for something so mediocre as spreading on your toast!  So, what better time to break them open than valentines?



Jammy Dodger Cookies

Ingredients:
425 g plain flour
75 g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest, from 1 large lemon
4 egg yolks
325 g butter, softened
raspberry or strawberry jam 
icing sugar, for dusting 

Method:
Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
 
Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest, egg yolks and butter. Mix with an electric food mixer or a wooden spoon until it comes together as a dough. Remove from the bowl and flatten with a rolling pin or the palm of your hand to about 2cm (3/4in) thick. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
 
Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out to about 1/4in thick.
 
Using a 6cm plain biscuit cutter, cut the dough into discs. Or, if you're feeling saucy you could use any old cookie cutter you have to hand, hearts, stars, flowers or even teacups!  Whatever your heart desires :)
 
Take half the discs, and using either a cutter smaller than the one you just used, cut holes from the centre. Bring the scraps together and roll out to make more shapes, and cut holes in the centre of these. You should end up with about 35 whole cookies and 35 cookies with the centres cut out.
 
Place the discs on baking trays (you will need a few baking trays) and bake for 8-10 minutes until pale golden. Allow to stand for a few minutes, then remove from the trays and transfer to wire racks to cool.
 
When the cookies are cool, spread 1tsp of jam on the bottom half and sandwich together with the top section.
Dust with icing sugar and serve with a pot of your favorite tea. 

1 Feb 2011

The Love Collection - Giveaway

It's that time of year again! February 14th is creeping ever closer and the panic of Valentines Day is almost upon us.  So girls and boys, forget that horribly cliched box of milk tray and those half dead pansies from the garage and get your sights set on these bad boys from the wonderful Hotel Chocolat.


Normally I'm not much of a chocolate lover, every birthday and Christmas I always find myself faking appreciation for a boring old box of Thorntons while taking care not to damage the packaging so I can give them to someone else.  This can never be said about Hotel Chocolat, no sir! The imaginative variety of flavours just knocks my socks off time and time again, and the Love Collection certainly doesn't disappoint.  With flavours like Bakewell Tart, Banana Split and Blueberry Truffle I challenge you not to devour the entire box in one sitting. 


If you'd like to be for a chance to win your very own box of Love Collection chocolates then today's your lucky day!  Just follow the instructions and keep your tootsies crossed.

  • First of all, you must be a follower of Katiecakes.
  • Leave a comment on this post telling me whether you'd gift these chocolates upon your loved ones or just eat them all to yourself. I won't judge!
  • Post a link to this competition on Twitter and leave another comment telling me you've done this.
  • Post another link on your Facebook, blog or website and again, tell me you've done this in a comment for another entry!
  •  
    The competition closes on Sunday 6th Feb at 12pm and the winner announced later that evening.

    Good luck and don't forget to check out the range of Valentines gifts available on the Hotel Chocolat website :)

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