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Pimped-Up Cheese Straws

Pimped-Up Cheese and Bacon Straws - perfect served warm with a frosty drink

Pimped-Up Cheese Straws

I love a cheese straw. These are dead easy – you could make them with just pastry, cheese and an egg – but with a few simple additions (obviously leave out the ham if you want them vegetarian) they’re extra tasty.

Not the most exact recipe – measurements are all going to depend how big your pastry is rolled out and how finely you grate your cheese. My top tip is to grate the cheese finely as you use less and actually get more flavour.

 

Pimped-up Cheese Straws

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 pack ready rolled puff pastry, chilled
  • Flour for dusting
  • 2-3 tsp of mustard – your favourite type
  • About 8 tbsp grated cheese – I used a mix of parmesan and strong cheddar
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 pack (about 6 slices) Parma ham or similar
  • 1 egg

Pre heat the oven to 220C and get a couple of baking sheets ready. Flour a clean, dry surface and spread out the chilled pastry. Roll it out a little thinner – you should have a fairly large rectangle. With the longest side of the rectangle closest to you, smear the mustard in a thin layer over half the sheet of pastry, like a page of a book. Sprinkle about two thirds of the cheese over the mustard, followed by most of the rosemary – keep about a teaspoon back. Lay the Parma ham over the cheese, covering as much of the area as possible, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of the ham.

 

Fold the uncovered half of the pastry over the top, like you’re closing a book. Press the outer edges together to seal it a bit, then use the rolling pin to flatten it all out a bit more and squidge it all together. You should still have a rectangle shape, so with the longest side towards you again, use a very sharp knife to cut from top to bottom in strips about an inch wide. Give each strip a couple of twists and place on your baking sheets, leaving some room between each one as they’ll puff up when cooked. Beat up the egg and brush each twist, then sprinkle with the remaining chopped rosemary (and any cheese crumbs left over). Bake for 10-15 minutes – they’re done when golden and delicious smelling (check the underside also looks cooked). These are at their best still warm.

Fully Loaded Favourite Cookies

Fully Loaded Favourite Cookies

Cookies, stuffed full of raisins, milk and white chocolate and toasted hazelnuts

Inspiration for new bakes can come from all kinds of places, but I never thought the One Show (don’t judge me, my landlord watches it) would lead me to bake such a cracking cookie. They did one of their scintillating features on biscuits – the science of dunking, the nation’s favourite biscuit – all that need-to-know stuff. Anyway, they made some biscuits with the nation’s favourite ingredients – chocolate, raisins and hazelnuts – and apparently they were really rather good. So I decided I’d have a bash at something like it myself and here’s the result.

The hazelnuts keep the cookies from being overly sweet, what with all the chocolate and raisins in there. If you can’t get hold of toasted hazelnuts, put them on a baking tray in a hot oven for about 5 minutes. You can then get the papery skins off quite easily by rubbing them with a clean tea towel or some kitchen paper, but it doesn’t matter too much if you don’t remove the skins.

Fully Loaded Favourite Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 120g butter, softened
  • 100g soft, light brown sugar
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 190g plain flour
  • half tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • small pinch salt
  • 50g raisins
  • 50g milk chocolate (drops, or chopped into smallish chunks)
  • 50g white chocolate (drops or chopped)
  • 50 toasted hazelnuts, chopped a little

Heat the oven to 190C. In a bowl, or in a freestanding mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy and light. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well until well incorporated.  Add the flour, bicarb and salt and give another good beating so that you have a thick, sticky cookie dough with no lumps of flour. Chuck in the raisins, both types of chocolate and the nuts and give a good stir so that everything is well distributed in the dough.

You’ll need a couple of baking trays. Use your fingers to pinch off a lump of dough and roll roughly into a ball shape, about the size of a gold ball. Place the balls on the baking sheet, well apart as they will spread as they cook. I only got 4 to a baking sheet – you can always cook them in batches. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. They’re done when golden, but should still be soft to the touch as they’ll firm up as they cool and it’s better to under-bake a cookie so you get that soft, chewy middle. Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool (eat one while they’re warm – lush!).

I made 8 cookies with just over half the dough. Cookie dough freezes brilliantly, so just put any that you don’t use in a freezer bag, sling it in the freezer and then the next time you want a quick batch of cookies take the bag out and leave it on the kitchen counter – it’ll be ready to use in about 30-40 minutes!

For more of my cookie and biscuit recipes, take a look here.

Lemon and Lime Tray Bake

Lemon and Lime Tray Bake

Lemon and Lime Tray Bake, fragrant with the zest of citrus

This week was the final of Great British Bake Off. I bloody love that programme (not exactly alone in that, eh?) and often watch with another addicted friend. We watched this last episode together so I baked us something (it’s safer that way!) to keep us satisfied whilst watching all the spectacular goodies on-screen. I had been undecided as to what I should bake, but in the end, time constraints and an abundance of citrus fruit in my kitchen lead me to knock up a nifty little all-in-one tray bake – with the added bonus of getting to use my Kenwood Chef which is my favourite new toy!

Lemon and Lime Tray Bake

For the cake:

  • 250g butter
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • zest 2 lemons
  • zest 2 limes and juice of one
  • 2 tbsp whole milk

Heat the oven to 180C and line a tin (approx 25x20cm) with foil. If using a food processor or stand mixer, put all the ingredients in the bowl and mix, starting off slowly and increasing speed until well mixed. If making with an electric hand whisk or by hand, cream the butter and sugar, then beat in 2 of the eggs followed by half the dry ingredients, then the remaining eggs and dry ingredients, finishing with the zests, juice and milk. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 30-40 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch, springing back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before icing.

For the icing:

  • 100g icing sugar, sifted
  • juice of half a lime

Mix together and then drizzle artfully (or not) over the cooled cake. Cut cake into portions. Eat.

Lemon & Lime Tray Bake

Artistic decoration optional!

Easy Cheese and Bacon Scones

Easy Cheese and Bacon Scones

Easy Cheese and Bacon Scones, delicious warm and buttered

Cheese scones are my favourite kind and remind me of my childhood when I’d ask my mum to bake them pretty frequently. I made some to take to my bake club meet up last week, but completely forgot to take photos of them. My fellow bake clubbers enjoyed them so I thought I’d recreate them for the blog as they’re ridiculously easy. And then it struck me. What makes everything better? Bacon! These are delicious, even if I do say so myself. They’re so simple to make, and you can have them ready and on the plate in little over half an hour from start to finish. I think cheese scones are best just a few minutes after they’re out of the oven, slathered in butter, but all scones should be eaten the day they’re made or they’re just a bit disappointing. If you’re a vegetarian or just don’t like bacon (what’s wrong with you?!) then just leave the bacon out and you’ve still got yourself the easiest, tastiest cheese scones ever.

Easy Cheese and Bacon Scones

Ingredients:

  • 4 rashers of bacon (I used smoked, streaky bacon)
  • 230g self raising flour
  • 115g strong cheddar cheese, grated
  • scant pinch salt
  • 150g full fat milk (a little over a quarter of a pint), plus a drop extra for glazing
  • 1 tsp English mustard

Heat your oven to 220C and lightly grease a baking tray. Fry or grill your bacon rashers until becoming crisp, then transfer to some kitchen paper to cool and drain the excess fat. When cool enough to handle, chop up into small pieces.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, cheese and salt. My top tip here is to finely grate the cheese as you’ll get more intense flavour. Measure your milk and mix in the teaspoon of mustard so it disperses into the dry ingredients a bit better. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and use a blunt ended (butter or dinner) knife to make cutting motions across the ingredients, turning the bowl as you go – the less the mixture is worked to bring it together, the lighter your scones will be. As the mixture starts to begin to clump together, add in your bacon bits and continue to mix, bringing together with your hands at the end if you need to.

Lightly flour a clean surface and roll or pat out your dough to about 1.5cm thick. If you use any kind of cutter to shape, don’t twist, just push down firmly – twisting can stop your scones from rising as much as they should. Or you can simply cut the dough into squares – scones don’t have to be circular. Either way, keep reforming any excess dough to make more scones until it’s all used up. Place your scones on the prepared baking tray and brush the tops with a little milk. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and firm. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool (or just split in half, butter and eat!). These are great on their own, with cheese and chutney or to accompany a hearty and smooth winter soup.

Cheese and Bacon Scones

Just a few ingredients and simple to make; give them a try

Easy Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Easy Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Easy Salted Caramel Ice Cream – goes brilliantly with brownies

There may be some very random recipes coming up in the next month – I’m moving and trying to use up stuff in my kitchen cupboards so I don’t have to take it with me. I made this in order to use a tin of caramel and a tub of cream (I bought it to make something else but realised I needed a longer expiry date). It’s ridiculously easy, requires just three ingredients and doesn’t need any fancy equipment. Add the salt in small increments, tasting as you go, but bear in mind that the flavours will be somewhat muted once frozen so be bold. Also, whilst a tin of Carnation Caramel (as I used) is 397g, there’s no need to be quite so precise with your measurements if weighing out from a larger jar.

Easy Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 500ml double cream
  • 397g ready made caramel/dulce de leche
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt (to taste)

In  a large bowl, whip the cream until it’s thick and forms soft peaks – it should cling to the whisk but drop off easily when tapped on the side of the bowl. Stir the caramel to make it smooth, then add to the cream and fold in with a large spoon or spatula, trying to get rid of any big lumps ( a few small deposits of pure caramel through your ice cream won’t hurt!).

Sprinkle a little of the salt over the caramel cream – start with about half a teaspoon – and mix well. Try a bit to see if it’s to your taste, adding more salt a little at a time until it’s how you want it. Pour into a freezer-proof box with a lid and freeze for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight. No need to keep taking it out and churning, it will set soft enough to be able to scoop just a few minutes after it’s taken out of the freezer. Delicious on it’s own, in a cone, or alongside warm apple pie or brownies!

Cold Oven Lemon Drizzle Cake

Cold Oven Lemon Drizzle Cake

Sticky, sharp and sweet Cold Oven Lemon Drizzle Cake

There’s been a bit of a gap in posting any recipes here, mostly because I’ve either been baking other people’s recipes, or because I’m experimenting with new recipes and they’re not quite ready yet. To make sure you got your regular dose of Lip Smackin’ Treats I thought I’d post one of my tried and tested recipes that I call Cold Oven Lemon Drizzle Cake. Most recipes require you to heat the oven first but, unusually, this recipe calls for you to turn the heat on only once the cake mixture goes in to the oven, hence the name. If you have a food processor, you can make this as an all-in-one cake, but it’s still incredibly easy to make without any fancy gadgets, as long as your butter is good and soft.

Cold Oven Lemon Drizzle Cake

Ingredients:

  • 115g butter, softened
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 170g self raising flour
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 2 lemons
  • 85g icing sugar

DON’T turn on your oven! Grease and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and caster sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well, then tip in the flour and give another good mix. Add the milk and finely grated rind of both lemons and give a good stir until well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin, put it in the oven and turn on the heat to 175C. Cook for 50-60 minutes (make the syrup as per the instructions given below at about 45 minutes into the cooking time – that way it will still be warm when the cake is ready). The cake is done when risen, golden and firm to the touch – a skewer inserted will come out clean.

To make the syrup, juice the lemons (making sure you dispose of any pips) and place the juice in a small saucepan with the icing sugar. Bring to the boil and turn off the heat.

When your cake is done, take it out of the oven and put it, still in its tin, on a board or cooling rack. Prick the cake all over with a skewer (if you haven’t got a skewer or cake tester use a fork) and pour over the syrup over the still warm cake, making sure you get it over the whole surface. You may find it pools in the corners so you can use a teaspoon to guide it over the rest of the cake. Leave to cool completely in the tin before turning out and removing the greaseproof paper. Cut into slices and serve.

Chocolate and Orange Cookies

Chocolate and Orange Cookies

Deliciously chewy Chocolate and Orange Cookies

Another cookie recipe for you here, this time with the classic flavour pairing of chocolate and orange. As I’ve mentioned before, the key to a chewy centre in your cookie is to slightly under-bake them; take them out of the oven when the top is domed and cracked. I’ve used an ice cream scoop to portion these cookies as you get a very regular size and shape that way, but if you don’t have one then simply use your hands to roll the dough into balls about the size of golf ball. With a batch this size, I freeze half the raw mixture and then when I have a craving for something chocolaty it’s just a case of thawing for half an hour or so and baking – cookie craving quickly fixed!

Easy Chocolate and Orange Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 orange
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 200g chocolate chopped into chunks (I used milk, but plain would go just as well)

Heat the oven to 175C and lightly grease a couple of baking trays. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, finely grated rind of the orange and juice of half of it; beat again until well combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb and cocoa and stir until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Add the chopped chocolate and give a final stir so the chunks are evenly distributed.

Using an ice cream scoop, put 4 or 5 scoops of mixture onto each baking tray, making sure they’re spaced well apart as they will spread. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes; remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray for a few minutes while they set, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely (although eating one while it’s still warm wouldn’t be such a bad thing).