Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Such a perfect day

Happy birthday to our perfect little girl

I love you more than life.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

You have to ask the right questions.

Question : Would you like to make pastry Milly? 
Answer : In a minute.

This is basically how the first hour of our morning went.  Honestly it was my fault because at some point in time I asked if she wanted the Disney channel on and Jake and the Neverland Pirates is always going to superior to anything I say. I turn in to an adult from those Charlie Brown and Snoopy cartoons as far as the small one is concerned.   I thought I made perfect sense but her toddler ears were hearing whaaaa whaaa whaaa.  So a change of tact was required and instead it became:

Question :  Would you like to make pastry, then we can put it in the fridge to go cold enough for you to roll out and cut in to shapes?
Milly translation : whaaaawhaaaa whaaaa roll whhaaaawahhhaaaaa cut out  whaa

but I used enough child friendly words in my overly long question to break through the power of the cartoon and away we went.

Whhaaaa whaaaa apple pie

 For the shortcrust pastry

100g plain flour
50g softened butter (it really does need to be butter, so set a reminder to leave it out)
20g icing sugar
1 egg

For the filling

2 - 3 medium eating apples
2 tbsp sugar plus extra for sprinkling over the top
1 tsp vanilla extract
Rind and juice of 1/2 orange

To make the pastry sift the flour and sugar together, add in the butter and get your hands in there!  Rub the butter and flour between your fingers until it looks like squashy sand which smells nice.

Add roughly half the egg and bring the pastry together with your hands.  Wrap in clingfilm and bung in the fridge for half an hour.

Watch an episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  By the end of that it should be time to...

...finely chop the apples and place in a bowl.  We didn't cook these, mainly because I prefer the texture of whole chunks of apple rather than apple puree, so they need to be pretty small.  If you want to cook the apples, then chop whatever size you want and cook with the orange juice and vanilla.

Add the rest of the ingredients, stir well and put to one side.

By this time your pastry should be nicely chilled so remove from the fridge, flour your surface and hand over to your small person to have fun with a rolling pin and assorted cutters.  

Once you've finished the rolling stage give the apples another stir.  There is going to be a lot of liquid at the bottom of the bowl so drain some off if you have a dive in there toddler who doesn't care about soggy bottoms.

We decided we were going to make decorated free form pies simply because they're easy to do.  Whatever you choose, cut your pastry to suit the case and fill with the apple mix.  Top and brush with the remaining egg.  Sprinkle on the sugar (or sugar and a touch of cinnamon) and bake for 20 - 25 minutes at 160 degrees in my oven, or until golden brown.

To make free form pies just cut the pastry to size for your toddler once they've finished rolling and they can do the rest.   Under 2's will need a little more guidance but its still a great one for them to assert a little independence in the kitchen.  Push the pastry in to the case, slightly over fill and then push the pastry back over the filling.  Decorate with pastry shapes.

Free form apple pie

With the remaining pastry Milly made an apple tart for Areal who, being a mermaid princess, prefers them to pies.  She also has a fondness for toffee ice cream.

Apple tarts

I could cook apple pies all day every day.  Its one of the first things that I was taught to cook as a child by my grandmother.  One day I might make a pie that tastes as good as hers.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Party planning

The small ones birthday is rapidly approaching and so its time to try out some new ideas and recipes.  I asked some friends for their tried and tested cream free cakes and got this recipe : Easy chocolate cake from the bbc (thanks Mel).  They're right, its easy.  I halved all of the quantities and used less water, but this is simple enough that a child can run solo until the boiling water point.  Once cooked and cooled slightly, I filled them with peanut butter. 

So that's the birthday cake sorted but I also wanted to add in a savoury recipe.  I'm on a bread free diet at the moment so I thought I'd torture myself a little.

When is a pizza not a pizza?

I googled that question and there appear to be lots of answers involving Nepal and a handful of restaurants.  That is not where we're going with this recipe.

1 batch of basic bread maker dough (or bread dough of your choice) * see below
1/4 jar pesto
1/2 ball mozzarella
1 cooked chicken breast
2 tbsp chopped green olives
Black pepper

Prepare your dough.  Once risen turn out and roll in to a rough rectangle, about the size of a standard oven tray.

Spread the pesto over the dough and dot the other toppings over.   Try to keep any thicker toppings in line with the longest edge.

Roll from the longest edge, flour your knife and cut in to one inch thick rounds.  These aren't going to be perfect because of the size of the toppings so squish them about a bit.  Add to an oiled tray, pushing each slice against the last, and leave somewhere warm to rise for 30 - 45 minutes.  They should be the size of the tray 

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Tear and share, as the law of these thing go

Tear and Share Pizza Bread

I think we're going to try the next ones with a rosemary and tomato sauce, goats cheese and black olive and a pepperoni and mozzarella.  Basically if you can imagine it on a pizza, you can shove it in this bread.

Daddy Dough

Mr Geek has been baking bread for close to 2 years now and is a bit of an expert in my opinion.  This is his basic machine dough that will make a medium / large loaf, 8 - 10 rolls or a tear and share pizza bread.

1 1/8 cup tepid water
3 cups strong white flour
1 tbsp oil (he uses vegetable)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tsp dried active yeast

Bung the lot in the machine, select the dough option and away you go.  If you're putting it on the timer, add the wet ingredients in first, followed by the flour, salt and sugar and finally add the yeast.