Light in the Dark

light-in-the-dark

Sometimes all we need is to see glimmers of light in the dark.

Advertisements

Beef Casserole

Yes, I know.  This isn’t a cake, I haven’t baked. But, admit it, this is the weather for comfort food. It’s cold, it’s drizzly and miserable outside (drizzleable…..!!) and, to be honest I get tired of coming home after work and making supper each night.  Which means on the occasional Sunday I need to prepare the week’s meals so that all I have to do each evening is minor preparation and heating up the food.  Of course I don’t always do this (preparing ahead) because I am disorganised, or, come Sunday I can’t bear the thought of standing in the kitchen for a few hours preparing the food.

However, comfort food calls and a good hearty stew, or casserole – it sounds so much more sophisticated, doesn’t it 😉 is called for. Whilst I searched plenty of recipes on the internet I must confess in the end I just bought bits and pieces and flung them together.

p1000358

p1000360

I chopped and braised the vegetables in small batches – I cannot believe I had the patience to do this, and then did the same with the meat.  I put it all in the casserole dish with herbs, chopped tomatoes, concentrated tomato puree, and stock.

p1000361

I covered the casserole dish and whacked the whole lot in the oven. Two hours later, and a house filled with the tomatoey, stewy, winter comfort food smell, it is cooked.

p1000363

I had wanted to serve it with mashed potatoes, but in the end decided on steamed new potatoes.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, stay warm and safe. Have a lovely weekend.

 

A hole in my soul

chapel-germany

I can’t seem to shake off this sadness, and this makes me feel like a failure. I try to appear positive and somehow this makes me feel even worse. I wonder how long hearts take to heal.

Twitter tells me it is #WorldKindnessDay and what a shame it has to have just a day dedicated to it, because kindness matters. All the time. It can make the difference, all the difference.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you peace and happiness. May your days be filled with kindness.

Sticky Toffee Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

salted-caramel-cupcakes

This is a short post, due to chronic pain and lack of sleep, but I wanted to achieve something. So I baked.

There are three cupcake recipes I go back to time and again. I recently made the lime and coconut cupcakes, which is one of them, and sticky toffee cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream is another.  I haven’t made these for ages, I really don’t know why, since I absolutely love them.  I love cupcakes. I love salted caramel (salt+sweet= a marriage made in heaven). What more can I say!

The “sticky toffee” part comes, as the pudding with the same name, from using dates in the cake batter. And in spite of the name, these cupcakes are beautifully light, but also keep well, without drying out.

And I, in case you hadn’t noticed, LOVE icing.  I am a “would you like a bit of cupcake with your icing?” kind of girl. At least I admit it ; )

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

 

 

The “C” word (part 2) aka Christmas Cake

Some Christmas food preparation needs to be done long in advance of the day. And today, I am talking Christmas Cake!

p1000341

I am not usually a big fan of fruit cake, but after years of persevering, I found a Christmas cake recipe that I really do like.

This recipe is a two-day process – first the dried fruit needs to be soaked overnight in a mixture of port and mulled wine spices.

fruit-soak

I have only done minor tweaking on this recipe – I loathe glace cherries, and so instead I add dried blueberries and cranberries to the raisins, sultanas, candied citrus peel, prunes and fresh ginger. And I add walnuts. I mean, why, oh why, would you have a fruit cake that didn’t have nuts in it!!

p1000343

p1000344

This recipe makes a huge cake, and one of the joys of it is that it doesn’t need “feeding” like a traditional Christmas cake does. Once it has cooled, it gets tightly wrapped up in baking parchment and tin foil, and put away to mature, whilst I decide how to decorate it. I usually bake the cake in September or October, and it will last – well wrapped – for months.

p1000345

It is a bit cracked, like me, but whilst cooking has filled the house with the lovely, spicy, warm delicious fragrance of Christmas.

 

Lime & Coconut Cupcakes

p1000339

My head is still spinning with recent events, and with my chronic pain and insomnia, I am craving flavours that lift my spirits. So, baking it is!

Lime and coconut are one of those marriages made in heaven, they compliment each other beautifully.  This also happens to be one of my three go-to cupcake recipes.

The cupcakes themselves are lime and coconut, whilst the buttercream frosting is lime. And I like my lime nice and sharp, so I managed to double the quantity of fresh lime juice in the recipe.

Fresh and zingy, and coconutty 🙂

Rosemary, Olive and Garlic Focaccia

Baking bread is therapeutic. All that kneading. Not to mention the aroma of freshly baked bread….

A recipe tweaked my interest – no-knead focaccia.  What??? WHAT??? No kneading? Oh, go on, I’ll give it a try.

p1000334

I don’t have a breadmaker. In fact, I am the breadmaker! I enjoy it as much for the process as for the end result. I have read about slow rise breads, where the dough is refrigerated overnight for a slower rise and here was the recipe to try.

My dough was initially very dry, which I felt was wrong, and so I upped the olive oil and water quantities and nervously put it in the fridge overnight. It did rise, but looked alarmingly wet.

p1000335

Still, I persevered, ever hopeful.

p1000336

The dough really was too wet, I found it difficult to shape out on the baking tray. But, live and learn, huh!

p1000337

And so, the end result. I really need to tweak this, although it worked, and the texture is good, I think it could be better, and maybe a little less liquid, a different baking dish. I don’t know. I’ll think about it.  In the meantime, freshly baked focaccia tastes fantastic 🙂