Category Archives: Easy

PB&J Bars

I know I know I have been terrible with the blog recently, embarrassingly I haven’t given you a new recipe since back in November, ill go and hang my head in shame shall I? As im sure you can guess ive been pretty busy the last few months. In the last week I moved house and now live in London. Im staying with a friend for a few weeks while I look for my first apartment and my first ever kitchen of my own, I cant wait to get it all set up and ready to go. Anyway now im getting back into the swing of things I thought I would share a new recipe of mine. It was inspired by watching some American comedy and they were making peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches and whilst im a big fan of both jam and peanut butter I had never had together in a sandwhich. And no dont worry the recipe isnt for a sandwhich but and PB&J shortbread bar. Its so easy but also delicious.

PB+J Shortbread Bars

450g Plain Flour

300g Unsalted Butter

150g Caster Sugar

1/4 tsp salt

150g smooth peanut butter

250g jam (choice up to you)

1. Press a piece of foil into the base and up the sides of a 9×13 baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

2. Place the flour, butter, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until the ingredients form a dough.

3. Tip the dough out onto the worksurface and lightly knead until it becomes uniform. Remove a third of the dough and wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate until needed. Press the remaining dough evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 mins or until lightly golden around the edges. leave to cool for 20 mins.

4. Spread the peanut butter evenly on the cooled base then repeat with the jam. Remove the third of dough from the fridge and crumble into pieces and scatter evenly over the jam. Bake for a further 25-30 mins or until the crumbled dough starts to colour a little bit. Cool completely before cutting into 12 large squares.

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Nanaimo Bars

I seem to have formed many of my childhood memories around food, for example I remember being shocked as a six year old being served a whole fish, head and eyes included, on holiday in France, or ordering  “dos of them please” pointing at doughnuts in spain when I was seven and not knowing a word of the language. Sometimes the food in those memories sticks with me for years. One of those memories is Nanaimo Bars. When I was eighteen I spent a month travelling across Canada from Calgary over to Vancouver Island, travelling across the Rockies and visiting family in Vancouver. It was one of the best holidays I have ever had and the memories will stick with me for a very long time. The two foods that I often crave from the trip is Tiger Ice Cream and Nanaimo Bars. Tiger Ice Cream is so different and wondeful, its licorice ice cream swirled with orange ice cream and trust me the stuff is seriously good. Nanaimo Bars come from a town in western Canada and they are a stupidly simple, no-bake recipe. They are rich and indulgent so of course I love them. This recipe was given to me by Jane of http://www.virtuousbread.com/ (on twitter as @virtuousbread) and its really good. Continue reading

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Popcorn Bars

I love experimenting in the kitchen, trying new ideas and new techniques but sometimes I don’t want a complex recipe or idea, just something easy that tastes great. I found a packet of microwave popcorn in the cupboard and remembered that Marcus Wareing’s book has a chapter of recipes for the stuff, including one with my favourite salted caramel. I dont need to tell you my love of salted caramel but other than eating it straight I love coming up with or coming across new ways of using the stuff and this is a really different way to use it. I decided to give it a go but adapted it to fit my idea. I tried, and kind of failed, to make the popcorn into bars and also added some chocolate. Even though they were a little messy they tasted absolutely great and best of all were super easy, great for a chilled out of night with friends and a movie. Continue reading

Lemon Sabayon

There is some kind of irony that I was thinking about what to make for dessert whilst at the gym. I was working away on the exercise bike thinking about what I had in the house and what I could make when the idea of a lemon sabayon sprung to mind. I was wanting something tasty and flavourful but I didn’t want to buy anything and didn’t want anything too heavy. In my fridge I had 2 eggs and 1 lemon, and really not much else, but thankfully thats pretty much all you need. I have included some Cointreau as thats what I found in the back of the cupboard but if you had some limoncello on hand that would be excellent, or if you are avoiding alcohol then water can be substituted. I served this with some some raspberries and topped with toasted pine nuts and crumbled caramelised biscuit. Next time I might reduce the sugar a little as was maybe a tad too sweet Continue reading

Clementine Curd

Im currently writing this curled up, wrapped up and desperately trying to stay warm as it is currently -5c and our heating has broken. Not a great start to my day but on the upside, because the poor weather has caused traffic chaos, I have been told not to go into the office for the day, so silver linings and all that I guess. As the white weather has hung on now well beyond christmas I am trying to keep the festive feeling too and so on a bit of a whim decided to make a clementine curd. I was flipping through some food magazines when I came across this Jamie Oliver recipe which I quickly scribbled down before running for my train so hopefully I got it right. I have adapted the recipe slightly adding in some lime and reducing the lemon, also amending the method just a tiny bit. I have been enjoying the curd on my toast for breakfast over the past week and it is very good, not as tart or acidic as lemon curd. I could have cooked it a little longer as it was not as thick as I would have liked but its no big problem really. Continue reading

Perfect Homemade Mincepies

Since I was very young I can remember helping my Mum make mincepies each and every Christmas. They were one of the things I was allowed to help make, and I always looked forward to helping out. Now the mantle has been passed to me, so to speak, as I know make them myself but they have to meet the approval of Mum. This year we changed the tradition up a bit and for the first time made our own mincemeat. I followed a Delia Smith recipe but next time I would increase the spices, and I have reflected this in the post. I know its the weekend before Christmas and many people will be rushing around getting ready but if your not, why not stay at home, away from the cold and snow, and make a batch of these and get in the Christmas mood. Thats exactly what im going to do anyway. Continue reading

Almond Paste

This recipe makes more than enough to cover the previous cake recipe, probably double what you need, but don’t worry I have a way to use it that comes from my mum, an idea which she thought of many years ago and which has become a family tradition. You could of course half the recipe with no problem. It’s a super easy recipe, well worth the little effort required, but you do need to get in there with your hands, because there is no way a wooden spoon is gonna cut it. Whilst this is called almond paste its probably nearer to marzipan but isn’t quite as firm as marzipan and not as smooth or soft as normal almond paste. From what I gather traditional almond paste is usually just ground almonds, water and sugar mixed together and cooked to obtain a smooth consistency. Marzipan has more sugar (normally icing sugar) and egg whites so this recipe kind of straddles the two.

Almond Paste

700g Ground Almonds

350g Icing Sugar, sieved

350g Caster Sugar

2 Large Eggs

Juice of 1 Lemon

1/4 Tsp Almond Essence or Flavouring

1/4 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Tsp Orange Flower Water

2 Tsp Sweet Sherry (or rum or brandy)

1. Mix the almonds and sugars together making sure well combined.

2. Beat the the whole egg and mix in the lemon juice, flavourings, orange flower water and sherry.

3. Using a wooden spoon mix in half the egg mixture and once you have worked it in as well as you can add the second half. Once it becomes to hard to mix get your hands in the mix and bring together until you have a smooth consistent mix. Kept in a bowl covered with plastic wrap this will keep at least a week in the fridge.