Monday, 28 January 2013

Chocolate Snowballs

Recent snowy weather in the UK got Sous Chef J thinking about foods with a snowy theme.  We came up with a plan to make a gooey interior, coat it in chocolate and roll in 'snow'.  They are a no cook treat and, be warned, you *may* get messy!

The ingredients we used for the 'inners' were-

100g gluten free oats
100g caster sugar
30g melted butter
1½ Tablespoons cold coffee
1 heaped dessert spoon cocoa powder

For the 'outers' we melted 75g milk chocolate and had 20g dessicated coconut ready for rolling in.

The oats were whizzed in a hand blender.  After adding the other dry ingredients the 'inners' to the whizzing pot, we whizzed the mix some more.  Then the melted butter and coffee were added and it was whizzed again until the mix came together in a damp dough.

Using a measuring spoon, the mix was divided into Tablespoon sized portions and rolled.  We got ten portions from the mix we made and they were placed on a lined baking tray.  Once all the mix was rolled, the tray was covered in cling film and placed in the fridge for an hour.

Having checked the 'inners' were chilled through and fairly solid, the milk chocolate was melted.  After coating the 'inners' in the chocolate, they were then rolled in the coconut.  The snowballs were then returned to the fridge to harden.

These are a sweet, bite sized treat and we were quite happy with how they turned out.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Stilton Biscuits

When carrying out a fridge audit, we discovered a chunk of left-over-from-Christmas Blue Stilton and, as we don't like to food waste, started to think of ways to use it up.  Naturally, we considered making broccoli and stilton soup (but have no broccoli), then thought of stilton on toast (Sous Chef J's nose twisted into a disapproving pose at this thought) and, finally, remembered a recipe for biscuits in Sainsbury's December 2012 magazine.  We dug out the relevant page and checked the ingredients list and, joy of joys, we actually had all that was required.

I've tried to find the recipe online to link to (lazily) but can't so here are the ingredients -

125g plain flour (we used Dove's Farm gluten free)
Good pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tsp light brown sugar
100g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
25g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
100g crumbled Blue Stilton cheese
3 Tbsp black onion (nigella) seeds, sesame seeds

The dry ingredients were whizzed in the large food processor part of our Braun hand blender device.

Next, the butter was cubed and then added to the mix and blitzed til combined.

Having weighed the remaining Blue Stilton cheese we were amazed to find it was exactly 100g that we had to use up. However, if we hadn't had enough we'd have made up the amount with more grated Parmesan to give us 125g cheese in total.

The Blue Stilton was crumbled into small bits and then the cheeses were also added to the pot and blitzed til the mix started to come together as a dough.

Taking the cheesey mix from the machine, it was kneaded lightly to bring it together and then rolled until it was about 4cm diameter.

The dough was cut in half before one piece was rolled in black onion seeds and the other in sesame seeds.  To do this, we used a lock'n'lock lid and liberally scattered the seeds on... then simply rolled the dough in them, pressing slightly, til covered.

Next the dough was covered in greaseproof paper and put in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours. (The recipe also states you can use the freezer, leave them in for 30 minutes.)

Once fully chilled, the dough was sliced into rings (about 4mm thick).  We got 13 biscuits from each.  These were placed on a non-stick baking sheet and baked in a 160ÂșC fan oven for 12-15 minutes.

They biscuits were left to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes before being moved to a rack to cool completely using a palette knife.

Beware! These biscuits are very moreish and may not make it to a storage box... however, they can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days or frozen. 

Serve with olives or salted nuts or just have them on their own.

Sous Chef J's verdict is "they're nice, crumbly and there's a hidden bite".  Well said!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Slow Cooker Breast of Lamb

We needed an easy meal to be ready for us after J's sports club session at the weekend and decided 'something in the slow cooker' would be a good idea.  As we had a piece of breast of lamb in the fridge, we decided to make use of that.  Also, before Christmas, we were sent some Sweet Mandarin Gluten Free sauces to try so thought we would make use of the, not so seasonal, barbecue one.  (For info - it's called a dipping sauce, but as regular readers of this blog will know, we are not ones to stick to what a label or recipe tell us to).  So we thought a slow cooker BBQ meal in January was called for.  Here's what we did.

The breast of lamb was cut into manageable sized pieces.  It was then placed in a pan of water to which a dash of vinegar was added and it was brought to the boil, covered and simmered for about 25 minutes.

This was done to start to break down the fat within this very fatty cut of meat.  At this point, the meat was drained using a sieve over a bowl (this is to catch the water - you will NEED to do this or your drains will get clogged with lamb fat... you have been warned!).  Set the bowl with the water to one side and allow the water to cool, this means the fat will solidify on the surface and then you can throw it away without risking the need for a call out from Dyno Rod...

The warm lamb breast meat was placed in the slow cooker and some of the barbecue sauce was drizzled over.  Next the meat and sauce was mixed through. 

Having placed the lid on the slow cooker, the meat was left on low to cook whilst we went out.

On arrival home, the smell that greeted us was amazing and very welcome.  Some rice and peas were cooked and the meal was served up.  We declared it the best "not home made" barbecue sauce we've tried... and we still have half a bottle left to use.

We look forward to trying the other two sauces over the coming weeks - they are Sweet Chilli and Sweet and Sour. 

Disclosure - we were sent a set of the Sweet Mandarins Gluten Free sauces by @SainsburysPR. All opinions are our own.