Monday 24 October 2016

Chocolate and hazelnut brownie traybake

We were invited to our friends’ house for Sunday lunch yesterday and I volunteered to make a dessert; what I didn’t expect was to have such a late night on Friday that Saturday was essentially a write off apart from ordering Papa John’s Pizza at 2pm. So yesterday morning I woke up and suddenly panicked that I had not prepared to make anything. I scanned my baking cupboards and had a brainwave; chocolate brownies – tasty and quick, they would be ideal served with some ice cream.
What I love about brownies is that you can add almost anything to the mixture; I added rum and toasted hazelnuts but why not try some kirsch soaked cherries, some white chocolate chips or peanut butter? The world is your brownie oyster…or some such equivalent saying...

So here it is; chocolate and hazelnut brownie traybake!

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 27 mins

What you’ll need
400g caster sugar
225g salted butter, melted
60g cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
225g plan flour, sifted
Half a teaspoon baking powder
Half a teaspoon salt
60g blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped and lightly toasted
100ml dark rum (50ml added to cake mix, 50ml to brush over the cake once cooked)

How to make it
Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease a rectangular 23x33cm traybake tin (or a shallow roasting tin will work just as well)

Mix all the ingredients together in the order given.

Tip the mixure into the tray and spread evenly before popping the tray in the oven for 27 minutes.

Leave to cool for about 5 minutes before using a skewer to make a few holes in the top of the cake. Brush the rum over the top of the cake and allow to soak in.

Leave the brownies to cool before cutting them into (roughly) 24 pieces.

Follow me on Twitter @aswarmastoastuk and on Instagram or like my As Warm As Toast page on Facebook.


R x

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Super easy "T-25" salmon!

So if you are familiar with Shaun-T you'll be familiar with his workouts called T-25. Essentially, they are a series of workouts increasing in difficulty as the weeks progress and they all last for just 25 minutes. I love them; mainly for the reason I can get dressed, warm up, workout, cool down and shower in about 45 minutes flat. This is great for me when I cook from scratch pretty much every night because it means I still have that time in the kitchen, we're not eating dinner too late but I still get my downtime in front of the tv in the evening.

The reason I named this recipe after those workouts is because it can be cooked in the time it takes to do all of the above activities - 45 minutes.

It's healthy and filling and so easy I cant even tell you...basically, the most challenging part of the whole recipe is wrapping up the salmon to cook it in an "en papillote" style

Serves 2

What you'll need:
2 salmon fillets
8 asparagus spears with the ends chopped off
8 cherry tomatoes
10 new potatoes, cut in half
Olive/rapeseed oil - enough to drizzle over the potatoes and the salmon
4 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp ginger puree
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
Salt and pepper to season
2 tbsp hot paprika
(You can adjust the chilli flakes and the sweet chilli sauce to whatever level of spice you like)

How to make it:
Pre-heat the oven to 180. Add the potatoes to a roasting tin and drizzle with some of the oil. Season with the paprika and some salt and pepper. Pop them in the oven for 20 minutes.

Lay a sheet of tin foil down and cover this with a piece of greaseproof paper on top of this. Place one salmon in the middle of the greaseproof paper and drizzle with a little oil. Season the salmon with salt, pepper and half the chilli flakes, ginger puree, and sweet chilli sauce. Arrange the asparagus and tomatoes around the salmon fillet. Wrap the salmon up like a parcel; if you take the two ends of the tin foil and bring the long sides of the foil together you can easily wrap the fish up into little canoe shaped parcels (I think the below picture will probably be easier to follow than my convoluted instructions!). Repeat with the other salmon fillet.

Pop the salmon in the same tin as the potatoes and cook for 25 minutes.

Serve with sugarsnap peas, broccoli and the roasted potatoes.


R x

Monday 17 October 2016

Autumnal spiced roasted carrot and sweet potato soup

My dad always says that Autumn is his favourite month; he loves the changing colours and the chilly crisp mornings. I love Autumn as well – my reasons are the same as my Dad’s (I am the girl with a scarf obsession so what better excuse is there than a season of frosty mornings to buy more scarves?!) but I also love nothing better than the feeling homemade soup gives you after a long walk with hubby and pooch – it is one of the best comfort foods and is so so easy to make. All you need to do is cook some veg and blend it all up in a liquidiser. What could be simpler?!

Picture the scene; you come home with mud all over your walking boots from powering over 10 miles of The Peak District, face numb from the cold, legs stiff from all the uphill walking; you pop the cork on a bottle of red wine, set this soup to cook, have a hot shower and then come back downstairs in your comfiest trackies to enjoy a bowl of soup in front of your favourite box set (box set of choice at the moment Chez Joesbury is Bones by the way). Sunday evening heaven.
Sounds good, right? So here’s the soup recipe – the cold, muddy walk is optional, the hot shower and the wine, however, are a must!

What you’ll need:
3 medium – large sized carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1l chicken stock (made from 1 vegetable stock cube and one chicken stock cube)
2 small red onions, sliced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp hot paprika
2tsp coriander (dried or fresh is fine)
1 tsp turmeric
1tsp garam masala
3 tbsp oil (sunflower/rapeseed/olive oil are all fine)
Salt and pepper to season
Crème fraiche to serve

How to make it:
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C and place the carrots and sweet potatoes into a roasting tin. Drizzle 2tbsp of your chosen oil over the vegetables and then season the vegetables with the herbs and spices. Mix the veg around to coat them well with the seasoning, and then pop the tray in the oven for about 30mins (give the veg a shake half way through so they don’t stick to the tray)
Whilst the vegetables are cooking, heat the remaining 1tbsp oil in a large saucepan and add the onions and garlic. Cook on a medium heat, stirring regularly, until the onion becomes translucent – this should take around 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer away for about another 10 minutes.
When the vegetables are done roasting, get them out of the oven and let them rest for a couple of minutes before tipping them carefully into the stock and onion saucepan. Give the whole lot a good stir and simmer for a further 2 – 3 mins before tipping the contents of the saucepan into a liquidiser. Blend until smooth (you can also do this with a hand blender if you don’t have a liquidiser) and season to taste. Adjust the seasoning as preferred and serve with a swirl of crème fraiche, some chopped coriander and freshly ground black pepper…oh and some nice crusty bread of course!

Check me out on Instagram and Twitter for more snippets into my love of food and my life in general.

R x

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Toffee apple muffins with a rum buttercream icing

We were given some Discovery apples by my uncle when we visited the farm a couple of weeks ago and I was told they were good for cooking with and also as eating apples. We went to the Lake District for a few days this week and took a couple of apples on our walks - they were lovely. I had about 6 apples left and got thinking about what I could make with them, trying to steer clear of the usual apple pie/apple crumble recipes.

I had the idea of making muffins filled with caramel sauce (toffee apple) so started planning that recipe but wondered what I could do to make them a bit more special...boozy icing?!

When it comes to the icing, feel free to make the icing to taste; I took these to our friends' house as a dessert and the reaction was "ooh these are much rum did you put in the icing?!" - so perhaps if you don't like such a knock-your-socks-off booze hit go easy on the rum!

This recipe looks very long and has a few steps to it but it's really not difficult so please don't be put off by the length of it!

So, here it is - a little taste of autumn:

Toffee apple muffins with a rum buttercream icing
Serves 12
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour 30mins (that includes making the caramel, icing, and baking the muffins)

What you'll need:-

12 x muffin cases (I like the tulip cases)
12 hole deep bun tray
Piping bags x 2 (one should have a star nozzle for piping the icing)
Wire cooling rack
Sugar thermometer

For the muffin mix:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 225mil semi-skimmed milk
  • 110g apple (peeled, cored and chopped) - I used Discovery apples but any cooking apple will be fine
  • 2 teaspoons cinammon (optional)
For the caramel sauce:
  • 170g salted butter
  • 340g dark muscavado sugar
  • 170g golden syrup
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons salt
For the rum buttercream icing:
  • 340g unsalted butter
  • Half a teaspoon cinammon
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1.5kg icing sugar 
  • A few pieces of dark chocolate, roughly chopped, to decorate (optional)
How to make it:-

Pre-heat the oven to 180C (fan) or 200C (conventional oven). Begin by creaming the caster sugar and butter for the muffins in a bowl. Next, sieve together the plain flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternate adding the flour mix and milk a couple of tablespoons at a time to the butter and sugar mix. until combined. Stir in the cinammon and then fold in the apples.

Line your bun tray with the muffin cases (if you don't have any muffin cases at home you can always lightly grease the bun tray so the cakes don't stick but using cases is so much less faff!). Fill the cases with the muffin mix - roughly one and a half dessert spoonfuls of mix per case should do the trick - and pop the tray in the oven for 20-25 mins (I put mine in for 23 mins but please test the cakes before taking them out by inserting a cocktail stick into the middle of one of the muffins; if the stick comes out clean, the muffins are done)

Leave these to cool in the tin for a few mins before transferring them to a wire cooling rack.

Whilst your muffins are cooling you can now give your full attention to the caramel filling. Start by adding the butter, sugar, golden syrup and condensed milk to a large saucepan and bring gently to the boil over a moderate heat. Keep stirring the mixture to combine it fully. When the mixture has boiled stir in the whipping cream and then place the sugar thermometer in the saucepan. Leave the mixture to bubble away gently until it reaches a temperature of around 110C - stir the mix every now and then but don't mess with it too much! It will take a while to reach temperature but don't panic or turn the heat up; just be patient with it! In about 20 mins you'll have the temperature you need and then turn the heat off, stir in the vanilla and salt, and leave the mixture to cool for about 30 minutes.

Whilst the caramel is bubbling away you can make the buttercream icing. Mix the butter with one tablespoon of the rum to break the butter up a bit. Then add the icing sugar a bit at a time so you don't end up with a thick fog of icing sugar everywhere (I have never ever found a trick that stops icing sugar from going everywhere so it's just about damage limitation in my kitchen!). Add the rest of the rum and the cinammon, and combine. 

When the caramel has cooled enough, it's ready to be piped into the muffins. First of all you'll have to make a hole in the muffins - you can use a piping nozzle for this or a straw even (it basically just needs to be something to create a hole big enough to pipe in to). Next, spoon the caramel into the piping bag and snip the tip of the bag off. Pipe the caramel gently into the muffins. It's really fulfilling to see the muffins expand with the lovely caramel and the tops will crack slightly when they are full - this is your signal to stop piping.

Spoon the rum buttercream into a separate piping bag with a star nozzle attached to the end. Pipe the icing over the muffin and if you want, you can add a flourish of grated or roughly chopped dark chocolate.

Relax, pop the kettle on, and enjoy a well earned rest...and a muffin of course!

If you like this recipe, follow me on Instagram aswarmastoast and Twitter @AsWarmAsToastUK or subscribe to my blog.


R x

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Pesto crumb cod with roasted Mediterranean vegetables

After last night's pesto pasta, I have, as usual, got some leftovers. Today I have enough pesto leftover for 2 people for dinner. However, it's dull to have the same thing two nights in a row, right? So I was racking my brains at work this morning (I was in work at 4am so by 11am it was basically dinner time in my head) and thought about having a delicious piece of cod with a pesto crumb and Mediterranean vegetables.

I also have some wine left over from last night (hello, Sauvignon Blanc!) so this fish recipe is perfect and quick for tonight; it's actually cooking away quite happily while I type this.

So here it is; Pesto crumb cod with roasted Mediterranean vegetables.

What you'll need
2 x cod fillets
2 tablespoons green pesto
1 slice of bread (white/brown, whichever you have in stock), blitzed into breadcrumbs
1 bell pepper (any colour), cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into chunks
Approx. 12 asparagus spears, rough ends cut off
Aprrox. 7 plum tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Chilli flakes (this is personal preference for the vegetables so add as much or as little spice as you like)
Salt & pepper to season

How to cook it

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Place the pepper and onion onto a roasting tin and drizzle with half the olive oil and half the balsamic vinegar. Then give a quick dusting with salt and pepper.

When the oven is hot, pop the pepper and onion onto the middle shelf. Cook for 20 minutes (give them a shake about 10 minutes in to the cooking time)

In the meantime, combine the pesto and breadcrumbs with a little olive oil (around 1 tablespoon) and spread onto the cod fillets; press down to make sure that there is a relatively compacted layer of the pesto crumb on the cod.

After the 20 minutes has lapsed on the vegetables, put the asparagus and the tomatoes on the same tray as the pepper and onion and drizzle the rest of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the vegetable and sprinkle the chilli flakes over all the vegetables. Put the vegetables and the cod into the oven and cook for around 15 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender and the cod's pesto crumb is lightly golden.

Serve in a wide bowl with the veg underneath and the cod resting on top. Serve and enjoy!

Let me know what you think of this recipe. Follow me on twitter @AsWarmAsToastUK or find me on Instagram aswarmastoast. Or subscribe to my blog.


R x

Tuesday 9 August 2016

King prawn pasta with homemade pesto, tomatoes and chilli

So, FINALLY I have managed to do a new blog's only taken 6 months! Shameful, I know.

In the midst of working and working out and general life getting in the way I have been incredibly bad at keeping the blog updated.

Anyway, all day at work in between the stress of doing two jobs and training someone new, all I could think about was how I couldn't wait to get back into my kitchen and what I would make for dinner. Don't get me wrong, that kind of feeling is a daily recurrence but today the thought of finally getting home was the only thing getting me through a day of interruptions, investigations and letters...the endless letters!

I bought a new basil plant last week so thought I'd go for a pasta dish with some fresh pesto...and if I was doing pasta it would have to also include a tomato sauce and king prawns. So here it is, King prawn pasta with pesto, tomatoes and chilli. This is so easy and it's a perfect midweek dinner. This serves 2 adults so just adjust the quantities for how many mouths you have to feed.

What you'll need:
A good handful of fresh  whole basil leaves
50g pine nuts (toast in a frying pan until lightly golden)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
50g Parmesan, grated
Around 3 - 4 tablespoons of olive oil

Pasta sauce:
180g raw king prawns
230g tin chopped tomatoes
3 whole salad tomatoes, cut into eigths
Salt & pepper to season
Approx. 150g wholewheat spaghetti
1 x finely sliced chilli (optional)

How to make it
First of all, make the pesto. Add the toasted pine nuts, garlic, basil, Parmesan and olive oil to a food processor and blitz until...well, until what I'd describe as "bitty" - so in between chunky and smooth. Set aside.

Next, put some water on to boil and once it reaches boiling point put the spaghetti in. When the water reaches boiling point again, turn it down to a moderate heat (it will need around 9 -10 minutes on a simmer to cook)

Whilst the pasta is cooking, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the salad tomatoes. Cook for about 1 minute and then add the chopped tomatoes. Give the tomatoes a good stir and cook for about 2 minutes (if you want to, you could always add some fresh, chopped red chilli if you want to add a bit of a kick to the dish)

Add about 2 tablespoons of the pesto you made earlier and stir. When the pesto is combined, add the king prawns and the salt and pepper. The sauce will then cook on a moderate heat for about 5 minutes, or until the prawns are cooked through.

Add the spaghetti to the sauce, give it a good stir and then serve in some bowls, topped with some more grated Parmesan and some fresh basil leaves.

Then scoff!

Enjoy! - follow me on Twitter @AsWarmAsToastUK or find me on Instagram by searching for aswarmastoast

You can subscribe to the blog as well (I promise I'll start keeping it more up to date from now on!)

R x

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Homemade granola - a tasty and simple breakfast

I'm going to level with you - I'm the kind of girl who would rather have a bowl of Ben & Jerry's than a handful of grapes. I have always had a sweet tooth and growing up, my family would always have a pudding after dinner so I got used to having that sugar kick every day. Now, it's not easy to kick the sugary unhealthy habit so I've been looking for ways to still satisfy my sweet tooth without the overwhelming feelings of guilt afterwards.

I'm a relative rookie when it comes to complex nutrition and health but what I have learned is that although I may have thought it was a healthy choice opting for a bowl of shop bought granola in the morning rather than a pain au chocolat, there was actually added sugar in my granola that I didn't even consider would be there. I mean, why would I? It's granola - just some toasted oats and sultanas, right? Hmmm...apparently not. So anyway, I decided to have a look at making my own so I know exactly what was going into it. Turns out it's just as simple as walking/driving to the shops and buying a bag pre-made.

It's a very versatile recipe so you really can tailor it to your own taste; don't like pumpkin seeds? Add some sunflower seeds instead. Don't like almonds? Add some hazelnuts instead. Easy peasy.

What you'll need:

  • 3 cups raw oats 
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pistachio nuts
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup flaked almonds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries/apricots
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil/hazelnut oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp salt
How to make it:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees (fan) 
  2. In a bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, hazelnuts, cinnamon, almonds, nutmeg and salt - give all those ingredients a good stir
  3. Add the oil and maple syrup/honey and stir the ingredients again to combine well 
  4. Tip the contents of the bowl onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and make sure you have an even layer
  5. Pop the tray in the oven for 22 minutes
  6. Take the tray out and let the granola cool completely
  7. Add the raisins and the cranberries/apricots and stir once more to combine well
It is best to store the granola in an air-tight container and it will keep nice and crispy for about a week.

I love to have this as my breakfast after a good, sweaty plyometrics workout! It is best served with natural fat free yoghurt, fresh blueberries, strawberries and raspberries and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup on the top.

Enjoy folks! Let me know what you think - and tell me about any variations on this recipe you may have! - you can tweet me or follow me on Google+

R x

Tuesday 16 February 2016

One pot "leave it alone" Spanish meatball stew

Difficulty: Easy-peasy
Serves: 2
Prep Time: 15 – 20mins
Cooking Time: 1hr – 1hr 15mins (just leave it alone in the oven to cook)

I love anything that comes in a gorgeous rich tomato sauce and this is one of my go-to dishes for an easy weeknight meal. This really is so quick and easy to prepare and some of the best bits about it for me are that you can tailor make the dish to your specific tastes (more chorizo anyone?), serve it with anything from pasta to potatoes and after the 15 minutes of preparation, you get to relax for an hour with a glass of red whilst this lovely meatball stew does its thing in the oven.

What you’ll need:
  • 1 x heavy bottomed hob-safe and oven-safe casserole dish (use at least a 20cm diameter dish) 
  • 6 Pork meatballs - you can either buy the meatballs pre-made or make them yourself out of a pack of 250g mince (to be honest any meat works well for this dish so if you want a bit of a leaner meat, opt for turkey mince)
    • If you're making your own meatballs, all you need to do is tip the mince into a bowl, add some salt, pepper and any other seasonings you fancy – I think that paprika and a bit of sage work really well with this dish - and shape the mince into balls about the size of a ping-pong ball 
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli, roughly chopped
  • 1 bell pepper (any colour), diced
  • 1 stick of celery, sliced
  • 1 courgette, sliced
  • 1 x 215g tin butter beans (drain the beans before you add them to the stew)
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Vegetable stock from 1 stock cube - use the leftover chopped tomatoes can to mix the stock in to save on the washing up!
  • About 1/5 of a 225g chorizo ring, roughly diced (remove chorizo casing before adding to stew!)
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp sage (dried or fresh)
  • 2 tsp basil (dried or fresh)
  • Salt and pepper to season
How to cook it:
1.       Spray a hob-safe and oven safe casserole with Fry-Light or an equivalent low-cal spray and add the chopped onion, garlic and chilli. Cook on a medium heat for about 5 mins until the onion starts to become translucent.

2.       Next add the meatballs and the chorizo – these will take perhaps another couple of minutes just to brown a little bit.

3.       Then add your vegetables; so that’s the courgette, pepper and celery, and also add the tin of butter beans. Give all that a stir.

4.       Tip the chopped tomatoes in and then pop the vegetable stock cube into the empty tin. Add boiling water to the top and stir to dissolve the stock cube (this neat little tip saves on the washing up and also gets all the lovely tomato juice off the side of the can – CAREFUL; THE CAN WILL BE RED HOT! So handle with a tea towel to tip the stock in. Give all that another stir to combine everything.

5.       Finally, add the tomato puree, paprika, sage, basil, salt and pepper – give it one final good stir and put the lid of the casserole on.

6.       Place in the oven for 30 minutes, then take the casserole lid off and leave for another 30 minutes. This dish stays really hot in the oven for about 15-20 minutes after it has cooked so don’t worry about having to take it out and serve it as soon as an hour passes. It does the dish good to relax a little and allow the flavours to combine post-cooking time.

I like to serve this with a nice glass of red Australian Shiraz (I recently made this dish and enjoyed a glass of Bleasdale Bremerview Shiraz 2012 with it – perfectly complimented the flavours of the paprika and tomatoes!)

There you have it! Please have a go at this recipe; it really couldn’t be easier. You can also add or take away the amount of chilli/garlic etc you use to make it suit your taste better.

Enjoy folks, and please comment to let me know what you think and subscribe to my blog

R x

Sunday 14 February 2016

As Warm As Toast - A preface

So this is the first post on my new blog. I can't say I know a lot about blogging our indeed how to reach many people but I'm hoping that with time I will. So with this learn as I go attitude, I decided to write my first post as a bit of an introduction.

Ultimately As Warm As Toast will be a food blog with little stories about where the recipes I choose have come from and there will also be a feature on what wine I would recommend for my "weekend recipes" and little stories about the walks that Adam (husband), Jess (pooch) and I go on most weekends in case you want to get out there and try one of our walks yourself. Of course, sustenance is required during and after each walk so there will obviously be a recipe post ready for a relaxed Saturday/Sunday afternoon which will be the dinner I cook on returning from one of our rambles.

My recipes will mostly have a traditional and classic feel, inspired by my country upbringing and family recipes. So all I can say is watch this space, my first recipe post is on its way. For now though, I have a 6 Nations England vs Italy rugby game to watch...

And if you're interested you can find out a bit more about me and my interests from my Google+ page Ruth Joesbury or my twitter page @ruthjoesbury