ComFit foods

I was recently asked to take part in a campaign to encourage people to swap comfort foods for ComFit foods.

Apparently over 70% of us will resolve to be healthier in the new year, but research from Sainsbury’s reveals that in fact two thirds of us will spend almost a full day more (22 hours) watching TV in January and 1/3 of us end up eating more comfort foods in January than any other month. Sainsbury’s recognises how important a healthy, balanced lifestyle is for their customers, without having to compromise on some of the most enjoyable things in life. So, inspired by this latest research and love of good food, Sainsbury’s is launching a campaign called ‘ComFit Foods’ – classic comfort food dishes, but with healthier twists.  

ComFit foods include one little twist to transform mid-week meals at a time where customers are striving to be more health conscious. The dishes all have elements of excitement and experimentation, but still utilise every day store cupboard ingredients in a healthy way. There’s a feeling among consumers that warming winter foods are automatically unhealthy, but these recipes show we can all still make feel-good-food without the guilt. Sainsbury’s hopes to inspire little changes which help make a big difference to overall nutritional value.

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I was sent a few recipes, and decided to cook the Pear and Coconut Crumble (see below for the recipe), as it sounded delicious. I like crumble toppings, but I like them to be super crunchy and the addition of the seeds sounded so good.

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It was simple to make- cook the pears, melt the coconut oil, mix the crumble mixture, top and bake. Just a bit of chopping and stirring. I left the skins on the pears as I like that.

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It smelled so good as it was baking- I think it was the coconut oil as well as the cardamom.

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We had some along with some custard (as I didn’t have any crème fraiche), and it was so good. The topping was much tastier than a traditional crumble mix, and the lime and coconut gave it a bit of a tropical feel.

We saved some in the fridge for another day- perfect post run food.

Here is the recipe if you fancy trying it (and I will make it again because it really was simple and really delicious):

Pear, Cardamom & Coconut Crumble

Serves 4

6 conference pears, peeled, cored and chopped

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 tsp ground cardamom (lightly crack pods, and grind the seeds)

1 tbsp agave nectar (I used maple syrup)

Topping

3 tbsp walnuts, 1 tbsp roughly chopped (I used flaked almonds)

5 tbsp rolled oats

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1 tbsp agave nectar (maple syrup)

Pinch of salt

2 tbsp coconut flakes, toasted

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.
  2. Make the pear mix. Place pears, zest and juice of lime, cardamom and agave nectar in a saucepan and bring to medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to soften pears for about 6-8 minutes. They should still retain some bite.
  3. Make the topping. Whizz 2 tbsp of walnuts in a food processor (or alternatively, use a pestle and mortar) to grind. Mix together with the chopped walnuts oats, oats, sunflower seeds, coconut oil, agave and salt.
  4. Place pear mix in a ceramic ovenproof dish, followed by the topping. Place on baking tray for 20-25 minutes, until warmed through and light golden brown on top. Finish off with toasted coconut flakes. Serve with low-fat crème fraiche.

They have also produced this recipe for avocado mousse which I might try at the weekend:

Avocado, banana and cacao mousse with coconut

Serves 4

2 ripe avocados, de-stoned

1 ripe banana

2 tbsp raw cacao

4 tsp agave syrup

2 tsp desiccated coconut, to serve

Place the avocados, banana, cacao and agave in a blender and blitz until smooth and creamy. Spoon into 4 small tumblers and sprinkle over a little coconut before serving.

What is your favourite comfort food? 

*I was sent a voucher to purchase the ingredients with. All opinions are my own.

Problem solving

7pm. On a Sunday.

(Sunny style)

Last night I actually dreamt I was doing a maths exam, and the final section had some mysterious word problems. Well, it turned out that today I ended up doing some practical maths problem solving.

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On Saturday I started my annual Christmas cake baking preparations by soaking the dried fruit. I normally go for a Rachel Allen recipe but since loving every single CCC recipe so far, I decided to try their one. I normally make one for us, one for my parents, one for Andy’s parents, and keep one as a birthday cake for Andy later on, so I normally double a recipe for a large one, and that makes 4 small ones. I didn’t compare each recipe and I think this one ended up being slightly more!

Well soaking the fruits is the easy part, today came the hard part. This new recipe used grated carrot and apple, and this resulted in me spending about 20 minutes searching for the little stick thing that goes in the food processor under the grater instrument- and of course, it turned out to be in the correct case all the time, just hidden behind another blade. Grrrr! Creaming the butter and sugar was fine (I used my lovely Kitchenaid) but then grating in lemon and orange zest took ages! 4 oranges and 2 lemons.

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Once the eggs were added the kitchenaid was basically full. And the flour, almonds, spices, and all the fruit had not been added. No way was it going to fit. I had weighed the kitchenaid bowl beforehand, but I didn’t think to weigh any of the other bowls. I measured the flour, spices and almonds into two bowls (but one is smaller), then I had to weigh the kitchenaid bowl with the butter etc. in it, subtract the weight of the bowl, then divide it in two. Then pour half of this out into something else (no more bowls! What to use….)

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I found a big jug that would hold half the mixture. Then I had to work out what the fruit mixture weighed (1kg of fruit, plus 300g carrots, plus liquid, and how much do 4 apples weigh??) and put half of it into the kitchenaid bowl, along with one lot of flour. The other half of the ingredients were mixed in the big fruit soaking bowl.

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Oh my word it was getting stressful! I was worried the mixture would overflow when I turned it on, and I was running out of worktop space for all the bowls and jugs and spoons, and of course the cake tins!

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Somehow I managed to put the cake tins onto the big trays, but then when I went to put them on the shelves one tray would not fit so I had to put them directly on the oven shelf.

And then of course was the washing up mountain!

I just hope that they end up OK after all that. And I think next year I either need an enormous bowl, or I will bake them in two batches instead. That sounds less stressful!

My version of Grasshopper Bars

When we went to the Hummingbird Bakery, one of my friends said she normally got a graasshopper bar, but they didn’t have them this time. When she described them, they sounded amazing- a chocolate base, a minty filling and chocolate on top. I fancied making some, but after a lot of searching I mainly found recipes for grasshopper pies. So I made my own.

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I have a good brownie recipe, but it goes very squidgy, so I used one instead of two eggs to make the batter a bit less liquid.

(Melt together 100g butter, 175g caster sugar, 25g dark chocolate, 1tsp golden syrup, 1 tsp vanilla extract. Leave to cool. Beat in one egg, and sift in 100g plain flour and 25g cocoa powder. Pour into a brownie pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm).

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To make the filling, I warmed 200ml cream (I used alpro cream because I had some, but normal would work too I am sure) until tiny bubbles appeared. I put 200g white chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and poured the warm cream over it. I stirred it until the chocolate melted, and then added a tsp peppermint, and a little green colouring. I put this in the fridge to cool while the brownie base cooled.

It does look a bit lumpy at first, but I promise if you stir gently it will all melt and go all thick and gloopy. Not a good recipe word, but that is how it is.

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After spreading the cooled mint filling over the base, I melted 100g dark chocolate and drizzled this over the top, although that turned out to be an awful lot, and I think 50g would have been fine.

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Mmm I just love the chocolate and peppermint combination- I already want to make them again!

Have you ever had grasshopper pie?  Weekend plans?

I shall be parkrunning in the morning- hooray!

White chocolate baking

White chocolate is my least favourite chocolate- I quite like it, but I don’t love it. However, I do seem to use it in quite a few recipes- especially at the moment. Perhaps it is more summery than other chocolate. It does seem to go with fruity flavours.

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Last weekend I made a white chocolate and raspberry loaf for Sunday tea. The recipe, of course, is from the CCC book, although I subbed a bit of the regular flour for ground almonds as I think that goes nicely (It’s a normal loaf recipe with raspberries added to the batter, then topped with melted white chocolate). As I had the raspberries (they are little freeze-dried ones in a tube) I made some white chocolate and raspberry fudge, as end of term gifts for people at work. Can you believe I forgot to take a photo though? On a side note, I used my KitchenAid for beating the fudge and it was so much easier than using hand held beaters over the saucepan- the way forward from now on.

This weekend I fancied trying something new, and when flicking through the book I came across Orange and White Chocolate Cake- Andy liked the sound of it too, so I went with it.

Basically, it is orange cake, sandwiched with an amazing white chocolate and orange buttercream. In the photo, the buttercream is the filling, but it made so much I put half on top too (and you can see from the blob missing on the top, it touched the top of my biggest container- we took it for Sunday tea and brought home a large piece to share another day.

To make the icing you warmed some freshly squeezed juice, poured it over white chocolate, to melt it. Then left this to cool. Then you need to make a little buttercream, and pour in the white chocolate mixture to the buttercream, and fluff it all up. Really tasty, but so sweet.

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Action shot!
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There’s cake somewhere under all that icing.2015-07-26 14.10.31

Are you a white chocolate fan?

Owl cake!

A while ago I was contacted by Stork, to see if I fancied creating any of their cakes using their new Stork with butter.

Well, I came across this amazing looking owl cake, and knew I had to have a go.

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They kindly sent me a voucher for the ingredients, so after buying what I needed, I set to work. Making the chocolate cake was fine- I liked the addition of the milk and lemon juice- you do that in a red velvet cake to imitate buttermilk and it makes the cake lovely and light. I baked it for less time though, but that might be down to my oven.

Then, the fun part.

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I kept the cake in the baking paper (I did loosen the paper) because my only tin big enough for a plate was at school after the bake sale.

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I made the owl eyes and beak with marzipan, because I like that more than sugar paste (and a minstrel for the centre of each eye). I put the first batch of buttercream on, and then disaster ensued. Basically, my kitchenaid mixer has two switches- one to raise and lower the top of the unit, and one to turn it on. I had raised the unit to add more cocoa powder to the icing (to make it darker) but instead of switching the right one to lower it, I moved the left one which turned it on. Now, you might think that it would not work if the unit was raised. Well, it does. So it sprayed chocolate buttercream all over me, all over the kitchen, all over the floor. Argh!

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Anyway, after stopping to clean up, I added the darker buttercream, and then some grated chocolate.

It was very well received on Sunday. I was really pleased with how it turned out. It looked very impressive, but actually (with a bit of patience) the end result was fairly simple and I would certainly make it again.

Any kitchen disasters?

*I was sent a voucher to cover the cost of ingredients. All opinions are my own.