9 miles in the sunshine

This morning I had 9 miles planned and woke up to lovely sunshine- hooray! But recently I have been getting headaches after my runs so I made sure I had a lot of water to drink before I left. I had my breakfast and then made some foccacia dough. I bought a book called “The I diet” (I for Italian) recently and have made a few things from it. It has quite a few veggie recipes and the veggie chilli and pizza recipe ( I leave off the ham) are really tasty. But it always takes ages to make bread (well, to wait for it to rise) so I started first thing.

On my run I took a bottle of water with me, but it felt like such hard work, plus by the end I could feel all the water sloshing around in my stomach- not so good! Also half way I had to stop and loosen my laces because my feet had gone numb- I think perhaps that feet swell a bit in the heat and so they had made my shoes too tight.

When I got home I was starving so I had the other half of a banana (had half on my cereal) and a Nak’d gingerbread bar (amazing- have not had one for ages).

After my shower I finished making the foccacia- in the recipe book you basically make a pizza dough, cook it in the oven then top with cherry tomatoes and basil. But I didn’t have any tomatoes (I thought I did) so instead I took it out the oven 5 minutes early, spread it with some sundried tomato paste, a little basil puree, and some chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and then warmed it through for another 5 minutes. It tasted so lovely (just what I fancied after my run) and went well with Covent Garden Plum Tomato and Mascarpone soup (I do normally make my own soup but it was on offer!). Delicious!

Gardening on my rest day

Today was a planned rest day, as am doing my long run (another 9 miles I hope) tomorrow and I always struggle if I have even a short run the day before a long one. It was so sunny when I woke up so decided to walk to the garden centre and have a look. It’s a 4 mile round-trip so lovely to stretch the legs and get out in the fresh air (I can get very antsy if I don’t get outside at all during the day). I had a lovely time browsing the “kitchen garden” section and was very tempted by all the different raspberry/ blackberry/ loganberry fruit canes. But as I was walking there was no way I could carry them home!

We are seeing friends tomorrow so after lunch I attempted some peanut toffee brittle from Rachel Allen’s “Home Cooking”; it is setting in the fridge at the moment, although I am not sure how well it went. I did make sure the temperature was correct on the sugar thermometer but it has not set as well as I expected it would. If all else fails I’ll put it in the freezer! Am sure it will make a lovely ice cream topping.

Later on I had a lovely time pottering about in the garden; digging up dead plants (the snow killed quite a few), potting some herbs, planting beetroot seeds and putting my courgette seedlings into bigger pots. I am hoping to grow a few more vegetables and fruits this year. I had a try last year and was quite successful with strawberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, tomatoes and courgettes. I have already started off some courgette seedlings (including some yellow courgettes which I am very excited about as I have only ever eaten them on holiday) and sweetcorn seedlings. I am going to attempt carrots as well so hopefully I can use these in my baking. Last year I made a courgette chocolate cake which turned out quite tasty, and I love carrot cake so fingers crossed!
I am trying to follow the advice from my favourite gardening book (Carol Kleins’ “Grow Your Own Veg”) and will keep you posted.

Now I am taking it easy after dinner and am going to make sure I drink loads as I often get a headache after my long runs. I am thinking that it might be to do with being dehydrated so am going to make sure I have had enough water the night before too.

Rachel Allen’s Chocolate Cake

Rachel Allen is one of my all time favourite chefs. I have most of her books (Bake
of course being the most-used one!) and also love watching her TV shows. This afternoon I have made the chocolate cake from her Bake book. It seems like a fairly rich cake, with melted chocolate incorporated into the mixture (more like a cross between a brownie and a cake which can only make things better if you ask me!).

It didn’t take too long to make the mixture, and it only baked for 25 minutes (not bad for a big cake- well a cake baked in two tins).

Last time I made butter icing by hand, which was rather hard, so this time I am cracking out the hand-held electric whisk to make it nice and smooth. I also had some mini eggs left over from Easter to decorate! The icing went ok (I had to use 1tbs milk as I didn’t have cream and it seems a waste anyway to buy a pot of cream only to use a tiny amount)- lovely and smooth by the time it was ready. I used Green and Blacks cocoa powder which is so rich and chocolatey- I am sure using this makes a difference (plus it’s fair-trade- bonus). I put the eggs on top, and then (using my brand new mini grater) grated over some white chocolate. It looks so pretty (even if I do say so myself). After dinner no doubt I will be sampling it (the 9 mile run will be worth it I am sure!).

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
I have been getting into baking bread recently (without the use of a bread making machine). I love Dove’s Farm Malthouse Flour, and often make bread by adding rosemary, sundried tomatoes or other flavours. I have some cream cheese that needs using up, so decided to make cinnamon and raisin bread (I love anything to do with cinnamon!). So here goes:

Cinnamon and Raisin Bread
In a bowl I put 200g Malthouse flour, 1 level tsp yeast, pinch of salt, pinch of sugar, and some cinnamon. I mixed it all together then slowly added around 150ml warm water (I add a bit, mix it in, add more if it needs it and so on).
While the dough was still “craggy” I put it on the board and kneaded it for ages. Then I left it to rise covered with a tea towel. Meanwhile I put about 30g raisins in a bowl and poured on warm water (to plump them up) and also sprinkled some cinnamon in there for good luck. You can never have too much cinnamon.
Once the dough had risen (about an hour or so) I kneaded in the drained raisins. I added a little more flour as the raisins made it go a bit soft. Then I left it to rise once more while the oven warmed up.
It baked in an oven (around 200C) for 25 minutes, making the whole house smell amazing.
Once cooled I sliced it and spread with cream cheese. It tastes similar to a bagel- yum.

Peanut Banana White Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcakes
Since Christmas I have been working my way through the recipes in the The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. There has been a banana lurking on the side of the fruit bowl getting browner and browner (and I only like bananas that are still green) so today decided to try the banana and chocolate cupcakes. When I read the recipe I noticed that the only chocolate element was the chocolate frosting, so I have adapted it a bit and made even more delicious:

Peanut butter, white chocolate and banana cupcakes.

In a bowl I mixed 120g plain flour, 140g caster sugar, 1 tbs baking powder, cinnamon (lots) and ginger with a pinch of salt. Then added 40g sunflower spread and 40g peanut butter and mixed up until it looked like sand. Then I poured in 120ml semi skimmed milk, 2 whisked eggs, vanilla extract and that banana (mashed up). Finally I added in 50g white chocolate chips. I spooned the mix into silicone baking cases (all pretty colours) and into the oven (170C) for 22 minutes.

They are cooling on the wire rack now and smell amazing!