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There’s nothing like a hot cup of tea!

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bigstock_pouring_fresh_tea__1745053 Today I had a really nice hot cup of tea! It really made my day! Take it from me, if its great, it is one of the best, as I come from the land of tea and love my tea! I don’t usually buy a cup of tea at a cafe because I can make the best at home! But today was an extremely cold day and I needed a hot drink with my sandwich during lunch hour. So I bought this cup of tea and enjoyed it. The price wasn’t too costly either compared to the takeaway foam cup with a tea bag dunked in which tasted like boiled water with milk and sugar!

Techniques for making a good pot of tea are simple.  The water has to be boiled to the right temperature. The tea leaves are measured out into the tea pot, usually one teaspoon per person and one for the teapot. The boiled water is poured in slowly. Cover and allow the tea to brew for a few minutes or longer, depending on the tea leaves used. Usually the tiny leaves can be brewed for a few minutes, but the bigger tea leaves would need about 10-15 mins to brew. Cover the tea pot with a tea cosy, or else it will get cold. There are a variety of tea pots that can retain the heat for longer periods.

A well brewed cup of tea does not contain too much milk and sugar as the flavor can get lost.

Beetroot and chocolate cake

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Serves 10
Preparation time: 45 minutes + cooling
Cooking time: 1–11⁄4 hours

250g chilled vacuum pack of cooked beetroot in natural juices, drained
250g Butter, at room temperature
250g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
250g Self-Raising Flour
50g Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
Butter Icing
125g Butter, at room temperature
250g Icing Sugar
1⁄2 tsp Vanilla Essence
1 tbsp Milk
To decorate
Mauve paste food colouring
500g Ready-to-roll fondant icing
Cornflour for dusting
50g Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa), melted
1m x 2.5cm wide brown ribbon

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Line the base and sides of a 20cm deep, round, loose- bottomed cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
  3. Purée the beetroot in a food processor until smooth then scoop out and reserve.
  4. Add the butter and sugar to the processor and cream together until light and fluffy.
  5. Gradually mix in the eggs, one at a time, adding a little of the flour after each addition and mixing until smooth before adding the next egg.
  6. Add the remaining flour, cocoa powder and vanilla essence.
  7. Mix until smooth then beat in the beetroot purée.
  8. Spoon the mixture into the tin, level the surface and bake for 1–11⁄4 hours or until well risen, the top is slightly cracked and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. (You may need to cover the top of the cake after 45 mins or so if seems to be browning too quickly.)
  9. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. To make the icing, beat the butter, half the icing sugar, vanilla essence and milk together until smooth then gradually beat in the remaining sugar.
  11. Peel the paper off the cake, cut horizontally into three thin layers then sandwich back together with half the butter icing.
  12. Spread the remaining icing thinly over the top and sides of the cake.
  13. Transfer to a serving plate.
  14. Knead a little food colouring into the ready-to-roll icing and roll out on a surface lightly dusted with cornflour until you have a circle of about 30cm in diameter.
  15. Lift over the rolling pin, drape over the cake and smooth in place with hands dusted in cornflour.
  16. Trim off excess icing and brush away any remaining cornflour from the cake.
  17. Spoon the melted chocolate into a greaseproof paper piping bag, fold the top down securely and snip a tiny amount from the tip with scissors.
  18. Mark a circle in the centre of the cake with a 7.5cm plain biscuit cutter and pipe dots of chocolate on the marked circle (don’t pipe them too close together or they will merge together).
  19. Pipe swirls and dots of chocolate over the top of the cake.
  20. Leave in a cool place for the decoration to set then finish with a ribbon around the sides of the cake.
  21. Secure in place with dot of melted chocolate or a pin, but remember to remove the pin just before serving the cake.

Tips

If you don’t have a food processor, mash the beetroot or roughly chop and purée in small batches in a liquidiser.

For a special occasion, place fine candles just inside the circle in the centre of the cake.
This is also delicious and moist served plain without the buttercream or fondant icing; whipped cream makes a good accompaniment.

Healthy foods

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Here are some great tips on how to eat healthy…

http://www.naturecures.co.uk/a-zkitchencures.htm

Ricotta cake

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Ricotta cake – is a dream cake, going way back to my childhood days! The search is on for the one that tastes anything like I used to taste! So here are a list of websites with various versions to try out  …

  1. http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/raspberry-ricotta-cake
  2. http://roastpotatoesfor.com/2015/03/23/cherry-ricotta-cake/#more-1999

Pound cake

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This is a a classic favorite of mine. I am adding a list of websites here that add their own version with tips on getting the best so you can adapt it.

  1. http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/common-mistakes/article/pound-cake-common-mistakes

A simple snack!

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Back in my school days final year, we had a Cookery Teacher, who was a young newly married. She took us students to her home one day (because she was one of those friendly teachers!) and showed us how to make this simple snack. A good idea to use up left over bread slices!

Ingredients:

Bread slices – 12 (for 3-6 people)

Potatoes – 3-4

Salt, pepper to taste

Pinch of chilli powder (optional)

1- 2 Eggs for coating

Breadcrumbs for coating

Oil for frying

Method:

Boil potatoes, cool and mash. Add salt, pepper, chilli powder and set aside.

Cut of edges of bread slices.

Dip each slice in a small bowl of water, lightly, squeeze out water between the palms of your hands.

Take a small portion of the mashed potato and put in the centre of the bread slice.

Roll it up like a finger snack.

Dip in beaten egg.

Coat with the breadcrumbs.

Heat a frypan with oil and fry them gently, with a light golden colour. Do not overcook.

Drain any excess oil on paper.

Can be eaten plain or with a dip – tomato ketchup or chilli sauce.

Homemade crackers

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I remember as a child growing up in India, we had a wide variety of biscuits at the biscuit shop or the Biscuit Man would come with his box of biscuits once in a while. There was a huge variety, not just the delicious sweet biscuits, but the crispy crackers as well! You know the ones where you could lather on some butter! Buttery, sugary shortbread! Coconut cookies! Macaroons! There were even little tiny round biscuits, which were the childrens’ favorite ofcourse, because of their size.

Here is a recipe similar to what I have been looking out for some time! Homemade crackers!

http://nourishedkitchen.com/homemade-crackers/

6 surprising foods you can freeze!

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http://www.1millionwomen.com.au/2015/01/05/6-surprising-foods-you-can-freeze/

Daily servings of Fruit and Vegetables

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http://www.thekitchn.com/10-photos-that-show-you-your-daily-recommended-servings-of-fruits-vegetables-207261?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=managed

Unhealthy foods to avoid!

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Always on the lookout for healthy food tips and ideas, here is some good advice  …

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/unhealthy-foods-to-avoid-at-all-costs.html

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