30.11

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In the weeks leading up to Arlo’s arrival, to say I went into nesting mode is a slight understatement. Our house has never been so clean and organised- every spare minute I had was spent mopping floors, cleaning skirting boards, vacuuming carpets, and tidying Ottie’s toys to within an inch of their lives. Trips to Tesco for new cleaning products became a fun jaunt for me (I’m being deadly serious), and I had such strong aversions to certain cleaning product scents that I was genuinely upset with Jason when he bought the Wrong Kind of Washing Up Liquid.

Of course, that’s all died away ever so slightly now that I’ve got my hands full of newborn! And with two dogs in the house who seem to shed mud and hair with every step they take, you’d never know a very pregnant cleaning-obsessed woman was present in this house just a couple of weeks ago…

But the one thing I am so grateful to my past self for is the effort I made in filling our fridge, freezer, and cupboards with delicious food to enjoy in the first couple of weeks post-partum. There was a courgette and lemon cake stashed away in the freezer to serve when our parents came to meet our sweet baby boy, portions of garlicky courgette and tomato sauce frozen ready to be tossed together with pasta for easy dinners, and I kept our cupboards stocked full of tasty snack food and sweet treats to keep our energy and spirits up in these energy sapping early days!
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Perhaps the best thing I prepared in advance was cookie dough mixture for the Best Cookies in the World, made with the chocolate of my childhood- Cadbury’s Dairy Milk!

The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed a slight change to wrappers of Cadbury’s chocolate lately, in the form of a new logo marked ‘Cocoa Life’. The Cocoa Life programme is Cadbury’s new venture to support and give back to the communities who grow the cocoa from which their delicious chocolate products are made.

Cadbury’s are aiming to create positive change for their growers and their communities, which I think is a brilliant thing. They’re keen to encourage quality education for young people, protect the landscape in which their delicious cocoa grows, and improve farming methods too.

The good that comes out of the programme- including treating farmers fairly and ensuring they have an excellent quality of life- makes me feel happy every time I buy Cadbury’s chocolate, which is why it’s such a pleasure to partner with them in this post!

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The recipe for these delicious cookies came via my friend Lucie, the kind of friend everyone should have who never fails to have some delicious baked treat ready and waiting when you visit. We met met on our NCT course and quickly discovered that we lived just two roads apart, and the first time I ever tried these particular cookies was when our older two babies (born 3 days apart, and our second two are less than a month apart!) were around 8 months old. We ate them whilst the babes got stuck into a sensory tray of jelly in the garden, and I’ve never forgotten how delicious they were!

And so with the idea in mind of having a batch of warm, freshly baked cookies ready and waiting for me in the hours after I’d given birth to our new baby, I got to work. I weighed out and mixed up dry ingredients, stashed the mixture away in the cupboard, and made sure that our kitchen was never without a bar or two of the chocolate

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And cookies have never tasted better than these ones did, whipped up and baked by Jason when we got back home from hospital just a few hours after our beautiful boy had arrived into the world. It was cold and blowing a gale as we left hospital late that afternoon, and getting back home to our warm, cosy house and then curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea and warm, meltingly soft chocolate cookies was just bliss. Thank you Cadbury’s, for the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.

Makes 9-10 perfect chocolate cookies:

Ingredients:
110g butter
200g soft light brown sugar
1 egg
1 capful vanilla extract
Pinch salt
165g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
30g Bournville cocoa powder

200g Cadburys Dairy Milk chocolate

- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

- Cream together the butter and sugar, then mix in the egg and vanilla extract.

- Add in the flour, baking powder and bicarb, and cocoa powder, and mix to combine. Add in the chocolate (chopped into smallish chunks), and stir again to evenly distribute into the dough.

- Roll into balls, and either bake immediately for 10-12 minutes (until the edges are just beginning to set), or put into the fridge or freezer to be cooked at a later date.

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The tastiest cookies ever, whether you happen to be eating them a few hours post-birth, or simply because it’s a day ending with a y. And with the feel good factor too, thanks to Cadbury’s Cocoa Life scheme. What could be better?

~ This post was sponsored by Cadbury’s. Thank you supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible! ~

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Posted in BAKING, CHOCOLATE., COOKIES, RECIPE, Sponsored

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07.08

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If there’s any one vegetable you can always count on to be plentiful when growing your own, it’s the courgette. Last year I had three plants growing in the tiny garden of our old house, and such a bountiful supply I promised myself that in 2018 I’d cut back to just two plants.

But in reality? I’ve somehow managed to end up with five, yes, FIVE plants of differing varieties, and we’re picking an average of two courgettes a day. Last weekend we picked NINE. It’s madness, madness I tell you!

So what to do with them all? Well, we’re cramming them into just about every savoury recipe going (from risottos and pastas, to fritters and salads), I’ve made batches of pickles and chutneys, but my current favourite way to use these sweet summer squashes up is to bake them into a loaf cake.

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The cake itself is the simplest thing to knock up (even with the help, or hindrance, of a toddler), and is absolutely delicious too.

It doesn’t taste exactly of courgettes, in the way that carrot cake doesn’t taste exactly of carrots, but it does have a certain undefinably ‘green’ flavour that works so well alongside the freshness of berries or some citrus zest. I’ve been topping it off a simple lemon glaze more often than not, but this time, thanks to a distinct lack of lemons available in the house, I had to get creative with a few of the first blackberries of the season instead.

Simply warmed through, crushed, and then mixed with a small mound of icing sugar, it made the most delicious topping for the cake. And oh so seasonal, too!

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The recipe is one I’ve adapted from BBC Good Food, though minimally it must be said. Mainly through laziness (I didn’t have self raising flour first time I made it and so replaced with plain flour and just doubled up the baking powder), and also I’ve removed the sultanas because does anyone really want sultanas in a sponge cake? I think not.

Makes one loaf cake.

Ingredients:
350g courgettes
250g light brown sugar
125ml sunflower oil
3 large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon
300g plain flour
2tsps baking powder

- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, and grease and line a loaf tin with parchment paper.

- Grate the courgettes, then put them all into a tea towel and wring out as much of the moisture as you can.

- Add the courgettes to a large bowl, and add in the sugar, oil, eggs, lemon zest (if using), and vanilla extract. Mix together. Tip in the flour and baking powder, mix thoroughly, and then pour the batter into the lined cake tin.

- Bake for 50minutes-1 hour, and then allow to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire rack.

- A simple and delicious glaze can be made by mixing icing sugar into fruit juice (lemon, orange, grapefruit, mashed berries…) until a smooth runny consistency is achieved. Allow the cake to cool completely before icing.

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If you have a go and make it yourself, do tag me in a photo on Instagram! I’d love to know how you get on!

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Posted in CAKE, COUNTRYSIDE LIFE, EATING SEASONALLY, FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, KITCHEN GARDEN, RECIPE, SUMMER

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06.07

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A   R E C I P E  .

One of my intentions for this summer has been to make more bread. Of course bread is, in my opinion, one of the easiest, tastiest, and most rewarding things you can make yourself at home, but setting that simple joy aside, I had just got sick of buying bread wrapped in plastic.

This year I’ve been on a mission to reduce the amount of non-recyclable waste our household produces, and I’m currently writing up a post all about the small changes I’ve made so far that’ve been a success for us as a family. I’ve found it so frustrating seeing how the vast majority of bread in the supermarket is wrapped in non-recyclable packaging, and figured I’d have a go at getting into a routine of making bread myself in an effort to cut down on that element of waste.

Surprisingly, it’s been such an easy change! I actually find bread to be such a low-input bake- aside from the initial 15 minutes or so of mixing and kneading, it’s all about  r e s t !

And that I can get on board with!

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I’m going to share with you now the honest truth behind these photos, which is that I was so busy making sure I got this shot of water pouring into the bowl completely in focus, I actually forgot to monitor the amount of water going into the bowl and so totally overdid it!

But it just goes to show how adaptable and imprecise bread-making can be, because I just heaped in a load more flour to bring the mix back to a kneadable consistency and added in a pinch more yeast, and all was well!

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I always abide by the ratio of 10% yeast, 20% salt when making my bread, as I find it gives the tastiest results. So, for 500 grams of strong white bread flour you’d add 5g yeast (I used dried fast action yeast) and 10g of salt. Generally I do 1kg flour, 10g yeast and 20g salt for a really big loaf that keeps us in toast for the best part of the week!

The downsides? Being made without preservatives and softeners and whatever else is added to sliced bread, it won’t keep soft for all that long, and so isn’t all that great for sandwiches beyond for the first 24-48 hours. We don’t really tend to eat sandwiches very often, but if we did, I’d probably go for making a smaller loaf more regularly that will keep fresh and be used up more quickly.

Amazingly though, no matter how tough it seems after a few days post-baking, it always toasts up to the most incredible texture!

And spread with some a slick of butter and some jam? It’s the most delicious breakfast imaginable.

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So, to the recipe…

I N G R E D I E N T S :

1 kilo strong white bread flour
10 grams fast action dried yeast
20 grams salt

M E T H O D :

1. Tip the flour into a large bowl, and add the yeast to one side of the flour and the salt to the other. I’ve read that if the salt and yeast mix straight off then it can kill the yeast, so it’s best to put them in separately.

2. Get a jug of warm water (it should be about body temperature, warm but not hot), and slowly pour the water in whilst mixing with your hand. When the dough has formed to a soft, sticky but not wet consistency, stop pouring! It will be of a consistency where it’ll stick to your hands, but don’t be tempted to add in lots more flour. A sticky dough makes delicious bread!

4. Stretch, pull, squidge, and work the dough between your hands along the work top, for at least 10 minutes or so. It’ll begin to homogenise and gradually stop being sticky, coming together to form a smooth, springy ball of dough. To check if the dough is ready for proving, poke it lightly with your finger- the dough should spring straight back out again. Stretch the dough out a little and pinch the edges together underneath to form a tight ball with a smooth top- this will help the rise!

5. Put the dough back into your mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel, and leave somewhere warm to rise. I find I usually give mine about an hour and a half to rise, but check it after an hour- it should have doubled in size and filled the bowl!

6. Press all the air out of the dough gently with your hands, and then form it back into a smooth ball. The dough should feel much lighter now, a sign of the lovely airy bread it’s to become!

7. Shape the dough into whatever takes your fancy and transfer it to a well-floured baking tray (you can leave it as a a round as I’ve done here, form little rolls, pop it into a loaf tin…) and then cover and leave to prove for another half hour.

8. Dust the top with top with flour, carefully cut a couple of shallow slashes into the dough to control its rise during baking, and put into an oven preheated to 200 degrees. I always add a small dish of water into the bottom of the oven at this stage to help create stream, which bread likes whilst baking!

9. My loaves always are done after about 1 hour, but check it after 50 minutes or so. When cooked, the top will be golden brown and the base will have a lovely hollow sound when tapped.

10. Resist the urge to slice is straight away! Let the steam inside cool for a good hour or so first, and then dig in!

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I can’t say I’m any great expert at bread making, but I hope that how relatively imprecise the recipe and method I’ve shared here is shows how adaptable and relatively failsafe bread making is!

And that first slice of warm, crusty bread will make it all so very worth it.

Let me know how the recipe works for you, if you give it a go!

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23.03

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A  T A S T E   O F   S U M M E R . . .

There’s nothing like the taste of summer vegetables. Crisp tomatoes, sweet carrots, bright herbs, crunchy lettuces and cucumber, and soft velvety aubergines- I look forward to them all year round.

Over the past year or so I’ve made it my personal challenge to eat within the seasons to the best of my ability. That’s meant no strawberries in October, no courgettes in December, and no tomatoes in February. And at times I’ve found it really, really hard! It’s given me a real appreciation of how lucky we are to have such a wide variety of fruits and vegetables flown in from around the world, and also how much more delicious food is when eaten during the season in which it grows best within our own fair country.

And so with seasonal eating in mind, when Le Creuset, that most beloved classic kitchenware brand, dropped me a line to see if I’d like to create a summer-inspired recipe as part of their Nature’s Kitchen campaign, I jumped at the opportunity!

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Due to be released in-store and online later in March, Le Creuset have recently launched a collection called ‘Nature’s Kitchen’, inspired by all that nature offers us be it from land or sea. Alongside some of Le Creuset’s iconic Cast Iron cookware and Stoneware in four new spring and summer-inspired colours, the collection also includes 3-ply Stainless Steel and Toughened Non-Stick products that are the perfect tools for getting the best from fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Le Creuset sent across their completely beautiful Toughened Non-Stick Ribbed Rectangular Grill for me to create the dish with, and it’s fast become the most used piece of kitchen equipment I never knew I needed. Griddled veg? Perfect! Toasted sandwiches? Done in an instant! And I bet it’d be perfect for cooking fish or meat on too, if that’s your jam!

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As you know though, for me, veggies are king, queen, and everything in between. As a keen veg grower entering year two of my ‘grow your own’ endeavours, there’s nothing I’m looking forward to more right now than eating from the garden for the first time in 2018. Our living room window ledges are currently heaving under the strain of dozens of seed trays, with broad beans, leeks, chillis, cabbage, and broccoli seedlings, all waiting to the weather to turn warm enough so they can migrate outside. The first pickings of the year will make me a very happy lady indeed!

But until then, it was to the supermarkets I went in search of ingredients for this summer-inspired recipe…

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And the centrepiece of this dish are the aubergines, griddled to perfection on the Toughened Non-Stick Ribbed Rectangular Grill.

Doused in olive oil and salt and then set on the sizzlingly hot bars of the pan, the aubergines are turned occasionally until their flesh turns meltingly soft, and then drizzled with some maple syrup or honey or agave. The sweetness sets off their salty, slightly bitter flavour so well, and makes them a dream to eat.

Combined with some thyme-roasted carrots, miso and smoked paprika-dressed chickpeas, soft grains, and a handful of parsley and mint, it’s the perfect summer lunch bowl.

Now, all we need is for winter to wave its final farewell so we can get cooking…

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Ingredients:
1 large aubergine
Drizzle of maple syrup/honey
1/2tsp dried thyme
3 large carrots
2 cans best quality chickpeas
1tbsp miso paste
1tsp smoked paprika
Juice half a lemon
1 cup quinoa
Salt + extra virgin olive oil
Fresh parsley

 

Method:

- Slice the carrots into lengths, toss in olive oil, fresh thyme and a pinch of salt, and then place into an oven preheated to 200 degrees celsius for 40 minutes or until cooked through.

- In a large frying pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and then add the drained chickpeas. Stir in the miso paste, smoked paprika, and lemon juice, and then stir to allow the miso to melt and coat the chickpeas. Fill one of the chickpea cans with water, pour into the pan, turn the heat up high and allow the mixture to bubble for a minute or two until a rich, amber sauce has formed. Turn off the heat, put on a lid, and set aside.

- Slice the aubergine from top to bottom in 1cm slices, brush generously with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Heat the Toughened Non-Stick Ribbed Rectangular Grill over a medium heat, and then lay the aubergine slices onto the bars. When the aubergines have taken on colour and have beautiful dark golden char marks on them, lower the heat under the grill pan and allow the aubergines to cook through.

- Cook the quinoa according to packet instructions, and dress with a squeeze of lemon juice.

- To serve, fluff the grains through with a fork and then tip out onto a large serving plate. Top with the warm chickpeas, roasted carrots, and grilled aubergine. Drizzle the grilled aubergine with the maple syrup/honey, top the whole dish with a handful of chopped parsley, and serve with a side bread to soak up the delicious sauce.

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 This recipe was created for Le Creuset. The wonderful Nature’s Kitchen collection is now in-store and online, celebrating cooking with beautiful, fresh ingredients this coming season.

Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible!

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Posted in FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, GARDENING, RECIPE, SAVOURY

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