Tag-Archive for ◊ English ◊

15 Jan 2011 Banoffee Pie

Banoffee Pie! You’ve heard of it, right? Toffee, bananas and coffee flavored cream in a pastry crust? There is more to British desserts than Trifle, Spotted Dick, and Sticky Toffee Pudding, you know!

This pie took the British Isles by storm in 1972, and  gets more and more popular by the year. I’ve read Banoffee Pie is now on Australian menus, New Zealand menus, and even a few US menus!

Last March I went to England with a specific goal: to taste Banoffee Pie.  It didn’t happen.  FINALLY, almost one year later, I got a taste and it was made by me in my own kitchen!  If you want something done right… 🙂 It’s a pity I had to wait so long, but it was worth the wait.

Now that you’ve heard of Banoffee Pie, don’t wait as long as I did to try it.  It’s as easy as pie to make!  There is no doubt in my mind that my very next dinner party will feature Banoffee Pie. No doubt at ALL.

The original pie was made in a regular baked shortcrust pastry, but I made mine in a crust of crushed “Digestive Biscuits” (another English specialty! And, no, I don’t know why they are called “digestive” biscuits. I don’t want to think about it actually.) and melted butter.  A graham cracker crust can be substituted.  So you have three crust options! Pick the one that best suits your tastes, what you have on hand, or is easiest for you to pull together.

Banoffee Pie

For “Digestive” crust

4 oz. melted butter

8 oz. English Digestive Biscuits (available in International sections of many larger grocery stores, British Food stores and Indian markets…)

For Bottom Toffee Layer

4 oz. butter

½ cup dark brown sugar

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

For Middle Banana Layer

3 or 4 small bananas

For Top Cream Layer

1 ¼ cups whipping cream

½ – ¾ teaspoon instant espresso powder (to taste)

2 tablespoons sugar

small amount of grated chocolate (or ½ of a “Flake” bar, crumbled–another very good British chocolate bar)

Directions:

Decide what kind of crust you want and prepare it.  To make the English crust, crush the digestive biscuits in a food processor and then stir in the melted butter.  Press mixture along the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  (If you don’t have a 10-inch tart pan, use a quiche pan or a regular pie pan).  Chill until firm.

Combine the butter and sugar into a saucepan and place over medium heat.  Stir constantly until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.  Stir in the condensed milk and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust.  Let sit until cool.  This step is OK to prepare one day in advance.

If using a tart pan, remove the pie from the pan and place on serving tray.

Cut the bananas in half lengthwise.  Using the curve of the banana against the outside layer of the pie crust, begin to layer the banana halves lengthwise on top of the toffee layer.  When you get towards the inside you will have to cut the long banana halves to fit.

Combine the whipping cream, espresso powder and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until soft peaks form.  Spread the cream mixture on top of the bananas.

Grate the chocolate, you only need a tablespoonful or two, and sprinkle over the top of the whipped cream.

Serve immediately (or within an hour or two, although leftovers do keep rather well for a bit longer than that.., if there ARE any leftovers…)

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  I hope you make this soon and NEVER say terrible things about British food again! I may get offended! There is some very good British food out there, you know 🙂

14 Jan 2011 Milk Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Ever had a “Bounty” Bar?  If  you are a coconut lover, I sure hope you have!   “Mounds” bars and “Almond Joy” bars are OK in a pinch, but if you are a serious coconut lover, search out a Bounty Bar! It’s an English candy bar, so it is often found at stores like Cost Plus World Market, English specialty stores (of course) and grocery stores with a well developed International Foods section (I’ve seen them at larger Safeways), and I just found them hiding out at Indian grocery stores (and there is an Indian grocery store within walking distance of my home…!)

Did you find one? Good! Now that you’ve tasted a Bounty Bar, you  know the appeal of these Coconut Macaroons.  You know the joy of a creamy coconut filling enrobed in some seriously good milk chocolate. And I know you’ll want to make these, because you’ve realized that if you continue to pay exorbitant US prices for a UK Bounty Bar you are going to go broke rather quickly.  And, I know that you want to share the joy!

You’ll notice that some of my macaroons don’t have milk chocolate on them.  What was I thinking?!  LOL!  I was making a batch to share, and I thought that some people might not want chocolate on their macaroon.  I was wrong!

I found the original recipe at The Brown Eyed Baker (one of my favorite recipe websites) who adapted the recipe from a combination of Joy of Cooking and Baking Illustrated recipes.  I changed the chocolate to make it so this macaroon more closely resembles a Bounty Bar.

The Brown Eyed Baker said this recipe yields about 3 dozen cookies.  I got half that many.

Milk Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

For the macaroons:

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg white
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
3½ cups sweetened flaked coconut

For the chocolate dipping & drizzle-ing:

1 large Cadbury Milk Chocolate bar, chopped (about 4 oz)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk, egg white, vanilla and salt until combined. Stir in the coconut until well blended.

3. With a small scoop, drop the dough by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets.

4. Bake, one sheet at a time, until the cookies are light golden brown, 15 to 2o minutes.

5. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets until slightly set, about 2 minutes; remove to a wire rack with a wide metal spatula.

6. Melt the chopped chocolate in the microwave on 50% power for 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir well.

7. Dip the bottoms of the macaroon in the melted chocolate.  Scrape off the excess chocolate. Place the macaroons a wax or parchment paper covered plate.

8.  Drizzle remaining chocolate over the tops of the macaroons.

9. Refrigerate the macaroons until the chocolate sets, about 15 minutes.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  Leave me a comment…, I’d love to know that you were here!

03 Dec 2010 Caramel Bars (Millionaire Bars)

When I was a kid growing up in the north of England, Caramel Bars were my very favorite tea time treat.  My Dad taught me to lick the top of the bar–and announce it loudly–so no one else would select the Caramel Bar before the plate got passed to me! It worked like a charm. Don’t laugh! You’ll be licking your own Caramel Bars shortly.  Look at that picture I posted! Shortbread on the bottom, soft caramel in the middle, creamy milk chocolate on top; how can you resist?

Years after emigrating from England, I found Caramel Bars in the US packaged as “Twix Bars”.  Twix Bars aren’t nearly as good as the homemade real thing, but they’ll do in a pinch. When I returned to England last spring, caramel bars seemed to be enjoying a resurgence.  They were everywhere, but they had a new name, “Millionaire Bars”.   I don’t know where that name came from. Nevertheless, these are still my favorite bar cookie.  I’ve been making them since 1981 based on a recipe I got from a Marks and Spencer’s cookbook on a visit to England on my honeymoon.  The cookbook is long gone, the marriage is long over, but the recipe remains.

My friends have been getting these in their Christmas cookie tins for years!

Caramel Bars (aka Millionaire Bars)

For the Shortbread Base

¾ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour

With an electric mixer, beat the butter for about 30 seconds.  Add the sugar and beat together until creamy, about 3 minutes,  scraping the sides often.  Stir in the vanilla, salt and flour. Mixture will be very crumbly.  Do not panic! Press crumbs into the bottom of a prepared 13×9 inch pan (and I do mean PRESS).  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until shortbread is a nice golden color.  Remove from oven and let cool in pan.

For the Caramel Filling

½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey or Lyle’s Golden Syrup
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Place all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat gently until sugar is dissolved.  Increase heat and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Color will darken slightly, and you may get a few darker bits which should dissolve into mixture with some vigorous stirring.  Remove from heat, stir well, and let cool for 1 minute.  Pour caramel over cooled shortbread base.  Let cool.

For the Topping

1 large (5 oz.) Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate Bar (or other favorite chocolate bar)

Melt chocolate in the microwave on 50% for 2 or 3 minutes.  Pour melted chocolate over cooled caramel layer, smoothing  top with an offset spatula. Let cool.  Cut into squares of desired size.  Think fudge!  I cut my Caramel Bars into 1 inch squares.  Mmmmmmm 🙂

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. You’re leaving with a great recipe!  Come back again tomorrow!

20 Oct 2010 Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies

I’ve posted this recipe before, on my Polly, Julie, and Julia Facebook page.  I think this is one of my Top Ten Posted Recipes 🙂

When asked what his favorite kind of pie is, my son always answers, “meat” and then gets those raised eyebrow are-you-kidding-me looks from Americans not familiar with Great British cooking. Meat pies are one of the delicious cornerstones of British cookery. That being said, this is a very American recipe from Epicurious.com (but it stays true to the spirit of a great British meat pie). This meat pie uses boxed pastry crusts (although you could make your own), ground turkey, grated apple, grated onion, and sage. The pies can be eaten hot, warm or cold. Whole trays of unbaked pies can be frozen to be baked later. Baked pies can be frozen to be reheated in the oven, oven or microwave . Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies can be a quick snack, breakfast, lunch or dinner, they are good for game day parties, buffets, and picnics, and they are tasty all the time. My grandson giggled his way through his first Cupcake Tin Turkey Pie and that meant he liked it a lot!

I have two dozen Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies in the freezer. At my house, one never can tell when a gaggle or bevy of college students will stop by.

Try these! They are so much better in taste, nutrition, lack of preservatives, and cost-per-serving than Hot Pockets and other similar packaged food products. Don’t eat those nasty things! Try these instead! They’ll become a staple at your house, too.  BTW…, how much would two dozen Hot Pockets cost?  Waaaay more than two dozen Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies, that I am sure of.

I have made a lamb version of these pies, but I didn’t likethem nearly as much.  If you want to try Cupcake Tin Lamb Pies, change the herbs and spices to 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint, 1 teaspoon allspice and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies

¾ pound ground turkey
1 medium (or ½ large) onion, peeled and grated
¼ cup applesauce or ½ grated, peeled apple
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or ½ tsp dried)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tsp dried…or omit)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 boxes pre-rolled, refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)or a double batch of your own pie crust

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients but the dough and 1 tablespoon of the eggs; refrigerate mixture while you prepare the pastry. Unroll the dough and cut out twelve 4-inch circles with a biscuit cutter or the rim of a drinking glass. Line the bottoms and sides of the tins with the 4-inch rounds. Remove the bowl of filling from the refrigerator and divide evenly among the pastry filled muffin cups. Press the 2-inch rounds on top, pinching the edges together to seal. Poke a hole in the center of each pie. Brush tops with the reserved egg. Bake until the tops are browned and puffed slightly, 30 to 35 minutes. Loosen pies with thin metal spatula, place into a paper or foil cupcake/muffin liner. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Eat with hands. Serve warm…although my kids eat them hot, cold, warm and at room temperature. Can be frozen before baking-when ready to bake just follow directions above but bake for 40-45 minutes. Makes 18 cupcake sized turkey pies. Can make mini-muffin size for an appetizer buffet (but the mini pies have too much crust, and not enough filing,  for my taste.)

If these become a frequent item in your home, you might want to dedicate one cupcake pan to them, because a few batches do mess up the pans. I have two older pans for meat pies, and three pans for cupcakes. The pans stack and store easily, and you can buy a cupcake pan on sale for $3.99 sometimes.  OK, so I might have a few too many cupcake pans…

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  See you again, soon! (Pssssst…! Vegan version to be posted shortly.  Yes, it’s true, veganized Cupcake Tin Turkey Pies!)

02 May 2010 Strawberry Oatmeal Scones
 |  Category: Breads, Breakfast & Brunch  | Tags: , , ,  | Leave a Comment

My daughter Abby insisted I post these.  She said they are delicious.  She’s a wonderful girl, but unfortunately suffering from dormfooditis.  Nevertheless, these scones are good, and they do look pretty.  They’d be good with a mother’s day cup of tea, don’t you think?

Scones are not supposed to be sweet, and not supposed to resemble a muffin, and these don’t.  They have the right texture for a true English scone. Next time though, I will put a bit more sugar in them, and a bit less nutmeg.  (I love nutmeg, so I was a bit overgenerous, and the scones ended up with a bit of an unappetizing yellow tinge.)

Here’s where I found this recipe… Adapted from Joy the Baker, originally from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

Strawberry Oatmeal Scones

1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup sugar (next time I might use 1/2 cup)
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 T unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Whisk together the egg and buttermilk and set aside. Combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. Add the cold butter pieces and cut in with a pastry blender or your hands, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in the chopped strawberries. Pour in the buttermilk mixture and stir with a fork until the mixture comes together in one hairy ball (be careful not to squish too many strawberries). Place the dough on an ungreased baking sheet and pat into a disk about the size of a dinner plate and  1 1/2 inches thick. Cut the dough, like a pie or a pizza, into about 8 or 12 wedges.  Pull wedges apart, so there is about 1 inch between each slice.

At this point scones can be refrigerated to bake later, or frozen to be baked much later.  Place in preheated 400 degree oven  and bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown (25 minutes if frozen–do not defrost before baking). Transfer to a wire rack to cool about 10 minutes before serving.

Thanks for visiting!

26 Apr 2010 Roasted Cauliflower
 |  Category: Veggies  | Tags: , , , , , ,  | Leave a Comment

In the US, a “good” dinner is a main dish, maybe a veggie, a starch and a green salad.  In England, the norm for a “good” dinner is a main dish, mash and three veggies. I’m English. Three veggies, please!  I love my veggies.  Love them, love them, love them.  I never met a veggie I didn’t like.  Roasting veggies is surprisingly easy and brings out the sweetness in the veggies. Ever roast a cauliflower?  No?  You’re missing out! Here’s the recipe (from Epicurious.com).

Roasted Cauliflower

8 cups cauliflower florets (you’ll need one huge head of cauliflower or two smaller heads)
3 T. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put the small florets into a large (gallon) sized Ziploc bag or large bowl.  Mix the olive oil and salt together then pour over the cauliflower.  Shake the bag, or stir the bowl, to cover the cauliflower evenly with the oil and salt.  Spread cauliflower onto a large baking sheet (the metal kind with 1/2 inch or 1 inch sides).  Place sheet into hot oven. Shake pan after 15 minutes to rotate florets.  Continue to roast for another 10 or 15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender and sports nice golden brown spots.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  Will you be roasting some cauliflower soon? What other veggies do you like to roast?