Sunday 11 December 2011

Tea party nibbles: courgette and goat cheese mini cakes

On Saturday, my friend Lucy from In Norfolk was hosting a Christmas tea party with a homemade theme. She had baked many wonderful cupcakes and biscuits, one of her friends had crafted exquisite truffles, another had brought a delicious carrot, parsnips and chili soup accompanied with cheese scones. I didn't have time to do anything complicated as I had been away from home or working late most of the week, so the two courgettes and goat cheese I had in the frige were the perfect base to whip up something tasty in a couple of hours.

To make 18 mini courgette and goat cheese cakes, I used:
  • 2 cougettes
  • 3/4 of a goat cheese bûche
  • 2 eggs
  • 130g self raising flour
  • approximately 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • about 100 ml of milk
Start by slicing the courgettes and sauté them in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and a few coriander seeds, and leave aside to cool once they're nicely golden, but still have some texture to them.

In a bowl, mix the flour with the eggs and sunflower oil, and add a bit of milk so the mixture is similar to an American pancakes' preparation. I probably added around 100ml. Add the goat cheese cut in rough pieces, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and mix well. Finally add the courgettes in, making sure the consistency is even.

Pour the mix into individual tins that you have oiled in advance, and stick an extra little piece of goat cheese in the middle of each cake. Bake for 25 minutes in an oven pre-heated at thermostat 5.
The preparation will be cooked but the goat cheese melted, so I found it best to let them cool on a wire rack before placing them in a pretty basket for serving.

We were only a few people at the party, and there was tons of food, but I didn't bring many of these back home, so I take it they weren't too bad!

Tuesday 6 December 2011

What to do with over-ripped bananas? Banana bread!

As I tend not to buy green bananas, I often end up with bananas left in the fruit basket for too long, skin rather brown and flesh not so firm. Banana bread is a great way to use over-ripped bananas, it makes your house smell lovely whilst it bakes, and it is delicious for breakfast with natural yogurt, or as an afternoon treat with a nice cup of tea.

You will need:

  • 175g butter
  • 175g brown caster sugar
  • 175g self-rising flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 ripped bananas
  • vanilla essence
  • lemon juice
Start by preheating your oven to 190°C/thermostat 5.
In a bowl, mash the bananas with a fork and add a squeeze of lemon juice.

In another bowl, beat the soften butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one by one and fold in the flour. Add a few drops of vanilla essence, and gradually fold in the mashed bananas.

Spoon into a buttered loaf tin and bake for about an hour, until a skewer comes out of it dry.
Leave standing for 5 minutes, and then place the loaf to cool on a wire rack, and enjoy the first slice with a nice cuppa!

I think this would work really well as cupcakes, which a chocolate and coconut icing. I'll let you know how it goes next time I have bananas to use.

Thursday 1 December 2011


The end of November and December is a time of a year I really like. Gearing up to Christmas, finding the perfect presents for the people I love, preparing party food, turning my home into a cosy festive pad, the list is endless.

And what a better way to build up the excitement than having an advent calendar? My parents stopped giving me one when I left for uni - which was a bit of a heartbreak - and I never had one since, so this year, I decided to make my own to use for the years to come.

I scrolled the internet for inspiration, rummaged through my sewing box to see what I could use, went down to my favourite shop in Norwich - the Anglian Fashion Fabrics shop on Magdalen Street - and are is the result:

I have filled it with lovely chocolates carefully hand-picked, and can't wait to open the first one before going to bed tonight!

Sunday 27 November 2011

Apple and Pork Roulades, or the posh alternative to sausage rolls

On Saturday, I made the most of a grey day and broken down car to stay in and prepare more nibbles for the forthcoming festive times. I already have some cheese gougères in the freezer, and wanted something else I could make now and freeze, meaty, but a bit less predictable than the usual sausage rolls.

Here I present to you the Apple and Pork Roulades:

For about 35 roulades, you will need:

  • 1 ready-to-roll puff pastry sheet of good quality, preferably 100% butter
  • 6 Bramley apples and pork sausages (mine were Sainsbury's Taste the Difference)
  • 1 egg yolk with a bit of milk
In a bowl, empty the sausages from their meat and shape in a ball. Roll out the pastry and cut in half so you have two rectangles of roughly 25 cm by 12 cm. Spread half of the meat on each sheet, leaving about 1.5 cm at the top and bottom of the rectangle. Brush the top margin with a bit of yolk and milk mixture, and roll the rectangle from the bottom upward, making a long roll. Ensure this is rolled tightly, and seal with the egg and milk. Wrap in cling film, and start again with the other sheet and remaining meat. Place in the freezer for 40 minutes to an hour, this will help slicing the roll without flattening it.

Once the rolls have hardened enough, slice each roll in about 16 sections. I found it easier to use a serrated knife. Brush with milky yolk to get a lovely golden glaze.

Lay on a baking tray lined with baking paper and put in pre-heated oven (thermostats 6) for 30 to 40 minutes, and for another 20 minutes on their other side until they look cooked and golden.

I can't wait to eat them!

Sunday 20 November 2011

Cinnamon, lamb and apricots stew

Next Friday, we've got friends coming round for dinner. I will be away with work mid-week and Mr P is preparing an exam, so neither of us will have time to cook during the week, and there is little I dislike more than serving take-away or ready meals to guests!
That's why I decided to prepare a stew in advance and keep it in the freezer until Friday. I wanted something easy yet luxurious, comforting for cold days but also a bit festive and different. My Moroccan inspired stew was the perfect choice!

For 4 people, you will need:
  • 2 packs of diced lamb
  • vegetable stock
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ground cinnamon
  • clear honey
  • a couple of handfuls of dried apricots
  • ground almonds
  • sliced almonds
  • olive oil
  • ordinary flour
  • salt
  • pepper
In a heavy-based casserole dish, heat some olive oil and fry the meat with a bit of flour, salt and pepper. Once browned on all sides, add the chopped onion and garlic. Stir well until the onion is translucent. Add the orange zest, a heaped teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a tablespoon of honey, making sure everything is well mixed.
Add the juice of the orange and about 500 ml of vegetable stock, and leave to bubble away for an hour or so.

The gravy should have thickened nicely by now, but still be liquid. Add the apricots, and let the stew cook for another 30 minutes. Finally, add a tablespoon of ground almonds to thicken the gravy further and pop it back on the hob for another 10 minutes.

The stew is delicious served with couscous, plenty of the sauce and a few sliced almonds to decorate and add some interesting texture.

For desert, I will make a simple orange and cinnamon salad served with almonds thins biscuits, lighter to finish, and keeping in the theme.

Bon appétit!

Thursday 17 November 2011

Christmassy stew and brown bread

Last Sunday, I went into a bit of a cooking craze, and once I was done with the 50 something gougères, I decided to make a cranberry and mulled wine stew inspired by fellow blogger Retro Chick, and some whole-meal bread for later in the week.
I had the re-heated stew tonight and it was amazing! I had the bread with soup for lunch earlier in the week, and it was lovely too.

Christmassy Stew

For four people, you will need:

  • a pack of lean diced beef
  • 1 big onion
  • a few carrots (I used 4)
  • a small suede
  • 1 leak
  • a few mushrooms (I had 6)
  • a beef stock cube
  • a bottle of mulled wine
  • a couple of handfuls of fresh or frozen cranberries
Heat a bit of olive oil in a heavy casserole dish, and brown the beef with salt, pepper and a bit of flour. This will create the base for a thick flavoursome sauce. Once the meat is browned on all sides, add the finely sliced onion, and keep stirring until translucent. Crumble the beef cube, stir well and add a bit of water to create a thick gravy.
Add the peeled and sliced carrots, suede cut in rough chunks and sliced mushrooms and stir well so everything gets coated in the gravy.

Pour the wine, add the cranberries, and leave it to bubble away on the hob for a few hours while enjoying the smell spreading in your house. 

Mine was on for about 4 hours, and then re-heated for half an hour a couple of days after.

Because it's packed with vegetables, you don't really need anything to go with it, but it is lovely with boiled potatoes or just rustic bread.

Next time I'll do it, I think I won't put a leak in and will add a few spices, maybe a clove and a stick of cinnamon to make it even more Christmassy!


I am not a bread maker, this is only my second attempt, so there is plenty of room for improvement!

For one loaf, I used:
  • 7g sachet of fast-action yeast
  • 500g strong whole-meal flour
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 300ml of warm water
  • salt
  • sugar
In a little bowl, mix the yeast with a couple of tablespoons of warm water and a teaspoon of sugar. This will help the yeast become active.
Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, make a well in the centre and add in the oil, yeast mixture and remaining water. Mix well (I started with a spatula and finished with my hands to make sure I mixed all the flour in). Once the preparation seems even, tip it onto a floured surface and knead. After a few minutes of hard work, make it into a smooth ball, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and let it rise for an hour.

Once risen, knead it back, reshape it into a loaf and place it on a lined baking tray to rise for another hour. 

When it's done, dust the loaf with a bit of flour, cut a cross into the top of the loaf and bake in a preheated oven (thermostat 6 to 7) for about 40 mins. Steam helps creating a thicker crust, so you can try placing a little bowl of boiling water in the oven whilst the bread bakes.

To know if your bread is ready, make sure it is golden brown and sounds hollow when knocking underneath.

Sunday 13 November 2011

I'm back, and I'm making gougères!

Right. I will appologize once more for having been lazy and kept quiet for, hum..., almost a year *cough cough*.
However, this last year gave me the time to think about what I wanted Mademoiselle Framboise to be about, and this will be Making more than Coming Across. I might still mention the occasional bit of wonderfulness that has caught my eye, but it will be mainly about what I cooked, baked, prepared, sewed or made.

But enough of the blabbering. This Sunday, I made gougères.
Gougères are French savoury choux pastry flavoured with grated Gruyère. Apparently, they originate from the Burgundy area, where they are traditionally served when tasting wine in cellars. I am making mine as "apéritifs", little nibbles to have with a glass of Champagne before moving on to the proper meal. I am making loads and will freeze them, so I always have delicious home-made nibbles to offer to last minute guests.

With the quantities I have used, I made about 50 gougères of around 4 cm diameter each. You will need:
  • 165g ordinary flour
  • 105g unsalted butter
  • 1/3l water
  • 5 big eggs
  • 200g grated Gruyère
  • salt and pepper

Heat the water in the saucepan with the butter and some pepper. When starting to boil, remove from the heat and throw the flour in. Mix well and put back on a low heat. Keep turning so the mixture dries up and forms a ball in the saucepan. (I use a wooden spoon for mixing and stirring, I think that is what works best.). 

Remove from the heat again and add the eggs one by one, mixing carefully and making sure the eggs don't cook. Finally add in the cheese, readjust seasoning if required, and let cool down for a bit.

While waiting, line your baking trays with buttered baking paper. After about 10 minutes, place little balls of the preparation on the trays. I use a table spoon and a tea spoon to do that, but it will probably be neater using a piping bag. Make sure the balls are a few centimeters away from one another as the choux will rise when cooking.

Bake for about 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven (thermostat 6 to 7), and remove them once fluffy and golden. Let them cool down on the side before serving. 

Happy cooking!