Tuesday, 15 May 2012

rocky razz

As mentioned in previous blog posts, I can be a very indecisive (read: greedy) eater. Given the option, I would rather have a little bit of everything. It's the reason why I love mezze and tapas, or even better, a long tasting menu... Certain foods done simply and well are sublime. But a real filthy blow out hits the spot - cram in as many goodies as you can, and get all your favourites in one sitting. Rocky road is a shining example of a sweet treat that packs a punch, and is stupidly simple to make. Nothing refined about it. It's all your top tings smashed up and mixed together with lashings of chocolate.

My preferred ingredients are crushed digestive and ginger nut biscuits, glace cherries, Maltesers and mini pink and white marshmallows, but you can stick in anything you like. Try dried fruits like cranberries, apples and raisins. Hazelnuts, chunks of brazil, amaretti biscuits, rice krispies and bits of Twix also work really well. Add a splosh of liqueur and a dusting of icing sugar on top, maybe even a few of those geeky silver balls, to make a Christmas version...also makes a beaut Xmas present when arranged in a festive tin. It really looks lovely, with a crazy paving effect, when sliced up into squares, and I tend to indulge my girly side with a trademark sprinkling of edible glitter on top. Every bite guarantees you something delicious and it seems to go down a hit every time with friends and fam.

The best part is how easy it is to put together. Simply melt 100g of dark chocolate with 100g of milk (Belgian quality is best), add 100g of melted butter and 3 tbsps of golden syrup.

the melty bit

Chop up your fruit, nuts and other shizzle into pieces of varying sizes. Keep some things whole, for example your cherries or your Maltesers. Put your biscuits in a freezer bag and bash them into bits between 50p chunks and dust. Add everything to the melty mix. You want to add enough extras so the chocolate is just binding everything together nicely. The more chocolate to bits ratio, the stodgier and heavier it is. I prefer it lighter as it looks prettier and tastes better.

chezzas & 'tesers

les biscuits


Once your rocky razzle mix is ready, simply line your average baking tray with clingfilm and pour the mixture on top. Smooth down the top and refridgerate overnight. Next day, cut into bitesize squares and eat. Nothing could be simpler! Helpful hint - take it into work to score extra brownie points...

the finished product
Comment or Tweet me if you have any amazing no cook, fridge cake recipes...
I'll leave you with this classic moment from the Goonies:

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

ooooh mami!

Umami /uːˈmɑːmi/, popularly referred to as savouriness, is one of the five basic tastes together with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Umami is a loanword from the Japanese umami (うま味) meaning "pleasant savory taste".

So says Wiki....
Alot of people are unaware of the 'fifth taste', but it's one that can make all the difference when it comes to understanding and enjoying foods. It's hard to put your finger on what makes it so moreish, but it's that sharp tang of parmesan cheese, salty canned anchovies, Parma ham and also believe it or not, wine and beer. Umami foods have a strong taste which means they need to be paired with certain plainer flavours to really get the most from them - simple and delicious examples are cheese and tomato (mozzarella cheese on a tangy tomatoey pizza base) or piquant olives with pistachio nuts. Mmmmmmmm.

It depends on your personal preference of course, but umami rich foods generally taste 'tastier' - and Marmite is (of course) a personal favourite of mine. Coupled with cool smooth cream cheese or a runny egg yolk really brings out the salty uniqueness of the spread I love to love. And one of my favourite party food umami nibbles to get the tastebuds going are delicious Marmite and cheese swirls. Puff pastry whirls wrapped up with grated cheddar melting softly into Marmite. Pretty calorific but damn they taste good and ready in 20 minutes. You can mix and match fillings for these easily depending on what you like - try cheese and tomato puree, with some finely sliced and sauteed mushrooms or onion added. Fresh herbs, cream cheese and smoked salmon would also make a good amuse bouche, as would goats cheese with walnuts and sundried tomatoes. So simple to make, they're speedy but look pretty, and taste good hot or cold. You could even make sweet ones, with apple, cinnamon and currents or lemony zest with tinned mandarin segments and a dusting of icing sugar on top.

One ready rolled standard supermarket packet of puff pastry will make about 12 swirls, so buy 2 rolls if you need to cater for a group.
Simply open out the pastry onto a flat surface, and spread over 3 tsps of Marmite with a knife, leaving a 1cm gap around the edge. Sprinkle cheddar cheese and any other ingredients on top. Whisk 1 egg and use a pastry brush to glaze the 1cm border.

Slowly roll up the pastry width ways using the backing paper to help you. The tighter the roll the better the whirly effect! Once all rolled up, glaze the top with the beaten egg and slice into rounds half an inch thick. Arrange these on a baking sheet and squidge them slightly so they are more round in shape. Glaze once again.

Pop in a hot oven for 10 - 15 mins until golden brown on top.
At this point you can take them out of the oven and put a few strands of cheese on top for decoration, place back in the hot oven quickly just to melt them. Delicious fresh from the oven while the cheese is still oozy, but keep just as well in the fridge for a few days and you can reheat under a grill or for 30 secs in the microwave (any longer and you'll have soggy swirls on your hands). Uma-me!

umami goodness