Thursday, 29 January 2015

A year of Bready Bakes: JANUARY Danish Pumpernickel Bread from Scandilicious Baking

Back when we lived in Essex I made a new years resolution to make my own bread, and for the most part I loved the ritual of making a loaf on Sunday morning, but it just seemed to be eaten far more quickly than the stuff I bought at the store.  When we moved up to Edinburgh I tried to keep the rhythm of making bread every week but eventually things just ground to a halt. I'm not making excuses...but I did have a particularly frustrating experience with some faulty loaf tins that left non stick coating on my beautiful seeded loaves...

Anyway, I have decided again to turn my hand to baking bread. I'm challenging myself to try to bake something yeasty and bready at least once a can be a different kind of bread, buns, a sweet loaf, maybe even doughnuts...I've scoured my recipe books and Pinterest and have come up with a long list of potential bakes to try over the coming months. 

This month I have decided to bake a Pumperknickel Loaf.  The recipe is from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen, sadly not available on line...but I've found similar recipes searching Danish Pumpernickel on Pinterest.  

This is a super dense loaf. It is pretty easy to make and requires very little kneading. You basically make a paste out of the flours, rye flakes, and hot water and then once that is cooled you add some melted butter, treacle and yeast. Then you mix it all together, knead it a bit to make sure all the ingredients are evenly distributed and then leave it to rest over night. 

It didn't take too long to get the dough together one night after Lyra went to sleep and the next morning all it needed was to be shaped, left for a further hour to rise/rest (it doesn't really rise) and then baked.  The hardest part was letting it cool enough to slice into thin slices for our Smorrebrod sandwiches for lunch. 

Surprisingly Lyra really liked the pumpernickel bread.  I gave it to her smeared with a little bit of cream cheese convinced she would just lick the cheese off...but she happily devoured it all.  

Monday, 26 January 2015

Recipe: Rye Carrot Cake Pancakes

During the week breakfasts are a pretty standard affair in this house...we wake up and have a warm cup of milk sitting on the couch (watching the news, how civilised) and then, once Daddy has left for work, we usually have some cereal, toast and bananas.  At 18 months I don't really feel that Lyra cares what is on her plate...just that there is something on her I don't push myself to get too creative at breakfast time. 

However, if we wake up extra early I usually use the extra time to whip up some pancakes or french toast.  I often will give Lyra scrambled eggs for lunch or dinner so unless we are all having eggs on the weekend I tend to skip them at breakfast time.  

In reality making a batch of pancakes or a couple of slices of french toast doesn't take THAT MUCH longer than toasting some bread, slicing the banana and letting Lyra's cereal soak in milk for a few minutes. 

If it is just the two of us I half my go-to pancake recipe, which makes about 8-10 small pancakes, and wrap the leftovers and keep them in the fridge for snacks for the next couple of days (they also freeze well).  

I like adding in mashed bananas or berries to the batter, tossing in a handful of porridge oats or oat bran, grating in zucchini or carrots, or even cheddar cheese.  There is also a small amount of sugar, which could always be left out if you don't want to give your child any added sugar.  

Last week I bought some rye flour so decided to use it, along with some grated carrots to make Rye Carrot Cake pancakes.  I smeared them with cream cheese "icing" (just plain soft cream cheese) and topped mine with some flaked almonds. They were delicious and Lyra greedily gobbled up 2 and a half pancakes! 

Rye Carrot Cake Pancakes 
Makes 8-10 small pancakes 

1/2 cup self raising flour 
1/4 cup rye flour 
2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 cup finely grated carrot (I use my parmesan cheese grater) 
1 egg 
1/2 cup milk 

pinch of cinnamon 
pinch of all spice 


In a medium bowl whisk together flours, sugar, bicarb and spices (if using). 

In a measuring jug whisk together milk, egg and carrot. 

Add milk mixture to dry ingredients, whisk together to combine.  Add a splash more of milk if the batter is too thick, it should be run off a spoon easily.  

Heat a non-stick frying pan and spoon Tablespoon blobs of the batter into the hot pan. Let them cook for a few minutes on one side and then flip them over to continue cooking for 1-2 minutes. 

Let the pancakes cool before topping with a smear of plain cream cheese (and maple syrup if you want). 

Friday, 23 January 2015

Recipe: Smoked Haddock Chowder

Every once in a while dinner time rolls around and I think...oh rats...why am I making this!? I just know that Lyra isn't going to like it.  9 times out of 10 I am wrong and she does like whatever it is that I am convinced she won't. She constantly amazes me with her love of food (wonder where she gets that from) and I can really only name a handful of things she consistently turns her nose up...carrots cooked in any way other than in a stew. Even so I was pretty sure she wasn't going to be all that enthralled with the incredibly smokey chowder I whipped up earlier this week. 

Again, I was wrong...kind of.  Yes, she managed to pick out every single piece of cauliflower and hand them over to me one by one, but she devoured her smoked haddock and potatoes with delight and screamed out MORE MORE MORE. I couldn't help but chuckle while I nibbled on her cauliflower cast outs. 

Smoked Haddock Chowder
Serves 2 adults 2 toddlers


1 fillet of undyed smoked haddock
1 pint of whole milk 
a handful of cauliflower florets broken into small pieces 
3 medium white potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes 
1 medium leek thinly sliced in half circles 
oil or butter to sauté 


In a large enough sauce pan, with a lid, gently heat the milk. Once simmering place the haddock in the milk and poach until the fish is cooked. Carefully lift out the fish once it is cooked, let cool and flake into bite sized pieces. Reserve milk. 

In a large pot sauté leeks in oil or butter until soft. Add in cauliflower and potatoes and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Pour the warm milk that you poached the fish in over the vegetables and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. 

Once the vegetables are soft add the flaked fish and simmer until the fish has warmed through. 

If needed add a splash more milk, or cream. 

For Lyra I used a slotted spoon to drain off most of the milk to reduce any mess.  

Monday, 12 January 2015

Recipe: Beef and no ale Stew

Carrots are one vegetable that I seem to have trouble cooking just right for Lyra...even when I think I have boiled or roasted them to death the centre still seems too hard for her 4 little teeth to bite.  Recently, though, I have noticed that when they are in a stew, slow cooked for hours and super duper soft she will gobble them up like it is no body's business (in fact last night they were the first thing she ate on her plate!).  It is the same with other hard root veg like parsnips (although she likes those roasted) and turnips.  I don't blame her sometimes I can't stomach those either unless they are super soft and drenched in butter, but in a stew they are just...well...different. 

My go-to stew uses this recipe from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food.  It is so simple, just chop and dump the veg, sautee a bit until the onions are soft, chuck in the stewing beef and some flour, mix that all up and then in with a carton of chopped tomatoes and (this is where it is different from Jamie's recipe) 400ml of chicken stock.  Into the oven for about 3 hours and voila! 

I like to mix up the veg and use parsnips, turnips, potatoes, carrots and celery (about 3 cups total chopped) and then 1 onion chopped.  Sometimes I scoop out the veg and meat and divide it up on a plate for Lyra and sometimes I just scoop it all into a bowl the way the adults have it.  Either way she usually gobbles it all up and asks for MORE.  

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Eating Out in Edinburgh: Mademoiselle Macaron

I don't get into town very often, but when I do I like to treat myself to a selection of Macarons from Edinburgh's resident macaron-ess Mademoiselle Macaron. Tucked away off of Lothian Road on Grindlay Street (across from the Lyceum Theatre) Mademoiselle has created a Franco-Scottish enclave where you can enjoy a coffee and a macaron (or two) with a dash of friendly chat and laughter thrown in for free.  

On Christmas Eve I braved the crowds to take Lyra to a toddler's thing in town and as a reward (for us all) we wandered over to Mademoiselle Macaron en route back home.  Ok, it was a sleight detour...but the weather was nice and I really had a craving for some macarons with my prosecco on Christmas Eve.  

I picked up a selection of macarons (8 for £7) to savour/devour including an oh so festive GINGERBREAD one...perfect with a glass of bubbly...and a EARL GREY TEA one that I saved for Christmas morning breakfast (again with something fizzy).  

If, like me, you can't get enough of these gorgeous Parisian treats make sure you pay Mademoiselle a visit in her shop, or at the Grassmarket Market on Saturdays.  Of course you could also LEARN TO MAKE THEM at one of her classes and make them for yourself...but it is so much more fun buying a little bag to take home and devour.  

Mademoiselle Macaron 

22 Grindlay Street 

(Closed Monday)


Sunday, 4 January 2015

Cake Talk: Verdens Beste (Norwegian World's Best Cake)

In December I attended the first meeting of the Edinburgh branch of the Clandestine Cake Club...think AA for cake-a-holics. At these events everyone brings along a cake to share with the other attendees and then you all sit around eating cake, drinking tea and chatting (how wonderful)! It really was wonderful; a lovely, intimate and joyous pre-holiday evening out with other local cake lovers.  

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, I chose to try my hand at something Scandinavian for this "festive" themed evening.  Not exactly a Christmas cake; the Verdens Beste Cake was voted by the people of Norwary as their NATIONAL CAKE. It literally translates as WORLD'S BEST CAKE (if that doesn't scream CELEBRATION I don't know what does...except maybe one of those traditional Danish Cake parties).  Layers of Sponge, Meringue, Custardy Cream and Almonds definitely make me feel indulgent, so I thought it would be just PERFECT for this event.  

The Verdens Beste is a pretty easy cake to put together and is essentially thin layer of uncooked sponge topped with thick meringue and slivered almonds and then baked.  You bake it as one rectangular cake and then cut it in half to create the two layers and then sandwich it with thick vanilla cream.  Having never made it before I was somewhat nervous and kept checking and rechecking the cake while it baked...the next time I will just relax. 

I used this recipe from Sweet Paul Magazine for the cake part but mixed 1/2 a tin of Devon Custard with 1/2 a pint of whipped whipping cream for the cream layer...only because in other recipes I had read on-line they had suggested using Vanilla Jell-o Pudding mixed with whipping cream (which sounds totally amazing). 

The recipe instructs to bake the cake/meringue inside a rectangular cake tin, but instead I used the method from Passion for Baking and spread the cake batter and meringue on a baking tray.  Who know which works better, I just didn't have a cake tin large enough! 

I could easily have eaten most of the cake myself, it was light and creamy and the meringue was perfect.  The few bits that were left came home with me and lasted well for the next couple of days in the fridge.  

So, if you are looking for something a little bit different but not too difficult give The Verdens Beste a try.  

And if you are interested in Scandinavian cake culture drool over this article about a traditional Danish cake table in South Jutland SIIIIIGH. 

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Meal Planning: Meat Free Meals

Before Lyra was born we made a conscious effort to eat less meat, but now that she is here and eating like a pro we are more conscientious about how balanced our meals are...meaning adding more meat (back) into our diet.  

For a 2 week period I usually buy 500g of minced beef, 400ish g of skinless, boneless chicken thighs, and 450g of stewing beef to make 5 meals. On top of that we will have fish, usually salmon, once over the 2 weeks. Typing it out it seems like a lot of meat, especially compared to what we used to eat, but we are still making an effort to limit the amount of meat we eat.  

After taking the meat and fish meals into account I have 8 meat free dinners to plan each fortnight.  Keeping these 8 meals fresh, exciting and packed with all the good things Lyra needs can be challenging.  I use Pinterest a lot for inspiration, and have a good handful of firm favourites up my sleeve so meal planning doesn't take me too long, most of the time. 

Here are some of my recent finds, and good ol' stand-bys...some with links to recipes.  

mushroom stroganoff
carrot soup with grilled cheese
courgette pasta 
grilled halloumi with greek salad and chick peas 
red lentil dahl
chunky vegetable soup 
broccoli and pepper stir fry 

and of course...