Strawberry and Chocolate Meringue

So BritMums Live 2014, the UK’s biggest social media and bloggers conference has come and gone.  I originally had no intention of going but I was lucky enough to be one of the 6 finalists in the BiBs awards and decided to treat myself to a couple of days of ‘me’ time in London.  Sadly I didn’t go on to win the award but Lucy of Supergolden Bakes was a very well deserved winner.  If you haven’t already come across her blog then go and have a look – it’s gorgeous.  Thanks again to everybody who took the time to vote more me.  It was a very special experience.

The event itself was full of positive energy and was packed with energetic and passionate speakers, leaving me feeling completely reenergised about my blog and about life in general.  I love blogging but the one area I find the most difficult is building my social media presence.  I am just not  comfortable with the whole numbers game and find it hard to chase followers purely for the purpose of stats.  It was therefore such a delight to listen to the lovely Jaume Marin from the Costa Brava Tourism talk about building relationships between their brand and travel bloggers.  As a brand they believe not in the number of followers that you have but more in how you interact with your followers.  This just makes perfect sense to me and I applaud their passion and common sense attitude to working and promoting their brand as well as the bloggers they work with.  I left that session wishing I was a travel blogger :-)

So what did I get out of my two days at BritMums Live apart from loads of good advice and meeting the lovely Lucy and Elizabeth?  The answer is simply a renewed confidence in myself and a desire to be more creative with my time.  It is not just about being a wife and a good Mum – it is about doing something for yourself,  something that you love and that makes you happy.

And on that note I leave you with an all time classic dessert of a simple but delicious Strawberry and Chocolate Meringue.  Perfect for summer entertaining.
Strawberry and Chocolate Meringue

Strawberry and Chocolate Meringue

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 - 10 portions

Strawberry and Chocolate Meringue

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 450ml double cream
  • 2 tblsp icing sugar
  • 350g fresh strawberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 140°C (275°F) (Gas Mark 1).
  2. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Draw 3 rectangles, 10 x 25cm on the baking paper. You can just fit two rectangles on the one baking tray.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until the soft peak stage.
  4. Add the caster sugar (I add mine all at once) and continue to whisk until the mixture is stiff and glossy.
  5. Add the vinegar and cornflour and whisk for a couple more minutes. The mixture should be able to hold its shape if the bowl is turned upside down.
  6. Prepare an icing bag with a large star nozzle and fill with the meringue mixture.
  7. Using your template, pipe (10cm) lines until you have filled all three rectangles.
  8. Bake in the oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour turn the oven off and leave the meringues to cool in the oven.
  9. When your meringues are cool, melt the chocolate and spread it over 2 of the meringue layers making sure you go right to the edge.
  10. Place in the fridge for about 10 minutes to harden.
  11. Assemble just before serving by whipping the double cream with some icing sugar and chopping your strawberries (leave about 8 whole ones for decoration).
  12. Place one chocolate meringue on your serving dish and spread with one third of the cream and top with half the chopped strawberries.
  13. Place the second chocolate meringue on top and spread with another third of the cream and the remaining chopped strawberries.
  14. Place the plain meringue layer on top and spread with the remaining cream.
  15. Arrange the whole strawberries on top and drizzle over any remaining chocolate.
http://mygoldenpear.com/2014/06/26/strawberry-and-chocolate-meringue/

Strawberry and Chocolate Meringue 1And here you have my two children giving their very own critique of this lovely dessert.  At one point it looks like my daughter has seen a ghost.  I do love them but then I’m their Mum :-)

Enjoy!

I am submitting this dessert as my entry to the Rix - win a £100 Waitrose Competion.

I am also sharing this post over on Supergolden Bakes Cook, Blog, Share linky. I’m sure Lucy would love for you to come and join in.

I am also sending my post over to the lovely Vicki at Honest Mum for this week’s Tasty Tuesdays linky
Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com
And last but not least over to A Mummy Too’s Recipe of the Week

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Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks and why you shouldn’t wash raw chicken

Driving home from school the other day, my 5 year old daughter asked me what I’d been up to that day. “I went into London,” was my response. That caught her attention. “Cool, did you go to the Aquarium?” “Uh, no, nothing that exciting,” I told her. “Oh, so did you just go and take some photos then?” “Well no it wasn’t even that exciting,” I said. “I went to listen to some people talk about chicken.” “What! Why would you do that?” I could have just ended the conversation at that point but I thought I would tell her anyway. “Well, they were explaining how to cook chicken properly so that people don’t get sick or worse, even die.” “Well that was a waste of time then because you’ve never killed anyone – have you?” And no I haven’t ever killed anyone or even given them food poisoning but I did find the talk very interesting and I did learn more about the correct way to handle chicken when preparing to cook it.

There is going to be a lot of information in the media this week about this very subject. It is after all, Food Safety Week and the emphasis is on making the public aware of Campylobacter which happens to be the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK. I’d never heard of it before but there are more cases of Campylobacter poisoning that Salmonella and E.coli put together. The symptoms of Campylobacter poisoning are abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and sometimes vomiting but what can be really nasty is the possibility of reactive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Of course not everybody will suffer to the same degree but I personally don’t want to ever be responsible for putting someone in that position.

Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks 2

Now I’m not one to be overly fussy about germs. Our house is clean but not sterile. We are generally a healthy family and I can say this because we have lived in our current house for 6 years and neither my husband nor my two children have ever had to visit our local doctor. I have always been aware of the risks of raw chicken and I think I do take more care when handling chicken than with any other raw meat. I have never been one to wash chicken before cooking it but I do know of people who do. We have had many debates about why you should and shouldn’t with each one of us as passionate about our reasons as the other. It would seem that at least 44% of people surveyed said they do wash chicken and their reasons vary from removing any bacteria to removing the slimy stuff or just because their Mother used to do it. The FSA and local authorities are now campaigning to raise awareness about the dangers of washing your chicken. One of the main ways to get and spread campylobacter is through cross-contamination and by washing your raw chicken you can actually spread the bacteria by splashing it onto hands, work surfaces, clothing and cooking equipment. As the talk progressed I was feeling very pleased with myself and gave myself a pat on the back for not ever having washed my chicken. After listening to both the FSA and a doctor from the Institute of Infection and Global Health we had a demonstration from Sue Ashworth who is a trained home economist. After Sue had cut open the packaging and removed the chicken she threw the packaging straight into the bin and made the comment that “of course you don’t want to rinse the packaging.” That was me brought down from my pedestal – I always rinse my packaging before binning it. I found myself sitting up straighter and paying more attention after that.
So what can we, as home cooks do to reduce the risk of cross-contamination?

1. When buying chicken, make sure the packaging is not damaged and the meat is sealed adequately.
2. Make sure your chicken is not put in with any fresh produce when packing your bags at the supermarket – just in case it does leak.
3. Keep the chicken as cold as possible on the way home from the supermarket.
4. Place it in the fridge as soon as you get home and preferably in the coldest part of the fridge which is the bottom shelf.
5. Try to leave the chicken in the original packaging and always place it in a separate container – again just in case it does leak.
6. If the chicken is frozen, give yourself ample time to defrost it in the fridge – not on your countertop.
7. Before preparing your chicken, fill your sink with hot soapy water. By doing this it means you don’t have to touch your taps to wash your hands.
8. Cut your packaging and remove your chicken either into your baking dish or on to your chopping board.
9. Throw any packaging straight in the bin.
10. Wash any utensils and your hands in the hot soapy water as you go.
11. If you test your chicken with a skewer and the chicken is not yet cooked, make sure you wash the skewer before using it again. This applies to a basting brush as well.
12. Follow the instructions for cooking times given on the packaging. There should be no pink meat visible and all juices should run clear when tested with a skewer or knife.

Remember – thorough cooking will kill any bacteria.

So there you have it. Most of us will instinctively follow good food hygiene but there may be just one or two things that we can improve on to help our families enjoy the food that we give them and above all to stay healthy.

Here is a quick recipe for barbecued chicken drumsticks – a perfect summer snack and an opener for another whole debate about barbecues and food safety :-)

Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks

Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: 8 portions

Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 4 tblsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tblsp tomato puree
  • 2 tblsp soy sauce
  • 3 tblsp honey
  • 1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Slash the chicken skin 2 - 3 times with a sharp knife.
  2. Place the chicken in a shallow glass container,
  3. Mix the vinegar, tomato puree, soy sauce, honey, Worcestershire Sauce, garlic and cayenne pepper together and pour over the chicken.
  4. Cover with cling wrap and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
  5. Cook the drumsticks on a preheated barbecue grill for about 20 - 30 minutes or until all the juices run clear.
http://mygoldenpear.com/2014/06/16/barbecued-chicken-drumsticks/

Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks

For more information on the FSA’s campylobacter campaign, and for guidance on the safest way to handle chicken, visit food.gov.uk/chicken

I’m adding this post to Supergolden Bakes’ Cook, Blog, Share linky.  Come and join in.

 
and to Honest Mum’s Tasty Tuesdays Linky
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Strawberry Shortcake

Without a doubt the star of today’s strawberry shortcake recipe is the strawberry and yogurt filling.  Normally I would use double cream which of course whips up to a delicious creamy consistency but is loaded with calories. For this dessert I wanted to try yogurt but to be honest I didn’t hold out much hope. I love yogurt and often eat it with my breakfast, use it in my cake mixtures and stir it into my main meals  to give a lovely creamy sauce but could it substitute cream as one of the main ingredients in a dessert?

The problem with using yogurt as a substitute for cream is the watery liquid that sits on the top.  Even if you mix it in, it will eventually separate leaving you with a soggy dessert.  For my first attempt I tried putting the yogurt into a fine mesh sieve but that didn’t work.  Most of the yogurt just ran through the sieve.  My second attempt was much better,  I used a muslin square (available from Lakeland) to line the sieve and then left the yogurt for about an hour.  There was about half a cup of liquid which had drained into the bowl and I was left with a really thick yogurt which whipped beautifully and kept its shape once piped.  Once the icing sugar had been added and mixed with the strawberries nobody could tell that it wasn’t cream.  I absolutely adore cream but I can honestly say that I would replace it with yogurt in most of my desserts from now on.

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients

  • 175g butter
  • 150g plain flour
  • 115g ground almonds
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 20g flaked almonds
  • 300ml Greek yogurt
  • 2 tblsp icing sugar
  • 450g fresh strawberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°F (350°C) and line two baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Line a sieve with a muslin square and place over a bowl.
  3. Pour the yogurt into the sieve and leave in the fridge until ready to use.
  4. Rub the butter into the flour and ground almonds to form fine crumbs.
  5. Stir in the caster sugar.
  6. Using your fingers, mix to a soft dough and knead lightly until smooth.
  7. Divide the dough into half and place one on a baking tray.
  8. Roll into a rough 20cm round. The mixture is very soft so I found it easier to finish it off by molding it into a neat circle using my hands to mold it rather than trying to use a rolling pin.
  9. Repeat with the second half of dough.
  10. Prick each dough circle lightly with a fork and sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of each one.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes.
  12. While still warm, mark one of the circles into eight triangles and leave to cool. Cut the triangles when cold.
  13. Remove the yogurt from the fridge and discard any liquid that has dripped into the bowl.
  14. Place the yogurt and icing sugar into a clean, dry bowl and beat until thick.
  15. Place a quarter of the yogurt mixture into a piping bag.
  16. Reserve 9 whole strawberries and chop the rest into small pieces.
  17. Mix the chopped strawberries into the yogurt mixture and spread over the shortbread base.
  18. Arrange the eight shortbread triangles over the top.
  19. Pipe a yogurt rosette on each triangle and decorate with a whole strawberry.
  20. Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve immediately.
http://mygoldenpear.com/2014/06/12/strawberry-shortcake/

Strawberry Shortcake 2Just look at how thick and luscious that whipped yogurt is.  Enjoy!

I’m adding this post to the following link ups -

A Mummy Too’s Recipe of the Week

recipe-of-the-week
Honest Mum’s Tasty Tuesdays
9VwhltV
and finally Supergolden Bakes Cook, Blog, Share

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Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake

There is nothing that makes me think of summer more than the smell of fresh raspberries. I spent my teenage years growing up on the East coast of Scotland where some of the best raspberries in the world are grown. During the summer school holidays we would set off to the local farms and pick raspberries for the farmers and make ourselves some pocket money. It was easy money for us – we were outdoors, sun shining, the berries were easy to pick and of course we were surrounded by the smell of ripe raspberries. Such good memories and one I wish my children could experience.  So with the sun shining and the barbecue on, a delicious raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake was on order.
Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake
This cheesecake is so light and delicious – summer on a plate!

I have used low fat cream cheese and lovely thick Greek yogurt to make it a bit more calorie friendly than a traditional cheesecake but it still tastes just as good. I normally stick mine in the freezer to set and then just before we are ready to eat our main meal I will put it in the fridge to defrost. I don’t like using too much gelatine so the consistency will be quite soft if left out the fridge too long.  The one in my photo had been out of the fridge for about an hour so you can see that it still holds its shape but is quite soft.

Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 8 - 10 portions

Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients

    For the base
  • 185g digestive biscuits
  • 45g butter, melted
  • 30g crushed praline (optional)
  • For the cheesecake
  • 300g fresh raspberries
  • 300ml Greek Yogurt
  • 150g low-fat soft cheese (Philadelphia)
  • 45g icing sugar
  • 100g white chocolate (melted)
  • 3 leaves Fine Leaf Gelatine

Instructions

  1. Grease a 23cm round spring-release cake tin.
  2. To make the base
  3. Crush the biscuits until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the melted butter and crushed praline if using.
  5. Mix well and pour into your cake tin.
  6. Using the back of a spoon, press down hard until you have a smooth, solid biscuit base.
  7. Refrigerate until cheesecake mixture is ready.
  8. To make the cheesecake mixture
  9. Puree 225g of the raspberries (the rest are for decoration) in a blender, then press through a sieve.
  10. Reserve half of the puree; return the rest to the blender, add the yogurt, cream cheese, icing sugar and melted chocolate and blend until well mixed and evenly coloured.
  11. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 4 minutes.
  12. Remove from the water and squeeze out any excess water.
  13. Place in a saucepan over a gentle heat until melted.
  14. Add the melted gelatine to the cheesecake mixture and blend again until well incorporated.
  15. Pour the cheesecake mixture into your cake tin.
  16. Spoon in the reserved puree and swirl with a knife to make a marbled pattern.
  17. Sprinkle with the remaining raspberries and chill for 3 - 4 hours.

Notes

I nearly always have crushed praline in my store cupboard and love to add it to my biscuit bases to give a lovely nutty and slightly chewy texture to the biscuit base.

http://mygoldenpear.com/2014/06/03/raspberry-and-white-chocolate-cheesecake/

Chocolate and White Raspberry Cheesecake 4The chocolate rose was something I had wanted to try for a long time.  Trying it out on a sunny day was probably not the best idea I’ve had but with a bit of perseverance it did finally work.  I followed the tutorial on http://www.howtocookthat.net/public_html/how-to-make-a-chocolate-flower/ .  The flower will not work unless you temper your chocolate and Anne also shows you how to do this using your microwave.  The petals are so fine that if your chocolate is not tempered they will melt as soon as you try to handle them.  I wouldn’t advise making this at the last minute.  Make it when you have plenty of time and then keep it in the freezer until you need to use it.

Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake 2

Enjoy!

It’s Tasty Tuesday time again. Pop over to Honest Mum for a feast of good food ideas.
9VwhltV

Turkey Burgers and Monkeygland Sauce

What a week!  The poor kids have had rain nearly every day of their school holiday. They have done well to get outside at every given opportunity but it’s not quite the same as if the sun were shining and the grass dry enough to play on without turning into a swamp. We did have one dry afternoon so I quickly made up a batch of these turkey burgers and some delicious Monkeygland sauce, packed them up in a bag and headed off to the village green with a selection of bats and balls and let the kids burn off some energy before tucking into these delicious burgers.
The burgers are low fat and make a nice change from the usual beef burgers. I nearly always use turkey mince if I’m making homemade burgers as it is both cheaper and healthier than beef.  The key is to not overcook them, keeping them as moist as possible.  Once you’ve added all the extras and some delicious sauce,  you’ll hardly notice that they are not beef burgers.  Now the sauce may sound a bit odd and I have no idea where the name came from as it has nothing to do with monkeys or glands.  It is a typical South African sauce and is found on nearly every menu which has burgers on it.  It is sweet and rich but with a nice kick from the chilli.  Every South African is familiar with Mrs Ball’s Chutney so we would typically use this brand of chutney. It is available in most of the UK supermarkets and is definitely worth a try.  The recipe makes more sauce than is needed for 6 burgers but it stores well in a sterilised jar and if kept in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Turkey burger and Monkeygland Sauce

Turkey Burgers and Monkeygland Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 6 portions

Turkey Burgers and Monkeygland Sauce

Ingredients

    For the Monkeygland Sauce
  • 2 tblsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 125ml Worcester Sauce
  • 250ml chutney (preferably Mrs Ball's Original chutney)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 10ml tomato paste
  • 45ml white wine vinegar
  • 60ml brown sugar
  • For the burgers
  • 500g turkey mince
  • ½ an onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 slices of bread, crusts removed
  • 125ml milk
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Additional extras
  • Burger buns
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Red Onion

Instructions

    To make the Monkeygland Sauce
  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat.
  2. Fry the onion, garlic and chilli until the onion is soft and nicely browned.
  3. Add the Worcester Sauce, chutney, tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar and brown sugar to the cooked onions and mix well.
  4. Continue to cook over a low heat until the sauce has reduced down to a jam-like consistency (about 15 to 20 minutes).
  5. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool down while you make the burgers.
  6. To make the burgers
  7. Combine the mince, onion and garlic in a mixing bowl.
  8. Soak the bread in the milk and then gently squeeze out any excess milk.
  9. Add the bread mixture to the mince and season with salt and pepper.
  10. Knead the mixture together with your hands until well incorporated.
  11. Mould the mixture into 6 patties. The mixture is very wet but if handled carefully they will hold together nicely.
  12. Using a small amount of sunflower oil, fry gently until cooked.
  13. Assemble burgers, using additional extras and top with a generous helping of Monkeygland sauce.
http://mygoldenpear.com/2014/05/30/turkey-burgers-and-monkeygland-sauce/

Turkey burger and Monkeygland Sauce 1
I’m submitting this post over to A Mummy Too’s Recipe of the Week linky.
recipe-of-the-week
and over to Honest Mum’s Tasty Tuesday linky which is being hosted by Franglais Cooking this week.
9VwhltV

I’m also adding this post to Supergolden Bakes fab new linky, called Cook, Blog, Share
 photo 9af5d0df-b279-4c3c-92ad-fc98f562a39a_zpsaca21226.jpg

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