Thursday, 25 July 2013

Picnic in the Dales! Beef Salad Wraps

Burnsall- Grassington Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales is an area which never fails to charm me. Tom is from Skipton which is hailed as 'The Gateway to the Dales' and walking around this area, we chat about how much we missed the Great British outdoors while we lived abroad. Over the eight years I have traveled over to Skipton to visit Tom's family, we have covered a lot of ground but there is always somewhere else to explore and usually only a short drive from home. Now we live in Harrogate, we have Nidderdale on our doorstep, but we took a sideways step into Wharfedale and walked along the river, starting at Burnsall. There were loads of people parked up taking a dip, or admiring the view while having a glass of wine or pint of ale at The Red Lion.
It is an incredibly picturesque village and it's popularity during long hot summers stretch beyond Tom's school years as groups of lads, dressed in vest and shorts, come out to play and jump into the famous plunge pool.

People jumping into the plunge pool at Burnsall.

Walking along the River Wharfe

We followed a well trodden and fairly busy walk way towards Grassington which just bypasses Hebden.

Burnsall to Grassington

The warm weather made everything look even more' lovely and it was nice that everyone who walked by said hello or commented on the weather! Only in Yorkshire!

Crossing over the stepping stones.
When you reach the river, you have a choice of passage; via the suspension bridge which positively bounces, or over the stepping stones. We didn't walk all the way to Grassington, but stopped at Linton Falls and Tom showed me the weir where he used to slide down into the fast flowing river on his bum! The houses in Linton Falls are gorgeous and it was the perfect place to stop for a snack before we set off back again - this time over the suspension bridge. Those stepping stones were a bit mossy!

Picnic! The empty jars clattered around in the rucksack all the way back.

Beef salad wraps
We took a simple picnic of gorgeous sliced roast beef from Addyman's butchers in Harrogate (the best meat and most friendly service in town) and a jar of home grown leaves and mixed salad with balsamic dressing.

Beef wraps with mixed salad

Monday, 22 July 2013

Walnut Polvorones: Mexican Wedding Cookies

Walnut Polvorones

 I stumbled across this recipe when looking for something to do with a bag of walnuts I had in the cupboard. I have used ground almonds in loads of baking, but wondered if there was anything out there for a load of old walnuts!

Polvorones are a melt in your mouth buttery sugar cookie. The name comes from ''polvo''meaning powder, as the dough is tossed in icing sugar once cooled. This creates a snowy Turkish delight powder on the outside of the one bite treats! The walnuts make them a little bitter which means they are not as more-ish as other biscuits, but if you dip them in your tea or coffee, you could be heading for danger! 
I have found recipes containing pecans, almonds, cinnamon, chocolate or Brazil nuts. The recipe is similar to others describing themselves as Russian tea cakes, and Greek celebration biscuits.
Although they are commonly called 'Mexican wedding cookies' in America, they appear to be a more common treat found in most bakeries in Mexico and served on a everyday basis rather than only on special occasions. Traditionally, they are served as wedding favours or at Christmas time, perhaps because of the snowy appearance!

 Mexican Wedding Cookies

225g unsalted butter, at room temperature 
110g sugar
150g plain flour
60g ground walnuts
100g chopped walnuts
150g icing sugar

1. Preheat your oven to 170C and grease and line your baking trays.
2. Beat the butter until light and fluffy and gradually beat in the caster sugar until thoroughly combined.
3. Add the flour and both kinds of nuts and bring together into a crumbly dough.
4. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 mins.
5. Remove from the fridge and using the palms of your hands, roll a tablespoon at a time into small balls. You should make around 24 cookies. Space them evenly apart and allow room for them to expand.
6. Bake in the oven for 20-25mins or until slightly golden.
7. Allow to cool on the tray for 10 mins and then toss in a bowl of icing sugar before placing on a wire rack.
8. These cookies store well in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Nana's 80th birthday- Guinness and Chocolate Cake with Port Poached Pear

80th birthday cakes
 For my Nana's 80th birthday we decided to surprise her with a party at a local pub where we had all hidden in a back room with balloons, cake and an all you can eat carvery! Right up my Nana's street!
Everyone made loads of effort with gifts, secret family discussions, Chinese whispers invitations and and military operation all day diversions. It was great to see she looked so taken aback and she definitely appreciated all the effort. My cousin Mollie sang a few songs and played her guitar and I made a birthday cake I thought she would like. I couldn't choose between a ginger cake or something with Guinness as I thought she would like both flavours. I decided to make both; some stem ginger cup cakes and a Guinness, and Port poached pear cake and display them in an 80. That way there was plenty to go around.

Guinness and Port Poached Pear Cake

Nana's 80th Birthday surprise!

This recipe is a combination of two I found online, one from Nigella and the other from Women&Home. I chose to use pears instead of apples as that is what I had in the fridge. You can freeze this cake un-iced and keep fresh for 2 days. It is incredibly moist and the sugar counteracts any bitterness in the stout. You could use blackcurrants instead of pears or apples and this would bring about a nostalgic combination.

Guinness Chocolate Cake with Port Poached Pears


For the cake
250g butter
250ml Guinness or other stout
75g cocoa
350g caster sugar
150g  Sour Cream
2 large, free-range eggs
1tbsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda

for the port poached pear
300ml port
50g caster sugar
1 firm pear
for the filling and topping 
300g cream cheese
150g icing sugar
125g whipped cream

1. Heat the oven to 180 C/160 C fan/ 350 F. Grease and line a 9in loose-bottomed cake tin. 
2. Melt the butter with the Guinness over a pan of hot water in a heatproof bowl. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa and sugar.
3. Beat the sour cream, eggs and vanilla until combined and add into the Guinness mix.
4. Stir through the flour and bicarb and once mixed thoroughly, transfer into the tin evenly and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack.
5. For the pear, heat the port and sugar in a pan with 300ml water. When the sugar has melted, add the pear and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the fruit to cool and reduce the remaining liquid rapidly until you have a syrup. Slice the fruit thinly, removing the core; leave the syrup to cool.
6. Whisk the cream until thick and then beat in the cream cheese with the icing sugar. Combine and chill.
7. Once chilled to room temp, cut the cake in half horizontally. Spread half the cream mix on to the base.
8. Carefully layer on the top half and cover the top with remaining cream. Arrange the fruit on top and drizzle on a bit of syrup as you desire.