Recipe: Raspberry & white choc cookies


There are two reasons I decided to work on a cookie recipe:

  1. I am building up to making breakfast cookies (read: cookies with bacon in) and wanted to nail a good oatmeal cookie recipe (feels like a breakfast cookie should be more oatmeal-y no?), and didn't have any bacon.

  2. As mentioned, my parents were up this week, and seemed like a good early morning activity with my older boy before they arrived.


Raspberry is one of my favourite chocolate-complimenting-fruit - works well with big white choc chunks in cookies/cakes/muffins and also works amazing well with dark, dark chocolate.



This recipe is another example of being based massively on availability - there are basics when it comes to cookies - sugars, butter, flour (baking powder), but variations around these that make varying levels of difference to the end result.  The result is a classic american-style cookie, with a brittle crunch to the edge and a soft chewy centre (even better when warm)


Ingredients

  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 125g self-raising flour (this was because I didn't have any plain flour - normally I would use plain flour + baking powder, but being as that is basically what self-raising flour is, meh)
  • 125g rolled oats (porridge oats) - flour is more tightly packed than oats, so if converting to cups then make sure you take that into account
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (also called baking soda)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 160g light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract(optional - I often forget this one)
  • 200g white choc chunks
  • 7g freeze dried raspberries


Method

Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Makes about 15-25 cookies, depending on the size you go for
  1. Mix the flour, oats, salt and bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl

  2. Add the sugars and butter in a bowl (ideally of a freestanding mixer, but whatever) and mix well - for a few minutes with the paddle attachment if you have one, but again, whatever. Just mix it well so it is smooth and well beaten

  3. Add the egg and beat/mix again for a minute or so until well combined. Add the vanilla if using it.

  4. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined and formed a cohesive dough. If you are using a free standing mixer, then increase the power slowly, as if you go straight in fast then you will get covered in flour. This has happened more than once to me.

  5. Chuck in the choc/raspberries (or whatever other choc/filling you are using) and mix for another 30sec-1min



  6. Wrap the the dough in clingfilm and stick it in the fridge to cool - probably an hour or so (see after thoughts on this point)


  7. Once cooled, chunk the dough into small fist size balls and place them equally spaced on a baking tray and cook for about 15minutes, or until  they have melted into cookie shapes and lightly browned.



  8. Take them from the oven, let them cool for a bit- they will sink down and start to look like the familiar, classic cookie look - kind of cracked across the top




After thoughts

  •  I didn't nail the oat-cookie ratio. I will try upping the oatmeal ratio next time. It wasn't bad, and you got the oatmeal bite a little, just not like you would on a proper oatmeal cookie. Will up it to 75% oatmeal to 25% flour ratio next time

  • I didn't have either of the sugars listed above - so I substituted caster sugar for granulated and demerara for the light brown sugar. Caster sugar is still granulated, but generally a lot finer, so from a scientific point of view this makes a difference to absorption rates/speed but on this scale, it doesn't make much difference. Same for the brown sugar swap - they are different sugars, and clearly a very different make up (dip your finger in each type and taste it - the granule size, taste etc) - but again, didn't seem to make much difference here

  • My freeze dried raspberries just don't seem to be up to the job. I will try with an alternative on the raspberries.

  • If you make the cookie-dough balls smaller, about the size of a table-tennis ball or smaller, you will get a crunchier, biscuit crunch right the way through the cookie. If you go for balls about the size of a golf ball and bigger you get the classic crunchy-around-the-outside-chewy-and-soft-in-the-center cookie (which I prefer!)

  • The length of the time you keep the dough in the fridge for also effects cookie texture - if you split the dough in half and cook one half after a few hours in the fridge and leave the other half for a day or more, you will notice a difference - the latter being tougher and more crunch throughout

rob hinds Shambolically fumbling my way around the kitchen

Recipe: Slow cooked beef casserole


We had my parents come to visit on the weekend, which inevitably means an opportunity to cook something different.  It was all fairly last minute, and it wasn't really an opportunity to spend several hours in the kitchen (that would have been pretty rude!) - but it was an opportunity to make something different.

Having popped down to the new Waitrose that had just opened (also very exciting in itself) just before they arrived, we picked up some food and I opted for a simple slow cooked beef casserole.  As I have mentioned before, my preference is for richer, indulgent, stick-to-your-ribs type food, especially in the colder months, so this seemed good.

I was so busy concentrating on ingredients, I forgot to photograph the food until it was all eaten.


It's really simple, and something that I had created once before. Well, more-or-less anyway. I don't really remember what I put into things in detail - so this time, with the blog in mind I made sure to try and guess-timate the amounts I was putting in of everything. That said, if you are just cooking for yourself at home, then it probably doesn't make much difference, you can swap ingredients/quantities based on what you have. Most of my recipes will be based on availability!


Anyways, on with the food..

Ingredients

  • 2 Large leeks (as usual, interchangeable with onions if you don't have leeks. But I prefer leeks), chopped
  • 2-3 large carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons of unsalted butted
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 800g braising steak (or whatever casserole meat)
  • 1-2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt & pepper for seasoning

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees
  1. Get your meat out of the fridge, open packaging and season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large pan (I used a large heavy based frying pan, but you can do this directly in your casserole dish if you want to cut down on washing up) melt the butter, then over a medium heat throw in the carrots and leeks.  Cook these for a while until they are soft and browning. To borrow from Nigel Slater, these will be the savoury base of the meal, so if you can, take your time with this.  Apart from anything, slowly cooking leeks in butter over a medium-high heat smells awesome.
  3. Add the tomato puree and mustard to the leeks & carrots and stir in well, and cook for a minute or so
  4. Add the meat to the pan and cook until lightly brown/sealed. Once meat is cooked sprinkle over the flour and mix - this will make sure we get all the juices/butter/fat/flavour from the dish
  5. Transfer everything so far to the casserole dish - pour over the made up beef stock. Then top up the dish with boiling water so that all the meat is covered. Stir and throw in the bay leaves
  6. Cook covered in the oven for a few hours - the oven will do the hard work for you here, and the sauce will reduce to a rich, sticky sauce. The longer and slower you cook it, the better (the meat will be softer for it), but if you don't have long, keep an eye on how it is reducing, and then try uncovering slightly for the last 30mins cooking time to speed up that bit.

Serve with anything really, bread, mash, vegetables..


(I'll try and get some photos next time, I promise)





rob hinds Shambolically fumbling my way around the kitchen

Recipe: Southern comfort BBQ sauce


Continuing the recipe theme, I also created a bbq sauce last summer. It's a sweet, tomato sauce based recipe, and went down pretty well when I served it.



Ingredients

  • 400ml tomato sauce (I just used sainsburys own brand)
  • 50ml Southern Comfort (optional)
  • 1 table spoon yellow mustard (just normal hot-dog mustard, like Frenchs)
  • 1 table spoon chilli powder
  • 80g sugar
  • 60ml cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 60ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Just slam the ingredients in a sauce pan for a while and reduce to a bbq-sauce consistency.
(to be honest, you can knock out a quick "cheats" bbq suace in two minutes that will go down pretty well - as above but reduce the ketchup to roughly 250ml, sugar to about 60g and then just a few glugs of cider and a few of worcestershire sauce and mix it up - tweaking ingredients to taste and it should be ok!)

rob hinds Shambolically fumbling my way around the kitchen

Recipe: Last summer's dry-rub


So here we are. At last. My food blog. Let's see how this goes.. to kick things off - here is my dry-rub recipe that I created in the summer for the tail-end of BBQ season (originally appeared on my tech blog in 2014).



Last year, most of my bbq involved my variation on Kansas-city dry rub (will dig out the recipe and post that sometime). And a few weeks ago, I decided to make a new dry rub for this summer - but was in the mood for something more herb-y. Initially I planned to experiment with jamming in some oregano, thyme etc - but in the end, on discovering I didn't really have any of these things to hand, and finding a jar of this:

It was due to expire later this year, so I decided to cheat and just stick that in, and see how it worked out (ingredients listed were: Sage, Marjoram, Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, Basil  - no mention of ratios though).

It was pretty good - I based the measurements purely on the amount of the mixed herbs I had left, and made about a jar.


Ingredients


  • 3 table spoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 table spoon salt
  • 1 table spoon smoked paprika
  • 4 table spoons sainsburys mixed herbs
  • 1/2 table spoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 table spoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 table spoon light brown sugar



Basically, just measure the ingredients in a bowl, mix them up and stick them in a jar.

It tasted pretty good - a nice mix of sweet but herb-y.  I have since used it on an adhoc roast-potato/tomato/bake thing as well, which worked pretty well (generally, I have found most dry rubs work well as adhoc seasoning of potato wedges/chips/etc.) and of course a mandatory bbq'd chicken (left half new rub, right half the old kansas city variation):

rob hinds Shambolically fumbling my way around the kitchen

It's not Jilly's West




I have been writing a tech blog for some time now, and last year I added a few bbq related posts to it, saying at the time that really one day, maybe I would start a new blog just for food stuff.  So being as it's a new year I figured why not give it a punt?  Cooking is one of the things I still get a little time to do amidst work & two young children (on account of it being kind of essential) so I guess might as well write a bit about it.

One of the bigger problems with trying to blog about recipes and stuff is that I generally just wing it most of the time, and a lot of the quantities are going to be trial and error, adjusting to taste - along the lines of a dollop of this, then a bit more, then another dollop - but lets see.


During the summer, chances are the recipes will be dominated by BBQ recipes, the rest of the year will likely be everything else.  The kind of things I enjoy to cook are generally very rich and indulgent - the kind of things that taste good on cold evenings and where de-glazing the pan afterwards is always the best bit of the meal. Rich, tomato sauces, slow-cooked casseroles, cheesey-tomatoey-creamy bakes.  That and cookies. I like cookies.


Inspired largely by the kind of food writing & recipes that Nigel Slater writes, or Kenji & Serious Eats are famous for. I love the science, experimentation and explanations from Kenji and the FoodLab guys, and love the warm, indulgent, no-fuss approach that Nigel Slater takes. Theirs are the books I can (and frequently do) pick up and re-read over and over again.  They make great coffee table books and great reading at any time, regardless of whether you have the time and inclination to cook.



rob hinds Shambolically fumbling my way around the kitchen