27 November 2013

Spiced Cinnamon Lamb Stew with Parsnip Rosti

Cinnamon and lamb- such a winning combination.
I first discovered it in a recipe from Ottolenghi's book, "Jerusalem"- now one of my all-time favourites, in which he roasts aubergine filled with cinnamon, lamb mince and roasted pine nuts- trust me it's delicious.
The warming eastern spices that accompany the lamb in this dish make it the perfect winter stew served with some rather unusual rosti made from grated parsnips and nutmeg.
The stew is also one of those "one pot wonders" in which you cook everything in the same pot at a low heat for an hour and a half producing very tender, soft lamb and a deliciously thick and rich sauce.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

1/2 medium white onion
2 medium garlic cloves
Small knob of salted butter
Drizzle of olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Few small sprigs of thyme
175g diced lamb shoulder
1 dessert spoon tomato puree
Good quality chicken stock
Small handful soft dried prunes
1 cinnamon stick

175g unpeeled grated parsnip (roughly 2 medium parsnips)
11/2 tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 beaten egg


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (fan.)

Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic cloves.

Add them to a medium-sized casserole dish along with the butter, thyme leaves and a small drizzle of olive oil. Put over a medium heat and sweat for 5-10 minutes until soft and just starting to turn golden. Add in the ground cinnamon and stir until the onions and garlic are well coated.

In a separate frying pan, add the lamb shoulder and fry on a high heat for 3-4 minutes until the lamb is just browned.

Remove from the heat and add the lamb to the casserole dish along with the tomato puree and stir well.

Pour in the chicken stock until it just covers the top of the lamb and season with salt and pepper. Add in about 5 large prunes, roughly chopped and lay the cinnamon stick on top.

Cover with a lid and cook on a baking tray in the preheated oven for 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, grate the parsnips with the skin on and add to a mixing bowl.

 Season well with salt and pepper and add in the nutmeg and flour.

Stir well until the parsnip is coated in the flour. Add in the beaten egg and mix well with your hands until the mixture comes together. (You may have to add in a little more beaten egg.) Form the mixture into round patties and then lay on baking paper on a baking tray and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Just before the stew is ready, put a frying pan on a high heat with a few tablespoons of groundnut oil. Once the oil is really hot, gently lay the parsnip patties in the pan. Turn the heat down slightly and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Once cooked, remove from the pan and lay on some kitchen towel to remove any excess oil.

Serve the parsnip rostis alongside a good helping of the spiced lamb stew.

26 November 2013

The Big Christmas

So last weekend was fairly stressful- which is maybe an understatement! I spent the whole of Friday with a piping bag in my hands and Friday evening lining up rows of cupcakes in their boxes ready to go on Saturday. I was slightly worried that I'd return with piles of cakes and nothing to do with them! 
We turned up to the fair which was held in a beautiful old school hall in Stockbridge, Edinburgh and unpacked all our stock- Jas had made beautiful handmade textiles to sell for her part. 
For my first time holding a stall it was very hard to judge numbers- how many people would attend, how many cakes did I need- what price to sell them for and how much would it all cost me?
But luckily it all went really well and I sold out apart from one small box which I sold to the taxi driver who took me home! I really enjoyed it and learnt a lot. 
Unfortunately it was such a busy day that I didn't manage to take many photos or even look at the rest of the fair but I've got some photos for you below. 
I made 250 cupcakes of 4 flavours: sticky toffee pudding, lemon and white chocolate (gluten free), spiced cinnamon latte and double chocolate log. 

Jas with her beautiful textiles

Luckily I already had two big cake stands from a previous occasion and I bought some cake boxes to package them up in along with some flyers. 

Double chocolate log cupcakes: a squidgy chocolate sponge cake recipe topped with a rich chocolate buttercream and chocolate flake. 

Sticky toffee reindeer cupcakes: sticky toffee sponge made with dark soft brown sugar topped with caramel swirled icing, chocolate and royal icing decorations and broken pretzels for antlers!

Sticky toffee pudding cupcakes:

Ingredients: (to make 12 large cupcakes)

70g unsalted butter
180g self raising flour
½ tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
150g dark soft brown sugar
50g caster sugar

1tsp vanilla extract
210ml milk
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

For the icing:

300g icing sugar
140g unsalted butter
2tbsp tinned condensed caramel

Toffee sauce
12 large chocolate buttons
Small pretzels
Red chocolate buttons or smarties

White royal icing 
Black icing pen


Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the soft unsalted butter with the flour, salt, baking powder and both sugars until it is fully mixed and resembles breadcrumbs. 

In a mixing jug, whisk together the vanilla extract, milk and eggs until combined. Slowly add half of the wet ingredients to the dry, beating on a slow speed. Then turn up the speed and beat on high for 1-2 minutes until smooth and well incorporated. Then turn the speed back down to low and gradually add in the rest of the wet ingredients. 

Spoon the mixture evenly into 12 cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch. 

Remove the cakes from the tin to cool on a wire cooling rack.  Meanwhile make the icing: put the unsalted butter in the microwave for 10-20 seconds until very soft and starting to melt. Then add this to a mixing bowl along with the icing sugar and condensed caramel and beat until smooth. Spoon the icing into a large piping bag with a star-shaped nozzle and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes. Top the cupcakes with a drizzle of toffee sauce. Stick a chocolate button into the centre and then using a little extra icing stick a red smartie on top. Cut out white eyes from rolled white royal icing and pipe on small black dots with an icing pen. Stick these onto the icing and then break the small pretzels in half so that you have two antlers to poke into the top. 

Spiced-cinnamon latte cupcakes: a sponge base flavoured with ground cinnamon and ginger topped with a wintery cinnamon icing. 

Bottom two tiers: gluten free lemon and white chocolate cupcakes filled with lemon curd and topped with a zesty lemon icing and white chocolate flakes. 

It was a great challenge and an enjoyable if slightly stressful day but I'm definitely hoping to return to the fair next year!

As it was my last weekend in Edinburgh I also made a trip to the German markets that line Princes Street- there are some great mulled wine stalls and some delicious German food!

19 November 2013

Bring on the Festive Season!

This week is going to be mayhem. 
I've got 250 cupcakes to make, ice, decorate and transport safely across to the christmas fair on saturday!- quite a challenge!
The kitchen started off pretty calm this morning- the christmas songs were on full and I was quite happily cake-making. By the afternoon there was just a sea of cocoa powder and an endless supply of double chocolate cupcakes!
It's all hands on deck the next few days but hopefully all the work will pay off!
It's my last week of lectures too and the city is becoming increasingly decked out with festive decorations - we're having a flat christmas dinner on sunday as it's the last chance we have to be altogether and then a trip to Edinburgh's German Christmas markets for a glass or two of mulled wine!
There is one place in Edinburgh that embodies the festive spirit completely- I can't wait for it to be decked out in christmas lights every year along with an absolutely huge christmas tree that sits on top of the bar. It's called The Dome and is a great venue for a few christmas drinks, afternoon tea or a special meal. As soon as you walk in you are greeted with that cinnamon christmas smell- what could be better! I've left you with some photos below- guaranteed to make you feel festive!

In the meantime I've been trying to fit in a few more dinner parties at the flat before we all go home for christmas. This is just a quick recipe for an absolutely delicious salad I served alongside a spinach, feta and sumac filo pastry pie. 

1 medium sweet potato
Half a small butternut squash
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Small piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
Olive oil
1 cup quinoa
Salt and Pepper
Small handful dried cranberries
Sunflower seeds
1 can cooked chickpeas
Lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. 

Peel the sweet potato and butternut squash and cut into small chunks. Add to a roasting tin and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil. Roast in the oven for around 25-30 minutes until soft. After 15 minutes of roasting, add the garlic and ginger and mix thoroughly before returning to the oven. 

Meanwhile, add the quinoa to a small saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and put on a high heat, covered with a lid. Boil for about 5-8 minutes until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid. Remove from the heat and allow to sit with the lid on the saucepan for 10 minutes. 

Once the quinoa has cooled slightly, add it to a mixing bowl along with the roasted potato and squash along with all the ginger and garlic. Season well with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Drain the chickpeas and add them to the bowl along with the cranberries and sunflower seeds. Mix well with a large spoon and then dress with 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice and 1 tbsp olive oil. 

The outside of the Dome- they even have a snow canon!

I've got no idea how they manage to put this up every year!

It's a beautiful venue,  perfect for the next few weeks of festive celebration.