Sunday, 27 October 2013

Homemade Potato Crisps

My flatmates are going home for the half-term break week, and have left behind some excess Maris Piper potatoes, so I thought that I'd try to make some potato chips. (Or crisps, as the British say)

They may look pretty decent, but these were the few successful, presentable ones. Many of them browned nastily, affecting the taste, and most of them crumbled after boiling. (Apparently boiling is only ideal for red potatoes)

If you haven't already guessed, this isn't a tried-and-tested-and-succeeded recipe post! The crisps were worth a try, but I'd much rather buy a packet of Walker's Extra Crunchy for less than a pound, than go through the process of slicing, seasoning and flipping. They've also got to be cooked at a temperature of about 220 ºC, which makes me cringe at the thought of my energy bills. #studentliving They don't even taste as good as a packet of crisps. They may be healthier, but if I'm going to have potato slices cooked in oil, it's going to be unhealthy no matter what, so I'd rather just go all the way and get me some Walker's.

If you doubt my beliefs, which might be a good thing to do, and really must have the recipe, here's what I've come up with from referring to Martha Stewart and Home Cooking Adventure.

Baked Potato Chips

3 medium potatoes
ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

ground herbs of your choice (I used oregano)
cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the fan oven to 200 ºC and lightly grease a few baking sheets.
2. Peel the potatoes and slice them potatoes as thinly as you can with a knife.
3. In a big bowl, combine all the other ingredients. Use your fingers to mix and coat the potato slices in the bowl.
4. Lay the potato slices out on the baking sheets in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes, then take them out and flip each crisp over, to bake for another 15 minutes.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Dorset Cereals – Honey Granola

Dorset Cereals and their whole muesli thing has always appeared to me as overpriced bird food. (PS: I'm not a muesli fan) I do like granola, though, especially with nuts and honey, so I decided to give this box a try. (PS: It was on offer)

This cereal is seriously stripped down. Oats, pecans, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, all baked with the tiniest hint of honey and vanilla extract. This is perfect for people who absolutely love nuts and oats, as that's pretty much the main taste of the cereal.

I'm not too big on this cereal, but it's not bad either, considering how natural and healthy it is. A good choice for organic bunnies, but is definitely not for those looking for a Crunchy Nut or Cheerios alternative. And definitely no great after-cereal milk.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Perfect profiteroles

Just for the record, I made 50 of these on Saturday night, and they were gone by Monday night.

It is week three of my domestic independence here in London, and I've not had food poisoning, so all is well. To take a break from the long school days and exercise some productivity, I decided to bake some profiteroles, which doesn't require complicated ingredients nor much fancy equipment, perfect for a new-ish kitchen.

Perfect Profiteroles
makes ~30 small profiteroles
(adapted from essential desserts)
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

Extra equipment

Piping bag with long, narrow nozzle (How to make a DIY piping bag)


Choux Pastry:
50g (1¾ oz) butter
90g (3¼ oz/ ¾ cup)plain all-purpose flour, sifted twice
3 eggs, lightly beaten

375ml (13 fl oz/ 1½ cups) milk
4 egg yolks
80g (2¾ oz/ ⅓ cup) caster sugar
30g  (1 oz/ ¼ cup) plain all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

110g (3¾ oz) dark chocolate
2 teaspoons vegetable oil


To make the filling:
1. Put the milk in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Set aside while quickly whisking the yolks and sugar in a bowl until combined.
2. Whisk the flour into the egg mixture.
3. Pour the hot milk slowly onto the egg and flour mixture, whisking constantly.
4. Wash out the pan, return the milk mixture to the pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture boils and thickens. Boil for two minutes, stirring often.
5. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and stir in the vanilla extract.
6. Lay plastic wrap directly over the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming, then refrigerate until cold.

To make the choux pastry:
1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC, set on fan mode, and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper. (210ºC for regular oven setting)
2. Put the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan with 185ml (6fl oz/ ¾ cup) water and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and quickly beat in the flour with a wooden spoon.
3. Return to the heat and continue beating until the mixture comes together in a lump and leaves the sides of the pan easily. Allow to cool slightly.
4. Transfer to a bowl (I used a standing mixer for this) and beat to release as much heat as you can. Very gradually add in beaten egg, until all the egg is added and mixture is thick and glossy – a wooden spoon should stand upright in it. If it is too runny, egg has been added to quickly, and you have to beat for several more minutes until it thickens.
5. Sprinkle the baking trays with water to create steam for rising the pastry in the oven.
6. Spoon rather small heaps (they rise a lot) of the mixture onto the baking trays, and leave room for spreading.
7. Bake for roughly 20 minutes, (20-25 for regular oven setting) or until browned and hollow-sounding, then remove and make a small hole in the base of each puff with a skewer. Return to the oven for 5 minutes to dry out. Cool on a wire rack, bottom-side up.

Filling the choux pastry:
1. Pipe the custard filling generously into the choux puffs with your smallest long piping nozzle through the hole in the base. The weight of the profiterole should increase noticeably after filled.

To make chocolate topping:
1. Chop the chocolate and put it in a large heatproof bowl with the oil.
2. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and remove it from the heat, and sit the bowl over the saucepan, ensuring that the bowl does not touch the water.
3. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

1. Dip the top of each profiterole in the chocolate.
2. Allow to set or refrigerate in airtight containers before serving.

It was actually pretty easy to do, just quite time-consuming! But it's all worth it, plus you get to lick custard out of the saucepan and the piping bag. Also, don't forget that remaining chocolate dipping, which deserves to be eaten straight out of the bowl with a spoon!

On a side note, I was really lucky to have the sun shining gloriously into my bedroom the next day, through my sheer white curtains, onto a broad windowsill – is this the perfect food-photography setup or what? Who needs fancy studio lights? (Okay, granted, I had a DSLR camera on a tripod with big fat zoom lens)

Let's just hope that the sun decides to shine every time I bake something new. London, be generous!
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