Saturday, 30 August 2014

Mexican Bean Burgers.

As it was National Burger Day on Tuesday I decided to whip up some Mexican bean burgers to celebrate, complete with homemade brioche burger buns. I had never made burger buns before, nor had I made brioche but, I thought why not go all out and give these buns from The Clever Carrot blog a go. After mixing the ingredients together and forming the dough I felt rather alarmed at how tacky and wet the dough was and as I pulled the dough out onto the work surface it clung to my hands like chewing gum. I thought that something must have gone wrong but, decided to stick with it and trust that prior to baking, brioche was supposed to be a bit of a sticky mess. Well, you never know right? I mean I'm sure Megan Fox doesn't wake up looking completely stunning and flawless before she slaps on the make-up, right? No, you're right, she definitely does. I however, am not so fortunate but, pop on the old make-up and I start to look at least fairly decent so, I held out hope that after cooking, my buns would do the same. Since baking, I have now discovered that brioche dough does tend to be very tacky and wet due to the addition of eggs and extra liquid so do not be alarmed, you're just in for a treat when these moist buns come out of the oven!

I let the dough rise, shaped it as best I could into some round-ish buns, brushed over an egg wash, popped them in the oven and crossed my fingers. Miraculously, as I pulled open the oven door twenty minutes later, I was greeted with the sight of these gorgeous, glossy buns. My eyes widened and I licked my lips as the tantalizing aroma of fresh bread filled the air. I couldn't stop myself from tearing into a little bronze bundle and smothering it with butter; as soft as a cloud and beautifully sweet with every glorious bite.

After, managing to restrain myself from devouring the other seven buns I eventually used them to encase my mexican bean burgers (recipe taken from delicious magazine) and topped each burger with a luxurious, golden blanket of creamy, smoked cheddar and a scattering of crispy spring onions. With the addition of a squirt of zingy, sweet chilli sauce and a hefty dollop of chunky guacamole, it is safe to say that national burger day was very much appreciated in our household and these mexican bean burgers were very much enjoyed! 

Did you tuck into any tasty burgers to celebrate National Burger Day?

Makes 8 burgers.
  1. For the Brioche Burger Buns-
  2. 250ml warm water
  3. 3 tbsp. warm milk
  4. 7g dried yeast
  5. 2 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  6. 2 large eggs
  7. 410g strong white bread flour
  8. 45g plain flour
  9. 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  10. 2 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  11. For the Bean Burgers-
  12. 2 tbsp. olive oil
  13. 1 red onion, finely chopped
  14. 6 spring onions, thinly sliced
  15. 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  16. 1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  17. 1 tbsp. Cajun spice
  18. 3 x 400g tins mixed beans, drained and rinsed
  19. 1 large free-range egg, beaten
  20. 100g fresh breadcrumbs
  21. Small handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
  22. Juice of ½ lime
  23. 150g feta, crumbled
  24. For the Burger Toppings-
  25. Sweet Chilli Sauce 
  26. Applewood Smoked Cheddar
  27. Fried Spring onions
  28. Guacamole 

  29. (My favourite homemade Guacamole recipe-1 medium ripe tomato, 1 avocado (very ripe), the juice of 1/2 a lime, small handful of coriander (chopped), 1/2 a small red onion (finely chopped) and 1/2 a red chilli (deseeded and finely chopped). 

  30. Method

  31. 1. First, prepare the brioche burger buns. In a glass jug, combine the warm water, warm milk, yeast and sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, beat 1 egg.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine together the flours, salt and butter and mix the ingredients together until the butter is the size of crumbs. Stir in the yeast mixture and beaten egg. Run the mixer on medium-low for about 10 minutes, until a dough forms.

3. Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl (the dough will be wet and sticky). Cover the bowl with lightly greased cling film or a clean, damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place until it is doubled in size, about 1- 1 1/2 hours.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper, and using a dough scraper or knife divide the dough into 8 equal parts. If you have a scale each piece can be weighed to make sure they are all the same size.

5. To shape the dough into balls, gently flatten each piece like a pancake. Pull up each side pinching it together in the center. Repeat until the ball is sealed. Flip the ball over (seam side down) and move to an un-floured part of your board (it's easier to roll this way). Place your palm over the top and gently roll into a smooth ball. Transfer to the lined baking sheet, placing them 2 to 3 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the buns rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until puffy and slightly risen.

6. Now, beat the remaining egg with a splash of water and gently brush the egg wash over each bun once they are done with the second rise. Before the bread goes into the oven add a shallow baking pan to the oven floor containing about 125ml water as this will create steam during the cooking process and help to keep the bread nice and moist. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. Once the burger buns are out of the oven you can start making the bean burgers. Begin by heating 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan. Add the onion and spring onion, season and fry over a gentle heat until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic, chilli and Cajun spice, then fry for 2-3 minutes. Tip into a bowl, add the mixed beans and roughly mash before leaving to cool slightly. (note. I had to use mixed beans in tomato sauce as that was all I could find but I just poured them into a sieve and rinsed them under a tap to get rid of the sauce).

8. Now, add the egg, breadcrumbs, coriander and lime juice. Season, then mix well to combine. Gently stir in the crumbled feta. Wet your hands slightly, then shape into 8 large burgers. Place on a lightly greased tray and chill them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. (note. if you don't want to make 8 burgers you can always half the recipe or place the burgers you don't want to use on a lined baking sheet and open-freeze them until solid, then pack into a plastic container, seal and freeze for up to 3 months.)

9. To cook the chilled burgers, preheat the grill to medium. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the burgers and fry for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Top each with a slice of smoked cheese, then transfer to the grill for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and melted. Serve in toasted brioche buns lined with guacamole and sweet chilli sauce and scattered with fried spring onions.

(note. if you would also like to make your own guacamole then you can find the recipe I like to use here.)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Mini Banoffee Tarts.

So simple. So delicious. I don't think I have ever made such an easy dessert with such an incredible outcome. These banoffee tarts honestly taste gorgeous. I am a massive fan of banoffee pie and this recipe definitely didn't disappoint, in fact it made me and my family very happy with every single mouthful indeed. For me the combination of banana, sweet, fudgy caramel, crunchy, buttery biscuit and light, velvety cream is utter perfection and if banoffee pie is your idea of heaven too then please give these little tarts a go because I promise you will fall in love with them! They don't look too shabby either which, is very good and surprising for me and I think I've actually managed to make them look quite pretty and cute if I do say so myself. Thank goodness! I've finally managed to pull off a fairly dainty and elegant dessert but, most importantly, oh boy do they taste sinfully good!

For the biscuit base-
250g digestive biscuits, crumbled and crushed
100g unsalted butter, melted
For the caramel-
100g unsalted butter
100g dark brown sugar
one 397g tin condensed milk
For the topping- 
2 bananas, sliced
200ml whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract, optional
grated chocolate (I used dark chocolate)


1. Grease 6 10cm tartlet tins or one large 22cm springform tin.

2. Melt the butter and mix with the crushed biscuit crumbs. (Crush the biscuits by bashing with a rolling pin or blitz in a food processor). Press the buttery biscuit into the base of your tin/s to make the pie shell/s and chill for 30-60 minutes.

3. Remove the tart cases from the tins carefully.

3. Next, make the caramel. Melt the butter and sugar in a non-stick pan over a low heat, stirring continuously. Once the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved, add the condensed milk, mix really well and continue stirring continuously. Bring to a rapid boil, stirring all the time until you get a lovely, thick, golden caramel. 

4. Spread the caramel over the base of your pie or spoon into your tarts. You can add 5-6 tsp. of caramel to each tart. Allow to cool and chill for at least an hour before serving.

5. Softly whip the cream until light and fluffy. You can add 1 tsp. vanilla extract before whipping if desired. 

6. Slice the bananas into disks and arrange the banana pieces over the top of the caramel in each tart. Spoon over a couple of dollops of the cream and spread towards the edges of the tart. Finally, sprinkle with some grated chocolate and serve!

7. EAT!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Asparagus, Courgette, Feta and Sesame Salad.

Hello again! It's been a while since my last post as I was really busy last week attending my Auntie's wedding which was absolutely stunning. My Auntie and I have really similar taste so naturally I absolutely adored everything about her wedding, from the gorgeous cake to the beautiful flowers and delicious three course meal complete with my favourite Heidi Pieminister pie and a delicious dessert trio of; lemon tart, chocolate brownie and raspberry meringue. Yum.

The venue was stunning, the Cham 69 cocktails were particularly delicious and I definitely could have helped myself to a few more of those. We danced along to 80s songs all night and even broke out the air guitar a fair few times to some rock classics which was pretty hilarious and more importantly my incredible cousins; Alfie and Hugo also looked completely adorable and handsome in their little blue suits as the page boys for the day too.

My Auntie's dress was absolutely gorgeous and I actually couldn't believe just how beautiful she looked and how amazing her dress was when I saw her. It was honestly breathtaking. I was also really lucky to be asked to be her bridesmaid which, was very exciting as I am really close to her and I felt really privileged to be part of her special day. 

It was honestly just an amazing day for an amazing couple and they really deserved it and I wish I could do it all over again. Weddings are incredible, people should definitely get married more often. 

I am back now though and on a mission to keep healthy and lose a few pounds so here I am sharing with you this yummy salad recipe so, that I can hopefully one day look lovely in my own wedding dress but, for now as a lonely, singleton I'll just take getting that nice bikini body and who knows, it might just help me bag that future husband of mine too.

This is a lovely, simple, light and refreshing salad and I really enjoyed it and hope you do to! The lemon zest and juice gave a delicious fresh and summery burst to a nice healthy and tasty salad which, will hopefully help towards trimming down the old waistline unlike the homemade banoffee tart I will be munching on later. Sorry! No one can munch on lettuce leaves all the time though, can they? Unless of course you add a nice crumbling of creamy feta, some juicy courgettes and a handful of delightful, crunchy spears of asparagus, then it's not so bad.

3 tsp. sesame seeds
280g asparagus
100g peas
2 courgettes
2 tsp. sesame oil
rocket leaves
125g feta, crumbled
grated zest 1 lemon
juice 1/2 lemon
small handful of mint leaves, finely chopped


1. Heat a small frying pan and add the sesame seeds. Cook, shaking the pan and making sure the seeds don’t burn. When they are fragrant and have turned a light teak colour, tip them onto a saucer.                                                                                                               

2. Steam the asparagus for 3-4 mins until almost done. Drop into a bowl of iced water to cool, then drain and wrap in a tea towel to dry really well. Cook the peas for 3 mins in the boiling water used to steam the asparagus, then drain and cool under a cold tap. Slice the courgettes on the diagonal, about 0.5cm thick.

3. Heat a griddle pan until very hot. Brush the asparagus and courgette slices with the oil, and cook in batches until nicely striped with dark brown. Cut the asparagus into 5cm lengths.

4. Mix the asparagus, courgettes, peas, rocket, half of the feta, mint, lemon juice and lemon zest. Grind over some black pepper and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and remainder of the crumbled feta before serving.
And now, just to leave you with possibly the cutest pictures you have ever seen in your entire life of my adorable nephew Charlie who may just be the most gorgeous boy in the world!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Garlic, Mushroom, Spinach, Onion and Pine Nut Pizza.

Isn't pizza great? Last week I decided to buy myself a pizza stone because quite simply; I really love pizza. When it arrived I couldn't wait to try it out and I've got to say I am actually really pleased with it. I decided to make this garlic, mushroom, spinach and pine nut pizza which is a pizza I had never made before but, I just thought that all of the toppings sounded like they would work perfectly together and they did just that. I've seen a lot of good reviews for pizza stones about them adding a gorgeous crisp texture to the pizza base but, I have also seen a lot of bad reviews for pizza stones about them breaking really easily. All I can say is that so far my pizza stone has worked great and the stone gave my pizza a lovely, golden and crisp crust which tasted delicious and had a lovely light, soft centre and it also didn't snap in half on first use which, I am pretty pleased about.

I have never really had a pizza without a tomato sauce base but, for this one I just decided to spread the dough with some olive oil and finely chopped garlic and I really loved the flavour it added to my pizza and how it perfectly complimented the other toppings. I added a bit of Cornish yarg too as I ofcourse live in Cornwall so, I thought it would be nice to try a bit of homemade cheese. It is a really nice cheese with a lovely creamy texture but, it does have a very mild, mellow flavour so, it doesn't have to be used on the pizza as it doesn't really add any extra flavour to the dish. You could easily use all mozzarella or maybe some vintage cheddar for a stronger flavour or you could even add some slices of goats cheese, a crumbling of feta or a dusting of parmesan for the non-veggie eaters. Your choice! I definitely recommend trying this pizza though if you are a big pizza fan and especially if you are looking to try a bit of a different pizza topping because this one is just lovely! 

For the Pizza Dough-
500g strong white bread flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
7g yeast sachet
1/2 tbsp. caster sugar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 
325ml lukewarm water
For the Topping-
1 1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely 
100g mozzarella, grated
100g Cornish yarg, grated
1 tbsp. butter
100g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, cut into thin wedges
A large handful of spinach
A scattering of pine nuts
A sprinkling of corn meal to stop the pizza from sticking would also be extremely handy.


1. Start by making the pizza dough. In a standing mixer sieve the bread flour into the bowl. Add the salt, yeast, sugar, olive oil and water. Mix on slow with a dough hook and once combined, turn up the mixing speed to knead lightly for a few minutes.

2. Remove the dough and begin kneading on a lightly floured surface by hand. Knead for around 7 minutes until the dough is smooth and springy. Place the ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Place in a warm place and allow to rise for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.

3. Now prepare the pizza toppings. Slice the mushrooms and fry in 1 tbsp. butter until brown and soft. Set aside on kitchen paper to absorb some of the grease. Next, peel and chop the onions into wedges, fry in a dash of olive oil until bronze and slightly crispy and set aside. Wilt the spinach by placing in a saucepan, adding a few drops of water and heating on a low temperature until completely wilted. Now set aside and remember to squeeze the spinach to remove some of the excess moisture before placing on top of the pizza. Then peel and chop 3 cloves of garlic very finely, add to a frying pan with 1 tbsp. of olive oil and heat at a very low temperature until the garlic becomes very fragrant, about 3 or 4 minutes. Don't allow the garlic to go golden or burn as burnt garlic tastes awful! Now, pour this into a bowl and set aside. 

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Knock back the dough by kneading it around a bit to push out the air.

5. Divide the dough into three balls as there is enough to make three pizzas. You can either use the dough straight away, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for later use or the dough can also be frozen.

6. Now, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a corn meal dusted tray or  plate and place on the toppings. Rub the garlic and olive oil across the top of the dough and sprinkle with grated mozzarella and 75g of the grated yarg cheese. Now place on the sliced mushrooms, spinach and crispy onions to create an attractive finish, sprinkle over the remaining 25g of Cornish yarg and finish with a scattering of pine nuts.

7. Place the pizza stone in a cold oven and allow the oven to heat up to 200°C to 220°C. I have been using mine at 200°C just to make sure that the stone doesn't snap but, 220°C would give a crisper base. Once the temperature is reached, quickly open the oven door and slide the pizza from on the tray or plate onto the pizza stone. You could use a pizza paddle for this which would be very helpful but, because I don't have one I just used the dusting of corn meal to stop my pizza from sticking and then because it didn't just slide off of the plate I also used a fish slice to help me wriggle it off the plate onto the stone and it actually worked really well.

8. Cook for around 12 minutes until the base is crisp and bronze and the cheese is melted and golden. Remove from the oven, slice up and enjoy!