Sunday, 30 October 2011

Tiramisu Rex

Last night I came back to Cumbria for the first time since moving to Manchester, and it really was wonderful to be home. Not half because the dining room table was covered in a home made version of one of my favourite ‘fast’ foods (which has been described as the ‘middle class version of kfc’- a quote I love), Nandos, complete with a very welcoming bottle of wine, and waiting in the fridge- tiramisu. And not just any tiramisu, this is the best tiramisu I’ve ever eaten. It’s the best one my mum has ever eaten, and she’s done her homework. I can’t remember where the recipe came from originally (I have a vague recollection of copying it into my phone from a book in Marks and Spencer), but it’s a good ‘un. It now lives in possibly my favourite of my mum’s cookbooks, which is more like a scrapbook full of clippings and handwritten instructions written in a shorthand that only she can interpret (and of course her own hilarious touches, like labelling the tiramisu "tiramisu rex’- a private joke). Unlike a lot of recipes I see, this one isn’t bulked out with lashings of whipped cream, it’s just a pure, creamy, coffee-y, unadulterated mountain of mascarpone pleasure. So simple to make and oh so very good to eat. Trust me on this one.
4 egg yolks, 2 egg whites,
100g caster sugar
500g mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
175ml strong black coffee (get a triple espresso shot from a good coffee shop and top it up with water)
125ml liqueur (my mum uses Tia Maria)
24 sponge fingers

  • Lay the fingers in the bottom of a dish and cover with the coffee and liqueur.
  • Whisk the egg yolks and sugar over hot water on the hob until pale and fluffy.
  • When cool, mix in the mascarpone and vanilla and fold in the whisked egg whites.
  • Layer the cheese mixture over the sponges and finish with a dusting of cocoa or grated chocolate.
  • Dish out great bowl-fulls to your nearest and dearest and watch them devour it.
It’s even better the day after if you can manage to leave it alone for that long. And obviously don’t expect it to taste as amazing as my mum’s did last night. Perhaps it was the situation: spreading across the sofa after a month of non-stop studying, with a dish-full of tiramisu in one hand, a cold glass of pinot grigio in the other, and a border terrier on my knee. I was very happy to be home.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Lemon, blueberry and poppy seed muffins

So today, after a shameful couple of days of making nothing more culinary than a cup of coffee, I decided to get my bake on. I opted for a muffin recipe from the show Cook Yourself Thin featuring Gizzi Erskine (one of the many shows that I spend far too large a percentage of my time watching over and over again on 4od). Rather than being a naughty little treat as it were, these muffins are supposedly 'healthy', which is a shocker when you consider the name of the programme. The ingredients list was pretty extensive and strange- grated courgette for a start (although carrot cake is lush so I'll let it go), and have you ever tried to find buttermilk in the middle of Manchester? I gave up and bought yogurt instead with an attitude of 'I can't see what the difference is anyway'. 

Despite the long shopping list the method was pretty easy, although requiring a very gentle hand and champion folding technique (both of which I obviously possess). The only things I altered in the recipe were substituting yogurt for buttermilk, which as far as I can see worked fine, and using about half the amount of poppy seeds, as after I'd put that amount in my mixture was already looking like the middle of a dragonfuit, and I wanted to go for bits of crunch rather than full on gravelly. Also- I got 16 muffins rather than 12- a slight pain when I only have one 12-muffin tray- as there was tonnes of mixture. Does this mean they'll be even healthier as there's less in each one? More likely that I'll just justify that it's ok to eat 2 at a time to be honest.
 Couple of comments- they didn't rise very much which I'm not sure was mine or the recipe's fault. I also began writing this as the first 12 were in the oven and got a little carried away, which means they are a little darker than I'd like- oops. Oh well, they're not burnt and it all adds to that rustic homemade-y ness. They also stuck a little to the paper, but thats all the better for picking at.

 The important bit- taste. If I do say so myself, they are delicious. The blueberries are all gooey and jammy, the lemon is fresh without making you suck your cheeks in, the poppy seeds add a pleasant crunch, they're all cakey and moist, and there really isn't the hint of any courgette. In all- they taste very bad for me. And being that I'm usually a Hummingbird Bakery 'whack a load of inch-adding but oh so delicious butter in' recipe kind of girl, having the same (ish) satisfying muffin-ness without the calories can only ever be a good thing. Now to 'share them with my housemates'...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Jamie's Great Britain

So last night saw the beginning of Jamie Oliver's new series Jamie's Great Britain, which of course saw me excitedly refreshing my laptop at 10 o'clock waiting for it to come on to 4od (I don't have a tv). I love a brand new cookery programme (mainly because I spend the time that there aren't any watching reruns of all the ones I've already seen) and now they seem to be all over the place. River Cottage Veg EverydayNigel Slater's Simple CookingHome Cooking Made Easy- I'm a woman in heaven at the moment. 

So anyway- Jamie. It's easy to say that I wasn't disappointed. To start with, visually it was beautiful. That's what I love about Jamie's recipes and programmes- all the food just looks so beautiful and rustic that it seems impressive and yet achievable, you just want to immediately rush off and cook everything he makes (simultaneously serving it on an old wooden board and slathering it with olive oil 'just to finish it off'). Last night's programme was no exception. Everything, whether made by him or the street vendors shown, just looked (for want of a better word) delicious. That sole! The burger! The Vietnamese pork sandwich! The bass! I'm getting my knife and fork out just remembering it. The Dover sole with the cockles and shrimp was definitely the one recipe that was right up my street, all that delicious seafood in a buttery, herby, lemon sauce- somebody pass me a napkin! However, that said, I don't think that I would call the fish the star of the show. I have one word for you- pie. Mr Oliver took all that was good in the world (and therefore extremely bad for you- we're talking 'adds inches just by looking at it' bad) and put it in a pretty white dish. Beef, beer, thick crispy pastry, cheese! It's the type of food you fantasise about when you're half way up a fell in the Lake District, cold, hungry and wet. And it just looked... awesome.

I wouldn't say that there were negative points for me, although the oysters he prepared looked a little scary; they are something I've never tried (yet) and the dressings he made, which I'm sure were delicious, didn't make me want to rush out and pop my oyster cherry. Also, the sea bass in a bag looked gorgeous, but I definitely don't share Jamie's love for all things fennel. Quite the opposite- I avoid it like the washing up. I would unquestionably have to trade the offensive vegetable for something a little less like sambuca. Overall though, a fantastic show with lovely, non-pretentious food, leaving me very excited for next Tuesday when I will be at home for reading week and can watch the next installment on an actual television! I can imagine the chillies and olive oil now...

[photos from]

The first bite.

Hello and welcome to my blog! I'm completely new to this so you'll have to bear with me. I'd best get the obligatory boring first post done so then I can get on with writing about the important things in life (food). You can read a little about me in my about me section but feel free to ask any more questions- you can tweet me here.

So, the name of this blog. I reckon there's a few people who think they've misread it or think I've made up a word (my boyfriend included), but blackites are what us Cumbrian's call blackberries. The activity of 'blackiting'- which involved wrapping up and marching down country lanes with a tupperware box and the knowledge that a lot of hand scratches were imminent- was a pretty big (and enjoyable) part of my childhood and something which I still get simple pleasure from doing to this day. Despite the inevitable creepy crawlies that had to be bribed out of the haul with a sprinkle of sugar, there was always the promise of a steaming hot blackite and apple crumble to get you through. Bliss. I already fantasise about taking my children blackiting; determined that they will never use the word 'blackberry', no matter where I bring them up.
The other half of my title: biscuits. Well who doesn't love biscuits? Making them, eating them, the smell! A guilty treat that doesn't even make me feel guilty. The best biscuits I've ever eaten, as much of a cliche as it is, have to be the ones that my Gran makes. Pinwheels, lemon knots, chocolate shortbread, oaty ones- my mouth is watering at the thought of them (another cliche for you there). There's just something about that crunchy sweetness, especially when on the side of a nice cup of tea. They're just good!

Well anyway, enough of my salivating. In the posts to come I will be doing a mixture of things including reviewing books and restaurants/coffee shops, testing and sharing recipes, writing about markets and tv shows, and generally a lot more gushing about and craving yummy yummy food. I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading  :)