Abuela’s Rosco. My grannie’s lemon cake

I don’t go home to Spain very often and I get to see my nan even less. But whenever I manage to go down there, whether I get to see her or not, she gives me a lemon Rosco or sends me one through a family member. They are delicious and she knows I devour them instantly. I have asked her for the recipe and now I share it with you, so you may also enjoy her Roscos.

Abuela's rosco - lemon cake Irene loves crafts

It could easily just be called lemon cake but my grannie cooks it in those flan tins which make cakes look like oversized doughnuts – round and with a hole in the middle which is exactly what a Rosco is. This is what you’ll need:

  • 3 eggs
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 lemon flavoured yogurt (keep the packaging – this will count as 1 measure)
  • 1 measure of sunflower oil
  • 2 measures of sugar
  • 3 measures of flour
  • 1 & 1/2 packets of instant yeast

 

And this is how to make it:

  1. Pre-heat the oven at 175 degrees
  2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. At the same time. While you imagine my grannie (or yours) rocking it like you are doing right now.
  3. Butter up your tin and flour it. Pour the cake batter into it.
  4. Now, if you have a fan oven, place on the lowest shelf until it’s bronze, then move up to the middle. But if your oven happens to have bottom and top heat settings then instead you need to place it in a middle shelf, turn on the bottom heat and  once the cake is bronze then turn on the top heat as well.

The time involved will depend on the method you choose but it’s around 45min baking time. The fan method is less reliable and might cause the cake not to rise as much. Either way, keep your eye on it the first time you bake it, I assure you it’s worth it!

If you were planning on adopting some sort of diet I would recommend you to bake first and start dieting once your belly is full!

Gracias abuela!

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Six ace Christmas food leftover recipes

If you haven’t yet started the Christmas eating frenzy you won’t be able to escape it for much longer. If, like me, you like to prepare tones of delicious food no matter the occasion, you will probably encounter the inevitable leftovers. I have found six easy recipes so the tasty uneaten food can be put to good use.

Christmas leftover recipes - Irene loves craftsHere is my list of ace leftover Christmas recipes, find them all through the links:

  1. Turkey and parsnip curry, no-fuss comfort food, can all be cooked in one pan
  2. Awesome dill roast chicken salad sandwich. An awesome snack anytime and a goodie for your work lunchbox, especially those working over the Christmas period
  3. Christmas pudding trifle. Yes, more dessert, because otherwise you’ll get sugar withdrawn symptoms 😉
  4. Salmon Kedgeree with butternut squash, parsnip and fennel. Have it with mimosas. Bringing the glam to your home a meal at a time
  5. Check out these mouth-watering ham-stuffed toms. A sure fave for picky eaters, apparently.
  6. Finally, I firmly believe a bit of baking is always good for the soul. Give it a go with this leftover veg and orange cake

But for now, let me just wish you all a very merry Christmas and an excellent time with your friends and family. Enjoy that Christmas banquet, it only comes once a year!

All images through links above. Credits to:

1. BBC Good Food, 2. Small Kitchen Chronicles, 3. Con Poulos, 4. Meeta K. Wolff Photography, 5. Taste of home, 6. BBC Good Food

Huevos rancheros super-brunch

Planning on having a weekend full of Christmas shopping? Maybe you should consider having this super easy brunch before you get on with your gift buying duties. Called (by me) breakfast of campeones (champions!) is the ultimate energy supplier for those shopping-bag-carrying times.

Ingredients for huevos rancheros - Irene loves crafts

This is what you’ll need for 4 portions (get some friends over, no?)

  • 2 cans of plum tinned tomatoes
  • 2 ripe beef tomatoes or several tomatoes on the vine
  • juice from one lemon
  • coriander
  • garlic
  • red onion
  • 4 eggs – or as per demand
  • spinach
  • 1 or 2 fresh chillies
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper and sugar
  • chorizo (optional – but I say yes!)
  • chickpeas (optional – but recommended if you have loads of shopping to do)

Huevos rancheros recipe step 1

Cut your chorizo in slices and fry on a medium heat. You don’t need to use oil for this as the fat from the chorizo will melt and it’ll make it delicious but not over-oiled. Take off the heat after 3-4 minutes so it’s not too done and set aside but keep warm.

Huevos rancheros recipe step 2

Chop your red onion and chillies and fry them on a medium heat on a big clean pan. The pan will have to hold all the eggs and sauce. Puree or finely chop your garlic and add to the frying pan. Reduce the heat.

Huevos rancheros recipe step 3

After a couple of minutes, chop your fresh tomatoes and add them to the pan with the tinned tomatoes. Let it simmer away for 10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and it’s become a bit thicker. Add lemon juice, season it and add half a teaspoon of caster sugar – this will reduce the acidity of the tomatoes. Taste and season again if you need it.

Huevos rancheros recipe step 4

Chop your spinach and add to the pan. Stir until it’s wilted. Add your eggs carefully and let them bake for a few minutes. I like mine runny but it’s totally up to you.

Huevos rancheros recipe step 5

Add the chopped coriander  and the chorizo just before you serve it. Super delicious eaten with some freshly toasted bread. Enjoy!

Food makeover: Glam up that cake for any occasion

I like making the everyday a bit special. Sometimes that means having a cheeky bit of cake and, whether you bake it or buy it, it’s nice to glam it up anyway doesn’t matter the occasion.

Is it a rainy Sunday afternoon and you’ve decided to bake a delicious cake? Are you catching up with your girls having afternoon tea at home? Are you making or taking a cake to the birthday party of one of the young members of the family? This quick cake makeover is going to bring huge amounts of cuteness and glam to your day and you can do it with loads of materials you already have.

Make different size flags and add them to your cake using skewers and toothpicks as flag poles. For the actual flag, you can use different color cardboard, washi tape, pretty cloth if you have some, ribbons or twine. It’s best if you combine a few materials and/or colors. Plain shape flags (triangular or rectangular) look really cute but you can also look online for banner drawings, mimic the shape by drawing them on your cardboard and cutting them up.

If you have any nice stamps you can use those as well. The one I used is part of the set of stamps I posted a few weeks back. If you don’t have any stamps, you can print it out Delicious onto colored paper and use it. If you have a bit more time on your hands you can also make tiny bunting to glam up that cake.

Edible gifts to put in a homemade hamper

Even though I am an easy person when it comes to receiving gifts, I believe that homemade edible gifts is something pretty much everyone welcomes warmly into their arms, homes and belly. That’s why an all homemade hamper is easily the ultimate gift. On the other hand, separately make great edible gifts for all occasions: stocking fillers, welcome to the neighbourhood gifts, party favours and thousand and one other purposes.

Here is my list of ace edible gifts, find some easy peasy recipes through the links!

  1. Pickled cucumbers. If you don’t like cucumbers you’ll find that you can pickle quite a lot of good foods with this recipe.
  2. Good for you granola. The absolute best way to start the day.
  3. Flavoured salts. For the salt snob and the regular dude. Several flavours and equally delicious to both palates!
  4. Bourbon, peach and thyme jam. Perfect for those cosy winter afternoons.
  5. Sinful double chocolate chip and pecan cookies. Very addictive. If you are gifting them, also bake a batch for yourself.
  6. Chicken liver pate with sage, apple and thyme. Spread on warm toast is best. The heat of the bread will melt the fat in it and develop the flavour further. Yum!
  7. Hot chocolate. In a jar. Massive win.

If you are still unsure what to give for Christmas to one of your parents (parents have it all, don’t they?!), to your hard-to-buy-for other half, or the work colleague you got given for secret santa, then pick one of these or pick them all. Either way you might just have that present sorted.

All images through links above. Credits to:

1. Fried Chillies, 2. Good Food, 3.Jose Picayo, 4. Pastry Affair, 5. Small Kitchen Chronicles, 6. Anjali Prasertong, 7. Hey Gorgeous

7 seasonal rock stars to get you through the week

I am a big fan of taking advantage of seasonal ingredients when cooking. There’s a big chance that you can only get them for a few months of the year or that they have a much better flavor. So why not give one of these seasonal rock stars a try? Seven delicious dishes to give you culinary inspiration until next Sunday.

I like eating well and I like doing so at lunchtime, on a weekday. Normally I just cook a spare portion at dinner time and I take it into work the following day. Yes, I eat the same two days in a row so that’s why I make sure it’s really yummy. I also have to think about cooking things that are easily transportable and that will still be nice the following day. This sexy lentil and pomegranate salad from Cafe Liz does the trick. You can put this dish together really quickly and you probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry.

I do love a dish of warm comfy food now that it’s starting to get quite cold outside and I love a bit of pumpkin and squash. This great cheesy pumpkin risotto from Craving Chronicles is the perfect combination of both. Perfect to impress a date or your other half, I normally substitute the canned pumpkin puree for mashed roasted pumpkin. Don’t mash it too finely so you find chunks of pumpkin throughout.

This grilled artichokes are the perfect add on for one of those night that you just can’t be bothered with cooking! So you grab a wooden chopping board, arrange some cold cuts nicely on it, prepare a herby salad, get the houmous out and make this fantastic grilled artichokes from Camille Styles. You will decide not to cook more often and go for the tapas style dinner.

Back to the comfort food arena, pasta always seems to be a good choice, for dinner on a weekday, lunch on weekends or anytime really! Give this linguini with chestnuts, porcini and mascarpone from the Burg guide a try. Mushrooms and chestnuts? Could it get more seasonal than that? This one is definitely going on the foodie “repeat” list!

If you are feeling that you need another healthy kick to get you through the week, this roasted beets, red onion and feta quinoa salad from the Tastespotting blog will do the trick. Another simple recipe perfect to take to work the next day or to leave you feeling like the weekend wasn’t all indulgence.

Even though we are almost in November, it’s still a good time to get a tasty bite of crab. Crab is best at the end of summer and autumn and it’s great in this Mexican spicy crab and noodle dish by Thomasina Miers. Let free your hidden latino cooking charm and go loco!

Last but not least, I must admit kale is an ingredient that I quickly forget. So I plan to make a real effort and include this awesome chickpea and kale stew from Greens and Seeds in my regular cooking list!

Don’t stop there and experiment with the many seasonal beauties out there. And of course, I always welcome new ideas! Enjoy!

Weekday dinner pasta heaven

I normally don’t have a problem eating veggies and even though I not always manage to reach 5 a day my diet is well balanced. This recipe is really easy to make and it will surely put you well on your way of reaching that daily goal. Not only it’s easy but it’s also mess-free and you can make it from start to finish in well under 30 minutes without being in a hurry. To me, that makes it the perfect recipe for supper on a weekday, and because it’s also delicious cold, you can take it to work the next day!
The best thing about  Hot or Cold Green Pasta is that you can alter the ingredients to put more of one thing and less of the other if that’s what you fancy. Experiment, rule that kitchen!

Ingredients:

To make 2 – 3 portions of green pasta you will need: around 250gr of penne pasta, one avocado, 2-3 spring onions, one courgette, kalamata olives, preferably feta cheese but ricotta will also do, one egg, extra virgin olive oil, one clove of garlic, around half a cup of grated parmesan, a big bunch of fresh basil and the juice of one lemon.

Here is how to make it:

1.

Make the dressing (or sauce) first. We prepare the dressing first as it needs to be added to the pasta as soon as the pasta is done. To make the dressing add one egg yolk to around a half a cup of extra virgin olive oil and beat well. The egg yolk will cook with the heat of the pasta and will make the sauce become this oozy delicious goodness. Chop the basil quite finely and add it to the mix. Puree or, alternatively, smash and finely chop a garlic clove to release all the oils, add it to the dressing followed by the juice of one lemon. Finally, grate half a cup of parmesan, add some seasoning and the dressing is ready to go.

2.

With a vegetable peeler or any other similar gadget, carefully slice your courgette. This courgette ribbons will also cook with the heat of the pasta and they’ll become deliciously tender.

3.

Cook the pasta in chicken stock, it’s not a saucy recipe so the by cooking it in stock the pasta will be super tasty by itself. For this recipe I prefer penne but any kind of pasta will do.

4.

While the pasta it’s cooking, prepare the rest of the vegetables. Start by chopping the spring onion and cutting the avocado into cubes. Roughly break down the kalamata olives into smaller pieces. Remember to keep an eye on the pasta at all times to get it off the stove when it’s ready. If at any point the pasta it’s done and you haven’t finished with the other ingredients it’s no biggie. Drain the pasta, put it back in the pan, add the dressing, the courgette ribbons and whatever else you have chopped and put the lid back on immediately. Continue to prepare/chop the rest of ingredients and just add them all when you’ve finished. Crumble some feta cheese over it, add some seasoning if needed and give one last stir before you let it rest for a couple of minutes.

5.

Serve while it’s still warm or let it cool a bit longer, up to you. Grate some parmesan over it and enjoy!

Spice it up with some pumpkin

I LOVE pumpkin. One of my favourite dishes is pumpkin curry but that doesn’t mean I know how to make a good one. While I keep crafting my skills trying to find the perfect pumpkin curry recipe, I like to make use of one of this season’s star foods in a warm salad. This is my take on Thomasina Miers’ chorizo and squash salad as seen in Mexican food made easy.

This is a simple but absolutely delicious pumpkin (or squash), chorizo and beans warm salad. Between prep and cooking, it took me 45-50 mins to make. That is, right there, what I call a realistic cooking time!

Ingredients:

You will need a small pumpkin or squash, chorizo sausage, a can of white or borlotti beans, cherry tomatoes on the vine, chillies, about 1 tbsp of ground cumin, 2-3 garlic cloves, 1 red onion, small bunch of oregano, small bunch of coriander, a bunch of spinach, some olive oil and a lime.

Here is how to make it:

1.

Pre-heat oven at 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5.

Peel and chop the pumpkin or squash into big chunks. Add to a baking tray with big chunks of red onion, the tomatoes and the garlic cloves, smashed to release the oils. Add the cumin, some really finely chopped chillies and some roughly chopped oregano to the tray. Sprinkle some olive oil, season it and toss together.

Let it bake for about 35 mins or until the edges of the pumpkin have started to brown and it’s cooked through. Don’t forget to toss it a bit half way through.

2.

Get your pestle and mortar out and pound the coriander with some sea salt until you get a green paste. Add 4–5 tbsp of olive oil to make the dressing for the salad.

3.

Once that is done and while the veggies are still in the oven, cut the chorizo sausages into slices. Do it with a diagonal cut and you’ll get nicer looking, bigger pieces. Add to a frying pan and fry slightly. Meanwhile, wash and drain the beans well. Add to the pan and let them warm up and coat in the chorizo fat. (YUM!)

4.

It’s pretty much ready to serve!

Serve on a bed of spinach and add some dressing to taste. Squeeze some lime over it and dig in! Enjoy!

A jam good afternoon at The Make Lounge

What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than learning how to make delicious jams and chutneys. And that’s exactly what I did. The Make Lounge is located in Islington, London and has a range of creative workshops on anything from leather sewing or lamp making to cake pops and jewelry. They even have a shop were you can buy all sorts of crafty materials and fabrics, well worth a visit!

It was only eight of us at the jam and chutney workshop which made it really intimate and easy-going. We were thought how to make carrot and ginger chutney, plum and orange jam, blackberry and apple jam and sweet chilli jam. The picture above is the final product – seriously, how cute?

My favorite was sweet chilli jam, it goes really well with hard cheese – or everything else! – so I have written the recipe below. Bear in mind the recipe is only a loose guide, we were encouraged by our teacher to change ingredients and quantities. As long it’s not a major change it won’t affect the jam making process and you’ll get a result more to your taste. Enjoy!

Sweet Chilli Jam

Makes approx 1 litre of jam, or five 190ml jars

Ingredients

2-3 big red chillies, seeds and all

6 x garlic cloves

4cm fresh root ginger

1kg peppers – we only used red but you can use red, yellow and/or orange

1x400gr tin of tomatoes. Tinned cherry tomatoes work very well

250ml red wine vinegar

500gr caster sugar

250gr dark brown sugar

2tsp soy sauce (optional)

1) Place the chillies, garlic and ginger in a food processor and blitz until it’s very finely chopped

2) Wash and dry the peppers and dice finely. You want small even dices so they will all cook at the same speed

3) Place all of the ingredients in a pan and cook over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil.

4) Reduce the temperature and simmer until the mixture reaches a syrupy, jam-like consistency with lava-like bubbles. Stir regularly, especially towards the end, to avoid burning. Be careful when you stir the mixture as it will bubble, don’t fill the pan too full!)

5) I highly recommend you get a cooking thermometer if you don’t have one. Once the jam reaches 103.5 degrees it may stay at that temperature for 20minutes or so but it will only set if it has reached a temperature above 104 degrees Celsius.

6) When jam reaches the desired consistency add soy sauce (if using) and cook for a further minute

7) Let it sit for 5 minutes and skim off any film. Pour hot jam into sterilized jars leaving a 0.5cm gap at the top of the jar

8) Once they’ve been potted, put the lid on and just turn it so it’s just shut but don’t squeeze all the way. Let it sit for 5-10mins and give it a final squeeze. This makes all the hot bubbles come to the surface and push it’s way out, like a kind of natural vacuum seal

Let them cool and you are now ready to decorate the pots! At the Make Lounge we were provided with cute fabrics and some nice thin ribbon but their promises of tag making never happened. We were given some standard jam making stickers, decorated with some checked pattern. They were OK, but I had something else in mind…

I make tags like these for all sorts of occasions. I use them as name tag for presents, as little message carriers on wrapped baked goods and as jam tags of course! They are super easy and quick to make and require hardly any materials at all. You’ll need scissors, some sort of twine, a hole puncher, cardboard and some pens.

Punch a hole in the cardboard and cut a little tag making sure the hole is centered. Write desired message or jam name and decorate with the pens if you want to add a personal touch. Marry with the twine and carefully tie around the jam pots. Done! : )

For the love of cake

A few weeks ago, a coffee shop opened right by where we live. We visited a couple of times in their first 10 days. Finally a cool place to go for a coffee within walking distance! It’s tiny, it’s super cute and most importantly its really nice owners were looking for a baker to supply them with cakes.
A couple of days later I presented them with two samples of my delicious banana and walnut loaf, and lemon and poppy seed cake! Yum! They loved them as much as I do and decided to take my cakes on board!  Yesterday my assistant / boyfriend George delivered the first batch of two orange cakes and one lemon and poppy seed cake.
I’m hoping to expand my limited repertoire soon, I will keep you posted. On the meantime this is one of my favorite way to take cakes over to someone’s house. Super easy to make and it makes them look adorable. They are from Making Nice in the Midwest and you can find the tutorial here.
These pretty peacock measuring spoons from Our Workshop are definitely on my wish list.
And finally, this is one of the most useful prints for baking I have ever come across! It’s from Chasing Delicious and it has saved me a lot of measuring in the past and I hope it does for you as well! Happy baking!