Chocolate Ganache – Trials and Tribulations

I have only made chocolate ganache a number of times. It must be about 5 times now (if you count the 3 disasters I had with it yesterday!)

I had heard how tricky it can be, so I have been putting it off.

 

My first attempt was a couple of weeks ago.  I looked up the recipe online and found loads; some with butter, some without.  Some with glucose and some without.  I decided to go for one that had a 2:1 ratio of dark chocolate to cream with a knob of butter.  The result was amazing and I was really pleased with it, so of course I thought I had the knack.  I knew how to make ganache now.  Job done.

 

Of course it is never quite so easy as that.

 

I had a birthday cake to do for Sunday so I made the cake, all ready to fill and decorate on Saturday so that it would be ready to do any last touches on Sunday and then out for delivery.

Ganache number 1:

I followed the same recipe as the one I have made previously.  The 2:1 with a knob of butter.  I thought I would be clever and heat up the cream in the microwave to save me a suacepan.  I took the cream out (It had boiled) and poured it over the grated chocolate and stirred.  It split.  It didn’t look good at all.

I threw it away.

Ganache number 2:

I ditched the microwave idea and reverted back to boiling the cream in the saucepan.  Poured it over the chocolate, added the butter and stirred.  This time it looked like emulsion paint.  With that layer of clear liquid over the top.  I stirred and stirred but it just did not get that nice glossy finish that I was after.

I threw it away.

Ganache number 3:

This time I looked up “problems with ganache” on the internet.  There is of course loads of advice. One of them being, don’t worry! You don’t have to throw your ganache away, you can save it.  Great! Bit late now though! In the mean time I have now taken another trip to the shops to replenish the cream and chocolate.

This time I follow a different recipe.  No butter, just chocolate and double cream. I stir, it looks a little bit strange so I add some glucose (as suggested) and it finally starts to look good.  Hooray!!! I did it!

I poured the ganache over my cake, put all the chocolate on that was also due to go on the cake and was pleased with the result.  As you can see by the first picture, this is how I left my cake on Saturday night:0

It’s a bit thicker than I would have liked it, but as I have said ganache is still a learning curve to me.  So then I went to bed.

 

Sunday morning I wake up and go and inspect my cake.  I was horrified at what I saw.  The ganache was no longer shiny, it had split and there were horrible milky bits ALL over the chocolate!:1

 

Not a pretty sight at all! Panic mode begins to set in.  What do I do? Can I rescue this? How am I going to make this cake look how I want it to after this has happened??!!

In my mind, there was only one thing I could do and that was to painstakingly remove all of the chocolate balls and get rid of the ganache:2

Getting there, slowly but surely!

3

Finally all of the ganache is off.  Now time to recover and then for the 4th, attempt a new ganache:4

This time I choose a different recipe for ganache.  I think the mention of it being “foolproof” kind of did it for me, I have no idea why!

Ganache number 4:

This recipe called for me to start the melting process of the chocolate and butter before adding the cream. Telling me NOT to let the cream boil fully (insert lightbulb moment here)

This time, it was gorgeous, it was shiny and it was runny.  It simply looked perfect.  FINALLY!!!

So on went the ganache and on went some new chocolate balls (which again was something else I needed to replenish by this time)

The final result.  Pretty much from something I was very unhappy with, to something I was very happy with.  A big sigh of relief from me! 🙂lindt20151122_143324.jpg

Thanks for reading! x

 

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Slow Cooker Fun – Garlic Chilli Chicken with cucumber raita and a mint sauce.

You can make this in part in your slow cooker if you have one but it is as easy to make on the hob.

I don’t really have many pictures for this one as of yet as I was so keen to try it out, I forgot!

currrrrr

Garlic Chilli Chicken

 

There are several parts to this recipe to make it taste just like an authentic British Indian Restaurant’s curry.

 

PART ONE – THE CHICKEN

 

(This is optional but it will give a lovely colour and flavour to the chicken)

 

I marinated my chicken in a tikka marinade for 24 hours prior to cooking.

For this you will need:

1 pint of live natural yogurt

1 tablespoon cumin powder

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon chilli powder

Juice 1 lemon

8 cloves garlic – crushed

1 inch grated ginger

Red food colouring

4 chicken breasts – cubed

1 lemon

 

Mix the spices, colouring, lemon juice, ginger and garlic up into a paste with a little water and stir in well with the yogurt to make a tandoori marinade. Marinate the chicken in the marinade for 2-60 hours. Preheat the oven to it’s highest heat for at least 20 minutes. Shake off excess marinade and place chicken pieces on skewers on a wire rack in the oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes and check the chicken is cooked by piercing the thickest piece with a skewer, if the juices run clear it’s cooked.  Put to one side.

PART TWO – THE CURRY SAUCE

 

This will make 1 litre of curry sauce base. which is 4 portions.

EACH portion is enough to feed 3-4 people and can be used as a base for any curry that you make.

If you want the sauce to stay mild, then don’t add any chillies or, if you want a hotter base, then add green chillies as required.  I added 5 chillies to mine which made it quite zyngy but definitely not over-bearing.

(I must thank Bagheera Paan for her wonderful slow cooker recipe for this one)

 

175g carrots, sliced thinly

1kg onions, sliced thinly

380g potatoes, sliced thinly

30g garlic, sliced thinly

1 red pepper, diced

3 tbsp sunflower oil (I used olive oil)

570ml water mixed with 2 chicken stock cubes

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1.5 teaspoon cumin (powder or seeds)

1.5 teaspoon curry powder (I used medium heat)

1.5 teaspoon paprika powder

1 teaspoon garam masala powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 tsp ground coriander

Put the vegetables into to a pan with the oil and fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add the spices and fry for a further 5 minutes.  Make sure that everything is mixed in well.  Add the tomatoes and stock. Mix well.

At this point you can either pour the mixture into your slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours or keep it on the hob and cook it on a low heat for about an hour.  Make sure that the vegetables are cooked through.

Once cooked, blend all of the ingredients together, use, or store (can be frozen) until you need it.

I used about a quarter of the mixture for my chilli garlic chicken.

PART THREE – GARLIC CHILLI CHICKEN

 

1 whole bulb of rock hard garlic – I used Lidl single bulbed garlic (much less peeling and fiddling!)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil/ghee

4 breasts of chicken cooked tikka style as above (part 1), or as you prefer it, diced.

1 tablespoon garlic paste

1 tb ginger paste

2 tablespoons curry powder

1 tablespoon garam masala powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon red chilli powder – I used extra hot

2 tablespoons tomato puree

Curry sauce base (part 2) use as required. makes sure you use enough to cover the chicken.  You can also add water to the base if you find it is too thick for you.

4 tomatoes – largely diced

3 (or more) fresh green chillies cut into thin rings

1 small bunch of finely chopped coriander

salt and pepper to taste

 

Cut the garlic into really fine slices, as thin as you can. Heat three tablespoons of the oil/ghee over a medium heat and the garlic slivers. It is very important not to burn the garlic. Watch it and move the slivers around in the pan lightly browning them.

When lightly browned, add the ginger paste, garlic paste, curry powder, garam masala, chilli powder, cumin and tomato puree to the garlic slivers in the pan and stir continuously for about 30 seconds.

Now add the pre-cooked chicken and the curry sauce to the pan and allow to sizzle for about two minutes. You might want to add a drop of water if you like a thinner sauce.

Throw in the raw chillies and stir to combine.

Now add the diced tomatoes and simmer for about a minute when they are just cooked through.

Season the curry with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with the chopped coriander.

PART FOUR – THE OPTIONAL EXTRAS

 

I made a cucumber raita and a mint/yoghurt dip to accompany the curry.

 

For the raita:

I grated half a cucumber and added it to 250g of natural yoghurt adding a bit of salt to taste.

 

For the mint sauce:

 

250g natural yoghurt

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons mint sauce

caster sugar to taste (I used 1 teaspoon)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh coriander

 

Mix it all together and chill for an hour in the fridge before you use it.

 

the final result was garlic chilli chicken, served with basmati rice, a home made cucumber raita, mint sauce and poppadoms.


Enjoy!

The Screaming Swede

I have found this idea one of the most useful in a long time.  I for one, love swede.  I always find though that when I boil it, I need to boil it for ages and then it loses its texture.

This genius idea means that I will never be cooking a swede in a pan again.  All you need is the swede and a microwave.

swede1

First of all, place the swede in the microwave and cook for 20 minutes.  The swede doesn’t actually scream when you are cooking it, but I do find it makes rather a lovely hissing sound.  It may take a little bit longer depending on the size of your swede.  To check, push a knife or a skewer through.  If it goes through easily, then it’s done.   It’s as simple at that!

swede2

 

Once the swede is cooked, cut off the top part with a knife.  BE CAREFUL!  It will be very hot.   From here, you can either scoop out the flesh, or, as I have done, you can cut it and then take out all of the fleshy part of the swede.

swede3swede4

 

From here, you simply mash it up in the bowl with a fork and add seasoning as necessary.

swede5

It really is as simple as that!

 

Have fun!

~E~

Slow Cooker Fun – The Doner Kebab

I belong to a lot of foodie groups on-line and have heard people raving about this “fake-away kebab” that is apparently a must to try out.

Having recently purchased a slow cooker and being very new and also very willing to try out anything and everything more adventurous than a stew, I thought I would give this recipe a try.

I have seen this recipe on various weight watching sites as well as within the group that I belong to.  If you are indeed watching your weight like me, then may I advise that you buy lamb mince with the lowest fat percentage available.

First of all, the ingredients:

ingredients1

Nearly all online recipes used 500g mince, but as I had 2 x 400g packets, my recipe varies slightly.

800g Lean Lamb Mince

1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano

1 Teaspoon Dried Mixed Herbs

1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

1 1/2 teaspoons Salt

1 Teaspoon Black Pepper

You can also add chilli flakes as required if you like a bit more of a kick.  I didn’t do it this time as I wanted to try this recipe out on the children who aren’t exactly chilli fans………yet.

Mix all of the ingredients together.  Don’t be shy, get your hands dirty and really pummel the mince and make sure the ingredients are really mixed in well together. Once the mixture has become a dough like texture, make a meatloaf like shape out of the mince and place on to some tin foil.

mixedup2

You can cook this in your slow cooker a couple of ways, but I chose to wrap my mince up in foil and put it on a slow cook for 6 hours.  If you have a meat thermometer, then you can check whether the meat is cooked by making sure that the core temperature is 71c.

wrappedup3

Bear in mind that not all slow cookers cook at the same rate, so it will be worth checking any time after 4 hours to see how it is getting on.  You can also cook this on high, but for half the time.

I decided to go for the original kebab look, so to accompany my mince, I cut up some salad and toasted some wholemeal Pitta bread.

salad4

Now to the fun part. Once the meat is cooked, take it out of the cooker and let it rest (if you can be patient enough!) for 10 minutes, still in the foil.  Then slice the meat as thinly as you can so that you get thin strips of meat.

cooked5 sliced6

Now it’s time to put it all together. I also added some garlic sauce and chilli sauce to mine to make it extra tasty.

kebab7

I now have to go along with the general consensus, that this indeed, makes for a lovely, tasty meal.  The next time I have a craving for a kebab, I won’t be going to the kebab shop.   Although, if making this in the slow cooker, my craving had better come in the morning rather than in the evening!!

The next time that I make mine, I will be cooking it for less than 6 hours in my cooker as I found the result was slightly drier than I would have expected.

I have seen that some people also add ketchup to the mix to give it that extra bit of moisture.  Once you have the basic idea, it is yours to play with, adapt and change but I will honestly say that I am most definitely converted and to top it all it has half the calories of your average kebab from your local take-away!!

Enjoy!

**Today I made this wonderful recipe again and added some chopped onions to the meat.  I cooked it for 4 hours in the slow cooker, wrapping up the meat tighter in foil and also added a centimetre of water to the bottom of the cooker.

I am not sure whether the added onions, foil, the water or just the fact that I cooked it for a shorter time helped, but this time the kebab was SO moist and delicious.   This is most definitely a recipe that can be toyed around with and so far is improving every time!

~E~

image

I have come to the conclusion that holidays and diets don’t really mix very well.

I am doing what I can to eat healthily for most of it.(I have been here for a grand total of two days now already)
I am so used to weighing out my food and counting the calories that it suddenly feels very foreign not to do so and to just rely on my good judgement for the most part.

On the other hand. I AM ON HOLIDAY! I know that I am not going to gain back all the weight I have lost, and that I can have the odd treat here and there.  I would go crazy if I couldn’t have a little bit of what I fancy every now and again!

I am being disciplined as far as alcohol and fatty foods are concerned. I am eating plenty of fruit, veg and salad so I think it is all good.  20kg lost. 20kg to go.  Hopefully by this time next year I will have reached my goal and be able to stick to it.

In the mean time I shall be enjoying my holiday and will just have to wait and see what the scales tell me when I get home!

~E~

Dave – The Evil Minion

So this week there were two birthdays. My son’s and my niece.  Both are avid fans of the film “Despicable Me”.  What could be better then than to attempt a minion cake?!

This is my first attempt at something like this. Quite a learning curve in some parts, but for a first effort I was very pleased with myself.

I have not done any cake making or cake decorating courses.  My mum was a chef and she enjoyed cake decorating.  Funnily enough, when I was cleaning out her house, I threw so many cake decorating tools and books away as I thought I would never use them.  Funny how things turn around and bite you in the backside!

I always try to make a cake for my children for their birthdays and have been slowly but surely getting a bit more adventurous with my cakes.

So far this one tops it.  I must say a big thank you to the cake groups that I have joined via facebook.  Without the many pictures, words of advice and general “You can do it” vibe, I don’t think I would have got as far as I have.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a pretty simple cake to make.

I used my trusted “weigh the eggs” method and made an all in one mix.

I decided to make the inside of Dave different shades of purple to go with the general theme of the cake.

I cooked 5 lots of sponge cakes in 6 inch tins and a pyrex bowl for Dave’s head.  I call him Dave.  I am not sure if he actually represents Dave or not from the film, but to me, he is Dave.

Once cooked, then came the challenge of stacking the cakes together, crumb coating and making sure he was straight.  This is where I have realised how handy and important crumb coating is.  This probably saved the day! 3 crumb coatings later and I was ready to add the fondant.

This was a ready to roll fondant but I coloured it myself.   Took a fair bit of colouring before I got the colour that I wanted.

Anyway, a few hours later, toothpicks here and there to keep the hair up and the purple was done.

I am sure there are ways that I could have improved my technique to make it look that much more professional, but for now, for the stage where I am in my cake making and decorating story, I am very happy with the result.

The end result was that there were two very happy children.  Amazed by Dave, and loved the taste of him.

What more can a girl ask for?

~E~

PHOTOS

Compared To Cheese

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For someone who absolutely adores cheese of practically any shape or form, I am finding it quite difficult to ration myself now that I am trying to lose weight.  That is until I compare what I am eating to the equivalent in cheese.

Take today for example.  A lovely lunch of King Prawns, Salad and Tzatziki.  This came to a whopping 190 calories.  I could have chosen instead to eat 50 grammes of Cheddar cheese that would have come to the same amount of calories. I believe that I made a wise choice.

Much as I love cheese, I am also not a fan of small plated food.  My eyes like to see a plate full of food. I have noticed this when I eat.  I never seem satisfied with a small plate.  I have tried to eat slowly, I have tried many things but I have now come to realise that I don’t actually need to cut my portion size, I just need to make wiser choices when I put food onto my plate.

I really do appreciate good food.  If it tastes good, I’m in.  Because of that, I do not feel that my diet – or my change of lifestyle as I prefer to call it – is restricting me.  A few simple swaps.  Food still tastes great and I am already reaping the benefits.

Do I miss cheese?  Hell yes!!! But I am saving it for a special occasion rather than taking a nibble or a slice every time I pass the fridge.

The recipe for this delicious simple salad:

130g King Prawns

100g Florette Mixed Salad Bag

100g Beef Tomato – chopped

60g Cucumber – chopped

2 Spring Onions – chopped

50g Tzatziki

Total: 190 Calories

(Calorie Count via My Fitness Pal)