Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I am sat writing this post four cookies down and counting because they are just so delicious - I can't stop eating them! I have tried a few cookie recipes in the past, but mostly they turned out  like a crunchy biscuit and I prefer a soft, chewy style cookie. I came across this recipe when browsing The Kinfolk Table - Nathan Williams and decided to give my favourite sweet treat another go. Considering I had all the ingredients already in my baking cupboard, I'd say this mix is pretty accessible for most to try and I am so glad I did! This recipe is one of those favourites that you find, love and will share and re use again and again for years to come. The cookies are sweet but not too sugary and the oats give the cookies a great texture and bite. I have adapted the measurements slightly to cater to making just one batch.

Makes 12 cookies.

INGREDIENTS

- 160 grams packed light brown sugar

- 160 grams granulated white sugar

- 115 grams vegetable shortening  at room temperature - I use Crisp N Dry found in the         butter/lard section. 

- 1 teaspoon liquid vanilla extract

- 1/2 teaspoon salt

- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

- 1 large egg at room temperature

- 105 grams all-purpose flour

- 150 grams rolled oats

- 100 grams milk chocolate chips

METHOD

1. Combine the sugars and shortening in a mixing bowl and hand stir using a spoon. If your mix isn't turning smooth and creamy, gently warm the mix in the microwave for a couple of seconds on a very low heat to get the shortening to soften. 

2. Add the vanilla, salt, bicarbonate of soda and egg, mixing to create a paste like consistency. 

3. Stir in the flour, oats and chocolate chips. Use your hands in the mixture to turn and fully combine the ingredients. Once the mixture looks like a dough, cover with cling film and place in the fridge to cool for 1 hour. 

4. Preheat the oven to 170c/350f/Gas Mark 3 and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

5. Pull a small handful of the dough away (about the size of an ice cream scoop) and start to roll in to a smooth ball. Repeat to create 12 balls of cookie dough.

6. Gently press down with your fingertips to flatten the dough in to a thick disc shape. 

7. Bake for 5 minutes, rotate the baking tray, then cook for a further 5 minutes. This ensures the cookies brown evenly. Remove the cookies from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

8. Initially the cookies will look under baked and very lightly golden. Don't be tempted to put them back in the oven, this is normal. They will continue to cook and harden, giving them a crispy edge and soft, chewy centre. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and leave for a further 30 minutes. 

 

Mushroom & Courgette Pearl Barley

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Whilst frantically browsing my cookbooks for a recipe ideally suitable for eight dinner party guests, I came across this delightful dish in Scandinavian Comfort Food by Trine Hahnemann. The book is, as you may have guessed from the title, a culmination of easy and simple Nordic recipes that are both hearty and healthy. Just what I needed for a winter feast serving cold and hungry guests! I have adapted the recipe slightly to enhance the flavours and I do hope you enjoy making it as much as we enjoyed eating it. 

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

- 1 courgette

- 200g mushrooms

- 1 white onion

- 250g pearl barley

- 1-2 vegetable stock cubes

- Glug of white wine

- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

- 3 cloves of garlic

- Few sprigs of thyme

- Handful of parsley

- Tablespoon of butter

- Parmesan cheese

METHOD:

1. Dice the courgette and add olive oil to a large, deep sided pot. Sauté until starting to brown.

2. Dice the mushrooms, onion and garlic then add to the pan, along with thyme. Sautéing for a further 5 minutes.

3. Add the barley and stir well, leaving it to cook for a few minutes.

4. When the barley starts to brown, add 600ml of vegetable stock and a glug of wine. Leave uncovered for five minutes, gently stirring occasionally.

5. Leave the pan covered and simmering on a low heat for a further 20-25 minutes, again stirring occasionally and adding any stock if the water has evaporated.

6. When cooked, add the butter and grate Parmesan cheese into the pot, stirring to combine. Add chopped parsley to garnish and season with pepper. 

TIP: I served this dish alongside a fresh beetroot, walnut, rocket and feta salad - which went down a treat! Really quick and easy to prepare also.

Super Simple Granola Pots

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I have such a sweet tooth! I find that I always need something sweet after eating a main course to complete my meal. Going in to the New Year, I am attempting to reduce my sugar (mainly chocolate) intake drastically! I love this twist on my usual morning granola and strawberries, it feels a little bit more indulgent because of the cream, but still healthy enough to justify having a pudding.  

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

- Small carton of double cream

- Small carton of greek yoghurt

- Handful of strawberries

- Handful of homemade granola

- Drizzle of honey

METHOD:

1.  Throw in a mixing bowl half the carton of double cream and use a hand whisk to stir quickly until thick.

2.  Mix in 2 tablespoons of greek yoghurt at a time until consistency is thick and creamy.

3. Chop your strawberries and layer in glasses, adding layers of granola, cream and more strawberries as you go, until full. 

4. Drizzle honey across the top of each glass and serve.

TIP: If you want something more indulgent and dessert like, use more cream and less greek yoghurt. You can also swap the granola for crushed meringue. 

Almond and Honey Oat Granola

So recently I have been looking for some new breakfast inspiration to change it up from my usual bowl of warm porridge. I love porridge and oats are just about the only thing that fill me up until lunch time. For a lighter, summer recipe - what better than an oat based granola?! I usually avoid shop bought granola as it is too sugary and tastes a little processed. After trialling various recipes, I still could not get the mixture right. After playing around with my own ingredients , I finally struck lucky!  Here is my recipe for Almond and Honey Oat Granola which is the right balance of healthy, savoury and sweet. It is quick and simple to make and takes no longer than 30 minutes in total. I am knocking up a batch almost daily at the moment because my boyfriend loves it too. I hope you enjoy! 

Makes one large batch

INGREDIENTS:

- 2 cups or 180g of steel cut oats 

- 1/4 cup of honey

- 1/4 cup of almond/cashew/peanut butter (whichever you prefer)

- Handful of almonds

- Handful of walnuts

- Handful of chia seeds

- 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence 

- 1 teaspoon of almond essense 

- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon 

METHOD: 

1. Preheat your oven to 160c for fan assisted or 180 for non fan, Gas Mark 4 for others.

2. Grab a mixing bowl and combine your oats, cinnamon, dried nuts (I ground mine in a mortar and pestle first) chia seeds and stir to combine.

3. In a microwaveable dish heat your honey and nut butter of choice on a low heat for a couple of seconds until runny and warm. Mix together.

4. Add the almond and vanilla essense and stir to combine.

5. Add your wet and dry ingredients together and use your hands to bind together the mixture. It should be part clumpy and part loose ingredients.

6. Take greaseproof paper and line the baking tray. I usually rub a small amount of butter along the paper to stop the mixture sticking.

7. Lay the mixture flat across the baking tray and gently press down on to the mixture to push it together.

8. Pop in the oven for roughly 20 minutes until your granola looks golden brown, tossing it over gently at around 10 minutes to ensure an even bake!

9. Leave to cool on the tray and place in a resealable bag ready for when you wish to serve!

TIP: I serve mine with natural greek yoghurt and a drizzle of honey, topped with some fresh berries. Also, feel free to add any other dried fruits of your choice to the mixture once baked!