HOME COOKING using SIX MIX TRICKS

HACK OF THE WEEK – ROASTING TINS

Jun
15

I use my roasting tins a lot. Every Sunday, I do a roast joint of some kind with potatoes for the dinner and I love roasting vegetables to serve as a side dish, to put in salads or to make soups with.

What I don’t love is having to clean the burnt-on tins afterwards. First off you have to soak them for days. They clutter up the sides looking grim, and serve as a constant reminder that you still haven’t actually finished washing up yet, every time you go to make a cup of tea. You have to fill them to the brim with water and fairy liquid to make sure that all that burnt-on gunk gets a good soaking. Invariably, someone reaching into the bread bin will knock into the tin and send all that watery grease and grime cascading all over the side and into every conceiveable small space. You end up frantically trying to mop it up with kitchen roll or your best tea towel as it’s spreading like wildfire heading straight for the bread. When you do eventually bite the bullet, roll up your sleeves, and armed with a brillo, attempt to clean it, you find that the days of soaking have done absolutely nothing to help loosen it at all.  You’re sweating like a dog and using every bit of elbow grease you’ve got but no amount of scrubbing is going to get it clean enough to use again. And so you have to admit defeat, chuck it out and buy a new one. 

This hack will save you all of that.

And what is the secret to avoiding burnt – on grease……greaseproof paper…..

You line your roasting tins with grease proof paper – going right up the sides. Put in your chosen item for roasting, drizzle with oil, add seasoning and roast in the oven as usual as if the paper wasn’t there. The paper doesn’t affect the roasting process in any way. It is also non stick so everything will come out like dream. Afterwards, pull out the paper and bin it. And……….with a massive grin on your face, put your tin back in the cupboard.

A quick cake with easy mars bar icing

May
05

I’m sharing with you my go-to quick cake recipe for when you need a cake and you need it fast. It’s perfect for when you suddenly remember the kids have friends coming for tea, it’s somebody’s birthday or when guests are coming at short notice.

This quick cake can be cooked in in less than 30 minutes so it’s a brilliant recipe to know for emergencies. It’s a good looking cake and, despite the short cuts, it tastes just as delicious as one that has taken twice as long to make.

The secret to this quick cake recipe is using rapeseed oil in place of the usual butter. It means you can by-pass the traditional cake making method. Firstly, you don’t have to spend any time creaming the butter and sugar together first, you just chuck everything into a bowl and mix it together. Secondly, you don’t have to be carefully adding the eggs one at a time to prevent them curdling, you can just chuck both eggs in at once and mix it together.

The icing is very simple too, it’s just a mars bar melted with a bit of butter & milk. This is a trick my mother in law told me about, she used to do it for her kids when they were little. Now, I always keep a supply of mars bars hidden at the back of the cupboard for emergency icing purposes. I do have to hide them as well or they get eaten by the family before I have time to use them.

Buying packs of pre-cut greaseproof paper circles is a real time saver too. They come in a range of sizes to fit most cake tins and you can buy them from poundshops and bargain homeware shops very cheaply. Using these makes short work of preparing a cake tin. Although, if you can’t get hold of any pre-cut ones, just rip a piece of greaseproof off the roll and press it roughly into the tin to cover. There’s no need for any drawing round tins and cutting out circles.

Here is how to make it:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and a line a cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Add the following ingredients to a big bowl:

4oz self raising flour

4oz rapeseed oil

4oz brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp cocoa powder

and mix together until combined.

Pour the mixture into the lined tin and bake for 20 minutes until risen and golden.

Leave it to cool completely.

As you can see my daughter opened the oven door to see what was cooking and the cake sunk in the middle but that’s fine. I could have re-done the cake for the photo but I decided not to because I’m all for keeping it real.This is a quick cake not a masterpiece and it happens.

To make the icing

Cut a mars bar into small chunks and put them in a heatproof bowl with 2oz butter and 1 tbsp milk.

Microwave at 30 sec intervals for 2 minutes, stirring in between, until it’s melted. It’ll be a bit lumpy at first but whisk like mad until it’s smooth.

Pour the melted mars bar over the top of the cake.

Sometime I finish with some sprinkles, chocolate buttons or sweets or you can leave it plain.

Printable version below. Let me know what you think via the comments and if you make it tag a photo #sixmixtricks on instagram.

Print Recipe
Quick Mars Bar Cake
A quick and easy cake you can make in minutes
Course Home baking
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For the icing
Course Home baking
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For the icing
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and line a cake tin with greaseproof paper.
  2. Put the first seven ingredients in a bowl and mix together until combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 20 minutes until risen and golden.
  4. Leave to cool
Icing
  1. Put the mars bar chunks in a microwaveable bowl with the butter and milk.
  2. Microwave on high at 30 sec intervals for 2 minutes, stirring in between, until melted.
  3. Pour over the top of the cake.
Share this Recipe
 

Campervan Quiche Lorraine

Apr
26

 

We were staying in our campervan over the holidays and as it was a nice day, I wanted to make a quiche to take on a picnic. However, as you know when camping you don’t have access to the same extensive range of baking/cooking tins as you do at home. It’s a basic set of saucepans and a roasting tin if you’re lucky. So you have to get creative.

I decided to try using a saucepan and I have to tell you it worked a treat. Obviously I was a bit concerned about how I was going to get the quiche out after cooking as I usually use my trusty non stick springform tin.

The answer of course is grease and a whole lot of it. If you liberally grease the whole inside of the saucepan with oil to get it good and non stick before you start, the quiche just pops straight out. I used a full metal pan so that it could go in the oven. If you have a go at this, make sure your pan doesn’t have a plastic handle!

What you need

For the pastry

6oz plain flour

3oz butter

water to mix

For the filling

3 eggs

150ml milk

4 rashers of bacon, chopped up with scissors

a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

a handful of fresh spinach

salt & pepper

What to do

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Put the flour in a bowl, rub in the butter using your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs and then stir in enough water (2 – 3 tbsp) using a fork to bring it together in a clump.

Grease a saucepan with oil until nicely coated and then press the pastry in the bottom and up the sides to create a pastry case.

Heat some oil in a pan and fry the bacon bits for a few minutes until golden.

Mix the eggs and milk in a jug, season with salt & pepper, add the bacon, tomato halves and spinach leaves and stir to combine.

Pour the egg mixture into the pastry case.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until golden.

Leave to cool and using a knife go around the edge of the pastry to loosen and then lift out.

Let me know what you think via the comments and if you make it tag a photo #sixmixtricks on instagram

Love Livs

x

Fish Meuniere with Jersey royals & asparagus

Apr
26

This classic French fish dish is a great way to get more fish into your weekly diet and even the most reluctant fish eaters will wolf this down (as proven by my daughter who doesn’t do fish!). It’s so fresh and fragrant and served with some seasonal jersey royal potatoes and majestic asparagus spears, it is perfect for that first spring/summer supper in the garden.

It’s very easy to make using simple ingredients you’ll likely have to hand. 4 easy steps is all it takes, and as a bonus, it can be made in advance. It will happily sit waiting to be reheated, if the family are out doing activities. I made this and left it in the pan, while I went off to boot camp and my son was at football training. When we got back I simply turned on the heat to warm it through and it was delicious.

What you need

2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp oil

150ml lemon juice (4 lemons)

150ml melted butter (4oz/half a pack)

6 cod fish fillets

salt & pepper

What to do

Put the flour on a plate and stir in plenty of salt and pepper then dip in the fish fillets in the seasoned flour until coated on both sides.

Heat the oil in a non stick pan, add the fish fillets and cook them for a few minutes on each side until a golden crust forms and it turns white right to the middle.

Melt the butter in a jug in the microwave (1 min), add the lemon juice, pour into the pan and let it simmer for a few minutes to thicken, spooning the sauce over the fish.

Stir in a handful of freshly chopped parsley.

Serve straight away or turn off the heat and leave in the pan until ready to reheat.

Serve the fish with halved Jersey royals boiled in their skins for 10 minutes until soft to a knifepoint and asparagus spears with the woody ends broken off and pan fried in a little oil until just golden. You won’t need to add any butter to the potatoes or asparagus, just spoon the yummy fish sauce over everything.

Let me know what you think via the comments and if you make it tag a photo #sixmixtricks on instagram

Love Livs

x

 

Spatchcock roast chicken with herb & lemon cream

Mar
10

If there is one dinner guaranteed to get everyone running to the table, it’s a roast chicken. The smell of it cooking is the smell of home. But…. it usually takes a good hour and half to roast a chicken and midweek there’s not many who can dedicate that amount of time to making the dinner. That’s where spatchcocking comes in. If you’re new to spatchcocking, you’re going to love it.

Spatchcocking a chicken is where you open it up with scissors so that it cooks flat on a baking tray. Cooking a chicken this way means  you can have a roast chicken on the table in half the time – 45 minutes to be precise, and there’s no gravy to make in this recipe. Instead you whip up a quick and fresh lemon & herb cream using mayonnaise and creme fraiche. See separate post for how to make your own mayonnaise.

I serve this with halved new potatoes boiled in their skins for 10 minutes until soft to a knifepoint and finished with a big knob of butter and grated parmesan cheese. Put some pan fried veggies on the side.

What you need:

1 chicken

oil

salt & pepper

150ml mayonnaise (see separate post)

150ml creme fraiche

zest of a lemon

a handful of basil and rocket leaves, finely chopped

What to do

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Put the chicken on a baking tray

Flip her over

Use a sturdy pair of kitchen scissors to cut along the back bone. It’ll cut quite easily if you apply a bit of pressure so don’t be afraid

Open it out

And turn her back over, skin side up, season with salt and pepper and drizzle over some oil

Roast for 45 minutes until crispy and golden.

Meanwhile make the lemon & herb cream. Put the mayonnaise in a bowl

Add the creme fraiche

Gather your herbs.I’m using basil and rocket leaves because that’s what I have available but any herbs would do. Tarragon and chicken are a match made in heaven.

Chop the herbs and add them to the mayo and creme fraiche

Mix together

Zest a lemon

And add that to the bowl. Then set aside until the chicken is ready

Take everything to the table and let people help themselves. I love casual dinners like this.

Let me know what you think via the comments and if you make it tag a photo #sixmixtricks on instagram.

Love Livs

x

Homemade mayonnaise

Mar
10

The first time I made my own mayonnaise was for my sister. I had bought her a little pottery jar with mayonnaise written on the side for her new flat and I thought I ought to put something in it. Well, I’ve got to tell you I was blown away. Homemade mayonnaise is a whole different species to the shop bought stuff in a jar. For one, the colour is completely different. Homemade mayo is a thick luscious yellow which makes you wonder what goes into a shop bought variety to make it white….??? For two, the taste is delicious. I haven’t looked back since.

Making mayo is not difficult. A big deal is made about the fact it can curdle.. and it can.. but if you remember to add the oil slowly, a drop at a time, it won’t, and even if it does because you’ve accidentally glugged the oil in too quickly, a bit of boiling water added and some elbow grease will right it again.

A few tricks make it a little easier… put the bowl on a piece of damp kitchen roll to stop it spinning round when you whisk (that can get a bit annoying after a while!!) and stick the radio on as you whisk because adding a drop at a time can seem like a long time when you’re whisking but if you listen to some tunes the time will go quicker. It only takes 5 minutes for the drop by drop stage and then you can glug in the oil quicker without fear of curdling it.

I use an all purpose rapeseed oil to make mine as I find olive oil too bitter tasting. But try different oils and see which you prefer.

Mayo will last for up to a week in the fridge ready to whip up a multitude of sandwiches and salads or dips so it’s a great store- cupboard staple.

What you need

3 egg yolks

300ml rapeseed oil

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

salt & pepper

To make it

Put a large bowl on a damp piece of kitchen roll

Separate the eggs

Put the egg yolks in the bowl

Season with salt & pepper and add the vinegar

Measure out the oil

Add the oil a drop at a time whisking each one in before adding the next

When the mixture starts to stiffen under your whisk you can add the oil a bit quicker, a glug at a time

Keep whisking until it’s gorgeous and thick

Pile into a pottery jar or similar container.I saved this one from some blue cheese at Christmas and it’s the perfect size for mayo. But a bowl will be fine too.

Keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Let me know what you think via the comments and if you make it tag a photo #sixmixtricks on instagram

Love Livs

x

3 in 1 Pancakes

Feb
28

It’s pancake day.. and funnily enough National Scouse Day too. Living in Liverpool, Scouse is a big thing here…. But today we are just doing all things pancake…. Three ways in fact: Sweet Pancakes, Spinach pancakes and Pancakes you can toss.

I only ever used to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday because you have to and we only ever had them with lemon and sugar. Fresh lemon though not Jif…can you still get those yellow plastic squeezy bottles shaped like a lemon these days?

Once I had kids I found myself making pancakes all the time.. for special breakfasts (crepes and nutella), for easy lunches (pancakes with ham and cheese), for quick dinners (spinach pancakes) and for simple puddings (pancakes with bananas and caramel sauce).

Spinach pancakes have been in my life for over 10 years…. my friend Emma told me about them.. and her sister in law Sally told her. They are a brilliant way to get your kids eating healthy greens without realising it. It doesn’t matter that the pancakes are green… kids love these and they actually ask for these as a special request dinner… so you can imagine that pretty soon every mum in the toddler group was churning out these little green babies for their toddlers to munch on…my kids still love these now

After a few disasterous pancake tossing sessions with the kids, where the poor pancake was in shreds before everyone had even had a turn…I came up with the recipe for pancakes you can toss. A really thick batter makes a super duper toss resistant pancake that you can play with for hours. These ones are obviously not for eating… they end up all over the place and tend to pick up dust!!

Pancakes are very easy and they are really quick to make.

What do you need to know:

  1. The first pancakes always go a bit wrong.. something to do with seasoning the pan, pan not quite hot enough yet.. butter not quite melted…who knows but everyone agrees.. the first pancake usually goes wrong – so if yours is not quite as crisp as you want.. move onto pancake two.. we all do… someone will still eat it!
  2. The pan needs to be nice and hot
  3. Only lightly grease the pan and pour off any excess butter or the pancake will go for a swim instead of crisping up
  4. Only use enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan in a thin layer.. not too thick

And that’s it..

This recipe is for 3 pancakes from one mix: Spinach pancakes, Sweet pancakes and Pancakes you can toss.

What you need

12oz plain flour

3 eggs

900ml milk

butter to cook

Then:

2oz extra flour

2 nuggets of frozen spinach

1 tbsp oil

grated cheese

What to do:

Put the flour in a bowl.

Add the eggs

Then whisk in the milk until it’s like double cream

Divide the mixture into 3 bowls.

Leave one as it is – this is the sweet pancake mix

Add 2oz more flour and a tbsp oil to one

And mix until very thick

This is the pancakes you can toss mixture

Then defrost 2 nuggets of spinach in a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes

Add to the bowl

And blitz with a handblender until green and smooth (no bits)

Now you can start cooking.

Melt a knob of butter in a non stick frying pan

Pour off any excess butter into a cup and add a ladleful of batter to coat the bottom of the pan

Leave it to cook for a few minutes until golden and flip over

Add some grated cheese

Roll up and serve

For the sweet pancakes, it’s the same process and you can just wipe out the pan to remove any cheese before cooking them.

Squeeze over lemon or lime and sprinkle on sugar

The Pancakes to toss are cooked in the same way but as the batter is thicker they look different in the pan.

Cook for a few minutes until golden as before and flip over

Put in a cold pan and let the kids go crazy tossing these as high as they can. The thickness means they don’t break as easily and can be used to play great games like pancake pan toss.

What you’ve never heard of it… well just get two people with two pans on either side of the kitchen. Chuck the pancake to each other catching it in your pan…. so much fun. The pancake will hit the ceiling, land on heads, get lost on the top of the fridge and will generally take a beating…

Let me know what you think via the comments and if you make it tag a photo #sixmixtricks on instagram

Love Livs

x

 

Caramel sauce

Feb
16

This caramel sauce is so easy to make and it will last for an age in the fridge. It’s the perfect staple for pulling out to pour over pancakes, waffles, ice-cream or porridge. You can use it to make a toffee apple crumble (see separate post) or millionaires shortbread and it’s absolutely amazing swirled into Greek yoghurt for a quick and very satisfying dessert.

There’s no messing around with sugar thermometers, all you need is a saucepan.  While most caramel sauce recipes contain a lot of butter and cream, this one doesn’t, which means it’s low fat, and so you don’t even have to feel that guilty about having it.

It settles as it sits, so just give it a stir each time you want to use it or sneak a spoonful.

What you need

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cornflour
150ml golden syrup
150ml milk
4oz brown sugar

What to do

Put everything together in a medium saucepan. It won’t look very appetizing at this point but don’t worry about that.

Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and everything has combined together.

Turn up the heat and boil for a few minutes until large bubbles appear on the surface

Pour into a container. It will still look a bit runny at this point but again don’t worry it thickens as it cools in the fridge.

 Cover with clingfilm and keep in the fridge for a long time.

Let me know what you think via the comments and if you make it tag a photo #sixmixtricks on instagram.

Love Livs

x

Toffee apple crumble

Feb
16

We don’t usually eat pudding during the week, we just have yoghurt and/or fruit.  So at the weekend I really look forward to making a nice pudding to enjoy after the Sunday dinner. My absolute favourite pudding is an apple crumble. Toffee apple crumble to be specific. It’s simple but perfect. The tart fruit and sweet sauce bubble up around the crispy crumble topping as they cook giving it lovely chewy caramelised edges. Whether you serve it with a proper vanilla custard or ice-cream, its a great British classic for a reason.

This is a really quick and easy way to make an apple crumble. There’s no peeling involved and the crumble is mixed together in one bowl. I don;t mind the peel but if you want you can peel the apple first, it just takes longer.

What you need:

4oz flour

2oz butter

2oz brown sugar

a handful of oats

a handful of flaked almonds

1lb apples

juice of a lemon

caramel sauce (see separate post)

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Cut open the apples, de-core them, cut into chunks and place in an ovendish.

Squeeze over lemon juice to stop them going brown and then spoon over caramel sauce

Put the flour, sugar, oats, almonds and butter into a bowl

Rub together using your fingertips until it looks like crumbs

Sprinkle over the apples

Bake for 30 minutes until golden

Serve with custard (see separate post) or ice-cream.

Let me know what you think via the comments and if you make it tag a photo #sixmixtricks on instagram

Love Livs

x

Beef Rendang

Feb
16

I had some friends coming round for a catch up – dinner at the weekend and as I hadn’t seen them for a while I wanted to do something special but had no time to prepare. I knew we were going to be out all day so what did I do to solve this problem – I turned to my trusty slow cooker.

The slow cooker is the solver of all ‘no time to cook anything’ problems. Bung something in, in the morning, and come back later to a delicious dinner that has practically cooked itself.

I whipped up this sensational Indonesian beef rendang which took only a few minutes to prep and then left it to simmer away all day while I was out ferrying kids around and buying sofas.

I love curry pastes and use them all the time because you don’t need to mess about trying to source lots of authentic herbs and spices to replicate a traditional dish. You can buy Thai, Jerk, Indian and this Rendang paste. They contain everything you need to get that characteristic flavour with nothing more than some store cupboard stock and a tin of coconut milk. They last for ages too. One jar will make about 3 curries.

I got back with an hour to go until my guests were arriving. So I threw together a simple starter – a Gado Gado (Indonesian mix -mix) salad with some peanut dressing made from a jar of satay sauce and made some yoghurt flatbread (separate post) to serve with a bought coconut dip and some pickles. I serve the curry on a pile of jasmine rice – basmati rice cooked in jasmine tea for a delicate authentic Indonesian taste. It all looked really impressive but was really no trouble at all to do.

What you need:

2 tbsp oil

2 tbsp flour

300ml beef stock

300ml coconut milk

1lb stewing steak

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves peeled and chopped

a knob of ginger peeled and grated

3 tbsp rendang curry paste

a handful of chopped coriander

What to do

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion, garlic and ginger for a few minutes until softened

Add the beef and cook for a few minutes to brown

Add the flour and curry paste. Cook for a minute

Then stir in the stock and coconut milk

It looks a bit beige at this point but that’s alright. Fear not, as it cooks slowly all day it will darken, the flavours will develop and the spices will split the oil in the sauce giving it that lovely authentic curry sauce look.

Add in a handful of coriander (I used frozen) and some freshly chopped spring onions.

Leave to cook on high all day or at least 4 hours.

To make the jasmine rice, follow the recipe for egg fried rice (separate post) but use jasmine tea instead of water to cook the rice in and leave out the egg.

Let me know what you think via the comments and if you make it tag a photo #sixmixtricks on instagram

Love Livs

x