Moon ice-cream cake

I usually take great pleasure in baking birthday cakes for my kids. However I made Lukas birthday a little differently this year as it was made entirely out of ice-cream! This might be odd for some, but in my childhood ice-cream cake was normal. Besides, don’t you find that kids tend to eat the icing of the cake first? With ice-cream cake the whole cake gets eaten by your little party guests. Trust me! Ice-cream cake is the best! You can thank me later ūüėČ

This ice-cream is super easy to make. I chose this recipe as it does not need churning therefore it can just be frozen in a dome shaped dish. I used a metal mixing bowl, but I would recommend a silicone dome shaped baking mould.

MOON ICE-CREAM CAKE

  • 1l whipping or double cream
  • 2 cans condensed milk (784g)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence (optional)
  • black food colouring (as needed)

1. Whip the cream and add the rest of ingredients into the bowl.

2. Mix to combine, add more of food colouring if necessary.

3. Transfer the mix into the mould if using. Otherwise freeze it in the bowl overnight.

4. To remove the cake out of silicone mould should be easy. But if you froze it in a metal bowl there is a trick you can use for safe removal. Put the bowl upside down and place damp hot cloths on top. Keep swapping cloths for freshly heated ones till ice-cream comes out. With this method the cake came out not in the best shape, but considering it is meant to be a moon like I decided the wobbly lines give an authentic character to it.

Once tidied up, decorated with some authentic craters ūüėČ , and with space themed candles I think it turned out pretty well!

Another good reason why this cake is good to make for birthdays is because it can be prepped weeks before and decorated with very little to be impressive.

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Basic potato pancakes

Basic potato pancake recipeYey! The pancake day is here! I thought I will share one of my savoury pancake recipe for this occasion ;-). It’s a potato pancake but not how you imagine. It’s not an Eastern European type of pancake that taste a little like a hash brown (although they are very tasty too) and it’s not a vegan type of pancake either. However it is a very versatile pancake that is tasty on it’s own or with the filling. I adapted this recipe from this waffle recipe. I loved it too much, but now in the pancake form I think I can enjoy it more frequently. Yum!¬†Basic potato pancake recipeBASIC POTATO PANCAKES

  • 2 medium sized potatoes, cut into small uniform pieces
  • 2-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves (optional)
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 160ml milk
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 125g plain flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Put potatoes and garlic in a large pot with cold water to cover. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and cook until potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork drain, reserving about 60ml of potato/garlic water.Basic potato pancake recipe 2. While potatoes cook, puree onions with rosemary leaves if using. Heat olive oil and fry onion in a frying pan over low heat just until onion softens a bit.Basic potato pancake recipe3. Transfer the potatoes and garlic into the bowl or large mixing jug. Mash it and mix it together with onions.
4. Gradually add garlic/potato water, oil, milk and eggs while constantly mixing so it all combines well. Eventually add flour and seasoning and give a last mix. Basic potato pancake recipe 5. Fry pancakes in well heated pan with little oil. Pour one spoonful to the pan and immediately start swirling round the pan to get nice even layer. Lift the pancake to flip and cook the other side as well. Basic potato pancake recipe Serve it either with a dollop of creme fraiche  and parsley. Basic potato pancake recipeOr if you like you can use these pancakes as a wrap. There are quite many fillings to experiment with. We had chicken roast the other day so that went really well with it!Basic potato pancake recipe Basic potato pancake recipeEnjoy!
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Spring-inspired celebration cake

Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipeI always wanted to try and bake a cake using sweet peas, but I never had an opportunity. Sweet peas is such as spring vegetable and no one in our family have a birthday in a spring. Eventually I decided to just go for it for Tomas birthday. It almost feels like a spring now! Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe SWEET PEA CAKE WITH BEETROOT FROSTING adopted from Veggie Desserts
(for the cake)

  • 180g sweet peas, steamed or boiled
  • 130g butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest and a drizzle of juice
  • 165g flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt

(for the frosting)

  • 250g soft cheese
  • 70g icing sugar (plus some more for later stage)
  • 1-2 tsp beetroot powder
  • 1tsp other type of natural frosting such as turmeric, matcha etc (optional)

1. Puree the sweet peas in the food processor and set aside
2. Cream the butter with sugar either in the large bowl with the wooden spoon or in the mixer.Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe 3. Add the rest of the ingredients (including sweet pea puree) into the butter cream and mix again to combine. Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe 4. Bake the cakes in the 15cm (6inch) tins in 180C preheated oven for about 20 min. Alternatively you can bake these in the sheet tray and use a large cookie cutter to cut out the rounds. I ended up cutting off the crust as I wanted bright green colour to show through the frosting.Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe5. Meanwhile make the frosting. Using the whisk, mix the soft-cheese with sifted icing sugar.
6. To assemble spread a little of the frosting between the layers of the completely cooled cakes and sandwich together. Cover the cake with some more frosting reserving a little for later. Using palette knife gently scrape of the icing creating that naked cake look.Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe 7. Split the remaining frosting into 2 or more bowls, unless you only want to dye it in one colour. I personally would have had only one colour (pink) now when I tried the multicolour. Add the beetroot powder (or other natural colour) and more icing sugar till the frosting reaches the right consistency. It needs to be stiff in order to keep its shape.Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe 8. Pipe the frosting on the cake using a piping bag and large round nozzle.Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe 9. Decorate the cake with wild flowers and herbs. It is amazing what you can find in the garden or in the park. These daisies are actually edible and were growing on my lawn.Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipe Spring-inspired celebration cake (with sweet peas) recipeHappy spring waiting everyone!
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Pinterest challenge: parsley cheese crackers

Parsley cheese crackers recipeFirst of all I would like to inform you that I won’t be doing any “Pinterest challenge” posts anymore (Booo! I know!). I feel like I have been doing this for ages (4 and half years to be more specific) and I felt these lack of creativity on my part. Yes, I have learned a lot, I have made my own alterations on some of the recipes, I tried many recipes that just have been sitting there on my boards and I use some of these recipes again and again… BUT I feel it’s time to move on! I realised I need to start creating more of my own recipes as well (which I have been doing already).
Now coming back to my final “Pinterest challenge” post. I have been doing a lot of cupboard clearing lately. This included me going through my cupboards and using up all these leftover flours and grains etc. Although these crackers does not call for any special flour, I baked them anyways as these make good lunch box fillers (Lukas calls them lunch box stars) and they make as a tasty snack on the go too! I tweaked the recipe a little bit to add some parsley. I feel better when this adds some green into the kids lunch boxes, even though I am not too sure how many nutrients from the parsley survive the process. Either way at least the parsley give some work out for the taste buds ;-).¬†Parsley cheese crackers recipe¬†PARSLEY CHEESE CRACKERS adopted from Winter Monroe

  • 200g flour
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 85g butter
  • 200g cheese, finely grated
  • 1 egg
  • handful parsley + 2tbsp water, whizzed to a paste

1. Add the garlic powder into the flour and mix to combine. Rub the butter into the flour mix with your fingertips until the mixture looks like moist breadcrumbs.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well to combine.Parsley cheese crackers recipe3. Roll the pastry out, 7mm thick. Using a cookie cutter cut out the shapes and place them on ready lined baking tin or tray. This part is fun to do with kids!Parsley cheese crackers recipe 4. Bake the crackers in 180C preheated oven for 10-15min.Parsley cheese crackers recipe Parsley cheese crackers recipeEnjoy!
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Salted chocolate apples

Salted chocolate applesNormally I only share a recipe after a lot of testing and tasting and often with a bit of modification to improve it.¬†¬†This time however I made these apples for Hallowe’en and it was such a hit that I did not even get a chance to taste them! I am sure they tasted lovely though. So here we go; apples that are good for any autumnal celebration (did someone mention Bonfire night?)
Now let me share more about my feeling re Hallowe’en. I still dislike it even though I was more involved this year. I think I mentioned before I dislike this celebration mostly due to tacky decorations and creepy dress ups (It does not seem so bad in USA, but here in the UK kids dress up in grotesque costumes). I even wrote a post in the past on how to survive halloween! But beside all these reasons my real real reason for disliking halloween is the fact that it celebrates fear and a spiritual realm that does exist. I am not going further with this and try to argue. Instead I want to explain why I am involved more this year. My prime reason is to get to know my neighbours and to experience Hallowe’en a bit from a broader perspective so decide what if anything I should do with my kids next year.Salted chocolate apples¬†SALTED CHOCOLATE APPLES

  • 12-17 small eating apples
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 200g white chocolate (optional)
  • sea salt
  • descanted coconut (if using white chocolate)
  • sticks (can be reused ice lolly sticks, tree branch bits or even skewers perhaps?)

Salted chocolate apples 1. First arrange apples on the baking paper. Insert sticks so you are able to hold onto them when applying chocolate.Salted chocolate apples2. Melt the chocolate either carefully heating it in the microwave or over a pot of hot water.
3. Swirl the apple into chocolate so it gets evenly coated. Drizzle some more chocolate of different type on the sides for a pretty look. Don’t forget to salt it ;-).
4. Let the apples set in the fridge.Salted chocolate applesI found that white chocolate does not go back to solid state very quickly. Once applied, white chocolate would just slide off the apple. I think it is important to either wait till the chocolate starts thickening or roll the apple (with chocolate on it) in some descanted coconut so it holds everything together. The apples decorated this ways look as pretty as other apples I think :-).Salted chocolate applesHope you feel inspired
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Aeroplane themed birthday cake

Aeroplane themed birthday cakeSo here it is, my vision became a reality. This year I made Lukas birthday cake aeroplane themed which he really enjoyed. I have been dreaming about this cake for ages (not really I practically copied the idea from here). The only thing I wanted to do differently is to try and dye the frosting with natural dyes….
But as you may know the colour blue is hard to find in nature! I know i know, the sky is blue, but you can’t exactly put that in the icing. With a bit of research and friends recommendation I went with butterfly pea tea that is sort of blue. You see I had fun with experimenting and realised that butterfly pea tea changes colour according to the ph of the liquid you mix it into. With a bit of lemon it turns to a burgundy violet and with milk it turns into bluish sky blue. Although this might sound easy, the blue that I get from mixing the tea with milk is not concentrated enough for what is needed when you try to dye large amounts of frosting. I ended up using it in¬†soft cheese frosting¬†and it turned out a little more lilac then sky blue. Shall we imagine that the planes are flying over a sunset sky?Aeroplane themed birthday cake¬†BLUEBERRY YOGURT CAKE WITH BUTTERFLY PEA FROSTING
(for the cake)

  • 3 eggs
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 450g greek yogurt
  • 180g rapeseed or olive oil
  • 300g ground almond
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 2 handful blueberries

(for the meringue)

  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 100g icing sugar, sifted
  • few drops of lemon
  • pinch of salt

(for the frosting)

  • 600g soft cheese
  • icing sugar to taste, sifted
  • butterfly pea tea, brewed in little water

(for the “aeroplanes”)

  • cocktail sticks
  • wafers in the finger form

1. To make the cake beat the eggs with sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix again to combine.¬†Pour equal amount of cake mixture into two lined baking tins. Bake in 180C oven for 40-45min.Aeroplane themed birthday cake¬†2. Meanwhile prepare the meringues for baking. Baking these will take few hours on the low heat once the cake is baked presuming you don’t have two ovens. Mix the egg whites with drop of lemon, salt and half of icing sugar. Start whisking the mixture while gradually adding the rest of icing sugar. In the past I struggled to make meringues and later I realised that all it needs a little patience. It takes really long time to achieve stiffly whisked egg whites, so bear with it till you can see the results. Don’t worry you can’t over mix it ;-)! Pipe the meringues on the baking sheet into cloud shapes using large round nozzle or no nozzle at all. Bake in C60 preheated oven for 3-4h. I find the longer the baking the whiter the meringues!Aeroplane themed birthday cake with merengue clouds ¬†3. To make the frosting whisk soft cheese with icing sugar (I like it less sweet so I don’t add much). Gradually mix in the butterfly pea tea till you like the shade.¬†Aeroplane themed birthday cake¬†4. For the plane, cut the wafer finger into aeroplane body shape and small triangle for the fin. Glue the plane using icing sugar and water mixture. Use the cocktail sicks to hold the plane together.Aeroplane themed birthday cake Aeroplane themed birthday cake5. To assemble the cake apply the frosting starting from the top and working your way to the bottom. Arrange the “the clouds” and “the planes” as closer to serving as you can. Sadly, the meringue have a tendency to go soggy.Aeroplane themed birthday cake Aeroplane themed birthday cake Aeroplane themed birthday cake¬†I especially liked the cake. Although it was difficult to apply the frosting due to it being crumbly and moist, I feel it was worth it!Aeroplane themed birthday cakeHope you enjoy it!
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Green tomato ketchup

Green tomato ketchup recipeLast week we said goodbye to our green house. It was quite emotional for me as I really fell in love with it! Although the journey of building it and general gardening jobs delayed our house renovation (kitchen in particular) I feel having green house has given us irreplaceable experience. I loved getting fresh tomatoes everyday for my toast and salads, even if it was for only few months. I have learned a lot too! I will be applying my new learned knowledge next year when I grow tomatoes again :).Green tomato ketchup recipeBut what to do with all those green tomato that missed their chance to catch some sun? Few years ago we made some green tomato chutney. This year however I decided to go with green tomato ketchup only because we use ketchup more often (I bet you do too!). Green tomato ketchup taste a little fresher to compare to regular ketchup but is equally delicious with chips!Green tomato ketchup recipe Green tomato ketchup recipe This recipe can be halved or doubled depending on your green tomato harvest. So weigh your tomatoes before deciding how much ketchup to make.
GREEN TOMATO KETCHUP

  • 2 kg tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, sliced
  • 2 thumb fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • salt and pepper
  • 700ml water
  • 2 tsp tabasco sauce (more if you like spicy)
  • 150ml apple cider vinegar
  • 200g brown sugar (I used dark brown which made the ketchup look darker)

1. wash, weigh, chop the tomatoes and set aside.Green tomato ketchup recipe2. Place onions and celery  in a large saucepan with a generous amount of olive oil, ginger, garlic, ground coriander and mixed spice. Season with the pepper and a pinch of salt. Cook gently till softened.Green tomato ketchup recipe 3. Add the tomatoes, water and bring to the boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half (around 3 h for 2kg tomatoes).
4. Whiz the sauce in a food processor or with a hand blender. Add the vinegar and the sugar. Place the sauce on the heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of tomato ketchup. At this point, adjust the seasoning to taste.
5.¬†Spoon the jam into the ready sterilised jars or glass bottles.Green tomato ketchup recipe Green tomato ketchup recipeShould at least try making it for those chips ūüėČ
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End-of-season tomato jam

End-of-season tomato jam recipeTurns out our tomato harvest was little late when I thought it was barely there at all. When all of the sudden tomatoes started turning red and yellow in one go I actually panicked as I could not keep up with it even when I was eating them everyday (this is certainly a good problem to have). However their season is coming to the end and I will be soon harvesting green tomatoes to make something special for winter.
So far I have been freezing red, cherry and sunrise tomatoes into the 400g bags for next time I need chopped tomatoes in the recipe. I also reserved some for tomato jam that I wanted to try out making for a while. I love something sweet in my savoury dishes! If you feel the same then here it is, carry on reading for the recipe.End-of-season tomato jam recipe End-of-season tomato jam recipeEND-OF SEASON TOMATO JAM adapted from Healthy Delicious

  • 1kg ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 280g soft brown sugar
  • 1 lemon zest and juice
  • pinch ground ginger

End-of-season tomato jam recipe¬†1. Whizz tomatoes in the blender till smooth like a pure.End-of-season tomato jam recipe2. Transfer the tomato puree together with the rest of the ingredients into the medium sized pot.End-of-season tomato jam recipe¬†3.¬†Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and jammy ‚Äď this will take about an hour.End-of-season tomato jam recipe4. Spoon the jam into the ready sterilised jars.End-of-season tomato jam recipeEnd-of-season tomato jam recipe End-of-season tomato jam recipeEnjoy it anywhere you like. I am sure you will find many uses for this jam! I love mine in the cheese toasty ;-).
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Herb infused jams

Herb infused jams + rosemary infused blackberry jam recipeI know I know you might think that I am obsessed with blackberries (which is true). But how can you resist when these berries are so plump and lush right now? We just loooove picking them as we go for a walk!
Last year when I was cooking through Little Paris Kitchen book I found this recipe for the cherry compote. Not just any cherry compote, it was infused with basil and tasted amaaaaazing! This is why when I was thinking to make blackberry jam I decided to take similar approach and matched it with rosemary. It was as flavoursome as that compote I made last year ;-).
So if you are jamming this autumn, I really recommend trying out and adding herbs to your preserves. Sugar really bring out the flavour of it I think. Here are few suggestions if you like:

  • cherry and basil
  • blueberry and mint
  • raspberry and cardamom
  • apricots and lavender
  • strawberry and lemon thyme

These are just few examples, but you can experiment with any herbs. Here is blackberry and rosemary for starters ;-).Herb infused jams + rosemary infused blackberry jam recipe BLACKBERRY AND ROSEMARY JAM
makes 2 jars

  • 1kg blackberries
  • 300g sugar (we used icing sugar as it dissolves quicker, but any other sugar will do)
  • bunch of rosemary

Herb infused jams + rosemary infused blackberry jam recipe 1. Place all the ingredients in a pot and simmer uncovered for 30 min or so.Herb infused jams + rosemary infused blackberry jam recipe 2. Stir occasionally while cooking to help dissolve the sugar.Herb infused jams + rosemary infused blackberry jam recipe 3. Remove the rosemary stalks (as much as you can) before spooning it into ready sterilised jars.Herb infused jams + rosemary infused blackberry jam recipeI enjoy it mostly with toast but there are plenty of other uses as well.
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Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredients (two ways)

Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredientsSo we started a new diet for Tomas this month. We (which is really me) decided that his eczema may be caused by gluten intolerance. Like with any other diets we tried this includes a long 6 weeks trial where we change our menu to avoid the ingredient in question. I found gluten is not that difficult to avoid. Unlike dairy gluten mostly can be found in carbs. So essentially I thought I need to start baking my own bread, but then I was putting that off as bread baking involves quite a lengthy process…. however without gluten it is not so lengthy. The trouble with gluten free bread is that is difficult to bake a nice bread, but it does not take that much time to make it since we don’t need to kneed the dough to get the gluten to stretch. So all and all no gluten means hello quick bread!
I have been recently inspired by fresh tomato toast recipes from Half Baked Harvest blog. Fresh tomatoes in summer are just amazing! I don’t have such a big harvest of tomatoes (yet) this year, but I thought it would be lovely to make fresh tomato pizza anyways. I made pizza with cucumber as well (I have started getting them in my green house too!!).Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredientsGLUTEN FREE PIZZA TOPPED WITH FRESH INGREDIENTS
Makes two pizzas
(for the base)

  • 600g gluten free flour mix (mine consisted of rice, tapioca and potato starch)
  • 25g xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 2tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 10g quick acting dry yeast
  • 350ml warm water

(for the fresh tomato pizza)

  • 125g mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
  • 100g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-5 tomatoes, sliced
  • basil

(for the potato and cucumber pizza)

  • 125g mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
  • 1 potato, pealed and thinly sliced (I used a grater)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • chives, finelly chopped
  • 1-3 cucumbers, sliced

1. Mix together the flour, xanthan gum, garlic salt, sugar, baking powder and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle. Pour the water into the well and mix everything to form two balls. Roll out the dough onto the baking sheet until it is 5mm thick.Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredients 2. To make the cheese and fresh tomato pizza sprinkle the garlic, mozzarella and cheddar cheese over the base. Season it and drizzle some olive oil on top. Bake the pizza in the preheated 200C oven for 20-30min. Once baked top the pizza with sliced tomato and fresh basil.Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredients 3. For the potato and cucumber pizza sprinkle the base with mozzarella, potato and chives. Heavily season it (potato requires more salt) and drizzle some olive oil on top. Bake the pizza in the preheated 200C oven for 20-30min. Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredients 4. Once baked, top the pizza with cucumber and more chives (and maybe salt if needed). Gluten free pizza topped with fresh ingredientsEnjoy!
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