Sunday, 31 October 2010


Randolph the Pumpkin and Steve the Ghost would like to wish everyone a very happy Halloween!  (As would Nick and I of course)


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Candy Corn and Candied Corn

Halloween- one of my favourite holidays, and one that I feel is severely underrepresented here in the UK.  So much so that when I brought in a bag of 'candy corn' to work (albeit not necessarily the crème brulee of sweeties, but certainly one I love and get an undeniable hankering for around this time of year) sent to me by some lovely friends stateside,  everyone looked at the bag with a puzzled look on their face.  We are talking about people in the food industry, people with professional patisserie training and extensive ingredient knowledge- all with a blank face and a bit of hesitation to try to the tri-coloured gem.  Oh what they have been missing!  Not that I was ever allowed to eat more than a handful each Halloween season as a kid, but that handful represented the jack-o-lanterns, the costumes, the trick-or-treating; all the great stuff about the end of October when you're a kid.

In homage to my many Halloween experiences as a child, in attempt to give a bit of that experience to some of the unknowingly deprived British children here, and to try to use up some of the boatloads of candy corn now graciously in my possession I decided to make popcorn balls with candy corns.  These little balls are a bit gooey and sweet, with a touch of salt from the popcorn, and always always leave a trail of crumbs when you eat them!  They are fun to eat and actually really fun to make- so don't be afraid to dig your hands into the melted marshmallow mess as you roll them together.  I didn't have to actually eat one to feel a bit of the child-like excitement and anticipation that comes with Halloween- making them was enough!  That doesn't mean I'm not saving one for later though, don't be fooled....

Adapted from 'Cooking Light' (no joke)

¼ cup butter
8 cups popcorn (I did mine on the stove to make it slightly healthier but microwaved is fine too)
8-10oz/ 200-300g marshmallows
a good sprinkling of salt
1 cup+ candy corn


Make your popcorn.  I made mine by coating a medium sized pot with sunflower oil and heating it over the stove, making sure to coat the entire bottom and onto the sides.  Then add 100g corn maize kernels and cover with a lid, lightly shaking the pot from side to side.  Continue to shake the pot while the corn pops (you can hear it- it's very exciting!) - this not only helps the unpopped kernels to cook, but also keeps the freshly popped corn from burning.  You know the corn is popped when you can no longer hear or feel many raw kernels, and when there is a lull of 5 or more seconds.  Transfer your popcorn to a large bowl and sprinkle generously with salt.  Next add your candy corn to the bowl, taking care not to let them all sink to the bottom.  You'll want them spread evenly throughout your mix if possible.

In a small saucepan, melt your butter and marshmallows with a dash of salt over a low flame, stirring periodically as it begins to melt.  Do not allow it to bubble.  Once fully melted remove from heat and pour the melted mixture over your popcorn.  Mix thoroughly trying to evenly coat all of the corn.  Let cool for 5 minutes.

Line a baking tray (or two) with grease proof paper.  When your mixture has cooled, spray your hands with cooking spray first, then take a handful and squeeze the mixture together to form balls slightly smaller than tennis balls.  The marshmallows will work as glue allowing you to press tightly to form compact balls.  You may have to respray your hands every couple times, as the mixture is incredibly sticky!  Leave to dry/set on the baking tray for 30 minutes or so.  Then wrap the balls individually in clingfilm and give away as soon as possible (they probably will only keep for about 3 days or so) to anyone in need of a bit of Halloween cheer, perhaps reminding them about good dental hygiene as these things will certainly stick in your teeth... in a good way of course!

Monday, 4 October 2010

What to do with a fridge full of yoghurt....

Yoghurt or yogurt, however you choose to spell it I had a ton of it in my fridge!  Some of you may have already seen this picture I posted on Facebook.

Since stepping into the blogging world I have joined a couple of networks/communities, an anthropologists dream to analyse in and of themselves!


One of the interactions bloggers can have with each other is product sampling, when a representative of a product will offer you free goodies in exchange for your opinion, good or bad, and a bit of ingenuity to come up with interesting ways to use said product. Some bloggers frown on others who participate in this, thinking it takes away from the intention of the blog, that it no longer allows the blog to be entirely self directed etc. And in some cases those people are probably right. Thing is, who can turn down the opportunity to get their entire fridge filled with delicious yoghurt for free?! Um, not me.


So here's what I've been up to with my goodies: 

I started by marinating chicken in yoghurt and harrisa paste, then grilling it and placing it on an impromptu stew of aubergine, tomatoes and beans with a touch of cumin and chilli.

Then I made yoghurt cheese by keeping a large serving of it in a muslin cloth overnight in the fridge to drain. I preserved it in oil and lemon juice and plan to spread it over some delicious bread with tapanade and a few marinated artichokes.

I've done a lot of adding a big dollop to my oatmeal at the very end right before I eat it. I haven't photographed it but you can imagine what that looks like...

Lastly I made a 'green goddess' dip with avocado, chives and parsley and served it with veggies and toasted three seed chips.

My yoghurt has certainly served me well so far, and I know of a few brilliant muffin and cheesecake recipes that will see me through my last two tubs. That stuff just lasts forever! You should really buy some! It doesn't have to be the brand I used necessarily, though if they offer to fill up your fridge I certainly wouldn't kick them out of bed....