French Onion Soup

French Onion SoupBeing heavily pregnant & almost ready to pop – I have been advised by many people to stock up my freezer. So this is me making a start! But this intensely delicious French Onion Soup has a unique KitchenMason twist…

Traditionally made with beef stock, I opt for chicken stock as I personally think it gives a more rounded & delicate flavour. Why don’t you be the judge and give it a go yourself?

Here is what you will need to make 6 Servings. (Approx 2 litres.)

For the Soup

  • 50g Butter
  • 750g Onions (approx 850-900g before peeling & slicing)
  • 2 x Garlic Cloves
  • 45g Plain Flour
  • 187ml Bottle of White Wine
  • 2 litres Chicken Stock (Good Quality)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
  • Salt & Pepper

To Serve (Optional)

  • Slices of Stale Baguette
  • Cheddar Cheese, grated

Essential Equipment

  • Large lidded pot

Firstly, prep your veg. I honestly couldn’t be bothered to stand and slice all those onions – the solution? Get out your food processor with the slicing disc attachment & use that. It saves masses of time and effort.

So peel & finely slice all those onions and finely chop the garlic.

Take your large pot & place over a medium heat.

Add in the butter. When melted, tip in all the onions and give it a stir.

French Onion SoupContinue to cook for approx 25-35 minutes whilst stirring occasionally. You want to get a nice golden brown colour – try not to be impatient and give in early. Also, don’t worry too much if it catches on the bottom of the pan, it’s all adding caramelisation & flavour!

French Onion SoupOnce the onions are done, add in the garlic & flour and stir continuously for about 2 minutes.

French Onion SoupAdd in the white wine and stir for about a minute until most of it has been absorbed.

French Onion Soup-4Gradually add in the stock then bring it all to the boil.

Add in the bay leaves, thyme sprigs & a generous helping of salt & pepper. Stir it all up, pop the lid on and simmer for about 25 minutes.

French Onion SoupWhen the timer has beeped – remove the lid and fish out the bay leaves & thyme sprigs.

French Onion SoupIf saving for later, allow to cool completely before dividing into bags/tubs and freezing.

If you want to serve straight away – preheat your grill.

Slice up an old, stale baguette and grate some cheese. Divide the soup between oven proof bowls, place 1-2 slices of baguette in each bowl and cover with grated cheese.

Place under the grill until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.

French Onion SoupI absolutely adore this soup! There’s just something so much more special about the flavour when you use chicken stock instead of beef. I often find with the traditional recipe, there’s a rich ‘twang’ that I don’t enjoy but with this version? It’s just heavenly! And let’s be honest – everything is better with melted cheese :)

I hope you enjoyed the post my lovelies, until next time.

Miss KitchenMason

Healthy Sauce for Fussy Eaters!

Healthy Sauce for Fussy Eaters!Even at 28 years old I still have to trick myself into eating healthy foods. I’ve dramatically improved over the years but I think a part of me will always be a fussy eater. With me, half the battle was texture & ‘eating with my eyes.’ This unbelievably delicious recipe solves both those problems in one fell swoop!

Healthy Sauce for Fussy Eaters!Seriously, what if I told you that you could get all the above veg into a fussy eater and they wouldn’t even realise? I kid you not! The trick? A food processor. Take out the texture & you are left with a visibly appealing sauce that is jam packed full of the good stuff AND tastes fantastic!

Here is what you will need to make approx 6 generous portions/1.5kg. (Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.)

Top Tip! With it just being me and the Mr, I used 2 portions straight away and froze the rest in freezer bags for a later date.

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Sticks of Celery
  • 1 Leek
  • 2 Carrots, peeled
  • 2 Peppers, I used 1x Red 1x Yellow
  • 2 x 400g Tins of Chopped Tomatoes with Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Mushroom Ketchup, optional
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • Salt & Pepper

Essential Equipment

  • Food Processor or Stick Blender
  • Large pot/saucepan with a lid

Firstly, prep your veg.

Slice the onion, celery, leek & carrot into pieces roughly the same size. Core and slice the peppers and set to one side.

Over a medium heat, add the oil into a large lidded pot/saucepan.

Add in the onion, celery, leek & carrots and cook for about 20mins until softened. Stir occasionally so nothing catches on the bottom.

Healthy Sauce for Fussy Eaters!

Healthy Sauce for Fussy Eaters!Add in the peppers and cook for a further 10mins.

Healthy Sauce for Fussy Eaters!

Healthy Sauce for Fussy Eaters!Tip in the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, granulated sugar, mushroom ketchup (if using) and garlic powder. Generously season with salt & pepper and give it a good stir.

Healthy Sauce for Fussy Eaters!Pop on the lid and allow to simmer for about 20mins until everything is nice and soft.

Then remove the lid and allow to reduce for 5-10mins.

Healthy Sauce for Fussy Eaters!Lastly, give it all a good stir and leave to cool a little before either blitzing in a food processor or with a stick blender.

Healthy Sauce for Fussy Eaters!See the difference pureeing can make? If I was still as bad as I was when I was younger – there is no way in hell I would have touched this before it had been through the processor! Now it looks completely unassuming and harmless. See?! A perfectly deceitful way of sneaking veg into those fussy eaters.

Healthy Sauce for Fussy Eaters!As I recommended before, unless you are cooking for a lot of people anyway – this is a great  recipe to split & store in the freezer for those days when you just can’t be bothered. Making you much less likely to reach for the takeaway menu & far more likely to inject some goodness into you!

Top Tip! If serving with pasta, when warming through the sauce, add a little of the pasta water and stir it through. This will make it lovely and smooth.

In other news, If you weren’t already aware, me and the Mr are expecting our first child in around 4-6 weeks. Yesterday, our wonderful family & friends surprised us with an amazing Baby Shower!

Baby ShowerClearly this (and the large amount of cake!) made us extremely happy! I sincerely feel very lucky & privileged to have such a wonderful bunch of people in my life. Huge thank yous all round to everyone that was involved/attended. My mini KitchenMasonite is already so spoilt and she’s not even arrived yet!

Speaking of cake – I would like to take this opportunity to give a big shout out to my Dad. Why you ask? Well, my Dad has never decorated a cake in his entire life but he’s always relished a challenge…

Baby ShowerSeriously, he’s never made a celebration cake before. EVER. How unbelievably awesome is this?! Not only did it look incredible, it tasted incredible too. The vanilla genoise sponge was beautifully soft & light and the buttercream was so smooth – absolutely divine. Move over Mr Kipling, there’s a new cake maker in town!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post my lovelies, until next time.

Miss KitchenMason

Baked Sweet Potato & Boston Style Beans!

Baked Sweet Potato & Boston Style Beans!Welcome to January 2015! With the undisputed return of exercise regimes and healthy diets, it’s time to abandon the December gluttony & adopt the resolution dominated New Year.

Honestly though? I think we’re all far too pressurized into being ‘healthy healthy’ in January and a lot of what we strive to achieve is, well, unrealistic to say the least. Personally I believe it’s easier to trick yourself by simply altering the hearty wintery foods we all love into healthier versions. That way, you’re more likely to stick to trying to eat better. The alternative? Eating a lettuce leaf for lunch then going home, giving in, and scoffing the entire kitchen! Be honest – we’ve all done it.

So! Here’s what I propose you start with. This surprisingly sensational, baked sweet potato topped with Boston style baked beans. Trust me – these beans are FAR superior to any you can buy in a tin and are well worth a little extra time & effort! Another bonus? It’s naturally gluten free so a great, tasty dish for you coeliac sufferers too.

Here is what you will need.

For the Beans – Serves 2-3

  • 150g Smoked Bacon
  • 600g Cannellini Beans
  • 2 x Small Onions
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 150ml Vegetable Stock
  • 50ml Runny Honey
  • 30ml Cider Vinegar
  • 30ml Mushroom Ketchup, optional
  • 30g Brown Sugar
  • 50g Tomato Ketchup
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Mustard Powder
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Coarse Black Pepper
  • Fresh Parsley to garnish, optional

For the Baked Potatoes – Serves 2

  • 2 Medium sized Sweet Potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Additional Topping – Grated Cheddar Cheese, optional

 

Preheat your oven to 170°C/Fan 160°C.

To make the beans, prep your ingredients. Chop up the bacon, finely dice the onions & crush the garlic.

Preferably, use a large roasting pan that can also be used on the hob. Alternatively, just use a frying pan to start with and transfer to a roasting pan.

Heat your chosen food vessel over a medium/high heat then add in the bacon and fry until browned. (About 5mins.) No need for any oil, the bacon will create it’s own fabulous juices. If you used a frying pan, transfer the bacon & juices into a roasting pan.

Baked Sweet Potato & Boston Style Beans!Add in the beans, (including the juices) the diced onion & the garlic and give it a stir.

Put the rest of the ingredients (minus the fresh parsley) into a jug, stir, then tip it all into the roasting pan. Mix it all up then pop it in the lower part of your oven and bake uncovered for about 60-70mins until the sauce has reduced down to a beautiful sticky sauce & the beans are soft.

Baked Sweet Potato & Boston Style Beans!

Baked Sweet Potato & Boston Style Beans!These beans will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days if you wanted to make them in advance. Alternatively, keep covered to one side then simply reheat when your potatoes are ready.

To bake the sweet potatoes, crank the oven up to 200°C/Fan 180°C.

Rub the potatoes in a little olive oil & some salt. Place on a baking tray lined with foil & put into the centre of the preheated oven for approx 45 minutes. When done, the skin should be nice & crispy and the insides soft & smooth.

Baked Sweet Potato & Boston Style Beans!When your potatoes are cooked, slice them down the middle and, if you like, add a little grated cheddar cheese. Then top with a generous helping of the beans & sprinkle with some freshly chopped parsley to add a little freshness.

Et vous voila! You got yourself a wholesome, hearty dinner that’s not only really good for you – but tastes incredible! And it’s only a stones throw away from the regular jacket potato with cheese & beans that we all know and love.

Seriously, you’ve got to give this a go. I promise it’s worth the extra bit of effort to make your own beans. I genuinely wish you could get these in a tin but, for now, I’m more than happy to make my own when they taste as good as this!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post my lovelies.

Oh, and Happy New Year everyone! Until next time.

Miss KitchenMason

Tuxedo Cheese & Crackers!

Tuxedo Cheese & CrackersAs many of you will know I am currently heavily pregnant and, as a result, very lazy! This means I don’t have the energy or stamina to be spending forever standing up in the kitchen preparing food. I’m not too happy about this because, as you may have gathered by now, I love being in the kitchen!

So this presented me with a bit of a challenge. I wanted a simple recipe that would look great on your party buffet tables this New Years Eve, but didn’t want to be stood up for ages. Then I saw these over at Cute Food For Kids and knew it was just what I was looking for!

What you will need

  • Pitted Black Olives
  • Any Crackers of your choice
  • Any Soft Cheese Triangles AND/OR Hard Cheese of your choice

Essential Equipment

  • Drinking straw or Small round piping nozzle
  • a Cocktail Stick
  • A small sharp knife or scissors

Firstly, cut the hard cheese into triangles or peel the wrappers off the soft cheese triangles.

Then you just need to sit down at a table with a chopping board, the olives, the items listed in ‘Essential Equipment’ and start carving!

Use either a drinking straw or a small round piping nozzle to cut out little olive ‘buttons,’ (The cocktail stick will be helpful to remove the olive from the straw/nozzle.)

Either using a sharp knife (I used a vegetable carving knife) or some scissors, cut out little triangles to use for the bow ties. I found it easiest to cut each olive into quarters and flatten them first.

Then place the bow ties and buttons on each piece of cheese and serve on crackers to your happy guests!

Tuxedo Cheese & CrackersOk, so they may be a bit fiddly & time consuming but look how cute they are!! At least you can sit down at a table and do the fiddly bit so you’re not on your feet for ages – definitely a winning point for me in my whale like state!

It’s worth the effort just to get great comments from your guests I think. And let’s be honest – you are definitely going to get great comments about these! They really stand out and look super smart for a celebration or party buffet table. A spectacular addition to help see in the new year.

And on that note, I hope you enjoyed the post you fabulous fabulous people!

I wish you all a very happy & prosperous New Year.

See you in 2015!

Miss KitchenMason

A Nutella Lovers Dream!

Nutella Truffles & Nutella Hot ChocolateNo one wants to be slaving away in the kitchen for hours making Christmas gifts or treats. Want to know a little secret? These incredibly simple, 3 ingredient Nutella truffles will only take you about 10 minutes to make AND they make gorgeous little Christmas gifts!

And how do you reward yourself for your 10 minutes of “back breaking hard work”? A wonderfully indulgent mug of Nutella hot chocolate of course! Oh, and did I mention that both of these sensational delights are naturally vegetarian and gluten free? I know, they’re the gifts that just keep on giving!

Without further ado, here is what you will need to make these beautiful, chocolatey pleasures.

Nutella Truffles

(Makes approx 18-20 – recipe adapted from Urban Bakes.)

  • 180g Nutella
  • 60g Icing Sugar
  • 50g Chopped Roast Hazelnuts

In an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a spatula – beat together the Nutella and icing sugar until you can’t see any more white powder.

Nutella Truffles & Nutella Hot ChocolateRoll into small balls between your palms then roll in chopped hazelnuts to cover. Imagine a spherical 10p coin – that’s the kind of size I went for.

(I honestly wouldn’t make these big as they will be far too sickly – even for the most dedicated Nutella fan!)

Nutella Truffles & Nutella Hot ChocolatePlace the truffles on a lined baking sheet, then the next bit is up to you. You can either eat them as they are at room temperature, or you can pop them in the fridge to firm up. My preference is chilled but it’s entirely up to you.

Nutella Truffles & Nutella Hot ChocolateThen store in an airtight container and consume within a week.

Nutella Truffles & Nutella Hot ChocolateNutella Hot Chocolate

(Serves 2, easily doubled – recipe adapted from Cafe Delites)

  • 600ml Semi Skimmed Milk
  • 1 generous tbsp Nutella
  • 1 tbsp Cocoa Powder *
  • 1 tbsp Honey

* Don’t use chocolate drinking powder as this is already sweetened.

Pour the milk into a saucepan and place over a medium heat. Warm through.

Nutella Truffles & Nutella Hot ChocolateOnce it starts to steam – add in the Nutella, cocoa powder & honey.

Nutella Truffles & Nutella Hot ChocolateBring the mixture to the boil, stirring frequently with a whisk to ensure all the ingredients blend together nicely.

Nutella Truffles & Nutella Hot ChocolateDivide between two mugs and, if you like, top with whipped cream, marshmallows, chocolate chips or anything that takes your fancy!

(Bear in mind that marshmallows are typically gluten free but not vegetarian.)

Nutella Truffles & Nutella Hot ChocolateI told you they were easy!

Even I was surprised with how simple & quick they both are to make. I will remember these truffles the next time I have zero time to sort a gift! Even if the receiver doesn’t like Nutella – you can get tons of different flavoured chocolate spreads now and you could roll them in anything! Grated chocolate, cocoa powder or even desiccated coconut.

Another surprise for me is how easy it is to make your own home made hot chocolate. I mean – wow. It’s SO much nicer than the stuff you buy at the supermarkets! The flavour possibilities are endless too. So long as it will melt, is a liquid or removable (i.e. a bouquet garni) – you can pretty much put it in hot chocolate. I can’t wait to experiment with this!

I hope you all enjoyed this week’s post my lovelies.

From me, the Mr & the bump – I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

All my love, Miss KitchenMason x

Christmas Tree Brownies!

Christmas Tree BrowniesWith just over a week left until the big day, I found myself wondering what other awesome Christmas bakes I could try – then I came up with these little beauties. Christmas tree brownies! Not only are they delightfully gooey & rich, they’re really fun to decorate AND vegetarian & gluten free. It’s also a great recipe to get the kids involved in. What more could you want?!

One thing to note – these brownies work best if made the night before and allowed to cool completely before attempting to slice & decorate. Also – they are the most awesome, rich & gooey brownies you will ever make. (And that’s a KitchenMason promise!)

Here is what you will need to make 14.

For the Brownie

For the Decoration

  • 100g White Chocolate **
  • Pack of Candy Canes **
  • Red/Green Sugar Balls **

Essential Equipment

  • 30 x 20cm Rectangular Cake/Swiss Roll Tin

*Regular self raising flour works fine if you don’t need it to be gluten free.

** Most are vegetarian/gluten free but check the label just in case.

 

Right, let’s get cracking!

Grease and line the cake tin and set to one side until needed.

Preheat your oven to 190°C/Fan 170°C.

Break the dark & milk chocolate into a large bowl and add the butter & salt. Gently melt either in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water or in the microwave.

Stir until smooth & shiny then leave to one side to cool.

Christmas Tree BrowniesEither in an electric stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric hand whisk – whisk the eggs for at least 3-4 minutes until really light and pale.

It should leave a slight trail when you remove the balloon whisk/beaters.

Christmas Tree BrowniesAdd in the muscovado sugar & vanilla extract and whisk again until evenly blended but still fairly light in texture.

Christmas Tree BrowniesIn thirds, pour in the cooled chocolate & gently fold through using a rubber spatula.

Sift over the flour and carefully fold this in – just until you can’t see any more lumps of flour and the mixture is smooth & still quite light.

Christmas Tree BrowniesPour the mixture into the prepared cake tin – be careful not to overfill as it will rise slightly.

Then bake in the preheated oven for approx 25-30 minutes.

Christmas Tree Brownies

Christmas Tree BrowniesAs mentioned before, it is best to make these brownies the night before and allow to cool completely before attempting to remove from the tin & slice.

So, when completely cooled  -run a spatula down the sides of the brownie to release from the tin then gently lift out and place on a chopping board/mat.

Now, I’m a bit of a perfectionist so yeah – I got a ruler out at this point! But basically, cut the brownie into 14 triangles. You will have 4 spare bits for you to taste test too! (Clearly I couldn’t wait to take a photo…)

Christmas Tree BrowniesTake each candy cane out the wrapper and snap into pieces approx 3cm long.

Place the brownies on a wire rack over a piece of newspaper & carefully insert a piece of candy cane into the base of each one.

Christmas Tree BrowniesMelt the white chocolate in either a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water or in the microwave and pour into a piping bag.

Snip the end and pipe ‘tinsel’ across each tree then place sugar balls down the edges in the chocolate for the baubles.

I found it best to decorate in half batches – just to ensure the chocolate doesn’t set before you have stuck the ‘baubles’ in.

Christmas Tree BrowniesAllow the chocolate to set for about 30-40 minutes or so before either devouring straight away or placing in nice presentation boxes to give as gifts to your loved ones.

I find it best to store these in an air tight container in the fridge – due to their extreme ‘gooeyness’ they can become a little delicate if stored at room temperature.

Christmas Tree BrowniesGo on, admit it – they’re SO cute aren’t they?! I think these make great little home made gifts for people and, with the decoration element – you can let the kids go nuts adding edible glitters, hundreds and thousands or whatever else they can think of!

Don’t forget to enter my awesome competition to win a fabulous Scanpan Roasting Tray! You can enter via the Website, Facebook or Twitter.

I hope you enjoyed the post my lovelies – until next time!

Miss KitchenMason

 

Oreo Truffles

Oreo TrufflesI don’t know about you but I always like to make edible gifts for Christmas. I think they’re much more personal & really show that you care. The trouble is, I always seem to spend much longer in the kitchen than I anticipated and most recipes I’ve tried are faffy, fiddly and far too much effort. NOT what you need in the run up to Christmas! As if there’s not enough to do already right?

These gorgeous Oreo Truffles are an absolute godsend! Not only are they really simple, they only take about an hour to make. It’s exactly what you’ve been looking for!

Here is what you will need to make approx 20 – 30 truffles. (Dependent on how large you make them.)

  • 1 x 154g Pack of Oreos
  • 225g Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 300g White Chocolate
  • Any decoration of your choice (I used sprinkles)

In a food processor, blitz the whole pack of Oreo biscuits (cream filling too) until you’re left with fine crumbs.

Oreo TrufflesThen, preferably in an electric stand mixer, (but you can also just do it by hand in a large bowl) mix together the cream cheese & oreo biscuit crumbs until just combined.

Oreo TrufflesLine a baking sheet with cling film or foil and set to one side.

Roll teaspoon sized chunks of the mixture into balls and place onto the prepared tray. Yes it’s messy but for 10 minutes of dirty hands – it’s totally worth it!

Place the tray into the freezer for 30 minutes for the truffles to harden. This will make it much easier to cover later.

Oreo TrufflesWhen the truffles are chilled, break the white chocolate into a large bowl. Melt gently either in a microwave or set over a pan of barely simmering water.

Now you’re ready for the fun bit!

Get your decorations ready. I used some red and green sprinkles – you could use hundreds and thousands or whatever takes your fancy. Whatever you use, get it ready before you start coating the truffles with chocolate. Because they are so cold having come out the freezer – the chocolate will set pretty quickly so you need to decorate straight away.

Line a baking tray with non stick paper or a silicone baking mat.

Dump a truffle into the melted chocolate and, using a fork, cover in white chocolate before lifting (don’t stab it) & allowing any excess to drain away.

Oreo TrufflesPlace onto the baking tray, then straight away – sprinkle on your decoration. Repeat the process for each truffle until everything is used up.

Oreo TrufflesPop into the fridge to set for 20-30 minutes (it won’t take long) and that is it!

Place into cellophane bags tied with a pretty ribbon or into mini cupcake cases in a Christmas box and (reluctantly) give away to your loved ones.

Store in the fridge & eat within 5 days.

Oreo TrufflesYou could really mix these up if you wanted to. You could use milk chocolate instead of white or you could use golden Oreos instead of original chocolate. You could even melt milk chocolate and decorate over the white chocolate with zig zags instead of using sprinkles. You really can personalise these to whoever you’re planning on giving them to.

They’re delightfully delicious, sensationally moreish, insanely easy to make and you’re totally gona’ make them right? Of course you are!!

Hope you enjoyed the post my lovelies.

Miss KitchenMason