The perfect chocolate chip cookies!

Biscuits are amazing. Everyone loves an odd biscuit now and then, with maybe a cup of coffee, tea or even milk. I have a recipe for the perfect chocolate chip cookies that will make your mouth water. They’re so incredibly easy to make, and they don’t take long in the oven, so when you have a cookie craving, you can have them in minutes; that’s my type of biscuit!

Where did biscuits originate from and when?

The earliest biscuit style cakes were made back in 7th century Persia A.D. (now Iran), which was one of the first countries to cultivate sugar. The name cookie is derived from the Dutch word koekje, meaning small or little cake.

As people started to explore the globe, biscuits became the ideal traveling food, because they stayed fresh for long periods of time. It was a portable food that had a long storage life and was perfect for traveling.

What are they called around the world?

In America, this “small cake” are called cookies and are called biscuits in England and Australia. In Spain they’re galletas. Germans call them keks, and in Italy there are several names to identify various forms of biscuits including amaretti and biscotti and many more. Biscuit comes from the Latin word bis coctum, which means, “twice baked.”

These Chocolate chip biscuits make a good companion on a plate with those peanut butter thins. But that’s not the best thing about them. These crunchy chocolate chip biscuits are low in calories, and so cheap to make. And they freeze brilliantly for whenever your cookie needs arise again.

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Chocolate chip cookies!!

Baking time: 12minutes

Ingredients:

60g butter

60ml oil

150g sugar,

1 free range egg,

240g plain flour

Half a tsp bicarb,

200g chocolate, chopped

  1. First dice your butter and leave it to come to room temperature, or pop it into a microwave-safe bowl and ping for 10 seconds to cheat it. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together with a fork or wooden spoon.
  3. Add the oil and the egg and mix thoroughly. Now the bicarb. Now the flour to form a dough, and mix well. Fold through the chocolate chips.
  4. Lightly grease a baking tray. Add golf-ball sized pieces of dough, flatten slightly with the prongs of a fork, and place very far apart as they will flatten and spread as they cook.
  5. Bake in the centre of the oven for 12 minutes or until the edges are golden. Remove from the oven and just like the thins, allow to cool for a few minutes before moving.

Enjoy!

Bread through the ages

This week I’d like to talk about bread.  Bread is considered as a staple and is viewed as important all around the world. Bread has even been used to stop wars, (The Dampfnudel, Germany. I Learned that thanks to Mel on the Great British Bake Off, bread week). Bread is still important today, why? It’s simple, wholesome and it fill a hole.

The ancient Greeks were baking more than 80 types of bread in 2500 B.C. There was serious rivalry between bakers about who baked the best bread. The Greeks ate Barley bread, griddle cakes, Pitta, and honey and oil bread.

Bread Traditions

There are also traditions. Scandinavian traditions hold that if a boy or girl eat from the same loaf they are bound to fall in love. In Ukraine It is forbidden to throw bread away as bread is considered a gift from God. Even if a slice of bread fell on the floor by accident, it should be picked up, kissed by the one who picked it, and put back on the table. This tradition is rarely followed nowadays, despite the 5 second rule!

Even with all of these traditions and rivalry, no one knows specifically when the first loaf was baked, however, it is thought round about 10,000 years ago that the first loaf was made. The first bread produced was probably cooked versions of a grain paste, made from roasted ground cereal grains and water.

Victorian poor families’ week’s money was mostly spent on bread, leaving little for any other daily essentials such as milk, cheese and potatoes. The bread they ate would be have been Honey and Wheat bread. They only ate this bread because it was what they would have afforded at the time or available. Bread was not as processed as today.

In 1918, (during WW1) ration books were introduced for butter, margarine, lard, meat and sugars especially for bread as Britain’s supply of wheat decreased to just 6 weeks’ worth of grain. British people love bread, especially sliced bread. Otto Rohwedder of Davenport, United states, invented the first loaf-at-a-time bread slicing machine. He built a prototype in 1912, then in 1928, he had a fully working machine ready to feed the nations with sliced bread!

Although pre-sliced bread is popular. Simpler and purer loaves have become popular again. I dabbled with some traditional soda bread. It is so nice to eat and, it works very nice with soup, maybe even with the Cod and tomato chowder soup recipe I posted.

History of Irish Soda bread

Soda bread was introduced in the 1800s and it meant that you could make bread without an oven. Instead, they cooked the bread in what’s called a bastible—a big cast-iron pot with a lid on it, that would have been put right onto the coals or onto the turf fire. And it was another plus because soda back then was relatively inexpensive. They would also have used the buttermilk from the cows on the farm, and flour from the wheat. Butter was not put into the bread in the making, however when it’s come out of the oven and it’s cooled, you would slather the butter on then.

I have a lovely recipe for a tried and tested Soda bread that is delicious and, in my experience, will disappear in seconds.

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Wholemeal Irish Soda Bread

Makes 1 loaf.

Ingredients:

  • 275g Wholemeal bread flour
  • 275g Plain white flour
  • 1tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 450ml buttermilk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 230c/450f/Gas mark 8. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a well in the centre, pour in the buttermilk. I suggest pouring the buttermilk in slowly and gradually. You don’t want to swamp your dry ingredients. However, if it is the complete opposite of swamping and it appears to be too dry, add a little more. Mix it all together to make a soft dough. Turn the mix out onto a lightly floured surface and knead LIGHTLY and very BRIEFLY into a round. Flip the dough over, and keep in a round shape.
  1. Lightly dust a large baking sheet with flour, place the dough on it and then using a large knife, cut a large X on the top, cutting almost all the way through. Put the bread, that’s on the baking sheet onto a baking tray.
  2. Bake the loaf on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 200c/400f/gas mark 6 and bake for a further 40-50 minutes/ until it sounds hollow when you tap its bottom.
  3. Remove from the oven and enjoy when cooled.

I had a baking day the day I made the Soda bread and decided to make also some sweet potato buns. These are just some of the best buns you’ll ever taste, and you can have so many variations with the seeds on top. Just delicious! Use them for sandwiches, or maybe even with a slathering of butter and a cup of tea!

Sweet potato buns

Makes 10 healthy sized buns (Read paragraph below)

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I said that when I started this blog, that I would include in my blog post any mistakes I made, and unfortunately, I made a mistake when I first made them these balms. For the 1st batch of balms I made, I used 450g plain flour, and as you’ll read, the recipe states that you should use strong white BREAD flour. Fortunately, it didn’t ruin the bread itself, but actually made it better!! When I made the 2nd batch, (which contained bread flour), I compared both of the batches and saw that the balms with plain four had a much better rise than the ones with the bread flour. You can, if you choose to, use plain flour instead of the bread flour if you’d like to or have no bread flour in. It makes no difference in the colour or taste, but it gives a better rise.

 

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces’ sweet potato, (I put it into ounces because it was easier to calculate better than 225g.)
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 100ml milk
  • 450g strong white bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 7g yeast
  • 1 egg beaten, until it cries for mercy, and beat one more egg at the end to wipe over the buns before they go into the oven.
  • 1 tbs Oatmeal

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 400f/Gas mark 6, 15 minutes before baking. Peel the sweet potato and cut into small chunks. Cook in a big saucepan of boiling water until tender.
  2. Drain and mash with the butter and nutmeg. Stir in the milk slowly, being careful not to swamp the mash. Leave until barely walk.
  3. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast. Make a well in the centre.

Add the mash and beaten egg and mix to a soft t dough. Add a little bit more mil if needed.

  1. Turn out he dough onto a lightly floured surface and for about 10 minutes, knead until smooth and elastic.
  2. Put into an oiled bowl, cover with Clingfilm or a food bag, place in a warm place to rise for an hour.
  3. Turn out he dough and knead again until soft.
  4. Divide into 10 or 16 equal pieces, shape into rolls and place onto a large baking sheet. Cover with oiled cling film or food bag and leave for 15 minutes, to rise in a warm place.
  5. Brush the balms with beaten egg, then sprinkle half with Oatmeal and the other with whatever seed of your choice.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until well risen, lightly browned and sound hollow when their bottoms have been tapped. Transfer to a wire rack an immediately cover with a clean tea towel to keep the crusts soft.

 

Little fishy on a little dishy

Fish are fantastic ! So nutritional. Eating fish and shell fish regularly is beneficial for our eye sight, joints and heart. Fish contain amazing omega 3 oils and not only do these oils help protect the the skin from harmful UV rays but they boost brain power too. Studies have proven over time that people who eat fish regularly are less likely to suffer from Depression and Dementia plus aids concentration.

I have made for our family dinner a simple yet great tasting chowder minus any cream. This is light easy and super healthy to make for and level of skill.

Cod and Tomato Chowder

  • tbsp Olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • few dashes of Hot sauce (optional)
  • 2 medium onions sliced and chopped
  • 2 celery sticks trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 large carrots peeled and roughly chopped the same size as above
  • 2 large waxy potatoes (400g approx) peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper deseeded and roughly chopped
  • Few sprigs of fresh time. You can use 1 tbsp of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 400g of tinned plum tomatoes
  • 1 handful of fresh baby plum tomato’s chopped in half
  • small handful of Kale chopped
  • 1 handful of peas/chopped green beans/Endame beans
  • 500ml of fish or chicken stock.
  • Chopped parsley.
  • min 500g of white fish this time i used Pouting but normally cod/monk fish are fab. How about making it with Ling/ river cobbler ? keep in mind the meatiness of the fish for cooking.

Here’s how.

Heat the oil in  a deep pan. Add the onions, celery and the seasoning cook stirring slowly over a medium for about 6-8 minutes. the vegetables should be starting to soften. Add the carrots/potatoes/ pepper along with the herbs. Saute for 5 mins and they will take on a little color.

Add the tomatoes to the pan and pour in the stock plus add the fresh tomatoes. Cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Next add the green vegetables and hot sauce, check the seasoning

In a separate dish season your fish and them on top of the vegetables . Cover the pan and this allows the fish to steam. After about 5 minutes gently push the fish into the mixture this will break it in to chunks.

Ladle in to large bowls and garnish with the chopped parsley.

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I made my mom a different dish with her favorite fish … rainbow trout in a parcel.

This was really good for beginners as it only had a few steps but it tasted great.

I took a rainbow trout and washed it and made sure the inside was nice and clean. This next part is totally customizable to your taste . . I made sure I seasoned the fish first with salt and pepper then I layered the filling inside. This time I used lemon slices and fresh basil leaves with a final sprinkling of finely chopped fresh parsley.  I scattered baby plum tomatoes around for the little burst of sweetness.  I wrapped in grease proof paper and baked at 140 for 25 mins

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Kippers are extremely popular in the Isle of Man. Maybe due to the fact that they have  beautiful rich waters surrounding the island.  Moore’s Traditional kippers factory is located in Peel. They have been curing in the traditional way since 1882.

After a recent visit to the Moore’s Smokehouse ive learned a little about the process

First the Herring are passed through the splitting machine . this step measures washes splits and guts each fish . Then each fish is brined for 10 minutes to ensure the unique flavor freshness is locked in.

Then come the essential part of the process the fish are oak smoked for 6-12 hours. Then they are ready for sale.

It’s as simple as that no nasties no artificial preservatives or flavour enhancers!

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These can be ordered by post . They also smoke bacon, salmon crab and scallops http://www.manxkippers.com/buy-seafood

Sustainability… HOT TOPIC

  • What this means for the consumer. In simple terms seafood is sustainable if it comes from a process without reducing a particular species ability to survive and maintain its population with adversely impacting on another species by removing their food source from the food chain. This can happen by over fishing or by  trawling or using methods without moderation. Even down to the type of indiscriminate nets
  • Catching fish using those methods can result a faster catch haul which leaves fewer fish left so repopulate and over a slower period of time. Floating fish factories can process over 100 tonnes of cod an hour and they work 24 hours!

What can we do?

  • Our choices fuel the process, shop wisely ask our fishmonger questions. Perhaps choose a more sustainable fish, I chose Pollock for one of the recipes above instead of cod. Fish is a well known source of protein and yet people are not as bothered about the consequences of irresponsible fishing. In some cases we are at dangerous levels. We are running the risk of removing entire links out of the oceans food chain.
  • 50% of fish that is being caught is being thrown back DEAD! this is again down to they way it is being fished, bycatch and down to customer demand and EU laws
  • Some research has shown that on average 20% of what is caught for the US is thrown away resulting in 2 BILLION pounds of waste! This has to stop.

If you would like to read more or need extra help in making your fish decisions read more here http://www.fishfight.net/index.html