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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

School's Out For The Summer!

I'm a cook!!
I have a job! And a flat in France! And it's summer! And Very Hot! As you can probably tell, I'm excited and busy. First things first, I am moving to Poitiers in September for a year, as you may already know, and I went there with mum a couple of weeks ago to find somewhere to live. Well, we expected it to be really difficult but by some miracle we loved the first flat we saw and got that one. It's lovely and spacious and right in the centre of town. The weather on the weekend we were there was gorgeous, and there were some amazing markets that are on every day/week so I won't be short of ingredients for new recipes to share with you. You can see in the photo below what it was like.


Secondly, I am working in the kitchen unit of Caracoli (they have shops in Winchester, Alresford, Guildford and Farnham) for 4 weeks, where I'm preparing a lot of salads (ironic as I won't eat them) and chomping at the bit to work in the pastry section more often. I was on pastry last Thursday and had an amazing time working out the quantities of things - when they make one batch of brownies (7 tins) it's 14 times (!?) the size of one of my batches at home (see this recipe). I have also spent a lot of time cracking huge numbers of eggs. To make 18 of their pies I had to crack 144 eggs, which wasn't quite as bad as the 94 I had to separate for the passionfruit cakes. Despite seeing exactly how much sugar and butter etc goes into their huge mixes of cake batter I still eat as many of the off cuts as I can and if you're ever in the vicinity of one of their shops then I can't recommend the Caracoli Cookies enough! The only downside to working in the kitchens is the upcoming heatwave and lack of time to enjoy it without sweltering in my chef's jacket! It's worth suffering the heat to gain this experience though, as it's not something I can just do whenever I want. If you want a job over the summer, or you are a chef looking to change jobs in the Hampshire area then do get in touch with Caracoli as they are currently hiring and I think they're pretty good employers!

Just a few eggs
This recipe is inspired by Donal Skehan's christmas biscuits but without the spices and I suggest you chill the dough as it's extremely soft (though that might be because of the heat). You'll also need lots of extra flour to stop the dough from sticking as you roll it out!

Flour everywhere!

Cookie Cutter Biscuits Recipe

Oven at 170˚ fan
Makes about 24 large stars (see photos)
If you want to then you can change the flavouring to any nielsen-massey flavour or change 30g of the flour to cocoa powder for chocolate biscuits.


150g soft butter
100g muscovado sugar
1 large egg
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract - I used vanilla bean paste and it was great!


Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and stir until incorporated.
Sift (or don't sift, it's up to you) the flour and baking powder into the bowl and mix to form a dough.
Wrap the dough in cling film and leave in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes to an hour.
Line trays with greaseproof paper.
Liberally flour your work surface and rolling pin before rolling the chilled dough to 1cm thick and cutting into your preferred shape. Lay on the prepared trays (they don't really spread).
Repeat until you run out of trays/dough and cook in the hot oven for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden.
Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Yesterday's view for my lunch break

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I love to cook and this blog follows my successes (and a few failures) in the kitchen. If you enjoy my posts, or think there is a problem with a recipe then please let me know