Easy Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve always enjoyed making cakes, but making biscuits (and especially cookies) is a different matter. I never seem to get them quite right – they always seem to end up too hard and brittle, regardless of the recipe I use.

That’s why I love this recipe from Waitrose – it’s absolutely foolproof and produces amazingly good cookies with hardly any effort at all. Highly recommended.

Ingredients

  • 200g crunchy peanut butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons plain flour
  • ¼ teaspoon of Maldon sea salt flakes (you could use regular salt, but halve the amount if you do)
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 3 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃ and line two baking trays with parchment / greaseproof paper.
  2. In a bowl, beat together the peanut butter, sugar, flour, salt and egg with a spoon until you have an even mixture.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and make sure they are evenly distributed through the mixture.
  4. Divide into 12 balls and place six on each baking tray. Press them down a little, and make sure to leave plenty of space between them because they will spread out during cooking.
  5. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes (or until they look golden and good enough to eat!), then leave to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

The Best Banana Bread

I came across this recipe as part of the Tesco “Food Love Stories” advertising campaign. We’ve tried making a few things from there and some have been a bit hit and miss, but this one was a real winner. However, their recipe goes on to ice the cake and top it with banana chips… I’ve never been a fan of these, so decided to stick with a plain loaf instead.

Truth be told, this is the best banana bread I’ve ever had and if anything I think the topping would detract from the bread itself.

Ingredients

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 2 very ripe bananas (about 300g peeled)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g sultanas
  • 1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170℃ (or 150℃ fan).
  2. Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan, stirring continuously until the sugar is dissolved. Set to one side and allow to cool slightly.
  3. On a plate, mash the bananas with a fork.
  4. Beat the eggs into the butter and sugar mixture (one at a time).
  5. Mix the mashed bananas into the butter, egg and sugar mixture.
  6. Add the sultanas and vanilla extract and mix these in as well.
  7. Slowly add the flour and salt, mixing all the time.
  8. Pour into a loaf tin and bake for 45 minutes.

In theory you could have this buttered, but it really doesn’t need it – the loaf is incredibly moist and is a big treat even on its own. Added bonus – baking this makes your house smell amazing!

Gran’s Bran Loaf

This recipe is an exercise in nostalgia for me. My mum used to make this regularly when I was a kid, and I could wolf down slice after slice – each covered with a thick spreading of butter. But it turns out that the recipe actually comes from my gran as I discovered when going through her old recipe books. Everybody who’s tried this seems to love it, and it’s so ridiculously easy to make that you’ve no excuse for not trying it.

Unlike most recipes, the whole thing is done by volumes rather than by weight.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of self raising flour
  • 1 cup of caster sugar
  • 1 cup of dried fruit (sultanas and/or raisins are all you need)
  • 1 cup of bran cereal (like Kellogg’s All Bran)
  • 1 cup of milk
  • A pinch of salt

Method

  1. Put the milk, fruit, sugar and bran cereal in a bowl and leave to soak. My gran suggests doing this overnight, but it doesn’t take that long. Eventually it will just turn into a brown mush.
  2. Mix in the flour and salt.
  3. Transfer to a loaf tin and bake in a “moderate” oven (about 180℃) for 1 ¼ hours. However, I found that mine was ready much sooner than this so I’d suggest checking after 45 minutes.

Once cooled, serve it sliced and buttered. Delicious!

Edd Kimber’s Custard Creams

For me, custard cream biscuits remind me of my grandma. We used to visit her every Saturday morning and she would produce a plate of these with a pot of tea. I’ve never really eaten them much since, but whenever I do they bring back those memories.

When I heard that Edd Kimber (winner of the first series of the Great British Bake Off, aka The Boy Who Bakes) had a recipe for custard cream biscuits, I was intrigued. I’d never heard of anyone making them from scratch before, and whilst I had fond memories of them I always thought they were a bit “mass produced”. So when I found myself off work with a back injury which made sitting down painful, spending a day in the kitchen making these was a pleasant distraction.

TL;DR – They’re a million times better than the shop bought version!

Ingredients

For the biscuits

  • 225g plain flour
  • 50g instant custard powder
  • 30g icing sugar
  • 175g unsalted butter (chilled and diced)
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla bean paste

For the filling

  • 50g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of instant custard powder
  • Some milk (if required)

Method

Edd makes these biscuits using a food processor. I didn’t because I have an inexplicable aversion to the machines (and particularly cleaning them afterwards!). The instructions below are for making these by hand, but it does require quite a bit of patience and arm strength! If you want the food processor version, you can find it on The English Kitchen blog.

  • To start the biscuits, put the flour, icing sugar and custard  powder in a bowl and mix together.
  • Add the butter and vanilla to the bowl and beat everything together with a wooden spoon. This will take quite a while, but it will eventually come together into a dough.
  • Tip the dough onto a piece of cling film and press out into a rough disc, than wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
  • Roll the chilled dough out until and cut into biscuit shapes. We used a 5cm round cutter, but for authenticity you could always make rectangles. Prick the top of each biscuit with a fork. Remember to cut an even number of biscuits since you need a top and bottom for each finished biscuit!
  • Chill the biscuits in the fridge for another 10 minutes.
  • Place the biscuits on lined baking trays and bake in the oven at 180℃ for about 10 minutes or until just starting to turn golden brown around the edges.
  • Leave to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack (they need to be properly cooled before you apply the filling).
  • To make the filling, put the butter, sugar and custard powder in a bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon to form a paste. If it’s too thick to spread on the biscuits, add a little bit of milk.
  • Finally, assemble your biscuits by putting a layer of filling between pairs of the biscuits.

These really are sublime, and outshine the shop bought versions in every way. We stored ours in an air tight container and they kept for the best part of a week (well… nearly… they were eaten quite quickly!).

Chicken, Leek and Pancetta Pie

For the bank holiday weekend, I made some Portuguese Custard Tarts – I learnt to make these during a “Perfect Your Pastry” class at John Whaite’s Kitchen, and it involves making a batch of rough puff pastry. I deliberately made a bit extra so that I could make a pie, and this recipe is the resulting dish. It was made up on the fly, so don’t worry too much about getting the quantities exactly right! You could make any kind of white sauce for the “juice”, but I followed my gran’s recipe which includes a bit of lemon juice.

Ingredients

  • 80g smoked pancetta (cubed)
  • 450g skinless and boneless chicken thighs (diced)
  • 1 large leek (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Approximately 250ml milk
  • Juice of  ½ lemon
  • Puff pastry (I used home made, but ready made is fine)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200℃ (180℃ fan).
  • Fry the pieces of pancetta in a large frying pan.
  • Once they’re starting to cook, add the diced chicken thigh.
  • Once the chicken thigh is looking cooked, add the leek.
  • When all the ingredients in the pan are cooked through, transfer them to a pie dish.
  • Turn down the heat on the hob and add the butter to the frying pan so it melts.
  • Add the flour to the melted butter and mix well to form a paste.
  • Slowly add milk, a little at a time, mixing well to avoid lumps forming. You’re looking to make a creamy sauce which is thick but just pourable.
  • When the mixture is almost at the consistency you want, add the juice of half a lemon and mix in well. You can also taste the sauce at this point and season with salt and pepper if you think it needs it – but remember that the pie will be salty from the pancetta.
  • Pour the sauce into the pie tin so that it covers the other ingredients.
  • Roll out the puff pastry and lay over the pie tin. You can use a bit of the sauce to help seal it around the edges. Crimping the edges with your fingers helps too.
  • Bake the pie in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the pastry looks golden and the filling is piping hot.

We served this up with some petit pois – no need for carb to accompany this because there was so much pastry on top. It’s a proper, home cooked piece of comfort food and was the perfect ending to our August Bank Holiday weekend.

Time for a new look

We started posting photos of what we were cooking back in February 2015. It was around that time that we also started this website, but over time we found ourselves updating the site less and less. It’s now about 6 months since the last time we posted anything, so it seemed like a good time to give the site an overhaul.

Our archive of previous posts is offline at the moment, but you can still see everything we’ve cooked on our Instagram account. If there’s anything you’d like to see us posting on here you can either drop us an email or post it as a comment below.

In the meantime, it’s back to tweaking the site and eating some home made custard tarts with a mug of tea, possibly taking a break to watch the new series of The Great British Bake Off.