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Halloween cakes

Halloween cakes

Serve these cakes at a Halloween party, or box them up for impressive ‘take home gifts. They look particularly stunning on a dark plate or cloth.

Makes: 18

Prep: 1 ½ hours, plus cooling

Cook: 40 minutes

A little lightly salted butter, for greasing

2 quantities Orange Sponge mixture

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp orange juice

3 tbsp runny honey

6 tbsp apricot jam

2 tbsp hot water

Orange food colouring

750 g/1 lb 10 oz white ready-to-roll icing

Icing sugar, for dusting

55 g/2 oz plain chocolate, roughly chopped

Several soft green jellies

20 small Oreo cookies, filling removed

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Grease and line the base and sides of a 26-cm/10 ½-inch x 8 ½-inch roasting tin or similar sized tin. Grease the baking paper.

2 Turn the cake mixture into the tin and level the surface. Bake in the preheat oven for 40 minutes, or until risen and just firm to the touch. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

3 If the cake has risen in the center, cut off a thin slice with a large knife. Using a 6-cm/ 2 ½-inch half-moon cutter as a guide, cut out shapes from the sponge. Turn the cakes over so theat the base forms a flat top.

4 Mix the juices with the honey a small jug and drizzle over the surface of the cakes so syrup seeps into the sponge. Press the jam through a small sieve into a bowl and stir in the hot water. Brush this mixture over the tops and sides of cakes.

5 Knead orange food colouring into the ready-to-roll icing. Roll out 40 g/1 ½ oz of the icing on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar to an oval 15 cm x 10 cm/6-inchs x 4 inches. Lift it over a half-moon cake and fit it around the sides, pinching the icing together at the points. Cut off the excess at these points and then cut around the base of the cake. Repeat with the remain cakes, reserving the icing trimmings.

6 Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, set the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water and heat until melted. Put the chocolate in a small paper piping bag and snit off the tip. Colour the icing trimmings a deeper orange and shape them into small balls. Mark  ‘pumpkin’ ridges with the back of a knife. Cut small pieces of soft jelly and push them into the tops for stalks, securing with chocolate.

7 To shape bats, heat an Oreo cookie in the microwave until it’s soft (this will take 1 ½-2 minutes, but check after a minute). Cut a circle from one side with a 2.5-cm/ ½ – inch cutter. Cut small flutes from the opposite sides with a 1.5-cm/ ½-inch cutter. Secure the decorations in the place with chocolate and pipe bat eyes and extra bats around the sides of the cakes.

Mini ivory wedding cakes

Makes these pretty cakes for a girls’ night before the big day, or of course for the wedding party itself. Bake the sponges a day before decorating so they’ve time to firm up a bit. Assemble the cakes a day before the party.

Makes: 16

Prep: 1 ½ hours, plus cooling

Cook: 1 hour

A little lightly salted butter, for greasing

2 quantities White Chocolate Sponge mixture

250 g/9 oz white ready-to-roll icing

Brown or ivory food colouring

Icing sugar, for dusting

16 x 7.5cm/-inch round silver cake cards

300ml/10 fl oz double cream

300g/ 10 ½ oz white chocolate, roughly chopped

10 meters (33 feet) wired organza ribbon, about 2.5 cm/1-inch wide

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line the base and sides of a 23-cm/9-inch square cake tin.

2 Spoon two-thirds of the spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until well risen and just firm to touch. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Wash and reline the tin and bake the reaming mixture for 20-25 minutes, as before.

3 Colour the ready-to-roll icing with a dash of brown food colouring. Roll out half the icing as thinly as possible on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Cut out 8 rounds using a 7.5-cm/3-inch cookie cutter, re-rolling the trimmings to make sufficient. Repeat with the other half. Dampen the surfaces of the cake cards and position a circle of icing on each.

4 To make a ganache, heat half the cream in a small saucepan until very hot but not boiling. Pour it into a mixing bowl and add the chocolate. Leave to stand, stirring frequently, until the chocolate has melted. Leave to cool completely. Stir in a remaining cream and beat lightly with an electric handheld whisk on a slow speed until the ganache is just thick enough to hold its shape. (If over-whisked it might start to separate.)

5 Using a 5-cm/2-inch round cookie cutter as a guide cut out 16 rounds from the deeper sponge cake. Use a –cm/1 ½-inch rounds from the deeper sponge cake. Use a 3 –inch round cutter as a guid cut out 16 rounds from the shallower sponge. (Freeze the trimmining for making trifle or cake pops another time.) Place the larger cakes on the iced cards, securing with a little ganache. Spread some of the remaining ganache over the tops and sides of these cakes with a palette knife. Position the smaller cakes on top and cover these with ganache in the same way. Leave to set in a cool place for 1-2 hours.

6 Cut the ribbon into 60-cm/24-inch lengths and wrap a length around each cake, securing at the tops with bows and cutting off any long ends.

Mackerel Kebabs with Parsley Dressing

Fish kebabs cook quickly and evenly in the microwave.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4

450g/1 lb mackerel fillets

Finely grated rind and juice of lemon

45ml/3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

12 cherry tomatoes

8 black olives, stoned

Salt and ground black pepper

1 Cut the fish into 4cm/1 ½ in chunks and place in a bowl with half the lemon rind and juice, half the parsley and seasoning. Cover and leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

2 Thread the fish on to eight long wooden skewers, alternating the chunks with tomatoes and olives. Place the kebabs on a microwave proof roasting rack or rest them across a shallow microwave proof dish. Cover with greaseproof paper and microwave on HIGH for 4-6 minutes. Rearrange halfway through cooking, until the fish is cooked.
3 Mix the remaining lemon rind and juice with the remaining parsley in a small bowl, adding seasoning to taste. Spoon the dressing over the kebabs and serve hot, with plain boiled rice or noodles and a leafy green salad.

VARIATINOS

Other firm-fleshed fish may be used in place of the mackerel – for a special occasion you could opt for salmon fillet or monkfish tail; or try a mixture of the two, threading the fish chunks alternately on to the skewers with the tomatoes and olives.

COOK’S TIP

When using wooden or bamboo kebab skewers, soak them first in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes to help prevent them from drying and cracking out.

Healthy Food Choices

Sometimes knowing what to eat can be really challenging and confusing. This is because of the different food choices in the market. Though you have the right to make food choices, care should be taken to make only healthy food choices. Healthy food choices can be so beneficial in maintaining or improving your health. There are variety of food choices you can choose from depending on your preference. General, before going for any food, you should consider its nutrient value. In other words, how am I going to benefit from this food? You should also consider the time it’s to be eaten. If its morning, then a good bet for you will be a meal that takes a short time length.

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Food choices

It is obvious that we have different food choices, but that does not mean that we cannot make healthy food choices. If you love fruits you can go for an avocado. An avocado is highly nutritious because it consists of vitamins and less fats. The fact that it has less fats means that if you are more sensitive to weight matters, then this is a good option for you. It is common knowledge that more fats lead to high blood pressure. This is because accumulation of fats in the body causes blood clots. Therefore, this is a healthy food choice because it is a safeguard to your health. Furthermore, the fact that it has vitamins means that your body is fully protected. Vitamins are used in the breakdown of fats in the body.

Though many believe that fats are bad to the body, the contrary is true. The body cannot do without fats. Fats only become a problem when they are consumed in large quantities. Fats are energy generating foods and therefore important to the body. This energy generated by fats can be used to accomplish various processes in the body. One of these processes includes burning of calories in the body. For this reason, if you want a meal consisting of fats then you can consider dairy products such as milk, butter, and cheese among other. These dairy products can be consumed with other foods to bring a lively taste.

Another healthy food choice is that consisting of proteins. For instance, fried beef served with bread. Proteins just like fats are energy giving foods. If you are that person that used more energy to do your task, then a protein meal be better for you. The energy supplied by proteins can be used in the breakdown of fats available in the body. This is a step toward maintaining a solid body health, Proteins also have calcium which is an important mineral to the body. Calcium is used by the body in the burning of fats in the body. Moreover, it is also used in the strengthening of bones in the body. There are so many protein meals available in the market.

In summary, it is important to make healthy food choices. Making healthy choices helps in building and maintaining our health. For this reason, all should be vigilant when making food choices.

Healthy Fast Food

Sometimes when you are hungry and on the move, it becomes rather difficult to choose which meal best suits you. You may walk into a restaurant run through the menu but still find it difficult to locate a suitable meal for you. At times it becomes even harder if you keenly watching your body weight and health. However, you need not to worry because there are a variety of healthy fast food available that you can choose from. Some may ask, is it possible to be health when you are on fast foods? This is a complex question that needs to be answered. According to research, fast foods can only be beneficial if consumed in correct amounts. Therefore, the aspect of care is introduced here when selecting the right meal for yourself.

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Fast foods

Probably, the best way to maintain your health is by taking healthy foods. It is important to note that not all fast foods are healthy. For example, though soda is a fast food it contains some hidden calories in it. Therefore, it is important to have a perfect knowledge of the nutritive value of each food. Such knowledge is key in making right choices when it comes to selecting healthy fast foods.

Guidelines to selecting healthy fast foods

One important thing you need to do when you enter any café is to to pay specific attention to what is written on the menu. Dishes that fall under the category of pan fried, deep fried, and breaded among others should be ignored. This because such meals always have calories in them. If you are that person that is keen in maintaining body weight, then such meals should be strictly avoided. Additionally, you to also be vigil on cream sauces.

Another guideline to healthy fast foods is you can make you own order even if it is not in the menu. Since you are hungry and do not want to risk your health, you can try this method. For instance you can make an order of an avocado. The way some dishes are portrayed in the menu is so alluring that you can find yourself going for one without even an aforethought. You need to bear in mind that in business, the goal of most people is to make money. The greatest mistake you can ever do is assuming.

If you are a meat lover then you can go for lean meat. Some of the healthy lean meats available in most cafes include chicken breast, lean roast beef, and lean ham among others. You should however resist any breaded or fried meat. Another guideline to healthy fast food is being vigil on the size of the dishes presented to you at the café. Its good practice not to go for large size dishes. These dishes may contain calories which are not good for a healthy living.

In conclusion, people need to have knowledge when it comes to making food choices. Most of our food choices are uninformed and this leads us to acquiring certain terrible diseases.