Calling Young Chefs for CiTV Cooking Show!

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It only takes a quick glance through the archives to realise that A Merrier World has grown up over the last seven years alongside my three young (and now not so young) children.

(Seven years?? I mean, really? 7?? Wow! How did that happen?)

Sorry … picking myself up from the floor again …

L (now nearly 12 years old), M (now 9 years old) and T (now 7 years old) have featured in, inspired and even written many posts during that time. Just a few examples ……

Way back in October 2007, I made Gingersnaps after taking “my younger daughter (M) and baby son (T) to a local toddler group.”

Two years later in 2009, M baked Smarties Cookies after drooling over some in a bakery window while we were out shopping.

Fast forward another couple of years to 2011 and L wrote a guest blog about her Mum’s Random Bread Recipe as part of a homework assignment she was set for the weekend.

When M was set a cross curricular challenge at school a year ago in July 2013, she also wrote a guest blog to present her Sweet Salad Trifle invention.

And earlier this year in February 2014, T revealed the secret of making the best chocolate brownies in the world in the Singing Baker Brownies.

One of my own most fondly remembered cooking sessions with my ‘kids in the kitchen’ was in September 2009 (five whole years ago!!! … sorry, I’m still in shock over the timescale) when we made Look and Cook Vegetable Soup

Last month on her seventh birthday, L read proudly to us all from her new, special Aunty-Lucy present – Look and Cook, a gloriously vintage cookbook for children by Tina Davis. Not only does this superbly illustrated book provide recipes for such evocative things as popcorn balls and forgotten cookies, L was also captivated by the various sections that name each different kitchen utensil, discuss safety in the kitchen and describe how to measure, chop, dice, boil, steam and sauté with skill.

“Now I can cook dinner for all of us,” L announced, feeling sophisticated and grown-up.

She took her job very seriously. In her role as Mummy, she knew that cakes and cookies, however tempting, were not what she should be serving to her children as their main source of nourishment. I watched as she slowly thumbed her way from the delicious puddings and sweet treats at the end of the book, through the pasta and rice of the middle sections, towards the vegetables and main dishes in the opening chapters.

Then her eyes lit up as she spotted a recipe for vegetable soup.

So … are you getting the idea that I think it’s important to involve children as much as possible in kitchen adventures? Not only is it enjoyable, educational, etc for them … but also … I mean … who wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who can bake the most sinfully sinful chocolate cake? Give your children some cooking skills and you’re setting them up for life (and a great social network at University).

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I was therefore very interested when I received an email yesterday about the CiTV cooking show for children, The Munch Box, and I’m more than happy to pass on the call for young chefs to my readers …

Hi there,

I wondered if you might be able to help me in my quest to find children to take part in the next series of the hugely popular Saturday morning cooking show, ‘The Munch Box’ which is going to be filming in London during the Autumn. The show features a mix of cookery challenges alongside fun food-related games and the chance for the children to learn from a celebrity chef.

I’m looking for children aged 9-12 who love cooking, can do it on their own, and who have the confidence to come into a TV studio with two friends (who can help them out) to cook their favourite food in front of the cameras. In addition, I’d also like to speak to children of that age-range who are very vocal and have a great love of food to potentially be our ‘Masterchef’-style judges, telling the chefs what they think of their cooking! In both cases, we’re not looking for children who can sing, dance and have a background in TV performance, just children who can speak confidently and are able to cook or talk about amazing food.

As well as being fun, the children who took part in the filming last year benefitted hugely from the experience. Not only did it encourage their love of cooking, but one child became determined to improve his reading because he wanted to learn how to read complicated recipes. It really is a great experience for them so any help you can provide is hugely appreciated.

Many thanks, look forward to hearing from you soon.

I say, “Go for it!”

If you are aged 9-12 and are interested, ask a parent/guardian to send an email by Saturday 9th August to:

themunchbox@cactustv.co.uk

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Choc Chip Cookie Brownie Cake

Five years ago today, I wrote about rainbows and unicorns. That was when M was four years old, and the Rainbow Cake that I made for her birthday soon became one of my most visited posts on A Merrier World. Now, little M has just turned nine and the rainbows and unicorns have grown up into cookies and brownies.

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And M herself is not so little now, either. Her ‘good toes and naughty toes’ have transformed into Junior Associate feet of The Royal Ballet School

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But there is still plenty of time for dreams …

inthewings

… and choc chip cookie brownie cake.

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side

top

Choc Chip Cookie Brownie Cake

Cookie base
8 oz butter
5 1/2 oz golden castor sugar
6 oz light muscovado sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
13 oz strong white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
12 oz choc chips

Brownie top
5 oz butter
9 oz castor sugar
3 oz cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 oz plain flour

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Grease and baseline a circular 9″ springform pan.

To make the cookie base, cream the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and eggs gradually, beating to incorporate. Mix together the dry ingredients then stir into the dough. Stir in the choc chips.

Press the cookie dough into the base of the prepared pan (I filled it to about 1/3 full and used the leftover dough to make a giant cookie, about the size of my hand …)

Put the pan in the fridge while you prepare the brownie batter.

To make the brownie topping, melt the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt together in a bowl over a pan of hot water. It will look like it’s never going to come together, but it does …

Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla.

Fold in the flour, then give the batter a good stir for about 5 seconds to strengthen it a little (there isn’t much flour in the recipe, so it’s okay to develop a bit of gluten to give the brownie some structure).

Remove the springform pan from the fridge and pour the brownie batter on top of the cookie dough. Level the top.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then loosen the sides and remove the springform ring.

Cool completely (I left the cake on the base of the pan because I didn’t want to risk losing the whole thing if it collapsed while I tried to unstick it … nobody seemed to mind and it made it easier to carry to M’s ballet class!).

Melt some white chocolate and use a fork to drizzle over the top in a pretty pattern.

Doctor Who Cupcakes

tops

Angel Bob: Doctor? Excuse me, hello, Doctor? Angel Bob here, sir.
The Doctor: Ah, there you are, Angel Bob. How’s life? Sorry, bad subject.

tardis

Angel Bob: The Angels are wondering what you hope to achieve.
The Doctor: Achieve? We’re not achieving anything. We’re just hanging, it’s nice in here: consoles; comfy chairs; a forest… how’s things with you?

montage

Angel Bob: The Angels are feasting, sir. Soon we will be able to absorb enough power to consume this vessel, this world, and all the stars and worlds beyond.
The Doctor: Yeah, but we’ve got comfy chairs. Did I mention?

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Angel Bob: We have no need for comfy chairs.
The Doctor: [amused] I made him say ‘comfy chairs’.

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recipe

Singing Baker Brownies

I know the secret to making the best brownies in the world.

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Yes, you have to do all the usual stuff like preparing the pan and weighing the ingredients …

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… and using those fiddly little teaspoons …

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… and cracking the eggs …

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… and stirring.

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But should I tell you the secret?

Okay. But only if you promise not to tell anyone.

Here’s the secret …

The secret is …

You did promise not to tell, right?

Okay, here goes.

The secret is …

… finding the right song!

Which is how he made the best brownies in the world.

bestbrownies

Singing Baker Brownies

5 oz butter
9 oz castor sugar
3 oz cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 oz plain flour

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C.

Grease and line the base of an 8″ square pan with baking parchment.

Melt the butter, sugar, cocoa and salt together in a bowl over a pan of hot water. It will look like it’s never going to come together, but it does … if you know the right song ;-)

Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla.

Fold in the flour, then give the batter a good stir for about 5 seconds to strengthen it a little (there isn’t much flour in the recipe, so it’s okay to develop a bit of gluten to give the brownies some structure).

Scrape into the prepared pan and level the top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until it’s still a bit gooey (but not sloppy).

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack. Cut into squares.

Me, You and the Cake

meyouandthecake

Mum: How come you get to come first in the title?

L: Because I’m awesome.

Mum: And I am …?

L: Do you really want me to answer that?

Mum: Hmmm. Perhaps not.

L: Anyway, you should be asking how come the cake comes last. It’s the most important thing here.

Mum: Aaahhh …

fruitcake

Here’s the story. Yesterday, I decided to clear out my baking cupboard. I found … golden and flame raisins (left over from the Haroseth I made for a school Passover meal), cranberries (left over from something I definitely made to do with cranberries), dates (left over from a sticky toffee pudding I made for Boxing Day), apricots (left over from the jewelled rice we also ate on Boxing Day). These all went into a large casserole pan. The dried mango-that-went-out-of-date went into the bin.

I hunted around the kitchen and came up with three clementines, a lemon, a lime, a bottle of whisky and a bottle of sherry. I added the fruit juices and good glugs of alcohol to the pan. I stirred in some molasses sugar, light muscovado sugar, vegetable suet, cinnamon, ginger and mace, then put the whole pot in the oven for three hours.

Mincemeat!

Now … over to L for the rest of the story ….

Mum didn’t know what to do with all the mincemeat that was left over so I said, “I love mince pies, but I’ve had a lot of them lately. Maybe we could put them into something else I really love like… fruit cake! So that is how it came into being – ME! Mum said shed. No, that looks wrong. Try again. Mum said she’d (that’s better) make up a recipe if I took some photos. I told her she looked like she had a long neck like a giraffe in the jumper she was wearing, so she’d have to change if she wanted me to take any photos of her. Mum said she didn’t want photos of HER … she wanted photos of THE CAKE. I said whatevs and she went to change.

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Ha mum, a photo of you!

So, I took a photo of Mum with some eggs …

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… Mum mixing up some batter …

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… Mum with a pile of dirty dishes …

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… and oh, look! There’s me!

Made with Love Fruitcake

3 1/2 oz unsalted butter
7 oz golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
10 1/2 oz self-raising flour
14 oz mincemeat

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Grease and line an 8″ square baking pan.

Cream the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs. Fold in the flour and mincemeat until evenly combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and level the top.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown, risen and springy to touch.

Turn out and cool on a wire rack.

Serve as slices of cake with glasses of sherry … or with dollops of custard or ice cream for a pudding.

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