Saturday, 27 December 2008

Where to start?! Happy New Year!

Well Christmas is now behind us! Sad in someways, you spend weeks (okay, months!) planning and then its all over :( The pile of magazine cutouts, marked pages and print-out's are now all abandoned until next Christmas! (I already have idea's not used this year!) And 6 forgotten custard mince pies in the freezer!

Most of the pictures are over on flickr, if you click on the highlighted links you can see (if you wish!) the outcomes!

As planned, I cooked on Boxing Day and we had a great feast! Amongst lots of other lovely things, I did a whole baked ham, glazed with sweet chilli sauce, muscavado sugar and home made cranberry jam, inspired by a recipe I found over on UKTV Food, and promptly lost so had to guess but it was perfect! Even more perfect when cold and the meat had picked up all the lovely sweet spicy flavours!! I keep finding myself now snacking from the fridge, complete with a small knife to slice chunks off!! We also had spiced red cabbage, made loosely on Nigella's recipe, brussel sprouts with bacon and garlic (they will be made again!) and more!

The leftover vegetables got blitzed this afternoon with vegetable stock and curry powder, you really can't tell the origins but it tastes good and I have 5 portions in the freezer!

For dessert I took my old cake thingy and gave it a makeover with baileys, coffee, dark chocolate shards, toasted hazelnut's and silver balls! It too was lovely and I was so proud when our guests said how professional it looked, despite the beloved taking the photos posted, due to my hands being full!

I also revisited childhood and made mini mincemeat and filo parcels. I have an early memory of standing in my Nanny Jean's kitchen making them, I can't recall where the recipe came from unfortunately.....though my memory did fail on just how long they took to make! Though they did go down very well with our guests, which is always great :)

In fact everything went very smoothly this year, nothing got burned and all very edible. I didn't panic and thoroughly enjoyed myself, despite initial fears of cooking for 9 people!

My previously loved and blogged about blue casserole dish met its maker on the hob 2 weeks ago, leaving me stranded. But thanks to the Debenham's sale and other wonderful people I am now the very proud owner of a shiny, 26cm satin black Le Creuset Casserole!! (Is it possible to believe in love at first sight, with kitchenwares?!)

I received the new Nigella Christmas book and already christened it! I made the puddini bon-bon's today, surprisingly easy and they taste so good! Have wrapped several as gifts...not saying where the rest may end up.......;-) There are some really great looking dishes I will be looking forward to trying in 2009.

Have also made as a gift (goodbye my love, I would eat you if I could!) a cappuchino hazelnut cake. I had the off-cut's. Am making again put it that way!!

Hope everyone else had a wonderful Christmas x

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Bailey's Panna Cotta

As we all know, calories in December do not count. Or at least don't count them....

On Sunday, I had my brother and mum over, as well as me of course and the other half and we ate an early Christmas feast!

As my family and friends know well, desserts that come from my kitchen might not be on the lighter side - but they always taste great!

I decided to play around with dessert this year and took my previously made panna cotta's recipe, shifted them slightly and Baileys* panna cotta were born! These are not designed for those driving shortly after!!

*I didn't use actual Bailey's, these were made with Lidl's version called St Margot, however if I called them St Margot Panna cotta's you would most likely be bewildered, unless of course you often shop in Lidl's that is....!

Very easy
Makes 8 ramekins/ dariol moulds

160g caster sugar
420ml double cream
200ml milk
150ml cream liqueur
4 sheets gelatine or vegetarian equivalent

1) Place the gelatine in a bowl, cover with cold water and leave for 5 minutes or prepare as packet instructions

2) Meanwhile, gently bring to a boil the cream, milk, liqueur and sugar, until it feels smooth when stirring - do not boil, remove from heat when hot

3) Drain the gelatine, add to the cream mix, pour into mold's and chill for 4 hours or overnight.

**If made in dariol molds, please note they are feisty to get out but not impossible, garnish with chocolate flakes and a little chocolate sauce**

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Merry Christmas to all!

I have, probably like a lot of others out there have got a few slightly busy weeks coming up, lots of food to make and devour and be subjected to the inevitable crush when going food shopping!

Last year I got stuck in the car park of Tesco's for over an hour, just trying to exit but that will teach me to go in on Christmas Eve to get a last minute bottle of wine! They apparently are opening at 6am this year right up until Christmas Eve, I have a feeling I may be there at that time, armed with a trolley and mean look in my eyes!! This year I have already bought the wine and beer in!

Luckily I am going to my partner's mums house for the big day, which I am really looking forward to as she is a great cook and does a mean roast! On Boxing Day we have a houseful, I'm about 90% there with menu but keep seeing lots of wonderful ideas on other blogs so forever changing my mind! At the moment is maple baked ham, spiced red cabbage, mash or mini roasties and honey glazed carrots but this may well change before then!!

Wishing everyone a wonderful festive Christmas and a Happy New Year, hope we all eat well and be merry!

This picture is one of my favourite tree ornaments, courtesy of Accessorize and makes me smile when it goes on the tree every year, as I bought the same one for my Mum! I'm sending this picture over to Holler at tinnedtomatoes for the No Croutons Required - December entry

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Eat-Me gifts - Chocolate Spiced shortbread

Following on from my previous post for Coconut shortbread, here comes hot on its footsteps - Chocolate spiced shortbread. This is a slightly thicker mix, more biscuity than the coconut version, mainly because I should not have weighed out the ingredients, whilst enjoying a nice glass of red from Calloways Crossing (hey it was Friday night!), as I got them slightly back to front at one point - however they did still work and just goes to show deviating from a basic recipe can sometimes prove worthwhile!

Makes 20

175g butter
220g plain flour
120g unrefined icing sugar
2 tsp mixed spice
3 tsp cocoa powder - I used green and blacks

For decorating:

Chocolate sprinkles
Edible Silver balls
Icing sugar for dusting
6 squares white chocolate

1) Pre-heat the oven to 180/ 160 fan. Cream together the icing sugar and butter until fluffy.

2) Now add the flour, cocoa powder and mixed spice and mix until thoroughly combined. Roll into walnut shell sized balls and place on a lined baking sheet, place a piece of cherry in the middle and flatten using the palm of your hand, if you like you can sprinkle over some chocolate flakes at this stage. These do spread out so allow room between them

3) Bake for approx 8 minutes or until they are just colouring at the bottom and slightly firm to the touch, allow to cool for 5 minutes on the tray and transfer carefully to a wire rack.

4) Once they are completely cooled, dust with icing sugar, melt the white chocolate in a bowl over hot water or on a low heat in a heavy based pan, using a wooden spoon, slowly drizzle and flick the melted chocolate over the biscuits, sprinkle over the chocolate sprinkles and place the silver balls on the melted chocolate

I've also sent these over to and where you can check out lots of other lovely looking treats this Christmas!

Eat-Me Gifts - Cherry topped Coconut shortbread

Currently my partner has been struck down with this nasty cold thats doing the rounds, already had my share so hoping not to re-catch it!

On Friday night I decided to keep out of his way and spend some quality time with the kitchen, to make some early Christmas biscuits. I took my favourite whipped shortbread recipe from my Baking Book, split the base mix and now have two new favourites!

Cherry topped Coconut shortbread

Makes 9

60g Plain flour
25g Unrefined icing sugar
75g butter
2 tbsp descicated coconut
2 glace cherries, diced up

1) Pre-heat the oven to 180 / 160 fan. Beat the icing sugar and butter until creamy and light

2) Beat in the flour and coconut, roll into walnut shell sized balls, place on a lined baking sheet, place a piece of cherry in the middle and flatten using the palm of your hand. These do spread out so allow room between them

3) Bake for approx 8 minutes or until they are just colouring at the bottom, allow to cool for 5 minutes on the tray and transfer carefully to a wire rack.

These are lovely, melt in your mouth biscuits but very fragile so package carefully!

I've also entered these this month over at and where you can check out lots of other lovely looking treats this Christmas!

Thou shall have a fishy

This weekend I had the opportunity to try out a 'posh' Salmon En Croúte from Donald Russell, a dish I love but have never got round to making as my ex was not a fishy person and it would be wasted on him!

So as you can guess, when I was asked if I would like to try them, I jumped at the chance! Donald Russell's version, which is made from all butter puff pastry, encasing a prime fillet of salmon, topped with a mix of cream cheese, spinach and wild rice. It has also a hint of nutmeg and a delicate touch of lemon.

The main convenience is that it arrives perfectly frozen, in its own little dry ice box and each portion is individually wrapped, ideal if you are not intending to eat all of them immediately.

As mentioned above, because my partner does not care for salmon, I took these to his mothers Christmas party, where they went down very well with both the guests, and myself!

So if you fancy a little treat this Christmas, why not let the the stresses melt away and check out Donald Russell.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Bacon, blue cheese and mushroom pies for cheese lovers

Pie's are one of my favourite all time dishes, crispy pastry, stuffed with a delicious filling, what more can you ask for!

This is another recipe that has been born out of a culmination of mine and a girlfriend's favourite ingredients, then working out they best way for them to work in harmony to produce the perfect pie!

And I think we succeeded!

When cooking, the pies smelt so good and we couldn't wait to tuck in! Even more surprisingly we managed this despite enjoying a very nice bottle of Pinot Noir whilst cooking them! (didn't realise it was 14.5%!) Currently on special at £3.75 in Tesco, can highly recommend if you don't have work the next morning...!

The cheese pastry is a must! It creates a really delicious, crispy casing - ideally make these in pretty pie dishes which can be served in them as the pastry needs to be thin. If you are not a cheese-o-holic try switching to standard puff pastry, or shortcrust

I so hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

Makes 2 individual, generous pies
30 minutes prep and 25 minutes in oven - The pastry can be made in advance to save time.

A little effort


125g Chestnut mushrooms, diced chunky
250g Closed cap mushrooms - as above
1/3 pack Castello blue cheese roughly chopped, if you can't get this Dolcelatte is similar
125ml double cream
3 smoked bacon medallions, roughly chopped (bacon's healthier sister and no need to trim!)
2 tbsp vermouth
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 heaped tsp butter
Black pepper to taste
1 tsp flour

Quantity of Cheese shortcrust pastry, made as per Good housekeeping base recipe (circa 1973 hence the ounces!):

4oz plain flour
2oz butter and lard (half and half approx)
1oz grated Parmesan
1oz finely grated mature cheddar
Pinch of salt
Cold water for binding

1) First make your pastry - place the butter, lard and flour in a food processor, blitz till like fine breadcrumbs, if doing by hand, simply rub the fat and flour together using fingertips, until also like breadcrumbs.

2) Slowly drizzle in cold water until you have a soft dough, about 6 tsp, knead lightly and chill until needed. Line two pie dishes, leaving enough to top - the dough should be quite thin.

3) Heat a large flat pan, add the bacon, oil and cover, cook for 4 minutes, add the mushroom's and simmer for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring

4) Now add the flour, mix in well, add the vermouth and garlic powder, stir well, add the cream slowly and season with a little black pepper, now stir in the blue cheese until melted, transfer into the pie dishes, brush all open edges with egg and place the top on, smoothing down, trim sides and brush with egg and bake for 25 minutes at 160 fan / 180 normal or until the pastry is gorgeously brown and crispy!

Be careful as they are very hot inside!

Friday, 5 December 2008

Winter Vegetable soup

Winter is definately making its mark at the moment and all I want to eat is hot, comforting food!

This makes 2 litres of soup - perfect for freezing or feeding lots of people! Is a simple but tasty and cheap soup and great for these cold days and nights!

I made this on Wednesday night and it fed 7 as a starter on the thursday and there was still plenty left, re-heats well for lunches!

540g carrots
275g parsnips
4 sticks celery
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 chicken kallo boullion cube (if veggie just use two v cubes)
1 vegetable kallo boullion cube
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
S&P to taste

1) Firstly, prep all the veg. Dice the onion, celery, carrots and parsnips into relatively small cubes and chop the garlic

2) Make up the stock cubes in 2 litres boiling water

3) Heat oil in a large pan (I use my pasta pot!), gently fry the onion for about 5 minutes until translucent, add all the remaining vegetables, pour over the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes

4) Now add the tomatoes and seasoning, simmer for a further ten minutes and blitz with a liquidizer or hand blender, I quite like this chunky but have made both chunky and smooth versions. If going for the chunky option and its more of a main course serving, after blitzing add a tin of drained kidney beans, heat through and serve.

Make sure you have plenty of warm fresh bread to mop up!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Baked mushrooms with blue cheese

Okay, I seem to be getting slightly addicted to having blue cheese and mushrooms together but I just really love the combo! This was made using up leftover mushrooms from another dish so it can easily be increased, as needed! The other mushroom dish will follow shortly, once I upload the pictures!

I made this tonight as an informal starter as we had family around, which went alongside other lovely things, including some gorgeous extra special Camembert from ASDA, which comes in its own cute terracotta dish for baking and a huge vat of vegetable soup, which will follow shortly on a seperate posting.

I didn't get a chance to take a picture but I will be making again so will add a piccie then! I made and served this in a small a5 sized, shallow ceramic dish

Its such an easy, thrown it all in dish and great with warm bread or simply a fork ;-)

100g approx chestnut mushrooms
1/4 pack castelli blue cheese
1 tbsp sweet vermouth (Lidl's is fine for this)
1 pinch dried sage
1 tbsp approx olive oil
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper

1) Pre-heat oven if needed to about 160 fan/ 180 normal, quarter the mushrooms and place in the dish

2) Slice the cheese and scatter over the mushrooms, drizzle over the oil and vermouth, the dried sage and a weeny pinch of s&p, bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the mushrooms just colouring

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Chocolate Brownie Cake

Craving some chocolate last week, after another chocolate cake had failed to impress, we decided brownies were in order and made this chocolate-brownie-cake from BBC Good Food.

It was easy and gorgeous, I swapped the cocoa powder for Bournville cocoa powder (which I seem to be adding to everything at the moment!) and it just made it extra moreish!

This did result in a last minute dash, whilst brownie was in the oven to buy cream as it was calling out for it! :)


100g butter
175g caster sugar
75g brown or muscovado sugar (I used dark soft brown)
125g chocolate (plain or milk) (I used plain belgium)
1 tbsp golden syrup
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract /essence (Had run out so didn't add this!)
100g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder (I use bournville cocoa)
We also added 8 chopped glace cherries!


Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin. (I used removable base tin lined with a lakeland cake tin liner)

Place the butter, both sugars, chocolate and golden syrup in the pan and melt gently on a low heat until it is smooth and lump-free.

Remove the pan from the heat, break the eggs into the bowl and whisk with the fork until light and frothy.

Add the eggs, vanilla extract or essence, flour, baking powder and cocoa powder to the chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly.

Put the mixture into the greased and lined cake tin and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 25-30 mins. (Mine took exactly 25 minutes in fan assisted)

Remove and allow to cool for 20-30 mins before cutting into wedges and serving. (Good luck waiting as smell's so good!)

Serve with cream or ice cream and plenty of fresh fruit. (I vote cream!)

Monday, 1 December 2008

Good Food Show Part 2 in Pictures

This is a selection of pictures I also took at the GFS:

Stefan Gates in the Magimix theatre:

The Lemonade Factory

Global Knives to drool over!


Magic dicing:

Our seats for Gordon's show in the supertheatre!

Some pretty dragee's I bought:

A jar of Raspberry and mint jam I also picked up:

Ainsley Harriott:

Sophie Michell on the How Do I Stage, making dishes with Honestly.... cottage cheese

The car from Gordon's F-Word, surrounded by a Rocket Garden!

Pretty puddings:


Thanks again to everyone who arranged this and it was great to meet up with everyone! :)

The other bloggers in no particular order are:

Nicola at Cherrapeno
Francesca at 101 Things Every Cook Should Cook
Becky at Girl Interupted Eating
Katie at Apple and Spice
Joanna at Joannas food
Sam at Antics of a Cycling Cook

Part 1

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Good Food Show 2008 - Part 1

Well I am back, and slowly recovering after a long day spent happily at the Good Food Show on Thursday in Birmingham, courtesy of Miele (Note to self = don't wear new boots!). Please see their website miele for further information on their full product range, I am now in need of persuading our landlord to get a Miele fridge, complete with in-door lighting!

As a food blogger, I jumped at the opportunity to go along and enjoy privileged access to the show and try lots of lovely food and drink and also the chance to put faces to other blogs.

After meeting with the other bloggers and the team from Miele, the day started with going around the stalls and testing lots of lovely foods and drinks. Though on reflection trying hot chilli sauce at 10.30am was possibly not the wisest of decisions I have ever made, brother - guess what your Christmas present is this year! I chose 3 sauces in a gift pack from Eureka Food's consisting of haberno, birds eye and chipotle chillies! Luckily there was a stall round the next corner selling a delicious cordial called Blush, which was very refreshing!

I tried Limoncello a few years back and it wasn't love at first sip, however one of my favourite liqueur companies called Condessa, have just launched their own Limoncello, which was really delicious. Almost like smooth liquid lemon curd, but with a nice kick! Unfortunately I couldn't carry everything and didnt manage to make it back to the stall to purchase some, will have to remember to plan better next time around!

One of the main highlights for me was briefly meeting the lovely James Martin, I am now amongst many (female!) friends and family who are green with envy! Of course, I managed to embarrass myself by temporarily forgetting my name whilst staring at him but I was not the only one, not mentioning any names...! I have now in my possession a signed copy of The Collection, which will have pride of place on my bookshelf!

As part of the day out, we enjoyed a delicious lunch backstage with the group of other bloggers, who were also with Miele - It was really good to meet up with you all. I never had tried prawns with parmesan before but it worked really well and looked impressive as a starter, will definately be stealing that idea! The pudding was also chocolate goodness of a rich chocolate and mandarin mousse with butterscotch sauce, mm mm mm. the only downside was that I was so full I couldn't face trying much else!

In the supertheatre show, James Martin cooked Teryaki mackerel fillets with pickled red onion and green bean salsa, I will definitely be trying this out, the green bean pickle in particular sounds really good as I love anything pickled! He then did a breaded veal chop with celeriac and potato puree and herb spatzle. Is the first time I have seen spatzle made and it looked interesting…For dessert he did thin slices of puff pastry, sandwiched with mascarpone cheese, raspberries and finished with spun sugar, which was hilarious as he borrowed some poor chap’s walking stick to do it with! The dessert did look gorgeous though I am not sure I would make spun sugar in the same way.

After James show had ended, they allowed us to pop up on stage and be nosy :

Both me and a couple of other bloggers also got tickets to see Gordon Ramsey in the supertheatre, he was in fine form and it was great to see him cook live, though we had seats in row Z it was still worth it! He was accompanied by Mark Sergeant, they make a good double act! Between them there was borlotti bean minestrone, a dish which will be appearing soon in my kitchen! Also fresh tuna steak with black beans which also looked tasty and followed up with caramelized plums.

Getting into the Christmas Spirit - Cranberry Vodka

I know, I know, I promised myself no mention of the C word until 1st December but I just couldn't wait any longer!

Last night, in preparation for the Christmas season, I finally got around to making Cranberry vodka. Admittedly it says to wait six weeks* but I didn't see that in the book till the other day, oops! Hopefully it will be ready to drink on New Years Eve, it already is a gorgeous ruby red colour but doesn't take the most attractive of photos due to the crushed cranberries bobbing around inside!

From the Love Food, Christmas book, scaled down and adapted slightly:

100g fresh cranberries
2 tbsp golden caster sugar (or similar unrefined)
35cl bottle vodka

1) Sterilise a wide necked jar

2) Place the cranberries in the jar with the sugar and crush the cranberries to release the juices. I used my rolling pin, which now is an attractive shade of pink at one end ;-)

3) Pour over the vodka and mix well, seal and leave in a cool, dark space for 6 weeks*

After decanting, the above is the outcome! I have to be honest that on its own I wasn't keen, however with ice and lemonade its lovely!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Christmas Chutney

Adapting a much loved and made cranberry jam recipe from Nigella, I have made some Christmas chutney which hopefully is going to be ready just in time for the baked ham on Boxing Day! The mix tasted lovely, so here's hoping!

Makes 1 large jar or two smallies

180g fresh cranberries
180g caster sugar
3 halawi dates, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp mixed spice
3 heaped tbsp sultanas
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1) Mix the sultanas, chopped dates and red wine vinegar and leave to soak for ten minutes

2) Heat the cranberries and sugar on a low heat until the sugar is just dissolving, add the above mix and the spice and bring to a gentle boil and stir, crushing the berries lightly. Simmer for about 8-10 minutes, stiring often until it starts looking jammy and thickens, transfer immediately to a sterilized jar/s.

3) Leave for a minimum of 4 weeks in a cool, dark place.

This recipe is also with thanks to my neighbour who rescued me mid-cooking when my electronic scales died on me and he lent me theirs!

Monday, 24 November 2008


I have been very lucky in the last 7 days, 2 excellent restaurant meals and a trip to Devon, what more can a girl ask for!

Last Monday we had a new fridge freezer delivered and whilst watiting the specified resting time before restocking, we went out to one of my favourite restaurants for dinner, Bar 163 in Chertsey, Surrey. Oddly quiet in there but I guess Monday is a quiet day!

We started with the most scrummy garlic bread, which was a fresh 1/2 crispy baguette and topped with melted cheese and also a portion of foccacia with oil. They initially brought the wrong dish over with olives and bean dip etc (which I am slowly starting to like, I managed 4 whole green ones!) but they only charged us for the cheaper one, despite eating the majority of it by the time they realized!

For mains I had the special of Pheasant ravaoli with a radiccio, bacon, brie and walnut sauce which was gorgeous, huge pasta pillows and a lush creamy savoury sauce. Somehow I also managed a also delicious cheeseboard for afters and I am very firmly now in the "I love stilton" camp! It also came with a nice creamy brie and a so-so cheddar and lovely caramelized onions and good old jacobs crackers!

During the week I also tried out one of Tesco's newish salad bags with baby herb leaves which made a nice change with coriander and baby spinach, amongst other things in it! I really liked the herbs and will definately buy again.

On Friday I made this Chocca mocca caramel cake from BBC Good Food: to take to Devon (was visiting family) but I'm not sure if would make again. The caramel chunks all sank to the bottom (as I thought they might) and the sponge seemed a little dry, despite the incredibly sweet gooey topping...however it did catch slightly in the oven so that might have been partially at fault.

Saturday night we had a rather indifferent meal at Café Rouge in Exeter, to use up some Tesco meal vouchers. Maybe I am more used to the Esher one which is calm and relaxed with nicely spaced out tables but I felt the Exeter one very cramped and whilst our waitress was sweet, it was her first night which seemed a bit unfair for a new starter, especially being so busy in there. They are apparently changing the menu shortly and as a result very limited offerings of the available steaks, for our two male steak eating diners was not ideal.... My starter of supposed king prawns with tomato salsa was not very exciting and the prawns looked oddly flat and slightly tasteless, our guests French onion soup came out ice cold and had to obviously go back to the kitchen!

We skipped dessert and finished the cake at home, though not before stopping and trying a tangy Elderflower Fizz cocktail in the Exe Shed, near the restaurant. The highlight of the evening though was when I accidentally managed to smash a pint glass picking up a cocktail menu and pour a fresh pint of beer down some poor guy! Luckily he wasn't too angry and we made it out of the bar alive! If you read this, I am so, so sorry!

On Sunday we went to the Puffing Billy, thepuffingbilly a lovely country pub/ restaurant in Exton. The staff were faultless and I really liked how on arrival they took our coats and a drink order then showed us to the table. Shortly after they bought a basket of fresh bread, which came with a little pot of salted butter, which was just the right softeness for spreading.

For mains I chose the steak and ale pie with mash, it was so big I didnt actually manage to finish it! Huge chunks of really good quality beef steak, mushrooms and a delicious gravy, topped with a puff of pastry. The mashed potatoes were lovely and creamy and on the side we also had a dish of red cabbage, carrots and broccoli, which too were perfectly cooked, not too raw and not mushy! Everything was spankingly fresh and tasty which made a really welcome change to the many other pubs that just seem to re-heat Brakes finest.

I couldn't face a whole dessert, despite the tempting offers so I shared a dessert of chocolate brownie pudding with the beloved, which came with clotted cream and a silky butterscotch sauce which perfectly complemented the hot brownie.

Everyone else loved their meals and we will definately be re-visiting in the near future.

Just before heading home also managed a quick visit to Dart's Farm, which is a lovely, if a little expensive farm shop on the outskirts of Exeter. I was very well behaved and only came away with some strawberry liqorice and some sweeties for a friends x-mas gift! However I did try some really good chocolate from the South Devon Chilli farms, my favourite was peppermint which started with a nice minty kick and finished with a little chilli heat. The orange and chilli, plus the coffee bean and chilli were also very yummy!

To finish with spoiled part, I am also going to be at the Good Food show this Thursday in Birmingham and will let you know later in the week how it goes!

Monday, 17 November 2008

7 Random things about me....

Courtesy of being tagged by Hayley over at awaywiththefairycakes

7 random and/or weird facts about myself:

So here are The Rules:
Link the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.

  • Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
  • Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links.
  • Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
So here we go:

1) I was a girl guide and really hated insects and camping was horrible as the bugs got everywhere, and I mean everywhere! Wasps are my biggest fear, even above spiders.

2) I love reading. Close to 93 cook books and at least a further 250 other books. Love crime and thrillers, fave authors are Martina Cole and Jeffrey Archer

3) I also fall in the "be prepared" category and have far too much junk in my handbag, plasters, e45, lip balm, lipstick, hairbrush with built in mirror...

4) I am currently writing my first novel, I doubt will even attempt to get it published but am enjoying writing and spending an unhealthy amount of time on it.

5) I am a huge Take That fan and have been since I was about 11 - 15 years ago! Am going to Wembley next year and mega excited. If I ever met Gary Barlow I would most likely faint in shock.

6) My least favourite food is dried apricots, hate the taste, texture, appearance, just are horrible.
7) My boyfriend won't let me have any more pets as I get too emotional and phoned him at work when our goldfish died, in tears.

So that's me done, and in turn I'm going to tag the following:

Nic at Cherrapeno

Beth at jam and clotted cream

Bron over at practically daily

Margaret at kitchen-delights



And last but not least:


Thursday, 13 November 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn't like Chocolate Chip Cookies? No one, that's good then!

Anyway, I have tried many cookie recipes, some better than others, including a slightly bizarre one that ended up like a flat chocolate brownie and actually had to be baked in a baking dish, not the cookie sheet as recommended, not made that one again though the brownie wasn't too bad.....

One of my colleagues asked me yesterday to bring in chocolate chip cookies today and as I had been meaning to try a new recipe, I agreed, I think much to his surprise!

This is taken from my increasingly favourite 'Baking' book and marginally adapted and re-written as to what I had in the house!

Makes about 25 small cookies


75g butter
175g Plain flour
1 heaped tbsp bournville cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3/4 bag plain choc chips
25g demerara sugar
25g dark soft brown sugar
Weeny pinch of salt
4 heaped tbsp golden syrup

1) Blend together the sugar's

2) In a large bowl sift the flour, bicarb, salt and baking powder, chop the butter into small pieces and add to the flour mix and rub together until it resembles breadcrumbs, almost pastry like

3) Add the sugar, cocoa powder, golden syrup and choc chips and mix until its dough like. I used my Kenwood chef for this part as my butter was cold out of the fridge and proving feisty, add more syrup if required until its all come together and slightly pliable.

4) Pinch off small balls teaspoon sized and place on a greased or lined baking tray, flatten slightly and bake for about 12 minutes or until golden, they should be slightly soft still. Allow to cool and transfer to a wire rack.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Pork and Apple Puff's

This recipe tonight came about as I had a pack of organic Pork and Apple sausages and a block of home made puff pastry both lurking in the freezer and not much else!

This is also because I have promised the other-half to stick to the shopping list this week and only buy the potatoes and milk that are on it, for Thursday's dinner (cottage pie, already got the beef!) - we are also aiming to clear the fridge-freezer as I think its on its way out.........just need to sweet talk our landlord though! I am sure it does need replacing as it is straight out of the 1980's and most likely not very energy efficient anymore! Trouble is I keep finding random little bags and tubs even though I do try and label things...still trying to work out what to do with the juice I saved from a tin of mandarins!

Anyway enough of my ramblings, here it is:

Serves 2

6 pork and apple sausages (ours were Tesco organic)
300 puff pastry (home or ready made)
1 egg (for glazing)
Flour for dusting

1) Split the puff pastry into two equal blocks, dust a piece of baking paper with flour and roll out to 26cm long by 15cm wide (approx though I did have a ruler!) Pre-heat oven 190o fan / about 210 normal!

2) Skin the sausages and lightly mix around in a bowl, now place half the sausage meat on 1 half of the pastry, leaving a good cm on each side, brush all exposed areas with beaten egg and pull the other half over, pinch between finger and thumb to seal, repeat with the other one and poke a couple of holes in the top using a fork or skewer.

3) Place on a greased or lined baking tray (I use baking parchment), brush all over with egg and transfer to the oven, cook for about 30 minutes or until golden on top.

N.b. I always use good housekeeping's pastry recipes. And yes I seem to be one of the rare ones who actually enjoys making pastry from scratch!

Friday, 7 November 2008

You say potato....I say its a Monster!!

We don't often have jacket potatoes, I love them but I always seem to forget to actually buy them!

However this week I was picking up some onions, which are in the same aisle as the potatoes and I saw loose bakers so I decided we would have them for dinner one night this week - and so I bagged up my onions, pushed the trolley along and was amazed by the sight - they were huge!

One in particular was a giant so I decided that would be for the other half! I chose a much more modest one! Mine if you hadnt guessed is the smaller one!

One of my friends commented they had picked up some 'larger' then normal potatoes but were nowhere as big as this beast when they saw this one!

I don't think you can beat a jacket potato with cheese,so we went for the whole deal and had crispy bacon, baked beans and a mountain of grated mature cheddar! This is the beast (and these bowls are pretty large!)

And yes he did finish it all!


Please bear with me for the next few days!

I am in the process of testing new backgrounds etc but keep hitting brick walls due to limited techo-speak!

Friday, 31 October 2008

Halloween Cupcakes

This month I finally decided and actually remembered to take part in a blogging event, held over on Sweet and Simple bakes: for Halloween Cupcakes.

I used their base recipe and here are the results, now please don't giggle too much as icing is not a gift of mine and I have not used fondant icing in ages but they don't look too bad!:

Also a group photo:

And my pumpkin!

And I just have to add, though not strictly about food - I am super dooper excited today - not only have we got our Halloween party tonight - lots of lovely food on the menu - I just managed to get tickets to see Take That next year at Wembley!!!!!
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