Saturday, 29 September 2012

Thai Crab Cakes.

This is an old recipe of my mothers it is super easy to make as it does not require mash potato. It also works just as well with tinned crab as it does with fresh, if you are using tinned make sure you buy the ore expensive tins which are only white meat. This makes enough for a large started for four or a small main course.

450g cooked crab meat this is roughly two cans.
1 stalk lemon grass, finely chopped
1 tsp fish sauce
handful of coriander
2 heaped tbsp mayonaise
2 small red chilies chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
75g bread crumbs

Put ingredients into food processor and pulse it. You don't want to end up with a paste. Chill in fridge for 15 minutes. Shape and dust with flour. Fry in hot oil for about 4-5 minutes until crisp.

Marshmallow icing.

The basis for this recipe comes from the Primrose bakery book. I must admit that I have been really disappointed by this book so far but I am still reserving judgement. I am no going to bother posting the primrose recipe for the sponge as it was a pain to make. It involved three separate mixing bowls and folding in stiff egg whites. The sponge was not noticeably lighter and frankly didn't taste of much. The icing however really did work and would be a great substitute for fluff based icing used in whoopie pies as fluff is not cheap in this country.

120g granulated sugar
80g golden syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract [optional]

Cook the sugar, golden syrup and water over a high heat until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage 115C on a sugar thermometer. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites until soft peak stage. Beating on a low speed while slowly pouring the hot sugar syrup in a steady stream on to the egg whites. Continue to beat on a low speed until all the hot syrup is in the mixing bowl.

Increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating the mxture until it becomes thick, glossy and cool. Add the vanilla extract, if using, towards the end of the mixing process.

Twice Baked Cheese Souffle

I have uploaded this recipe for Bebe. We have cooked together for years and both of us fortunately like cooking what the other hates. Cheese souffles are one of the things Bebe hates cooking so I usually make, unfortunately she is about to go off on a job where she has to make them three times in a week. She tried making them according to her mother's recipe and ended up with something which closely resembled puke. I unsympathetically laughed a lot, so here is a fool proof twice baked cheese souffle recipe. They are best made and eaten on the same day but do work if you make them a day ahead.

The photo is of a left over one so it has shrunk.

290ml milk
pinch nutmeg
pinch cayenne
pinch dry english mustard
45g butter
40g flour
110g grated strong cheddar
4 eggs
200ml double cream

Generously butter and line the bottom of 6 ramekins or moulds. Make a rue with butter, flour and spices. Add the milk as you would a white sauce bring to the boil for a couple of minutes and allow to thicken. Stir in three quarters of the cheese and the egg yolks. Whip the egg whites to a stiff peak, fold into the cheese mixture. Fill your containers. Cook the souffles for 15minutes at 180C in a bain marie.

They should have risen considerably but won't be cooked through. When they have cooled turn them out on to an oven proof dish. Don't over cook them of they won't rise again when you reheat them. To reheat sprinkle with the remaining cheese, pour over the cream and cook for 7-10minutes at 220C.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Salted caramels.

One of my favourite things to make is petit fours so having treated myself to a sugar thermometer I embarked on mission to make salted caramels.

This is best made in the bottom of a 2lb loaf tin. It makes 30-40 depending how big you chop them up.

180ml Double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
rounded 1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp flaky sea salt
160g Golden syrup
200g Caster sugar
60g Salted butter

Line loaf tin with foil and spray the inside with cooking spray or liberally grease with vegetable oil.

Heat the cream with 1/3 of the butter with the vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt until the mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat but keep warm.

In a medium sized pan heat the golden syrup with the sugar, and cook, stirring gently, to make sure the sugar melts smoothly. Once the mixture is melted only swirl the pan don't stir it.

Cook until the syrup reaches 310ºF (155ºC). Turn off the heat and stir in the warm cream mixture, until smooth. Turn the heat back on and cook the mixture to 260F (127C).

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cubes of butter, until it’s melted and the mixture smooth.

Pour the mixture into the tin and wait ten minutes, then sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of the sea salt over the top. Set on a cool rack and let cool completely. Once cool, lift out the foil with the caramel, peel away the foil, and slice the bar of caramel with a long, sharp knife into squares or rectangles.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Fruit tart with lemon and marscarpone.

I have promised various people that I would post this recipe. It is what I call a store cupboard pudding. It can be whipped up in ten minutes flat with very little thought, is super easy and looks so impressive. The only really important thing is to make sure that the lemon biscuits that you use are good quality otherwise it can end up being slightly bland.

500g Lemon biscuits
100g Butter melted
500g Marscarpone
1 Lemon
75g Icing sugar
Aprox 20cm tart tin

Pulverise the biscuits and add to the butter, place the mixture into the bottom if the tart tin. Cook for about tin minutes at 120C to firm up the base. In another bowl mix the marscarpone, icing sugar, zest and lemon juice. Spread this on top on the biscuit base and decorate with any soft fruit of your choice.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Goan Fish Curry.

One of the advantages of working as a lodge cook in Scotland is you do get some fantastic kitchen sink views. This is a photo of one that I think is hard to beat. The disadvantages include your kitchens looking like this! Having said that this particular kitchen might be basic but at least the oven is consistently hot which is a rare treat.

I am afraid I must again apologise for another not great photo, this dish doesn't hold very well and there weren't any left overs for me to stage a more artistic photo with. This is more of an aromatic curry that a hot one. I always make it with cod loins but you could use monk fish or some prawns as well if you have them. I tend to serve this as a main course but you could probably serve it in smaller porions as a starter.

1 onion finely chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
A lump of fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 garlic cloves crushed
2 red chilies
2 tsp tamarind paste
2 tomatoes roughly chopped
400ml coconut milk
500g white fish cut in large chunks
Handful of fresh coriander

Soft the onion with the mustard seeds over a medium heat. Add in the rest of the spices and cook for a couple of minutes to release the maximum flavour from the spices. Add in the coconut milk, tomatoes and 100ml of water bring to the boil, allow to simmer for 10 minutes or so until it has thickened slightly. The length of time needed will depend on your coconut milk if you are using low fat milk this will take longer as it is thiner than the full fat version. At this stage the curry can be left to sit until just before you wish to serve it. Add in the fish and bring to back up to a simmer it will only take about 3 minutes for the fish to cook, it should be translucent. Don't over cook the fish or it will simply fall apart and you will end up with a curried fish soup! Serve with a smattering of chopped fresh coriander

Friday, 17 August 2012

Polenta, goat's cheese and roasted cherry tomato canapes.

175g Polenta
850 ml Water
200g Soft goats cheese
Cherry tomatoes

Bring the polenta up to the boil in the water and then reduce to a simmer. If you aren't cooking for a vegetarian you can use chicken stock instead of water. Stir occasionally if you don't have quick cook polenta this should take about 15 minutes until you have a porridge like consistency. Spread the mixture out on a roasting tin until it is just under a cm thick, leave to cool. Once cool is should be solid and can be cut with a pastry cutter. Fry the rounds until they crisp on the outside.

Chop the herbs and mix them into the goats cheese. Season add lemon juice if you think that you need to slacken the mixture off, this really depends on goats cheese which you use.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, drizzle with olive oil and roast at 160C for about 30 minutes until they resemble sun dried tomatoes. If you don't have time to do this you can just use sun dried tomatoes instead.

This can all be done and assembled well ahead of time. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Prawn Wantons with Peanut Lime Dipping Sauce.

I have been meaning to make wantons for ages. They are super easy and make delicious canapes, the only difficulty is getting hold of wanton wrappers. Most chinese supermarkets sell them in their freezer sections. The sauce is good but if you are feeling lazy you could just use sweet chilli dipping sauce.

If you don't like prawns you could use chicken instead. You also don't need to use cooked fish but it does mean that they cook quicker when you deep fry them so you are less likely to to burn the wanton wrappers.

For the sauce:
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup roasted peanuts roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 Large bunch of coriander
1 tsp tabasco

For the Wantons:
1 Large handful of roasted peanuts
1 clove garlic
2 Spring onions chopped
1/2 Large bunch coriander
1 Tbsp soy sauce
340g cooked prawns
1 Packet of wanton wrappers there are usually 40 or so in a packet
1 Tbsp fresh ginger grated

1 Litre of vegetable oil for deep frying

Wantons put the garlic and peanuts into a magi-mix and blend until you have a paste. Then add the rest of the ingredients and pulse it, you want to achieve a relatively fine chop but not a smooth paste. To assemble place a level tsp pf the mixture into the middle of each wrapper, brush around the endges with water and bring all the corners together. This can be done up to a day ahead and they can be left in the fridge so long as they are covered in a damp cloth and cling filmed.

For the sauce put the coconut milk into a pan with the peanuts and simmer for ten minutes or so. Then place in the blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.

To cook deep fry in hot oil for about 2 minutes until they are a deep gold colour.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Coronation Chicken.

I'm not a huge fan of coronation chicken I must admit. Whilst a good coronation chicken is delicious the majority of them are indifferent bordering on revolting, this recipe makes in my opinion a really good light coronation chicken.

150ml Cream
1/2 pint Mayonaise
1 tbsp Curry powder
Enough cooked chicken for six people most cuts work.
10oz Wild rice
1 Lemon
olive oil
1 Fresh Mango
Flaked almonds

Tear up the chicken. Whip the cream, fold in the mayonaise and curry powder. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Stir in the chicken and chopped up fresh mango. If you can't get ripe mango you could substitute it for a couple of tbsp of mango chutney but it is not as good. Cook the wild rice in simmering water, drain and stir in 1/2 lemon's juice and 2 tbsp of olive oil. Serve the chicken on top of the rice and garnish with toasted flaked almonds.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Roasted aubergines with pesto and goats cheese.

2 aubergines
3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
30g fresh basil
6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic
2 small goats cheese

Cut aubergines in half length ways. Criss-cross the flesh side, cutting into the flesh but not going through to the skin. Lay the aubergines in a roasting tin, drizzle with oil and season.

Put into hot oven 220C or top oven of the aga for 20-30 minutes until soft and lightly brown on top.

Put garlic, nuts, and basil in blender and blitz to a paste. Slowly add olive oil and stir in parmesan. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. This will keep in the fridge for three weeks with a film of oil.

Spread the pesto over the aubergines. Chop the cheese into chunks and put on top of the pesto. Place back into the oven at 200C for 10-15 minutes until the cheese has melted.

I have linked this up with Ren Behan's Simple and in season which is being hosted this month by Laura over at How to cook good food.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Elderflower liqueur.

This is something of a work in progress rather than a finished recipe. I would love to know your thoughts of ideas.

I have simply filled a jar with vodka and elderflower heads. It has been steeping for a week, but the top flowers simply float out of the vodka and go brown. I am slightly worried that this has ruined it as it is beginning to bubble. I have now placed a wax paper disc onto the top to attempt to weight the flowers down into the vodka. I am planning on straining it after a month and then adding sugar to taste.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Coffee and walnut cake.

This is my mother's favourite cake and such a classic that I thought it wise to have a fool proof recipe. I went with a Nigella one which worked beautifully, I particularly liked the addition of walnuts into the sponge as well as for decoration.

50g walnut pieces
225g caster sugar
225g soft butter
200g plain flour
4 teaspoons instant coffee powder
2 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs
1 tbsp milk

Buttercream icing:
350g icing sugar
175g soft unsalted butter
2 1⁄2 tps instant coffee, dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water
25g walnut halves, to decorate

2 x 20cm sandwich tins
Serves: 8

Preheat the oven to 180C or 160C in a fan oven. Butter the 2 sandwich tins and line the base of each with baking parchment.

Put the walnut pieces and sugar into a food processor and blitz to a fine powder. Add the butter, flour, coffee, baking powder, bicarb and eggs and process to a smooth batter.

Add the milk next, it should end up at dropping consistency, this is where it liquid enough to dollop of a spoon but solid enough not to be considered a liquid. If it is very stiff add some more milk.

Divide the mixture between the 2 lined tins and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Cool the cakes in their tins on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, before turning them out onto the rack and peeling off the baking parchment. Make sure you do leave them in the tins as the sponge is very soft and is likely to crack.

Dissolve the instant coffee in 1 tablespoon boiling water and add it while still hot to the butter and icing sugar. Beat until you have a smooth paste.

I have linked this up to Forever Nigella over on Home made by fleur on behalf of Maison cupcake.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Butterflied leg of lamb.

If you have read this blog before you will probably have noticed that I like to bake once I have finished my academic work. So you can imagine that the list of things which I have been planning to bake post my last ever final was pretty long. However, low and behold, sods law and all, the day of my last exam and our oven breaks. This totally curtailed all my baking plans.

The only saving grace is that the weather has been beautiful, so we have been gardening. Ever since we moved in our garden has resembled something like jungle. Fed up of not being able to cook  'I do have such an expressive eyebrow don't I' and I went out and bought a BBQ. Predictably as we walked out of the shop as proud new owners of a BBQ it clouded over.

BBQ's and snow seem to bring out a cave man instinct in all men, 'I do have such an expressive eyebrow don't I' therefore insisted on assembling said BBQ. An hour and half later I was rather wishing I had done it myself.

Once said BBQ was assembled he insisted on being in charge of lighting it. This proved to be a bad idea as it swiftly went out, at which point I took over.

This is a recipe which my Father always cooks. It is not a very exact science.

A butterflied leg of lamb
zest of a lemon
1 tbsp dijon mustard
4 tbsp olive oil
sprig rosemary
4 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper

Marinade the leg of lamb in all of the ingredients. It needs at least an hour but over night is best. Cook it on a BBQ for 14 minutes on the first side and 12 on the second. Only put it onto the BBQ once the coals have stopped flaming and are grey. These timings will give you slightly pink lamb.

I have linked this up to Simple and in season over at How to cook good food.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Elderflower pannacotta.

I love making pannacotta, it is a really great light summery pudding. I have been meaning to experiment with different flavours of pannacotta for a while. Last summer I made a rather good passion fruit one but forgot to take a photo of it so never bothered blogging about it. This months Floral inspired Tea Time Treats spurred me on to attempt an elderflower variety. This recipe worked very well but remember that it only tastes as good as the elderflower cordial so don't scrimp on it. The recipe also specifies 2oz caster sugar but I prefer my pannacotta not too sweet so I only used 1oz.

Serves 6

3 sheets of gelatine
2oz caster sugar
100ml elderflower cordial
300ml double cream 
300ml milk

Heat the milk and cream through gently but don't let boil. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Soak the gelatine in warm water for a few minutes. Take the cream mixture off the heat and stir in the gelatine until it has completely melted. Add the elderflower cordial, stir and pour into six ramekins or moulds. Place in the fridge to set for a 3-4hrs it can easily be over night if you want to get ahead.

To release from the moulds dip them into warm water for a few seconds or run a pallet knife around the edge. Serve with soft fruit.

Saturday, 19 May 2012


This recipe originally came from nigella express and in my opinion it is one of her best recipes. It make a great light meal with salad or a super easy canape. Don't bother buying fresh squid for this, it is more expensive and you should always freeze squid before cooking it as it tenderises the fish anyway. Waitrose sell it for £8 kilo

2tbsp flour
2tbsp semolina
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper
300g frozen squid
vegetable oil for deep frying

Place the flour and seasoning in a sandwich bag to mix. Chop up the squid into mouthful sized pieces and add to the bag. Shake to cover the squid in the mix. Deep fry in batches in smoking oil they should not take more than a minute or so. Let them cool for a brief moment on kitchen towel this will get rid of a surface oil. Serve with mayonnaise with a small amount of raw garlic stirred in.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Rose creams.

I have been meaning to try to make Rose creams for a while now, for a multitude of different reasons. Though primarily because they are my Father's favourite chocolates. I have read a number of different recipes but was unsure as to the merits of each. Consequently I dove in the deep end and experimented. Many of the recipes contained either both or one of, rose syrup or double cream. I was skeptical of the cream as I was worried that it might make them go off quicker and the syrup because frankly I can't find anywhere not on the internet that stocks it and who actually ever gets around to making a recipe where they have to source ingredients from the internet only to ever use a couple of tables spoons out of a large bottle. I therefore based my recipe on peppermints creams which would mean that I would only need the readily available rose water. It did mean that they were marginally crumblier in texture.

2tbsp rose water
340g icing sugar
1 egg white
200g 70% dark chocolate
crystalised roses to decorate

Whip the egg to soft peaks. Stir in the sugar and rose water, knead until you have a soft dough. At this point I added a couple of drops of food colouring. Form into you desired shape and dip into the melted chocolate. Before the chocolate sets add you chosen decoration. I got about 40 or so out of this quantity of mixture. be warned it smells overly rosey before you cover in chocolate but the rose is a delicate taste and needs to be definite enough flavour not to be over powered by the dark chocolate. This recipe would work as a base for different flavoured creams just use an alternative essence.

I have linked up with this months tea time treats, the theme of which is floral recipes.

Saturday, 12 May 2012


I have been very kindly handed a Liebster award from Susan at Not just any old baking. I was awarded it a while ago and I am slightly ashamed to admit that I am only now getting around to fulfilling my end of the deal.

The origins of the Liebster Blog award are somewhat unclear but the general consensus is that it originated in Germany, Liebster meaning favourite or dearest, to showcase bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. Upon accepting the award the recipient must then pass it on to five more blogs of note. A way of introducing other bloggers to the blogs you enjoy.

So without further adue my awards go to:

Fold in the flour I have only recently discovered this blog and believe that it deserves far more recognition than it gets. I am dying to try her rose and lemon macarons I just need to track down some rose syrup.

Vanilla frost cakes I love this blog I am continuously amazed by what she manages to achieve with fondant icing.

Weekly bake off I find the premise behind this blog really inspiring, it challenges you to bake the same recipe as everyone else that week and then to compare results. It proves that no matter how good a cook you are every time you make something it will turn out slightly different every time and to have confidence in what you bake.

Cake fairy blog I must admit that I am not a huge cupcake fan the average cup cake in my opinion is a dry sponge with too much overly sweet icing. However every time I read this blog I can't help but salivate.

Emma's kitchen diary This blog is very new but I was won over on my first visit. It is already full of recipes which are just my kind of food that I can't wait to have the time pending the completion of my finals to cook.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Jubilee lemon shortbread with raspberry buttercream.

When Fleur over at Home made by Fleur announced that she was running a baking competition for the Jubilee I could not resist entering. Every cooking magazine or blog had been suggesting reams of ideas for Jubilee baking.

However they mostly seem to be cupcakes, victoria sponges with different coloured layers, iced biscuits or cakes decorated with appropriately coloured soft fruit. Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with the above, but I wanted to make something a little different for the Jubilee. I have been reading lots of american food blogs recently, which have been advocating piped royal icing decorations onto sugar biscuits. There were two things which put me off making these kind of biscuits. Firstly though these look amazing but I am always worried about how good they actually taste, kids love them the more icing the better, but for adults I always feel people prefer a slightly more dignified icing to cake ratio. Secondly having been an art scholar I always end up wanting to pipe a design way beyond my piping skills. And this proved to be no exception to the rule as I chose to try to recreate the Diamond Jubilee logo.

I therefore had a cunning plan, I piped my royal icing designs onto clear plastic there by allowing me to trace my pattern rather than having to work free hand. Once they were dry I carefully pealed them off and stuck them onto of my shortbread with a thin layer of white chocolate. I was initially worried that the white chocolate would be too sweet but having conducted a taste test it actually brought out the lemon flavour in the biscuits.

To make royal icing you mix icing sugar with egg whites until you get the required consistency and then add food colouring. For large areas you need to outline the area with a thicker icing and then fill it in with a thinner consistency icing some times know as flood icing. I made these with the same consistency through out.

For the shortbread, this supposedly makes about 30 4cm circles and I got 24 squares out if it.

pinch of salt
225g butter
75g caster sugar
275g plain flour
75g semolina
1 lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 160C. Beat together the butter and caster sugar until it is light in colour and an even consistency.

Beat in the flour, salt, semolina and lemon zest, then knead with your hands to form a soft dough. Put in the fridge for about 30 minutes before rolling. It is easiest to work with when cold if you have shaped the dough into a pancake shape rather than a ball.

Roll out the shortbread dough until its about 1/2-1cm thick. Cut out as many biscuits as you can, re-rolling and re-cutting any trimmings as you go. Place on a couple of greased baking trays and bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes until they turn lightly golden.

For icing

175g softened butter
350g icing sugar
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp of raspberry jam

Beat the butter and icing sugar together until thoroughly mixed. Add in remaining ingredients. If you want a stronger colour you can add food colouring at this point.

To assemble cover the biscuits in white chocolate. If you need to assemble them a while before serving I would recommend icing both sides of the biscuits as this will stop the moisture from the filling making them sad. Next pipe a layer of buttercream, fill with fruit and complete with a second biscuit with a royal icing design on the top. I made larger ones as I used them as a pudding, I also trialled small ones which I stuck onto lolly pop sticks this worked equally well.

I have entered them into Fleurs Diamond Jubilee baking competition which she is running on behalf of Appliances Online.

Thursday, 10 May 2012


I made this whilst staying with a friend in her apartment in Meribel. We decided not to eat out but instead to splash out on nice ingredients and say to hell with calorie counting. Crozet is a very traditional alpine dish, somewhat akin to macaroni. This way of cooking it creates a lighter version of a tartiflette.

This serves 2

100g crozet or smallest size whole wheat macaroni
100g reblochon cheese or a strongly flavoured soft cheese
3 pieces of bacon chopped up
handful chopped mushrooms optional

Cook the pasta until only just done. Layer the pasta, cooked bacon, mushrooms and cheese into an oven proof dish. Season. If you would like a looser sauce you can add a couple of tbsp of cream at this point. Place a layer of the cheese onto the top and put under a grill until the top is brown and the mixture is bubbling

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Chinese Spare Ribs.

I was in the butchers getting my knives sharpened when I saw these ribs. They are apparently called thick ribs and were delicious; they have a much greater meat to bone ratio than spare ribs. This recipe would work equally well though with normal spare ribs. The mixture smells like the aniseed flavour from the star anise is going to over power everything else but once they have cooked the balance  is about right.

12 pork spare ribs
100ml hoisin sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp chinese five-spice

Put the ribs into  pan of cold water and bring to the boil, simmer for 15 mins. Meanwhile, mix all the remaining ingredients together in a bowl.

Drain the ribs very well, then brush with the glaze - if barbecuing, chill, cover and keep in the fridge for later. Otherwise put them under a hot grill for 15-20 minutes, turning every so often adding any left over glaze when you do.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Marbled Bundt Cake.

I have always read bundt cake recipes some what enviously, not having a suitable cake tin I have never been able to attempt them. However this has all changed and I could resist no longer, so I  indulged myself by investing in my very own bundt tin. Having purchased said tin I immediately started looking for recipes with which to christen it. There are so many delicious bundt recipes out there that I was spoilt for choice, however I must admit that I chose this one as we already had the requisite ingredients in the cupboard.

3 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
6 tbsp water
1 ½ cups butter, melted
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
5 large eggs
½ cup milk

6 ounces chocolate
⅔ cup cream

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl add in ½ cup of sugar, cocoa and water; whisk until mixture is smooth. Beat melted butter, vanilla and sugar for about a minute.  Add eggs one at time, mixing well after each addition, then continue to beat for a couple of minutes.

Add the flour and milk in three stages alternating between the two. Add the cocoa mixture to two cups of the cake batter and stir. Now spoon the mixture into the tin alternating between the two mixtures.

Bake for 50-60 minutes at 175C. 

To make icing place cream in the microwave for a minute or so, then stir the chocolate into it to melt. Pour over the cake.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Strawberry and Kiwi Tarts.

I will admit that I hate kiwi but when I saw a picture of these I was so won over by the colours I had to try and make them. Despite not liking them personally I am reliably informed by the tasters present that this is a good recipe. I didn't bother with the food colouring if you want to see them with food colouring then have a look here Love and Olive Oil. Also I would suggest only putting the strawberries on top as you are about to serve as the colour from the fruit bleeds into the kiwi.

For base:
250g lemon biscuits
100g butter, melted

For filling:
4 kiwis pureed
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
100g butter
green food colouring, optional

Preheat oven to 175C. Break the biscuits up into a fine crumb, stir in melted sugar. Press the mixture into six individual tins or one 9inch tart tin. Bake for 4-5 minutes.

Put all filling ingredients into a heavy bottom pan and stir over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until the mixture has thickened. Don't let it boil. At this point add food colouring if desired. If the mixture has gone lumpy don't worry just put it through a sieve.

Divid the mixture amongst tins and leave in the fridge for 1-2 hours until set.

I have linked this up to Tinned Tomatoes Bookmarked Recipes.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Flourless Chocolate Cookies.

I have newly discovered pintrest, well when I say discovered I mean joined I knew I would become addicted to it so have been studiously avoiding all enticement to join. If by any slim chance you are at all interested in the things I like my account is I found this recipe on pintest and was instantly intrigued, as I am always looking for good gluten free recipes. The recipe originally came from the blog Chocolate and Carrots. I will admit that the recipe does seem a little strange but stick with it these work. They fall somewhere between a cookie and brownie and are seriously dangerous 'The velveteen bow' ate four. I think they would delicious as a pudding with vanilla ice cream in the middle and served with soft fruit.

3 cups icing sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1/8 tsp salt
4 medium egg whites
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips preferably dark as these are already quite sweet

Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix together the powdered sugar with cocoa powder and salt.
Whisk in the vanilla and egg whites. You should end up with a batter the consistency of thick brownie dough. Stir in chocolate chips. Spoon out large teaspoonfuls on to baking parchment, be aware that they do spread. Bake for 12-14minutes until the tops look like brownies and are beginning to crack. Leave them to cool completely on the baking trays. They should keep in an air tight container for three days, that is if they last that long.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Hungarian Pork Goulash.

'Oh I do have such an expressive eye brow don't I' had bought a rolled shoulder of pork from the reduced section in the supermarket. There wasn't room for it in the freezer and neither of us could quite face roasting it. So I found this recipe in my ginger pig book but it required belly of pork as well. A fact I was exceptionally happy about as it gave me a great excuse to go to our local buter Crombie's. Crombie's is a truly exceptional old fashioned butchers, where they are kind enough to sharpen my knives while I wait.  This recipe makes a really delicious stew which is full of flavour but much lighter than a beef of lamb stew. It was definitely better reheated the second time around as the spices had time to really come through, so I would advise making it a day ahead f you have the time or self restraint.

Serves 6

1.25kg shoulder of pork, skinned, and cut into 1inch pieces
300g pork belly, skinned and cut into 1inch
1 onion, diced
2 clove garlic
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp caraway seeds
800g tinned tomatoes
300g jar of peeled, roast peppers or 3 peppers, chargrilled and peeled
2 tbsp sour cream
chives to garnish

Pre heat oven 180C. Brown off the meat on all sides, then add the onions and garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add the spices and season, cook for a few minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and top up with enough water to cover the meat. Bring to boil, then put in the oven with the lid on for 2 hours. Cut the peppers into strips and stir in to stew. Return it to the oven for another 30 minutes. At this point I thickened the sauce with a beurre noisette as a thicker sauce was our preference but it was not entirely necessary.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Cinnamon Pull-apart Bread.

This is a recipe which I have been looking for an excuse to make ever since I first saw it on Joy the Baker. They say that you are either good at pastry or bread and I am definitely bad at the later. But practice does make perfect so I valiantly persist in my quest to best the bread.

This recipe was absolutely delicious; perfect for tea, with coffee or even at the end of a picnic as it would travel very well. I must confess that I freaked out somewhat at the quantity of sugar but bear with it, it works. You need the sugar to caramelise, separating the slices or it would meld into a normal loaf during baking.

My loaf was not as perfect as many other examples you will find on the internet, but tasted just as good. I will be making this again I am sure and will endeavor to make it prettier next time and take better photos. I am looking forward to moving out of a basement flat so that I don't have to take the majority of my photos under somewhat yellow artificial light.

Makes: one 9x5x3-inch or 2lb loaf
For the Dough:

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces unsalted butter melted
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling:

1 cup granulated sugar
2 tps ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted

Mix together flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the eggs and set aside. Add the melted butter to the milk.

Add the water and vanilla extract to the milk-butter mixture.  Now pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter. Then knead until when you press your thumb into the dough it springs make and then into form a ball.

Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl cover and leave in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size. Knock back the dough and knead for a minute or so.

On a floured surface roll out the dough until it is about a foot by a foot and a half. brush with the melted butter. Sprinkle over sugar and spices. Slice the dough so that you have 6x6 rectangles of dough. place these upright into a greased loaf tin.

Cover and leave the dough to prove again in a warm place for 30-45 minutes. Then Bake at 175C for about 30 minutes until the tops are medium to dark golden brown to ensure its cooked through. Mine was still slightly doughy in the middle so I would maybe suggest leaving it in the oven for closer to 40 minutes.

I have linked this up to Tinned Tomatoes Bookmarked Recipes.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Seville Orange Marmalade.

Following the success of my christmas hampers last year I intend to make them again this year. However I thought that I would be a little more prepared this time and try to make things throughout the year rather then being limited by both time constraints in December and what ingredients I can get hold of. 

Therefore when I discovered seville oranges in my local green grocers I simply could not resist. For the princely sum of £2 I purchased a kilo of them. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I am pathetically easy to distract, even at the best of times; so with great self restraint, but to my flatmates collective horror I froze my them, proceeding to take up the majority of our freezer space.

Society tells women that no matter how hard we try, we will all at some stage find ourselves emulating our mothers. On overhearing my father complaining about how my mother has filled her freezer with oranges that she is never going to get around to doing anything with I was filled simultaneously with a sinking feeling of panic and determination to do battle with marmalade! 

1kg seville oranges
1 lemon
2kg granulated sugar

Measuring 4 pints water into a pan. Squeeze the juice out of all the fruit. Add the juice to the water and place the pips and any bits of pith that cling to one side (don't bin them).

Cut the orange peel into quarters and then cut each quarter into thinnish shreds. As you cut, add the shreds to the water and any pips or spare pith to the pile you are saving to one side. The pith contains the pectin which will set your marmalade, so don't discard any and don't worry about any pith and skin that clings to the shreds – it all gets dissolved in the boiling.

Tie the pips and pith up loosely in the muslin to form a little bag, and tie this on to the handle of the pan so that the bag is suspended in the water. At this point I left it over night as I ran out of time to deal with it but this is not compulsory.

Next bring the liquid up to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 hours until the peel is completely soft.

Remove the bag of pips and squeeze it between two saucers to get all of the juice and pectin out of it.. Then pour the sugar into the pan and stir it occasionally over a low heat, until the sugar has dissolved. Then increase to a high heat once the mixture begins to boil time 15 minutes.

Once it has boiled for this long test whether it has reached its setting point by spooning a small amount onto a cold saucer and let it cool for a few minutes in the fridge. Once it has cooled if when you push it gently with your finger it wrinkles across the top then you have succeeded. If not then boil it for a few minutes longer and try again.

Remove from the heat and scoop off any scum if their is any. Leave the marmalade to cool for 20 minutes or so before putting into sterilised jars as this stops all the peel from sinking to the bottom. This filled approximately 6lb jars.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Passion Fruit Souffle.

I usually indulge myself by introducing my recipes with some sort of uninteresting spiel about the history of or occasion surrounding the recipe. In this case I feel a picture says 1000 words and need I really say any more.

We used the recipe from the daily mail website by Daniel Bouluds he suggests making pear sauce to go with them which we didn't bother to make. If I were to make them again I think I would put a tablespoon of passion fruit curd in the bottom of each one or serve it with raspberry coulee.  

4 large egg yolks.
60ml passion fruit juice it is about 8 passion fruit.
4 large egg whites.
25g (1oz) sugar, plus enough to dust the inside of the ramekins.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Butter the inside and rims of 4 x 175g (6oz) soufflé dishes, and then dust with sugar.

Whisk together the egg yolks and passion fruit and set aside. Whisk the egg whites until foamy, increase the speed and gradually add the sugar, beating until the whites form medium-stiff peaks. Fold the meringue into the yolk mixture.

Bake the soufflés for 15-20 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. They should be firm with centres that are still a bit wobbly.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Rolled and Stuffed Lamb Breast.

The 'One with a thing for Men in Uniform' and 'The Musician' gave me the Ginger Pig Meat Book for my birthday back in February. I have been solemnly avoiding it as I needed to keep my head to the grindstone and I am already far too easily distracted. It is a wonderful book full of fascinating information as well as delicious recipes.

Instead of going out and painting the town red to celebrate the end of my dissertation, I thought I would splash out ingredients in order to cook something nice and christen my new cookbook, thereby killing two birds with one stone so to speak.

The first thing I would say about lamb breast, a cut I had certainly never heard of before, is that it is only really economically if you a serving a multiple of five. Butchers want you to buy the whole flank which comfortably feeds five or a greedy four. At approx £10 per kilo I don't think that it is too steep but understandably a bit of a pain if you are feeding a hungry six and have to buy two flanks, as I did. Cost issues aside I didn't mind cooking too much as it was just as good cold.

1 Lamb breast
100g Cheddar
150g Mushrooms
150g Spinach
1 Small onion
2 Cloves garlic
2 tbsp Flour
250ml Red wine
250ml Stock

Sweat off the chopped onion and garlic then add the mushrooms and fry them. Next add the spinach and wilt down. Set this mixture aside to cool. Once it has cooled stuff the lamb with it. The recipe says to roll it up in tinfoil until it looks like a sausage and that you don't need to tie it with string. However I have made this twice and you do get a neater, tighter finish which is easier to carve if you tie it up with string.
Roast in the oven at 170C for 2hrs. Once it has cooked take it out of the oven and set aside still in the tin foil to rest for 20-30mins. Use the roasting pan to make gravy whilst the meat is resting. Spoon off almost all of the fat leaving about 2tbsp. Stir 2tbsp of flour into the juices and cook over a low heat until the flour has swelled and become a light golden brown. Add the wine and stock in equal measures and bring to the boil. Allow it to thicken up slightly and season before serving.

I have linked this up to Ren's Simple and in Season.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Plum torte.

I must admit that I am not  huge fan of plums. In Britain they are usually unripe and then rot in the fruit bowl before they ever get ripe. However they work fantastically well in this pudding as it doesn't matter how ripe they are. If you have ripe plums then use less of the demerara sugar. Once you have put the mixture and the fruit in the tin, it can be left in the fridge uncooked for up to twelve hours. It reheats well but won't freeze.

75g (3oz) soft butter
75g (3oz) caster sugar
100g (4oz) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
zest of 1 orange
900g (2lb) plums, cut in half, stones removed
About 150g (5oz) Demerara sugar

Pre heat oven to 200C or for two door aga bake on grid shelf on the floor of the roasting oven.

Generously butter a 28cm (11in) about 4cm (1½in) ovenproof dish or deep loose-bottomed flan tin.

Measure the first six ingredients into a large bowl and beat until smooth.

Spread this mixture evenly over the bottom of the tin or dish. It looks as if their is never going to be enough but trust me their is. Arrange the plums on top, cut side up and sprinkle with the Demerara sugar to form a thick layer. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Banana Loaf.

This is a recipe which is ingrained on my mind. At school we used to have fruit bowls in the boarding houses; in the bottom of which there was always a black banana or two, which everyone refused to eat. This offend me greatly so matron would provide me with the ingredients and I was regularly to be found in a free period, when I should have been studying making banana loaf. In a boarding house of sixty girls they never lasted long enough to get cold! Let alone toasted.

This original recipe which this is loosely based on comes from the magimix cook book, throw it all in and press on. It is therefore quite a forgiving batter so great for when you have small helpers. At the request of the Musician I have also included an optional extra 100g chocolate chips in this loaf.

225g Flour
75g Soft butter
175g Caster sugar
2 Large ripe bananas
2 Eggs
1 tsp Baking powder
2 tbsp Milk
100g Chocolate chips optional

Pre heat oven to 180C or 160C for a fan oven. This quantity fills a 2lb loaf tin. Grease the tin well and dust with flour. Mash the bananas. Stir together all ingredients and bake for 1hr or until a skewer comes out clean.

I have linked this up to Family Friendly Fridays.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Lemon and Blueberry Muffins.

For the last six weeks I have been conspicuous by my absence on all forms of social media. The only recipe I have blogged about in the last month was not even cooked by me! This morning I handed in my dissertation, all 14,588 words and 128 pages. Consequently baking shall now resume in ernest.

Anyone who has ever written a dissertation or the like, will agree that you have so much time and emotion turmoil invested in it, that when hand in day arrives you feel somewhat as if you are giving over a small child. I may have portrayed a calm facade to my flat mates, as I lay awake ever fearful of my recurring nightmare,  printers wantonly devouring my dissertation (the musician will attest to the fact that my printer and I are not the best of friends) but there are two people out there who know the truth. They found the process of my dissertation equally if not more trying than I did. They patiently attempted to explain the difference between a colon and semi colon, that the bibliography goes surname, initial. etc and that no my computer doesn't always know best when it comes to spelling. So in honour of my wonderful editors I thought that I would begin by baking something to post-able as a small thank you. Hence lemon and blueberry muffins.

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup 
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

This makes 12 muffins I would suggest using large muffin liners not cup cake cases as these do over flow slightly. Pre heat the oven to 190C. Mix all the dry ingredients and the fruit in one bowl. At this point you to have lined or greased your tins and be prepared to move quickly. Whisk together all the wet ingredients in another. Once you add the lemon juice to the milk it curdles don't worry its meant to. Add the wet ingredient into the dry, the mixture will start to rise slightly as the lemon reacts with the baking powder so you need to fold the mixture not stir and get it into the oven as quickly as possible. Bake for 20mins until golden brown on top.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Chicken and Chorizo

Photo to follow I took it on a friends phone and haven't managed to upload it yet. The grumpy welshman's better half cooked this for us the other night and I was looking for some advice with it. It is perfect as it is for great home cooking but I want to use it when I go lodge cooking, so it needs tinkering with slightly in order to finish it off. Once cooked you are left with a delicious chorizo sauce in the bottom of the pans but it is very slightly greasy. I want to make more of a sauce to go with it. I don't want to use cream as I think it will take away from its clean taste. My thoughts so far were some sun dried tomato paste and white wine but I think it needs something more than this and I'm not sure what.

12 chicken thighs.
750g chorizo cut into 4cm chunks.
1kg new potatoes, halved.
2 red peppers roughly chopped.
2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped.
2 teaspoons dried oregano.
grated zest 1 orange.

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Drizzle some oil in the bottom of 2 shallow roasting tins. Rub the skin of the chicken in the oil, then turn skin-side up.
Divide the chorizo and the new potatoes between the 2 tins. Sprinkle the onion, peppers and the oregano over, then grate the orange zest over the contents of the 2 tins.
Cook for 1 hour, but after 30 minutes, swap the top tray with the bottom tray in the oven and baste the contents with the orange-coloured juices.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Ox Tail Pie.

In the spirit of total honesty and full disclosure I should probably admit that I am currently procrastinating. I am only 3,000 words in the 18,000 that I need to write before the 3rd April. Having had a productive day yesterday I have now lost the element of fear and consequently so far today have only got as far as opening a word document. Why is it that the subject of oxtail pie seems so much more intrinsically important to my life the a study of Pitt the Younger in political satire?

I have spent the last four years at university bemoaning my degree. Wondering whether it has been a glorious waste of money and a huge self indulgence, putting of facing the real world. In the only state that your parents will ever be proud of you for being unemployed and simultaneously running up huge debts. But now as I am about to set out into the abyss otherwise none as adult life and rip off the plaster of denial, I am beginning to assess with a less embittered sense of academic boredom the value of my university education. I say university education as I believe I have grown as much as an individual as a result of the time spent at university as I have through academia. It has given me the space in a very unstructured environment to determine what it is that I want from life and what kind of person I want to be.  I want to be an achiever not necessarily for financial gain, I don't want to look back at my life and wish what if. I would rather fail with aplomb than never to have stepped into the unknown.

My university education may not have equipped me with industrial skills with which I could instantly fall into the work place as a seasoned professional. As I very well may have been by now if four years ago I had forgone university to head straight for the work place. Four years ago despite feeling like and adult, I thought like a child and wrote like a child. I enter the work place now as an optimistic realist rather than a naive enthusiast.

I had some oxtail stew in the freezer which I thought to ring the changes I would trow together into a pie rather than leaving as stew. Having recently watched Heston make a suet pastry I was inspired to attempt to emulate him. Unfortunately as usual I was laking in equipment to was forced to make it in a cake tin rather than a pudding bowl. The structure was not a sturdy enough shape it seems to somewhat collapsed on its release from confinement. If I had had more time on my hands I would have removed the meat from the juices and reduced them down of thickened with flour. As you can see in the not very good photo the sauce was way to thin. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologise for the poor quality of photos on this blog but we live in a basement where daylight in scarce and I rarely have more than few moments to capture my creations before the boys way into attack.


couple of sticks celery 
1 leek
3 carrots
200g mushrooms
1 large onion
2.5kg oxtail, jointed
250ml red wine
100ml brandy
200g tinned tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
750ml chicken stock
750ml beef stock


Sweat the chopped celery, leeks, onion and carrots. Once soft, remove from the pan and set aside. Return the pan to the heat and add a bit more oil, cook the mushrooms and set aside.

Add a splash of water to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Add the liquid to the cooked vegetables.

Brown the oxtail over a high heat in batches, deglazed the pan in between. Put all the ingredients back in the pan and simmer for 3hrs or until the meet comes away from the bone easily.

At this point it can either be eaten as stew or thickened with flour to fill a pie. If you are making a pie this amount filled a 9inch cake tin and fed 6. I baked it at 200C for 45minutes.

Suet pastry:

300g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
250g suet vegetable or meat
200ml water

Mix all the ingredients together and kneed until you have a smooth dough. Leave to cool in fridge before working.