Hello & welcome to my Blog.
I came up with the idea of this blog as I had been writing a cookery book for my Children after my eldest Son Simon left home and would ring me for all his favourite recipes. I thought that this way it would be easier to update & where ever they were they could cook their favourite recipes. This blog is that index card box of scribbled recipes, torn out recipes from magazines, lost somewhere in the house, all brought neatly together in one place.
What I didn't expect was the thousands of people that have looked at it since its creation, from all over the World, I have even created a Facebook fanpage so that I can chat to fellow foodies who have enjoyed the blog!
I really hope you enjoy the recipes, please feel free to post comments or recipes and I just want you to know that all recipes have been cooked time & time again by myself and all photographs, where possible, have been taken by me of the food that I have cooked.
I apologise in advance for any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, I bake better than I write.
Friday, 25 November 2011
I make this simple, no bake cake when ever I need a quick treat for the kids or a cake for school fete's and fayres. Now I felt it was far to simple to add to the blog, but my lovely Twitter friend Maria, requested that I post it and she is right, this blog is not just about fabulous food that my family love, but also about our family traditions and food we like to make together.
So here it is, I'm not going to apologise for its simplicity, as its yummy and you can make it as fabulous and pretty as you like.
I decorate mine by melting a bar of white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, once melted I just dribble the chocolate over the set rice crispies, then I add what ever sparkles, sprinkles or sweets that take my fancy or just what I have laying around.
Check out Maria's blog http://thegoddesskitchen.blogspot.com/ it is gorgeous and she is such an inspiration.
200g white marshmallows (I use a mixed bag)
150g crisped rice cereal
Melt butter or margarine in large saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted and well blended. Cook 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Add cereal. Stir until well coated.
Using buttered spatula or greaseproof paper, press mixture evenly and firmly in buttered 20x30cm tin. Cut into 5x5cm squares when cool.
The recipes suggests cutting them into 5x5cm squares, I prefer to make huge ones, the kids love them.
Perfectly simple but very moreish. Great for kids' parties or cake sales.
I have given this recipe the rather grand title of "Very impressive Shepherds Pie", just for the grandeur of the ingredients and the taste. It may not be a quick everyday recipe and I know it is far easier to buy the mince and just add a shepherds pie packet mix, but this really is worth the effort, especially if you have left over lamb from Sundays dinner.
I will never be able to make a boring shepherds pie again, I even went to the effort of buying the lamb and cooking it the day before just so I could make this dish, but will try in future to maybe have lamb Sunday, but buy a big enough joint to have enough left.
There were even ingredients I have never heard of, 'mushroom ketchup', this was easily purchased via Ocado, but the anchovy essence I could not find, so cheated and used the oil drained from a tin of anchovy fillets, it may not be anywhere close to being similar, but hey, it tasted good and thats all that matters really.
I came across this recipe whilst watching the Great British Food Revival, it looked so yummy I just had to make it.
Hope you enjoy it just as much as I did.
For the filling
2 onions, quartered
2 carrots, peeled and quartered
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tbsp rapeseed oil or olive oil
450g/1lb leftover roast lamb
1 tbsp plain flour
150ml/5fl oz red wine
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp anchovy essence
1 tsp mushroom ketchup
1-2 tsp redcurrant jelly (optional)
1 x 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
300ml/10½fl oz lamb stock or gravy
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the mash topping
750g/1½lb floury potatoes
50ml/2fl oz milk
For the filling, place the onions, carrots, celery and garlic into a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.
Heat the oil in a large pan or casserole dish over a medium heat and add the vegetables. Fry for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened but not coloured.
While the vegetables are cooking, pulse the lamb meat in the food processor until roughly chopped and add to the vegetables in the pan. Heat through for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the flour. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
Pour in the wine, increase the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until most of the alcohol has evaporated. Stir in the thyme, Worcestershire sauce, anchovy essence, mushroom ketchup, redcurrant jelly (if using), chopped tomatoes and stock or gravy. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
For the mash topping, peel and cut the potatoes into chunks, place into a medium pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
Drain the potatoes well and return to the pan. Place over a low heat to dry out the potatoes slightly, then remove from the heat and add the milk and butter. Mash with a potato masher or fork, then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Spoon the lamb mixture into an ovenproof dish and layer over the mashed potato. Smooth out the topping with the back of a spoon. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden-brown.
Monday, 21 November 2011
Now its no secret that I love a good ragu, by far my favourite has to be wild boar, but recently I came across this recipe and it is delicious. We have a very special family feast coming up soon, which of course will be an Italian theme and course after course of deliciousness will be served.
Hubby and I decided we should try the recipe out before the big day and since making it I have found a recipe that also has 15 grams of dried porcini mushrooms and the zest of 2 oranges and juice of 1 orange, I think I will be adding these to the dish next time as I think it will really add to the flavour.
Just soak the porcini mushrooms for 20min in just enough boiling water to cover them, then drain, reserving the liquid to add with the stock, chop finely and add them into the dish with the celery and carrots. The orange, I will rub half the orange zest over the skin of the duck and add the rest of the juice and zest with the wine and stock. I think it will be just heavenly.
I love planning these feasts and I have so many ideas, the table theme will be a winter wonderland and I can not wait to put it all together. I will post photos.
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
4 duck legs, excess skin and fat removed
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
150ml red wine
500ml hot chicken stock
400g tin plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoons dried basil
1 bay leaf
Heat the oil in a large pan and brown the duck legs all over, then set aside. Pour away all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Gently fry the onion, carrots and celery for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the red wine, stock, tomatoes and tomato puree, basil and bay leaf. Nestle in the duck legs. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour.
Remove the duck and, when cool enough to handle, pull off all the meat and roughly shred, discarding the bones and skin. Return the meat to the pan. Simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.
Serve with tagliatelle, garnished with basil and parmesan.
You can freeze this recipe, make the recipe to the end of step 3, then cool completely. Empty into a freezerproof container and freeze for up to three months. Defrost in the fridge overnight, then reheat on the hob until piping hot.
On the day I will prepare everything up until the part where you simmer for 30 minutes, that way I can spend more time with my guests.
I love Indian food, I love Chai Tea and I love Masala Tea, I love the richness of this fabulous culture and I love the family values, something I think we could learn so much from in this very cold and busy modern world.
I love the thought of the women coming together, brewing up a large pan of this delicious tea and sharing it with their friends and loved ones whilst having a natter.
I just had to pop this recipe on my blog as it really is the ultimate cup of tea, it offers something warming and comforting on these colder misty mornings and manages to invigorate me whilst still offering that relaxing feeling that only a good cup of tea can.
It maybe a little time consuming to make, but that is all part of the appeal and ritual for me and the smells wafting round the kitchen can only help to warm you and make you feel at ease with the day.
I hope you enjoy it.
350ml/12fl oz water
100ml/3½fl oz milk
4 black peppercorns
10 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
good pinch green fennel seeds
small piece cinnamon stick
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and roughly sliced
1 tea bag
sugar, to taste
salt, to taste (optional)
Heat the water and milk in a pan with the spices and ginger until it comes to the boil.
Turn the heat down and cook over a low to medium heat for 15 minutes. Be careful as the milk can easily rise and boil over.
Once the volume is reduced to a large cupful, add the teabag and let it brew for one minute, or longer if you like strong tea.
To serve, strain into a cup and add sugar or salt if using, to taste.
Friday, 18 November 2011
I love dishes that I can create in minutes, no fuss, only a few very good ingredients and a dish that doesn't compromise on flavour. When you are a busy Mum, trying to juggle it all, dishes like this one are just heaven sent.
This recipe comes from, 'Jamie's Italy' and unlike his '30 Minute Meals' recipes, this one really does only take minutes to prep and make.
Its very strong on flavour, I used two dried chillies and it was just perfect for us as a family, if you prefer you can tone this down and use only one or add a couple more and really hot things up a bit. What is nice is the addiction of the lemon zest, giving you a lovely fresh hit in flavour.
Because this meal is so simple, it is perfect for a lovely quick family supper, but dressed up with a nice side of rocket, gorgeous home made focaccia and a really good bottle of white wine, would also make a really impressive lunch to serve to friends.
• 455g dried spaghetti
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• extra virgin olive oil
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 1–2 dried red chillies, crumbled
• 400g peeled raw prawns (if using frozen, thaw before using)
• 1 small wineglass of white wine
• 2 heaped tablespoons sun-dried tomato purée, or 6 sun-dried tomatoes blitzed in a blender
• zest and juice of 1 lemon
• 2 handfuls of rocket, roughly chopped
Cook your spaghetti in a large pan of salted boiling water according to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile, heat 3 good lugs of extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan and toss in the garlic and chilli.
As the garlic begins to colour, add the prawns and sauté them for a minute.
Add the white wine and the tomato purée and simmer for a couple of minutes.
When the pasta is ready, drain it in a colander, reserving a little of the cooking water.
Toss the spaghetti with the sauce, squeeze in the lemon juice, add half the chopped rocket, adding a little of the reserved cooking water if you want to loosen the sauce a bit, and correct the seasoning.
Divide between 4 plates and sprinkle with the grated lemon zest and the rest of the rocket leaves.
I served mine with http://dianastaveley.blogspot.com/2011/11/paul-hollywoods-focaccia.html
Monday, 14 November 2011
Christmas rituals can offer great reassurance in a fast changing world, making the mincemeat and Christmas cake, choosing a theme for the family get together dinner, picking out and decorating the tree, all feed the air of anticipation and excitement leading up to the big day.
Over the years, as the Children have grown up and since being with Hubby, getting into the Christmas spirit has become harder and harder, the magic just isn't there anymore. So this year, as much as I hate the house and feel it is so un-christmasy I am going all out to bring back some Christmas sparkle.
I have plans to decorate the lounge and kitchen, have a beautiful winter wonderland theme in mind for the dinner table and I am well a head on my Christmas baking. So far I have made mincemeat, stollen, sloe gin, turkish delight vodka and now over the weekend I have made my Christmas cake.
It may be only me that loves Christmas, but I will have a ball cooking and baking all the lovely Christmas goodies and I will really enjoy eating and drinking them.
1 lb (450 g) currants
6 oz (175 g) sultanas
6 oz (175 g) raisins
2 oz (50 g) glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
2 oz (50 g) mixed candied peel, finely chopped
3 tablespoons brandy, plus extra for 'feeding'
8 oz (225 g) plain flour
½ level teaspoon salt
¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ level teaspoon ground mixed spice
8 oz (225 g) unsalted butter
8 oz (225 g) soft brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 oz (50 g) almonds, chopped (the skins can be left on)
1 level dessertspoon black treacle
grated zest 1 lemon
grated zest 1 orange
4 oz (110 g) whole blanched almonds (only if you don't intend to ice the cake)
You will also need an 8 inch (20 cm) round cake tin or a 7 inch (18 cm) square tin, greased and lined with silicone paper (baking parchment). Tie a band of brown paper round the outside of the tin for extra protection.
You need to begin this cake the night before you want to bake it. All you do is weigh out the dried fruit and mixed peel, place it in a mixing bowl and mix in the brandy as evenly and thoroughly as possible. Cover the bowl with a clean tea cloth and leave the fruit aside to absorb the brandy for 12 hours.
Next day pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C). Then measure out all the rest of the ingredients, ticking them off to make quite sure they're all there.
The treacle will be easier to measure if you remove the lid and place the tin in a small pan of barely simmering water.
Now begin the cake by sifting the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl, lifting the sieve up high to give the flour a good airing.
Next, in a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar together until it's light, pale and fluffy.
Now beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the creamed mixture a tablespoonful at a time; keep the whisk running until all the egg is incorporated. If you add the eggs slowly by degrees like this the mixture won't curdle. If it does, don't worry, any cake full of such beautiful things can't fail to taste good!
When all the egg has been added, fold in the flour and spices, using gentle, folding movements and not beating at all (this is to keep all that precious air in). Now fold in the fruit, peel, chopped nuts and treacle and finally the grated lemon and orange zests.
Next, using a large kitchen spoon, transfer the cake mixture into the prepared tin, spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon and, if you don't intend to ice the cake, lightly drop the whole blanched almonds in circles or squares all over the surface. Finally cover the top of the cake with a double square of silicone paper with a 50p-size hole in the centre (this gives extra protection during the long slow cooking).
Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4½-4¾ hours. Sometimes it can take up to ½-¾ hour longer than this, but in any case don't look till at least 4 hours have passed.
Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. When it's cold 'feed' it – make small holes in the top and base of the cake with a cocktail stick or small skewer, then spoon over a few teaspoons of brandy, wrap it in double silicone paper secured with an elastic band and either wrap again in foil or store in an airtight container. You can now feed it at odd intervals until you need to ice or eat it.
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
I must confess that I am not a big soup eater, I never order it in a restaurant, never eat it out of a tin, but occasionally I do indulge in a beautiful New Covent Garden Food Co soup.
Also a couple of years a go I brought their book 'Soup For All Occasions', which until recently I hadn't really cooked from, but now I am hooked and as the weather is turning a little chillier, I am trying to get into the habit of making fresh soup on a Friday, ready for lunches over the weekend.
This works out very well, as we always sit in bed on a Saturday morning, ordering our Ocado food shop for the following week, soup making gives me the perfect excuse to use any left over bits and bobs from the vegetable drawers in the fridge. I hate wasting food!
This soup would be perfect for a Christmas Day starter, nice and simple, you can make it in advance, store it in the fridge and just reheat when you need it. The flavours are gorgeous, sweet and yummy, with a little hint of the spices. I personally, if I wasn't making this for the Children, would add a little more spice, just for a little extra kick.
What I love about soup is, you don't need any skill in the kitchen, you don't need any fancy equipment, as long as you have a saucepan & a good food blender you can make perfect, wholesome yummy soup, which can not fail to impress your guests.
As the book says, "a worthy gift for your true love on the first day of Christmas".
800ml vegetable stock
3 large (500g) parsnips, chopped
100ml single cream
1 medium onion, diced
1 pear, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1cm piece ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Heat the oil in a saucepan, then add the onion and the garlic and cook until softened.
Add the garam masala, cumin, coriander and ginger, then stir well and fry for 1 - 2 minutes.
Add the parsnips and stock, then bring tot he boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Add the pear and blend until smooth.
Reheat gently, adding the cream and stirring well.
Serve with vegetable crisps as a garnish:-
Simply peel and slice a parsnip very thinly into rounds, then pat dry. Heat some groundnut or vegetable oil in a saucepan (approx 2cm deep) until smoking, then fry the parsnip slices in small batches for 2 - 3 minutes each, until golden. Drain on kitchen paper, allow to cool, then serve in piles in the middle of the soup.
I seem to of developed a bit of an addiction to dough, I love how all the ingredients work together and I absolutely love how it rises and forms that beautiful textured ball of dough, its squishy and doughy and just yummy.
I have made Lorraine Pascale's focaccia on many occasions, but with an ever growing desire to be brave enough to fill in the application form for the next series of The Great British Bake Off, I have been trying to bake as many recipes from the previous show as I can, just to see if I am actually up to the challenge. Cooking at home in your own kitchen, following a recipe is one thing, being on a set, under that sort of pressure, is a whole other ball game!
As always I have followed Paul's recipe to the letter, apart from I used my Artisan to mix to the ingredients together, I did stretch the dough by hand for five minutes, but then using the dough hook, I let the machine do the last part of the kneading... sorry Paul !
The result, a very impressive focaccia. I loved it, it came out perfect first time and everyone loved it.
Makes 2 loaves
500g/1lb 2oz strong white bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 sachets dried easy blend yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
400ml/14fl oz cold water
olive oil, for drizzling
fine sea salt
Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and 300ml/10½fl oz of the water into a large bowl. Gently stir with your hand or a wooden spoon to form a dough then knead the dough in the bowl for five minutes, gradually adding the remaining water.
Stretch the dough by hand in the bowl, tuck the sides into the centre, turn the bowl 80 degrees and repeat the process for about five minutes.
Tip the dough onto an oiled work surface and continue kneading for five more minutes.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.
Line two large baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
Tip the dough out of the bowl and divide into two portions.
Flatten each portion onto a baking sheet, pushing to the corners, then leave to prove for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Drizzle the loaves with oil, sprinkle with fine sea salt then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. When cooked, drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve hot or warm.
For me, Christmas is not Christmas without a wrapped polygon shaped box appearing under the Christmas tree. This tradition goes back to my Father, who just loves Turkish Delight, every year my Mum would buy him a box for Christmas Day, she would always have to hide it as Dad would eat it before the big day, if she let him, which she quite often did and then had to replace it.
Now I am just the same, I love the stuff and every year one of my gorgeous Children buys me some and the little polygon box appears under the tree, much to my delight or should I say, much to my Turkish Delight!
This year I have found a gorgeous recipe for Turkish Delight Vodka in The Good Food magazine and I just had to give it a go, it looks so pretty and I can not wait until Christmas to try it. Hubby will have his Sloe Gin and I will have my delicately pink, rose fragranced vodka, sounds like a very 'MERRY' Christmas to me, plus its low fat, wow, what more could a girl ask for, a little sprinkling of snow maybe!!!
1 litre of vodka
1 teaspoon of rose water
1 teaspoon caster sugar
100g Turkish Delight, chopped
Pour 100ml out of the vodka bottle (you can save this in the freezer for cocktails, I used a swing top bottle that looked nicer, but this is just me being posy and all the vodka fitted in nicely)
Mix the rose water and caster sugar together until the sugar dissolves, then pour into the vodka bottle using a funnel.
Wash any sugar off the Turkish Delight, then put it in the bottle. Screw on the lid and leave to stand for up to a month, swirling occasionally until the Turkish Delight dissolves.
Serve with soda water and ice, or drizzle neat over vanilla ice cream, just heavenly, I can't wait.
Monday, 7 November 2011
I haven't made a Christmas cake for a few years now as I am the only person in the house that likes it, but I really miss the tradition of making it, the aroma wafting around the house conjuring up that first excitement of Christmas and I miss decorating the cake.
I love the Children coming out to the kitchen and giving the cake a good stir and making there wishes and I miss the excuse to play Christmas carols as early as I can. I use to love Christmas, but as the Children have become adults and since Hubby and I have been together, who just doesn't get Christmas and all the fuss, it has been very hard to keep up the enthusiasm.
Anyway, I found this really interesting article by Dan Lepard http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/food/2010/11/making-christmas-pudding-and-c.shtml about Stir-up Sunday, which this year is the 20th November and it has inspired me to bake a cake this year, even if I end up eating it all myself! Hopefully it will inspire my Family to get into the festive spirit and feel the excitement of Christmas that how ever old I get, I never seem to lose.
The recipe below is the cake I always use to bake, this year I may try a Delia recipe, but for now, for those of you that also need inspiring, here is a great recipe, for a really lovely moist cake.
So a very early buon natale to you all and buon appetito
200g butter , softened to room temperature
200g dark muscovado sugar
200g plain flour
4 eggs , beaten
50g ground almonds
100ml sherry , sweet or dry, whatever you have in the cupboard
85g candied peel , roughly chopped (I leave this out, YUKKY stuff, LOL)
85g glacé cherries , roughly chopped
100g pack pecans nuts, broken into big pieces
finely grated zest 1 lemon
1½ tsp mixed spice
1½ tsp rosewater
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking powder
Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3.
Line the base and sides of a 20 cm round, 7.5 cm deep cake tin.
Beat the butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer for 1-2 mins until very creamy and pale in colour, scraping down the sides of the bowl half way through.
Stir in a spoonful of the flour, then stir in the beaten egg and the rest of the flour alternately, a quarter at a time, beating well each time with a wooden spoon. Stir in the almonds.
Mix in the sherry (the mix will look curdled), then add the peel, cherries, raisins, cherries, nuts, lemon zest, spice, rosewater and vanilla. Beat together to mix, then stir in the baking powder.
Spoon mixture into the tin and smooth the top, making a slight dip in the centre. Bake for 30 mins, then lower temperature to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2 and bake a further 2-2¼ hrs, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin, then take out of the tin and peel off the lining paper. When completely cold, wrap well in cling film and foil to store until ready to decorate. The cake will keep for several months. If you want to, feed the cake once a week with booze to make the cake lovely and moist)
Sunday, 6 November 2011
For those of you that thought my Delia mincemeat recipe was rather long winded, fiddly and basically you just do not have the time to faff around making homemade mincemeat, when you can just pop to the shops and buy a jar.... here is the simplest recipe ever, very quick, very simple and you still get to enjoy the satisfaction of making your own mincemeat and have those fantastic Christmas aroma's in the house, its a traditional boozy mincemeat that's ready in 20 minutes, you can make a big batch, bottle up and give as gifts.
This is the recipe that I usually use and I will probably make a couple of batches again this year, just so I can compare the two recipes and see if Delia's recipe tastes any better. Plus I really love the dried pineapple and stem ginger in this recipe, it makes it a little different and gives it such a gorgeous flavour.
50g blanched almonds
100g candied peel
1 Bramley apple , peeled, cored and chopped into large chunks
50g stem ginger , plus 2 tbsp syrup from the jar
50g glacé cherries
50g ready-to-eat dried pineapple
225g each of sultanas/ raisins /currants
140g shredded suet
225g light muscovado sugar
¼ tsp each powdered ginger /mixed spice/nutmeg
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
150ml brandy or dark rum
In your food processor, pulse the almonds, peel, apple, ginger, cherries and pineapple together until finely chopped (but not mushy), then tip into a large bowl.
In batches, pulse the sultanas, raisins and currants until just chopped a little bit then add to the bowl.
Sprinkle the suet and sugar, salt and spices over all the chopped fruit and mix well. To mix, squelch through fingers.
Pour over the ginger syrup, orange juice and zest and alcohol, then mix again.
Spoon the mixture into sterilised jars and keep until needed.
I have to admit that I have never tried Stollen, I have seen it in the shops but it never took my fancy. Then I saw this recipe, the picture looked so nice that it inspired me to give it a go and I am so pleased that I did, its lovely and I will now be trying out other Stollen recipes.
I already have ideas on how to improve this recipe, for example, the marzipan balls sit like a lump in the dough waiting to surprise you, I think it may be better chopped into small pieces and kneaded into the dough like the sultana's are. Also other recipes I have found have other dried fruits in, glace cherries, candied peel, so apart from the peel, I think I will be adding a few of these next time. You can make this to your own taste, adding & taking away what you wish, for me it will be taking out the candied peel & cloves, I can not stand the little beast and adding glace cherries and flaked almonds.
Also to decorate it says to give a light dusting of icing sugar, which looks lovely, but I may also try a simple icing of icing sugar & maybe lemon juice, drizzled over the top and then a scattering of almond flakes to finish.
I will also be making them for gifts, I think with a beautiful tartan bow & a little holly, presented in a lovely gift box, this would be a great gift. Also on a stunning cake stand in the middle of a table with a Christmas themed flower decoration and candles, what a dinner party or Christmas afternoon tea showpiece.
What ever happens, this will now become a Christmas staple and tradition for us and I am looking forward to enjoying it a round the Christmas tree with a nice glass of mulled wine, that is if I can put up with Hubby's lame jokes about it being stolen !!!!
450g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tablespoon caster sugar
½ x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
¼tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 large pinches ground cloves (I left these out as I hate them with a passion)
1 teaspoon mixed spice
225 ml milk
40g butter, melted, plus a little extra to grease
2 medium eggs
100g to 150g marzipan
Icing sugar for dusting
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, yeast, ¼tsp salt and the three spices. Make a well in the centre.
In a pan, heat the milk until lukewarm, then stir in the melted butter.
Crack one egg into the well of dry ingredients and pour in half of the milk mixture. Working quickly with your hands, mix thoroughly to form a soft but not sticky dough, adding extra milk as necessary. I of course cheated and used my Artisan.
Tip out dough on to a floured work surface, then knead for 5min until soft and elastic (again done by he lovely Artisan). Transfer to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise somewhere warm but not hot for 45min.
Knead in the sultanas. Weigh the dough and divide into 10 equal pieces. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment and preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan) mark 6.
Knead marzipan until soft, then cut into 10 pieces. Using your fingers, flatten out one of the pieces of dough slightly, then put a marzipan chunk in the middle. Fold the dough around it, then squeeze together to make a neat ball. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
Position the balls in a circle, just touching, on the baking sheet. Use the remaining egg to glaze the ring, then bake for 20-25min until golden.
Leave to cool on the baking tray as the stollen ring is quite fragile at this stage.
Carefully transfer to a serving platter or wooden board. Dust with icing sugar and serve with butter - fantastic for breakfast or as a festive tea-time treat.
To freeze ahead:
Complete the recipe to the end of step 4. Leaving the stolen on the baking sheet, wrap the whole sheet in clingfilm, then freeze for up to one month. To serve, defrost at room temperature, then complete as step 5.
Every year my Mum grows a gorgeous patch of pumpkins and part of our Halloween excitement and ritual is going over and picking out the biggest one to carve. Every year I am taken a back to how beautiful they look growing in the field and just how huge they are. This years one weighed in at 4st 10lb (66lb) !
So after the carving has been done, a task taken on skilfully every year by Hubby with the help of Luca, there is loads and loads of pumpkin left, which I am sad to say we usually throw in the bin as we thought none of us liked it.
Not this year though, as thanks to my wonderful soup making skills we realised that we do actually really like pumpkin and since this discovery I have decided to see how much of the beast of a pumpkin I can use.
Now the first thing that always comes to mind is Pumpkin Pie, just the thought of it sounds wrong, but after much discussion amongst fellow foodie friends on Twitter I actually settled on a recipe and made a pie.
The big discussion was, which recipe to follow, they really don't vary that much as such, but the big debate is wether to use, double cream, sour cream, creme fraiche, evaporated milk, condensed milk, every one seemed to have a preference. I settled on evaporated milk this time, but think I'll use condensed milk next time as I think the extra sweetness would be lovely.
The result was a really lovely light pie which we had with vanilla ice cream. Luca and I liked it, Hubby said that it was disgusting, but then he really is a dessert hater and thinks that fruit or vegetables should not be put in pies, so we will ignore that, so if you, unlike my Hubby, fancy the idea of pumpkin pie here is the recipe that I used. Its very simple and straight forward and the only decision you have to make is which cream or milk you want to use. I think its just down to personal choice and how sweet your tooth is.
(I have posted the recipe for pastry here, but I must confess that on this occasion I used shop brought ready made. One recipe I found also suggested using a ready made pastry case, but I find these a little dry)
Ingredients - serves 16
For the filling:
500g (1 1/4 lb) mashed, cooked pumpkin
1 (410g) tin evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
175g (6 oz) dark brown soft sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the pastry:
350g (12 oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
200g (7 oz) butter
125ml (4 fl oz) cold water
1. Preheat oven to 200 C / Gas mark 6.
2. Halve pumpkin and scoop out seeds and stringy portions. Cut pumpkin into chunks. In a saucepan over medium heat, cover the pumpkin with water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain, cool and remove the peel.
3. Return pumpkin to the saucepan and mash with a potato masher. Drain well, and measure 500g of the mashed pumpkin; reserve any excess pumpkin for another use.
4. Prepare pastry by mixing together the flour and salt. Rub butter into flour, and add 1 tablespoon cold water to mixture at a time. Mix and repeat until pastry is moist enough to hold together.
5. With lightly floured hands, shape pastry into a ball. On a lightly floured board, roll pastry out to barely a .25cm thickness. Transfer to a 20 or 23cm pie dish, gently pressing pastry into the bottom. Cut off any excess pastry hanging over the sides of the dish, and pinch pastry securely around the inner edge.
6. In a large bowl with mixer speed on medium, beat pumpkin with evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Mix well. Pour into a prepared pie dish. Bake 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Its hard to think about Christmas in early November but if you love to bake at Christmas I am afraid you have to be prepared. The Christmas cake needs baking and feeding with booze, mincemeat needs time to mature and develop flavour and sloe gin needs weeks to be perfect just in time for that lovely Christmas tipple.
So last night I prepared all the ingredients needed to make Delia's homemade mincemeat, the ingredients looks so beautiful, like jewels all ready in the bowl ready for a good mix and as I am not making a Christmas cake this year (well I may make a little one) I got the Children to each give the ingredients a good stir and make their Christmas wishes.
This morning at 7.30am I put the oven on, popped all the prepped ingredients in and went off to do the school run, on my return I was welcomed home with the aroma's of Christmas. It was gorgeous.
I helped the boys Nonna make mincemeat so many times and I always remember that she would always make a batch just for me with no peel in it, I hate the stuff and always substitute peel with gorgeous cherries just like she did for me. It was a standing joke that when she sent me into the larder to get the cherries I would always have to pop some in my mouth, Jasmine would always jokingly tell me off about eating them, but we both knew it was part and parcel of the tradition. Even now I can not open a pot of cherries without eating a few and if there are some in the cupboard I can not help but eat them like sweets!
Well today is All Souls' Day and what better day to be remembering a truly wonderful woman.
Our thoughts are always with you.
8oz (225g) Bramley apples, cored and chopped small (no need to peel them)
4 oz (110 g) shredded suet
6oz (175 g) raisins
4oz (110 g) sultanas
4oz (110 g) currants
4oz (110 g) whole mixed candied peel, finely chopped, if like me you hate the stuff you can always leave it out or use glace cherries instead
6oz (175 g) soft dark brown sugar
grated zest and juice 1 orange
grated zest and juice 1 lemon
1 oz (25 g) whole almonds, cut into slivers
2 level teaspoons mixed ground spice
¼ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
good pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons brandy ( I am going to try Amaretto in the next batch)
All you do is combine all the ingredients, except for the brandy, in a large mixing bowl, stirring them and mixing them together very thoroughly indeed. Then cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave the mixture in a cool place overnight or for 12 hours, so the flavours have a chance to mingle and develop.
After that pre-heat the oven to gas mark ¼, 225°F (120°C). Cover the bowl loosely with foil and place it in the oven for 3 hours, then remove the bowl from the oven. Don't worry about the appearance of the mincemeat, which will look positively swimming in fat. This is how it should look. As it cools, stir it from time to time; the fat will coagulate and, instead of it being in tiny shreds, it will encase all the other ingredients.
When the mincemeat is quite cold, stir well again, adding the brandy. Pack in jars that have been sterilised (see below). When filled, cover with waxed discs and seal. The mincemeat will keep for ages in a cool, dark cupboard but I think it is best eaten within a year of making.
NOTE: To sterilise jars, wash the jars and lids in warm soapy water, rinse well, then dry thoroughly with a clean tea cloth, place them on a baking tray and pop into a medium oven, gas mark 4, 350F, 180C, for 5 minutes.