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.
Tuesday, 13 March 2012
My Hubby loves the Millionaires shortbread pots that Marks & Spencers sell and he has been on at me for ages to make him some, so today his wish has been granted and I have done my take on these yummy little pots of heaven, using Hubby's favourite biscuits, Bourbons.
Over the years we have eaten rather a lot of GU puds and so have a huge stockpile of the little glass ramekins stored away in our cupboards, they were just perfect for these desserts and I have made lots of individual pots for dessert tonight, but you could just as easily make one large one using a beautiful glass bowl, this way you would get to see all the heavenly layers. The White Company have some beautiful bowls that would be just perfect for this.
Also thinking about recipes for Mother's Day and Easter, I realised that I had missed out Father's Day completely on my Blog, so as these are especially for my gorgeous Husband, I thought they would be just right for my new Father's Day category.
So let me take you step by step through the making of these little pots of yumminess.
The Biscuits Base
300g Bourbon biscuits, crushed
75g butter, melted
Melt the butter gently in a saucepan.
Meanwhile either in a food processor or in a large plastic bowl & with a rolling bin, smash the biscuits until they become really fine crumbs, a great way of getting rid of any aggression!
Then add the melted butter to the bowl of biscuit crumbs, combine well. Press the mixture into the base of your chosen bowl or bowls. Chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
If you want to keep it more traditional use shortbread, or experiment with different types of biscuits, digestives, chocolate digestives, gingernuts, anything really that takes your fancy or you have in the cupboard.
The caramel layer
Remove your biscuit bases from the fridge and put a layer of the gorgeous caramel onto each one, make sure you allow enough room for the next two toppings.
Pop them back into the fridge while you make the next layer.
The chocolate mousse layer
150g mini marshmallows
50g soft butter
250g good dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
60ml hot water from a recently boiled kettle
284ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the marshmallows, butter, chocolate and water into a saucepan.
Put the saucepan onto the hob and heat gently, melt the contents, stirring every now and again. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, whip the cream with the vanilla extract until thick, then fold into the cooling chocolate until you have a smooth mixture.
Remove your pots from the fridge and put a slightly thicker layer than you did for the caramel into each pot.
Pop them back into the fridge until set.
The final layer
100g chocolate, you could use milk, white or dark
Break up the chocolate and place in a bain marie (a bowl over a simmering saucepan of water on your hob), gently melt, stirring occasionally.
Once melted, remove your pots from the fridge and carefully pour a little chocolate onto each one, about one to two teaspoons if you are using small ramekins.
Pop back into the fridge and allow to set.
You can decorate them before serving with a little edible gold glitter or gold leaf, just to give them a millionaires edge.
Sunday, 11 March 2012
This weekend Luca has been at home with us and so I thought it would be nice to do some traditional Italian Easter baking together. When we were in Tuscany for Easter a couple of years a go we made some lovely Italian Easter Biscuits which I also hope to add to the blog soon, but for now I really wanted to share these with you, they are so pretty and would look so fantastic served up at Easter.
Since Easter is the end of the Lent season, food plays a big part in Italian celebrations. Traditional Easter foods include lamb or goat, artichokes, and special Easter breads that vary from region to region. Pannetone and Colomba (dove shaped) breads are often given as gifts as are hollow chocolate eggs that usually come with a surprise inside.
This bread is so much fun to bake and Luca loved dying the eggs. The biggest problem I had was finding white eggs which hadn't been printed on with sell by dates! Luckily our local farm shop stocks white duck eggs, at 49p each, they were a little expensive, but it was well worth it. However, as the eggs do go to waste, apart from at Easter I will make these without them, dribble over a water icing and lots of sprinkles. If you fancied a really sweet treat, or to give as a gift, why not add a Cadbury's Cream Egg once the bread has cooled down.
Below you will find the recipe for the lovely bread and also instructions on how to dye the eggs.
6 white eggs (The eggs cook when the bread bakes, dye the eggs straight from the fridge, without hard boiling them. Just be careful they don't crack!)
vinegar (plain white)
small bowls or cups, we used glasses so that Luca could see the eggs
Fill your containers with on cup of water. Don't fill to full or when you put the eggs in it will overflow.
Add 1 tsp of vinegar (for every 1 cup of water.
Add drops of food color until you're happy with the colour.
Put your eggs gently in to the cups with a tablespoon & leave for about 3 minutes, or until you are happy with the colour.
Remove carefully and allow to dry on a wire rack (place kitchen paper underneath to catch any drips) to dry.
1 packet of Fast Action yeast
1.25 cups (296ml) scalded milk, cooled to room temperature
pinch of salt
1/3 cup (76g) butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup (64g) sugar
3.5 cups (476g) flour (approximate)
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
6 dyed Easter eggs
In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, warm (not hot) milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar. Add about half the flour and beat until smooth with dough hook. Slowly add the remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Don't worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore. Knead until smooth with either dough hook attachment or turn out on floured board and knead. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.
Punch the dough down, divide into 12 pieces. I weighed my dough and then divided by 12, then weighed out 12 exact pieces, sad I know, but it works for me. Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 14 inches long and, taking two pieces, twist to form a "braid", pinching the ends, and loop into a circle.
Place on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour. Brush each bread with the beaten egg wash. Put on the sprinkles and in the middle of each bread ring, gently place an egg, making an indentation with the egg.
Bake at 350F/ 176C/ Gas Mark 4, until golden - about 20 - 25 minutes. Cool on rack.
Saturday, 10 March 2012
Next Sunday is Mother's Day, I am hoping to be totally spoilt and hopefully not have to do any cooking or baking for myself, but I have made a very special cake for my Mum that I would like to share with you. It is fairly simple, but really has that WOW factor if you really want to spoil your Mum.
I will take you through it, step by step.
Firstly you need to make a very simple sponge, now I made two lots of batter and created 4 layers of sponge, one lot of the batter I added a little yellow food colouring, so that when the cake was cut you had alternate layers of beautifully coloured sponge, but if you want to keep it simple, just do the one batch of batter
This amount makes two 7 inch sponges, make double the amount if you want 4 layers and don't forget to add colouring, if you want the cake to look pretty when sliced. I used yellow, but use what ever colour your Mum likes and just coordinate the ribbon & flowers to match.
175g English butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
175g self-raising flour
Butter two 7 inch sandwich tins and line the base of each with a round of buttered greaseproof paper.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in half the flour, using a metal spoon, then fold in the rest.
I always sieve the flour and I must admit that I don't fold the flour in, I just gentle mix it in using the Artisan.
Place half the mixture into each tin and level gently with a spatula or knife.
Bake in a preheated oven at 160c, for about 18 minutes, until they are well risen, lightly golden and coming away from the sides.
Turn out and cool on a wire rack.
When your sponges are cooled, layer them up with your chosen filling in between each layer, I whipped double cream until stiff and then gently folded through some lemon curd to give a ripple effect. You could use cream and raspberries if you are going for a pink theme, butter icing, american frosting, cream cheese frosting, again, just tailor make it to what ever your Mum likes best.
Next I mixed up a batch of butter cream.
240g icing sugar
125g good quality soft butter (unsalted)
Splash of whole organic milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place soft butter and 1/3 of icing sugar into a bowl and beat on low for 10-15 seconds in a free-standing mixer. Once partially mixed, turn up the speed to high and beat until well combined. Repeat this process until all sugar has been incorporated, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl often.
Scrape down a final time and turn the mixer up to medium speed. Add your vanilla extract, wait until combined and then add the milk to blend all the ingredients together. The milk also helps to loosen the mixture and make it light and fluffy.
Then I used the butter cream to cover the top and sides of the sponge, this gives it a nice clean finish and something to adhere your fondant icing to.
Next you will need a large packet of ready to roll fondant icing, knead until pliable, roll out until you have enough to cover your cake and to your desired thickness, then carefully lay over your cake, smooth down from the top, down the sides, until you have covered your sponge and smoothed out any lumps, bumps or creases. If your fondant sticks to your work surface, dust the work top, your hands and rolling pin very lightly with corn flour.
When you are happy with the finish of your cake, you are now ready to decorate. I chose a pretty yellow & white gingham ribbon, which I attached to the bottom of my cake with a crystal pin. I handmade Daisies with the left over fondant and a few little green leaves, these I attached to my cake using edible glue. If you don't have the equipment to make your own flowers, why not use fresh or buy some pretty ready made ones.
If all that seems like a lot of hard work, why not just make a very simple Victoria Sponge Cake and on your chosen cake stand or plate, decorate with some pretty fresh flowers.
I am pretty sure, what ever you decide to bake, however you decide to decorate it, your Mum will love it.
Happy Mother's Day to all the Mum's out there.