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.
Thursday, 19 April 2012
I know I already have a very traditional http://dianastaveley.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/torta-al-cioccolato.html
chocolate torte on my blog, but this recipe is far simpler and a great one to quickly knock together and pop in the oven for a gorgeous evening dessert.
I threw mine together whilst I finished cooking our dinner last night and then popped it in the oven while we enjoyed our meal, this gave us enough time to eat, allow our food to settle, enjoy some family time together around the table and then enjoy this yummy torte warm from the oven, served with some Cornish vanilla ice cream, it was heavenly and the perfect end to the meal. Well a nice glass of Limoncello and an espresso would of finished it all off a treat, the perfect accompaniment to this dessert, but espresso that late for me would mean no sleep and we are trying not to drink during the week !!!! It sucks I know, but health kick and all that jazz !!!
We had a lovely evening together, I love nothing better than that time of the day where we all come together at the table, enjoy good food and talk about our day, precious family time that I think is just so important.
200g unsalted butter
200g bar dark chocolate , 70% cocoa, chopped
4 large eggs
200g golden caster sugar
50g plain flour
50g ground almonds
cocoa powder, for dusting
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
Butter and line the base and sides of a 23cm springform or loose-bottomed cake tin.
Put the butter and chocolate into a pan and gently melt together until smooth.
Meanwhile, using an electric whisk, beat the eggs and sugar together for 5 mins until billowy and about the thickness of old-fashioned custard.
Pour the chocolate and butter mix into the whisked egg and sugar, then fold it in very carefully using a large metal spoon. Mix the flour, almonds and ¼ tsp salt together, then fold into the mix until even.
Spoon into the tin and bake for 35-40 mins until evenly set with a slight crust all over the top. Leave the cake to cool until warm, then release from the tin. Dust with cocoa, then cut into wedges.
This dessert is dark and dense, but not so rich it defeats you. It freezes brilliantly too.
Try with Mascarpone or Limoncello cream http://dianastaveley.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/limoncello-cream.html , Sherry-soaked raisins, raspberries and fresh cream, or poached pears and chocolate sauce.
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
I promised Hubby today that after the last manic couple of months I would actually take it easy today, the Children are all back at school/college, Hubby was at a meeting, house is spotless, so perfect to put my feet up for a bit and relax.
Well you'd think so wouldn't you, after a few minutes of chilling with a coffee in bed I got restless and felt guilty that Hubby was at work and I was just lazing around, so I got up and cleaned the cooker, put a load of washing on and then baked a batch of gorgeous chocolate and almond biscotti's.
"Biscotti" is the plural form of biscotto. The word originates from the medieval Latin word biscoctus, meaning "twice-cooked/baked." It defined oven baked goods that were baked twice, so they were very dry and could be stored for long periods of time.
Biscotti, more correctly known as biscotti di Prato, are twice-baked biscuits originating in the Italian city of Prato. The biscuits are oblong-shaped almond biscuits, made dry and crunchy through cutting the loaf of dough while still hot and fresh from baking in the oven.
They were far easier to make than I expected, the smell of warm chocolate dough wafting round the house soon relaxed me and I spent a most enjoyable morning in my kitchen listening to some fantastic opera and just enjoying being at home alone.
So I may not of actually put my feet up, but I still had a relaxing morning and now I am sitting in my lounge, sun streaming through the windows, typing up this blog post, I'd call that pretty relaxed, wouldn't you!
These biscottis make a great home-made gift, and are delicious served with a sweet dessert wine (traditionally vin santo) or an espresso at the end of a meal.
200g shelled unblanched hazelnuts (I didn't have any, thats why I used almonds)
350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
300g golden caster sugar
200g plain chocolate chips
3 large free-range eggs, plus 2 large free-range egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Line 4 large baking trays with sheets of baking paper.
Roast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes and leave to cool.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and a good pinch of salt into a bowl and stir in the sugar, chocolate chips and toasted hazelnuts.
Beat the eggs, yolks and vanilla together, add to the dry ingredients, by making a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and stir in the egg mixture until it comes together into a soft dough. If it is slightly sticky, knead in a little more flour, but don’t let it become stiff and dry. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly until smooth.
Divide the dough into 3 and roll each piece into a long sausage, about 4-5cm wide. Lay on 2 of the baking sheets (2 on 1 sheet, well spaced apart, and 1 on the other) and bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden and cooked. A skewer inserted into the centre should come away clean. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 150°C/fan130°C/gas 2. Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut each log slightly on the diagonal into approximately 1.5cm thick slices. Place the biscotti, side by side, cut faces down, on the baking sheets and bake for another 20 minutes, turning halfway through, until the biscotti feel slightly firm and dry when pressed. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
The biscotti will become harder as they go cold. Store in an airtight tin for up to 3 weeks.
Saturday, 14 April 2012
Well it has been another busy week, but I have found time to bake and to make some jam, feeling rather pleased with myself as I have made the jam with my first batch of rhubarb from my garden, its going mad, so I have made muffins, jam and in the week hope to freeze some and make a crumble. I love the stuff, just as well really!
The jam as with most jams was so simple to make, very little prep, just patience required for the sugar to dissolve and the sugar thermometer to reach 105c, patience an attribute I lack, according to my Hubby!
I made a gorgeous Victoria sponge today as my Mum was coming over to see the new house, I filled it with whipped cream and a thick layer of the rhubarb jam and it was heavenly. There is only a small slice left for me to enjoy later with a nice cup of tea, so I think she enjoyed it.
The vanilla in this recipe was a lovely addition and keeps the flavours gentle, perfect for my sponge, but I will be experimenting with other batches as I love ginger with rhubarb and I found another recipe that had cinnamon in it, I will let you know how they turn out.
1kg rhubarb , weighed after trimming, cut into 3cm chunks
1kg jam sugar (or 1kg caster sugar plus 1 x 8g sachet pectin - we used Tate & Lyle)
2 vanilla pods , halved lengthways
juice 1 lemon
Put a small plate in the freezer. Put the rhubarb into a preserving pan or your largest saucepan with the sugar and halved vanilla pods. Heat gently, stirring, until all the sugar has dissolved, then squeeze in the lemon juice and increase the heat.
Boil for about 10 mins, skimming off the scum as you go (the fruit should be soft). Test for setting point by spooning a little onto your chilled plate. After 1-2 mins, push your finger through the jam - if the surface wrinkles it is ready, if not, keep cooking for 2-min intervals, testing in between. (Or if you have a sugar thermometer it should reach 105C)
Once the jam is ready, let it cool for about 15 mins before ladling into warm sterilised jars and sealing. Will keep for 6 months in a cool, dark place.
Thursday, 12 April 2012
In amongst my vast collection of cookery books, mostly Italian or baking, I do have a couple of lovely French ones and the book above just happens to be one of them. Its full of gorgeous recipes, beautifully written and the recipe below I thought was just perfect as we are coming into Summer, especially so, as we have just brought our tomato plants for the green house and are hoping for a glut of toms this year, fingers crossed! Funny thing is, even though I found this in a French cookery book, I felt that the ingredients made it more an Italian dish than French, but hey, I am biased!
This recipe just screams summer and being able to serve it hot or cold is fantastic, we had the tart hot with new potatoes and a crisp green salad, but it would also be great served cold for a buffet. Its a very impressive dish, so simple to put together and if served to a vegetarian they would be delighted. It is so full of flavour with the mascarpone & parmesan on the base, the tomatoes cooked to a gorgeous sweet almost caramelization and not one member of my Family said "where's the meat", it was filling and satisfying all on its own. Delicious and I hope to make it loads this summer with my own toms!
You could vary the cheese's, try goat's cheese, maybe even feta, also if I was using feta I would use fresh oregano instead of basil, I am pretty sure they would all work just as well.
350g puff pastry
1.5kg tomatoes, all roughly the same size
150g mascarpone cheese
50g Parmesan, finely grated
1 big bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked from the stalks & sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200c/ 400f/ Gas 6.
Roll the puff pastry to a circle, slightly larger than 12 niches in diameter. I cut around a serving plate that I have which was just the perfect size. Put the pastry circle onto a tray and let rest in the fridge for 20 minutes or so while you prepare the tomatoes.
Remove the cores from the tomatoes (I must admit to being lazy here and pressed for time, I didn't bother doing this and it turned out fine) and slice them about 5mm thick. Keep all the slices together and put the ends to one side.
Mix the mascarpone cheese with the Parmesan and basil and season well. Spread the mixture across the centre of the pastry circle, leaving about a 10cm gap at the edges. Layer the sliced tomatoes around the outside of the cheese, making a full circle. Continue towards the centre in ever-decreasing circles, overlapping the earlier circle each time. Tuck the tomato ends under each layer to prevent them caving in, then continue towards the centre (Hubby did this part and left the tomato ends out, again, it appeared to work fine without them). Put the last slice right in the middle and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake the tart in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 150C/ 300F/ Gas 2 and bake for a further 45 minutes. I know it seems a very long time, but trust me it works and smells amazing as it cooks. When cooked there should be almost no liquid left in the tomatoes, and the pastry base will be crisp.
As promised I am going to tell you all about my move, finally, back to Oxted! As you may remember we only moved 18 months a go to the Watercolour in Nutfield, as lovely as it was living there with the beautiful lakes, it was however only suppose to be temporary until we found our perfect home in Oxted.
Well we have found it, it may not be overly pretty from the outside and it may be a bit of a project, but from day one it felt like home and to me that is the most important thing in the World. It has a huge kitchen, also very important, space for the Children and a gorgeous garden with lots and lots of treasures which I know I will be blogging about over the coming months. We have found rhubarb, gooseberries, black currants, raspberries, strawberries, including a patch of the smaller wild ones and an abundance of fruit trees, which so far apple are the only one which I can identify, but I am sure the gardener will be able to tell me more.
I am so excited, I can not wait to get baking with all this lovely fruit, making jam, cordials, even the odd bottle of wine or two!
Anyway, you have probably heard enough by now about the house, lets get back to today's recipe and I bring to you 'chocolate'! Hubby and I were watching the Hairy Bikers Bakeation the other night and they were in Austria, Hubby fell in love with this cake and asked me to make it for him when I got time. How could I resist a chance to get in to my new kitchen and bake.
So here is 'Schokogugelhupf' Cake, you will need a gugelhupf or ring-shaped cake tin for this Viennese cake, which is served with afternoon coffee in the cafés of the city. Like the Sachertorte http://dianastaveley.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/sachertorte-as-seen-on-great-british.html also from this region, it is what I would class as a fairly dry cake, so please do not bake this, thinking you will have a lovely dense, moist cake, as its not, but served as it is intended with a strong black espresso it is the perfect accompaniment and I am sure you will love it.
For the cake
150g/5½oz butter, plus 2 tsp, softened
50g/2oz ground almonds, plus 1 tbsp for dusting
150g/5½oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
150g/5½oz icing sugar, sifted
4 eggs, separated
125g/4½oz self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
For the icing and decoration
125g/4½oz dark chocolate
1 tbsp golden syrup
15–20g/¾oz flaked or slivered almonds
sugar crystals (optional)
As you will see from my photo, I used sprinkles as Hubby loves them!
For the cake, grease the cake tin with the two teaspoons of butter. Sprinkle the tablespoon of almonds into the tin and shake until the inside of the tin is completely coated with a light dusting of almonds.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir the chocolate until smooth, then leave to cool for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375F/Gas 5.
Put the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl and cream them together until smooth and light. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat in the cooled chocolate, then the 50g/2oz of ground almonds, flour and baking powder.
Whisk the egg whites in a large, clean bowl with an electric hand-whisk until they are stiff but not dry. Stir about two heaped tablespoons of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then gently fold in the rest with a metal spoon.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 35–40 minutes, until it is well risen and beginning to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Leave the cake to stand for 2 or 3 minutes, then gently run a knife around the sides and turn it out on to a wire rack to cool.
To make the icing, melt the chocolate with the butter and syrup in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth, then leave to cool for 5 minutes.
Slowly drizzle the icing over the cake and allow it to slide slowly down the sides. If the icing moves too quickly or doesn’t cover the cake properly, let it cool for a few more minutes and then try again. Work slowly to get the best coverage. Leave the iced cake to stand for 10 minutes, then scatter with the almonds and sugar crystals if using.
Set aside for an hour or so until the icing is set before serving.
Saturday, 7 April 2012
Now I know what you may be thinking, bit late isn't she with this post, well you would be correct and I have a very good reason for that. Firstly we moved house on the 2nd April, that in itself is a lot of hard work and stress and one of the main reasons I have paid so little attention to my blog, but on top of that Hubby got rushed into hospital with his appendix and I ended up having to orchestrate the whole move on my own!!!
So let me take you back a bit to Mother's Day and the calm before the storm.
I had the most wonderful Mother's Day, fantastic presents, cards, flowers and Hubby treated me to a morning of Spa treatments at the Nutfield Priory Hotel. I started my day with my favourite breakfast of http://dianastaveley.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/luca-25102001-pancakes-doughnut-french.html and lots of bubbly and then Hubby made my favourite meal of Ossobucco served with a simple risotto for dinner.
Ossobuco or osso buco is Italian for "bone with a hole", a reference to the marrow hole at the center of the cross-cut veal shank. In the local Western Lombard Milanese dialect, this dish's name is oss bus.
I can not thank him enough for my wonderful day and making me feel so special and loved and it prepared me well for the following weeks of hard graft, nursing him back to health and lots of stress !
So its good to be back, we are in our gorgeous new home, which I will tell you about in another post, settled and I am back baking away, so even though I have a lot of decorating to do, I hope to be back in the swing of things blog related.
10g packet dried porcini
6 thick cut veal shin bone, complete with marrow. Ask your butcher for hind quarter shin bones (about 4cm thick), as they're meatier and more tender than the front ones a small handful of plain flour, seasoned
50g unsalted butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot , diced
1 large celery stick, trimmed and diced
200ml dry white wine
225ml tomatoes sugocasa or passata
1 tsp Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon powder dissolved in 250ml/9fl oz hot water
Soak the porcini for at least 15 minutes in 200ml/7fl oz boiling water.
Don't remove the membrane that holds the veal together, but trim off any obviously fatty or lumpy bits.
Dust both sides of the meat with the seasoned flour.
Heat the butter and oil in a very large flameproof sauté pan or casserole over a medium-high heat. When the sizzling stops, put in the veal and fry the slices for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer the meat to a plate.
Replace the pan over a low to medium heat and tip in the carrot and celery. Gently fry for 5 minutes until the vegetables have slightly softened, then raise the heat and pour in the wine. Bubble the wine furiously for 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
Fish the softened porcini out of the soaking liquid, squeeze out the excess moisture and reserve it. Chop the porcini roughly and add to the sauté pan, together with the soaking liquid. Add the sugocasa or passata and stock, then stir.
Put the veal back into the pan in a single layer, cover and bring to the boil. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer very gently for 2 hours, turning the veal slices halfway, until the meat is very soft. The liquid should reduce to a thickish sauce, but if it's still thin after 1¼ -1½ hours, half remove the lid to allow evaporation.
Serve with a simple risotto.