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, 29 May 2012
As promised, here are a few photo's of my new place of work, sorry they are not great but they are the best I could manage on my iPhone and it gives you an idea of how it looks.
We have now been in the house for 2 months, I have decorated the kitchen, downstairs toilet and one of the lounges, with the weather turning nice I must confess to a halt being brought to any further decorating as my attention is now being focused outside.
We have planted the vegetable patch with two varieties of courgettes, french beans, peas, radishes and two varieties of carrots, one variety being rainbow carrots, so really looking forward to seeing how they will turn out. The fruit cage was well established before we arrived and we have inherited rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, currants and a variety of apple trees. The green house is full of three different varieties of tomatoes, so we are feeling fairly self sufficient.
At the moment we are still working our way through the rhubarb, I have made jam, muffins, a friendship cake and my most favourite of all crumbles, which only Max & I eat, but hey, thats just great for us!
I have added this recipe, because even though it is very basic, when you are first starting out you never know which fruits you need to pre-cook before adding to a crumble or which one's can just be bunged in, so here it is, rhubarb crumble.
For the rhubarb
500g rhubarb , chopped into chunks the length of your thumb
100g golden caster sugar
3 tbsp port (optional)
You could add some ginger in syrup, chopped up or use the syrup from the jar instead of the port, rhubarb and ginger work so well together.
For the crumble topping
140g self-raising flour
85g butter , chilled
50g light brown muscovado sugar
50g chopped walnuts (optional)
Tip the rhubarb into a saucepan with the sugar and Port, if using, I didn't add this, but I did add 3 tablespoons of water instead. Cover and simmer on a very low heat for 15 mins, adding more sugar if you want. When soft (but still holding its shape) and sweet enough, pour the rhubarb into a medium baking dish.
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
To make the topping, rub the flour and butter together with your fingers until you have a soft, crumbly topping. Now add the sugar and nuts, mixing together with your hands. Scatter the topping over the rhubarb and bake for 30 mins or until golden brown on top. Serve piping hot with a vanilla custard or a good quality vanilla ice cream.
Tuesday, 8 May 2012
I love Italian food, but I am not a pizza lover, well I wasn't until I found the recipe for this gorgeous Sicilian Pizza, unlike the thin based, tasteless topped pizza you normally get, this one is on a beautiful thick bread base and the toppings are full of flavour and to die for.
Deep pan pizza's are usually thought of as American, but they originally came to New York from Sicily. Sfincione is more a thick, flavoured bread that is topped with breadcrumbs to give it a lovely crunch when baked.
Very simple to make and you could vary the toppings to suit your own individual tastes, but I do advise trying it this way first as it really is lovely.
For the dough
2 x 7g sachets of fast-action yeast
2 teaspoons caster sugar
200ml warm water
375g strong white bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
For the topping
2 pork sausages, preferably fennel-flavoured, skins removed and crumbled
4 tablespoons good-quality tomato sauce
4 tablespoons ricotta
6 slices provolone cheese, cubed (use mozzarella if you can't get provolone)
2 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
drizzle of olive oil
First, make the dough. Mix the yeast and sugar with the warm water. Place the flour and salt in a mixer with a dough hook, or in a bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in the liquid and oil. Mix by hand for 10 minutes or 5 minutes in the mixer, until the dough is silky. Tip into a well-oiled bowl, cover with a cloth (I use plastic showers caps for this, works a treat) and place somewhere warm for about 40 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
Tip the dough onto a work surface and knead for 2 minutes, knocking out any air pockets. The dough should be soft not not to elastic.
Dust a 25 x 16cm baking tray with a little flour and place the dough in the centre. Using your palms of your hands and tips of your fingers, push the dough to the edges of the tray. Leave it for 30 minutes to rise.
While the dough is rising, fry the sausage in a dry pan until crumbly.
Heat the oven to 230c/ 210c fan/ gas 8.
Spread the tomato sauce over the base, followed by the sausage, ricotta, provolone and dried breadcrumbs.
Finally, drizzle with olive oil.
Put into the oven for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat and cook at 200c/ 180c fan/ gas 6 for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.
Leave to cool slightly, then cut into 6 chunks and serve.
Monday, 7 May 2012
I try to keep the recipes on my Blog either very simple or very traditional, this is because the purpose of the Blog is that my Children can access our family recipes where ever they are in the World, but sometimes I do derail a little and decide to add something just a little bit special, for example the gorgeous Sachertorte, http://dianastaveley.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/sachertorte-as-seen-on-great-british.html , this isn't a bad thing, it means that the kids can challenge themselves a little bit and also sometimes you may just need something that little bit special.
Saturday we were invited out to dinner by friends and I offered to take along the dessert, I love taking something homemade and as Simon & Mia both love to cook and love good food I felt something a little special was required.
Hubby is a Heston Blumenthal fan and has a couple of his books, so he suggested I made the Exploding Chocolate Gateau, not only is it an impressive dessert but also has an element of fun about it. Sophisticated and fun, sounds a little like me, LOL !
Well we had a lovely evening and as expected Simon's food was gorgeous and I am so pleased that they enjoyed the Exploding Chocolate Gateau.
Thank you Simon & Mia for inviting us.
The gateau itself isn't actually that hard to make, its just a little time consuming and there are quite a few different stages. The only tricky bit I found was painting the ganache onto the biscuit crumb base as it lifted the crumbs and stuck to the brush, I would advise tipping a little ganache over the bottom of your base and spreading from there, don't try dipping back into your ganache or you will transfer crumbs to it and it will spoil your lovely smooth finish, a mistake I very nearly made. The gateau isn't a rich as you would expect, the tartness of the passion fruit pulp really lifts it and we found it to be a very refreshing and enjoyable end to our meal.
For the base
150g all butter shortbread biscuits
30g unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp white caster sugar
25g neutral popping candy
For the chocolate ganache
175g whipping cream
Pinch of salt
Pulp from 6 passion fruits
50g fresh custard
110g dark chocolate (minimum of 60% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
50g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
For the flocking
500g dark chocolate
200g vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4. Place the shortbread biscuits on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown.
Place the biscuits in a food processor and add the melted butter and sugar. Blitz until the mixture resembles fine sand in texture.
Gently stir in the popping candy. Place the mixture inside a 15cm cake ring placed on a tray lined with baking paper. Flatten using the back of a spoon then put to one side to set.
Add the cream, salt and passion fruit to a small saucepan and place over a medium heat until it almost comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes, then stir in the fresh custard.
Put the dark and milk chocolate in a bowl. Place over a bain marie (a pan of gently simmering water) and allow to melt completely. Remove from the heat.
Strain the infused cream and add to the bowl of melted chocolate a third at a time, making sure to incorporate the cream thoroughly after each addition. Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature.
Once the tart base has set, use a pastry brush to spread some of the ganache on top of the base and around the edges then place in the freezer for 5 minutes. This will ensure that the ganache will not seep through.
After 5 minutes, pour the remaining ganache into the ring and place the tart in the fridge to set for 2 hours. Place the tart in the freezer at least 4 hours before flocking.
After the gateau is fully frozen, sit the gateau on a wide upturning glass or pot. Remove the metal ring by lightly warming with a blow torch. Remove by carefully sliding the ring downwards. Place back in the freezer.
(Personally, unless you really want to impress & can be bothered, I'd leave this part out, I just dusted the gateau with cocoa powder but below are the instruction for the flocking if you fancy giving it a go)
For the flocking, break the chocolate into chunks and place in a small bowl. Melt the chocolate by placing the bowl over a bain marie. Leave to cool slightly before stirring in the vegetable oil.
Fill the base of a paint gun with the melted chocolate mixture and attach the nozzle. To avoid redecorating the kitchen in chocolate brown, set a large cardboard box on its side to provide a protective roof and walls to work in.
Remove the gateau from the freezer and carefully lift it onto a plate. Place the gateau in the cardboard box then spray it with the chocolate, turning carefully as you go. Return it to the freezer until 20 minutes before serving.
Friday, 4 May 2012
Even the most ardent of home bakers amongst us, sometimes feel a little overwhelmed that we are always expected to come up with something yummy and amazing for the latest school fete or charity event, our lives are busy with work and being Mums/Wives and even though we love to bake, we don't always have the time and energy!
This got me to thinking about this time of year, so far over the last week Luca has had a charity bake sale and on the 19th May is the school fayre and you just know that nearer the time there will be a letter in his book bag asking for cakes and bakes for the cake stall, so I have come up with a new section on my Blog with recipes just perfect for these occasions.
To welcome amongst the old recipes that already appear on my blog I have baked today this new recipe, just perfect for this new section. Yummy, easy to bake, quick biscuits that make a nice size batch, put into little cellophane bags & tied with a little bow, they would definitely hold their own on any cake stall.
The recipe used white chocolate but I only had dark and it worked just as well. They work out at about 10p each to make and will last up to two weeks in a tin, so you can even get a head with your baking.
Here's looking forward to a lovely summer of baking.
140g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
225g self-raising flour
85g custard powder
85g white chocolate (or chocolate of your choice) chopped into chunks
Heat the oven to 180c/ 160c fan/ gas 4.
Line 2 - 3 baking sheets with baking parchment.
Put the butter and sugar in to a food processor and whizz together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix well.
Sift together the flour and the custard powder, then tip into the bowl of the food processor, pulse to mix into a dough. Scrape the dough out of the food processor and work the chocolate in by hand.
Roll the dough into balls a little smaller than a walnut, then place on the baking sheets, a little apart to allow for spreading. Press each biscuit down lightly with your fingers.
Bake for 12 - 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove and cool on a wire rack.