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.
Sunday, 29 July 2012
I have recently lost my baking and blogging mojo, I have decided to blame it on the lousy weather we have been having, because as soon as the sun came out I wanted to bake. The thought of afternoon tea's in the garden with the Children gave me the inspiration I needed.
I must also add that a little help from a fellow foodie blogger, the lovely Goddess Kitchen http://thegoddesskitchen.blogspot.co.uk/ also helped, she suggested that I buy myself a new cookery book, one that I had maybe wanted for ages and see if browsing through that would lead to me finding the inspiration I needed.
Well she was right, I am a huge lover of the magazine 'Country Living' and I am always inspired by the gorgeous recipes in it, so much so that when I saw this book 'A Country Cooks Kitchen', I just knew I had to have it.
There are so many amazing and traditional recipes in this book, from making your own butter and cheeses, to preserving and baking and I just want to start at the beginning and cook and bake my way through it.
I started with the Vinegar Cake as it caught my eye as being rather unusual and as the recipe claims, you truly don't taste the vinegar, but you do have a really lovely light fruit cake.
You may think I was slightly mad, baking a cake that takes so long to bake in this heat, but what better excuse to throw a few ingredients together and escape outside into the sunshine while it leisurely bakes away. You can potter around, do a bit of gardening and then reward yourself with a well earned slice of cake and a cup of tea.
I did mess about with the recipe a little, I think it is one of those cakes where you can really use what you have left in your cupboards, as long as the measurements match up, you should be fine. I swapped the sultanas for currants as I seem to have loads of them in the cupboard, dried apricots I swapped for dates, as I love dates and the dried cranberries I mixed to the weight of 150g of glace cherries and some left over ginger I had. It turned out beautifully. I have left the recipe below as it is in the book as I love the ingredients and will be baking it this way next time I bake it.
(Link below is for this gorgeous book, I am sure you will love it)
225g butter, diced, plus you will need some for greasing the tin
450g plain white flour, sifted
225g soft light brown sugar
125g dried apricots, chopped
150g dried cranberries
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 tablespoons malt or distilled vinegar
Preheat the oven to 200c (180c fan), 400f, gas mark 6.
Lightly grease and line the base and sides of a deep 9 inch cake tin with baking parchment.
Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and dried fruit.
Mix together the remaining ingredients (milk, bicarb & vinegar) in a separate bowl, then stir immediately into the flour mixture to combine. It all comes together very easily and quickly.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 30 minutes (don't disappear into the garden just yet). After the 30 minutes are up, turn the oven down to 160c, 140c fan, 325f, gas mark 3 and bake for further 1 1/2 hours (now you can disappear outside), bake until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
If the top starts to brown and burn to much, just cover with a piece of foil. I lined my tin with the parchment so that he was twice the height of the tin and this seemed to protect it from burning, so I didn't need to do this.
Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely, but if you are anything like me, you know you will have to pinch a sneaky warm slice before it cools down, heaven, fresh baked from the oven.
Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Another reason I just love this type of cake, great to have stored away for unexpected guests.
Friday, 27 July 2012
I received a nice little surprise in the post the other day, at first I thought what a strange thing to send to someone who bakes all the time, never buys shop cakes and would be highly critical of a cake that came in a tin!
Well you will be pleased to know that I was very impressed with the quality of this little cake in a tin and the contents that came in the little box with it put a massive smile on my face. You get some balloons, a party blower (not sure what they are really called), little candles and a card with a message of your choice. It really brightened my day.
What a great idea to send to friends and family that you can not give your homemade cakes to, perfect for a surprise to cheer some one up at their desk and such a good price that you could send one just to remind someone that you are thinking about them.
The company that provides this service are http://www.bakerdays.com/ and with prices starting at £14.99 they are not going to break the bank, this price is for the letterbox size one, perfect as no one has to be in to answer the door to the postman.
There are so many categories to choose from, Anniversary, Birthdays, Bon Voyage, Christening, Congratulations, Corporate, Driving Test, Engagement, Father's Day, Get Well, Good Luck, Graduation & Exams, Halloween, Humour, Just to Say, Keep Calm & Carry On, Love & Friendship, Mother's Day, New Baby, New Home, New Job, Retirement, Thank You, Thank You Teacher, Valentine's Day and if none of those suit your occasion you can design your own and upload your own photo. How great that you can really personalise your cake.
My cake was a plain madeira sponge, it was light, moist, full of flavour and so pretty, I just loved it.
There are 6 flavours to choose from, madeira, carrot, lemon, fruit, double chocolate chip and even a gluten and wheat free one, which I thought was amazing.
So if you have a special occasion or just want to brighten someones day, why not send them a Baker Days cake in the post.
Friday, 20 July 2012
Well it appears that we have had an amazing glut of rhubarb, it must clearly enjoy this wet summer we have been having, but it is now at the point of becoming a little stringy and I felt it was time to cut it all back and give any new shoots a fighting chance.
I have made so far this Summer, if you can call it a Summer, rhubarb and polenta cake, rhubarb muffins, rhubarb and vanilla jam, rhubarb crumble and now rhubarb and ginger jam, plus a few bags in the freezer for the Winter and loads given away to friends, all in all a very good harvest. I just wish everything in the garden had done so well !
1kg pink rhubarb , trimmed weight
1kg jam sugar (which has added pectin)
zest and juice 1 lemon
50g stem or crystallised ginger , finely chopped
4cm piece ginger , peeled
Wash the rhubarb under cold running water and slice into 2cm pieces.
Tip into a large ceramic or plastic bowl and add the jam sugar, lemon zest and juice, and chopped stem ginger. Finely grate the peeled ginger directly over the rhubarb.
Stir the mixture thoroughly, cover loosely with cling film and leave to one side for about 2 hrs to allow the sugar to dissolve into the rhubarb juices. You may need to stir the mixture occasionally to encourage this process along.
Pop a few saucers in the freezer. Scoop the fruit and all the sugary juices into a preserving pan and set over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved, and bring to the boil. Continue to cook at a fairly swift pace until the rhubarb is really tender and the conserve has reached setting point - this should take about 10-15 mins.
To test for a set, drop ½ tsp of the jam onto a cold saucer, leave it for 30 secs, then gently push it with the tip of your finger. If the jam wrinkles the setting point has been reached. If not, continue to cook for a further couple of minutes and test again. (I use a jam thermometer for this, so much easier )
Remove the pan from the heat and leave to one side for 2-3 mins before pouring into sterilised jars. Seal immediately and label with the date once completely cold. (I allow mine to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before putting into jars, just makes it so much safer to handle and I always allow to cool completely before place the lids on).
Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Today the sun is out, I mention this in July as it is a very rare sight indeed this summer and boy am I pleased to see it, I can finally face going down the garden to cut some rhubarb, its going mad and I really hate for it to go to waste.
This afternoon my lovely neighbour Ruth is popping over for a quick cuppa before the school run and what nicer to go with it, than a lovely slice of cake.
As you can see I didn't manage to wait for her, a slice just fell out, I promise !!! Well I couldn't resist it warm could I ?
Its a gorgeous moist cake which would make a yummy dessert served warm with fresh custard or ice cream, but just as amazing served cold with a nice cup of tea. Next time I may swap the ground cinnamon for ground ginger or even some finely chopped stem ginger. Heavenly !
300g caster sugar
150g plain flour
155g fine polenta or cornmeal
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g unsalted butter
250g plain yogurt, preferably bio
Wash and dry the rhubarb, and then trim, removing any stringy bits, and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Put into glass or china bowl and cover with 100g of the sugar, while you get on with the rest of the cake.
Don't let the rhubarb stand for more than half an hour or the sugar will make to much liquid seep out.
Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cornmeal together.
With a fork, beat the eggs with the vanilla in a measuring cup or small bowl.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and the rest of the sugar, then gradually add the egg and vanilla mixture, beating while you do so. Then add the flour-cornmeal mixture alternately with the yogurt. They just need to be combined: don't overmix.
Finally, add the rhubarb together with its sugary, pink juices, folding in to mix, and then pour the speckled batter into the prepared pan. Put in the preheated oven and bake for about 1 hour or until springy to the touch. You may need to cover it with foil after about 40 minutes so that the top doesn't scorch. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for a while before unmolding.
Monday, 16 July 2012
I know its been a very long time since I last wrote a post, but it would appear along with the summer sunshine my baking and blogging mojo has gone missing! I can not seem to find it anywhere, I do not know why this has happened, apart from life has been manic and like the rest of the country I am just feeling a little yucky and fed up... I WANT SOME SUNSHINE !!!!
We have tried to not let this affect our fun and we have had some lovely days out, we went to the Laverstoke Field to Fork Festival in Overton and last weekend we went away for Hubby's birthday to Lulworth Cove in Dorset and had the most amazing weekend, then yesterday we spent the day at Camber Sands with Luca.
As you can see, we had really lovely weather, by that I don't mean gorgeous hot sunny July like weather, but as things go this summer, a day without any rain and the odd ray of sunshine here and there.
We had a fantastic day and we found heaps and heaps of beautiful clams which we brought home for a very gorgeous dinner and to share with our lovely neighbours. They were delicious, you can not get fresher than that and so much fun collecting them yourself.
Below is the recipe for our clams, very simple, very quick, but perfect for something so fresh and maybe you might just feel like summer is here, we can only hope.
1 packet of spaghetti
4 tbsp olive oil
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
500 g clams, we added more as we didn't feel this was enough & we had loads
6 tinned anchovies, we left these out, didn't want them overpowering the clams
4 tomatoes, chopped
250 ml white wine
1 lemon, juice only
1 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
1. Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water, according to the directions on the pack until just tender
2. Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the chillies, shallots, garlic, clams and anchovy fillets for 1 minute.
3. Add the tomatoes, wine and lemon juice and bring to the boil.
4. Add the well-drained spaghetti and chopped parsley and toss through until evenly coated.
5. Serve at once with chilled wine.