Friday, 30 December 2011

Christmas 2011 - a Nigella affair

Christmas a time for over indulgence, and the time between Christmas and New Year ideal for a few posthumous recipes...

A first this year for me as I brined my turkey prior to cooking it. I made a brine mixture of salt, sugar, thyme, sage, lemons, bay leaves and peppercorns and there would have been rosemary in there if
a) I could have bought some and b) I hadn't over pruned the rosemary in the garden
to a mere twig! However I was happy with my little fragrant concoction minus the rosemary.

Brining is quite easy really, the hardest bit is finding a vessel large enough to hold the brine and a large bird. You submerge your bird then your it somewhere cool in the brine (I added a lot of ice to it too) for at least 24 hrs, you can try for longer but I was a first timer and did not want to risk an overbrined bird. My turkey was free range and bought from my local fishmongers who also supplies the best poultry.
Once the turkey has done its brining thing, its time for a quick shower in cold running water, (that's the turkey not me) a dry off with kitchen towel/paper and leaving it to come up to room temperate before roasting, and doing any of that pre roasting attention.

I don't stuff mine as such but I do cover with bacon and fill the cavity with apple and onions and make a foil covering for it.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Bread and Butter Panettone Pudding - recipe

This recipe originated from using up leftovers after Christmas (not sure which celebrity chef Christmas Special it was now?) but we love it so much more than Panetone itself we just buy a Panettone to make the pudding. Why not?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Gingerbread House - recipe

I made this LAST Christmas...I haven't made another one...I haven't got over this one yet, it was the hardest thing I ever made...not sure whether it was my lack of patience or inability to bake/construct a straight sided house (suspect the latter) but it was a swine very hard thing to put together.

The joy comes with sticking the sweet adornments on (for which you need to take a bank loan out at today's prices) and eating the leftovers. Here is how you can make one, but don't blame me when you are pulling your hair out!

You will need to allow about 3 days (not full days granted) to make this one, make the gingerbread and bake the house; day two assemble the house and prepare the garden cake board; day three get hiding all the mistakes you have made decorating with sweets and finishing off etc. If you follow this rule it should help and when you get to the fun bit of decorating *laughs hysterically* the children can help you.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Christmas inspired cupcakes in pictures

Here are the result of last weeks Sunday afternoon cake decorating session with like minded friends.

The recipe for these vanilla cupcakes is here.

I'm linking back to English Mum's Big Christmas Bake Off


Monday, 12 December 2011

Fruit and Nut Christmas Mince Pies - recipe

Yes its predictable and yes its a mince pie recipe...not going to claim these are the best ever in the world, or this is a handed down recipe from generations, or its my own mincemeat, as none of these claims may apply (but I have made my own mincemeat in the past, and these are VERY good honest!).
I found a recipe for something like this in a little tiny book, I liked the sound of them, tried them with what I had in the cupboard my twist and the rest is...a really lovely mince pie and...well a few more calories on the hips really (and its not really even Christmas yet!). 

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Short and Sweet - book review

Where to start?...I was sent a copy of 'Short and Sweet' by Dan Lepard quite a few weeks ago now...and I have to admit that I just be in awe of the whole book, chapter by chapter and page by page, its taken me so long to write this review because I keep getting distracted by a) making another recipe and b) looking and drooling over what other food bloggers are making from this book (more on that later).

Short and Sweet is one of those recipe books you will have forever, and will wonder how you ever baked without it, I for one wish I'd had this book years ago, if I had I would have been a much better baker than I am now. Short and Sweet is packed full of recipes, its not packed with photographs but this is not to the detriment of what his book is offering. Its not so much a recipe book or a recipe book giving baking instructions or advice on 'how to get the best of',  its more like a baking recipe reference book, its been called a 'baking bible' and I could not describe it better.

There are more than 280 recipes in this book and its one that any home baker/cake maker/pastry cook/bread lover will turn to time and time again, both for new and inspirational recipes, for traditional favourites and for advice on such things as how to get the best cake crumb, loaf or rise. The chapters cover everything from bread, cakes, small things, biscuits and cookies, doughnuts, batters and baba's, sugar, sugar (sweets), desserts and supper.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Frosty the snowman cake - Baking Mad recipe

This is the snowman cake I made for December's Clandestine Cake Club event, the theme was 'secret santa' and this meant you could bring any cake you liked, without telling anyone what it was. I am not at all fond of Christmas cake (or Christmas pudding, either for that matter) so as well as hoping that my fellow cake clubbers do not make 10 Christmas cakes (they didn't I'm pleased to say!!) I am always looking out for suitable Christmas cake alternatives; well any good cake recipes really and with little ones visiting at Christmas its good to have something that has a good visual impact.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Red & Green tomato chutneys - recipe - book review

Question: What do you do when you are walking around your local market one glorious Saturday in November late in the afternoon, and you spy a BOX (10lb approx weight) full of green and red (seemingly homegrown) tomatoes for £1? Yes £1!!!
AND then when you get home you spy your chilli plant groaning with chillis?
Answer:  Look to 2 famous food writers and make glorious homemade rich chutneys for Christmas of course!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Toffee apple topped chocolate marble cake - recipe

We should cocoa...this months challenge hosted by Chele, at Chocolate Teapot has been going round in my head for weeks...chocolate and apples...apples and chocolate...milk chocolate...dark chocolate...white chocolate...anyway not an obvious me anyway! What to make?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

An Eggsistential Crisis - can you help?

Not a recipe or a review but a bit of info...and I hope as many people as possible will share this...

In case you don't know, we have rescued/adopted 2 lots of hens from the British Hen Welfare Trust (BHWT) in the last 18 months...9 hens in total; its one of the best things we ever did. We love having those hens, they are cheeky, intelligent, funny, mischievous and they reward us EVERY day with the best eggs. Anyone who has been lucky enough to have any of our eggs will testify they have never tasted eggs like them, and with such golden creamy yolks. The girls are happy, we are happy, its a win win situation. But before we had hens I always bought free range eggs and from a reliable source. I have encouraged others to do the same too, so I was pleased about the ban on battery caged hens (mind you there is still work to do on housed hens and the conditions...but that's another story).

Anyway, this came to me this week from our BHWT coordinator Adele...
As the impending ban on barren battery cages draws ever closer, we have access to a lot of battery hens from farmers who are looking to empty their barren cages before the ban comes in on January 1st. We want to take as many hens as we can and rehome as many as we can but we can't do it alone - we need help! Facebook and Twitter are excellent for reaching lots of people; could you tweet or post about our appeal for homes, blog about it or add it to your website? Maybe you have an intranet at work on which you could post, letting people know that BHWT are looking for rehomers to take in the last UK battery hens.

To make things even more difficult on the rehoming front, at this time of year, our bookings traditionally slow down although as mentioned above we do have access to lots of hens at the moment and I am hoping this appeal will also generate more homes for hens coming out of their cages soon.

Sophie, our new Wigan co-ordinator, (@OneLittleEgg on Twitter) has lots of space to fill her rehoming day on 3rd December and the farm she is accessing is closing down so she obviously wants to rehome as many hens as possible before this happens. I have a rehoming day on 26th November although this is almost full but if I can get enough bookings, I may be able to hold another before year end; otherwise likely early January.

Hens can cope well with colder weather provided certain precautions are taken (BHWT will provide this and other helpful info) although the hens we are currently taking out are mostly well feathered already.

So its simple...we all want to eat free range eggs...right...and we are in favour of giving hens a better life...right? Then its quite simple, we all have to do our bit and help find these girls new can you please share this with friends/colleagues/family etc, and if you can take some hens then please get in touch with BHWT? Although this plea is specifically for my region and beyond, the BHWT re home hens all over the country through a network of volunteers, if you can help by taking hens please contact them. Tel: 01769 580310 OR this link gives details of rehoming.
Thank you...
Edith, Vera, Pat and Irene on the day we brought them home (above) and below enjoying a better life, with Goldtop and Dizzie Lizzie (who we have had for 18 months now).

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Roast butternut squash, red lentil and chilli soup - recipe

Home made soups are the best thing ever, especially at this time of year. A lovely bowl of soup is warm, its comforting, it makes everything better with the world (just about) it is great and its good for you. When we were children if we were ill we would be given a well known brand of tomato soup to help us get better I  still have to have a tin in the cupboard now, just in case, even though I make my own tomato soup!

If you are watching the calories you can make low fat and low calorie versions of most soups, but here I'm going for the full fat version, so to speak. If you want to impress you can't fail with a swirl of cream, or homemade croutons as a final flourish. If you want to go the whole hog, make your own bread to have on the side, as I did this week (it didn't last 5 minutes).

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Food Bloggers (Unplugged) - for fun!

Something a bit different, not a recipe, a review, a cake, or a book...but instead more about other food bloggers and a game of tag. I know its Christmas pre-baking prepping season and we've not time to dust a rolling pin, but what the heck, lets have a bit of fun!

I'm tagging 5 other bloggers to answer the questions below about themselves on their blog...the idea is simply to learn more about the people behind some of the fantastic food inspired blogs that we are all drawn to. 
I'll tag 5 people they can tag a further 5 others on blogs that interest them, and so it goes on...
I may even do a round up of some of the best answers...

Here are the questions...

1. What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
2. Who is your foodie inspiration?
3. Your greasiest, batter - splattered food/drink book is?
4. Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
5. Another food bloggers table you'd like to eat at is?
6. What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
7. Who taught you how to cook?
8. I'm coming to you for dinner what's your signature dish?
9. What is your guilty food pleasure? 
10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?

Finally...tag 5 other food bloggers with these a hot baked potato...pass it on!

Use this home made expensive Food Bloggers Unplugged  logo (below) on your blog and link up with the hashtag #foodbloggersunplugged on Twitter.

1. What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
Vanessa Kimbell did! I offered to test one of her recipes for Prepped, I didn't have a blog so guest posted it on hers; then set up my own from scratch, and the rest is history. Thank you Vanessa!
2. Who is your foodie inspiration?
So tough to answer this one...but the honest answer is...other food bloggers, they have so much knowledge/skill and imagination, it blows me away!
3. Your greasiest, batter - splattered food/drink book is?
How to be a Domestic Goddess - Nigella Lawson - Amber (dog) ate my first copy, so I bought another from e-bay second hand but like new, or it was!
4. Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
In France in Bayeux (as in Bayeux Tapestry) a pizza, have never forgotten that pizza (and its not my favourite type of food either!).
5. Another food bloggers table you'd like to eat at is?
 Silvana de Soissons (from The Foodie Bugle)
6. What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
 An ice cream maker please.
7. Who taught you how to cook?
My mum, but I don't know how! :-))
8. I'm coming to you for dinner what's your signature dish?
Gammon (Ham) cooked in coca cola.
9. What is your guilty food pleasure? 
Fish Finger butty sandwich on white fresh crusty bread with butter and ketchup.
10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
I have seen The Beatles for real (all 4 of them).

The people I have chosen to start this off are a mixture of really lovely well known food bloggers and those equally lovely and more local to Lancashire. 

Here they are...will they accept my challenge to be 'unplugged'? (more importantly...will they have time to answer?!!)
Choclette @ Chocolate Log Blog
Claire @ Good Egg Foodie
Linzi @ Lancashire Food

If you have been tagged link up your entry below...

Monday, 14 November 2011

Breakfast Club #16 - Stars and Stripes - the round up

This month's Breakfast Club challenge was a Stars and Stripes affair; the brief was to create and blog about an American inspired breakfast are the entries and thanks to everyone who cooked/blitzed/baked/blogged and took part by making American themed goodies. (please shout out if you have entered and have been missed off!)

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sunday lunch - dining out locally (in pictures)

Not so much a review or a recipe, or a lot of words, but a snapshot of our Sunday lunch, a rare event for us as we dined out this Sunday with my sister and brother in law at a local restaurant
This is the first time I have mentioned a restaurant on this blog, there is a reason for that, I'm very fussy and if I don't like it or cannot recommend it to others then it won't feature on this blog, that's my mantra. 
We had a really lovely lunch here, we were well looked after in such a lovely setting.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Farmison - heaven in a box - review

I was recently sent a box of fruit and vegetables by Farmison to review. Farmison put together boxes of fruit/vegetables, meat and cheeses and deliver these straight to your door, the idea is simply the normal veg box notion with a few pluses, unfortunately veg boxes are something I have not found easy to access in the past because of where I live. Farmison will deliver within days of placing an order, you can check on the website if they deliver to you.These are the 7 core values of the company (taken from the same website).
1. Farmison provides home cooks with fabulous foods that would normally only be found in the kitchens of discerning, ingredient-aware chefs.
2. Farmison provides a lip-smacking alternative to the year-round monotony of supermarkets.
3. Farmison constantly changes what it sells to reflect what's in season. When foods are not at their best, we don't stock them.
4. Farmison supports biodiversity in our food chain by promoting rare breed meats and searching out less common fruit and vegetable varieties.
5. Farmison gives small-scale food producers a UK-wide platform to showcase and sell their products, complementing their own local initiatives.
6. Farmison sources food from the UK first and foremost and only chooses imported food if there is no British equivalent.
7. Farmison sells foods produced in a way that respects farm animals, producers and the environment. 

Friday, 11 November 2011

Lets Make Christmas - heavenly scented shortbreads - recipe & book review

Its a tradition in this household that I buy a 'nice' tin of shortbread every Christmas, not sure why as I don't buy it the rest if the year I like it, but I just don't buy it any other time. I think my mum bought it at Christmas when we growing up so its become traditional. A bit like the tradition my sister was telling me about today, she only puts the tangerines and chocolates out on Christmas Eve, but she's not sure why, whatever the reason we do such things these habits make Christmas what it is. Anyway this year, breaking with tradition, for once, I'm making my own shortbread as we have grown very fond of homemade biscuits here. I did think about festive spices to flavour it but wanted something different and lighter, a different flavour for Christmas and really there is enough spice around at Christmas. So how about something floral instead?  Just imagine boxing day afternoon, a pot of tea and a plate of this loveliness, enjoy this vanilla, rose and lavender shortbread and 'Lets make Christmas'!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Cake International NEC November 2011 - (Pt 2)

 Christmas cake (magazine stand display)

Its part two of my Cake International account, its part two as I have far too many photos to post in one go! These are the Christmas cakes (not all of them, only a small sample here) and if you scroll down you'll see some international entrants for one of the competitions and then finally the floral sugarcraft work.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Cake International NEC November 2011 (Pt 1)

One of the cakes dispalyed by Renshaws. (trade stand)

This post is all about some of the sights at the Cake International event at Birmingham NEC this weekend, my photography is not too great and this is due to the overhead lighting at the show. 
Cake International is an annual event aimed particularly at cake makers (of course!) and providers of all things cakie. Cake makers/fans, presenters, judges and stall holders come from all over the country and all over the world for this event. The show is a combination of trade stands where you can buy everything from cake pop sticks to oven cleaner and everything in between, all the way through to demonstrations and judged cake competitions; some cake decorating competitions happen live during the event each day.
Its a very very busy event and this year seemed busier than last year to me, it gets very hot and the standard of cakes  and sugarcraft entries in competitions really is overwhelming to see. 
You have to see these cakes for real to fully appreciate them.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Curried sweet potato and ginger soup - recipe/book review

I love soups, has to be homemade, its the best thing ever anytime of year but especially now in the autumn. Its so warm and comforting; and nutritionally it can be the best thing, if made with the freshest ingredients and homemade stock! I have made soups for an age and have quite a repertoire that I have perfected over the years, and I can make them in all kinds of consistencies, low calorie, rich and creamy, the whole range. I seldom follow a recipe but seem to get good results, but this week I followed a recipe from a new book I have been sent.
1tsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 thumb size of fresh ginger (Include peel) grated
3 large sweet potatoes peeled and chopped in chunks
2 vegetable stock cubes
sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp Garam Masala
1.5 litres boiled water
Turmeric Finishing Yoghurt:
3 Tbsp (I used low fat) live Greek style yoghurt
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Mango Chutney (and/or lime chutney)
Fresh Coriander 

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Chocolate chunk biscuits - recipe

One day in the not to distant past, I did something a lot of people would find unforgivably bad. But I couldn't help myself you see, the temptation was just too great, every time I opened the fridge it was staring at me, begging me almost. I realise now I was weak, and it was a moment of utter madness...the Great British Bake Off was on TV at the time and I think I had delusions of becoming the new Lancastrian Pink Whisk (I can never match Ruth's skills and creativity, I know it deep down) or maybe I just had the urge for something heavenly to devour eat while watching the programme?

Monday, 31 October 2011

Beef and vegetable suet pudding - recipe

It might not be the weather for this just yet but winter must be around the corner, right?

This is a savoury suet pudding I made a few weeks ago for Sunday lunch, a change from a roast and it was delicious with mashed potatoes and veggies. You need a bit of time to make this but if you cook the meat the day before it would just be a matter of making the suet pastry (the easiest thing ever) and assembling and then steaming the pudding on the day. This recipe uses skirt a cut of beef that isn't always readily found in supermarkets, which is just as well as I don't buy any meat from supermarkets anymore, I either buy from one of two farm shops locally or a more traditional butchers in town. Beef skirt makes a really delicious gravy when it is braised in the oven, its quite a lean cut of meat and I never feel the need to brown the meat beforehand to improve the flavour. 

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Good Table - book review

This is a pear and chocolate frangipan tart I baked recently, the smell of this baking in the oven was divine and it was really delicious sliced and served warm and with some fresh cream. The pears were bought at a local farmers market and were just ripe enough. I loved the pastry for this flan which was made with butter, flour, sugar and an egg, it was beautifully short and I can see that I'll adapt this to use for other sweet flans/tarts in the future. The filling is a delightful combination of English pears, dark chocolate, ground almonds, fresh free range eggs, butter and sugar. This is not a quick recipe but its so worth the effort, trust me we all really enjoyed it.

The recipe is from 'The Good Table' by Valentine Warner, who is quite well known in food circles, he has made quite a few TV programmes, some scheduled on the satellite food channels as well as writing other books and he has a website (which has other recipes). He is an avid hunter/gatherer/forager type of cook...none of which apply to me I might add, but I could have easily made a lot of the recipes in this book without a hunt around the local woods or needing a trip to the local fishing lake. The notion of this book is very simple in that, what you are served and what you share at Valentine's table is 'good food' and judging by the recipes the title is spot on.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Banana and Cinnamon Pancakes - recipe

Here's my entry for #breakfastclub number 16, if you are not sure what this is take a look here. This month's theme is 'Stars and Stripes', meaning anything with an American twist, for breakfast of course! Breakfast pancakes are a taste of America for me and (as a treat for brunch) we love a short stack with bacon and maple syrup, you can of course make them with buttermilk, as they are traditionally made in the US, but this recipe works brilliantly, with what really are store cupboard basics.
Make your batter ahead of time for better results.
2 free range eggs
300ml milk
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
30g melted and cooled unsalted butter
2 Bananas thinly sliced
2 tsp Cinnamon
Butter to fry
To serve:
Maple syrup
Maple cured bacon
1. Melt the 30g of unsalted butter first of all and allow it to cool.
2. Place the eggs, milk, flour, baking powder, salt sugar, in a food processor and blitz to combine. Add the melted butter and give another quick whizz. If you don't have a food processor just beat everything in a large bowl either by hand or with a mixer.Slice the bananas and have the Cinnamon ready.
3. Heat a knob of butter in a non stick frying pan, use a moderate heat under the pan. Make the pancakes by using a ladle as a measure to get them roughly the same size, (about the size of a saucer) ladle the batter mixture into the pan. Add a few slices of banana and sprinkle with Cinnamon.  Once the pancakes bubble on top the underside is cooked and you need to flip them over to cook for a further 2 minutes.
4. Keep the pancakes stacked on a warm plate in the oven until ready to serve. Ration out a portion and drizzle with maple syrup and serve with a 'side order' of maple cured bacon.
On this occasion I made a mixed stack of plain and banana and Cinnamon pancakes (photos depict both).
This recipe works well with other fruits, blueberries are another firm favourite.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Walnut layer cake with Maple - recipe

This is the cake I made this week for our Clandestine Cake Club event. Its a variation on the last cake my mum's walnut cake, but I wanted to try something a bit different. Yes two walnut cakes in a matter of days, but they are very different cakes. Although this cake has a lot of decoration on the top it would be equally good without.

Monday, 17 October 2011

My mum's walnut cake - recipe

When we were growing up my mum did her fair bit of baking, she had her 'specialties' and she made bread, Chelsea buns, scotch pancakes, apple sponge pudding, sausage rolls, jam puffs, even treacle toffee but only around bonfire night (and all home baking was done on Sundays usually). I can't remember a lot about any kind of cake repertoire (neither can anyone else by the way!) and any birthday cakes usually came from Sayers (complete with ricepaper rose and bit of green fern) they were never ever homemade.

But the one cake she did make over and over and over again, well being totally honest it was the ONLY cake, was a walnut cake and we loved it (luckily). Recently, after reliving a few memories I managed to extract the recipe from my mum.

Home Made and Well Preserved - The Round Up

Well what can I say? Natures table laid out before us from this country and further afield, yes they came all the way from Fance to enter this challenge.
The brief was to blog a homemade and well preserved (in a jar) recipe, link it up to this blog and away we go.
Here are the entries and a brief description and links back to the blogs. 
My thanks to everyone who preserved/jammed/blogged/tweeted and entered such wonderful recipes. 

Double thanks from me to Steenbergs Organics who offered one lucky person up to £25 worth of  organic spices for an entry into this challenge, that I have picked at random.
Steenbergs Organics products are the perfect choice for so many preserving recipes.
The lucky chosen one is revealed at the bottom of this post.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Breakfast Club #16 - Stars and Stripes

What a pleasure to host the next  Breakfast Club #16 where the theme of this month is, as chosen by my goodself...


...which means anything with an American twist...from pancakes, smoothies, muffins and skillets to biscuits, grits and granola.  Its a huge country with a big love of all things breakfast, so there is lots to go at.


How do you join Breakfast Club?
Well it is easy and simple like making Breakfast!
Create something special which has the STARS AND STRIPES theme incorporated into it.
  • Mention Breakfast Club in your post and use the logo above.
  • Link to this post and the Breakfast Club page.
  • E-mail me at with a link to your post and a photo (no larger than 300 pixels, please!).
  • Send a previously posted recipe if you like, but please add the information above and republish.
  • Entries can be sent to other events, but please check their rules about submitting a post to multiple events.
  • If you tweet please tweet using #breakfastclub and copy in @fussfreeflavour so we can RT you.
  • If you do not have a blog, send a photo and details to me
  • Deadline for submissions is Monday 14th November 2011.
I will post the round up by 21st of November.

Note : Helen (@fussfreeflavour) is looking for hosts for future Breakfast Clubs so please email her at if you are interested.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Banoffee Victoria Sponge & the GBBO - recipe

You may have heard me mention before on this blog but my favourite cake ever, is a simple Victoria sponge, I just love that cake, and as long as its well made you can pretty much put any filling in it and it will taste like 'a little bit of heaven on a plate'. That's how this blog got its name from a conversation I had with a friend about a Victoria sponge I'd made and that was how I described it to her (she didn't disagree as she was wolfing down eating the cake at the time!).

Here is my twist on a Victoria sponge with a delicious Banoffee make this you will need, a baked Victoria sponge, in two halves of course, 500ml fresh double cream (you might not use it all but be generous with it), half tin of Dulce Leche, a small banana, one chocolate flake bar (or 2 flakes, but eat one as you go, it always works for me).

Friday, 30 September 2011

So you think you know beetroot? - recipe

This post is borne out of being sent a parcel of pre-cooked and packed beetroot to try some recipes with, this came from the folks over at 'love'. It arrived in a very nice box...with a very posh ribbon, which contained 3 different types of pre cooked beetroot as follows: 1 pkt red fire chilli beetroot; 1 pkt baby beetroot in sweet vinegar and lastly 1 pkt of cooked beetroot.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Lucy's cake

One vanilla madeira sponge, with vanilla buttercream and flowery sugarpaste flowers and leaves. 

When you are 8 years old its all you need. 

Happy Birthday to Lucy!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Fiona Cairns inspired (Random Bakes of Kindness #2) - book review

Image from Google
This creation of creamy goodness was inspired by a new book by Fiona Cairns, you might have heard her name before as she designed and was responsible for the royal wedding cake.

You might remember it, as it was quite something in all its many tiered glory, and heavily decorated with the nations flowers, at the brides request?
Fiona Cairns has a new book called 'The Birthday Cake Book' published by Quadrille. This book is not what you might think and from someone who designed the royal wedding cake you might be expecting a cake mostly about sugarcraft. Actually the clue to the type of cakes contained within lies on the front cover of this book. These recipes are about flavour as much as decorated cakes and this book contains a wealth of recipes that would be suitable for more adult like birthdays or even everyday baked treats. There are quite a few cakes that are sugarcraft modelled, but other recipes concentrate much more on flavour than any fancy or hard to do sugarcrafted designs like very lemony meringue cake; tiramasu cake; liquorice toffee cake to name some.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

In at the deep end - book review

In at the deep end by Jake Tilson is so much like reading someone's travel journal that they have added to in scrapbook fashion with memento's/photographs/badges/rubbings/drawings/sketches/prints/tickets/patterns and other embellishments, to bring alive the memories contained within. Its a feast for the eyes and there is an awful lot to take in, so much so that you could almost miss the recipes if you don't pay attention! Its one of those books that you would pick up time and time again and find something you had missed on previous encounters. The background to the book is that Jake is lets say, 'not a fish lover' (he was actually afraid of fish!) and during a fair bit of international travel, across the globe from Venice to Tokyo taking in Sweden, Scotland, New York, Sydney, London and the great barrier reef, he gets to grips with a whole range of fish and develops his knowledge, skills and a fair few recipes along the way.

There is also a series of podcasts that accompany each chapter of this book. These are available to download freely from the 'in at the deep end' website. These podcast chapters are being added to (Venice and Sweden chapters are there now) and it really is a MUST that you listen to these as you read the book, otherwise you miss so much more, particularly about the visuals in the book and how they came to be there. The podcasts also give more clues with background noises and personal narratives of Jake's travel notes, these all help paint the picture of the places, his travels and experiences with his family (there's nothing like the sound of sizzling fish frying in a pan to get you thinking about fish and wanting to eat fish!).

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Happy Birthday 'We Should Cocoa' (Chocolate Guinness Cake) - recipe

This post is really to say happy first birthday to both Chele and Choclette on the occasion of their 'we should cocoa challenge' first much chocolate loveliness and jaw dropping wow in so many of those challenge inspired posts. A relatively new discovery for me but I really enjoy reading it every month.

Here's to the next year and to your continued baking success! I love challenges like this because it makes you think about what you are baking and gets food lovers to come up with new ideas, which in turn gives others (like me!) ideas for their baking.
     Happy Birthday and Cheers!

This is not an entry for the challenge, but our current family favourite cake is...Chocolate Guinness...named so because it contains both elements (no brainer, I know!). But the cake is sort of made to look like a pint of Guinness with a nice smooth creamy alabaster like head on it, this comes from a topping of cream cheese, cream and icing sugar added for sweetness, if you are true to the recipe. OR make a smooth vanilla butter cream and let your hand slip and heavily gently dust with cocoa like I did here.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Home made and well preserved with Steenbergs Organics

Well-preserved adj.
1. kept in good condition. 2. continuing to appear youthful.

Jam n. 1. a preserve containing fruit, which has been boiled with sugar until the mixture sets. 
Chutney n. a pickle of Indian origin, made from fruit, vinegar, spices, sugar, etc.: mango chutney.
Pickle n. 1. (often pl.) vegetables, such as onions, etc:, preserved in vinegar, brine etc. 2. any food preserved in this way. 3. a liquid or marinade, such as spiced vinegar, for preserving vegetables, meat, fish, etc. 4. to preserve in a pickling liquid.
Piccalilli n. a pickle of mixed vegetables in a mustard sauce.
Marmalade n. a clear sweetened jelly in which pieces of fruit and fruit rind are suspended.
Curd n. a custard like mixture made from fruit juice, sugar, butter and egg yolks and used as a filling or spread (Definitions quoted from Well Preserved)
I'm a lover of anything 'home made & well preserved' and I am always looking out for new recipes to try. After saving lots of jars in readiness, I really need some new inspiration from fellow food storers, creative cooks and lovers of all things home made, so here is a 'home made and well preserved' jamboree (get it?).

I could go on about how well preserved I am but I won't, most of it is pure fantasy on my part! However, autumn is fast approaching (or is it here already, it feels like it is in the north west!) and at this time of year I always want to lay down home made jars full to the brim of some kind of goodness for the winter...see previous marmalade post below...My logic says we could get snowed in, or the road/railway could collapse and supplies wouldn't get through, or the local Co Op Waitrose could run out of food? (I jest BUT we have 2 such stores in our 'village' and both ran out of all supplies last year in the snow crisis). It could happen again, and if we ran out of homemade marmalade/jam/pickles/chutney/piccalilli/relish/curd/preserved lemons/fruits...well it doesn't bear thinking about...right?

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Merchants of Hoghton Farmers Market 18 Sept 2011

What better way to spend a beautiful Sunday morning than at Hoghton Tower shopping at the Merchants of Hoghton Farmers Market.

Hoghton Tower has been the home of the de Hoghton family since the Norman Conquest re knowned for its connections with William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and King James I who, at a banquet held in his honour, famously knighted a loin of beef ‘Sir Loin’. (taken from the Hoghton Tower website)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Pink Grapefruit Marmalade - recipe

I really do love the taste and flavours of homemade jams/preserves/pickles/marmalade's, I'm one of those people where, if see a village hall sale and if there's home made jam in there I have to buy it, on some occasions I have bought the whole batch (no kidding I really have!). I have thought about joining the WI just because of my preserve addiction/habit (as I'm convinced all WI members are closet jam/preserve making fiends). Sorry WI, I do know there is much more to it than just that!

In the autumn, I don't know why but it seems like the right time of year to lay down stores for the winter ahead and that's when I like to make jars of preserves. Think I'm a secret food hoarder, mind you its not a secret to some!

Well its not really autumn yet, though its felt like it in recent days here in the north west, but I bought some gorgeous plump pink grapefruits from my local market at the weekend and rather than eat them all for breakfast I decided to make some marmalade with some of them.

I've been making this marmalade recipe for years and years, why? Because its so easy to make and I do like easy...and it tastes so nice and because its home made (and I love home made as much as I love easy) you can play with the recipe a bit...add grated fresh or stem ginger...add a teaspoon of whisky to the jar before you add the finished marmalade...put some edible glitter in if you like, add whatever extra kick or extra loveliness you fancy. Make it chunky, make it fine...make it your way.

This year I'm trying to improve my Seville orange marmalade, so much so that I want to enter the national marmalade awards with it if I can get it up to standard; you can follow my exploits here.