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.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Comfort and Spice - book review

I was very kindly sent a copy of 'Comfort and Spice' written by Niamh Shields to review by Quadrille Publishing this week. It was a very apt addition to inspire me in my kitchen, especially with the weather being so autumnal. Not that 'Comfort and Spice' is a book for this particular season, its just that the title conjures up hopes of warm, 'fleecy blanket comforting' and homely recipes.

Comfort and Spice has been written by someone who is clearly a devoutee of good, home cooked food and with a palate borne from travel and a keen interest in sourcing, making and sharing their food with others. This book covers a wide range of recipes from very simple dishes, to something more challenging and across all eating scenarios, including 'grazing' (of which I am a fan). Its modern food with old fashioned values, by that I mean its very current cooking but not at the cost of wasting food or being too exclusive.

The recipes are clearly written (each recipe is not long enough to become arduous) and I found they were easily followed, with a helpful common sense and 'enabling the cook' style of writing. On average about every 4/5 recipes have a photograph to accompany them. There is a lovely description of where a recipe might have originated from, or where Niamh ate it and in what context, giving an interesting narrative insight  into her travels and experiences.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Hydrangea's and Hens

I do love colourful rainbow things like this picture here. I made these pretty creations myself . I've been busy these last few weeks making hydrangea flowers in various colours its quite easy to do when sitting down and I have had a bit of a fascination with them of late, they look so pretty on top of cakes, and making them has kept me busy and occupied. They are made from sugar paste, so are edible.

What better way to use some of them than for a friends birthday was my 'oldest' friends (not by age but by length of friendship) birthday...we've been friends for a long long time...she's a lovely person...we always mange to laugh together, despite whats going on...and if I don't see her for ages we just pick up from where we left off. She loves cake and I made her what I think is a lovely cake...the first one of these giant cupcakes I have ever made. 

I like the look of these and they are really popular, but I can't help but think there is too much sponge inside...or maybe its just me, I think my preference is for the middle filling in any cake as much as the sponge itself...