Thursday, 31 May 2012

Diamond jubilee chicken - recipe

Hhhmmmm, now how can I put this dear patriotic readers?
We're not really feeling the Queens diamond jubilee thing here (you may have noticed the absence of the red, white and blue cakes and the like?). It's a long, long story and has nothing to do with the monarchy whatsoever...or the fact we are miserable so and so's and you'd be bored to tears you really would, trust me.

But, as the rest of the country is getting to grips with the celebrations, not to mention th'olympics (yes, thats how we say it up north folks) and with the Queens diamond jubilee in mind, Schwartz sent me some of their new Coronation chicken mix to try out. So when the sun shone brightly this week and a quick sarnie in the garden was required for lunch...(and with a perfect excuse to make some homemade mayonnaise in my new mixer) I had a bash at what is a very old recipe. It was a no brainer to be honest, its a cheat to call this a recipe as its so easy to make.

I didn't have all the ingredients to hand that are suggested on the packet by Schwartz so my version of Coronation chicken is slightly different (usually sultanas and flaked almonds are used, I used dried apricots instead, as I like them more than sultanas).
..if you don't know the history of Coronation chicken then Wikipedia has a bit of a description...
Coronation chicken may have been inspired by jubilee chicken, a dish prepared for the silver jubilee of George V in 1935, which mixed chicken with mayonnaise and curry. Additionally, for the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002, another celebratory dish was devised, also called Jubilee chicken.  

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Versatile Lemon sole - three recipes

Lemon sole...its a really nice fine fish it has a subtle flavour and it is quite light both in colour and in texture. Its not as meaty as some other types of fish like cod, haddock, mackerel or tuna. Its an ideal fish to give to children as its very fine texture. Its a great fish to use if you want to create a meal thats quick and easy as becuase its a fine fish the fillets will cook really quickly. If you are coming in from work, the kids are back from school and starving and want a quick, nutritious and easy supper, here are some tasty ideas to try.

I have tried 3 recipes recently (all of these will serve two adults) as I wanted to try and see how versatile lemon sole actually is as a fish...and I wanted to see what different kind of recipes I could make with it and what each of these tasted like.

The outcome was that for all three recipes we liked each one and it was really difficult to say which was one was our particular favourite...wonder if you can guess which one of these we liked the best?

First up...
Pan fried Lemon sole with brown shrimps, capers and a herb butter

Friday, 25 May 2012

Awesome Blog Content Award

Ahhh another day another award...of sorts...this is a challenge as much as an award and I'm following in the wake of the ever lovely Choclette (she of 'we should cocoa' fame no less) who has invited me to join in. Thanks love!

The idea is, reveal a bit more about your persona by using the letters of the alphabet...let me tell you this looks easier than it is...I was completely stumped with the 'G' word!

A - Amber, our rescued golden retriever, she had been dumped in a field after being kept for breeding purposes on a puppy farm. Never known a dog so badly treated and turn out so gentle and docile, she has never barked in all the 5 years we have had her and is truly devoted to her owners. Is also 'in charge' of this household.
B - Bournemouth - off there in a week or so to stay with relatives, should be good and a pleasant change if a little hilly and possibly gentile!
C - Cake - I 'might' just be addicted to cake, but it has to be homemade cake.
D - Dentists, I'm not a fan and think I'm getting worse, I need to feel the fear.
E - Expense - talking of dentists...(see how I just linked those two letters together there?)...
I can't quite believe how expensive decent fresh food is in this country and how packets of things have got so much smaller. Don't they know we notice these things?
F - Fresh flowers - I love them especially the more traditional ones like old fashioned peonies/hydrangeas/stocks/lavender especially blues, lavenders and pinks.
G - Gandparent - I am one - and I have no clue how that happened.
H - Hens - we have 5 ex battery hens, (and no I don't live on a) a farm or b) run an animal rescue centre) 'the girls' have almost given up laying eggs now, bless them. I think they have just retired here now and are enjoying the good life too much. We have had our oldest hen for 2 years nearly and thats very good for an ex battery hen. (Buy free range folks!)
I - Intelligence - what attracted me to my (very very clever and geeky) husband.
J - Judge - my mother was one (enough said!).
K - Klout - what can I say? I just can't quite 'get' it.
L - Lancashire - I love this county - the greenery - the views - the friendly people - the  damp climate.
M - Macmillan Cancer - one of my recipes was recently accepted for a book they are involved in as part of the worlds biggest coffee morning (September 28th), to be sold in M&S stores. I feel really proud to be associated (in even a small way) with such a worthy cause.
N - Night owl - I prefer late nights and I don't like early starts.
O - Occular migraine - I'm a sufferer - no bright lights, paparazzi flash bulbs or strobes for me anymore :-(.
P - Psychology - I have an ology in that.
Q - Queens Diamond Jubilee - I'm not feeling the vibe - sorry folks.
R - Ratings - the whole blog ratings thing fascinates me, but not for the reasons some may think.
S - Sister, I have one and I feel very lucky to have my sister. (I have two brothers too *waves*)
T - Time - where does it all go when you have a blog, it just seems to disappear into the ether?
U - USA - I want to visit every state before I die and I want to buy a house there, just not sure where (yet) or how (yet).
V - Vermont - I love that is a bit of an insight  hhhmmmm...maybe that solves the 'U' problem above?
W - Work - I work full time I never mix work and blogging. Most people would probably be surprised to learn what I do for a job.
X - Xmas - not a fan of that word, or shortened words, or shortened (nick) names either and I really do not like text speak now I think of it (gawgus being a particularly bad example).
Y - Youth - I wish I was 23 again...and all the Bee Gees were still 'staying alive'. (RIP Robin) *sighs*
Z - Zodiac - I'm a Libran - peace loving - creative - indecisive - often advocating for the under dog - can see both sides etc etc.

If you fancy taking part in this and want to be as challenged by letters in the alphabet as I was then please do so and link up below by placing a comment...

I'll happily allow you to take an Awesome Blog Content Award from me and I look forward to seeing your answers if you do!

Joining in are...

Linzi at Lancashire Food

Monday, 21 May 2012

An easy birthday cake - how to

After I'd reviewed Ruth Clemens book recently this happened to be my first option to turn to this weekend for a recipe for the base for a chocolate birthday cake. Ruth had mentioned that her chocolate cake recipe was a good failsafe one and the book has the measurements for all sizes of tins. So you can make a small or large cake to suit the numbers you are catering for, a win all round!

The tin I used for this cake was a 9 inch round spring form cake tin and this made a decent sized cake for a bit of a birthday bash. I did think about icing this chocolate cake with fondant icing, but I was pushed for time, and I had made a cake like this once before for a cake club (see below) and it was quite successful and effective. This is a very colourful cake and I thought the design would suit a male recipient and it has appeal for children too (especially if they are having a colourful ball pool party).

Not a lot of effort goes into the decoration of this cake really, you just need a good tasty supply of chocolate buttercream, 3 packets of chocolate fingers and I also used up to 3 packets of the sharing size of coloured chocolate beans aka smarties.

This is not a new design for a cake as this one has been around for a while, not sure who 'invented' the design but its quite effective when put together. Whoever came up with this idea was probably trying to save money by using chocolate fingers round the outside as chocolate cigarillos are usually used for this kind of cake, but these are very expensive and prone to breaking easily too.

You could do a variation on this cake to put fresh fruit on the top (strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries etc) or Maltesers or round Aero bubble chocolates or any other sweets really...just go for it.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Pork goulash - recipe

A lovely recipe but one that I have not made in a very long time, and I don't know why as I love it so, its a pork goulash which originates from Hungary...with the weather being a bit parkie of late in Lancashire its certainly suited us for supper one night.

It's easy to make and has a delicious rich flavour with the combination of sweet and smoked paprika, tomatoes and sour cream (stirred in at the end prior to serving). When the pork is cooked like this it really melts in your mouth.

Serve pork goulash with noodles or another starch (potatoes, couscous or rice) and vegetables. Who needs a packet or a jar to add flavour when you can make a supper dish from scratch this easily?

I used a cast iron casserole with a lid to make my goulash, I like this method because I can use it on the top of the stove to start the goulash off and also in the oven to bake it. A cast iron casserole is ideal for a recipe like this...and once popped in the oven it cooks much faster than a normal casserole dish.

This will serve four, or three if you are very greedy!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Pickering Pots - recipe

Its nice to get away from the homestead every now and again, to have a change of scenary and refresh your batteries and meet and make new friends should the occasion arise. Thats what we did a few weekends ago, spent the bank holiday weekend in Pickering in East  North Yorkshire...just a couple of nights away in a guesthouse was all that was needed. And from that trip friendships were formed, from a meeting of like minds, tea was drunk by the teapot full, steam trains were boarded and gazed at, good food was eaten, lavender farms were surveyed, flat tyres were mended in a downpour rain, cameras were left at home(!), stately homes were almost visited and this recipe for 'Pickering Pots' was born.

'Pickering Pots' came from and idea after buying some local preserves (I'm a fiend for buying jam if I think its good wholesome stuff). These preserves were sold in the guest house and I had tried them at breakfast and loved them. Local preserves in hand and a trip to a local lavender farm for inspiration. No lavender to see in full bloom unfortunately, but lovely panoramic views...

My Pickering Pots are dessert pots of lavender scented rice pudding, blackcurrant conserve and with a crunchy caramelised brûlée topping.

Friday, 11 May 2012

'The Busy Girls Guide to Cake Decorating' - book review and giveaway

I've been sent a copy of Ruth Clemens first book to review...Ruth was runner up in the Great British Bake Off BBC 2 first series and I have always followed her since that programme. She has a blog called The Pink Whisk, (one of the top 50 websites in the country related to food) and there is a Facebook page of the same name; its a very popular blog for very good reasons, the recipes on there are really good family orientated tried and trusted favourites. I have tried quite a few of them myself often more than once (due to popularity) and with great success. Ruth's new book has been long awaited in baking circles, not least of all by yours truly, and my thanks go to RUCraft who sent me a copy to review and who have offered to give two copies away...keep on reading to find out how to enter...

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Heaven at THE Plate - dining out in the Ribble Valley

Last weekend but one we had a drive through the beautiful Ribble Valley in Lancashire, en route to a wedding reception and we remembered why we love living in this county so much. It truly is lovely scenery in rural Lancashire and the views are absolutely beautiful.

After a lovely drive we enjoyed a truly fantastic lunch at a lovely eatery in a converted barn at Backridge Farm called THE PLATE, in a very small idyll known, funnily enough also as Backridge!  'The Plate' has its own barn conversion in amongst a few farm buildings that have been also converted into shops/studios and the like.

Backridge Farm is not a big affair but pleasant for a wander around and to look at the rabbits, llamas, geese (there are a couple of small play areas for children) and to gaze at the rolling Lancashire countryside, new lambs and their patient mothers. All in all a very lovely setting.