Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Jelly Bean Cake - recipe

I found this recipe on Google for this Jelly Bean cake I made for our February Clandestine Cake Club cake event...the theme was bean inspired cakes. Its a recipe from the USA but I have converted from US cups to grams, except for the jelly beans. It might be an idea to source your jelly beans BEFORE you start to make this cake, they are not readily available everywhere. You will need between 6 and 8 ounces for this cake (includes decoration).

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sunday lunch - in pictures mostly

This is the Windmill pub in Parbold, (West Lancashire/Wigan border) the original old windmill is to the right, on the banks of the Leeds/Liverpool canal and the pub is to the left just a ross the car park and shown above. 

Its a lovely pub with attentive staff and a warm inviting atmosphere. The pub is well maintained and full of character with its log fire/s and candlelit nooks.

Food is served during usual pub opening hours but you need to book ahead, tables are often reserved well in advance. 

We have eaten here twice and my preference, and that of my dining companion (aka my mother) is for anything off the menu other than the roast dinner. The chocolate mousse is homemade and to die for. The mouse below is carved in the end of what was a church pew.

NB. The Windmill did not ask me to do a feature on my blog or offer me any incentive (monetary or otherwise) to show you what we had for Sunday lunch, in fact they will have no idea about this until they see it for themselves!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Smoked Haddock Scotch eggs - recipe

We are very lucky here in that we have our own eggs freshly laid everyday, its a real feeling of wonder and awe to go and get free range eggs from your own hens, and you are never short of food when you have hens in the garden (nor are they mind you as they eat scraps and kitchen waste, on top of their usual food of course and as long as its a food that is OK for them to eat).

I have wanted to make scotch eggs for a while, but not the sausage meat kind, the smoked haddock variety. I cannot remember where I first came across these but I thought, they looked delicious and we love smoked haddock (the natural one) and I thought, having made ordinary scotch eggs these won't be too hard to make.

Well the upshot is that, yes they are really good, but alas they are a 'fiff and a faff' to make and do take a bit of time and patience. But they really are worth it and quite 'on trend' foodie wise; as Heston whatshisname has been on TV (Channel 4) lately and had a bit of a thing going about a lovely yolkie runny middle to a scotch egg which everyone seems to be talking about. I didn't achieve Heston's standard for interior runnyness I must admit; I followed his guide to the letter but didn't quite get the runny middle of the egg just right. We still loved them though, these do taste exceptionally good.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Schwartz herbs & spices - recipe inspiration kits - review

Here at 'the castle' (yes it really is that posh here folks!) we have been giving some of the Schwartz spices range a bit of a test. We were sent some of the range to try, including some of the familiar ones like, rosemary, paprika, cinnamon, etc along with some of the curry powders, lemon pepper and steak seasoning seasoning range too, but I was a bit taken with the new RECIPE INSPIRATION KIT range that they have.

Here on a card you get six spices each in a measure amount that you then use with your own ingredients to create a fabulous homemade main course dish. A recipe card is included, that you can keep if you want to make the dish again, handy for sure!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Roses are red - red velvet 'cry me a chocolate river cake' - recipe

If violets are blue then roses must be red...oui?...Or is that the other way around? Whatever way round it is, sometimes you have to go all the way for your loved one, the full monty, pull out all the stops...the full shebang! So here's my red velvet 'cry me a chocolate river cake'...baby! (chief taster doesn't get called 'baby' often, just the once a year...)

This cake is over the top, its big and its messy, its running away with itself, but sometimes thats the way love is! Make this cake, and you'll be loved forever.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Violets are blue - Valentine's afternoon tea - recipes

This week I'm featuring an afternoon tea suggestion for upcoming Valentines day, which this year is on a Tuesday.

One of the nicest Valentines memories I ever had was when I cooked a lovely meal for the two of us at home, but I did it to a restaurant standard (well my version of a restaurant at home anyway!). You know the kind of thing, I went the extra mile above and beyond what I would normally cook, and we spent a lovely evening relaxing over a three course meal with wine and champagne, the whole works really, (without the bill at the end). It was a really good evening, and its a wonderful memory I will keep forever.

But this year I thought maybe something a bit different. Romantic three course meal, no thank you very much, because this year home baking rules in winning hearts and minds.

So here is my take on a lovely pastel inspired Valentines afternoon tea, for you and your loved one...if you love baking like I do, you might choose to make all of these lovely treats or just make one of them...whichever you choose will be a sure success and well received, because its home made and made with love...and thats just what I would like to receive on Valentines day.

Have a lovely home baked Valentines Day. xxxxx

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Leon baking and puddings ('food in heaven') - book review - giveaway

This is a delicious french onion tart I made for a Saturday lunch recently, the recipe came from the Leon book , Leon Baking and Puddings, its the third book from Claire Ptak and Henry Dimbleby. The recipe is a flaky pastry base, homemade of course, but its very simple (just spelt butter, flour and salt) and its topped with a lovely onion mixture. There are various toppings suggested in the recipe to go onto the onions but on this occasion I chose fresh tomatoes and some Parmesan shavings. It was a deliciously fresh lunch, full of good things (just like this book too).

This latest Leon book is full of character and colour, its quirky, its different and its illustrated in a 'boys own' tattoo bearing angel fashion. It is full of family photos of the authors growing up and significant events involving their loves ones; its clearly been put together by people who are passionate about the food they share with family and friends. Its also clear that the quality of this food is very important to them. A good number of the recipes are personalised to family events or attributed to the creators, just like home and family inspired baking and handed down recipes should be.

The book itself is divided into two sections, parts one and two, the first is the 'everyday' section of recipes and this covers breakfast, power snacks, tea time, puds, cooking with children, bread and yeast and sweets. The second looks at 'celebration' and covers all kinds of popular events from Valentines day to Mothers day and even Wimbledon and Thanksgiving!  By the way, when perusing these sections see if you spot the karma sutra doilie with a strategically placed pudding on top? AND the page FULL of Leon stickers. Yes this book is that different and kinky quirky, but only in a good 'tongue in cheek' way!

The philosophy of Leon is about good healthy food, reflected in the ethos of the restaurant chain as well as the recipe books. This is a picture of one of the branches in Soho, taken by yours truly. Henry Dimbleby describes these as being created from a vision of 'what McDonalds would look like in heaven'...food that is delicious, good for you and fast. The food here has received a number of accolades from various sources.

Another aspect of the Baking and Puddings book is that it covers a range of recipes to suit those on special diets, and whether this is the need to loose weight or the need to watch what ingredients are in your baking (like gluten free) this book will certainly appeal. There really is something in this book for everyone. The range of recipes is wide reaching and Leon baking and puddings has useful information about all kinds of ingredients you can use in baking, for me this was one of the particular pleasing aspects of this book. The Leon book is not promoted as a book to learn to bake from but it will add to your knowledge of how to bake and what ingredients to use and when, with the chapters on 'guide to baking ingredients' and 'tools, tips and techniques'.

I have also made the coconut cake from the celebrations section of Leon, I took it into work to share with colleagues and it was gone in minutes. You make a coconut 'jam' for the filling and the topping is fresh cream, in the book its covered in coconut shavings but I left my cake plain. It was a lovely tasting cake with subtle coconut flavours, and I would make it again. Both of the recipes I have tried have worked well and have not been difficult to create. 

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Its my 1st yr blogaversary - Baking Mad giveaway

My blog is one year old today!

Where has that year gone from my first post to now, where has all that food gone *looks down at widening hips*, where have all these foodie friends/fellow bloggers, Twitter/Facebook, Clandestine Cake Clubbing, hen loving/keeping followers come from? Well I'm not really sure, its all a bit of a wonder to be honest, but I love my new found blogging hobby, and my new found acquaintances and people I now like to call 'friends' and I wanted to express many heartfelt thanks to those of you who have read, followed, trusted me to review, commented on and supported my blog in its first year. Many, many thanks.
Susan x