Sunday, 27 November 2011

...that festive feeling!

So today I have been feeling very 'Christmassy' and have therefore decided to completely over-indulge in delicious goodies (as is only proper when feeling festive!)

My parents came over for dinner, so I made a Christmas Ham - I boiled it in 2L of Coca Cola for about 1 hour 30mins/2 hours with an onion, peeled and chopped in half. I left it to simmer and then took it out of the pan; slicing off the top layer of fat, scoring and then smearing in 2tbsp black treacle, 2tsp of mustard powder and 2tbsp of demerera sugar - you can add cloves too but I didn't have any and it still tasted yummy!

I also made Christmas carrots to accompany this festive dish. Christmas carrots are my second favourite vegetable dish (sprouts being my first of course!) as they taste so warming and delicious. Basically boil up some carrots, then when they're cooked throw them in an oven dish with a sprinkling of cinnamon, cumin, some garlic, salt, pepper, butter and lemon juice and leave them to cook for about 10 mins on about 160ish.. I just sort of bung them in the oven and guess when they're cooked.. they really are divine and if you try something new this year for your Christmas dinner, make these carrots.. you won't be disappointed!

I also made some mince pies - the mince meat had been made well in advance (back in September - where does the time go?!) so it was just a case of making the pastry and then popping them in the oven! 12 oz plain flour 8 oz butter (they used hard margarine in the 1950s but there are limits...) 2oz caster sugar 1 egg 1 pinch salt Combine the butter with the flour and salt until it resembles breadcrumbs - add the caster sugar then add the egg (I normally just use the yolk) You can use whichever pastry you want really.. I then baked them for 12-15 minutes at about 170.

I also made some yummy shortbread buttons which would be the perfect give to give someone in a cute little bag for a small Christmas present (I will do a blog next weekend on homemade foodie Christmas gifts!)

They were really simple to make! I basically creamed 125g of butter with 50g of caster sugar - added a little lemon zest and added the flour until it formed a dough (it needed a little bit of help so I added a splash of milk!) I then baked at 170 for about 10 minutes.. et voila! You can add a sprinkling of caster sugar as they come out of the oven if you like for a bit of extra sweetness.

Finally I made a Victoria sponge for dessert.. I have been searching EVERYWHERE for duck eggs.. much to the bewilderment of many a shop assistant I have asked, but I eventually found some (by pure luck!) last night in Tesco! Hurrah! They're a lot bigger than standard chicken eggs, and their shells are thicker so they last longer.. they're apparantly meant to make cakes even fluffier so I thought I would put it to the test with a sponge cake.. and I'm so glad I did!

I won't bore you with the details of how to make a sponge, I'm sure you all know! For my filling I just spread on a copious amount of jam and I beat 300ml of double cream with a splash of vanilla extract and 30g of icing sugar.. deeelicious!!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Flapjacks and cupcakes..

Today I have had some help baking from my lovely friend, Donna! She wanted to make some cupcakes and chose a yummy marshmallow frosting. I'm not going to repeat the vanilla cupcake recipe as it's in my previous blog which can be found here.
However, I will put the marshmallow frosting recipe up.

Marshmallow Frosting;


250g Caster Sugar

4 egg whites
1 tablespoon water

Pinch of salt


Place all of the ingredients in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and heat until all of the sugar dissolves and the mixture reaches a temperature of 60 (Celsius) - then tip it all in to a mixer and whisk for about 3 minutes (or you can use a hand mixer) for about 3 minutes until it forms stiff, glossy peaks - use immediately.


Finally, the flapjacks. A couple of weeks ago I received some apple and cinnamon flapjacks in my graze box and they really are to die for!!

Last weekend I tried to recreate these delectable delights, but failed absolutely miserably and ended up with crumbly flapjacks that ended up in the bin.. gutting.
I have been determined to make the perfect, moist flapjacks since and I have now cracked the recipe - these really are delicious.. and I plan on taking them to work for breakfast for the next few days (if they last that long!!)

Apple and Cinnamon Flapjacks


250g butter

250g caster sugar

1 cup golden syrup

100g rice crispies

100g rolled oats

300g porridge oats

cinnamon - about a tsp or two, depending on how much you like cinnamon

2 apples, peeled and grated


Place the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan and slowly melt - once it has melted add all of the ingredients and coat evenly.

Tip the mixture in to a tin and firmly press it all down - place into a 180 (celsius) oven and bake for about 25 minutes until pale golden - it may seem a little undercooked when it comes out but it will set as it cools - while it is still warm, mark out the flapjacks and then leave to cool.. if you can resist temptation!!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The fattest blog yet!

So I haven't posted on here in quite a while.. I've been so busy with work and life, but that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking.. so you're in for quite a treat today!!

I had some friends over for lunch a couple of weeks ago so decided that I would make some home made soup with some fresh bread.. my boyfriend being my boyfriend had to be awkward and request different soup from everyone else, but I actually prefered the soup I made for him;

Potato & Leek Soup


1 tbsp vegetable oil and blob of butter

1 tsp minced garlic

1 onion, sliced

225g potatoes, cubed

2 medium leeks,sliced

1.2 litres/2 pints good vegetable stock

150ml/5fl oz double cream

salt and pepper


Heat the butter and oil in the pan and then fry the onions and garlic - when soft add the rest of the veg and cover, season and leave to sweat until soft for about 10 minutes. Add the stock to the pan and then leave to simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Blitz with a blitzer, depending on how smooth you want your soup - then stir through the cream and enjoy!

Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup


15 ripe plum tomatoes

3 medium red bell peppers

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

handful of fresh basil or even some dry mixed herbs

tbsp olive oil


Drop the tomatoes in to a boiling pan of water for about 20 seconds and then take out - this makes the skins easier to remove. Meanwhile, halve and deseed the peppers then grill until the skin is blackened, once again making the skin easier to remove - the blacker the better! Once this is done, fry the onion and garlic in the oil, then add the tomatoes, peppers, basil and season- cook until soft. Add the stock and then leave to simmer for about 10 minutes - either blitz in the blender or leave it chunky - I blitzed mine and added a bit of double cream to thicken it up.

White Bread Rolls


500g strong white flour , plus extra for dusting

2 tsp salt

7g sachet fast-action yeast

3 tbsp olive oil

00ml warm water


You can either chuck all of the ingredients in to a bread maker, or you can make it by hand. If you are doing the latter, then sift the flour in to a bowl, add the yeast and the salt. Make a small well and then add the oil and water and mix until it makes a silky smooth dough.

Beat in to a pulp for about 10 minutes (just imagine someone you really dislike!).
Shape the dough in to whatever takes your fancy, place on to a greased baking tray - cover with a damp tea towel and leave for at least an hour to double in size.

Brush with olive oil (I like to add some freshly ground sea salt on top too) and then bake in a preheated oven (220 Celsius) for 25-30 minutes until the bread makes a hollow sound when tapped.. enjoy the delicious smell wafting through your kitchen!!


Finally, this weekend the whole family has been over for a BBQ, making the most of the unusually warm weather.. so here's some of the delights;

Foccacia Bread with Rosemary & Sea Salt


500g/1lb 2oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

2 tsp salt

1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast

80ml/3fl oz olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

150-250ml/5-9fl oz warm water

vegetable oil or oil spray, for oiling

1 bunch fresh rosemary

large pinch sea salt


Put the flour into a large bowl, add the salt and yeast, then add the olive oil, plus enough warm water to make a soft but not sticky dough.
The dough should feel quite loose and not tight and difficult to knead.

The more water that can be added (the full 250ml is what you're aiming for!) then the lighter the bread will be. But it can take some perseverance - although it's a lot easier using a mixer with a dough hook attachment. Also resist the temptation to add more flour as it will make the dough too heavy.

Knead for about 10 mins by hand, or 5 mins with a mixer. Shape in to an oval and leave to double in size for an hour, like in the previous bread recipe. Once ready, poke some holes with a well floured finger, place in some rosemary and add a sprinkle of salt. Bake for 25-30 mins at 200 (Celsius) until hollow and then drizzle over some more olive oil - yum!!

As you can see from the picture, my bread was already starting to be devoured before I could take a photograph!


These are from Ina Garten's book, they're basicall mini burgers but by gosh they're juicy and tasty!


2 pounds premium minced beef

1 tablespoon good dijon mustard
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
3 teaspoons chopped garlic

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 small


Really simple!! Just add the mustard, oil, thyme, garlic and seasoning to beef - mix together with a fork then form in to small patties and fry!! It really is THAT simple! Enjoy!

Potato Wedges

This was the easiest part of all! I chopped up some potatoes in to wedges, sprinkled over the season all and olive oil, then roasted in the oven for about 45 minutes! Deeeeelicious!

Buttermilk Chicken Wings

Nigella made these the other day on TV and I could not resist trying them - they really are divine!


12 chicken drumsticks (approximately 1.25kg/3lbs total weight)

500ml/17fl oz buttermilk (I got mine from sainsburys, nowhere else seems to sell it!)

60ml/2fl oz veg oil, plus 2 tbsp extra for drizzling

2cloves, peeled and lightly crushed

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tsp ground pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp maple syrup


Basically chuck all of the ingredients in to a bowl, leave to marinade overnight and then roast in the oven when you fancy! I roasted at 200 (Celsius) for about 30-45 minutes.

Salt & Pepper Bread Sticks

Again, I didn't get time to take a photograph of all of these beautiful breadsticks as they were completely devoured!!


450g/1lb strong white flour, plus extra for dusting

7g dried fast-action

1½ tsp salt

250–275ml/9-10fl oz warm water

vegetable or spray oil, for oiling

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp sea salt

2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper


Put the flour, yeast and the salt into a large bowl and add enough of the water to make a soft but not sticky dough. Knead well for 10 minutes by hand on a lightly floured work surface or for five minutes if using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions and roll in to sticks, or twists. Leave on a baking tray for about an hour to double in size, then brush with olive oil and add a generous amount of sea salt or fresh black pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes, until hollow, at 200 (Celsius)

Coleslaw & Potato Salad;

For this I just used the same basic dressing;


½ cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream

½ teaspoon cider vinegar

½ teaspoon granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard/Wholegrain Mustard or both!

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the coleslaw, add some shredded carrots, white cabbage and onion - then mix.. and for the potato salad add some cubed, cooked potatoes with some chopped up spring onions and enjoy!

Vanilla Cupcakes


110g/4oz butter or margarine, softened at room temperature

110g/4oz caster sugar

2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

110g/4oz self-raising flour


Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour slowly and then divide in to the cupcake cases. Bake at 160 (celsius) for about 15 minutes or more depending on your oven - you can test to see if they're ready by poking a skewer in to the middle - if it comes out clean they're good.

Maltesers Cupcakes

200 g softened butter

200 g
caster sugar

2 drops vanilla extract
3 medium eggs

170 g
self raising flour

30g horlicks
80 g maltesers


See the vanilla recipe, but add the horlicks in with the flour and add the maltesers once all the mixture is combined. Once again bake at 160 for about 15 minutes or so.

I decorated my cakes with some buttercream (Cream together 250g butter, 600g icing sugar and a few drops of vanilla - you can also add food colouring if you like; I decorated the vanilla cakes with a wafer flower with a sprinkle of beautiful glitter!! - and some crushed maltesers for the malteser cupcakes)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Pork, Potatoes and Pie-rates!

Today my boyfriend has pretty much demanded that we have hot pork sandwiches for dinner - so I kindly obliged and he has been a very happy man!!

I popped it in to a cooking bag and it came out lovely!

I also made some potatoes with an aioli dip to go with it;

Aioli Dip


1 slice of white bread with the crusts removed

2 tbsp champagne or white wine vinegar

6 large garlic cloves, chopped - depending on how much garlic you like you could use less

2 extra-large egg yolks

1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 tsp saffron threads


freshly ground black pepper

good olive oil (do NOT use extra virgin - it will taste completely wrong!!)

Tear the bread in to small pieces and soak it in the vinegar - set aside for 5 minutes.

In a food processor, blend the garlic, egg yolks, zest, juice, saffron, salt and pepper and add the bread after squeezing the excess vinegar out. Once it is blended, slowly pour in the olive oil until it reaches the consistency of thick sour cream/mayonnaise.

Serve with some wedges of potatoes - hot or cold.. cold with a sprinkling of salt is especially yummy!!


Now for the main part of the blog. After telling my Dad I was stumped for ideas for my cooking blog, he requested an apple pie. My Dad, along with the rest of my family, has learnt not to expect anything ordinary from me - so I didn't want to disappoint and decided I would make him and Apple Pie-rate Ship that I came across on Diamonds for Dessert!

Apple Pie-rate Ship


For the pastry;

255g plain flour

pinch of salt

140g hard margarine or unsalted butter

6 tsp ice cold water

For the filling;

3/4 apples - I used a mixture of braeburn and granny smith but you can use whichever you like

6 tbsp sugar

3/4 tbsp flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

a pinch of nutmeg

Sieve the flour and salt in to a bowl, then add the cubed butter. Rub together with your fingertips until they look like breadcrumbs (you need to make sure the butter doesn't melt so to make your hands extra cold run them under the cold water tap for a while!). Add the water a tsp at a time until you make a dough then chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Put all of the ingredients for the filling in a bowl and then you can either set them aside until you want to fill the pie if you want a bit of crunch or you can cook the apples for a short while if you want a softer texture.

How to make the pirate ship;

I used a foil tray and bent one of the shorter sides so it formed a ship, I then wrapped it in foil and added a bit of extra foil to the front in order to make the bow of the ship. Spray in a bit of nonstick spray when done.

Roll out your dough and then fill
the container - then prick with a fork all over. Put the left over dough back in to the fridge for later when you cover the pie.

Finally add some baking paper and fill with rice or dried beans and bake in the oven at 200 (Celsius) for 12-15 minutes.

Leave the crust to cool and then add the filling - roll out the rest of the dough and add to the top - slice some lines in to the top of the pie and using a fork press it around the crust edge to join the dough together. Whisk an egg and a bit of milk together and brush over the dough - then sprinkle a little sugar over the top.

Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 200 (Celsius) - I then added some chopsticks that I had added some flags to with a little bit of blu-tack.

Serve warm with lashings of custard or cold vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy me hearties!!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Nibbles and Naughties!!

So today I decided to try out some savoury bites - over the course of next week I have quite a few people popping round to see the new house, so I thought it would be nice to have some homemade nibbles to have with a glass of wine; so this is what I made!

Thyme and Cheddar Bites


50g butter

115g strong cheddar cheese

1 tsp english mustard powder

pinch of salt

100g pl
ain flour
1 tsp dried thyme or
2tbsp fresh thyme (chopped)

Blend the butter and cheese together in a bowl - ideally the butter will be soft. Add everything else and mix together until it forms a dough. Roll the dough in to a thinnish log, wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes at least.

Preheat the oven to 180 (Celsius) and line 2 baking sheets.

Unwrap the dough and slice in to pieces, place on the baking sheets and
bake for about 10 minutes until golden - leave to cool and then pour yourself a nice cold drink (preferably alcoholic!) to enjoy with.

Pretty Parmesan Biscuits

I've called these pretty because I've used a flower cutter to cut them out - but you can use whichever shape you like!


150g plain flour

110g grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

pinch of paprika

75g butter, cubed

2 large free-range egg yolks

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and then add
the butter and rub it together with your fingertips until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and form the dough in to a ball - wrap it in cling film and pop it in to the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 (Celsius) and line two baking trays.

Unwrap the dough and roll it out on to a lightly floured surface then cut out small shapes and pop them on to the baking tray to bake for around 8-10 minutes until golden. Leave to cool.

By now the kitchen will be smelling heavenly!

Finally, we come to the naughty part! My sweet tooth could not resist temptation today, so I baked some chocolate and vanilla cookie sandwiches!

Chocolate and Vanilla Cookie Sandwiches


For the cookies;

150g plain flour
90g cocoa powder (not hot chocolate powder, this won't do!!)
1 tsp soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

340g golden caster sugar

150g unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the vanilla cream filling;

50g butter

50g vegetable shortening (I used trex)

80g (ish) of icing sugar

1/2 tbsp of good vanilla extract

Pre-heat the oven to 190 (Celsius).

In a bowl, sieve together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and combine. Add the dry mixture and fold in until the dough is well combined.

Depending on how big you want the cookies, you can use either a teaspoon or an ice cream scoop to put the mixture on to lined baking trays about 2 inches apart. Using a glass (rinse it with some water first) dipped in caster sugar, flatten the balls of dough - you may need a spatula to help remove the glass from the mixture.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes and leave to cool.

Whilst the cookies are cooling cream the butter and shortening together, then add the icing sugar and vanilla extract - use the filling to sandwich together two similar sized cookies and enjoy with a cold glass of milk!

I have no idea how many calories are in these bad boys - and you probably wouldn't want to know.. just devour them before you have time to feel guilty!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The First Sunday Roast...

So today I cooked the first Sunday roast I've made in the new house, and my parents came over to sample the delights.

Today has been really quite warm - the weather's been a bit odd lately and I'd pretty much accepted that we were officially moving in to Autumn/Winter so I hadn't planned on making such a summery roast.

I opted for a chicken roast and decided to stuff the bird as it has been a lovely warm day today - I mixed together some butter, fresh parsley, marjoram, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl and then lifted the skin of the chicken to rub the mixture in to.

I then cut a lemon in to quarters, tore up four bay leaves and added a sprig of rosemary into the cavity. I drizzled some olive oil over the chicken and then added some salt and pepper - then left it to
roast at 220 (Celsius) for about an hour and a half.

Next was time to tackle the carrots. In the run up to Christmas, my
mom and I always try out different recipes for carrots to ensure we have the perfect tasting ones in time for our Christmas dinner - we have definitely nailed the perfect Christmas carrot and I will share the secret with you in a later post! Today though, as the weather was so sunny it seemed wrong to put such a 'warming' vegetable with this roast, so I opted for this Ina Garten recipe.

I boiled the carrots and then transferred them to a glass dish and added;

1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange juice
Squeeze of honey

1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger (you can add more or less depending on how much you like ginger)
A knob of butter

I then left them to roast in the oven alongside my yummy roast potatoes that I popped under the chicken to roast in the fat, and also added a little goose fat to help crisp them up further - I boiled them a little first before popping them in the oven for about 45 minutes.

Finally I opted for some roasted nectarines for dessert, my Mom has wanted to try some for ages so I thought this would be a nice end to a summery roast - except for my Dad, he settled for trifle!!

Halve the nectarines and remove the stone. Crush up some ginger biscuits and add the crumbs to some melted butter and a blob of honey then spoon the mixture in to the nectarines and sprinkle with a little brown sugar. Pop them flesh side down in a roasting tray and pour over a little freshly squeezed orange juice.

Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes at 190 (Celsius).

Whilst the nectarines are roasting, mix together a few tablespoons of Philadelphia with two tablespoons of caster sugar and a little orange zest.

Enjoy! Tyler did!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Totoro Icebox Cookies

Since I was a little girl I have always been obsessed with Totoro - so I thought what could be cuter and yummier than a whole batch of Totoro biscuits?!

I took the idea from Diamonds for Dessert (check out her blog - she's amazing!) as she made the sweetest looking animal icebox cookies - so I decided to try out some Totoro ones.


300g plain flour

240g unsalted butter at room temperature

170g caster sugar

50g icing sugar

2 egg yolks

Few drops of good vanilla extract

Black food colouring

Firstly, cream the butter and all of the sugar in a bowl - then add the two egg yolks and the vanilla extract. Add the flour and mix together (probably best with your hands) until it forms a dough.

Split the dough in to half and to one half of the mixture add a few drops of black food colouring - kneading well until you reach the grey colour you desire.

Next, roll out the plain dough in to a sausage shape (awful diagram 1)

Then, take the grey dough and roll it out so it is the same length as the sausage shaped dough (awful diagram 2)

You then need to roll the grey dough out from the sides so you have a small bump in the middle which will become Totoro's head (see awful diagram 3)

Once this is done, wrap the grey dough around the sausage shaped dough and you should end up with something that looks like awful diagram 4! (Keep a small amount of the dough aside to add on some ears to your totoro)

Wrap the dough in some cling film and leave it to chill in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes.

Once it has chilled, cut it in to slices using a sharp knife and lay the slices on to a greaseproof covered oven tray - add two pointy ears to your totoro's and then leave the cookies to chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

Once they are chilled, place them in to a preheated oven of 170 (celsius) and cook for about 12-14 minutes.

e the cookies to cool on a wire rack and then the fun part begins - decorating!!

Mix up some white icing, and make a batch of black icing using the food colouring - I used a skewer to add the detail to the biscuits.

You'll be left with some adorable cookies that, if you can bear to eat something so beautiful, taste beyond amazing! Enjoy!