Sunday, 3 November 2013


It's becoming obvious that I am scraping the barrel here.  My last blog post was six weeks ago and it was all about a cup of tea!

I know everyone has their own method for roast potatoes (probably their Mum's) but this is mine. I say 'mine'.....really it's just an amalgamation of handy hints and tips I've picked up over the years (my Mum, Delia, my ex-boss, etc)
It's good......and foolproof.

I'm not sure which variety of potatoes I used this time. They were loose ones bought from the village shop.

Once peeled, I chopped the potatoes into three even sized pieces, on the diagonal. (I think that's Nigella's tip)
I chucked them into a large pan of boiling water and simmered them for 10 minutes.

I use goose fat for roasting.  If you're going to cook with fat, it may as well be tasty.
I usually cook with olive oil or no oil but for roast potatoes, it's got to be goose fat.
We usually have a stash from Christmas but that's long gone so I had to buy some.
While the potatoes were bubbling away, I put several small blobs of goose fat in a roasting tin and melted it in the oven (preheated to 200°C)

I drained the potatoes in a colander and gave them a quick rumble around to fluff up the edges. Sometimes if they're a little firm I throw them back in the pan, put the lid on and give them a vigorous shaking.  You can also rough them up a bit with a fork. Basically, the fluffier the edges, the crispier they'll be.

I spooned them into the hot fat and turned them over to coat each one.

Then for the special crunch inducing ingredient......semolina (I keep mine in a dredger for convenience)
Sprinkled liberally with semolina and sea salt and coarse black pepper, they're ready for the oven.

They normally take about 45 minutes to cook.

They need to be eaten straight away to retain their crispness.

*Kitchen Music*

The world has lost another great man

Monday, 16 September 2013


After a long day at school my girl came home feeling poorly.  She really tried to shrug it off but eventually put her PJs on and snuggled down under a blanket.

I made her a drink that would perk her up a bit for the couple of hours before bedtime.

I used a cafetiere to brew the tea and a milk frother to froth the milk (strangely enough) but you could just use a teapot or a cup for the tea and a pan to heat the milk.

1 Chai tea bag
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
a pinch of allspice
1/2 cup of boiling water
1/2 cup milk
1 heaped tsp of brown sugar
a couple of drops of vanilla extract

You steep the tea bag for a couple of minutes (depending on how strong you like your Chai)
Meanwhile, heat the milk with the spices, sugar & vanilla.

Pour the milk into a cup then add the chai and stir.

It's a great drink even if you don't have a sore throat.

Sunday, 8 September 2013


So yesterday my lovely friend got married.  Instead of gifts, we were asked to bring a bottle of something for the bar (blackcurrant vodka) and something sweet to eat.
Always keen to make pudding, I decided I'd do two. True to form, I left it to the last minute.
Church at 3.30pm......start puddings at 12.30pm.

Pudding no. 1

Chocolate Cheesecake
Preparation time 20 mins tops.


150g digestive biscuits
45g butter
110g caster sugar
120ml whipping cream
150g dark chocolate, melted
2 tbsp cocoa powder mixed with a little hot water
1 200g tub cream cheese

I used a 9" springform cake tin because that's all I have.  The recipe called for a 7" tin so I did 1½ times the quantity.  Nobody wants a thin cheesecake.

I whizzed the biscuits in the magimix and added the butter and a tbsp of the weighed caster sugar. I pressed the mixture into the tin and put it in the fridge.  I whipped the cream to soft peaks then added the melted chocolate and the cocoa mix followed by the cream cheese which had been mixed with the remaining caster sugar.  I spread it all on top of the buttery biscuit base and put it in the freezer for an hour while I set about making Pudding no. 2.......

A Normandy Apple Tart.


2 large apples
light brown sugar
150 ml apricot jam, warmed to make a glaze
a generous slug of amaretto

For the pastry:
200 g plain flour
100 g butter
1 egg yolk
2-3 tbsp cold water

For the frangipane:
100 g butter
100 g sugar
2 eggs
50 g flour, sifted
75g ground almonds
a few drops of almond essence (I used vanilla extract)

I whizzed up a batch of pastry in the magimix.....I doubled the quantities and put half of the mix in the freezer for another time (always a good idea if you're going to the bother of making pastry)

I rolled out the pastry and pressed it into a 9" loose bottomed flan tin, pricked it all over with a fork then baked it for about 10 mins at 180°C. (The recipe said 200°C but I have a ferocious fan oven)

Meanwhile, I made the frangipane by creaming the butter and sugar together until it was pale and fluffy.  I added the eggs then a spoonful of my weighed out stops the egg and butter mixture  splitting.  After mixing, I put in the rest of the flour and the ground almonds along with some vanilla extract.  I spread the mixture into the baked pastry case then covered it with thinly sliced apples.  I drizzled some brandy over the top and whacked it in the oven. After about 15 mins, I sprinkled brown sugar over the top and carried on cooking it for another 15 mins.
While the tart was cooking I made an apricot glaze. I heated some apricot jam in a pan and added some amaretto then sieved it to remove the fruit.
Once my tart was cooked, I glazed it with a pastry brush, to make it look shiny and beautiful.

Then I set about making myself shiny and beautiful.......not such an easy task!

Once I was ready, all that was left was a bit of decoration for the cheesecake which was looking slightly dull.  Easily fixed with some cocoa, heart shaped cutters and a generous sprinkling of edible glitter.

A beautiful wedding and a thoroughly enjoyable day / evening.

Oh and check out our wedding favours.......the groom is an illustrator and made some prints for all of the guests.  How generous is that?

*Church Music*
beautifully sung by one of the guests

Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Last week I went for a sneaky lunch at the Fat Apples Cafe in Porthallow with my girl & some friends from work. It's just down the road from our house and we go there as often as we can. They do a mean breakfast.

Not only do they serve amazing food but they are lovely people too. It's a real family business with a great atmosphere.
They have also very kindly offered to sell some of my crochet pieces in their shop. I'm not really too sure about the whole selling thing but it's a great retail outlet with no pressure (which is the thing that has put me off selling stuff in the past.......I can't cope with having to crochet to order) It's just a hobby after all.
So I've put in a few bits & pieces to see how I get on....mostly dishcloths, jar cosies, egg cosies and the like....nothing too complicated or expensive.

A dishcloth (before it was blocked...hence the wiggly edges)

Bobble egg cosies

Anyway......back to the food.
I had a hot brie salad and it was delicious. I attempted to recreate my own version for lunch today.

We had some Cornish Brie hanging out in the fridge, needing to be eaten.
I thinly sliced some Bloomer loaf that had passed its best and toasted it under the grill. I added some slivers of brie and grilled it for another minute until the cheese started to melt.

I plated up some baby leaf salad with sliced cherry plum tomatoes, sliced pickled beetroot, chopped cornichons and capers. We had some leftover crispy bacon from breakfast so I chopped it up and added it to the salad (bad luck dog!)

When the cheesy toast was cooked, I drizzled it with some hot rhubarb & chilli jam (bought from Fat Apples) which I'd warmed slightly in a pan.

Actually in the end it wasn't anything like the original salad but it was tasty all the same.

Thanks for the inspiration

*Kitchen Music*

RIP JJ Cale, you legend

Sunday, 28 July 2013


As promised, here is the recipe for Elderflower Crunch Cake.
If you have a favourite Lemon Drizzle recipe, you could easily adapt it.

For the cake

175g softened butter 
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs
140g self raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
85g ground almonds
100ml milk

For the drizzle

4tbsp elderflower cordial
4tbsp granulated sugar
zest and juice of a lime

  • Oven at 160°C/320°F/Gas Mark 3. 
  • Line a 2lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper
  • Beat the butter & sugar with an electric whisk/food mixer until light & fluffy
  • Beat in the eggs and the dry ingredients
  • Add the milk
  • Pour into the tin and bake for 45 mins or until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean
  • Prick the cake all over with a fork or skewer 
  • Mix the cordial, sugar, lime zest & lime juice and pour it all over the cake
  • Leave to cool in the tin 

I doubled my quantities to make 2 cakes - I figure if you're putting the oven on & baking, you may as well make two.  I gave one away (honest!)

Sunday, 21 July 2013


This is one of my favourite puddings, partly because it tastes amazing but mainly because it's so easy. I'm not kidding.

You need 6 egg whites. As my little helper was doing the first part, she used her egg yolk separator. It's the easy way to collect your egg whites with no skill required.

I use a food mixer but you could easily use an electric hand whisk.

Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks then gradually add 10oz of caster sugar.
Whisk until firm.

Spread the mixture out onto a tray covered with greaseproof paper (I always use a teflon sheet)
Sprinkle with flaked almonds and then bake in the oven at 180°C for 10 mins. Turn the oven down to 160°C and cook for a further 15 mins.
The meringue needs to be firm & crispy to the touch without any wobble.  It's ideal if you can get to that stage before it turns golden but don't depends on your oven.  I have a fan oven and it's ferocious.

You leave it in the tin to cool slightly before turning it out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper on a cooling rack (almond side down)
[The easiest way....and possibly the only to lay a piece of greaseproof paper on top of the meringue, put an upside down cooling rack on top of the paper then hold on tight and flip the whole thing]
Peel off the greaseproof sheet (the original one that's been in the oven) and leave to cool completely.

Then you spread it with double cream which can be whipped while the meringue is cooking.
I put the juice of a lime in before I whipped it - you need to add it early on as it thickens the cream. When it was the perfect consistency, I added the zest of 3 limes.

Cover the cream with raspberries.  You could use any fruit but I like the sharpness of the raspberries as the meringue is so sweet.  In the past, I have made it with kiwi, blueberries & strawberries.  I've also put chocolate chunks in the meringue goes really well with raspberries.

Now the trickiest bit (& it's not really that tricky) is the rolling up stage.

You carefully slide the whole thing (including the greaseproof paper underneath) off the cooling rack onto a large plate or tray or whatever.  You grasp the edge of the greaseproof and slowly roll up the sort of fold the edge in first & then the rest of it follows (à la swiss roll)

The great thing about this pudding is it's very forgiving.  The whole thing gets covered with icing sugar so even if it cracks, it still looks good.

As my little helper went out for a walk with her Grandma, she missed the excitement of rolling up the meringue. To recompense, I let her make some chocolate dipped strawberries to decorate the empty sides of the massive plate.

We are taking it to our friends' house tonight so at least we'll be sharing the calories.

Saturday, 20 July 2013


I left it a bit late this year but there were still some elderflowers around at the end of June. I went for a walk across the fields and picked my flower heads. My friend told me it's good juju to ask permission from the tree before you pick it's flowers and you should thank it profusely, so I did. Luckily nobody saw me!

I decided to make double quantities of my recipe so I picked 60 flower heads. I rinsed them to get rid of possible inhabitants.

I added 3lb caster sugar (I know that's loads but it's actually 1lb less than my recipe called for) to 6 pints of boiling water. I left it to cool then added 100g citric acid (bought online).

I sliced 4 oranges, 3 lemons and 3 limes and threw them in the pan with the flowers. The recipe just said oranges and lemons but I didn't have enough so I added the limes.......I think it made it even better.

After a couple of days steeping, I strained the lot through a large muslin square and decanted the cordial into glass bottles.

I got 8 bottles' worth so it was a worthwhile harvest. It meant we had enough to share amongst friends.

I've seen a recipe for Elderflower Crunch Cake which is similar to Lemon Drizzle Cake but uses elderflower cordial to make the drizzle.  I'll definitely be trying that.