Wednesday, 30 December 2009

I Heart a Vintage Breakfast....x

You may have seen this or not on the omnipotent Mr Jamie Oliver's Family Christmas programme. It is genius simple! J. Oliver's children made them and so did mine. This is the way that pancakes should be made, with no faffing, mess, whipping of egg whites etc etc! You should be able to make them practically still asleep; with a Christmas "head"; with a kitchen full of folk or simply before heading out for a much dread post "Roses" run!(eeeeeewgh!)

Grab yourself a mug/ large cup (of any dimensions). Use it to scoop up a mugful of Self Raising Flour, dump it in your new fabby Christmas pancake jug (......big thankyou's B juniors!) or bowl! Add a pinch of salt and a tsp of baking powder. Pour milk into your mug now, in it goes and one egg. Using a whisk, whip up all your ingredients, till you have a smooth batter.

You are good to go! Grab a reliable frying pan, crank up the heat, melt a knob of butter in pan and pour in about a tbs of batter. Let it cook until bubbles appear in the surface and a slice slides underneath easily. Flip it! Yipee watch it rise up! Lovely fat pancakes! (please bear in mind the first pancake is always, always a disaster....unless perhaps you are Mr Oliver?!) Keep a plate in a warm oven to pop them onto while you cook the rest of the batch!

Serve up with fruit, honey, greek yoghurt, jam, butter....whatever looks pretty and takes your fancy! And a good pot of hot, fresh coffee (in delicious teeny tiny 1950's red, red cups on a gingham table a vintage breakfast table, everything looks homey and warm on gingham!)

Thursday, 17 December 2009

If you were a raisin.....

Which would you rather be reincarnated in to?!I have to hold my hands up and admit that the only reason I make a Christmas pudding every year, is so that I can have family together for Stir Up Sunday and that I have to have these!

They are divine! I love them, whole heartedly... and they make my fridge look glamorous!Nigella's Christmas PuddiniTake 350g of left over, or freshly cooked and cooled Christmas pudding, add a good slug of the original booze you used in yours (60ml) and two 15ml tbs of golden syrup, mix it up briskly. Then add 125g of melted,good dark chocolate (I like something a little more bitter, it takes the edge off the sticky, sweet, gooeyness of the pudding) and mix up swiftly again till all incorporated! Done!

Now let the fun commence. Take a small amount and roll in your hands to make little bonbon sized balls! Pop on a plate! It can be messy, Nigella says get some food prep gloves on, but I find if you just slightly dampen your hands with warm water and use the mix when it has cooled down you will be fine and not that messy at all! When all patiently made, and you have a plate full, into the fridge they go to firm up. The icing of these little bad boys, depending on your temperament could be satisfyingly good fun or your idea of hell! But basically what I do now, is chop up a glacier cherry into little bits to make the berries and because I am supremely lazy, I get a green icing pen to draw on the holly leaves! So, drizzle (let it drip down the looks great!!) on some melted white chocolate and then get-a creating those wee tiny holly sprigs!Of course these also make the perfect gift! I sprinkle mine with a little edible glitter.... because I just can't help myself!

Finally licking this bowl is a purely adult pursuit! And heavenly!Get ready for the rounds of applause when you bring these out for dessert! Thats if you can bear for one of your gorgeous creations to be popped into mouths!!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Cauliflower Cheese....

I love the stuff. I love cauliflower in cheese sauce.
Now, we never said this blog would be filled with complicated and impressive dishes.... good, homely cooking - seasonal products - family dishes.... I bloomin' L O V E "Cauliflower Cheese". When i was pregnant i loved it that 'little bit more' (in the way only a pregnant woman can) and do you know, there was actually a National Cauliflower Shortage in a few weeks when i was pregnant - i KID you not! What are the chances? Poor ManFish driving from Supermarket to super-supermarket...!
Anyways, thank the heavens that my Mother taught me how to make a White Sauce at such an early age. A true Winter staple. If i haven't eaten it for a while, i crave it all the more.
A cauliflower, bolied quite well (i always put stock in my water when i boil it)
Covered in cheesy white sauce (with a generous dash of mustard)
Add what else you like: Sauted onions? capers? Halved baby toms? it is up to you.
I popped this in the oven for a good 40 mins whilst we got the Christmas Tree ready.
Served with a small loaf of home-baked fresh, seeded bread.

Friday, 11 December 2009

We three cakes...

We three cakes from KirstyFish are...
I made the mistake of telling my Mother and my Nanna..."I've made the Christmas Cake"
So they both asked if they could have some. Of course, i am a generous lady and they can have some of the cake. But as i stood looking at the ROUND cake i had made i became a little dejected. My plans for a Merry Snow Scene decoration were not going to happen - the cake, becoming 'the cakeS' were going to leave little room for decorative play. Never mind. My cake decorating skills leave MASSES to be desired anyway. It isn't my forte. It isn't my 'area' of any skill or expertise. It was time...... to call in the professional>>>>> armed with a 'Charlie and Lola' apron and a whole lotta creative Diva, this 5 yr old's work was sterling.
To maintain the almond theme (Amaretto soaked cake) we started with white marzipan - only a thin layer. Thin wasn't a 'taste' choice - you must remember, i had bought the ingredients to ice just the ONE cake and 3 were taking up a little more ingredient than expected.

And the Ready-Roll icing was a similar story.
Please don't underestimate how long this simple process took me. Oh My Lord.
The able assistant lost patience after the icing sugar and rolling pin stage so i was (thankfully) on my own at this point.
Then i realised EACH cake needed a cake base / board.... and in a moment of sheer brilliance i managed to find 2 cardboard packages from that evenings dinner and cut them up into the right shapes for each cake. We had a ready made pizza base so that was perfect for the half moon shapes, once wrapped in foil.

The cakes sat in tins for days like this. I am no domestic goddess NOR am i at all into Cake Decorating... but they worked out something like this:

Wide tartan ribbon around the edge of all of them. Left over Jane Asher gold stars from a previous cheat cookery project....

All strategically placed for a minimal effect. And the last cake had some gummy heart sweets placed in one corner.
I am winning no prizes with these BUT i guarantee, the taste of these cakes will have the consumer totally forgetting the rather basic topping.
What's a girl to do? I went from having one big round cake, to 3 small odd shaped cakes.
It goes to show, you can have your cake and eat it too. Just don't think about how it 'looks' for too long.

And i leave you with this photo of Chef Extraordinaire.... because i have a sort of weird semi-smug Nigella look on me here - maybe it's that double chin????

Anyone for a few dieting posts come 2010?
x mmmm, cake!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

A Recipe for....

Salt Dough!

*not for eating* (naturally......eeeeeeeuuuuuugh!)

1 cup of table salt, dissolved in 1 and a bit cups of water, add gradually three cups of flour. You can shape it or cut it out with cookie cutters. Let it harden or bake it at 200 degree F until hard. I did also try some in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, but I wasn't convinced my plate or microwave were going to survive. So I wimped out and went back to my trusty oven. However lovely Kirsty Allsop who inspired this little foray into salt dough, did microwave hers.Make holes to hang, a straw is brilliant for this.

Then paint with regular acrylics.
and lots of glitter!!

Make your house pretty, while feeling a little retro and twee!


Thursday, 3 December 2009

I Want to Share....x

This is so simple and really I just made it because it looked lovely!But what a revelation!

It is just wonderful! I was truly won over when I ate one of these! The sweetness, the Christmassy spice, the enticing warmth of ginger and chilli! Perfect!

I can't wait to eat it with my Boxing Day ham! I can't wait to open a jar and sit it prettily in amongst my buffet! Please make it! It is ridiculously easy and once you have the ingredients you could make a few batches to give with a big cheery knowing smile!


2 x 400g cans peach halves in syrup
1 x 15ml tablespoon of rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 short sticks cinnamon
1 x 4cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thinly into rounds
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon Maldon salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 cloves

Serving Size : Serves approx. 8 people

Nigella Lawson

Sling all the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow to bubble for a couple of minutes, then turn off the heat. Serve with ham. Keep left overs in a jar in the fridge.

I have put mine straight into jars, which I will keep in the fridge to serve cold with buffet on Boxing Day.


Thursday, 26 November 2009

Time to Ice THE cake??

Is it? Is it? Is it?
It has been sitting in the tin for about 5 weeks now.
Fruit steepd for hours in alcohol at the pre-cooking stage...
All families have there own secret recipes so i won't 'share' mine with you, unless you beg. Molasses! i have weird memories of this blackest, gloopiest, strangest of treacle-like substances. I like my cake to have a real heaviness to it - density! - blackness.
Lots of fruit. Definately no nuts in this cake for me. NO glace cherries (sorry, they are a pet hate of mine but i don't want to cause Glace lovers any offence)

Slowly, i have added Amaretto to the well wrapped Cake, sat in it's tin, waiting patiently...
I am not a great Amaretto fan (what am i saying? not at all 'a fan' in fact) but all the girls in my family love it so i thought i'd give it a try.

SO..... Is it time to Ice the Christmas Cake yet? Is it? Is it? Is it? A

Advent starts next week........ !!!! :)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Pretty Sugar Cookies....x

I thought I had temporarily lost my cooking 'mojo', then I realised that actually I was just in holding....waiting to be allowed to cook all things Christmassy! And be allowed to tell you all about it, without seeming unbearably cheerful and mistletoey! Well it is practically December now, so I warn you now, hold on to your sleigh bells!

I LOVE CHRISTMAS........ESPECIALLY the COOKING!(me last Christmas day, up to my elbows in trifle....a happy MrsB!)

This is the recipe I used to make freezer cookies. Brilliant for impromptu (and therefore spontaneous, fun and your chance to look uber sorted!) visits over Christmas! You just take out the roll of dough, allow to soften a little and slice in 2cm thick rounds, sling in the oven......cue wafting, warm, inviting baking homey aromas!

I am in love with these! They are ridiculously easy to make, they bake a treat and can be adapted in a ma-zillion ways and most importantly they are PRETTY!(these are Martha Stewarts......Simply Gorgeous!)
So I began a little Christmas decorating in the kitchen....Put on my boys, the Christmas Crooners (Dean, Frank, Louis, Bing....first name terms!)Got out my Christmas recipes notebook and began a-googling! Now most Sugar Cookie recipes come in American measurements....
which makes me do this....chew pencils, frown and take off my shoes (to count my toes.....the maths is beyond me!) SO my dear friends, I located this lovely UK, maths-dyslexic friendly recipe! Simples!


125g Caster Sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla flavouring

150g Salted Butter, diced

225g Plain Flour, sifted

Get out the Christmas mixing bowl! Rub the butter into the flour, till it resembles bread crumbs. Add in the sugar and vanilla extract and then using your hands bring together into a ball. Done!
Now if you fancy being creative, you can add different flavourings, instead of the vanilla, and add colour! So I split my mix in half, added vanilla to one half and peppermint to another. The minty half had a few drops of red colouring added too. Hee hee!
On a well floured surface roll out your dough into a rectangle. I was not as precise about this as Ole Martha was (who advises the use of a bench scraper to make sides even....oh Lordy!) My thinking being it matters not what the ends look like, they are going to bake and be munched and it will only be two cookies that are less than perfect.

Roll out your coloured dough and place on top. Martha uses egg white as glue at this point. Again being a bit slap dash, I did not! It worked fine! I used rolled over the top of both and that did the job!
Roll up.
Wrap up. Pop in freezer. Wait. Pretend some friends have arrived, take out of freezer let soften up a little slice into 2cm thick rounds, bake in moderate oven till golden, let cool.......munch! Plan next colour/ flavour combos!
Merry Christmas BAKING!x