Monday, 31 August 2009

Your Mission....

should you choose to accept it....(Mr B laughed at me when I came down the stairs in this outfit, stating I looked like I was on "Special Ops"! Well I the kitchen!)

Glut of plums, some 'looks challenged' bramleys (scrumped by your F-i-L!! Brilliant!) and icecream tubs full of gorgeous blackberries... (my current obsession....just beating the lemon curd obsession of last month!). Sound familiar?!

Well here are a few yummy links to inspire you...(Bramley and Blackberry Tray Bake)and tomorrow in the B household the Christmas Chutney cottage industry will whir into production!


Blackberry Honey Creams
Bramley and Blackberry Tray Bake
Wonderfully Moist Plum Cake
Blackberry Galettes (gorgeous Nigella...this will be in my kitchen by the end of tomorrow!!)
Spicy Plum Chutney


Friday, 28 August 2009

Choc Chip Loaf with lotsa love x x x

This is definately a cake with love in the ingredients. It is a recipe i first used when i was 17yrs old and the first EVER recipe i wrote down in my new RECIPE BOOK - i had a journal that i was given and decided to fill in with my favourite foods.
So MRS CHRISTY (crazy mum of a school friend) used to make this cake and we'd all sit round her kitchen table and drink tea whilst eating large slabs of this delicious loaf.... Now, i mainly eat it on my own as no-one else round me likes cake!! How could i give birth to a child who doesn't "do" cake?
4oz butter
60z caster sugar
1/2 t'spoon the best vanilla essence
2 eggs
6oz self-raising flour
1/4pt single cream
40z chocolate chips - plain or milk, up to you.

Loaf tin is buttered and floured - ready. Oven is on at 180c.
I didn't have any choc chips in the cupboard (i must have eaten them on some lonely, desperate evening) so i bashed up a bar of quality chocolate. Pop the chunks in a bag and bash them ON A BOARD! till they are small pieces.

Cream together the butter and sugar - as with most cakes. then add the vanilla essence. I think it is worth spending a little more on good quality ingredients... it just increases the taste of your cookery efforts x
Beat in eggs one at a time with spoonfuls of flour to stop any curdling... then add all the flour and mix gently.
Add the cream, gently.
Stir in the choc chips and mix well to distribute.
Pour into your prepared loaf tin.
Make sure there is enough left in the bowl for 'lickage' - and 3 spoons / spatulas.
1=dog... (you don't want to share that spoon once the dogs had a slobber on it)

Bake in CENTRE of well warmed oven for 45mins - or still it is risen and firm to touch.
Not teaching grandmothers to suck eggs, promise, but don't go opening oven doors half way through cooking a cake.... the cake drops and will be ruined (something to do with the release of Carbon Dioxide etc...)

It should slip easily out of the loaf tin if you buttered and floured it!?... then cool on a wire rack for a while. Why on a wire rack?... so the bottom doesn't go soggy x (not everybody knows these things)
Dust the top with icing sugar....
EAT.... drink tea...
The world is a better place x

Monday, 24 August 2009

We need to talk about Cous-Cous....

There is 'a Moment' in my family, when somebody mentions the idea of a Barbque.
The Men in the family start talking about Butchers Grade Sausages, Steaks and how many small Chickens they can fit in the gas-fired beast of a bar-b-que.

The Women in my family start talking about "who is bringing which salad"....

I'm not a person who generalises about the sexes too much, but.... Men just don't 'do' salad. It is their prerogative and we need to allow them that independance. We need to nod a small approval when there is the tiniest something 'leafy' or 'green' on their plate. It is a sign they at least know the women are either a) watching or b) approving. SO... Cous-Cous Salad, for the ladies.
If you are a Cous-Cous Virgin, you need to know the following:
Cous-Cous tastes rubbish without a shed load of stuff putting into it.
Cous-Cous is high in Protein - essential for me, as i am a vegetarian (please don't recoil in horror) Cous-Cous is low in fat and high in fibre.
Cous-Cous is very cheap and very easy to prepare. It is a cupboard essential in my kitchen as it can be flavoured in a million different ways and goes with any meal.

STEP ONE: pour some Cous-Cous into a bowl / dish for which you have a LID. I always make up more Cous-Cous than i need as i can eat it again the next day. ONLY keep it for 24 hours once made (and keep in a fridge) it is like rice and can breed bacterias very quickly.
Pour over some stock made with just boiled water **200g Cous-Cous = 250ml stock** approx serves 4 people. Put the lid on and leave it to soak up all the liquid, till you are ready - 20 mins minimum.

p.s THIS is the stock i use in EVERYTHING. It is the worlds greatest stock and even my meat loving friends enjoy this stock.

Whilst the Cous-Cous is 'swelling' fry up half an onion and some courgettes in a saucepan with a knob of butter. Till they are soft and browned. At the last minute add a generous helping of peas from the freezer. Never cook peas - they are too nice to ruin by boiling in water for an age.

Pop this veg into the serving dish you'll use for the salad.
Add 3/4 block of crumbled Feta Cheese (it needs to be a hard, crumbly, salty cheese for this dish)
Add the Cous-Cous and 'fluff' the the little grains with a fork. It tends to clump whilst swelling so separate it with fork and mix it all very well.
THEN - it's up to you... but I added a good splash of soy sauce to mine and a drizzle of Olive Oil, plus a sprinkling of Celery Salt and some Black Pepper

Honestly - yum yum! and i ate the leftover portion for my lunch on the following day. So tasty x

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

We're Not Proud....x

Everyone loves an award, don't they? Its nice. It makes you feel appreciated. It is a little bloggy handshake.

Well I have been over to good old Dorset Cereals (whom I heart....ALOT!), spinning their bottle and trying to win a Campervan, and noticed that our Big Stove has been nominated in their lovely little blog awards!

I know we're new, but if you think you may fall in love with us, even though it is the first date and you think we have mascara goop in our left eye, please just tell us and vote!

And more importantly you could have a go at winning the Campervan too and we can all go surfing!
Dorset Cereals little awards

Friday, 14 August 2009

Eat The Seasons...x

I read somewhere that a good cure for jet lag, is simply to watch the sun rise and watch the sun set. Your body, absorbing the sun's rays, understands.

Seasonal eating, I like to think, is a similar process.

I think it is completely possible that the nature knows best and that
asparagus*, broccoli*, purple sprouting broccoli*, radishes*, rhubarb*, rocket*, sorrel*, spinach*, spring onions*, watercress are just what we need in Spring, after a long winter. All little packages of iron, vitamin C and fibre. In the summer fruit and veg is plenty and we can eat little and often. Come Autumn, who doesn't crave butternut squash, courgettes, marrow and fruit crumbles, stewed apples. Stocking up on our resources for the winter ahead, Then through the cold, shorter days artichoke*, beetroot*, butternut squash*, celeriac | celery*, chicory*, jerusalem artichoke*, kale*, kohlrabi*, leeks*, parsnips*, potatoes (maincrop)*, pumpkin*, swede*, turnips*, watercress*, wild mushrooms* are at their best, filling carbohydrate rich foods to keep our energy up and our bodies warm.

It is not fashion or fad to take a seasonal approach to food, it is common sense. Food tastes much better, (it actually 'tastes'....out of season tomatoes, anyone?....urrrgggggh!) it is aplenty, it should cost less (say no to supermarkets racking up the prices of something that is in's NOT 'finest' it is simply being eaten when it should be, from where it should be, with less murky, science-y jiggery-pokery!) and when, even better it is prepared by you, it is wholesome!



artichoke*, aubergine*, beetroot*, broad beans*, broccoli*, carrots*, courgettes*, cucumber*, fennel*, french beans*, garlic*, kohlrabi*, leeks*, mangetout*, marrow*, onions*, peas*, peppers*, potatoes (maincrop)*, radishes*, rocket*, runner beans*, sorrel*, sweetcorn*, watercress*


apricots*, blackberries*, blueberries*, damsons*, greengages*, loganberries*, melons*, nectarines*, peaches*[i], plums*, raspberries*, redcurrants*, tomatoes


lamb*, rabbit*, wood pigeon


cod*, crab*, dover sole*, grey mullet*, haddock*, halibut*, herring*, john dory*, lemon sole*, lobster*, mackerel*, monkfish*, plaice*, salmon*, sardines*, scallops*, sea bass*, squid

Here in the city, I usually have to rely on our greengrocers, supermarkets and the occasional Farmer's Markets. I have however been doing some cyber 'surfing' and as with all things crafty there is an amazing foodie vibe out there too! I have found more markets and farmer's shops in my area, something I didn't think possible without living somewhere posh and having a car, thanks to the following sites. And have become wholly inspired and convinced by the idea and practicality of seasonal eating!,,

Have a browse! If you find something gorgeous, don't keep it to your ownsome....let us play too!


Quick Blackberry Jam

1lb blackberries (surprisingly few, I managed to collect 2lbs, just pootling along with the mini B's)

1lb sugar

175ml of water

juice of 1 lemon (I used a lime as that is all I had to far as I can tell the jam is no the worse for it!)

Stew your fruit, gently, in the water, which takes about 20-25 minutes, mashing the fruit to extract as much juice as possible. This is a gorgeous process, I was happily surprised at the sweet smell of blackberries...just like a fruit pastille! The colour was glorious. I would love a cord dress that colour!

After this add your lemon juice (or in my case lime, I think it is probably something sciency about acids rather than for the flavour anyway!) and sugar, keeping the temperature down mix for 10-15 minutes to ensure all the sugar granules are dissolved.

Then rack up the heat! Boil rapidly and unafraid, for 8 minutes! Then the mess can begin.

Take your sterilised jars (and this is where I stray from Delia's sensible, measured tone...), place a jam funnel on top, and using a sieve pour your jam through, pushing with a spoon, to get the juice through quickly. Now Delia would have you sieve this into a hot bowl then pour into the jar....but I didn't really 'get' the two fold process and since I was only making enough for me and a neighbour, I couldn't see the sense. So straight into warm jars it went, using my tiny sieve! No need for great speed, there was ample time and the jam set fine! I even tried the pulp left over because it looked so good and I thought maybe like raspberry jam, the seeds would be fine. Don't make that mistake! On that account Delia is quite right, they are gross, hard and may crack a tooth....and I don't want to be held accountable!

And there we have it!

There are not words enough, for the joy that is this jam! It is August in a jar! Brilliant on my current poppy seed scone obsession, with the cream cheese. The boy B's had it on toast this morning! And I tell you what, I bet it would make amazing homemade jammie dodgers!


Wednesday, 12 August 2009

I Know What I Want.....

But sometimes your not sure how to go about it, can't find a recipe for it, don't have the ingredients for it......

The Answer


Inspired by the lovely MsFish I too made lemon curd! I am so proud! I have never eaten, let alone, made lemon curd! I am in love! It is a passionate affair!
I keep asking everyone I know, man woman and child....'do you love lemon curd'? It would seem that it provokes responses as passionate and opposing, as in the enduring Marmite debate!

What I really wanted was something wholesome, moreish, non sweet and chunky to spread it on. Not bread (although it is pretty fabulous on warm, thick, white toastie toast! Ooooooh can already sense the autumn and my lemony pal and lots of toast and a fresh, hot pot of tea), not sweet muffins, not cake (for me, in this unusual case!) and although lovely on oatcakes I wanted something more substantial. I searched for a couple of days trying to find a recipe that would fit the bill. Then it dawned on me while washing the dishes (like it happens!), wholemeal scones!
They are wholesome, rich, chunky and when adapted to contain poppy seeds and no sugar or fruit they would be the perfect base for the sweet, custardy, luscious lemony lemon curd!
I had two 'goes', one where I used only wholemeal (self raising flour) and one where I followed good old Delia and used half white and half wholemeal....both with the additional 25g of poppy seeds and no spice or fruit. Of course, in the name of experimentation I had to sample one of each!
All wholemeal flour gives you something that tastes more bready, less of the doughy softness of a scone. The half and half, although not quite as wholesome, (to my mind....remember I was after something guiltless to pile my new vice on to!!) it has more of that warm, weightiness of a scone, just delicious, the poppy seeds providing a nutty flavour and texture....(which gets me thinking oooooooh wonder what walnuts would be like in these....are they still scones...etc etc!)

Break free....adapt, experiment, make something that is just right for you.....or make heinous mistakes and laugh (like my garlic, chickpea, lime juice fiasco)!

P.S. Satisfaction Achieved!

This is the most sublime snack with a cup of tea! Warm up your scone, slather a thick layer of cream cheese on and apply "lashings" of lemon curd (a la Famous Five!) Eat in a brief interlude of peace and quiet wherever you are and just savour the moment!

Adapted from Delia Smiths Wholemeal Scone recipe.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

When Life hands you Lemons...

I have 2 absolutely MUST have flavours in my life that make everything OK in the world:
Vanilla and Lemons. MMmmmm.
One is as soft and comforting as the other is sharp and ascerbic (Much like my personality me thinks!)
I alway have a huge bowl of lemons in the kitchen and they are the staple ingredient to so many things... Lemon Curd being one. I make this Lemon Jam / Lemon Cheese / Lemon Preserve for ME and my NANNA as we both love it. It really is quick and easy to make:
3 lemons
200g Caster Sugar
115g diced unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 large egg YOLKS
2 standard jam jars - this list makes 2 jars!

Get a pan of water on the gentle boil. A taller pan works well and you don't need too much water. On 'top' of the pan you're now going to place a heatproof bowl in which to heat the ingredients so you don't want water bubbling up over the edges.
Grate the lemon RINDs into the bowl. Then add the juice of both lemons.
Add the sugar and stir and the butter... keep stirring it all till it dissolves nicely.
Beat together the 2 full eggs and 2 egg yolks. You're now going to add the eggs to this gently heating bowl through a sieve so you might need a metal spoon to help push the eggs through.
Stir the ingredients gently and slowly for maybe 8 mins? The mixture should be smooth and glossy and when you lift the wooden spoon from the pan the mixture should 'coat' the back of a spoon.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool ever so slightly.
You need your jars sterilized really. The Curd will preserve for longer and without risk of bacterial interference.
Cover with a wax disc and seal with a lid!
Keep in the fridge and use within 3 months.
Never eaten Lemon Curd? You're missing out!
Would you call me a greedy pig if i tell you i eat this spread on Lemon Drizzle Cake!? It is also divine on American Style Breakfast Pancakes..... or spread on toast... on a slice of bread and butter... as a cupcake topping?
LEMONS are the gift of the gods!
(and i score extra points for giving 1 jar to me Nanna)

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

I Can't Resist!

She's right, you know! What can I say... I can't resist! How could you?

The cupcake is a glorious thing! Miniature (I adore all things small!), the realms for creativity are boundless and even when plain they are perfect! So I have started you off with the recipes that I use! Ha ha, bring on National Cupcake Week (a whole it!!) So whip out your pinnie, grab your cupcake cases and get practising!

The Perfect Cupcake Recipe (Nigella's....naturally!)


125g self-raising flour
125g caster sugar
125g soft unsalted butter
2 eggs
Half a teaspoon real vanilla extract
Approximately 2 tablespoons milk


1.Preheat the oven to 200C and line the tin with the muffin cases.
2.It couldn't be simpler to make cup cakes: just put all the ingredients except for the milk in the processor and then blitz till smooth.
3.Pulse while adding milk, to make for a soft, dropping consistency, down the funnel. Or using a bowl and wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugar, beat in the eggs one at a time with a little of the flour.
4.Then add the vanilla extract and fold in the rest of the flour, adding the milk to get the dropping consistency as before.
5.I know it looks as if you'll never make this scant mixture fit 12 bun cases, but you will. I promise you this mixture is exactly right to make the 12 cup cakes, so just spoon and scrape the stuff in, trying to fill each case equally, judging by eye only of course.
6.Put in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cup cakes are cooked and golden on top. As soon as bearable, take the cup cakes in their cases out of the tin and let cool, right way up, on a wire rack.

Vanilla Butter Icing


Enough for 2 layers in one 18 = 20 cm cake
2 1/4 cup (250 g) icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
1 stick (8 tbsp) 4 oz (112 g) softened butter
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp milk


1. Mix the vanilla essence with the milk

2. Sift the icing sugar and add gradually to the butter with the milk

3. beat until the icing is smooth and of a soft consistency

Looking forward to sharing a cuppa and a cupcake (and another and an another....ooooooh one more) with you!


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

National CUPCAKE Week! in September...

Heads up - it's CUPCAKE WEEK 14th - 19th September!
You have plenty of time to blog share with everyone... think up your design/s, then blog the finished articles and share them any day 14th - 19th Sept. I have found links to some that just inspire me to tears... MrsB, you know you can't resist!? x
... Roll on September...

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Beetroot and Orange Preserve x

As in the previous post - it was the fat, muddy bulbs of Beetroot that inspired the making of this. I wanted to pickle them but i came across the recipe in Lakelands Book. I wasn't sure about the orange to begin with, but the recipe wanted 3 and i happend to have 3 oranges sat in my fruit bowl that needed to be used up.... thrifty cookery is the best x 300ml of Malt Vinegar
200g Granulated Sugar ..... heated gently in a large pickling pan.
I added a little less Malt Vinegar and substituted with some Raspberry Vinegar and White Wine Vinegar so i had 400ml i think, all in.

350g/ 3 Raw Beetroot (from the Veg Box)
350g/3 Cooking Apples (scrumped from a neighbour if possible)
225g/ 3 Red Onions (Man sent to the shops to fetch)
Chop them all as small or big as is your preference. I like mine as small as i can, 1cm cubed on average. Add them to the liquid in the pan.

3 oranges - the rind and juice of (i just re-read the recipe and it says only 2, oop, i added 3)
1 garlic clove crushed
1tsp ground Allspice
1tsp Salt
... i added to the mix also: 1tsp Mustard seeds / 1tsp Corriander seeds / Celery Salt / 1tsp GROUND Peppercrons. Add whatever you like... oh and some fresh tiny cut Rosemary! (love that stuff)

Bring it the boil - just - then put it on a low setting and simmer away for 40mins. I put a lid on mine but you don't need to....

Give yourself a pat on the back and feel rather pleased with yourself :)

After 40mins - whack i gave mine a good mulch with a big potato masher as i don't like anything too chunky. Then whack the heat right up again and boil away the last of any liquids you dont want. I kept a bit of liquid in mine.
Oh IF ONLY this screen was scratch and sniff! This kitchen smells amazing x i am in love with my own culinary genius... or i love chutney / presrves / pickles x
This ingredients list made 2 FULL 1/2Litre Kilner Jars - so you are looking at 4 standard jam jars? or even 5 if you want to give away / sell jars that aren't too big?
A glass of chilled white wine to celebrate the fact it was now 5pm on a Friday and i had survived another week as an amazing Mum! tee hee (i have to keep saying it as one day, i'll believe it)

Decorate the jar a bit, of course! And i always put the dates on each jar as i will never remember, come Nov / Dec when they were made or how long they will keep:
"Made in beg. August 2009 - use in Nov 2009 - once opened, keep refridgerated and use within one Month"
So there you have it - open it mid November and you'll have a sweet and spicy preserve to accompany meats and cheeses and it will take you right through Christmas festivities from Mid November into the New Year x
Do i sound like Nigella yet? I hope I am a little more real than that x

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Friday is VEG BOX day...

I had just finished vacuuming the entire house and i even managed to mop the kitchen floor (i know, Knight me) when the Fortnightly "Veg Box" arrived :) We buy tomatos, by the hundred, weekly... they are like sweets in my house. ManFish and ChildFish eat them on a continual grazing routine, like small house trained cows...
These HUGE field mushrooms will be eaten at their best: lightly fried on a low heat with butter, garlic, a splash of water - to keep them fat. Popped into a toasted ciabatta roll with a splodge of organic mayo - veggie heaven!
I get Fruit in my 'Veg Box' too.... and milk and eggs and Apple Juice... i love the fact, that no matter how scatty I am (and I am quite scatty!) there will be food, every fortnight, at my back door. There is a sneaking suspicion we might starve if not, as i have a life threatening allergy to Supermarkets....
AND, because i am the way i am, i left all the veg in its box outside (cleaning anything being LAST on my agenda, especially after having vacuumed AND mopped floor today) i decided to use this book>>>>>> to make some stuff.
This is one of my bestest all time cookery books. I got it from Lakeland for about £4.99 and i swear by it people. You want a preserves book? This is THE ONE x

And these chalky fat bulbs were sat on the top of the Veg Box... Beetroot!! a challenging vegetable i feel...
I was all intent on pickling them ready for Winter but then i found a great recipe in above book for "Beetroot and Orange Preserve"
Yes! Of course i made it - there and then! Whilst my 5yr old and her chum played in the paddling pool (one eye on the chutney / one eye on the dog's drooling / half an eye doing 'health and safety' on the kids...)
I have photographed the whole lot and i'll show you next week.
I also made Lemon Curd for my Nanna... so that is two NEW exciting food posts to follow soon! And, reading this all back, it would seem i have 2 and half eyes!
I LOVE this place, thanks for coming x