Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Grab yourself a Cuppa......x

I'm going to and settle down with this......

Winter Live

While Little Miss B naps!

Its a joy! Well done Waitrose! Clever peoples!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Cheese Fondue Express... a quick kitchen Supper

Family Food / Social Food / Food for you and a friend / Food for you and a lover.... Cheese Fondue ticks every box.
I kid you not - i opened the fridge for dinner last week and there was very little in there to excite. 3 open bottles of White Wine in various degrees of 'full-ness' and varied quality.
There was a block of Cornish Brie, some hardening Edam and a bunch of celery. Even the breadrolls in the basket were only fit for toasting. Then my memory taste-buds kicked into action.... i had the makings there of a terrific CHEESE FONDUE and even a glass of good White to accompany it! happy :)
Boil up all the cheese and a good sloshing of wine (or cider) in a heavy bottomed pan and add a garlic clove for flavour.
To thicken it, i slaked some Cornflour in some wine and chucked that into the pan a few minutes before it was ready.
I can't really give quantities as i did it by sense of feel and memory, but if you've had Fondue before, you know what it is supposed to look and feel like.

I don't bother to use the real Fondue Dish but keep it in the hot pan over a couple of small candles / nightlites. Then, if it begins to go cold, you can whip it back over to the stove top for a few minutes to heat up again.

To dip??? Anything goes! we had toms, fresh from our own plant. We had stale rolls that were toasted and a few sticks of wilting celery and cucumber. JOY my friends.
A real stand by supper for us... i confess that Cheese, White Wine and Stale bread are ALL readily available in my kitchen.
I'm no Nigella, with an ever ending 'larder' but i rival her in the Kitchen Supper stakes i'm sure x

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Poorly Blanket and Soup!

What to cook? When feeling achey, snotty, and unable to drag your shivering bones out from under the 'poorly' blanket, the thought of cooking is enough to send your soul to the grave early! But this is the time your body needs goodness, a little heat and nourishment, in an easy to consume bowlful.

Nigella saves the day!

Sweetcorn Chowder with Cheese Toasted Tortillas! (click the title and the Lovely Nigella will take care of directions!)

I love sweetcorn! One of my favourite veg dishes (that I serve with chilli con carne ALOT!) is sweetcorn, with a large dollop of butter and a VERY generous grinding of black pepper. I don't know why (being just a 'cook') but black pepper and sweetcorn is one of those perfect food marriages! Try it! You will love me when you eat it, I promise!
So easy just wack it all in and blend up!

If you don't have semolina or cornmeal or grainy polenta, (I got this lovely cornmeal from Sainsburys.....I make cornbread for chilli with it too, it is all round useful stuff to have in your 'tins' cupboard!) I imagine, lentils or a roughly chopped potato would be just as good, (not as Mexican but a functioning thickener just the same.....needs must when man flu hits eh?!)

Right am off to couch to 'suffer', drink tea and eat the Quality Street that Mr B 'foresaw' wouldn't last out October!


Tuesday, 13 October 2009


You have to say it with an American accent "Granola".... I don't think we have an equivalent name for it in the UK? it isn't muesli, because muesli is loose and not toasted. So we must call it Granola!?
I am not going to repeat this recipe verbatim as it is in NIGELLAS CHRISTMAS book and it doesn't seem necessary as i didn't alter it much from there. Also because, granola really is just toasted seeds, nuts, oats and spices so you can add what you like.
Mine is a few 100g rolled oats with blanched almond / normal almonds / banana chips = but i put all these in a plastic bag and smashed them all into tiny pieces as i don't like BIG bits in my cereals.
Then i mixed the oats with this smashed mixture in a big bowl with a spoon of sunflower oil + 2 large spoons of honey + tiny sprinkle of cinnamon + couple of spoons brown suger + poppy seeds + pumpkin seed. I turned it all and mixed it wearing plastic gloves and gave gloves to my daughter and her friend too so we all had a good 'hands on', gooey experience.
It was toasted for about 50mins on a low heat in a large oven tray - turning every 10 mins till it was brown and toasted all over.

When it came out the oven, i added a really generous bag of dried of cranberries and mixed well.
Popped it all in a clean Kilner jar and closed it when cooled.
OH my - what a shame. Now no other breakfast cereal will do!! This made a huge jar but i keep dipping my hand in and stealing little treats like a squirrel. THIS will become a staple in my home from this day forward x

Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Golden Sugar.....and All Things Nice

Lets talk about, bake for, make for, wallow in, dress up in silly clothes for....


(humor me, I can't help it)
SO this is what I have been making and freezing for pressies!
Christmas Fruity Biscotti
  • 350g plain flour , plus extra for rolling
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs , beaten
  • coarsely grated zest 1 orange
  • 85g raisins
  • 85g dried cherries
  • 50g blanched almonds
  • 50g shelled pistachio
*I used dried cranberries and raisins for my fruit and 100g of mixed nuts.*

Preheat oven to 180C.
In your favourite Christmas mixing bowl, sling in the flour, caster sugar, baking powder and (with a gratuitous *sniff* and arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Christmas moment) the wonderful Mixed Spice, all the while humming Walking in a WinterWonderland.

Mixed in the eggs and when it starts to come together a bit, get your hands in (great for kids!) and mould into a ball. Trust that it will come together, even if looks dry, it gets quite sticky. (start singing Silver Bells, with gusto)

Throw in your lovely, colourful fruit and nuts and distribute evenly through dough.

Half the dough and half those again to give you four even balls of dough. Roll out into sausages of approx 30 cm long. Place two rolls perbaking tray. Cook in oven, till spread out and firm to the touch, but still pale.
Take out and cool on wire rack, just long enough to handle. Turn down oven to 140 C. Then slice diagonally, making little biscotti about 1cm wide. At this point you can place the slices in freezer bags and store in the freezer for up to two months and when needed carry out next step. Place side down on tray and place back in the now cooler oven for a further 10-15 minutes to dry out. (Biscotti means twice baked...it is what Italian Mamas and Nonnas did with their stale bread)
When cooled, plop your lovely little biscotti into gift boxes or in my case kilner jars and tie with a Christmassy ribbon and bells! They will keep for a month in an airtight container (in a house where there are no nibblers....big and small!!)

Be proud! So cute, so clever!
Gorgeous with your Christmas morning cup of coffee! x (and finish with your best rendition of Santa Baby!)


Sunday, 11 October 2009

Christmas Cookery...

When i say "i love Christmas" i don't mean i love all the consummerism and commercialism - i think it is really the 'preparations' of Christmas i love. It isn't really about a build up to 'the big day' even... it is just about cooking and baking and sewing and 'being' in the Christmas colours. This Christmas Cranberry Chutney (of sorts) was made a few weeks ago, at the end of the warm Summery days, when the wasps were still menacing my apple store.... and i thought it only right and proper that i play my Christmas Music CD (see picture above, which is the cute CD sleeve) whilst merrily at work.
Of course, the puddings to hang from my ears were a little un-neccesary and, for some, a step too far?
250g Red Onions
250g fresh or frozen Cranberries (red currants would be a suitable substitute)
125g light brown sugar
120ml red wine vinegar
120ml red wine
1tsp ground ginger
1tblsp mustard seeds
Port or Orange Liquer
recipe is from my all time favourite book below.... this makes about 1lb of relish so, if you have a larger family you could double this quantity. It isn't a 'cheap' recipe but that is why it's for a special occasion in my mind.
Thinly slice and chop the onions - into a size you are happy with for a chutney / relish. I like my pieces quite small. Use a smaller sweating pan for this = NOT your bigger chutney pot.
Sweat them through slowly in 2 tblspoons of olive oil - about 15mins with the occasional stir.
Add 2 large spoons of the brown sugar and stir to caramelize the onions, maybe takes 5 mins. Then keep off the heat till needed.
Step outside the back door and cry whilst the onions are stinging your eyes (my eyes are watering at the mere memory)
Then find the bigger chutney pan: add CRANBERRIES into the pan with - remaining brown sugar - Red wine - Red wine vinegar - mustard seeds - ginger.
Heat that lot of mulchy fruit SLOWly until all the sugar has dissolved. Then cover the pan and bring it up to the boil. Once at the boil, turn down and simmer for about 15mins. You want the berries to burst and become very tender... this is why you need the LID on the pan,,,, the hot cranberries have been known to fly out of the pan when bursting and these are HOT wee devils!

ADD ONIONS: you can now stir in the caramelised onions. Take the lid off and keep off whilst you cook for a further 12mins. Season with salt and pepper as it brings out the flavours of the fruit and spices.
JARS: i always sterilize mine fully. Wash them in hot soapy water and leave to drain. Pop them in a hot-ish oven (120-ish) for about 20mins till they are hot.
I also sterilize more than i need as you never really know what yield you might get, even if a recipe tells you "this makes 1lb" you never know...
When your relish is cooled off a bit - spoon it into the warm jars - careful not to touch the inside of the jars or the rims. This is why i use one of those JAM FUNNELS / jar filling thingys (see past posts) to avoid any mess or touching the jars at all. It is quick and clean.

Then, pour yourself and nice glass of the red you opened for this recipe... and DESPAIR as you realise one of those pesky wasps has had the cheek to take a dip in the wine bottle!!
Not content with my apples, they're after the rouge nectar.... luckily he came out as i poured.
OH for sniff-a-vision (as a friend said) this smells superb and it is 'oh so christmassy'. Glossy, shiny, fruity red. It looks so good and bright.
Stirring into the rich gravy for Christmas Dinner.
As an additional table sauce for your Christmas dinner - with Turkey, Duck, Goose or Beef.
As a chutney / relish for meaty meals after the day. Sandwiches and salads.
Also easy with cheese but it needs a good strong cheese to make a match for this tart and fruity relish.
Any good relish or chutney, vinegar or vodka, makes a lovely gift for someone. Just label the jar with the date made and 'use by' and what the relish is for. This was made 02/09/09 and it stores for 6 months before use, but this is coming out on Christmas day.
You can keep it in the fridge once opened, for up to 3 weeks.
To serve: ideally plonked on the table, as it is, in the attractive Kilner Jar with a Chutney Spoon inside... the relish keeps better if diners are encouraged NOT to to pop their own cutlery into the jar. Saliva and other foods can contaminate the relish so it goes off before it would naturally.

Any Christmas Cookery to share yet MrsB?? xxx

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Whats Cooking in MrsB's Kitchen

Just a little glimpse into my kitchen!

Three Bean Soup
I make this nearly every week, for lunches. It is so simple to make, a joy to eat and can be tweaked according to whats in the cupboards!


3 garlic cloves finely chopped 1 tin of chickpeas 1 tin of kidney beans 1 tin of cannellini beans 4 blocks of frozen leaf spinach (but you add fresh if you have it) 1 tin of tomatoes A handful or so of lentils or rice or in my case lovely lovely pearl barley 1 beef stock/ vegstock cube 600ml of water

Slosh two tbs of olive oil into a large saucepan, sling in garlic, give it a minute, so everything smells gorgeously garlicky, then chuck in everything else (keeping the spinach till last). Boil up, then turn down to simmer till lentils are soft. Add your spinach, long enough to just wilt but retain goodness and colour.

Serve up with a hunk of bread!

After my National Trust Chocolate Cake (which should always be capitalised) disaster on Sunday, I have been craving it, as I think it should be! Not crispy for a start! I really dislike dry chocolate cake. It makes me cry! This generally stops me buying it when out and about. I am highly suspicious of coffee shop chocolate cake. I can't bear the disappointment! When I eat chocolate cake, I expect it to be just that: chocolate, full of chocolate flavours and smells, damp and soft, with a melting, smoothness that lingers, meaning each mouthful takes time! Luxurious! Don't ask for much do I?

225 g salt soft unsalted butter 375 g dark muscovado sugar 2 large eggs, beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 100 g best dark chocolate, melted 200 g plain flour 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda


1Preheat the oven to 190C/gas5. Grease and line a 23x13x7cm cm (9x5x3in) loaf tin. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating in well.

2Next fold in the melted and cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well but do not overbeat.
3You want the ingredients combined: you don't want a light airy mass. Gently add the flour, to which you've added the bicarb, alternately spoon by spoon, with 250 ml of boiling water until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter.

4Pour into the lined loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 170C/gas mark 3 and cook for another 15 minutes. The cake will still be a bit squidgy inside, so an inserted cake tester or skewer won't come out completely clean.

5Place the loaf tin on a rack and leave to get completely cold before turning it out. It improves if left for a day or so before eating. This cake will probably sink in the middle because of its denseness.Perfect when the weather does this!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Autumn Indoor Picnic or For the Love of Soda Bread!

Soda bread is so simple, so wholesome, so Autumn!
It can be made in next to no time and is a real life saver (for example when your son has a tantrum, because he is hungry, wants bread but refuses to go to the corner shop....but then I imagine you are all far more 'with it' than me!)
I love it with a big dollop of cream cheese, or thick sliced cheddar and particularly with a big bowl of steamy soup!
You can make it with or without the traditional buttermilk, which is readily available in most supermarkets. There are two alternatives, if you are living the stroppy child example life! You can pour out the milk required and add a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice, to essentially 'sour' the milk or (and I think this is a preferable substitute and closer in flavour) natural yoghurt, loosened with a few tablespoons of milk to give a gloopy, single cream consistency!

170g/6oz self-raising wholemeal flour
170g/6oz plain flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
290ml/½ pint buttermilk

Dump dry ingredients into a bowl, create a well and add buttermilk, or yoghurt (+some milk) or soured milk. Mix up, it will start to come together in a scraggy ball, ideally it is quite dry and will need you to get your hands in and bring it together (be patient, it will). Take out the ball of dough, mould into a smooth (ish!!) ball, cut a cross, about half way through. Place in moderate oven and cook for 30 minutes until brown and when tapped sounds hollow. Easy peasy!

Slice up, slather on something delicious and enjoy, knowing you will be kept full and happy for hours!x