Thursday, 25 February 2010

Rosemary for Rememberance..

MsFish and I have had to say some final goodbyes to two much loved women, this month. They leave behind many folk, whose hearts are heavy with a sadness that cannot really be healed, but also with unique, precious memories. I hold dear to this concept. It is a comfort, when confronted with the stark, staring, numbness of loss. No one is truly gone, while they are remembered, while stories are told and memories of them are shared. They simply find a new place...within us. A robin bobbing past, the smell of Chanel, a passed on string of pearls...and there they are!
As always the lovely Nigella has something to turn, something for every occasion. This is a cake to be made for someone, who needs some care, love and a friend...

Or in remembrance of someone, who was a friend.

It is also the most soothing of cakes to make. The chopping of an apple (reminds me of my nana who, despite my mothers insistence, would peel an apple with a knife, in one long curl, because I suddenly couldn't bear the skin. I think of this every time I peel one!), the aromas of rosemary and lemons (one soothing, the other uplifting) and the simplest sponge recipe (hands busy, mind unchallenged, wandering)For an extra few grams of comfort, I sprinkled the top of mine with homemade vanilla sugar.
It looks beautiful and as you lay your rosemary along the cake top, you feel good...a ritual followed, a companion remembered.
...and of course there is a spoon to lick, a little childlike nurture for you!
To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
~Thomas Campbell, "Hallowed Ground"

Rosemary Remembrance Cake (click for link to recipe)

Friday, 12 February 2010

A Little Love Bun For You...x

Valentine's it...hate it? For what its worth...

I love Valentine's. I love that there is a "festival" day in these bleak last days of winter. I love an excuse to cook a smidgen, to bake a dash, to treat those I love with a little pinch of sweetness. So melt some chocolate and spread a little bakey your man, woman, children, lovely friends, neighbours! It is a good, good thing to be tell folk you love them!

Now the chocolate cupcakes I made were from a recipe from "Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery". They were absolutely gorgeous, light, moist....x However there was much of this....
and egg white beating and the use of the above spoons for the random 3/4 tsp measurements. It was complicated....worth it...but complicated! So here for your sanity and enjoyment is my traybake recipe that works unfailingly and is light, delicious and importantly fast! If you have someone to spoil though, go with the Primrose Bakery will be adored!

Mrs B's TrayBake to Cupcake Recipe...

4oz soft margarine
4oz caster sugar
5oz self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 tbsp milk
A few drops of Pure Vanilla Extract

If you want to make it chocolatey, replace a tbls of flour with a tbls of good quality cocoa.

Delicious...either recipe!
Traybake always works, Primrose Bakery of course work a treat!
Now the fun begins! Anything heart shaped, glittery, pretty, your love! I used chocolate buttercream, edible glitter and little heart dragees!
Then make a cup of tea, draw breath, scribble, dream....with a freshly cooked chocolate cupcake. A little bakey love to you! x

Chocolate Buttercream

175g 70% good quality chocolate
225g butter
1 tbls milk
250g icing sugar

Melt the chocolate. Beat the milk, butter and icing sugar together (this is easier and less time consuming with an electric hand whisk). Then add the melted chocolate and continue to beat until you have a thick, spreadable, glossy consistency. If still too runny etc just keep beating. It will improve in consistency and thickness the longer you whisk it....hence an electric whisk (it will be soooooo worth it!)Happy Valentines Lovely Folk!


Tuesday, 9 February 2010

MMmmm It's all about CHAI right now!

This is a sight that warms my Mothering Soul: a vintage Peter Rabbit mug filled with sweet warm Chai. And a Jammy Heart shortbread biscuit to dunk. It's ALL about the Chai for me right now.
Strangely enough, i hate sweet milky tea so it is with amazement that i have made, drunk and will talk about this at all. But Chai has this effect....
This Chai recipe, as far as i can tell, is very American. Of course, Chai means 'Tea'. And this method of making / drinking 'Chai' is a highly overcomplicated 'messing around' with our Nations Greatest Love - The humble cup of tea....
I know, it doesn't need messing with. It is already perfect, however you take it. However YOU make it. It is perfect. But this is perfect in it's own unique way too.

A simple jar filled with a can of Condensed Milk (forgive me for buying Nestle? i was blinded by the task of "must buy condensed milk" and temporarily forgot my scruples)
Now: add want you like.... I added:
2 teaspoons of All Spice
2 Star Anise
2 teaspoons Vanilla Essence
1 broken Cinnamon Stick
Grated Nutmeg
(add extra sugar at this stage if you like sweet tea)
And this lot sits in the jar, in the fridge, waiting to be used whenever you want. No need for milk or sugar - perfect for when you need a morning cuppa and no-one remembered to buy milk!
You can add however many spoonfuls you want to make your perfect beverage. I use one small spoon as i want my tea strong and not too sweet or milky.
This is best served with a really good quality strong tea - i use Assam.
I make it with loose leaf tea in my little pot. If, like me, you love tea then you might really like how the subtle chai flavours mix with the flavour of the fresh Assam (It makes me want a cup right now)
Once i have used this 'One Pot' teapot i fill it again with hot water and leave it to steep ready for my second cup.
It is strangely addictive and far more 'soothing' than my old cuppa.
I am sure the addiction will pass - but right now.... it is ALL about the Chai x

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Marmalade 2 - the revisit....

Batch no.2.
After research, discussion, tips from here :) i made a second batch of Marmalde. Please don't make the assumption that i *think* about anything before i go ahead and try it - the Marmalade being a prime example.... so i tried a completely different method. This is alot cleaner and clearer than before. Sunshiney and bright with some peel included and the odd Star Anise in each jar. The little black specs are vanilla pod seeds....
I boiled up about 7 Seville Oranges and 1 normal in a big ole chutney pan.
Covered the fruit with about 2 litres of water and simmer for 1.5 hours or there-on.
I ADDED to the water, with the fruit, before boiling:
1 Vanilla Pod
A large cube chopped ginger
3 Star Anise
1 Broken Cinnamon Stick
10 - 15 Cloves

Then - i strained the liquid and only put the items BACK into the mix, that i wanted to keep, so:
Scraped out flesh of the oranges to put back in.
Chopped some peel - so nice and soft now they had been boiled and placed back in the pan.
Star Anise back in the pan.

It was a quicker and easier method by far and retained so much of the flavour of my little extras - especially the vanilla. I was scared the soft vanilla taste would get drowned in Seville Orange bittreness but it warms through sensationally.
All the liquid was then boiled up for 20 mins or so? i kept a Jam thermometer in the pan to check. I boiled it up with 1kg of sugar - granulated, as the added pectin in Jam Sugar was uneneccasry for these fruits.
TASTE - done
LOOK - happy with
CONSISTENCY - still a little runny and more sugar would have helped make this thicker but i didn't want the flavour any sweeter.
Friends and family decided they could live with the runnier consistency as opposed to a wobbly jelly type. I caught someone spooning the stuff into their mouth direct from the fridge... i think that was a seal of approval?
Thanks for all your help peoples xxx

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Noodle Soup....

The Mrs and I (that is, MrsB and I) don't even really talk about what we are going to blog about... we like to surprise each other... So imagine my smiles to find my Mrs had blogged her Super 'Super Noodles' and miso paste...
My next recipe was Chinese Udon Noodle Soup! Great minds think alike.
I am craving noodles right now and yours look soooo good x

Mine was a recipe from this Months DELICIOUS
But i used a little too much Miso Paste and not enough SoySauce.
Noodle love my gorgeous MrsB, Ooodles of Noooodle love xxx

Super Fast Super Noodles!

I adore Super Noodles!It is one of those things, that I love, that does not love me and is best not to mention in polite company! Maybe it is a hangover from "student day hangovers"! So instead of ingesting all those "fake-y" ingredients, that do weird things to you, this is what I do now when craving the soothing warmth of soupy noodles!

Get yourself some of this miso paste! (Available in most supermarkets World Foods Aisle.) It is a great store cupboard ingredient and can be used in many ways...such as creating marinades to jazz up fish or chicken, as a cup of soup, as a stock. It is one of those things like marmite, that is full of B12. This used to be thought of something that would make your "blood stronger"! It is a vitamin that is great for your nervous system!

I make up my miso and boil my noodles in it! Perfect stock. I then grate in a cube of fresh ginger, but you can add ground ginger or five spice. Grate in a clove of garlic. Yummy aromas (much better than supernoodles!)Then basically throw in anything you've got to hand or in the freezer! In my case sprouting brocolli and asparagus (steamed), beansprouts and soya beans and sweetcorn out of the freezer defrosted in microwave (gasp!)Done! Speedy lunch! Serve in a bowl and slurp up!Noodles+broth=warm comfort.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Cherry Pie!

You read that title and a little voice in your head said "oooooooooooo" didn't it? If you are anything like me you come over all 1950's and imagine diners sat at stools, waitresses in candy striped pinnies, "more coffee" and a piece of Cherry Pie (a la mode!).

I have been yearning to make this, ever since the purchase of a red pie dish (perfect) and the gift of a cherry stoner!More fun than you can ever imagine! Love this! Great Christmas present! I have so many summer cherry dishes in mind....x

So here we have it, Cherry Pie just like MrsB makes it!

300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
150g chilled unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
100g golden caster sugar
1 large egg yolk

1 tbsp cornflour

Pinch of ground cinnamon

500g cherries, stoned (2 for £3 currently in Co-op)
1 tbsp milk, for brushing
2 tbsp golden granulated sugar


1. Put the flour, butter and 75g golden caster sugar into a bowl and using your finger tips rub the fat lightly in until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add the egg yolk and 2-3 tablespoons cold water. Use a palette knife to bring the mixture together and towards the end use your hands to bring the dough together to form a ball. Turn out, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes. If you are technologically more advanced than me....(I am basically borderline Amish in the kitchen) use a food processor.....?

. Mix the cornflour, remaining golden caster sugar and cinnamon together, then gently toss with the cherries in a bowl. Put a baking sheet into the oven and preheat it to 220C/fan200C/gas 7.

Grease a 23cm pie dish . Roll out half the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to line the dish. If you have it, a fine layer of semolina (or cornmeal will help absorb some of the cherry juice.....hmmmmmmm cherry juice, and stop your base going soggy!) Trim the edges, pile the cherry mixture into the centre and spoon over 4 tablespoons water. Brush the pastry edges with water. Roll out the remaining pastry and use to cover the fruit, making a hole in the centre. Press the edges to seal, trim off the excess pastry and crimp the edges.4. Brush the pie with milk and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Put the pie on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/fan160C/gas 4 and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the pastry is pale-golden.Enjoy a la mode... ie with ice cream
single cream
in my faintly ridiculous "mode" with squirty cream!