Reaching the final of Masterchef 2007 was a rollercoaster of emotion, with huge highs and lows, but I loved every minute and learnt a huge amount. I owe a great deal to John and Gregg who had faith in my ability when I did not believe in myself. Since competing on the programme my life has changed considerably. I now write cookery columns for two magazines, give cookery demonstrations and am just working on my 13th cook book - unlucky number for some but not for me!!! I love all forms of country cooking, using seasonal and locally sourced produce. This blog is to enable me to share with you a few of my recipes and baking ideas. Enjoy Hannah xxxx

Monday, 8 April 2013

 I would not normally condone fancy dress on animals but Muffy's outfit is completely legitimate as the vet said she had to wear it - she has cut her neck and we are trying to stop her scratching it.  Isn't this one of the cutest things you have ever seen! I am quite tempted to keep her wearing it even when she is better x

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Today is my lovely assistant Rachel's birthday so I made her this little cake - chocolate and cherry with white chocolate chips.  I came into work early and left it on her desk, surrounded by happy birthday sprinkles (which made a lot of mess that I am sure she won't thank me for).  It was very quick and easy to do, decorated simply with piped dark chocolate swirls and sugar flowers.  Happy Birthday Rachel xxx

Thursday, 21 March 2013

My Aga book with Absolute Press is now finished and off to print.  What a fun project it has been to work on.  It is available to pre order on Amazon and is out in July this year.  With this book, Cheesecakes, Savoury Gluten Free Baker and Christmas Cupcakes and Cookies, that is 4 books published in one year which is a record.  I do hope that you like the cover - these are Rose and Saffron scones cooking in my beloved Aga!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

My little niece Hunter is on her first real Adventure - she flew all the way to Australia (not quite sure that Gareth and Amy understood how long a 28 hour flight with a one year old is) but they got there safely.  Isn't this just the cutest picture?
Hunter meets the World!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

On Sunday three of my recipes were published in the Sunday Telegraph Stella Magazine - I was very excited as you can imagine!  The front cover even included the line "Exclusive recipes from the cheesecake queen" - how I love that description of me!!!!  The recipes can be found here if you would like to try them - Rose and Pistachio, Chocolate and Ginger and Lemon Meringue xxx http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/9930803/Rose-and-cardamom-cheesecake-recipe.html

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

I am just back from a truly lovely weekend away with my Mum in Bath - one of my favourite places in the whole world.  We went to the Therme Spa (I have to say getting into the open air in the snow was a little challenging but it was worth it when we were in the hot water overlooking Bath Abbey) and to see Romeo and Juliet ballet at the Bath Opera House.  We also managed two visits to the Pump House - afternoon tea listening to a grand piano and morning coffee accompanied by a string trio. The coffee macaron was the best we had ever eaten and definitely has my seal of approval! So many lovely things and a really fun time with my Mum for Mother's Day xxxx

Friday, 8 March 2013

My gorgeous niece Hunter - a very discerning palette for someone so young!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Yesterday was a lovely day at the shoot for my new Gluten Free book.  Here are Iona, Bill and Bridget all hard at work discussing positioning the cheese straws!  The final photo looked lovely but you will have to wait for the book to see it.  Next were mozzerella and pesto puffs (I was roped into making the puff pastry!) and chilli bake with a lime and polenta crust.  Such a lovely day out!  I am now so excited to see the book once it is finished xxx  It was a real trip down memory lane to see Bridget again as she worked on my very first cook book 365 cakes and cookies - 13 books ago - my word that does seem like forever ago!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

It seems like a long way off until this book is released in August, but I am delighted to be able to share the cover of my next Gluten Free book with you.  This is my first savoury book and it seemed very strange not to be whipping up cakes and cookies.  Instead I was making Toad in the Hole, Pork Pies, Beef Wellingtons, Leek tart to name but a few of the recipes inside.  It was certainly a challenge with gluten free flour but one I really enjoyed. The book is in photo shoot at the moment so next week I am off to London to the studio - really looking forward to my day out!  For any nut allergy sufferers, the vast majority of recipes in this book contain no nuts.  The book is available to pre order on Amazon.http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Savory-Gluten-free-Baker-Intolerant/dp/1849754292/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1361437163&sr=8-3

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Have you ever had one of those days when your cooking goes wrong?  It doesn't happen to me that often luckily but yesterday it happened in a spectacular fashion.  My friend Susan came round yesterday evening as we wanted to prepare Semlor - Swedish lent buns which is their pancake equivalent for Shrove Tuesday.  We have been planning this for a while now and were both looking forward to a baking evening together.  Peter and Susan used to live in Gothenburg and have raved about these cardamom buns filled with whipped cream and almond paste ever since I have known them.  My expectations of a delicious culinary experience were high.  Two nights ago I had a dream that we were making the buns and the yeast kept foaming all over the kitchen. I think I should have taken this as a sign.  We followed the recipe to the letter but the dough was really hard and not elastic at all.  Still we persevered thinking that it was perhaps meant to be this way as maybe Swedish dough is different.  Alas, we then put it in my Kitchenaid mixer to knead and it broke the glass bowl into large pieces!  One hour of cooking and nothing to show for it as the dough now had glass fragments in it.  We were both so sad, although did manage to see the funny side of it eventually.  So instead of our cardamom buns, we had a quick change of plan and instead  made Semlor inspired pancakes - cardamom pancakes with almond paste, whipped cream and blueberry and cardamom compote.  They were very tasty and although not quite what we had planned, the evening turned out well in the end!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

It is always as very exciting day when the first copy of one of my books arrives, but the arrival of Cheesecakes was something a bit special.  I knew that the book was going to be lovely but it has far exceeded my expectations.  The photography is just stunning and Steve Painter did an amazing job making 60 cheesecakes look so different.  The book is not out until next month but I thought I would give you a sneak preview of some of my favourite pictures - trifle cheesecake, jelly and custard cheesecake (with a pink wafer biscuit base) and valentine mergingue and cherry cheesecakes!   I hope you like them as much as I do.  The book is available to pre-order on Amazon now and is out next month xxx

Monday, 21 January 2013

What fun was had in my village this weekend - such a lot of snow and tobogganing galore.  With flasks of mulled wine and baked apples for everyone we headed to the hill at the end of my lane.  Toby built a snow ramp and we had great fun flying off the ramp on our sledges.  The prize for the most spectacular tumble probably went to me who managed a 360 somersault off the sledge - I just hope that no one was videoing it - it would have been worthy of you've been framed!  Hope that you are all keeping warn and staying safe on the icy roads.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Venison Ragu in Roasted Pattypans
Serves 4 preparation time 25 minutes cooking time approx 2 ½ hours
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
olive oil
3 bay leaves
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 sprig of thyme
½ tsp ground allspice
500g venison (leg or shoulder) cut into 3cm cubes
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
400ml full bodied red wine
2 tbsp sundried tomato puree
4 large patty pan squash or baby pumpkins
Salt and pepper
Equipment: heavy based casserole pan, roasting tray
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/375F/190C.  Place the onion and garlic in the casserole pan with one tablespoon of olive oil and simmer over a gentle heat until the onions are soft and start to caramelise.  Season with salt and pepper and add the star anise, cinnamon, bay leaves and thyme to the pan and cook for a few minutes further.  Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.  Add the venison to the pan with a little more oil and cook for a few minutes until the meat has browned all over.   Return the spiced onions to the pan with the meat, add the chopped tomatoes, wine, puree and 200ml of water.  Stir and heat until the liquid in the pan is hot, then transfer to the oven and cook for 40 minutes then turn the temperature down to Gas Mark 2/300F/150C and slow cook for a further 2 hours until the meat is tender.
For the squash, using a sharp knife cut off the top of the squash, keeping the stalk intact.  Hollow out the squash using a spoon.  Place the squash and lids in a roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven  with the casserole at Gas Mark 5/375F/190C for about 30 minutes until the flesh is soft but the squash still hold their shape (I do this during the initial cooking of the ragu and then reheat just before serving once the ragu is cooked).   To serve,  fill the squash with the venison ragu and top with their lids. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

12 Days after Christmas is my least favourite time of the year as it is always so sad to take down the Christmas decorations.  Why does the house always look so bare when all the decorations are down even though they have only been up for a few weeks? This year I decorated the outside of my cottage with giant candy canes.  Sadly they were made of plastic but this didn't stop most of the children in the village licking them to see if they were real.  Perhaps next year I will have to see about dipping them in some peppermint sugar coating to make my display more special.  Peapod my cat was of no use with the undecorating - no sooner had I taken the baubles off the tree and put them in the box to pack them away, she was flicking  them out again with her paw and chasing them round the floor.  This game went on for quiet a while until she gave up fighting a loosing battle and decided to sleep on the sofa instead!!!   

Thursday, 3 January 2013

 Between Christmas and New Year was my 39th birthday.  In order to celebrate not yet being 40 and to make up for the fact that my last two birthday have been fairly rubbish, I decided to throw a party for my family and a few friends.  As it turned out my entire family was able to make it, including my Brother Amy and Hunter who were visiting from America, my cousin Charlie from Australia who made a list minute trip to the UK and my friend Maren from Germany.  It was an international affair!!!!  Of course there was only one theme I could have for the party - Alice in Wonderland - and Jon the chef at the restaurant did an amazing job with his surprise menu.  It was delicious and completely quirky and  lunch lasted almost 6 hours!!!!!  I can't remember the last time I made myself a birthday cake but I did this year - topped with a sugar dormouse in a teapot that my Dad made for me, with mini cups filled with white chocolate melted with cocoa to look like tea.  The candles were toadstools and it looked very pretty when it was lit - such a shame to cut into it but it had to be done!  So here are a few photos from the afternoon and the menu for your perusal - my favourite course name "I'm Latte, for a very important Date" - chocolate coffee cake with dates, toffee sauce and milk ice cream - YUM YUM!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Well - so much for my New Year's Resolution of getting back to blogging - It is the 2nd Jan so I have already missed a day!  Better late than never though.  The end of last year was utterly frantic as I was writing a sequel to my gluten free book and also in the 2 weeks before Christmas I had 4 days of  photoshoot for my Aga book in my cottage - 60 photos done, 130 eggs used for baking over 2 weekends - it was utterly crazy!!!  It was an amazing (if slightly exhausting) experience and it is so nice to see glimpses of my cottage, pots and pans, shepherds hut etc in the background of the photos.  Mike Cooper the photographer was very patient and did a brilliant job with the pictures.  We were very brave and even managed photos of baked alaska without the ice cream melting!!!!  I was very proud.  My cat Muffy took great interest in all the excitement and was useful at prop selection - although after a while she lost interest and just went to sleep in the props!  The picture shows the chocolate peanut butter pie - with a peanut biscuit crust, snickers mousse layered with peanut sponge cake with whipped cream and peanuts on top!!!  Very rich and scarily somewhat addictive!!!
I wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous 2013 - fingers crossed this year will be a lovely one for us all and an improvement on 2012!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

I am very excited to be able to show you the cover of my next book - Cheesecakes - which is being published by Ryland Peters and Small in spring next year.  It is available to preorder on Amazon already!  Gregg Wallace, Masterchef Judge Extrodinaire has given a lovely quote which is on the back of the cover “In my opinion, there is no greater cheesecake expert than Hannah.  It was the first thing she ever cooked for me on Masterchef and she continues to bring me one as a present whenever we meet.  Save to say, I love the girl and I love her cheesecakes.”  Can you believe he wrote something so nice!!!!  Anyway I really do love this book A LOT!  The pictures are just stunning inside and I can't wait to receive my first copy!
Look at all this food!  This was the aftermath of the first photo shoot for my Aga cookery book last week.  The photos were taken in my kitchen with my Aga getting a central role.  Mike Cooper the photographer was fantastic and very patient and by the end of the day we had managed 15 photographs which is pretty good going, plus some lovely incidental shots of chickens and dishes going in and out of the Aga.  After Mike had left, I packed all the cake into the car and took it up into the village for everyone to try which went down very well as you can imagine.  I then curled up and slept very deelpy as I was so tired!!!!   My favourite recipe is the ginger brulees (seen here in the pretty cream teacup) - the photo we took looked lovely!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Last night was harvest supper in my village - roast beef and yorkshire puddings (so delicious) and apple pies.  Luckily my Mum was super kind and made my apple pies for me as I am in the midst of 3 books at the moment (eeekkk) - I am just finishing editing my Cheesecake book, next week is the photo shoot of my Aga book at my cottage (I am so excited about this although a little scared!!!) and Ryland Peters and Small have very kindly just asked me to write a sequal to the Gluten Free Baker with lots of lovely savoury baking recipes - yippee!  A sequal - I am THRILLED!!!  Anyway, back to last night - this was the ENORMOUS harvest basket I won in the auction - £9 for all these vegetables.  Actually the only reason I wanted this particular basket was for the bundles of corn which were nestled in it.  I thought they might come in handy for the photoshoot next week!!! But the apples, onions, rosehips and potatoes were an added bonus.  Not sure about the 4 marrows that were in the basket though - I hate marrow!!!!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

This morning I played birthday fairy and delivered these cupcakes to my friend Lucy's school without her knowing!  I am not sure the caretaker will be too pleased at the happy birthday sprinkles that I covered the desk and carpet with.  The cupcakes are gluten free pecan and coconut with hints of cinnamon and orange with a creamcheese frosting.  The little house on top has a birthday candle in it and I used some very pretty white picket fence cake wrappers.  I accept that it is quite twee and totally kitsch but I am hoping Lucy will like it!  Tonight I am delivering another cake to Joshua as it is his birthday today as well - what a lot of birthdays this week!  I was very busy baking last night as you can imagine xxx

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

 On Saturday I went to the Grandsden Show - what fun we had!  There was so much to see and do and definitely something for everyone.  Some many cute animals (am wondering if I could have an Alpaca or Sheep in my garden to keep the grass down!)  In the produce show there were giant marrows, seriously long parsnips and even bags of wheat and barley.  Amazing!