Monday, 31 December 2007
Friday, 28 December 2007
Thursday, 27 December 2007
Christmas lunch with delicious (if I say so myself) The turkey cooked for 14 hours and yet was really moist. There are two theories for this - my brother is sure it was the turkey injector that he bought from Mexico (and which we had all dismissed as a joke) which I had used to inject ginger wine into the turkey whilst it was cooking. I was convinced it was the mascapone and wild mushroom stuffing under the skin! In truth it was probably a combination of both. My mum's Christmas pudding (made to our family recipe) was the best we had ever tasted.
I had some wonderful foody presents which I will share with you as soon as my camera (which died on Christmas Eve) is fixed! What did Santa Clause bring you?
Monday, 24 December 2007
Friday, 21 December 2007
Thursday, 20 December 2007
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
The second mention is George who performed a wonderful puppet show for us all at our family party on Sunday - "Bob the Builder and Mickey Mouse follow the star". Whilst it may not have been a Christmas story that many of you will recognise, it had us laughing out loud and you will be pleased to know that they followed the star all the way to the north pole where Father Christmas made a guest appearance and gave them some presents!
Monday, 17 December 2007
I hope that your Christmas preparations are going well and that you are having as much fun as we are!
Thursday, 13 December 2007
Freddie and Charlotte of The Great Big Veg Challenge have move to Q and requested suggestions for Quick Vegetable Recipes. I assume this means there are no Q vegetables and sitting here I have to confess I cannot think of any! So this is a super quick pea and mint soup, stove to table in 10 minutes!
In a large pan, fry a finely chopped onion in 1 tbsp of olive oil with a pinch of salt for 2 minutes until softened. Add 300 grams of peas and a good slug of calvados, sherry or maderia and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock and a handful of chopped mint. Simmer for 5 minutes until the peas are soft. Add 100ml of double cream or milk and blitz with a handblender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Hey presto - a super quick and tasty supper! Serve with some warm crusty bread.
As always Charlotte's team of dedicated followers and contributors have all come up with wonderful suggestions and she has links to all these recipes on her site.
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
Monday, 10 December 2007
Yesterday was our niece's birthday and we had 18 people for lunch, eating in three sittings! My niece had asked for an ice cream cake and loves strawberries (yes I know they are out of season and yesterday we discussed moving her birthday to the summer so that she had better strawberries on her cake next year!) This cake is very quick and easy to make but won't last long as the ice cream melts! Line two 8 inch cake pans with cling film and fill with ice cream - you can use any sort! Leave in the freezer to set, remove from the cake tins, cover with another layer of cling film and return to the freezer until 5 minutes before you are going to serve the cake. Make three sponge cakes in the same size cake pan - once cooled, I topped mine with white chocolate, pink icing, strawberries and white ferrero roche. When you are ready to serve, layer the cake and ice cream and serve immediately.
Friday, 7 December 2007
Today's project was a Knights, Dragons and Princess' cake for a birthday party in London tomorrow. I had to take the cake to London by train, arriving at Kings Cross at 5pm in the rush hour and managed to get it to its destination in one piece. What a relief - I think I must be mad to have even attempted this!
Thursday, 6 December 2007
So what lovely collections do you have? And how many collections are too many?! Can a girl ever have enough wicker baskets?
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
500grams shortcrust pastry
flour for dusting
1 jar of mincemeat
Filling 1 - Lemon Mascapone pies
2 tbsp mascapone cheese
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Filling 2 - Ginger pies
2 preserved gingers, finely chopped
1 tbsp stem ginger syrup
1 tbsp ginger wine
Milk for glazing
Icing sugar for dusting
Roll your pastry out thinly, sprinkle with flour to ensure that it doesn't stick and cut out 12 circles, approximately 3 inches in diameter. Grease a bun tin with butter and press the circles gently in each hole. For lemon mascapone pies, add a teaspoon of mincemeat to each pie and top with half a teaspoon of mascapone cheese and a small amount of zest. For the ginger mince pies, mix 3 tbsp of the mincemeat in a bowl with the preserve ginger, syrup and wine. Place a small spoonful in each pie. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut 12 x 2 inch circles or stars or flowers! Top each pie with a small circle and then brush with the milk to glaze. Bake in a moderate oven Gas Mark 5/180oC/Aga roasting oven below a cold shelf for 10 - 15 minutes, turning the tray half way through cooking, until golden brown. Transfer the mince pies to a cooking wrack and dust with icing sugar. Serve warm with brandy butter!
Monday, 3 December 2007
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
This week is busy as I have 37 recipes to write for various projects and articles. I am beginning to wonder whether this is ever going to be possible but I have made a good stab at it this evening. Some of the recipes are for a healthy eating project and so, taking inspiration from Ken Hom's wonderful cooking at the show yesterday, this was our healthy supper!
Spiced Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 4, preparation time 10 minutes, cooking time 15 minutes
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 skinless chicken breast fillet, chopped into small pieces
1 – 2 chillies, finely chopped (seeds removed if desired or omit the chillies if you wish)
1 stick lemon grass, trimmed and bashed with a rolling pin to release the flavours
1 carrot peeled and slices into small strips or grated
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp chopped thai basil (or regular basil if thai basil is not available)
3 chopped spring onions
1 small packet of thin Chinese noodles, soak in boiling water for 3 minutes or according to instructions
In a wok or a large frying pan, heat the oil and then add the garlic, shallots and ginger and cook for 2 minutes until soft, taking care that they do not burn. If the oil gets to hot, turn down the heat. Add the chicken, lemon grass and chillies and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the carrot and cook for a further minutes. Pour in the fish sauce, both soy sauces and the lime juice and give a good stir. Add the stock and simmer on a low heat for 5 – 8 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Add the coriander, basil, spring onions and cooked noodles and heat for a further minute. Spoon into bowls and serve immediately.
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
Today Steven and I are off to a channel 5 programme Cooking the Books. Masterchef David was on the programme a few weeks ago as well - you may have seen him! We have been asked to cook a dish from one of our favourite cook books so I have chosen Giancarlo and Katie Caldesi's Return to Tuscany - this is their fig and orange upside down cake and I am pleased that it doesn't look too far off the picture! It smells really yummy and to be honest I would quite like a slice now, but I can't imagine turning up with a half eaten cake would go down well. The cake does not contain any butter, margarine or milk so would be good for someone who is allergic to dairy products.
Giancarlo's Fig and Orange Cake
7oz granulated sugar
4 figs and 2 oranges
41/2 oz caster sugar
3 large eggs
4 1/2 oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
3oz caster sugar
1 vanilla bean
1tsp ground cinnamon (this was my own addition - I hope GC doesn't mind but I am feeling so Christmassy at the moment that cinnamon is going in everything)
grated zest of the 2 oranges
Place the 7oz caster sugar in a saucepan with 2 tsp of water and heat until the sugar is melted and goes golden brown (it will take longer than you think!). Pour the caramel into the base of a flan or tart tatin dish (8inches). Thinly slice the figs and peel and slice the oranges and layer then in patterns on top of the caramel. Whisk the eggs until they are doubled in size and then gradually add the sugar. Whisk in the baking powder, zest and cinnamon and then gently fold in the flour. Pour the batter on top of the fruit and bake in a moderate oven for 20/25 minutes until a knife comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then place a plate on top of the dish and invert - be careful as there is hot caramel which may spill.
I then made a syrup to go on top (as there looked to be a clear syrup drizzled over the cake in the photo and I wanted to make it look identical) - simmer the juice of an orange with the 3oz sugar and vanilla pod until all the sugar is dissolved and it is thick and syrupy. Drizzle over the cake and serve warm or cold.
Monday, 26 November 2007
Thursday, 22 November 2007
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
It is not often that I have moments of finesse in my cooking as those of you who watched Masterchef will be well aware. I know that this is something that I really should aspire to as it was the constant criticism (albeit constructive) that I received from John and Gregg but I rarely have the time and for me taste is the most important thing. Occasionally I do make something bordering on elegant - this is a pudding I made for a supper party recently. A Sauternes's jelly with suspended gold leaf and a panne cotte with damson compote. The flavours went really well together and scored highly with the guests on presentation!
Monday, 19 November 2007
Herb scented mushrooms
served two hungry people
2 large jacket potatoes (microwaved on full power for 14 minutes and then crisped in the oven or cooked for one hour in the oven until soft)
1 small punnet of mushrooms - I used chestnut but any mushrooms would be fine
A large knob of butter
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
1 red onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 good slug of calvados or brandy (omit this if cooking for children)
100ml double cream
salt and pepper for seasoning
Add the butter to a large frying pan and add the onions, garlic and mushrooms, together with the rosemary and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for approximately 10 minutes until the onions and mushrooms are soft. The mushrooms should smell nice and earthy and remind you of walking in a forest (this is Giancarlo's test for when mushrooms are cooked!) Add the chives and the calvados and cook for a few minutes until the alcohol has burned off. Add the cream and cook for a few minutes further until the sauce is thickened. Divide the mushrooms between the two potatoes and serve immediately!
Amanda from Figs Olives Wine and David from Book the Cook are also providing potato filling recipes so drop by their sites to see their delicious recipes
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
So here is my first Christmas cake attempt. I cannot yet vouch for how it tastes as it is sealed in a tin and will be fed with more amaretto for the next month until Christmas, but if smell is anything to go by, it is going to be pretty tasty!
1 kilo mixed fruit (you can buy fruit ready mixed in bags in the supermarket or choose any combination you want from sultanas, currants, raisins, dried apricots, mixed peel, dried pinapple - David Hall has made his with dried figs and prunes)
1 large tub glace cherries, chopped in halves
100ml amaretto (or brandy if you are feeling more traditional)
225g/8oz butter, softened
170g/60z muscovado sugar
50g/2oz caster sugar
4 large eggs
170g/6oz plain flour, sifted
50g/2oz self raising flour, sifted
200g/7oz unsalted mixed nuts, roughly chopped
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp mixed spice
a good grate of nutmeg
zest of two lemons
1 tbsp treacle
Soak the mixed fruit and cherries in the amaretto overnight, or longer if you have time, stirring occasionally. Cream the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy and then beat in the eggs on at a time. You need to get as much air into the cake at this stage as the majority of the flour is plain and will not rise. Gently fold in the flours and spices followed by the treacle and zest. Fold the fruits into the cake mixture (you will need a large bowl for this). There will be much more fruit than cake batter so it is important to make sure it is well mixed. Grease and line the base and sides of a 10inch round spring form pan. Pour in the cake batter and bake for 4 hours at Gas Mark 2/150C/Aga roasting oven below a cold shelf for 30 minutes, then transfer to the cooling oven, covering the cake lightly with foil towards the end of it starts to brown too much. Once the cake has cooled, wrap it in greaseproof paper and cling film and store in a sealed tin. Open it once a week, prick the surface with a darning needle or a fork and pour over a spoon of Amaretto.