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, 30 June 2008

Summer Rose Punch

What a weekend! So much baking that I can hardly move today!!! Talk about suffering for your passion! However, it was all worthwhile as our afternoon teas and canape evenings were a great success! I will post a little more about them when I have a few photos from Kathy to show you. In the meantime, this is one of the recipes from our edible flower cookery demonstrations - a Rose Summer Punch. It looked so lovely with the petals floating on the top!

Summer Rose Punch
Makes 1 punch bowl - serves 15 - 20
1 bottle rose wine
1 bottle sparkling wine
1 bottle sparking mineral water
1 ladle of rose liquor (or substitute 1 ladle of vodka)
1 ladle of rose syrup
1 punnet of strawberries, sliced
rose petals (which have not been sprayed with any insecticides)
ice cubes (frozen with small flowers in would make this punch even more spectacular)

Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and float the rose petals on top. Serve in large tumblers with lots of ice for a refreshing summer cocktail!

Friday, 27 June 2008

Earlier this week was my Grandma's 88th Birthday. She is a bit under weather at the moment (Get Well Soon Grandma - she will be reading this as my mum prints every page of my blog out for her!) so we did not have a big family get together. As there were only a few of us to eat the cake, this is the little cake I made. I had decorated the cake with sugar roses but it was lacking something in the middle - luckily I remembered that I had bought some little sugar bunnies a while ago as I knew they would come in handy one day! They looked perfect in the middle in amongst the green leaves - as if in a luscious cabbage patch. Before you ask, there is no significance to the three candles - in my defense 1) 88 candles would not have fitted on the cake and 2) I only had three pink and green stripy candles in my tin! Happy Birthday Grandma xxx

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

I found these greeting cards when we were in the Lake District and instantly fell in love with them! They are just perfectly me! They are almost too nice to send and I think I may frame them for the kitchen! For those of you who don't know the story of the Little Red Hen, it goes as follows:
The Little red hen was scratching about in the yard when she found an ear of corn. "Who will help me make some bread?" she said. "Not I" said the sleepy cat, "Not I" said the lazy rat, "Not I said the greedy pig". "Then I will make it myself" she said. She ground the corn to make the flour. She turned the flour into dough (which I am sure that she didn't drop on the floor as I did on MC!!!) She baked the dough in the oven and made the most delicious sweet bread. Then she buttered it with soft creamy butter, Neither the sleepy cat, not the lazy rat or the greedy pig helped out one little bit. "Who will help me eat this delicious bread" said the little red hen. "I will" said the sleepy cat "I will" said the lazy rat, "I will" said the greedy pig
"Oh no you won't" clucked the little red hen and she ate it all up, every last crumb and it was really delicious!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Kathy Brown has very kindly asked me to come and host afternoon teas and evening walks with canapes with her in her beautiful garden this weekend. We are also going to demonstrate some edible flower dishes and Kathy will give a guided tour of her lovely garden, including the new edible flower garden she has just planted. I am busy planning the menus and deciding which cakes to cook! It is such a nice event that Kathy has planned and I am really looking forward to being part of it. If anyone is interested, you can contact Kathy via her website or by e-mail kathy_brown@tinyworld.co.uk.

Souffle Pie

A quick and easy supper dish that is yummy with salad.

Souffle Pie

50g butter
400ml milk
200ml double cream
4 large eggs, beaten
100g cubed pancetta
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small tin sweetcorn, drained
3 croissants, torn into small pieces
100g emmental cheese, grated
salt and pepper

Grease a 10inch square baking dish with a little of the butter. Heat the remaining butter, milk and cream in a saucepan over a gentle heat until the butter has melted. Set aside to cool. Add the onion and pancetta to a frying pan with the olive oil and fry until the pancetta is cooked and golden brown and the onions are soft. Stir in the drained sweetcorn and cook for a further 2 - 3 minutes. Place the croissant pieces in a large bowl and add the pancetta mixture and pour over the milk. Season with salt and pepper, add the eggs and mix well. Pour into the prepare dish and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake in a hot oven (Gas Mark 5/190C/375F) for 30/35 minutes until the pie is golden.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Summer visitors to our garden

Very good news - two ducks that used to live in our garden have returned! The disappeared a year ago and we feared the fox had taken them but as I was in the kitchen this weekend I heard quacking outside the window and there they were, calling for scraps, just as if they had never gone away! How I would love to know where they have been all this time - perhaps in sunnier climes! The rabbits that live in the surrounding woodland are getting bolder and are now often found on the lawn outside our patio. This may have a direct corrolation with the fact that the grass has not been cut and is therefore providing them with a luscious feast! It is nice to have such good company when I am working from home!

Friday, 20 June 2008

Summer Puddings

My latest Hannah's Kitchen article in Country House is a rose water summer pudding. Looking at the photo (taken by my wonderful friend Jess), makes me want to grab a spoon and dig in!

Rosewater Summer Pudding with Strawberry Cointreau cream

Serves 6, preparation time 20 minutes, plus chilling overnight

For the pudding
8 slices of white bread, crusts removed
900g/2lbs fresh cherries (pitted), strawberries and summer berries
100g/4oz caster sugar
3 tbsp rosewater
For the cream

500ml double cream
200g/8oz strawberries
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp Cointreau

Simmer the fruit for the pudding with the caster sugar and rosewater for 10 minutes until the fruit is soft and the sugar has dissolved. Cut 7 of the slices of bread in half and one into a circle to line the bottom of the bowl. Soak each slice for a few seconds in the poaching liquid of the fruit. This will ensure that your pudding is a perfect pink colour all over when you turn it out. Place a circle of bread in the bottom of a 6inch/16cm pudding bowl and then line with slices of bread, ensuring that each slice overlaps. Half fill the lined pudding bowl with fruit, cover with a slice of bread and then fill with the remaining fruit. Cover the top of the bowl with additional slices of bread, ensuring there are no gaps and all the fruit is covered. Wrap the pudding bowl in cling film and place a saucer on top, weigh down and leave to chill overnight in the fridge. You should have some fruit left to decorate your pudding with when you serve it. For the cream, crush the strawberries for the cream with the icing sugar and Cointreau with a fork. Whip the double cream to stiff peak and stir through the strawberry puree. Gently invert your pudding on to a serving plate and serve straight away with the cream.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

This week was Rosie Pea's second birthday - I cannot believe that it was two years ago that I was looking after Josh whilst Jess was in hospital having her. How time flies! This was her birthday cake - it was well travelled as my Aga has broken down again so it was baked in a neighbour's oven (the Aga man is here as I type fixing her - she is getting temperamental but then I think I would be tempramental if I have been baking and roasting for 80 years!)
So this was Rosie's butterfly birthday cake - very quick and simple but she liked it! The white chocolate malteser antennae were popular and it got me thinking that you could make lots of these and serve them stuck in half an orange like old fashioned cheese and pineapple as a sweet canape with no effort or cooking at all!!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

My parents were both art teachers. Dad is now an art examiner and gets to travel to places such as Thailand and Kenya to mark A level art exams at international schools. My mum now works with children who are deaf and blind. Both are hugely artistic. Sadly the drawing gene did not pass my way - everything I draw invariably looks like a stick man. My dad popped over at the weekend to bring me a lovely present - a picture of my old hen Dora with the peacock in our garden that he had made with his new printing press. He has done the picture in two colour ways and the dilemma is I now have to choose between them and decide which one to keep. At the moment, I am favouring the yellow one as Dora is the main feature in the picture and it looks really like her. It also looks lovely hanging in my office! The red one however matches the colour of our dinning room and would look very nice hanging in there! Decision, decisions....help needed! At this rate, I will have to keep both! Thank you Dad xxx

Monday, 16 June 2008

Teenage boy birthday cakes can be problematic! Gone are the days of spaceships, dinosaurs, dragons. Our nephews are now sadly all too grown up for that. This weekend was Devan's 12th birthday and he and his sisters were performing at a dance show in their home town. Using this as some vague inspiration, I had some photos taken of Devan in his dance costume (Wildcats from High School Musical) and used this to decorate the cake. Surrounded with lots and lots of brightly coloured sweets (all my favourites!), this was such an easy cake to make and it was loved just as much as any of the other more elaborate cakes! Happy Birthday Devan!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Lovely Lake Windemere

Thursday, 12 June 2008

I was lucky enough to eat at L'Enclume this week - my favourite restaurant of all time. I visited 4 years ago and I had dreamed of returning ever since. Simon Rogan is the closest thing to Willy Wonka I have ever experienced - his underground menu, 23 courses - no holds barred - was as follows:
1. Hot and Sour popcorn, Fennel crackers (like prawn crackers but fennel flavoured) and giant olives served on something that looked to be part of a car engine
2. A tropical punch cocktail dehydrated into a crisp wafer with a rehydrated fig syrup that was turn into a mousse in front of my eyes
3. Tiny wafer cones filled with a frozen red pepper mousse and topped with grated manchego cheese - these looked like mini ice cream cones
4. A truffle lollipop with pickled onion Turkish delight (I know this sounds like it should be repulsive but it was honestly delicious!)
5. Whim 01 - powdered tuna snow with mango mousse and a soy cake
6. A hot and sour soup which came with a syringe of egg that was injected into the soup to make swirly noodles
7. Memories of venus (my favourite course) - a mussel encased in lemon jelly, some tzatziki mousse and one hot meatball (I would have eaten this course over and over again)
8. Fois gras two ways - as ice cream with sweetcorn puree and hot fried in vermiccelli with fig puree
9. Razor role reversal - A razor clam shell filled with poached chicken in an egg sauce and an egg shell filled with razor claim in a chestnut soup
10. Cornish crab with vanilla sauce, served with violet petals
11. Parmesan three ways - cake, crisp and droplets with maple syrup and an sphere of liquid flavoured of mushroom ravioli when it dissolved in your mouth, served with rocket flowers.
12. Glazed pork cheeses with cocoa, date and cassia
13. Scallop with tonka curd, butternut squash puree and sweet brackets
14. Skate with broad beans and seaweed
15. Monk cheeks with squid ink risotto (memories of Masterchef came flooding back) with a passion fruit sauce - yum yum
16. Hot Pot - the most willy wonka dish on the menu - a lamb broth in which was floating 5 little pouches - when burst in your mouth, two tasted of potatoes, two of lamb and one of red cabbage - genius!
17. Veal with mustard flowers and onions
18. Delicious cheeses with grape chutney
19. Eucalyptus mousse with coffee snow and pears
20. Sticky Taffy Pudding - Another set out edible spheres - flavoured individually of the elements of sticky toffee pudding (vanilla, date, toffee, sponge cake, butter) - I was told to put them all in my mouth and bite - each sphere released a liquid and combined it tasted exactly as if you had just eaten sticky toffee pudding. It reminded me of Enid Blyton's Toffee Shock Buns for those of you who remember the Magic Faraway Tree!
21. Surrealists nitro slammer - tequila slammer with a salt wafer, nitro glycerin frozen tequila and a test tube of lemon syrup
22. Banana "Split" with strawberry flavoured bubbles and ice cream powder
23. Petit Fours - Vanilla choc ices, pistachio straws, walnut and wasabi truffles, tiramisu with liquid coffee pearls and tropical fruit jellies.

I am attaching the photos although they are not brilliant - my camera makes a bird noise when I use it and I was trying not to drive the other dinners up the wall! L'Enclume comes with a huge recommendation from me so if you are ever in the Lake District and are in need of a very special treat, you have to go. Cartmel is also the home of the sticky toffee pudding. I bought some from the sticky toffee pudding shop to bring home but, having eaten the above, it will be a few days before I feel like eating sticky toffee pudding I can tell you!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Sunday was Open Farm Day at Brown's Farm in Stagsden. Open Farm Day is a wonderful initiative, getting people into the countryside and showing where crops and meat come from.
Peter the farm butcher gave a demonstration on butchery and I followed him with a demonstration of some nice lamb recipes (using the cuts Peter had prepared in his demo) and summer salads. There was not a scrap left of the food I cooked so I think it was well received. Wonderful stalls selling local cider, home made fudge, Rosie Pea came along and had her face painted as a tiger (very cute) and farm walks through the crops. All in all it was a lovely day.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

I have mentioned before my love of peashoots. Delicate leaves with curly fronds that taste of delicious raw peas. I had an e-mail last week asking if I would like to try some peashoots made by Vitacress - would I? Most definitely!!! There I was expecting a small packet, when the postman arrived with an enormous box containing not 1 but 6 bags of peashoots! All carefully packaged with their own ice packs. It was love at first sight!

I took some of them to a cookery demonstration I gave on Sunday and made peashoot and fennel salad and peashoot and lamb noodles. I passed round a bowl of fresh peashoots for the audience to try and the overwhelming response was "yum"..."where do we buy them" (M&S and Sainsburys have them). A few more converts to my peashoot campaign! You can read more about peashoots and find some lovely recipes at www.peashoots.com

So, if you stumble accross some peashoots, my advice is buy them straight away! You will not regret it. Last night we have this delicious peashoot, peach and mozzarella salad. We ate every last leaf!

Peashoot, Peach and Mozzarella Salad with Lavender Dressing
1 bag of peashoots
2 ripe peaches
1 buffolo mozerella (buy the best you can afford - it is worth it)
3 asparagus spears, roughly chopped (you can eat them raw, did you know!)
1 tsp ground culinary lavender
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (or ordinary balsamic will do but it strains the mozzarella black)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Arrange the peashoots in a bowl and top with slices of the juicy peach. Tear your mozzarella into large pieces and add to the bowl, together with the raw asparagus. Whisk together the lavender, vinegar, lemon and oil and pour over the salad when you are ready to serve. Summer on a plate!

Friday, 6 June 2008

AroundBritainwithaPaunch have tagged me for a Meme

Here are the rules...

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.

2. Share 5 facts about yourself.

3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).

4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their Blogs.

It hardly feels like there are 5 facts about me that you don't know already, but here you go:

1. I play the harp but not very well! I have a lovely old 19th Centuary harp by Erard that my harp teacher found languishing in an old barn and restored for me. It is rickety but I love it. When the weather is good I take it out into the orchard and play - the birds sing back or so I like to think!

2. I do not like bananas, raw tomatoes or egg mayo sandwiches. I used to share an office at my old law firm with Panos. He was a really good friend and lovely chap but every day (without fail) he used to have an egg sandwich and a banana for lunch. The smell used to drive me mad. I resorted to having aromatherapy oils in the office - the smell used to drive him mad! We reached a happy medium!

3. My favourite hen is Black Rook (odd name I know - I have no idea where it came from). She is a dear little thing and very tame. I know I shouldn't have favourites. She weighs about a third of the other hens - who are all enormous. She will sit on my lap and likes to be stroked. Occasionally I bring her into the house to keep me company - my husband doesn't know this and would be cross if he did!

4. I have written 116 of my 365 cake and cookie recipes for the book - I counted this morning. I am not sure whether I am on target but hope I am. It is lovely but hard work! My favourite chapter is the Children's Baking Chapter.

5. We rented Clytha Castle in Wales for our honeymoon - we had the whole place to ourselves which was magical. I am convinced it was haunted and I am sure I saw a ghost.

Over to you, I tag :

More than Burnt Toast
Ritas Baking Tray
Domestic Goddess in Training
A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit
Food Glorious Food

Thursday, 5 June 2008

When friends and family go on holiday, they are instructed to look out for nice recipes and unusual culinary delights to bring back. I often receive recipes cutout from newspapers and magazines from my Grandma and Aunt. As a result of people being very kind to me, I have a cupboard full of unusual sugars and spices from all around the world. During my Mums trip to New York and Boston they tried Boston Cream Pie which they loved. They kindly bought back the recipe and I can't wait to try it out!
Boston Cream Pie
Serves 6 -8
Cake Base

7 eggs, separated
8oz caster sugar
4oz plain flour
1oz melted butter
Place the yolks and egg whites in separate bowls and add half of the sugar to each bowl. Whisk both bowls well until the yolks have doubled in size and the whites are at stiff peak. Gently add the whites to the yolk mixture and fold in the flour and melted butter. Pour in to a 10 inch greased spring form tin and bake in the oven (350F/Gas Mark 4/180C) for 20 minutes until the cake springs back to your touch. Allow to cool.
Cream Filling
1 tbsp butter
500ml milk
500ml double cream
1 tbsp rum (I will substitute amaretto)
3 dessert spoons of cornflour
6 eggs
2oz caster sugar
Heat the butter, milk and cream in a saucepan and bring it to the boil. In a separate bowl whisk the sugar, cornflour and eggs until creamy and then whisk into the heated butter cream when it comes to the boil. Heat for a further minute and then set aside to chill (I would make this the night before you are serving). When it is chilled, stir in the alcohol.
6oz fondant icing
3oz plain chocolate, melted
5oz fondant icing
Warm the 6oz fondant in a bain marie to 105 degrees and then add the chocolate. If the mixture is not of a runny consistency, add a little water. Heat the remaining 5oz fondant gently so it is runny and place in a piping bag.

To assemble your Boston cream pie, cut the cake in half and fill with 2/3rds of the pastry cream. Pour over the chocolate icing and pipe the white fondant on in a spiral. Using a knife drag placed in the center of the cake, pull the tip gently across the icing to the edge of the cake to give the feathered icing effect. Smooth the remaining cream filling around the sides of the cake and covered to toasted almond flakes.

Is it wrong to be wanting a slice of this even though it is only 8am in the morning???!!!