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

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Sorry for the lack of posts this week - I am frantically getting ready for the Good Food Show tomorrow and Masterchef Goes Large. I have just used 42 eggs to prepare cakes and meringues for demonstrating recipes from my book. Demonstrating baking receipes without an oven was never going to be an easy task! I have butterflies in my stomach but keep telling myself that this is meant to be fun. Fingers crossed it will all go OK. It will be so nice to see everyone involved in Masterchef again and to see what everyone has been up to. On Friday I received my badge for the show which said "Hannah Miles, Celebrity" - how exciting is that! Not quite sure that I class myself as a celebrity but as the pass gets me into the VIP area (with lots of proper celebrities) I am not complaining!!! If any of you are coming to the show do come and say Hi - I will be in the Rangemaster Theatre at 10.45 and 12.45, book signing at 2 and then in the invention test theater for the rest of Wednesday and all of Thursday. So off now to pack the car and I look forward to reporting back to you on my return!

Friday, 20 November 2009

If you ever wondered where I got my baking skills from -judging from these Pudsey Bear cookies she made today, the answer is clearly my Mum! She is selling them to raise money for Children in Need. So cute - well done Mum xxx

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

You can tell it is November and the run up to Christmas by the rate at which I am stitching - very fast!!! It is always my busiest time of year trying to finish presents in time for Christmas. These are two projects I finished at the weekend and I am pleased with them! Although the strawberry fields one is very out of season, I love the strawberries and little white flowers. Still plenty more stitching to do before Christmas though! With the Good Food Show Live next week, several trips to Germany before Christmas and New Moon coming out at the cinema this weekend (we have already booked tickets for Friday and Saturday - with my friend Maren flying over from Germany to watch - a definite Twi-Hard Fan) I may still end up finishing stitching on Christmas Eve as usual!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Rose and Violet is one of my favourite flavour combinations. I know to many people this conjures up images of gray haired ladies/draw liners/floral perfumes, but to me they are the best flavours for delicate dreamy desserts - ice creams, panne cottes, sorbets, jellies. These butter cookies were an experiment this morning and I think they worked and looked quite pretty too - if a little rustic!!

Rose and Violet Butter Cookies
Makes 18

180g butter
225g caster sugar
1 egg
280g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp double cream
1 tbsp rose water or rose syrup
1 tbsp violet syrup
crystallised rose and violet petals

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4/180F/350C and grease and line two baking trays. Whisk together the butter and caster sugar until light and creamy, then add the egg and whisk again. Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda, add the cream and floral syrups and then whisk again. Fold through some crystalise rose and violet petals (they are not cheap so just as many as you can justify!) The dough will be soft and not suitable for rolling. Using two spoons, place spoonfuls of the mixture on to the trays, leaving a little gap between each as they will spread. Press each cookie down with the back of a spoon and decorate with a few extra rose and violet petals on top. Bake in the oven for 10 - 12 minutes until pale golden brown, then transfer to a rack to cook.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

I am sure if I ever had the time to trace back through my ancestry I would find that I had German roots. As my friend from Hamburg Maren will testify, I feel a natural affinity with Germany and love everything German. When I was studying German at school I went on lots of German exchanges to stay with families in a bid to improve my language skills. My overriding memory of my stays with the Hammel family is the delicious food cooked by Suzannah's mum - my favourite dish was pineapple sauerkraut which until this weekend I have not eaten since. This is my own version with bacon and a fragrant hint of star anise - served with large slices of spiced roast pork - it evoked so many memories of my trips to Germany and was just as good as I remember. It is about as good a comfort food as you will ever get! Don't be put off by the fact that it is cabbage - this is really a white version of our braised red cabbage with lovely sweet and sour tones.

Pineapple Sauerkraut
Serves 4
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
3 slices smoked back bacon, rind removed and cut into small strips
400g jar sauerkraut (available in most supermarkets)
2 star anise
227g tin of pineapple rings in juice, reserve the juice.
100ml sweet sherry
salt and pepper to season

In a large saucepan, gently fry the onion and bacon in the oil and butter until the onions are soft and translucent and the bacon is cooked through. Add the sauerkraut and star anise and cook for a further 5 minutes so that the cabbage absorbs the flavour of the bacon and onion. Chop the pineapple into small pieces and add to the pan together with the juice, sherry and 250ml of water. Simmer over a gentle heat for 30 minutes, season with salt and pepper and then serve with roast pork or sausages.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Last week I received a copy of this book in the post - link here. It is written by lovely Katie Ledger who works for BBC Click amongst other things. The reason I was sent the book was because this little blog is featured in it! Katie has written about the art of portfolio careers - which is apparently what I have - combining blogging, food writing, cooking with being a lawyer - and also about branding yourself which is where this blog comes in. So in honour of this, a big Thank You is due to you - my friendly blog readers - as without you this blog would definitely not exist! I am so grateful to you all for your lovely comments. I know that I rarely get time to reply to them, but I do read them all and really appreciate your thoughts and comments and knowing that you will pop by to read gives me the incentive to keep going. So give yourselves a pat on the back - a heartfelt thank you from me to each and every one of you xxxx Katie concludes the section on my blog by saying "If you are a secret cake lover, we strongly suggest you visit Hannah's blog. It's incredible what she can do with a Victoria sponge..." Thanks Katie - too kind!

Friday, 6 November 2009

I hope that you all had a lovely Bonfire Night - we managed a quick few fireworks and sparklers (see pic!), with comforting chilli and guacamole before I took a 5am flight to Germany this morning. A flying visit, landing back this evening! Completely exhausted and so glad it is the weekend!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

This is a little sampler I finished last week. I really love the colours and the words and am so pleased with it. It is stitched on antique effect linen which I think works quite well and close up makes it look like someone stitched it along time ago (although the 2009 date is a bit of a give away!)

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Isn't it funny how, as you close a chapter of your life, you immediately start to see things that should have been in that chapter! Last week I bade a fond farewell to my little sundae book, which, after final edits and my first look at the photographs, has gone off to be printed. I am so pleased with the pictures - Steve the styalist did a wonderful job - the plum crumble sundae is my favourite picture of all - pink and duck egg blue/green props and linen and the most enormous sundae I have ever seen! But of course, no sooner was the book finished and gone to print, then I found these perfect dainty ice cream dishes in Norfolk at the weekend - they would have looked so cute in the book and are just the perfect size for one scoop of ice cream or sorbet. With the book done and dusted, I struggled to convince anyone that they were an essential purchase but I bought them all the same! I love the little glass saucer at the bottom - perfect for resting a langue de chat or tuile biscuit on for munching with the ice cream. This is the simple strawberry ice cream from the book - alas if I told you the recipe now the publishers would be cross and I wouldn't want that - but as it is cold and rainy this week, I am sure you won't be too disappointed!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Our little Halloween tea - with scary witches, spiders and cats galore. We ate a fair few
Halloween cupcakes, pumpkin crispy cakes, eyeball biscuits and my gingerbread house was nibbled around the edges - the children loved it!! We all had a lot of fun. Hope you all had a good Halloween xxx