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

Friday, 30 July 2010

The spa where we stayed in Thailand served delicious herbal teas and tisannes and I have taken to making my own since we got back. I have never been a fan of herbal teabags which always smell so nice but seem to taste of very little - not my cup of tea at all! My drink of choice at the moment it fresh ginger and rosemary "tea". Just place a washed sprig of rosemary with a few slices of fresh ginger in a mug, pour over boiling water and leave to steep for a few minutes before drinking. It is so refreshing and I'm sure good for you too!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

I know it is a somewhat sad thing to confess to but I do love Glee. I am sure it is not everyone's cup of tea but I do love naff singing musicals! Luckily our niece does too so I had the perfect excuse to be Glee-ful last weekend for her birthday! The cake was a treacle carrot cake - my brother had sent me the recipe from America saying it was the best cake he had ever eaten. I think if you loved treacle it would be heavenily but I am not a big fan of treacle at all. Still everyone else seemed to like it. Topped with cream cheese orange frosting, maple popcorn and cheerleading pompom style foil wands, it did just the trick!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Blueberry Lemon and Limeade

I made this lemonade at the weekend for our nephews and nieces who came to visit on Sunday. They loved it so I thought I would share the recipe with you. It is the perfect drink for summer!

150g blueberries
5 lemons
5 limes
200g caster sugar
borage flowers to decorate

Slice each blueberry in half and place in a large heat proof jug or bowl. Using a vegetable peeler or zest remove the zest of 3 lemons and 3 limes (taking care not to include any of the white pith as this is bitter). Add to the jug, with the juice of all the citrus fruit and the sugar. Pour over 500ml of boiling water, stir well and leave to cool. When cool top up with cold water (how much will depend on how strong you want your lemonage - I used about 1 1/2 litres), lots of ice and decorate with borage flowers.

Monday, 26 July 2010

This weekend was my friend Ros' birthday. Poor Ros is very sick so we wanted this party to be super special for her. This was the cake I made - very English Country Garden with fresh roses and sweet peas on top and matching cupcakes underneath. The rice paper roses are my decoration of choice at the moment - I can't use them often enough (available at http://www.makeawishcakeshop.co.uk/ if you want some - I am not on commission honest!) Ros loved her cake (she had three slices!) and we all enjoyed the party very much. Happy Birthday Ros xxxx

Thursday, 22 July 2010

My Mum and I have recently started a new joint collection, which I thought you might like to see - knitted tea cosies! We combined our collection for my tea party and I am sure you will agree we have some real beauties! They are all so lovely that it is hard to have a favourite but I do adore the little knitted cupcake with a cherry on top and cream tea scone one! Cup of tea anyone?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Poor neglected blog and poor neglected blog readers - I am truly sorry for disappearing for such a while. I wish I could say it was because I have been busy doing nice things but the sad truth is that work has been very very grotty and I have had struggled to think of anthing nice to write about. I have however just had weekend with Maren who was visiting and we held a tea party for her birthday with 35 people and a vast amount of cake! Lovely Steven Wallis from Masterchef came and leant a hand expertly making cucumber and tomato sandwiches and a nice time was had by all. I failed to take any photos but Steven is sending some through so I will post them as soon as I have them. Needless to say I don't think the party could have been any more "English Country Garden" if we had tried - lots of bunting, flowers and rose petal punch. I think Maren had a nice party and it was so good to be able to do something special to celebrate her birthday having missed her actual birthday party for the whoopie pie shoot. In the meantime I thought I would share with you one of the presents I made for Maren - a little wren picture. I have to say I quite liked it for myself so perhaps I will have to stitch it again one day soon!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

As if this week hadn't been lovely enough already, I have also been to the photo shoot for my Whoopie Pie book. It is being styled and photographed by Steve Painter who did my Sundae book so beautifully and the food stylist is Maxine Clark. I love Maxine and have lots of her cook books so it is a real honour that she is cooking my recipes for the shoot. On Monday I did a 7 hour round train journey to Hastings carrying 96 rainbow whoopie pies and a heavy glass cake stand - with two train changes this was no mean feat! However it was well worth it to see the photos that were already finished and to help Maxine make the whoopie pie crocquembouche tower. It took quite a while to assemble with Maxine painstakingly brushing away every single crumb with a paintbrush but when we had finished the result took our breathe away just a little bit. I hope that sometime soon I can share a photo as it looked lovely with trailing twisted ribbons and is so me. In the meantime, I can share a quick sneak peak photo of Steve with the peanut butter and jelly pies on his computer screen. I made the tea in the cups!!!! Although it is just a small glimpse I hope you can see what a good job he and Maxine are doing. The pies are peanut butter, with a peanut butter cream and jam filling, a shiny peanut glaze and chopped peanuts. Yum yum! Thanks Steve and Maxine for bringing my crazy pies to life!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

I gave an interview last week to the New York Daily News about Sundaes and my book. I was expecting a small piece in the middle of a newspaper. Imagine my delight when the article came through yesterday and it was on the front cover of their Sunday food magazine New York Eats and covered 4 pages!!! 700,000 people read the paper!!!!!! Truly amazing for my little book. I love the fact that they describe it as a "Whole New Swirl of Sundaes" - just lovely! I am so thrilled with the article as you can imagine and a huge thanks to lovely Marny at RPS New York for arranging xxxx

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Last weekend was our village fete. It will come as no suprise to you to know that I was on the cake stall! Here were my offerings - Double chocolate pecan cookies, Rainbow cookies, Pretty pink cupcakes, Watermelon cupcakes with edible rice paper and green bootlaces as ribbon (these were red inside and completely mad - I think I will post the recipes for these soon), White chocolate and apricot cookies and Cinnamon and blueberry whirls. We sold out of everything within an hour and a half and a great time was had by all in aid of a good cause. Everything looked very pretty in bags tied up with ribbons and with printed labels made quickly on my computer - so simple but very effective.
At 5.15pm (UK time) today I will be chatting on the Martha Stewart Living Radio programme Everyday Food on Sirius Satellite Radio (Sirius Channel 112/XM Channel 157) about ice cream - yum yum! I am a huge fan of Martha Stewart's website (just the perfect combination of delicious things to cook and crafts to make) so was thrilled to be asked to be on the radio. If you want to listen in from the UK you can registered on the website for a free trial of Sirius Radio www.sirius.com/freetrial/register

Thursday, 1 July 2010

I have recently developed a bit of an obsession with old teasets. I now have 5 sets which I am sure is more than I could ever need in one sitting and absolutely no where to store them - they are currently in the dresser in the shepherd's hut in our garden! These are my two latest acquisitions - the pretty white and gold one was sitting in the window of a charity shop when I passed buy - honestly who could ever throw out such a pretty set of cups and plates. Luckily I snapped it up and it has gone to a good home. The forgetmenot tea set was another "absolutely necessary" purchase as it matches my violet tea set - exactly the same shape and colour, just different flowers. Afternoon tea for 30 anyone?