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

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

This chocolate sandcastle, spade and bucket were from a lovely chocolate shop in Little Walsingham in Norfolk which we visited on Saturday. If you are ever in the area I definitely recommend a visit as the chocolate was really yummy! I love the fact that the chocolate flag is even blowing in the breeze

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

My first bit of Masterchef news that I am finally able to share with you is that there is now a new Masterchef Academy Application launched for the iphone, featuring quite a few winners and finalists - including yours truly making ice cream, custard, strawberry scones and pastry! It was great fun going back to the studio for filming and Tim Kinnaird (finalist 2010 and excellent dessert maker - seen here making gnocci and tasting my strawberry scones) was there on the same day as me. So you can now have us to help you in the kitchen - "cook-a-long Masterchef". I have to confess I haven't dared to watch the footage back and remember cringing at the time with lines like "Delicious custard - perfect with hot apple pie or cold in trifles" but it was a super fun day and really nice to meet Tim. The other Masterchef news will have to wait until next year sadly!!! If you have an iphone and want the app the link is at http://www.masterchef.com/

Friday, 22 October 2010

I am very proud to be able to show you the cover of my new book - the blad arrived last night and I was very excited! Still a while to wait for the book yet as it is not out until March next year although is available to pre order on amazon - click here for a link. As they say "good things come to those who wait"! I hope you all approve! Steve Painter has done such a fab job of styling the book and there are some real gems on the inside pages - little oyster pies on their own "sand" beach complete with cocktail umbrellas and bright pink flamingo pies with pink feathers! Have a good weekend everyone xxx

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

I wondered why the postman gave me a wry smile this morning as he handed over our post. I think he had noticed the ER frank and the Buckingham Palace Postmark on one of my letters! How cool is that! Inside was a thank you letter for my appearance at the Clarence House Garden Party. It will join my letter from 10 Downing Street after cooking supper for Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern in 2007 - quite a collection and I feel very honoured! The Whitehouse next perhaps??!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Another little teacosy has joined my Mum and my's joint teacosy collection. I gave this to my Mum recently and it looks so cute in her kitchen. I love the little red ladybird buttons on it.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Last weekend, Sacha ran the Leicester Marathon - in 4 hours 10 minutes which was a brilliant time and his 4 marathon so he was rightly proud of himself! The weekend was only slightly marred by the slightly overzealous conduct of the Marriot hotel in locking our mini bar. Sacha had bought himself a treat of his favourite Indian dessert Ras Malai to have after the marathon which we stored in the mini bar overnight. To be organised so that we could get to the marathon on time, I paid the bills before breakfast. Sadly, as soon as you pay the bill the hotel lock your mini bar and the poor tub of Ras Malai got locked in! The hotel said they would send someone up to unlock it but they didn't arrive in time and we had to leave the poor tub of ras malai behind. Luckily the wonderful "Cook in a Curry" site came to the rescue with a delicious recipe and I managed to make Ras Malai at home to make up for the lost tub. If you haven't had this dessert before it is curd cheese, cooked in a fragrant sugar syrup and soaked in a thick milk syrup flavoured with cardamom and saffron. I think Sacha was in shock that I had actually managed to make his favourite dessert myself and I feel I have gone someway to compensating him for all the washing up he has been doing during the recipe testing for the book. If you want to try this recipe for yourself the link is here - the only change I made was to add a tablespoon of rose syrup to the sugar syrup and another to the milk mixture as I really love the flavour of rose and cardamon together. Thanks Cook in a Curry for saving the day!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

My lovely publishers have said that I am allowed to share with you a few of the snap test shots from the two books I am working on at the moment. These are just the photos I take whilst testing the recipes here at home that are then sent to the food stylist and the book designer so they can plan how to style the photos and make my little creations look elegant! I have absolutely no doubt that the real pictures in the book will look 100 times better than these but thought you would like a quick sneak peak - mini carrot and pistachio muffins, mini summer tarts, mini rocky road cupcakes, mini profiteroles and mini tiramisu roulades (all from the mini patisserie book) and walnut and cinnamon macaroons (from the gluten free baking book). The name for the mini patisserie book is still undecided so any suggestions gratefully received! 42 recipes done, only 43 to go! I am half way - hurrah!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

If you are ever looking for somewhere for a special meal in central England then I heartily recommend the Olive Branch at Clipsham near Stamford. I have been wanting to go here for a long time and this weekend with Maren visiting from Germany and my cousin Charlie over from Australia, we had the perfect excuse for a celebration lunch. The food was all delicious - anywhere that serves homemade pork pie as a starter has got to be a very special place. The nibbles board we had whilst we ordered our food was devine with giant green round olives the likes of which I have never tasted before. If any of you know what type of olives are in the picture I would be very pleased to know! Rabbit terrine (with pickled carrots and parsnip crisps - heaven) and beetroot cured salmon, pork casserole, crispy plaice (that resembled schnitzel) and silky mash. The puddings were delicious too (although the blackcurrant treacle tart was an acquired taste). With the set lunch menu at £19.95 for three courses of such yummy food, we thought the Olive Branch was good value and definitely recommend a visit. I am already planning my next trip!

Friday, 8 October 2010

I am happy to say that I have been invited to appear at the Good Food Show again this year so will be at London on 13th and 14th November on the Masterchef stage and also on the hot tips stage demonstrating custard, ice cream and pastry (lumpy custard here we come!) and at Birmingham on 24th November where I will be demonstrating Whoopie Pies on the British stage, some Christmas recipes on the Magimix stage and also hosting some Masterchef masterclasses - pear frangipane tarts and calvados creme anglais - more custard (I must have a death wish for stressful demonstrations this year). Do come and say hello if you are there as it is always lovely to meet fellow bloggers!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Last night was our village harvest supper - casserole and jacket potatoes and apple pie and cream for 80. The good thing is that everyone helped out and it was a real village affair. After supper, the lights were turned off and I wandered through the darkness with Lucy's cake, candles twinkling, whilst everyone sang Happy Birthday (the fact that I didnt trip over a chair or dinner guest in the process was nothing short of a miracle). Next was the auction of produce. I don't know whether it is the recession or an increased interest in gardening but the level of home grown produce was up on last year and also included some very interesting vegetables - red sweetcorn, jerusalem artichokes and a selection of squashes and pumpkins, all from the allotments in our village. Lucy won the largest pumpkin of the night for a princely sum of £10 and I know she is looking forward to carving it for Halloween.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Today is my friend Lucy's birthday so I have baked her a cake to have at our village harvest supper this evening. I am working on the assumption that she will not pop and look at my blog this afternoon so ruining the suprise. The cake is actually one of the recipes from the gluten free book - pecan and apple (I am secretly hoping that they will decorate it like this in the book but I think the odds of that are about 0% as it doesn't really fit in with a rustic, wholesome gluten free image). If you are ever baking cakes for someone with a wheat allergy you need to be very careful when it comes to icing sugar. Regular icing sugar usually contains anti caking agent which can contain wheat. I use fondant icing sugar powder as this doesn't contain anti caking agent and gives a nice glossy finish. Now just the casseroles for the harvest supper and jacket potatoes to cook - it is a busy day!