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

Sunday, 25 December 2011

I know that at Christmas I usually post a picture of a jolly Father Christmas or something similar on my blog but I thought that nothing quiet summed up the meaning of Christmas joy and innocence as this picture of Baby Hunter - just perfect in every way.  I wish you and your families a very Happy Christmas with yummy food, all the presents you wished for and most importantly spending time with your loved ones

Friday, 23 December 2011

I am so pleased to be able to share this joyous photo with you - the perfect Christmas present for our family - my lovely brother with his new baby girl Hunter Miles, born yesterday at about 6pm UK time weighing 6lbs something! Mum and Baby doing well. Isn't she a peach? Too cute for words. Welcome to the world baby Hunter xxx

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Well it is an exciting day - I am about to become an Aunt. My brother's wife Amy is in hospital and baby Hunter is being induced as I type. They joys of modern technology mean that my brother is sending through blow by blow photos so far of the delivery room (am hoping that these will stop during the actual birth!!!!) including the wall posters he has put up! Love the "Picture the Rose" poster which made me chuckle! Good luck guys and I will of course share a photo of baby hunter with you lovely blog readers as soon as I have one!

I will be in BBC Radio 3 Counties at 1.30 today talking about the delights of the mince pie - there is a phone in so feel free to ask any (easy) questions!!!!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

I had never been to a baby shower before the one we attended in New York. It was such a nice party - pretty baby favours, a few pink cakes and cake pops made by yours truly and lots and lots of presents for baby Hunter - she is going to be one very lucky girl when she arrives. Gareth and Amy had asked for everyone to bring their favourite childhood book as a present to start her library. What a nice idea! There were even little rubber ducks in the ice bucket - so cute! As you will see from the photo at the bottom, Amy is now looking very very pregnant. Any day now I hope to be able to introduce you to my new niece! Good luck Gareth and Amy xxx

Monday, 12 December 2011

We have just been on a lovely holiday to New York and Boston for the last 10 days. Firstly to visit my brother and his wife Amy who are expecting their first baby any day now!!!!! Very exciting! It was lovely to see them and to attend the baby shower (even if my brother did make me bake a LOT of cakes for it!) We then travelled to stay with friends in Fairfield (the 9th prettiest town in the USA apparently) which was truly lovely - Chuck and Martha made us feel so welcome in their home and every house in Fairfield was decorated for Christmas - it puts us to shame in the UK. My favourite decorations were the pine swags that lined most of the white picket fences (so American and perfectly quaint). On returning to the UK at the weekend I decided that I would try my own version - now the jet lag meant that I didn't go quite as OTT as I would have liked but I think the gates to our cottage are looking very festive. They were very easy to do, with just some pine branches and holly, some wicker hearts and ribbon and plenty of floristry wire to attach it to the fence. I feel like we have a little of New England Christmas at our cottage now! Now what are the odds of pursuading Sacha that we need to paint the fence white for next year....!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

My cake pop book is available to pre order on Amazon now - it is going to be a flurry of book releases in spring next year as I have 4 books coming out between Feb and March - whoop whoop! This book is published by Lorenz Books (an imprint of Anness) who have been lovely to work with and the book contains lots of easy peasy recipes for sweet things on sticks, including three of the recipes I demonstrated at the Good Food Show last weekend. Hope you like it!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Glazed Ginger Ham

At this time of year, in the run up to the festive season, there are few more pleasurable things than cooking and serving a whole roast ham. Always decadent, with its crisp sweet glaze and glisteningly glace cherries. You can either serve the ham hot from the oven with pickles and warm potato salad, or cold as part of a buffet spread, letting your guests carve the ham themselves. If you are feeling slightly less formal you can use slices of this to make posh ham, egg and chips or in thick doorstop sandwiches with lashings of mustard. The poaching liquor also makes an excellent stock base for warming winter soups – it is particularly good in a pea and ham soup (using some of the ham in the recipe). My ginger ham has a light glaze made with maple syrup – if you prefer your ham to look a little more traditional with a dark glaze just add a few tablespoons of black treacle to the glazing mixture.
Serves 8 – 10
1.5kg unsalted gammon ham
1.5 litres ginger beer
250ml cider
1 litre water
1 tsp whole cloves
2 star anise
2 inch piece of ginger
1 orange bell pepper
1 large cooking apple
1 large white onion
For the glaze
80ml maple syrup
80ml cider
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 heaped tbsp Dijon mustard
1 heaped tbsp wholegrain mustard
85g light brown sugar
To decorate
Glace cherries
Whole cloves
Wash the ham and place it in a large saucepan with the ginger beer, cider and water. The pan needs to hold nearly 3 litres of liquid and the ham so a large jam pan is ideal. If you have not got a pan large enough simply omit some of the water from the recipe – but remember the ham needs to have enough room to float in the pan freely. Add the cloves and star anise. Peel and finely slice the ginger and add it to the pan. Chop the pepper into thick slices and remove the seeds. Chop the apple and onion into large pieces and add to the pan together with the pepper. Simmer for about 1 ½ hours, turning the ham over every 20 minutes or so to ensure even cooking. Drain the ham, reserving the poaching liquor if you are using as stock. Mix together all the glaze ingredients to a smooth paste. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5/190C/375F. Using a sharp knife carefully cut away the skin of the ham and discard. Score lines in a crisscross pattern into the fat on the ham. Place in a roasting tin and spoon the glaze over the ham. Roast for about 25 – 30 minutes, basting with the glaze every 5 minutes, until the ham is golden. If the glaze starts to smoke in the roasting pan add a little extra cider or water. When cooked, remove the ham from the oven and allow to cool slightly, then decorate by securing half cherries slices to the ham with whole cloves.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Doughnut Croquembouche

My doughnut book, which will be out next year published by lovely Ryland Peter's
and Small has been in photo shoot over the last few weeks and it is now finished. The pictures are lovely and I am thrilled with how the book is looking. Here is a very tiny sneak peak to tempt you into my wonderful world of doughnuts - a dainty pale pink and white doughnut croquembouche, decorated with cute flowers. I just love how it looks and think it would be the perfect centerpiece for a girlie party or a wedding! With the deep fat fryer packed away for a few weeks now and I am beginning to get withdrawl sypmtoms for doughnuts - not good at all. Perhaps there will have to be a Doughnuts volume 2!!!!

Monday, 28 November 2011

I have had a lovely weekend as on Saturday I was demonstrating at the Good Food Show in Birmingham. I did three demos - Gluten free stollen and a christmas cake and then some cute cake pops (Christmas trees, Christmas puddings and Snowmen) taken from my cake pop book which is out next year. There were two moments which things could have gone slightly wrong - the first was when I broke one of the fresh eggs I had been given for my stollen and it was hard boiled and black!!!!! Luckily everyone saw the funny side!!! The second moment was when I pressed the on button on the blender I was using and at the same time all the lights in the hall went out, other than on my stage - I am sure it was just a coincidence but it was quite strange to be the only person under lights in a whole arena even if just for a few minutes. All in all a super fun show and lovely to catch up with Masterchef allumni. Highlight for me was watching John and Gregg doing a cookery demo - I was so proud of Gregg making a chocolate log!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

This weeks Hello Magazine has a Christmas food supplement which features two of my books - 10 whole pages of recipes written by me! How super lovely is that. They even describe me as a "Baking expert" - what an honour!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Soul Cakes

Today is All Souls Day and if you have a little time to spare you may wish to make some Soul Cakes to remember loved ones. Now the purists amoung you may see that the recipe below is not quite traditional. I have a good reason for this - I have no eggs - my poor hens have obviously gone on strike and are refusing to lay (actually they are malting and also are getting a bit old now so the lack of eggs is to be expected). Anyway, whilst the below recipe may not be traditional, they were quite scrummy. The children handed them out after Sunday School at our village church at the weekend, wrapped in pretty bags with ribbons and they were gratefully received.

Soul Cakes - Makes about 25
60g/2oz caster sugar
115g/4oz softened butter
170g/6oz plain flour
1 tbps milk, plus extra for brushing
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp christmas cake spice (or mixed spice)
1 tsp ground ginger
a large handful of sultanas (you will need about 200)
maple sugar or caster sugar for sprinkling

Cream together the sugar and butter. Sift in the flour and whisk together with the milk, spices and vanilla until you have a soft dough. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes (if you are short of time you can omit this step and just use lots of flour for rolling out to make sure the dough doesn't stick). Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4/350F/180C. Roll out the dough to about 1/2cm thickness on a clean flour dusted surface and cut out round discs using a 5cm cutter. Place on lined baking trays and press 8 sultanas into the top of each cookie as shown in the picture. Lightly roll over the tops of the cookies with a rolling pin to press the sultanas in. Brush the tops of the cookies with a little milk using a pastry brush and sprinkle with maple sugar (a delicious baking ingredient - if you see it buy it!) or caster sugar. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes until golden brown then leave to cool on a rack. Enjoy!

Monday, 31 October 2011

I cannot believe how beautiful the autumn colours are this year - perhaps they are always this beautiful and I never noticed it before. Driving around the countryside this weekend it was such a breathtaking to see the orange, yellow and red hues on every tree. I was spoilt on Saturday as my lovely Mum treated me to afternoon tea at one of my favourite teashops - Teapots in Olney. What a feast with had with sandwichies, cakes, macaroons, scones and fresh berries and cream - and of course lots of tea to wash it all down with. What a treat!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Our village is holding a children's halloween party tonight and as I have finished all my books (hurrah!) I had time yesterday evening to make a halloween cake for them - well a halloween gingerbread house to be precise. I used a pattern from the internet and had not realised quite how large the house was going to be when assembled - it is certainly a monster house! I put lights inside and used halloween cupcake wrappers to make little fences around the edge of the board. All very cute. When Sacha came home from work last night, I was busy tiling the roof with Golden Graham ceraeal - I think he thought I was slightly crazy but I was having so much fun!!!! Happy Halloween everyone

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

In addition to working on my lovely doughnut book I have also been working in the last few weeks on a fab children's book which is being published by Cico Kidz next year (our in Spring and available to pre-order on Amazon now - click here for a link). It is a joint book by several authors and I have done the cake pop chapter. So much fun and I am so pleased with the pictures of the pops that came through yesterday! You will have to wait a while to see all of them (the sheep pops are my absolute favourite all time picture from all of my books!) but in the meantime here is a sneak peak at the goldfish pop - complete with fish tank setting! Thanks Cico for the lovely opportunity to work on this super cute book! So thats book 10 now - when John and Gregg said Masterchef would change my life, they had no idea how much!!!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

I am in the final stages of my doughnut book - only 5 recipes left to go - hurrah - it will be so nice to get it finished! My favourite recipe so far has been the doughnut croquembouche - sneak peak of my home photos of it (not how it will look in the book I assure you!!!) - but I am quite pleased with it! It would make an unusual wedding cake or birthday cake, don't you think?

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

This is the sampler I stitched on holiday - Lizzie Kate's Halloween ABC. It was such a fun project to stitch. I loved the little owl and pumpkin in the middle the best! I impressed myself by how fast I stitched - just goes to show what you can achieve if there is bad weather and very little else to do!

Monday, 10 October 2011

I am just back from a lovely week's holiday staying in a cottage at the very southern tip of Scotland on the Rhins Peninsula. I can safely say that the weather was dreadful - it rained every single day and was very stormy (see photos below for evidence)! That said, the bad weather meant that we had no choice but to stay in our lovely cottage and watch DVDs, sew and cook yummy suppers. We managed to watch all 6 Starwars films (I am slightly ashamed to admit this) and I stitched a whole Halloween sampler (picture to follow - it is very cute).

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Today I am proud to introduce you to not 1 but 2 of my upcoming books - Popcorn and Milkshakes. I do hope that you approve of the covers - my favourite bit is the old fashioned school milk bottles on the right hand side of the Milkshake cover (I found them in a shop in Suffolk and was very pleased when they made the cover)! Both books are available to pre order on Amason although you will have to wait a while for delivery - release dates are March and April 2012!

Monday, 26 September 2011

My Dad is just back from a holiday to France. He is well trained! Wherever he goes he takes pictures of cakes and desserts for me and has just sent me this picture of a french patisserie for inspiration. I have to say I just want to dive in (like the Priest who ends up asleep in the window of the chocolate shop in the movie Chocolat after eating all the chocolate!)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Well you could have blown me down with a feather when I was told that my Gluten Free book was Delia Smith's Book of the Month on her website - what a true honour! I love Delia and have all her cook books so was amazed when my little book got a mention and such a nice review too - you can read it on the website by clicking here

"Book of the Month: The Gluten-Free Baker by Hannah Miles (Ryland, Peters & Small, £16.99)
There are, seemingly, increasing numbers of people who have an intolerance to certain food groups, and it always seems a shame that they have to miss out on enjoyable foods as a result. This book is invaluable for those with a gluten intolerance - and the recipes sound so good that those who can eat wheat will also enjoy the fruits of your baking!

I'm also impressed by the price: at a time when many hardback cookbooks cost £25 or more, this beautifully produced and photographed book by former MasterChef finalist Hannah Miles costs just £16.99. Baking - because it relies so heavily on wheat flour - is one area of cookery that's particularly difficult for coeliacs and those with a gluten intolerance to overcome. Hannah lists ingredients that contain gluten - even things like soy sauce and glace cherries are culprits - and she uses gluten-free flour in the recipes. These will appeal just as much to those who don't have a gluten intolerance: I loved the sound of Buckwheat and Cherry Cake; Pumpkin Scones and Raspberry and Chocolate Profiteroles."

What a lovely review!

Monday, 19 September 2011

A few weeks ago I reported on my brothers planned trip to the BBQ competition and the orange cakes he was planning on the BBQ. I thought you might like to see the final product and also pictures of the "Big Fatty" which appears to be some sort of meatloaf. Also the need for curly parsley also became clear - it was for pretty presentation and of course flat leaf parsley would not have done the job (well done Tracy - you were right on both counts of course!) Sadly a travesty occurred and they didn't win a single prize - I just can't believe it as those little cakes look delicious and given the fact that they were baked without an oven is really something! The bottom photo shows the orange cake production in full swing - they must have made a lot of cakes to get these 6 perfect ones to serve! I will ask my brother for the recipe so that it can be posted in time for next summer!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

This is a recent Royal Navy aircraft carrier cake I made - not the easiest of topics I have to admit but with a bit of silver lustre spray and some rice paper propellars it looked a bit like a ship! I was particularly proud of my royal navy flag which you can just about see next to the plane!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Doughnut recipe testing is in full swing. I now only have about 10 more recipes to do and in the words of a song from Eliza Doolittle ("By Jove I think she's got it") light fluffy doughnuts are now being produced in my kitchen - they even have the traditional white line around the centre. To say I am proud is an understatatement particularly given that my first weekend of doughnut making was a bit of a disaster - think stodgy balls of greasy dough and you wouldn't be far wrong! Luckily with a few hints and tips from a very kind man who works for a certain world famous doughnut company, I believe I have perfected the home doughnut! On yesterdays menu were rose petal doughnuts, coffee doughnuts, pecan pie doughnuts and coconut doughnuts. Luckily we were joined in our mamoth tasting session by Bree (who competed with me on Masterchef and I am sure would have got to the final had I not beaten her!) and her lovely boyfried Mark, some friends from the village and Mum and Mike. We also had pumpkin scones, pistachio meringues and coconut brownies - all new recipes being tested - talk about inviting people round to be guinnea pigs!!! Everything got the thumbs up which is good news! Can you hear the table in our new dinning room actually groaning under the weight of the food?