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, 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!