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, 29 June 2011

Last week I held an afternoon tea party for some work colleagues to celebrate a deal that completed quite a while ago. It was a very overdue celebration but I hope they thought it was worth the wait. The menu comprised smoked salmon and nasturcium flower tarlets, welsh rarebit crumpets, cucumber sandwiches with micro herbs, vanilla meringues, lemon and lavender drizzle cakes, almond fondant fancies, a plum and cherry cake, white chocolate brownies and raspberry scones with clotted cream! What a lot of goodies!!! All washed down with champagne and elderflower liquour and pots and pots of tea - it was a very nice end to the week.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Last weekend we went to a lovely Strawberry Fair at Yelden - lots of lovely stalls, a jazz band and of course lots of delicious strawberries. It was a classic English Country Village Fair with stalls in all the villagers' gardens - including knock the rat and nails in a haybale and a traditional coconut shy. What a lot of fun we had!!! There was also a classic car show and it was the first time our little car was shown! Sacha was very proud. What a lovely setting next to the old church. There was also a wonderful acrobatic air display, just as we arrived - death defying spins and drops made by a very talented pilot! We will definitely be returning next year!

Monday, 27 June 2011

A few little cakes baked this weekend - some rather yummy almond fondant fancies (with cute sugar toadstools and leaves and pretty sugar flowers) and a cake for for a work colleague who likes fishing. It was very easy to prepare with a large grass nozzle and some green buttercream for the lake bank and I used blue edible lustre spray and some edible glitter for the top of the "lake" which made it quite shimmery. If you have not tried edible lustre spray yet, do - you will love it!

Monday, 13 June 2011

People often ask where my creative side comes from. It most definitely comes from my Mum and Dad - they were both art teachers and are hugely more artistic than I am. This is a picture that my Dad did at the weekend for an art exhibition - it is for a charity exhibition of tiny pictures in CD cases. Some famous people are taking part and also some less famous people like my Dad. This is his picture made with shredded bank notes (it is my Dad's favourite art medium - he gets them from the Bank of England - shame they have to be shredded first!) The picture is called 21st Centurary Banker and the portrait is of Fred Goodwin (aka Fred the Shred - for his leathal cost cutting - shredded bank notes - get it?) former CEO of RBS in the UK. Anyway, irrespective of your political views of banks, I hope you like my Dad's picture! Very proud of him xxx

Thursday, 9 June 2011

This is probably a sad confession to make - I love Glee and I particularly love the Warblers. Imagine my excitement when I spotted this CD in the service station on my way back from Suffolk yesterday. Ok, Ok - I know I am a completely sad case, but for any Glee fans out there, I can definitely recommend this. I sang along all the way home!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

My lovely brother Gareth recently gave me the cutest of presents - this little japenese toy box call Bread and Butter - you don't know what's in the box until you open it - a bit similar to Kinder Suprise toys but soooo much better. Mine was from "Uncle Will Famous Cookie shop" and contained, two trays, 9 different cookies (including some very topical cookie pops) and a bag to put the cookies in. OK so I know this was just plastic but my word it is just the cutest thing! Perfect for a dolls house or toy shop! If you see one of these boxes, buy it - the contents are sure to make you smile!

Monday, 6 June 2011

The perfectly situated Castle Menzies where the wedding was held. It doesn't look haunted at all, does it? It is just near the village of Aberfeldy - which has one other very important claim to fame - JK Rowling of Harry Potter Fame has a house there ( one of her three houses!) We took a short detour past her house but no sign of her or any witches or wizards! Still we were excited just to see where she lived and I imagine it is the perfect quiet spot for writing.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Finally!!!! I have been able to get back onto blogger again. I don't know whether any of you have suffered similar problems but an upgrade in Internet Explorer was incompatible with blogger and despite my best efforts I just haven't been able to log on for ages. I had almost given up but the problem finally seems to have resolved itself and I can happily get back to blogging again. In the intervening time I have finished and submitted my final book - hurrah. Popcorn was such a lovely book to create recipes for that I ended up doing 4 extra recipes - I just found it a bit hard to stop once I had got into the swing of popping corn! It now seems very strange not to have to be cooking all the time but I must admit that it is nice to have a bit of a rest and catch up with friends and housework (very overdue)! Last weekend we went to the Highlands in Scotland for my friend Sonya's wedding. She got married in a castle (Menzies Castle - apparently the second most haunted Scottish castle - I turned up to help with the flowers the night before the wedding and was asked if I was there for the ghost hunting tour!!!!!) It was a truly memorable day and Sonya even arrived in a glass carriage with white horses and her wedding dress was worthy of a princess. Kate Middleton would have been proud! Happy Wedding memories Sonya and Dan xxxx