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

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

With this cold snap of weather, I am so pleased with my latest purchase - a little red wood burning stove - which has been installed in the new snug lounge (my office has been transformed into a dining room and the old dining room has become a second lounge - it is so nice not having an office at home any more!)  The stove may  be small but it sure packs out a lot of heat and given this really cold weather it is one of the wisest investments I have made.  With a twee wreath hanging over the mantle and a large footstool for feet toasting, it is a very inviting place indeed and has become my favourite room in the cottage!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Some pretty white doves (at least I think they are doves and not white pigeons!)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

There has been a bit of excitement in my office today.  A parcel just arrived from Paris for me.  I hadn't ordered anything from Paris!  Well you can imagine how loud I squealed with delight when I opened the box and saw the nice letter from the people at Pierre Herme saying that my friend Maren had sent me a gift.  Macarons!!!  For those of you who may not have heard of Mr Herme - he is the No 1 patissier in Paris and an utter hero of mine.  Such a lovely present and they were 100% perfect - not one crumb out of place even thought they had travelled such a long way.  They must have flown or taken the Eurostar!!!!  They even had their own ice pack to keep them perfectly chilled and came in a super cool box!   We have just eaten one and my word - it was delicious!  The others will be eaten sparingly over the next few days.  What a lovely start to the day and thank you Maren for your very kind present xxx

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

On Sunday, Sarah from Ryland Peters and Small came to visit to make a short film of me making popcorn for the RPS website.  As you can imagine, trying to film popcorn popping without a lid on was a bit of a challenge!  We made toasted coconut popcorn with lovely multicolour kernels from Zaramama (the last bag left over from the photoshoot - which means that we have made a vast amount of popcorn given the size of the box of corn we were kindly given by Zaramama - thanks again Amelia).  So soon you will be able to see a little clip of me making popcorn on my Aga - I will post the link when it is available!
Sarah with our coconut popcorn!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

I know that this blog is meant to be about cooking and not really about my new niece but I just had to share these two latest photos with you - firstly my lovely brother and Hunter asleep together - what a peaceful looking picture (shame she isn't this quiet all the time!!!!!) and also her dressed up as a reindeer in her car seat - how totally adorable does she look?  Happy Days xxxx

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

My bargain acquisition in the sale this year was this basket full of little bottle vases that hold just one flower each.  With a few pretty narcissus and anemones it looks truly lovely on my kitchen window sill and at £10 it was definitely a wise buy.  I think it will make a lovely centre piece for an afternoon tea party in the garden when the weather is warmer.

Monday, 16 January 2012

A few things you need to know to understand my latest baking project! My Dad is Welsh, yesterday we celebrated his birthday, my Dad (I'm sure he won't mind me saying) is of a certain age where he no longer wants anything for his birthday as he says he has everything he needs.  So my brother had the great idea that we would send my Dad on a stained glass window course (as he is very artistic) so rather than making him a birthday cake - I tried my own hand at stained glass and made these Welsh dragon cookies with pear drop glass.  I have to say that the end result was quite cool if I say so myself and my Dad was quite impressed!  You can do any shape you want in a large cookie, just place the rolled out dough on a silicon mat or greaseproof paper, cut out your desired shape and fill with crushed boiled sweets and bake in the oven for 12 - 15 mins until the sweets have melted.  Don't try to move the cookie off the baking sheet until the sugar glass has set completely!  Happy Birthday Dad xxx

Friday, 13 January 2012

As a pretty and delicious alternative to fresh flower why not bake flower shaped cookies (with wooden sticks inserted when the cookies are arranged on the baking tray).  Once baked and cooled, you can ice the cookies in lots of different ways - fondant icing and sweets for daisies or pipe buttercream or royal icing for more elaborate flowers.  Once set, swoosh up your cookies in clear film and tie with ribbons for a very pretty gift.