Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Chocolate and Hazelnut Filo Rolls

From the same programme, Sam's  lovely friend Natalie whipped these up this afternoon in a frantic ( well, pretty laid back actually) day spent chatting and baking.

Makes 12

3 Filo pastry sheets
25g / 10z melted butter

250g/ 9oz chocolate hazelnut spread

Preheat oven to 200c /400f / gas 6
Cut each sheet into 4 equal size rectangles and brush with melted butter.
Spread a tablespoon of the chocolate over the long side of each piece of pastry keeping a 2cm border for rolling up.Fold the two short sides over the filling to seal the chocolate spread and roll up along the long side to form a neat cigar shape ( see video link above ).
Repeat with the rest of the pastry to form 12 rolls.
Place on a lined baking tray and brush with remaining butter.

 Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until pale but golden.
Remove and place on a wire rack to cool.
Dust with icing sugar to serve.


Christmas Pudding Vodka

I had to try this after seeing it on Hairy Bikers last night. It sounds right up my street...yum yum

1 bottle cheap vodka
300g / 11 oz mixed dried fruit and peel
75g / 3 oz caster sugar
zest of one lemon and one orange
2 cinnamon sticks
Half a nutmeg grated
2 tspn mixed all spice
6 cloves

Pour all ingredients into a sterilised kilner jar, seal and put in fridge - jiggle daily for 3 days.
After 3 days, strain mixture through a fine muslin and pour into a clean bottle.

Looks a bit murky at the moment but I think it'll taste gorgeous.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Nduja and Potato hash

Another great SFTW recipe that I made a couple of weeks ago. Living in a small town, I was never going to get my hands on the nduja so simply substituted with chorizo.

Serves 4

300g / 10oz  waxy new potatoes boiled and cooled
2 tbsn vegetable oil
1 onion sliced
75g / 30z nduja / chorizo
1 red chilli chopped
200g / 7oz Serrano ham chopped
1 tbsn capers
100g / 4oz butter
8 large free range eggs
parsley to serve

Heat oil in a large frying pan ( I used a paella pan ) and fry onion on a medium heat until soft and golden brown.
Add chilli and chorizo and cook for three minutes.
Add Serrano ham and cook for a further three minutes.
Add potatoes, capers and butter and cook until potatoes are golden.
Make little holes in mix and break an egg into each space.
When eggs  are cooked, serve with crusty bread and a green salad.

I didn't photograph this but there is a lovely photo as part of the link above!

This is dead easy and the recipe does call for using two pans but luckily I had one pan large enough.


Christmas biscuits

I made these many moons ago when my children were small and decided to revisit the ghost of Christmas past. These are great to make for the tree but actually quite time consuming.

Makes about 30

350g Plain Flour
1 tspn Bicarbonate of soda
2 tspn Ground Ginger
Half a tspn salt
100g butter
175g caster sugar
4 tbsn Golden syrup

Family pack of fruit boiled sweets crushed.
Icing in a tube

Preheat oven to 180c/ 350f/ Gas 4
Mix flour, bicarb, ginger and salt in a bowl.
Rub in butter and then stir in sugar.
Whisk together egg and golden syrup and mix into flour mix.
Bring together to a softish dough and turn out onto a floured surface.
Knead gently just until into a recognisable ball shape ready to roll.
You will need quite a lot of flour as this is quite a sticky dough.
Roll out to about half a cm thick and cut with cookie cutters.
Place onto a parchment lined tray.
Make hole in the top of biscuit ready for ribbon to hang the biscuit.
Cut out middle of biscuits with any small cutter, I had a little bell shaped cutter ( and I used a metal beer top - perfect - )
Fill hole with crushed sweets, take a little care not to get too much sweet over the actual biscuit as it spoils the effect.
Pop into oven for about 10-12 minutes.
Take out of oven - you may need to make the hole a little bigger here as it tends to close up during the cooking process -  and leave to cool a little.
Carefully peel biscuit from paper and cool completely on a wire tray.
Once nice and cold, ice squiggly things onto biscuits and leave to dry.

Ok so here are the problems that I  had.
The sweets were harder than granite so Mr Debs had to put them into a poly bag and break with a hammer  not very child friendly.
I initially didn't use lining paper, big mistake as the whole batch stuck like glue ( yes it's a learning curve folks )
After icing, I left them out to dry and they took so long that - being deliquescent  - they became all floppy.
Useless but looked great.



Been off the radar for a while but lots of blogs today - hopefully -


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Christmas presents

Dear Father Christmas , could I please have one of these

Thank you ( ps I have been very good )



I saw Rick Stein cook this recently, can't remember where, but this is the closest recipe I can find. The flavours are right up my street, very close to the Galician fish stew posted previously. As usual, there is a little messing with the ingredients just to make it mostly more flavoursome.

Serves 4

2 tbsn vegetable oil
90g Chorizo sliced
3 tspn paprika
4 fat garlic cloves crushed
2 medium onions chopped
2 green peppers chopped
2 celery sticks chopped
3 fat red chillies finely chopped
4 skinless chicken breasts chunked
enough raw prawns  for 4 hungry people ( about 300gms )
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
2 tspn chilli powder
500g long grain rice
about one to one and a half litres chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and fry chorizo gently until crisp - drain and set aside.
Add paprika and stir around for a few seconds, add onions, pepper, celery,  and chillis. Stir and fry really gently until veggies are nice and soft ( about 5-7 minutes ).

Add chicken, bay leaves, thyme and chilli powder.
Cook for about 5 minutes.
Add rice and stir around until all coated.
Pour stock in and bring up to the boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for about  15 minutes or until pretty much all the liquid has been absorbed.
Pop chorizo and prawns into pan and cook until prawns are just cooked ( couple of minutes when prawns are pink! ) no longer.
Check seasoning and serve immediately.

This is quite spicy but so tasty with a lovely mix of textures.Definately a new favourite.


Tiramisu ( the easy way)

I was given this recipe more years ago than I care to remember but it never fails to please. I don't think that it' s terribly authentic but - who cares - it tastes lovely.

Serves 4 ish

Half a 250g bag of crunchy Amarretti biscuits
4 tbsn's strong coffee
2 Cadbury's chocolate flakes
1 pot ( 200g ) mascapone cheese
Half a pot bought vanilla custard

In a nice trifle bowl, break - but not too much - half the biscuits.
Gently pour over the coffee.
Crumble over the chocolate flake.
Mix the cheese and custard and pour over the biscuit mix.
Place into the fridge until half a hour before serving.
When about to serve, crumble over the remaining flake.
Pretend to guests that it took ages and enjoy!


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Trying to cook Jambalaya!

I have just got my foot in the kitchen but can't use the worksurfaces- tricky -  so chopping on a board on large pieces of cardboard. I am trying a new recipe for Jambalaya as it sounds dead easy , and tasty. If this works I'll post the recipe this evening.

Ooooh lovely new worktop.

New sink ( complete with washing up ) , quite hard to wash up without getting anything wet!!

Attractive. Just need new ceiling, lights, walls and floor now.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Living on fast food!

Well, speedy food anyway. With the kitchen looking like landfill, it's been a difficult week. Not much cooking going on and am suffering consequential depression. I didn't realise how much time I actually spend in my kitchen until it became out of bounds on Monday. On the plus side, it's starting to take shape. Unfortunately, most of the work has been of the wiring and plumbing variety so it doesn't look very much different, today however, the worksurfaces are being installed  ( and new shiny sink ) so by the time I get home tonight it should at least look like it's all been worth it.


Sunday, 20 November 2011

Debbie's kitchen nightmares

At long last my kitchen is taking shape.It's been a long time waiting and I want to say thank you to Mr Debs for the  ' broken egg and omelette speech' each time the mess overwhelms me. Having said that, Sam has his work cut out trying to make Pork a la moutarde today !

mmmmmm, not a lot of usable worksurface here

Which way did this come out again??

With the exception of yesterday wiping all my skirting boards, it must go down as one of the most boring weekends of all time.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

One of those days.

Having one of those Cancerian days ( feeling a bit crabby ) so listening to this

Sailing Away

While making samosa's for another charity sale.


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Just waiting for the recipe for dragon pie

Come on Mr Debs....we ate this last week, where's the recipe

Beef and Guinness casserole with mushroom dumplings

I love winter food. It's sticky and warm and filling ( and fattening ) and I welcome the opportunity to cook different meals according to season. I often think about living in a warmer climate but as the seasons change I love to embrace all the diversity which you would probably miss if you lived just for the climate. We are lucky living in the UK, our seasons are defined and our food is seasonal. Having said that, roll on English strawberries.

Serves 2

500g lean casserole steak chunked
16oz Guinness
1onion chopped roughly
6 largish chestnut mushrooms peeled
Splash Worcestershire sauce
Large splash mushroom ketchup
500mls Beef stock
Rounded tbsn redcurrant jelly
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cornflour to thicken

4oz self raising flour
2oz cold butter
2oz chestnut mushrooms finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
Little cold water
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 150c/275f/gas 2-3
Simply place beef, onion, mushrooms and all other ingredients in a medium ovenproof dish, stir and cover tightly. Pop in oven and cook gently for a couple of hours
After a couple( 2 ) of hours, take out and stir, add a little water if necessary and cover again. Leave for a further hour or so.

For the dumplings, simply rub butter into flour until breadcrumbs, add mushrooms, onion and salt and pepper, bring together with a little cold water. Work as little as possible, just form into 4 dumpling roundels.

After a further hour , or whenever it is to your taste, thicken with a little cornflour and add dumplings. Cover and place back in the oven for 30 minutes.

The dumplings have a sticky gooey texture, perfect with lots of gravy and a glass or two of red wine.

It would be easy to say to brown the meat, caramelize the onions etc before cooking but, in my experience, it isn't always necessary.


Friday, 11 November 2011

Cheesey beer bread

I first saw this recipe on a Hairy Bikers programme a couple of years ago and made it then. It's a fantastic recipe and always turns out really well. Yesterday was one of those dreary, grey not quite winter days and so perfect for bread making.

Makes 2 loaves

4 tspn Sugar
2 tspn Dried yeast ( I used 2 sachets )
450mls/16oz Dark beer ( I used Guinness )at room temp
520g Strong White bread flour
320g Wholemeal flour
200g Strong cheddar cheese - grated
75g   Parmesan - grated
50g Powdered milk
One and a half tspn salt
1 tspn Mustard powder ( I used a dollop of English mixed in with eggs )
2 Free range eggs beaten
1 Free range egg white to glaze

In a bowl, dissolve the sugar, yeast and beer and set aside for 5-6 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix the flours, cheeses, salt, mustard and milk.
Add the eggs and beer mix into the flour mix.
It gets REALLY sticky at this point.
Mix well in the bowl and turn out onto a floured surface.
Bring together and knead firmly for a good 10 minutes until elasticky.
Form into 2 loaves and place on a large baking tray, score each loaf with a cross.
Cover with a damp tea towel and place in a warm draught free area for a couple of hours until doubled in size.
Make coffee and buy random stuff on Ebay.
Heat oven to 200c/ 400f/ gas 6
Brush loaves carefully with egg white and place in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes until golden. ( Brown in my case )
Turn out and stop teenagers from cutting huge slices just before dinner.

This bread has quite a heavy texture but tastes so good. It also toasts beautifully.


Sunday, 6 November 2011

Toffee Apple Crumble

Following my apple cake weekend last week, I decided to have an appley day again today. There are so many apples about and my local market were selling them so cheaply.Unfortunately we ate it before I photographed it but here is the recipe anyway:

Serves 5-6
8 Apples ( 5 if cooking apples )
6 tbsn dulce de leche

200gms plain flour
80gms  oats
150gms cold unsalted butter
120gms caster sugar

Peel, core and chop ( just into rough chunks ) apple and place into saucepan with a splash of water.
Bring to a bubble and just simmer for 4-5 minutes - not until too soft.
Place into an ovenproof dish and dot with dulce de leche.
Mix oats into flour and rub in cold butter until rough breadcrumb texture.
Add sugar to crumble mix and place on top of apples.
Bake in a preheated oven 180c for 30-40 minutes.

Serve with single cream while still warm.
This was really nice and a bit random as I just bought the apples and kind of threw it together. Tasted lovely though.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Funky knives

Just bought these for Sam ( birthday today x ) are these the funkiest knives ever? I love them


Sausage Casserole

I'm posting this recipe having cooked it a while ago but really for my colleague Rachel.It's a really great recipe and very yummy. Photo is from bbc food as I wasn't blogging when I last made it.

Serves 6
1-2 tbspn Sunflower oil
12 Pork sausages
6 Rashers streaky bacon cut into strips
2 Onions thinly sliced
2 Garlic cloves crushed
Half to one teaspoon hot chilli powder or smoked paprika
1Large tin chopped tomatoes
300mls chicken stock
2 tbsn tomato puree
1 tbsn Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsn dark muscovado sugar
1 tspn dried mixed herbs
2 bayleaves
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
100mls white wine ( optional )
1 Large tin butter beans ( or mixed beans )
Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat a tablespoon of the oil and fry sausages until nice and brown, drain, transfer to a large ovenproof dish  and set aside.
Fry the bacon until brown and add to the sausages.
Fry the onion gently for about 5 minutes - add a little more oil if necessary. Add garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until all golden brown.
Sprinkle over chilli or paprika and cook for a few seconds.
Stir in tomatoes, chicken stock, Worcetershire sauce, tomato puree, brown sugar and herbs.
Pour over the wine ( or water if you're not using wine ) and bring to a simmer
Pour mixture over sausages and bacon and heat to a simmer.
Cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
Drain the beans and rinse well under cold water, add to the mixture and cook for a further 10 minutes stirring until thick.
Season to taste and serve with crusty bread.

Just a couple of things, I added chilli and paprika because I love the flavour of both, I used ordinary pork sausages not expensive ones as we often find he flavour and texture of better quality sausages kind of, well, porky. Too porky! Sounds odd but sometimes cheaper sausages just taste better.


Sunday, 30 October 2011

Not a winning entry.

Oh never mind, my cake wasn't placed but -on the plus side - I got some lovely remarks from James Sommerin who was judging the whole thing.
' Rich moist sponge. Good colour and aroma. Good flavour. Slightly treacle flavour, and good flavour of apple.'

Hurrah, pretty good I think, happy day in South Wales


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Too many cooks ??

Another one, they're everywhere!

Nice photo of my lovely boys


Looking all cheffy dont'ya know

Sam looking all cheffy in the hope of winning tomorrow's competition.

Awwwwww someones birthday on tuesday xx


Squidgy Spiced Apple Cake - Number Two

This is cake number two with revised topping, I have to say that it looks nicer, glossy and more inviting.

This cake tastes really nice. It has a Christmassy flavour and the texture is soft and quite heavy - a bit like old fashioned bread pudding.


Thursday, 27 October 2011

New kitchen at last

Builders in next week....Hurrah


Creamy Fish Pie

I Love this but Mr Debs always takes a little persuading, having said that he always loves it! Having had a big household to feed however, I can't seem to stop making huge quantities. The pie here will serve 6 big helpings - so - into the freezer it goes for work lunches.

2 smallish Salmon Fillets cubed ( I use the finger shaped pieces )
200g little scallops
200g prawns ( raw or cooked it seems to make no difference )
200g cod fillet cubed
salt and pepper to taste

For the cheese sauce

500mls milk
150mls single cream
2 heaped dspn plain flour
1 tspn mustard ( I use English but have used Dijon )
40g butter
100g strong cheddar
25g Parmesan
shake of cayenne pepper

1kg creamy mashed potato

Place all fish into a large ovenproof dish.
Preheat oven to 180c/350f/ gas 4.
Place the first 5 ingredients for the cheese sauce into a saucepan and whisk continuously over a low heat until sauce bubbles and is the right consistency. Take off the heat and add the cheese. Blend the cheese until smooth and silky and place sauce back on the heat ( very low ) to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring now and then.

When sauce is cooked - it'll lose that floury taste -  season well and pour over the fish.
Spoon mash over the pie and pop into the oven for about 40 minutes or until golden on top.

Enough to feed an army again!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Squidgy Spiced Apple Cake

Ok, the tart didn't turn out so well, I thought that I'd have a try at an apple cake ( the competition on Sunday being apple related ). This recipe looked very easy so here it goes:

Serves 6-8

125g unsalted butter
225g Dark Muscovado sugar
2 Free range eggs - lightly beaten
225g Plain Flour
2 tspn Baking powder
2 tspn cinnamon
1tspn nutmeg
300g cooking apples - peeled, cored and diced

2 tbspn clear runny honey
2 tbspn demerara sugar

Preheat oven to 160c/140c fan oven gas 3
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy add eggs slowly beating well each time. Add sifted flour baking powder and spices carefully. Add apples and spoon into a buttered  springform tin 20cm.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 hour or until risen and brown.
Take cake out of oven and while still warm spoon over honey/sugar mix ( see below )
This will keep well for 3-4 days if wrapped well in foil.

This was so easy and possibly the flattest cake I have ever made. I have made a couple of changes to the recipe and if I make it again I would change the sugar topping thing. It still looks kind of gritty so next time I would melt the honey and sugar together first and then drizzle over the top.  Just got to try it now and see if it's a possibility for the competition. Where are the teenagers when you need them ??


Beef Cobbler

BeeI used to make this when my children were small. It's yummy and you can get lots of veg smuggled into it. It is a really lovely winter warming supper.

Serves 4-6 depending on appetite

750g Minced lean beef steak
1 Large onion finely diced
1 Large carrot finely diced
2 large celery sticks finely diced
2 bay leaves
1 tblsn dark soy sauce
1 tblsn worcestershire sauce
2 tablsn mushroom ketchup
enough beef stock to cover
Black pepper
A little olive oil
A little cornflour to thicken

In a large saucepan, fry onion, carrot and celery until softened. Turn heat up slightly and brown beef. Break up beef so that there are no obviously large lumps. When beef is brown add everything else. Stir well and cover.

 Leave to bubble gently for about two and a half hours. If the mixture dries out in this time simply add a little water. Don't be tempted to add any more stock as it makes it too salty. Taste and season if necessary.

When the meat is nice and tender, thicken with a little cornflour mixed with cold water. Strain beef, but not so that it's dry,  and place mixture in a nice ovenproof dish and set aside. There will be quite a lot of gravy left over ready to serve with the finished dish.

For the scone topping

400g  Self raising flour
1 tspn mustard powder
1 tspn cayenne pepper ( optional )
Half a tspn salt
80g butter
120g strong cheddar ( save a little for decoration )
Splash milk

Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, rub in cold butter until breadcrumby. Fold in cheese until mixed. Add enough cold milk to make ingredients come together. Don't put too much milk in as it will make your scones hard. Don't overwork the dough as again it will make the scones hard. Just bring the dough together on a floured surface and roll out to about 3cm. Cut into circles and place on top of the beef mixture. 

Sprinkle a little left over cheese and a shake of cayenne pepper over the scones and bake in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes or until scones are nice and brown and risen.

I served this with vichy carrots and savoy cabbage I don't think that it really needs buttery mashed potato but ( living in a house full of men ) I was wrong.

I filled in my sconny circles with scraps of left over scone mix, I guess that you could just as well treat the scone mixture like pastry and place a sheet completely over the top - I think that it would still look and taste good.


Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Bramley Apple, Custard and Honey Tart

I was looking for a new apple recipe for this competition next Sunday and, having got this book for my birthday, decided to give this one a whirl. I'll write up the recipe and then relay all the problems that I encountered!

Serves 4-6

1 quantity of  sweet shortcrust pastry, baked blind

2 large Bramley apples cored and peeled roughly
caster sugar to taste
1 large Cox's apple cored, peeled and sliced thinly
20g unsalted butter
4 medium free-range egg yolks
2 free- range eggs
2 tablespoons runny honey
700mls double cream

To serve
1 Large Cox's apple
Icing sugar

Preheat oven to 160c/325f/gas 3, Put sliced  Bramleys into a pan with a splash of water and cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until soft. Beat in enough sugar to taste.

Fry sliced Cox's apple slices in melted butter until golden.

Place the cooled apple puree into the bottom of the pastry case and the place cox's on top.

In a bowl, beat together the egg yolks, eggs and honey. Place the cream in a small pan and bring to the boil. When boiling, whisk the cream into the egg mixture, beating all the time. Pour into the pastry case, over the apple and bake for 20 minutes, until the mixture has set and is golden brown.

If you want to garnish with caramelized apple, peel and core the cox's apple and slice. Sprinkle with icing sugar and toast under a hot grill until caramelized.
Serve warm or at room temp with cream

No piccy here I'm afraid as I  wasn't sure it was anywhere near pretty enough. It tasted really lovely but it won't be winning me any prizes next Sunday.

Anyway, to my problems.

The pastry shrank like mad so when I poured in my egg mixture it ran all over the inside of the pastry ( and all over the floor ).

There was way too much egg mixture so ended up making an egg custard as well.

Because the pastry had already shrunk the edges were really messy, not nice and clean and tidy.

I would make this again because it tasted so nice but not competition standard.


James Martin's Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

I'm not going to list this recipe but it is integral to the tart that follows. Really easy to make incidentally - easier than I thought it would be.
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry


Rhubarb and ginger cheesecake.

I saw this recipe and - although Mr Debs doesn't do puddings even he liked the sound of this one - had a go on Sunday. We have an apple recipe competition in town on Sunday next so also made a James Martin recipe for custard, apple and honey tart ( recipe coming up ). This was not a complicated recipe but the cheesecake didn't look all smooth, more rustic. Yes, lets call it rustic.

Serves 6-8

For the rhubarb
600g trimmed young rhubarb
75g caster sugar

For the cheesecake
1x175g packet stem ginger biscuits
50g unsalted butter
250g full fat cream cheese
65g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of one large unwaxed lemon
3 large free range eggs - separated
150mls soured cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 200c/400f/gas 6
Select nicest looking rhubarb and cut to make 6 sticks all exactly 7.5cm long ( these are for decoration ).
Put them in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar.
Cut the remainder of the rhubarb into pieces about 5cm long and arrange into another ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the rest of the sugar. Put both dishes into oven for about 15 minutes or until rhubarb is just tender.  Remove from oven and cool then drain if necessary. Reduce oven to 180c/350f gas 4.

Crumb biscuits and mix with melted butter to make base, Press into a greased 20cm tin and cool.
Beat the cream cheese until soft then add the caster sugar and lemon zest. Add the egg yolks and soured cream and beat until smooth. In another bowl whisk the egg yolks until stiff. Fold into the cheese mixture.

Arrange the smaller pieces of rhubarb on the biscuit base, pour over the cheese mixture - it almost fills the tin.
Set on a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes or until risen, then lower the heat to 160c/325f/gas 3 and bake for a further 30-35 minutes or until firm but still slightly wobbly.

Remove from the oven and cool in the tin, cover and chill.
To serve, arrange rhubarb sticks in little stack on top of the cheesecake and dust with icing sugar.

A couple of things along the way, because of the way it rose and then fell there seems to be no way of stopping it from cracking all over the top.I don't actually mind as it made it look quite yummy but not great if you want a smooth finish. It tastes quite light - again not a problem but I really like the baked cheesecake texture, slightly thick and heavy, I would make it again but use a heavier cheesecake mixture.


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Lemmony lovliness

Again made these last week but..... well you's. Going to have to get to grips with uploading technology!!

Lemon Drizzle cakes - makes 12-15

125g Self raising flour
125g Caster Sugar
125g softened butter
2 large eggs
zest of one lemon

For the icing
Juice of half a lemon
Fondant icing sugar
little jelly slices

Pre-heat oven to 190c - cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, slowly add beaten eggs mixed with lemon zest , beating well each time, fold in flour carefully until mixed.
Spoon into cup cake cases - about two thirds full, place in oven for about 12-15 minutes until golden.
Take out and cool on a wire tray.

To make icing simply mix in enough icing sugar with lemon juice to make a runnyish icing.

When completely cold drizzle icing onto little cakes and decorate.

These went down rather well with uploading genius and teenage friends

Strawberry vodka ( part deux )

Blog is taking a bashing as I'm always waiting for photo's to be uploaded to write stuff up. This photo was taken last week of lovely strawberry vodka finally bottled. It tastes really good but is very sweet - more of  liquer taste.  Not really my cup of tea as it turns out. The raspberry version was great. Would I make this again, no!
Nice piccy tho

Monday, 10 October 2011

Water water everywhere

Kitchen nightmare, flexi pipe thing went this morning and kitchen completely awash. Thanks Sam for plumbing expertise - didn't know that you had it in you! xx

Just bought him Hugh Feanley-Whittingstall's veggie book as a thank you

Had a quick peek and the recipes look good.


Corned beef hash

Made this last week as a quick supper dish - really good but needs more corned beef.

Serves 4
1 tin corned beef
5 big baking potatoes chopped, boiled, mashed but not too soft
2 onions fried until soft and caramelly
good glug worcestershire sauce
heaped tspn whole grain mustard
salt and pepper

Once potato has cooled simply stir in everything else ( don't break up corned beef too much ) and bake in a hot oven for about 30 mins. Once golden brown serve with anything, I like salad but everyone else likes beans!

Next time I am going to put in 2 tins of corned beef, yummy but not corned beefy enough


Sunday, 9 October 2011

Lovely chicken pie

Cooked by Mr Debs, this is a really lovely rich, tasty pie.

Serves 4/6
4 Chicken breasts
100g Pancetta cubes
2 large leeks (sliced across the stem)
250g button mushrooms (halved)
75g butter
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
900ml chicken stock
100g double cream
1 tbsp brandy (optional)
Ready made short crust pastry

Cut the chicken into cubes and brown for a few minutes in a wok or frying pan. Heat the butter in a large pot and when melted, cover and sweat the leeks until soft. Add the pancetta and fry until coloured. Add chicken, stock and herbs de Provence, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for a further 1 minutes.  Season well, remove from heat and drain off enough of the stock (save it) to leave the mixture exposed.Return to heat and thicken with  little cornflour. Add cream and brandy and cook for a further 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Roll out the pastry and line a suitably sized pie dish. Add cooled mixture, cover with pastry and brush with beaten egg or milk to glaze.

Heat oven to 180 degrees (conventional) or 160 (fan) and bake for about 35 minutes until golden brown. Serve with mash and whatever veg you want and gravy made from the saved stock with redcurrant jelly added.

This is rich and creamy so a little goes a long way. Thank you Mr  Debs x

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Someone new in the kitchen??

This photo was taken just before the hols, it is an area of activity but quite odd to capture whatever this is.

Yesterday the door opened by itself,  poor kitten spooked aaaahhhhh


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A Work in Progress - Cheese & Paprika Scones

So every now and then I get the temptation to make scones, but usually with a savoury twist. So far I've tried Stilton & bacon and St. Agur & Walnut, and today I tried to make cheese & paprika, with mixed results.

The basic scone recipe is from The Great British Book of Baking:

*This is the recipe as given in the book*

250g self-raising flour
A good pinch of salt
50g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1 medium free range egg
About 100ml buttermilk or milk (non fat-free)

Preheat oven to about 220c/425f/gas 7

Sift the flour, salt and sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour using the tips of your fingers. For a light texture raise your hands just above the rim of the bowl so that the mixture falls back through your fingers. When the mixture looks like fine crumbs, beat the egg with 100ml buttermilk or milk and stir in using a round-bladed knife. Use your hands to bring the mixture together to make a  ball of slightly soft dough. If there are dry crumbs in the bottom of the bowl, work in a little more liquid.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead gently for a couple of seconds, just to bring it together. Flour your hands, then pat out the dough about 3cm thick and stamp out rounds wit a cutter. Press the trimmings together, pat out and cut more rounds.

Set he rounds slightly apart on the prepared baking ray and bake in the preheated oven for 10 - 12 minutes, until a good golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool slightly. The scones are best eaten while still warm, though any left are good split, toasted and spread with butter. 

Now for my changes:

  1. Firstly I should of omitted the sugar and added a little more salt. I blindly followed the recipe which is not something I usually do.
  2. I used milk instead of buttermilk. I usually use buttermilk, and wish now that I had.
  3. I added about 3tsps of paprika with the flour, but now wish I added at least double that. They did however turn a lovely red colour.
  4. I added about 100g of Cheddar, diced, just before adding the milk. My dicing wasn't small enough, so the chunks melted out of the scones during cooking. Perhaps I should grate it? (Debs suggestions!)
  5. Before putting he scones in the oven I sprinkled plenty of cheese and paprika on top - this is the only addition that worked well.
  6. Next time I'd also add some pepper and perhaps lemon zest to help the flavours develop (another of Debs suggestions!)
All in all, the scones taste great but they don't have enough of a paprika punch and the cheese dicing needs some attention. Next time they'll be great!

Sam x

Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Well,  back from the Maldives ( boo hoo )  and here are a couple of photo's - just to prove that we actually went away.

One of the few really positive photo's of me - I take a really rubbish piccy - usually pulling a stupid face!

Spent a lot of time here, reading, drinking, taking a dip

View from outside our water bungalow.

Last night - me and Mr Debs, great place, lovely people, would love to go back

Liz and Chicho, lovely couple and flippin good company


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Shot Glasses!!!!!

Maybe this is one for Deb to try on her return, to serve one of her flavoured vodka's in!

Chocolate covered strawberry shot glasses.

Sam x

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Hey Sam!

Hey honey, having a hot and sunny time in the Maldives -  any cooking going on ( lots of eating going on here - Bar - b - que night tonight )

See you soon
Mummmmmmmmmmy xxxxxxx

Friday, 23 September 2011

Red Wine Dressing

Another quick and easy dressing for any salad, especially one with cheese.

150ml olive oil
50ml red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients well and keep in the fridge until you need it.

Emergency Sour Cream

This is a very quick cheat (quicker than going to the shops) for when we run out of sour cream:

100ml double cream
1 tsp lemon juice (I've hear you can use vinegar as well)
A pinch of salt and pepper

1. Whip the double cream until it is stiff, but not like butter. I think of sour cream as I'm whipping to keep reminding myself of the consistency.
2. Add the lemon juice and seasoning.

It's obviously not the real thing, but if the shops are closed, or too far away, then this is a very suitable substitute.

Sam x

Monday, 19 September 2011

Whilst The Cat is Away

So mum (Debs) is on holiday in the Maldives, hence the lack of posts recently.

I had hoped that being at her house for two weeks would mean I'd be in the kitchen non-stop, but with work etc, I haven't done a thing!

I did however buy some bargains the other day. Six cookery books for £1 from my local junk shop. Some were pretty standard but others really interesting. Here are a few of the more interesting recipes:

Offal: Gourmet Cookery from Head to Tail.
Jana Allen and Margaret Gin
ISBN: 0 273 00958 3

Brain Caviar

3/4 pound calf brains
white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons salad oil
1 or more cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped black olives
salt and white pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Soak, clean and parboil brains, using white wine vinegar in parboiling liquid. immediately plunge brains into cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Press cooled brains through a sieve.Slowly combine oil with brains, stirring all the while, until mixture is smooth. Then add garlic, lemon juice and peel, chives, black olives, salt and pepper. Mound  in a dish and garnish with parsley. Serve with unsalted melba toast.

English 18th Century Cookery
ISBN: 0 905694 41 4

Sailors Sauce

Chop a fowl's liver with two or three shallots, and a couple of truffles or mushrooms; simmer these in a spoonful of oil, two or three spoonsful of gravy, a glass of white wine, a little salt and coarse pepper; simmer it about half an hour, and skim it very well before using.

Plain Gingerbread

Mix three pounds of flour with four ounces of moist sugar, half an ounce of powdered ginger, and one pound and a quarter of warm treacle; melt half a pound of fresh butter in it; put it to the flour and make it a paste; then form it into nuts or cakes or bake it in one cake.

The other books I bought were:

The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook
Michael Bauer and Fran Irwin
ISBN: 0 8118 1445 9

A nice collection of recipes from the San Francisco Chronicles food section.

All About Meat
Leon & Stanley Lobel
ISBN: 0 15 604600 8

Apparently written 'by the most famous butchers in America' this is a very detailed book with lots of information on techniques!

DK Pocket Encyclopedia of Cooks Ingredients
Adrian Bailey
ISBN: 0 86318 435 9

This book brilliant! An indispensable guide to ingredients!

The All American Cookbook
Martha Lomask
ISBN: 0 86188 121 4

Quite a dated book. The recipes don't seem to have aged all that well, but there a few classics in there.

The idea of eating brains in there normal form turns my stomach slightly, but I'd give it a go. Brain caviar sounds bloody lovely though! I'll have to venture further than the Tesco meat isle to find calf brains... Where does one buy brains from in 2011?

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Got to have a go at this

Probably after the holiday now as Mr Debs is about to hop off to Glasgow on business but this recipe from the same programme looks delish. Naanwich -  not a place in Cheshire.


Slow Roasted Pork

I saw this prepared yesterday on Saturday Kitchen cooked by James Martin. I have to say I have cooked a number of recipes by him  - mostly seen on this programme and they are pretty much faultless. I bought a smaller joint of pork as I only cooked it for 4 people and only had to adjust the cooking time a  little.

Serves 4
2-3kg piece shoulder of pork

3 bramley apples
75mls cider
2 tbpns sugar
salt to taste

1 Sweetheart ( or savoy) cabbage
50g butter
75mls water

Preheat oven to 150c/300f.Gas mark 2
Score skin on pork with a sharp stanley knife and sprinkle with salt
Place pork in a nice deepish roasting tin and pour in ( not on top of pork ) 600mls water.
Cover tin with foil and pop in oven for about two and a half hours. Leave well alone.
After two and a half hours, take pork out of oven and turn oven up to 200c 400f/ Gas mark 6.
Remove foil and place pork back in oven for a further hour and a half. Leave alone.

In the mean time core, skin and chop apples and place in a small saucepan with cider and butter and bubble away for about 3-5 minutes. When apple is nice and soft add sugar and salt to season and take off heat.

Slice cabbage thinly and, about ten minutes from serving,  melt butter in a frying pan and add cabbage. Stir to cover with butter and add water. Just stir about for about 6ish minutes until cabbage is just tender.

The pork just falls apart so don't try and be too precious with it. Simply carve into generous chunks and serve with apple sauce and cabbage ( and fluffy mash) .

I had to resist the temptation to peek, baste, generally mess with this but boy is it worth it. The pork is so very tender. Another great recipe tried from this programme.


Friday, 9 September 2011

Maldives here we come

Not a whole lot of blogging -  or indeed cooking going on at the moment due to imminent holiday of a lifetime to the Maldives ( sorry Sam ). I have cooked loads of easy to prepare meals for the freezer for the coming two weeks but the maintenance of this blog is now in your hands Sam...DO SOME BLOGGING!!

P.S. As I remember there is a lot of curry going on in the Maldives YIPEEEEEEE

Can't wait

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Bye Bye lovely people

Just got back from a lovely evening spent with workmates at Frankie and Bennys, ok it's not exactly gourmet nosh but the company sometimes is all you need. Losing some good people here in the name of progress - it's too sad. Work politics suck.


P.S. Actually food was pretty good and serving staff were very patient.

mmmmmmm crab

Mr Debs came home with a couple of luvverly orkney crab so this lovely recipe from James Martin was  the flippin perfect  recipe

Serves 4
300mls chicken stock
300mls fish stock
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
25g butter
280g risotto rice ( arborio or carnaroli )
100mls white wine
2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
a pinch of curry powder
half a tspn Thai green curry paste
1 stick lemongrass
3 kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsn mascarpone cheese
50mls double cream
15g each of fresh flat leaf parsley and coriander finely chopped
450g fresh white and brown crab meat
115g parmesan cheese
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
chilli oil

Heat the two stocks together in a pan, on the hob.
Meanwhile, sweat the garlic and shallots in the butter for about a minute, add the rice, then the wine with the green chillies, curry powder, curry paste, lemongrass and lime leaes. Stir together to coat the rice with fat.

Add the warm stock, a ladle at a time, while simmering and stirring. Stir, and keep adding stock,until the rice is cooked which should take about 15-20 minutes.

Once the rice is cooked but still with a little bite add the mascarpone, cream, herbs,crab and parmesan. Adjust with a little more stock and cream if necessary then add the lime juice and stir well.

Plate risotto and drizzle with a little chilli oil and sprinke a little extra parmesan.

This is a super recipe and to be honest it dosn't need anything else, I think it may well become a regular feature.


Sicky poorly

I've been a little bit poorly for a few days so not much blogging going on - all ok now so back into it!


Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Elderberry Wine

After our forage the other day, I quickly realised I didn't have enough elderberries to make the recipe from C.J.J. Berry's 'First Steps in Wine Making.' Luckily, I knew where a glut was near work, so off I popped, and 3kg+ of elderberries later, the first steps have been taken.

This is the recipe from the book, which if you haven't got, you should rush out to buy! I bought mine secondhand for 99p, a pittance I think:

1.5kg elderberries
1.5kg wine makers sugar
1 tspn citric acid
4.5 litres of water
Yeast and nutrient

Strip the berries from the stalks by using the prongs of an ordinary table fork (otherwise it is a messy and tedious business), then weigh them and crush them in a bowl. Pour on the boiling water, and let it cool to about 21c before adding yeast and acid. Leave three days, stirring daily, then strain through fine sieve on to the sugar. Pour the liquid into a dark glass bottle (in clear bottles the wine may lose its colour), but do not fill completely until first vigorous ferment has subsided, plugging the neck with cotton wool. When the ferment is quieter fill to the bottom of neck, and fit an airlock. Leave until fermentation is complete - it may be longer than most - then siphon off into clean, dark bottles and keep for six months at least.

So far I have got my wine into demijohns, but they haven't started fermenting yet. I'll keep an eye on it over the next few days.

Sam x

Foragers Plum Chutney or Jam??

Not much of a decision really as we pretty much never eat jam but do eat all meat and cheese. I started with foraged apples and plums and here it goes:

1kg chopped and stoned plums
1.5kg chopped, cored and skinned apples
250g stoned and chopped ( roughly ) prunes
500g chopped ( roughly ) shallots
500g soft light brown sugar
600mls cider or white wine vinegar
2 ( or 4 as I used) tspn chilli flakes
salt to taste

For the spice bag
Piece of muslin
2 tspn mustard seeds
2 tspn whole black peppercorns
50g fresh root ginger - bruised

Place all ingredients in a large pan with spice bag ( I simply tied up my bag into a knot as my muslin was sock shaped ) and bring to the boil slowly stirring every now and again. Once bubbling turn down the heat to a kind of gentle bubble and let it cook slowly uncovered  for about 2-3 hours.

Stir now and again but don't let it turn to mush. You want to still see chunks not goo.

Pot chutney into warm sterilised jars patting mixture down to avoid air pockets. Cover top with waxed disc and lid. Put in a cool dry place for a couple of months to mature.
This should keep for a couple of years - if it lasts that long!

Hey presto - foragers chutney.

This recipe actually made 8 largish jars of various size.
Thanks to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for this recipe. Happy Mr Debs last night. He came home to a stepford wife


Sunday, 28 August 2011

Pan fried Chicken with spring greens

I cooked this recipe after seeing it on TV ( again ) from a James Martin programme,it looked easy and tasty but unfortunately we ate it before I took photo's. I think that we were quite hungry that night. Anyhow as I have no photo's I'll just post a link to the recipe

I served this with little thyme and garlic roasties and green beans.


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Dulce de leche brownies

Sunday mornings are spent noodling about changing bedding, doing housework general stuff with a backdrop of Something for the Weekend on the TV. This week as with most weeks, a recipe caught my eye. These brownies looked so scrummy that I immediately leapt over to the big shop and got the stuff for them.

125g carnation caramel condensed milk
100g milk chocolate
50g dark chocolate
115g butter, cubed
25g cocoa powder
3 free range eggs
200g caster sugar
140g plain flour

If you can't get hold of carnation caramel condensed milk then you can make your own dulche de leche like this, fill a saucapan with water and boil  tin of condensed mik for 4 hours. Don't let your pan run dry.After 4 hours, take tin out of the water and leave to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 175c./325f/Gas3.Grease and line a 20cm ( 8inch) square cake tin.
Place chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl over a pan of bubbling water and melt together. Once melted take off the heat and whisk in the cocoa, eggs and sugar then fold in the flour.

Pour half this mixture into your tin, dot over blobs of the dulce de leche and pour over the rest of the chocolate mixture.

Place tin into the centre of your oven for about 30-35 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the centre of your cake comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

Once cooled, cut into squares and beat family members back.

This recipe called for you to swirl the toffee mixture into the cake mix but everyone liked the sudden hit of toffee in the middle so I left it alone and just blobbed it in.

These aren't the prettiest cakes but what they lack in the looks department, they more than make up for with the overall brownie experience.


Strawberry Vodka

Made this while waiting for Sam to de-stalk his elderberries - a long boring job not helped by the fact that he has just dropped the lot on the floor.

One bottle cheap vodka
500g strawberries
200g sugar
Large air tight jar ( I use a kilner jar for this)

Sterilise jar in oven - 180c - for 10 minutes and pop in fruit, vodka and sugar. Seal, shake and leave for about 6 weeks gently shaking each day. After 6 weeks strain fruit mixture and bottle. This tastes lovely straight from the fridge.

I've made this with raspberries and it's really good, dosn't last too long though.


Morning Foragers

A rare Thursday off work presented a perfected opportunity to get out of the house and search the hedge rows for suitable wine making fruits and berries. This is an hours work:
The whole lot.

Elderberries for wine.

Apples for Tarte Tatin.

Figs for cheese.

Blackberries for... Well they were for wine, but the birds beat us to them.

And finally, plums for wine.

Now to start sterilising the demijons and fermentation buckets!

Sam x