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