Sunday, 25 November 2012

No cooking this weekend.

Mr Debs laying a new floor in the kitchen this weekend so no noodling around for me!

Looking better than this already. Gonna buy me one of these next

Doesn't take much to make me happy.


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Life's a journey

Bit of a cliche but apt to those who know Sam and I. We are both blessed ( or cursed ) with a wake up and decide to do something else personality which I always thought of as a negative trait until I read a great piece in the Daily Mail a few months ago ( not that those two statements often go together! ).

In a nutshell it said that, those people who constantly try new things but don't always stick to them are not necessarily failures but that we should be glad that we try new stuff all the time at all. At least we have a go, it may not lead anywhere but we're constantly turning over our lives and renewing ourselves. What a revelation - I just thought I wasn't a ' sticker'.

It has made me feel much more positive about both mine and Sam's curious personality and even if we fail at something - which happens ( for me ) frequently, there's always something else waiting to be tried just around the corner. In this vain, I have decided to try cooking properly. I've always loved cooking and consider myself a good home cook but I'd quite like to take it to another level so I'm going to teach myself some cooking skills a la Francais. I love the idea of French cooking but it does look flippin complicated and quite beyond my meagre skills - however - you've got to have a go haven't you?

I'll blog my successes ( and failures) and lets see how we get on.

Where to start though, I don't know.


Friday, 23 November 2012

Critics - Oh no not again!

I appreciate that this is the format of Masterchef Professionals but it still make me squirm watching this lot so earnestly filling their little faces and ' critiquing ' the efforts of the chefs. I find it sad that these people seem to hold so much power. The honest opinion of a time served or successful chef would be welcome and it was still the case last night that Michel Roux Jnr found little fault compared to the critics - long miserable faces and not so much as a smile between them.

Maybe I should just stop watching this part of the show, as a chef what do you think Sam?


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Lemon Syrup Cake

I was watching Masterchef Australia on Tuesday evening when one of the contestants made a lovely looking lemon cake.  I tried in vain to find a recipe for this and eventually happened across this one. It's dead easy and with the exception of leaving in the oven just a little too long, it came out really well.

For the cake;
4oz Softened butter
5oz caster sugar
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 Tablespoon finely grated orange zest
2 Large eggs beaten
4oz Self raising flour
2 Tablespoons warm water

For the syrup
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons orange juice
100g caster sugar

Preheat oven to 180c / 350f / gas 4
Grease a 1lb loaf tin
Beat together butter,sugar, lemon and orange zest until all light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs a little at a time, and fold in flour.Fold in water and pour into loaf tin.
Bake for 45 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

Put lemon and orange juice and sugar into a small pan and heat until all the sugar is dissolved.

Remove cake from oven and poke little holes in the top, brush half the syrup over the cake and leave for 5 minutes.

Turn cake out upside down and make little holes in the bottom . Brush with remaining syrup and leave to soak in.

Serve when cool.

I had to try this when it was warm as it smelled so good. It's flippin lovely! Just needs a dollop of thick cream. Oh my days......soft and gorgeous and lemmony ( if a little brown).


Friday, 16 November 2012

Masterchef Professionals

I don't usually watch this set of programmes as I think that chefs get quite enough tv coverage as it is but I became quite engaged this series and am now completely hooked......Go Anton!!.....however this is the thing, on last nights episode one of the tests was to cook for critics. CRITICS, I don't get them, ok I don't work in any kind of catering capacity but there you had Michel Roux Jnr giving - what I thought was - sound constructive criticism without any hint of malice and then you had the critics babbling away with some kind of awful muddled pretentious nonsense and nary a one of them with a Michelin star to their names.

I'm afraid that food ( critics ) really can be a case of the emperors new clothes, it simply is not done to question their authority. What a blight they must be to a prospective dining service, how my heart would sink as one of this dreary bunch walked in to my establishment. Get a grip chefs.....these people eat food for a living and offer nothing other than a subjective narrative rich with flowery food related twaddle.

Stepping down from my soap box - feeling a little better for a rant.


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Having a lovely baking Sunday in dreary south Wales so after making a batch of gingernuts I decided to bake these as well. I'm going to take them to work tomorrow to sell for Children in Need ( if there are any left! ).

Preheat oven to 190c / 375f / Gas 5

350g Plain flour
1 Tspn Bicarbonate of soda
1 Tspn Salt
225g Softened butter
175g Caster sugar
175g Brown sugar
1 Tspn Vanilla extract
2 Eggs beaten
350g Chocolate ( I used Galaxy ) broken into small pieces

In a large bowl, mix sifted flour, bicarb and salt.
In another large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Whisk eggs and vanilla together in a little bowl and add little by little to butter mixture until all creamy.
Fold flour and chocolate into butter mixture until all combined.
Pop large teaspoonfuls on your baking tray giving each one enough room to spread and bake for between 10 and 15 minutes.

All packed up ready to sell.


Tarragon Coleslaw

I love this recipe but forget all about it and then re-discover it. It just won't stick in my mind for some reason.
Anyway it's lovely with a good steak or any barbecue food and very simple.

Half a small red cabbage sliced finely
1 Grated carrot
1 red onion - halved and finely sliced
Good handful chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper

Mix all together and eat - see I told you it was easy.


Long awaited Dragon Pie recipe

This is a fabulous recipe that Mr Debs has been making for a good few years now. There is no room for wimps here, it has to be really hot and flavoursome or forget it.

Makes 6 good portions:

1kg nice lean casserole steak - cubed
2 onions cut in half and sliced
10-15 green chillies - remove tops and slice down the middle lengthways ( leave the seed and pith in )
250mls red wine
1 pint beef stock
A little cornflour to thicken
Salt and Pepper to season
Ready rolled ( pre bought!) short crust pastry
1 egg beaten for glazing

Gently fry onions and chillies in a little oil in a large stockpot size pan. When onions are softish add steak and stir until all browned.

 Add wine and stock and cook on the hob over a low heat for 3 hours stirring occasionally. Drain off most of the cooking liquid into another saucepan ( for the gravy later ) and season remaining mixture to taste. Thicken with a little cornflour and set aside to cool.

Line a buttered pie dish with pastry, add mixture and cover with remaining pastry. Brush with beaten egg and bake in a pre-heated oven ( 170c fan...190c conventional ) and cook for 25-30 minutes until golden. Thicken and season gravy to accompany.

We ate ours accompanied with chips ( slimmimg world ) peas etc. It's a wonderful pie but not for the faint hearted!..

Thanks again Mr Debs.


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Cheesy chipotle bread recipe?

Sam, could you please blog this recipe as I would like to make it today to accompany an Italian stew dish for  dinner this evening.

Thanks honey
Mum x

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Heston's New Show

I have no TV in Devon so I rely on catch up internet TV for all of my viewing. I stumbled across this last night and loved the ideas, although it's typically Heston and he has very little in the way of new ideas to offer his audience.

Has he pushed the 'taking something and making it something else' (turning a tomato into a sausage) idea too far?

Sam x

Review: The Lazy Toad, Bampford Speke

As it was my birthday last week, and the girlfriend and I hadn't spent a proper evening together since our move to Devon, we decided to go for a meal. We went to the Lazy Toad on my head chef's recommendation on the Southern Fried Rabbit. Unfortunately they didn't have SFR on the menu that evening. Fortunately they didn't have it on the menu because the menu is changed daily, allowing the chef's to take advantage of the local, seasonal produce. 

For starters I had potted Cornish Crab with garden salad leaves and melba toast and the girlfriend had confit of duck, black pudding and pistachio terrine with rowan berry and quince jelly. For mains I had local wild rabbit with Anna potato and bashed swede and carrot and the girlfriend had slow roasted Westcountry belly pork, turnip and potato gratin, apple sauce and trotter sauce.

The food was devine, the service great and the landlord friendly. I got chatting to the landlord after our meal and he explained that behind the pub is a pollytunnel with all the beg they use, plus they have lambs to keep the grass down which make their way onto the autumn menu. They also grow all they're own herbs. 

The bar had local ales and ciders and a great range of wines including a comprehensive desert wine menu.

The whole meal, including two drinks cost us £53, and I felt that it was worth every penny and hope that we can return soon to see what else the menu has to offer.

Sam x 

New Job, New County, New Inspiration

So I know I haven't posted in a long, long time, but to be honest, I had lost my way a little.. I suppose we all lose our enthusiasm from time to time, but I have found mine once more.

I have moved from Monmouthshire down to Devon and from the Chepstow Castle Inn to the Stag Inn at Rackenford under the tutorage of head chef Jim Janes.

I have also started eating meat as from yesterday so tonight we had 'Pulled Pork Burgers with Barbecue Sauce' and here's the recipe for you:


1 x 2kg pork shoulder
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp chipotle salt (I get mine from
2 tbsp black pepper
6 cloves garlic, roughly crushed
2 medium onions, finley diced
200ml white wine vinegar
250ml cider
1 x 200g tin tomato paste/puree (I used tinned chopped tomatoes and blended them down with a stick blender)
4 tbsp brown sugar


Preheat the oven to 170c and oil a deep roasting tin and place the pork in the middle. Mix the paprika, chilli flakes, chipotle salt and black pepper and rub into the pork sin, making sure you get it into the cuts in the skin, if the pork skin hasn't been cut by the butcher then you'll need to do this first.

Pour the cider and vinegar into the tin and scatter the onion and garlic around randomly. Place a sheet of baking paper over the pork and wrap tin foil over the top of the roasting tray. Place the tray in the oven and roast for 3 hours. Take off the paper and foil after the 3 hours and place back in the oven for a further hour.

Take the pork from the oven and place on a chopping board, discard the string, skin and fat. Now you'll need to tear the meat apart with two forks, shredding it as finely as possible.

With the juices from the roasting pan, add a splash of water to loosen all the bits and add all the juice, onion and garlic to a saucepan along with your tomato paste and brown sugar and over a medium heat bring a to slight boil. Now you can add your pulled pork meat to the sauce and serve in a crusty white bread roll.

Sam x

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Hello and Goodbye

Well, it's been almost three weeks since my lovely son Christian came back from Australia ( as a complete surprise!!! ) and he's off back to sunny Perth tomorrow. I'm sad beyond belief. I haven't seen him in    eighteen months and the last few weeks have just flown by. I don't know when I'll see him again but I can guarantee it'll be too long by half. Bye Chris, I love you so much, it's been great sharing chicken wings with you and catching up.

Mum xxxxxxxxxxx

Friday, 2 November 2012

Happy Birthday Sam!

Awwww honey, it just seems like yesterday,  you were the most lovely child.

I miss your company and noodling around in the kitchen together. Happy Birthday Sam.

Love Mum xxxxxxxxx