Saturday, 7 December 2013

It's food but not as we know it!

I'm not sure how I feel about watering down my blog with my other endeavours but I am spending a HUGE amount of time doing this so here is a link.

Can't seem to get away from food but at least this is not fattening.


Saturday, 30 November 2013

Michel Roux Jnr's Confit Duck with Saute Potatoes.

I bought this book about a year ago now and there are some lovely recipes in it , however, as stated before , I rather like a photo especially for me if I think that it could be a complicated recipe. This one had a super photo so I was instantly attracted to it!

This is the recipe cut and pasted from the book for those who need the real thing.......

Serves 8
Cooking time: 5½hours
1 Canard Gras (a duck reared for foie gras. It will weigh about 6kg and may seem expensive but inside it has a whole foie gras. If you cannot find one, then I suggest eight large duck legs, or two normal ducks, prepared accordng to the method.)
1kg good quality coarse sea salt
1 sprig sage
1 sprig thyme
Sauté potatoes
1kg potatoes (Amandine, Belle de Fontenay or similar), boiled in their skins and cooled
1kg duck or goose fat
Pinch of salt
Pepper, to taste
3 garlic cloves
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
If using a canard gras remove the legs and breasts, trimming off any excess fat. Chop off the head and discard (if a canard gras). Remove the skin from the neck and add to the fat, and put the neck (if you are using a canard gras) with the meat. Take out the foie gras, wrap in cling film and refrigerate to use for another recipe. Add the heart and gizzard, cut in half and washed. Trim all the skin and fat off the carcass. Put all the fat in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a gentle simmer to render. This usually takes about an hour – the water should have evaporated and the fat clear. Pour the fat through a fine conical sieve without pressing. Liberally sprinkle the meat with the sea salt and chill for 90 minutes. Wipe off all the salt and moisture with a cloth and put the meat into the warm fat with the sage, pepper and thyme. Bring to a very gentle simmer, cover with a greaseproof paper and cook for about 2 hours until tender. Cool in the fat, then chill. It will keep for several weeks if required.
When you want to serve the duck confit, preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Place the meat in a non-stick pan and cook over medium heat until golden. Put into the hot oven for 10–15 minutes, and when cooked, remove.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes when cool. Cut into 5mm slices and pan-fry in the duck fat. Season and sprinkle with garlic and parsley.

And this is my take on it....not a million miles apart but tasted wonderful ( if I say so myself ).

Serves 4

4 Large duck breasts
1 Sprig sage
1 Sprig Thyme
Sea salt
Enough vegetable oil to cover duck in a large heatproof pan.
750gms Waxy new potatoes, sliced, boiled and cooled
3 Cloves garlic crushed
Handful of flat leaf parsley chopped

Place duck in a large heatproof pan, pop in sage and thyme and cover with vegetable oil. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover with a greaseproof cartouche  and leave to bubble really gently for 2 hours turning duck over halfway through.

After 2 hours simply place the pan -  with the duck still inside - somewhere cool. I placed mine on the picnic table outside ( really cold day ). I had to keep an eye on my hungry cat of course but it cooled nicely.
Once cool, drain from the fat and pan fry in a little of the oil to a nice golden colour and then place in a pre-heated oven 180 deg/Gas 4 for about 15 minutes to cook.

In the mean time fry the potatoes and garlic in a little of the ducky oil until a nice golden colour, stir in the parsley and serve while piping hot. 

Ok, it's not so fabulous as Michel's but it was far cheaper and everyone loved it. While I love classic recipes, it is quite hard to find some ingredients in a small town so you have to improvise. I served this with green beans and vichy carrotts and judging by the comments I'll be making it again.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Hairy Bikers Christmas Pudding Vodka Recipe.

This was loved so much a couple of years ago that it wouldn't be Christmas without a glass after dinner!.


·                                 300g/10½oz mixed dried fruit (sultanas, currants, raisins)
·                                 75g/3oz caster sugar
·                                 2 cinnamon sticks
·                                 2 tsp ground mixed spice
·                                 6 cloves
·                                 ½ whole nutmeg, finely grated
·                                 1 orange, zest only, finely grated
·                                 1 unwaxed lemon, zest only, finely grated

Preparation method

  1. Mix the dried fruit with the sugar, cinnamon sticks, mixed spice, cloves, grated nutmeg and citrus zest in a largish sealable jar ( you can just pop it all into a large bowl and cover with cling film ! ).
  2. Pour over the vodka.
  3. Place in the fridge and leave for 3 days, stirring once each day.
  4. Line a sieve with a double layer of fine muslin and place over a large, clean jug.
  5. Pour the dried fruit and vodka mixture into the sieve and allow to drip through into the jug.
  6. Pour into a sterilized bottle.

It all looks pretty murkey at first but - although it doesn't clear - it does look far more appetising by the time you get to drink it.

I'll post a photo when the straining and bottling takes place.


Monday, 18 November 2013

Christmas Pudding Vodka.

I made this a couple of years ago and it was so good that I now intend to make it every year. Going to buy ingredients today ready to make tomorrow!


Michel Roux Jr's Panna Cotta with Mango Coulis (mostly)..


3 gelatine leaves 
2 tablespoons dark rum
600mls single cream
2 vanilla pods split with seeds scraped out
100g caster sugar
peel of one orange - no pith
500g wild strawberries ( optional given the season )

For The Coulis

2 large ripe mangoes
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 lime
Serves eight.

Soak gelatine leaves in the rum until soft. Whilst gelatine is soaking place cream, vanilla, sugar and orange peel into a large pan and quickly bring to a simmer, stirring to make sure that it does not catch. Take off the heat immediately and stir in the gelatine and rum mixture. Leave to cool stirring occasionally to avoid a skin!

Once cool strain into dishes or glasses and leave to set in the fridge for at least 8 hours.

Yes, this recipe states that it serves eight.....eight very small portions, It smells divine at this stage and I found it quite hard not to slurp one straight away! Into the fridge with you babies and on with the coulis..

Peel and chop up the mango and place in a blender with the sugar and lime juice - blitz to a smooth puree, pass through a sieve and pop into the fridge. 
Well, as usual we ate it before I remembered to photo it, but it looked exactly the same as above only served with bright yellow mango coulis! Did I like it mmmm, I think that three leaves of gelatine is a little excessive , next time I'll use two and a half as I like my panna cotta a little softer. The mango coulis was - in my opinion - horrible. It gets a nasty slimy consistency when blitzed that I can't stomach. Some fresh mango simply served with it would have been lovely or even better a nice raspberry coulis - I have never had anyone complain about that!


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Groundhog day?????

Just been reading old blogs and found this one ..........still feel the same I'm afraid. Chubby faced critics still make me shout at the TV grrrrrrrrrr


Ahh missed you blog....

Well, it has been an awful long time since I wrote anything here and there have been times when I've missed it so much. Having said that it can be all consuming and much of my time has been taken up with a new venture - namely jewellery making ( after a fashion ).

Given the time restraints of a new job, making jewellery which happens to look like food :), its no surprise that really something had to give. Anyway, I found myself missing this so much that it was time to resurrect it, albeit in a less intense manner and start blogging again.
Sam is now living in beautiful Devon and working as chef under Jim at The Trout..

Lovely food and a great pub! I miss him too much though, ah well, they have to fly sooner or later. I cook rather less than I used to so have decided to pick it up a little. I really don't have the time to devote to it any more unfortunately so I'm going to concentrate on learning a little more French cooking and posting my successes on here - might be a little flimsy on content of course! Today I have made a lovely panna cotta from Michel Roux jr's book ' Cooking With The Masterchef '  - nice little book but not enough photo's.


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Groundhog day in my kitchen.

As Sam came back today and looked all sad at missing the Semlor, I just had to make some more. These are fast becoming an addiction ( and to think, I didn't even know that they existed until last week ) . Anyway, here is a piccy of todays effort.

These just do not last. Quite apart from the fact that they do get eaten so quickly, they dry out like mad so need to be eaten on the same day as baking.



I think that this is simply a Swedish term for almond paste but in this context it is let down with a little milk to make a gooey paste to stuff into my semlor buns. It looks a little like wallpaper paste but tastes like heaven.

Guess what I did this afternoon??


Saturday, 16 February 2013


Another recipe that I had never heard of until now, these sounded delicious so I simply had to try them. I found quite a lot of stuff online for these little Swedish delicacies including a funny you tube posting:

I was aware after deciding to make these that a lot of people don't like the flavour of almond but, given their popularity, it was a chance worth taking so here's how it went for these little babies:

16-20 Semlor
5 tablespoons butter ( about 2 oz )
1 cup milk
3 teaspoon instant yeast (10 gram)
pinch salt
1/3 cup sugar
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon cardamom, Ground (optional)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 lb. almond paste
½ cup milk
1 ½ cup double cream
Icing sugar.
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan, pour in the milk , heat until lukewarm (99 F). 
2. Crumble the yeast in a bowl and stir in a little of the warm butter/milk until the yeast is completely dissolved.
3. Add the rest of the butter/milk, salt, sugar, cardamom and most of the flour (save some for the rest of the baking). Knead the dough until smooth and shiny. It should let go from the edges of the bowl. Allow the dough to rise under a  cloth for 40 minutes.
4. Sprinkle flour over a board and place the dough there. Make 1 bun per person by rolling the dough against the  board in your cupped hand.
5. Put the buns on a baking tray with oven paper and allow them to rise for an additional 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 440°F.
6. Brush the buns with the beaten egg and bake them for about 10 minutes in the middle of the oven. Let them cool on an oven rack under a  cloth.
7. Slice the top off each bun. Take out a part of the crumb and put it in a bowl. Crumble in almond paste, mix and dilute with the milk to a rather soft mixture.
8. Distribute the filling in the buns. Whip the cream and put a large dollop in every bun
9. Replace the tops on the buns and sift some icing sugar over semlor.

Many thanks to these people for their recipe, I think that these turned out absolutely lovely, I would definitely make these again.



Well this particular journey ( I really hate that overused term) started with my work colleague Kim announcing that he was leaving this coming Friday. Now, Kim and I have our own particular journey ( oh no, doing it again) with a few ups and downs along the way but I couldn't let him go without making a gesture, and what better gesture than attempting to cook something from his homeland.

Now, other than  Ikea meatballs, Swedish cuisine has pretty much passed me by so I had to get googling - and quick. This recipe seemed to tick all the boxes and I had almost all the ingredients to hand so today was the day to put on the music in the kitchen, chuck the cat out and get kneading. Oh boy, this was a lot of kneading...and with a particularly painful wrist......I made far too many having doubled the original recipe so ended up with enough to feed the whole neighbourhood. So here is how it went:

Makes 25 buns

35g ( 1 1/4 oz ) Yeast

100g ( 3 1/2 oz ) Caster sugar
300mls ( 1 1/2 cups ) Milk
1 Egg ( more about that later )
120g ( 4oz ) Butter
1 tspn Salt
1 tbsn Ground cardamom
750g ( 26oz ) Plain flour
25 Muffin cases


100g ( 4oz ) Butter at room temperature
50g ( 2oz ) Caster sugar
2 tbsn cinnamon


1 Egg beaten and mixed with 2 tbspns water

Pearl sugar

Preheat oven to 220c/425f
Crumble the yeast into a bowl and stir in a few tablespoons of milk. Melt the butter and add the remaining milk to it. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the yeast mixture and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth. Cover with a cloth and leave for about 30 minutes to rise.

Roll out the dough to a rectangle about 1/8 th of a inch thick and about 12 inches wide.

Spread the butter evenly on top of the dough.
Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the butter.

Roll the dough up length ways into a sausage shape and cut into 25 even sized pieces. Place into muffin cases on a large tray and cover with a cloth for an hour until they have doubled in size.

After an hourish, brush with the beaten egg and water mix, sprinkle with sugar and bake in the centre of the oven for about 5-7 minutes.
Allow to cool.

These look lovely but, I forgot the flippin egg! It was far too late once I had realised so I had to just muddle through and hope for the best. I don't know how much difference the egg would have made - but - they were pretty dry ( although tasty ). 

Would I make these again, I don't know. It was a lot of work and I can't be sure that omitting the egg accounts for all the woes with these.


Thursday, 14 February 2013

Oh man Swedish food!

Cooking up a leaving feast for work colleague who's leaving tomorrow listening to this

mmmmm kitchen smells cinnamonny - recipes to follow


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Yup, it's that time of the year again.

Momentarily distracted by the need to think about this years holiday. My money is on this place :

Seriously addicted to the Maldives.


Celebrity Masterchef

Well, quite apart from the fact that I don't know half the ' Celebrities ' on this re-run on Saturday Kitchen, I was just pondering on the format of this episode ( and every other episode! ). We have nervous contestants cooking for judges, albeit other slebs, and Greg Wallace doing his shouty best....come on...urry up....It's no wonder really that they are then served undercooked food and poke it about a bit whining ' It just needed another 30 seconds '.

Now, it's a poor day that will see me taking cooking tips from a former fruit and veg salesman but what I don't get is this - why do the slebs put up with it? Don't get me wrong, I like Masterchef, I really liked Masterchef the professionals but I'm getting a bit flippin fed up with these two fellas, it's all gone rather flat and predictable.

Come on BBC lets find someone else to mix it up for a change.

Rant over


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Steak and Kidney Pudding.

Now it's usually my job to conjure up this family favourite but since making Heston's pudding last year some time, Mr Debs has kind of taken over the pudding challenge and - given the cold weather - last night he knocked this one up. He makes it slightly differently in that he casseroles all the filling first and then steams it for about an hour and a half but the result is almost the same ( still prefer mine and Delia's).

Here is a link to the original recipe:

and a lovely photo of the finished product

Absolutely fab served with mustard mash and sprouts.


Saturday, 19 January 2013

It must be this cold weather

I had a bit of an urge to sew the other day and - not having sewn for a while - remembered that back in the mists of time I had various pieces of material put aside for, well whatever I decided to do with them. Having tracked them down I found a beautiful remnant of a piece of material that I had completely forgotton I had bought many years ago. It looks for all the world like a watercolour in lovely sugared almond shades and so I have decided to at long last make my patchwork quilt. Overcome by the desire to sew I remembered that I had started making a very heavy door curtain about 7 years ago ( yeah I know) and should really finish that before embarking on a new project so spent the following 2 days hand sewing this ridiculously heavy item until my fingers were all tender - madness. Anyway, curtain completed ( and hung) I can now - with a clean conscience - make a start on my quilt. But where to start!

Now, I don't really know anything about quilt making so it seemed the best thing to trawl through the endless pages on the web until I found this particularly wonderful site:

Thank goodness I have the excuse of terrible weather because I have spent rather a long time on here today gleaning as much information as I possibly can pre sew. As it turns out I need a couple of essential items before I can start so all the time spent researching can only be a good thing.

Of course I can't help thinking that if it took me 7 years to make a door curtain I could well be drawing a pension by the time my quilt is completed.


Mr Debs at work

Cooking up a lovely steak and kidney pudding for tonight ( -4 tonight folks, gotta have something that sticks to your ribs ).

Kitchen smells heavenly already.


I know it's only a bloody radiator but I love it.

Sad isn't it? Our new arrival ( we're so proud )  a new radiator and it makes me very happy...should probably get out more.

I keep looking at it and then telling myself how sad I am to be so easily pleased.


Sunday, 13 January 2013

A bit of a success methinks.

Wow, I'm really pleased with this, a bit more swirly next time but not half bad for a first attempt.

It's lovely and light too.


Frugal 2013?

Having decided at the back end of last year to really stop spending so much I have just happened across this great blog:

I've made a good start so far but I think it may become a bit of an addiction as I am already always thinking about how I can get stuff for almost nothing or even better for FREE. I think that if Sam were still living here he would have me diving into skips in the dead of night, ahhhhhhhh miss you Sam xx

Anyway, along with recipes etc this year I'll be blogging money saving ideas as I find them - lucky I don't like shopping really as that's one habit I don't have to break.


Hairy Bikers Cassoulet

I've been looking at this recipe since last year and quite fancied making it as we all like these rustic beany concoctions. I think that cassoulet is the work of the gastronomic angels themselves, I love the combination of confit duck and melting unctuous beans yum yum .....this however was always going to be a compromise so here goes...

Serves 6 ( if you're not too hungry)

Spray olive oil
6  Good quality meaty pork sausages
4 Celery sticks chopped at a fancy angle
3 Carrots peeled and chopped into discs
2 Fat garlic cloves peeled and crushed
2 Medium onions peeled and sliced
6 Boneless skinless chicken thighs chopped in half
200g Lean gammon chopped
2 x 400g Tinned tomatoes
150mls Red wine ( or water if you prefer )
300mls Cold water
1 Tspn Dried chilli flakes
1 Tspn Caster sugar
1 Bayleaf
3-4 Sprigs fresh thyme
1x 400g tin Cannellini beans drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin Butter beans drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
Flat leaf parsley chopped to serve.

Spray a large frying pan with enough oil just to stop your sausages from sticking and fry until starting to colour - I like to remove any skins at this stage as they go a bit floppy after being casseroled ( yuk ), add the onions and garlic into the pan and fry for about 8 minutes taking care not to burn the garlic.

Add the chicken to the pan and cook for a further 4 minutes, stir in the gammon, celery, carrots, tomatoes, red wine and water and then add the sugar, chilli flakes, bay leaf and thyme. Stir well, cover and bubble gently for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes add the beans, season and cover and cook for 30 minutes.
Just before serving sprinkle chopped parsley on top.

Minus the parsley of course.What was it like - well - it was quite nice. I don't think it tasted like cassoulet particularly but it was flavoursome and for 464 calories per portion it was better than a lot of calorie controlled dishes out there. I would say that the portions here are a little on the skimpy side though and it would have to be served with a good deal of something low calorie veggie wise to beef it up.


Paul Hollywood's Swirled Chocolate Marble Cake.

Having received a food mixer for Christmas from Mr Debs it was time to put it to the test. I've always used an electric hand mixer up until now so it felt strange handing over power to the machine. Firstly I have to say that it was really noisy - much noisier than old faithfull - but I did get used to it as time went on. It still feels odd and I don't know if it's just me but I kind of missed having the 'feel' of the mixture. I really couldn't tell if it was the right consistency. Time will tell with this one but my gut feeling is that I will get used to it eventually although I think I'll miss the feeling of mixing by hand. Yes....confused.

Serves 8-10

250g Plain flour
200g Unsalted softened butter
200g Caster sugar
40mls Whole milk
1/2Tspn Vanilla extract
3 Large eggs
3Tspns Baking powder
2 Tspns Cocoa powder
Icing sugar to dust

Pre-Heat oven to 180c / 350f / Gas 4
Line a 1kg loaf tin with parchment paper
In a large bowl, beat together the butter, 180g of the sugar and the vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time then add the baking powder, flour and 2 tablespoons of the milk carefully until all mixed.
Spoon two thirds into your loaf tin and then add in the cocoa, remaining sugar and milk to the cake mixture left in your bowl.
Spoon the chocolate cake mixture on to the top of your vanilla cake mixture and swirl really gently together. Don't be tempted to mix together too much as this will just give you a chocolate cake with no swirling!

Place into your oven for 55 minutes, at that time put a skewer into the centre to see if it is cooked. If the skewer does not come out clean place cake back into the oven for a further 5-10 minutes and try again.
Once cooked remove the cake from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool. Once completely cooled dust with a little icing sugar to pretty it up.

Will post a picture of the inside as soon as I get to cut it.


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Kitchen almost finished.

We are so nearly there, just some finishing to go and my kitchen will be done....hoooray.

Funny, it looks smaller from this angle.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Mushroom dumplings

To accompany the chicken stew we always have these fabulous squishy dumplings x;postID=2038249337287963690

Clearly ignore the beef casserole recipe here.


Lovely healthy chicken stew

I have to say that we eat this even at non diet times but normally accompany it with scrumptious dumplings. Clearly dumplings are not allowed and Mr debs is using spray oil etc but the end result is tasty and healthy. Having said that, we are having this tonight with yummy mushroom dumplings!!

Serves 4

1 Pack chicken thighs - de - boned, skinned and chopped into bite size chunks
1 Large leek trimmed and sliced
2 Medium carrots peeled and sliced
2 Sticks celery washed and  chopped
1 Tin butterbeans drained and rinsed
2 Large savoy cabbage leaves de-veined and shredded
A handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
Chicken stock
Double cream ( 2 tablespoons optional )
Salt and pepper to taste
Spray oil

Spray a little oil into a flameproof pan and fry chicken pieces until slightly browned. Remove from pan and set to one side.
In the same pan fry the celery, carrot and leek until slightly softened, add chicken back into the pan, add the butterbeans and stock to cover. Bring to the boil and them simmer - covered - for about an hour and a half.

Add cream if using, cabbage and parsley, thicken and season with salt and pepper, add dumplings cover and cook for a further 30 minutes. Lovely.