28 Jan 2008


                          These cupcakes made me very very happy! They look and taste great too.

A simple sponge mixture was made by throwing everything in a bowl, then a dollop of cake mix was put into muffin cases and cooked for 20 minutes. The filling was a take on key lime pie but was made up from lime juice and condensed milk.

A good quality lemon curd could be used for the filling which would obviously then transform them into lemon meringue cupcakes.

The meringue was piped onto the cooled cupcakes and my husband was given the responsibility of using the blowtorch to brown the meringue. He doesn't trust me! If you use this method of browning the meringue don't be too enthusiastic otherwise they will brown too much.

Makes: 18 cupcakes

You will need:

225g unsalted butter softened, 225g caster sugar, 225 self-raising flour, 4 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla essence.

1. Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F/Gas 4. Place 18 paper muffin cases into muffin tins.
2. Place all the cupcake ingredients in a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk until smooth and pale, about 2 or 3 minutes. Spoon the batter into the cases. Bake for 20 minutes.
3. Remove tins from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes and cool on a rack.

For the filling:

75ml lime juice (or to taste), 400g tin condensed milk

1. Combine the lime juice and condensed milk in a small bowl.
2. Remove the top from each cupcake and hollow out a small hole. Spoon the filling into the hole and replace the top.

For the meringue:

3 egg whites, ¼ tsp cream of tartar, 75g granulated sugar (I used caster sugar).

1.Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Add one-third of the sugar and beat for 1 minutes. Repeat until all the sugar has been added.
2. Increase the oven temperature to 230°C/450°F/Gas 8.
3. Spoon or pipe the meringue on top of the cupcakes. Bake for 5 minutes until golden. Or use a blowtorch to brown the meringue.

20 Jan 2008


I have never cooked, or eaten Afghan food before, and I obviously didn't know what to expect. A fellow foodie gave me the link to an Internet site called in mamas kitchen and this is where the above recipe came from.
The stew is very easy to prepare and has wonderful spices added to the rich tomato sauce, namely, cinnamon, cardamom, chilli powder and turmeric. If you find the sauce isn't spicy enough then I would just add more to taste.
I cooked my stew in the slow cooker for about 5 hours on high and the meat was meltingly tender and the sauce wonderfully rich.
After cooling, the stew can be stored in the fridge for a day or two and then it will taste even better.
When you are ready to eat the stew, reheat, add the spinach, swirl the yoghurt through the sauce and top with toasted pine nuts, serve with boiled rice and naan bread.
Would I make it again? Perhaps not. I used the original recipe (scaled down) for test purposes and found the sauce a little light in the spice department, although I loved the spinach, yoghurt and pine nuts combo. I think for the finished dish to look good when it is plated up the rice and stew possibly needs to be served in separate bowls.

12 Jan 2008


These little buns are flavoured with rosemary and thyme, plenty of black pepper and hidden pockets of goat's cheese. Of course, you could substitute another herb such as lovage or sage.
I made these in both mini loaf tins and muffin tins lined with squares of parchment paper. The downside to using this method is the dough isn't in direct contact with the tin, and therefore, the buns may need to be cooked for a longer time.
These can also be made in dariole moulds or small terracotta flowerpots.
This book is one of the best bread maker books I have come across and is split into several sections Simple Breads, Savoury Enriched Breads, Savoury Bread Doughs, Sweet Enriched Breads, Sweet Bread Doughs, Gluten-Free Breads and Cakes and Tea breads.
How about Toasted Seed and Nut Bread, Basil, Manchego and Serrano Bread, Pepper and Pancetta Buns, Fig,Lemon and Cardamom Plait or Pistachio and Rosewater Stollen.
So far I have made several recipes from this book and not one of them has left me disappointed.



ISBN 1855859874 - Page 68

Makes: 8 Buns

This recipe has been slightly adapted.

You will need:

1 tsp easy-blend dried yeast, 350g strong white bread flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 2 tsp golden caster sugar, 50g butter, 3 garlic cloves (sliced) optional, 1 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp thyme, 175ml water. 100g firm goat's cheese with rind, milk to glaze.

1. Put all the ingredients except the cheese into the bread maker bucket, following the order and method specified in the manual, adding the garlic (if using) and herbs with the water.
2. Fit the bucket into the bread maker and set to the dough programme. Press start. Oil the base and sides of eight 125ml dariole moulds or small terracotta flower pots. (Dust with flour if using flower pots.) Cut the cheese into small chunks.
3. Once the dough is ready, turn it out on to a floured surface and punch it down to deflate. Cut the dough into 8 even sized pieces and flatten slightly into thick rounds.
4. Take one piece and press several chunks of cheese into the centre. Bring the edges of the dough up around the cheese and pinch together to seal in the cheese. Roll the dough lightly between the palms of the hands to elongate it, then drop into a mould, with the pinched ends of the dough underneath. Repeat with the remainder.
5. Place on a baking sheet and cover loosely with oiled greaseproof paper. Leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes until the dough has risen well above the rims of the moulds. Preheat the oven to 200°C (Fan 180°C), Gas Mark 6.
6. Brush the tops of the buns with a little milk and bake for 15-20 minutes until risen and golden. Check the underneath sounds hollow when tapped.
7. Loosen the buns and turn out of the moulds, transferring to a wire rack to cool.

4 Jan 2008


The mini pavlovas are easy to make and store well in an airtight tin for several days. When it comes to serving they are basically an assembly job and people will think you've spent hours making them.
When it came to buying the fruit, passion fruit suddenly seemed to have disappeared from the face of the earth! Such is my luck sometimes.
Anyway, after lots of frustration I managed to hunt a couple down.
I served the pavlovas with Green & Blacks Mint Leaves, the leaves were put on purely for decorative purposes, but much to my surprise, this unexpected combination of flavours worked really well.
These were supposed to be bite sized, but somehow when I made them, they were three bites size.

CANAPES - Eric Treuille & Victoria Blashford-Snell
ISBN 14053051344 - Page 56

Makes: 20

To Make the Pavlovas:

Preheat the Oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.

2 egg whites at room temperature, 125g caster sugar, ½ tsp vanilla essence

1. Put the egg whites in a large, clean bowl and whisk until the meringue holds soft peaks.
2. Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking until the whites are stiff and glossy.
3. Fold in the vanilla essence with a rubber spatula.
4. Use the tip of two teaspoons to place small walnut-sized spoonfuls of meringue 2.5cm apart, on to baking parchment lined baking sheets.
5. Make an indent in the centre of each mini meringue with the back of one teaspoon.
6. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 120°C/250°F/Gas 1/2. Continue baking until firm to the touch, 20 minutes.
7. I left them to cool in the oven overnight before removing them from the baking sheet and storing in an airtight tin.

To Assemble:

75ml whipping cream, 1 tablespoon caster sugar, 1 kiwi, 2 halved passion fruit, 20 raspberries, 2 teaspoons icing sugar for dusting.

1. Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of caster sugar.
2. Cut the peeled kiwi in half and cut each half into 5 slices. Cut each slice in half.
3. Scoop out pulp from passion fruit halves.
4. Top each pavlova with 1 teaspoon cream.
5. Arrange a half kiwi slice and a raspberry on top.
6. Spoon over passion fruit and dust with icing sugar.

A Slice of Iced Christmas Cake 2007

As requested, here is a photograph of the fruit cake which lies beneath the coating of icing and marzipan.
The cake cuts cleanly without crumbling and is a recipe I have been using for a few years now.
The recipe for the fruit cake was in a leaflet inside a video tape called The Fun of Cake Decorating by Elaine MacGregor.
Elaine ran the Woodnutt's School of Cake Decorating in Hove, Sussex many years ago, but unfortunately, I can't find any information about her or the school.