20 Dec 2010

ICED CHRISTMAS TREE CAKE


Yet another Christmas cake! These cakes are now a tradition on Kitchen Delights and show just how easy it is to create your own iced Christmas cake, without having to use royal icing or spend hours and hours creating a masterpiece.

For this cake all I used was a couple of Christmas tree cutters, edible red glitter and stars, all of which are available from sugarcraft shops or online.

I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year. I will be back in the new year with lots more recipes and photographs.

Thank you to all readers from around the world who have stopped by and looked at my food blog. Also, a huge thank you for leaving such generous comments.

1 Dec 2010

CHRISTMAS CUPCAKES


I've got the glitter bug! Ask me to make either a cupcake or a cake for Christmas and glitter always makes an appearance. It's something to do with my love of Christmas bling, which is perhaps the only time I can realistically get away with it.


My cupcakes are a vanilla flavoured sponge topped with lemon flavoured royal icing. The cupcakes were baked in gold foil cases and when the cupcakes have cooled down, the peaks are cut off with a knife to give a level cake surface. Smother the cupcakes in icing and leave to set.


Cut out some fondant icing shapes and leave them to dry for a while. Brush with a little water and dust the shapes with glitter. Now brush the underneath of the fondant shapes with water and place onto the cupcakes. Sprinkle with yet more glitter.

28 Nov 2010

Mini Black Forest Gateau




The high quality Morello cherries used in this recipe are steeped in Kirsch, they are a speciality ingredient idea - Griottines. The Kirsch Griottines and their liqueur have a 15% alcohol content.

The first maceration of the cherries in liqueur takes place within six hours of picking. After rigorous sorting, grading and de-stoning the Morello cherries are steeped in different liqueurs for successive maceration's over a six month period based on a secret recipe and age-old traditions. The last maceration provides the final touch of Kirsch, which is the hallmark of Griottines.

They are produced in France using a special type of Morello cherry, the Oblachinska, and are only found in the Balkans.

You can use the cherries in cakes, chocolates or desserts. I decided to bring a twist to the traditional Black Forest Gateau and made individual cakes. I lived through the Black Forest Gateau years and have to say, I still love it. Although my memories are tainted now, as I remember just how synthetic the gateau were, but you was very posh if you ate Black Forest Gateau! For me it's still a wonderful combination of flavours - chocolate cake, Morello cherries, Kirsch, softly whipped cream and good quality grated chocolate - heaven!

The Morello cherries can also be purchased steeped in Cointreau.

The Griottines can be purchased in red gift boxes, making them an ideal Christmas present for foodies.


Griottines can be purchased from delicatessens, fine food shops, farm shops or online at http://www.griottines.co.uk/.

Thank you Lotte.

13 Nov 2010

JAMIE'S 30 MINUTE MEALS - CHICKEN PIE, FRENCH -STYLE PEAS & SWEET CARROT SMASH


My husband kindly bought me Jamie's book, although true to say, he didn't find that out until now! Cookery books are the equivalent of clothes that you bought ages ago and say you have had them for ages. Perhaps though, you can ask Santa to buy a copy and put it in your Christmas stocking.


There has been negativity in the press, even the BBC Watchdog television programme devoted air time(albeit with humour) to the question - can his dinners really be cooked in 30 minutes?

To be fair, I can't give the answer to this, because as usual, I was multitasking whilst cooking ie. emptying the washing machine, putting clothes into the tumble dryer, drying pots, loading the dishwasher and so on.

I didn't give consideration to making his dessert of Berries, Shortbread & Chantilly Cream because we were still ploughing our way through a dessert from a couple of days previous.

You want me to be honest don't you - I am not sure if I could prepare and cook all of this in 30 minutes, even if I had wanted to take up the challenge.I really like Jamie's new book and know I am going to cook a lot of recipes from it. Also, I have enjoyed his series of programmes to go with the book. He is a great guy and has enough passion and fire in his belly to encourage us all to get cooking.

Feedback on the book from young professionals I have spoken to, is they think he has possibly missed a trick by using so many ingredients. Unless you are a keen cook or have plenty of time, it's not always an easy call, and then there is the expense. Maybe, he should write a book using less ingredients, now there's an idea.


The chicken pie, french-style peas, sweet carrot smash is an incredibly tasty meal and I hope you are encouraged to have a go at this one. After all, it's great comfort food and who doesn't like a pie?

10 Nov 2010

Hotel Chocolat Large Luxury Christmas Cracker


I was very excited to receive this Large Luxury Christmas Cracker from Hotel Chocolat.

My first thoughts are, forget buying the usual Christmas crackers this year and opt for this one instead. I am going to put mine on the table as a centrepiece and my guests will be more than delighted, especially as the cracker measures 64cm long. The cracker is tied in two places with beautiful gold ribbon and looks stunning.


The cracker contains 12 gold party hats and jokes, so there is no break with tradition, but instead of the usual plastic toys there are 40 decadent chocolates to share. The chocolates include smooth pralines, ganaches, champagne truffles, caramels and many more. The chocolates come wrapped in pairs, so there are no excuses for everyone not having a fair share of the cracker.

Hotel Chocolat have something for everyone this Christmas, they have Chocolates, Christmas Presents and Christmas Crackers.

Thank you Hotel Chocolat!

24 Oct 2010

FINE CHOCOLATES FOR CHRISTMAS



I have been invited by Chocolate Craft, an artisan chocolate company based in Old Alresford, Hampshire, to try their Christmas Pudding Truffles with Courvoisier VS Cognac.

These beautiful Christmas Pudding Truffles contain fruits, nuts, spices and Courvoisier. They are made from 70% plain chocolate and 33.6% cocoa solids milk chocolate. If you think you and your guests won't have any room left for Christmas Pudding these are a great idea, and they certainly haven't been mean with the Cognac!

Chocolate Craft are an award winning artisan company making handmade chocolates with Hampshire cream and natural ingredients. Their handmade chocolates can be purchased either online or from selected retailers.

Thank you Chocolate Craft

18 Oct 2010

LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE - NATIONAL BAKING WEEK 2010


It's National Baking Week from 18-24 October and what could be better than a lemon drizzle cake.

As with most of the cakes I cook, this can be cut into squares and frozen. The cake defrosts perfectly. This is a very fluffy cake and instead of using the usual three eggs, this recipe uses only two and the juice of a lemon is used, giving a very lemony cake. Also the topping is just a little different from the usual lemon drizzle cake.

I know some people think baking is too time consuming, but you don't need any special equipment for this recipe, and even if you just throw everything into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes, the cake will still be lovely.

Hope this has encouraged you to bake a cake this week!

125g butter, 175g caster sugar, 2 large eggs, 175g self-raising flour, 2 unwaxed lemons, 50g granulated sugar.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Lightly oil an 18cm square cake tin and line with baking paper.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy. Beat the eggs, then gradually add a little of the egg to the creamed mixture, adding 1 tablespoon of flour after each addition.
3. Finely grate the rind from 1 of the lemons and stir into the creamed mixture, beating well until smooth. Squeeze the juice from the lemon, strain, then stir into the mixture.
4. Spoon into the prepared tin, level the surface and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.
5. Using a zester, remove the peel from the last lemon and mix with 25g of the granulated sugar and reserve.
6. Squeeze the juice into a small saucepan. Add the rest of the granulated sugar to the lemon juice in the saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally. When the sugar has dissolved, simmer gently for 3-4 minutes until syrupy.
7. Price the cake all over with a cocktail stick, to allow the syrup to soak in.
8. Sprinkle the lemon zest and sugar over the top of the cake, drizzle over the syrup and leave to cool in the tin. Cut into squares.

10 Oct 2010

CHOCOLATE FUDGE - NATIONAL CHOCOLATE WEEK 2010


It's not very often that I make sweets, other than chocolate truffles for Christmas.

My chocolate fudge was easy to make because last year my husband bought me a Kenwood Cooking Chef. Basically, instead of having to use a sugar thermometer, the Kenwood is thermostatically controlled and will make wonderful things like fudge!

The recipe for the fudge is from the Kenwood Cooking Chef Recipe Book. I have given the method for the Kenwood Cooking Chef so you can see exactly what is involved when using this machine.

250g chocolate (64% cocoa solids), 200g sugar, 75g glucose, 100ml water, 35ml sweet evaporated milk, 200g fondant icing, 10ml vanilla extract, 40g unsalted butter.

1. Grate the chocolate in the Food Processor Attachment with the thin shredding disc. Attach the Flexi Beater. Place the sugar, glucose and water into the mixing bowl. Set the temperature to 115°C and the speed to stirring 2. Allow to cook for 1 minute.
2. Add the evaporated milk and bring the temperature back to 115°C. Add the fondant icing, and bring the temperature back to 115°C. Cook for another 2 minutes. When the temperature is at 80°C add the chocolate, the vanilla extract and the butter. Continue to stir until the mixture is amalgamated.
3. Pour into a 25 x 15 x 1.5cm tray lined with greaseproof paper. Allow to cool before slicing.

4 Oct 2010

NIGELLA'S CHOCOLATE BANANA MUFFINS


Nigella has brought us some great muffin recipes to try at home and these in particular were met with a huge mmmm! Whose recipe is this, asked my husband - Nigella's I replied. My husband said he thought her double chocolate chip muffins couldn't be beaten but mmmmm.

I have frozen these and they thaw successfully, I've even thawed them and warmed them up in the microwave, although Nigella says to put them in the oven for a few minutes to warm.

Why not make some? You'll be glad you did!

This recipe comes from Nigella's new book Kitchen

29 Sep 2010

SMOKED PAPRIKA CHICKEN CIABATTA AND CHEESE COLESLAW



This meal took only 30 minutes or so to prepare and cook, and served with sides of potato wedges makes a substantial meal.

I always precook my potato wedges for 5 minutes or so, drain, return to the dry pan, and drizzle over a few tablespoons of olive oil, shake the pan to coat. Tip onto a tray and cook at 200C for half an hour or so, turning half way through the cooking time. Drain, season, serve.

For the Paprika Chicken you will need:

4 skinless chicken breasts, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika, olive oil, 1 crushed clove garlic, 4 tablespoons mayonnaise, 8 torn romaine lettuce leaves or your lettuce of choice.

1. Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally and lay each between two sheets of cling film. Bash with a rolling pin until about 1 cm thick.
2. Squeeze the lemon juice over the chicken and dust with the paprika. Season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Lay on a hot griddle pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until charred and cooked through.
3. Halve the ciabatta horizontally and lay, cut side down, on the pan for 1 minute. Mix the crushed garlic and mayonnaise and then spread over the cut side of each ciabatta half. Top with the lettuce and chicken, then season with a little salt and pepper. Cut in half to serve.

Cheese Coleslaw

400g white cabbage, 1 coarsely grated carrot, 1 halved and thinly sliced red onion, 3 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons low-fat natural yogurt, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 20g pack chives, 100g reduced-fat mature Cheddar (grated).

1. Cut the cabbage in half, then into quarters. Remove and discard the core, then thinly shred the cabbage. Put into a large mixing bowl. Add the carrot, onion, mayonnaise, yogurt and mustard. Snip in most of the chives.
2. Mix the coleslaw well, making sure all of the salad is coated in the dressing. Season, cover and chill.
3. Just before serving sprinkle over the grated cheese and the remaining chives.

Delicious!

22 Sep 2010

More Kitchen Goodies


I have been sent an array of goodies by Cookequip who specialise in barbeque supplies, stovetop smokers, wood chips, grilling and baking planks - just to mention a few. A great place to shop for interesting gifts.

Cookequip have now added some new products to their range and these include Vacuum Food Storage/Marinading/Freezer Pots which are new to the UK, these are great for storing soft fruit and vegetables. Also, there is the Vacuum Pump to extract the air from the vacuum pots.

Silicone Kitchen Twine - this is re-usable flexible twine ideal for tying joints and would have been very useful when I reviewed the Wood Wraps.

The Flavour Injector - used in the USA but new here in the UK. A great way to directly use a marinade for maximum flavour and to prevent poultry and meats from drying out.

Cookequip also have another website The Old Smokehouse selling foods and equipment, including outdoor barbeques, smokers and lots more. You can send for smoked foods such as wild Cumbrian salmon, sausages, cheese, chicken and duck. Here you can even book to go on a Food Smoking Course - what a fabulous present this would be.

Thank you Cook Equip

13 Sep 2010

ROSEWATER CUPCAKES - National Cupcake Week


It's National Cupcake Week here in the UK from the 13 - 19 September 2010.

To celebrate this event, and for yet another excuse to make and eat a cupcake, I decided to add another posting to my flowers and cupcakes theme. A few weeks ago I made Hibiscus Cupcakes and also Lavender Cupcakes.

The inspiration for these rosewater cupcakes came from the pretty miniature rose bush in my garden. For the sugared rosebuds simply put an egg white wash on the petals and sprinkle with caster sugar.

For the cupcakes you will need:

A 12 hole muffin tin lined with paper cases.

115g butter at room temperature, 115g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 115g self-raising flour, 1 tablespoon rosewater.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, beat in the eggs one at a time. sift the flour into the mixture and fold in, then stir in the rosewater.
3. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases and bake for approximately 20 minutes until risen and golden. Use a cake tester or skewer to ensure the cakes are cooked. Transfer the tin to a wire rack and after about 10 minutes remove the cupcakes and place on the rack to cool.
4. When cool, remove the peaks off the cakes with a knife.

To decorate the cupcakes you will need:

12 pink rose petals, 1 beaten egg white, 1 tablespoon caster sugar, 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 145g icing sugar, pink food colouring.

1. Brush each rose petal with the egg white, sprinkle with caster sugar and leave to dry for about an hour.
2. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add some of the lemon juice and stir until smooth. Add more lemon juice to make a smooth, spoonable icing.
3. Add a little colouring to achieve a pale pink frosting.
4. Spoon the frosting over the cakes and top each one with a sugared rose.
5. Leave to set before serving.

5 Sep 2010

GOAT'S CHEESE AND SALMON TART


This recipe is from Gizzi's Kitchen Magic, the original recipe title is Goat's Cheese and Pea Tart. I knew peas in a tart wouldn't be to my taste and left them out, I don't think the tart suffered from this exclusion. If you would like to include the peas, then 120g of fresh peas are added along with the onions, salmon and goat's cheese.


Slightly adapted recipe.

Serves: 6

A 17cm tart tin lined with shortcrust pastry and baked blind.

You will need: 2 teaspoons of olive oil, 1 peeled and wedged small red onion, 100ml white wine, 120g smoked salmon cut into thin strips, 100g soft goat's cheese, 3 free-range eggs, 150ml double cream, 30g grated Parmesan cheese, freshly ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon of chopped chives.

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas 3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the red onion and fry on a moderate heat for 5 minutes or until slightly charred but beginning to soften. Remove from the pan and put to one side.
2. Pour the white wine into a pan and boil on a high heat for 5 minutes, or until the wine has reduced by two-thirds and is syrupy. Pour into a mixing bowl and leave to cool for 5 minutes or so.
3. Scatter the red onions, smoked salmon strips and goats cheese into the cooked pastry tart. Add the eggs, cream and Parmesan to the reduced white wine and whisk together. Season well and stir in the herbs. Pour into a measuring jug.
4. Place the tart case on a baking tray and pour in the liquid - the mixture will come fairly high up the edge of the tart case. Place carefully on the bottom shelf of the oven, as the lower heat will stop the tart cooking too fast and prevent it rising like a souffle.
5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the tart begins to turn golden. You will still have a little wobble but it should not be runny. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

31 Aug 2010

FRESH RASPBERRY AND ALMOND CAKE


The last of the summer raspberries from my garden were used for this lovely cake-cum-dessert.

Homegrown raspberries don't come creepy crawly free like the ones you buy in the supermarket. My method is to put them onto a large inspection plate and then leave them for a while, I then transfer the picked over raspberries to another plate. You can't be too careful!


This cake can be either made by the all-in-one-method or the traditional creaming method. Either way, the cake will still be wonderful.

Either eat as is, or warm in the microwave and serve with Greek Yogurt or creme fraiche as dessert.


Makes: 15 squares.

You will need: 26x16.5cm oblong tin, lined with baking parchment.

175g softened butter, 175g caster sugar, 3 medium free range eggs, 175g self-raising flour, 125g ground almonds, 2 tablespoons of milk, 150g raspberries, 2 tablespoons flaked almonds, icing sugar for dusting.

1. Heat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs and then fold in the flour, ground almonds and milk. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin.
2. Scatter the raspberries over the surface and press down lightly into the cake mixture. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds. Bake in the centre of the oven for 40-50 minutes. Check with a skewer to make sure the middle of the cake is cooked. If not return to the oven covered with foil for another 10 minutes.
3. Leave in the tin to cool.
4. Cut into 15 squares and dust with the icing sugar.

12 Aug 2010

Review - Cook up a Feast, Mary Berry and Lucy Young


When asked if I would like to review a copy of Cook up a Feast, I just knew this book would be perfect for me.

I have followed Mary Berry for more years than I care to remember! Mary is regularly on our television screens, has written countless cookery books and is also an Aga specialist.

Lucy Young has worked with Mary for 20 years. Lucy is a cookery writer, gives Aga demonstrations, makes television appearances and writes a regular magazine column.

Mary and Lucy have now written a cookery book together, to serve larger numbers, after numerous requests from readers of their books and members of the audience at their Aga demonstrations. Many of the recipes are for 6 to 12 people, and some of the recipes will serve up to 48. The book gives information for cooking either in the Aga or conventional oven. Advice is also given for preparing ahead and freezing (a Mary Berry trademark!).

There are chapters on party bites, starters, special main courses, pot luck party, buffets, bowl parties, Italian food, summer in the garden, desserts and tea for a crowd.

A wealth of useful information for preparing a feast, planning the occasion, serving the right amount, kitchen knowhow, the right equipment, setting the scene, cheats and shortcuts and on the day. Everything you need to know, to help take away the stress, when cooking for a number of people.

The book has over 300 pages of exciting recipes to suit all cooking abilities, from the novice through to the more experienced cook. A taster of some of the recipes from the book - Crostini with slow roasted tomatoes and herbs, Bruschette with Reblochon and roasted vegetables, Celebratory fish platter, Boursin-stuffed chicken with garlic and mint sauce, Marinated marmalade and whisky lamb fillet, Mushrooms and spinach en croute, Rhubarb and lemon pots, Magenta fruit compote with white chocolate sauce, Party pavlova pyramid - just to name a few!

You shouldn't have to worry about making any of the recipes from this book, because from experience, I have always found Mary Berry and Lucy Young recipes work because they are thoroughly tested.



From the book I made Hazelnut meringue roulade with raspberries to serve 8-10 (oops in this case it fed 2 people over a couple of days!). The instructions were clear and easy to follow. The roulade can be prepared and made up to 12 hours ahead and can also be frozen. A perfect dessert, light and luscious. If you, like me, grow your own raspberries, the roulade will taste even better.


Fillet steak with a creamy mushroom sauce to serve 6. There was just the two of us and I scaled the recipe down very easily. Again, the instructions were clear and concise and it was easy to produce a wonderful meal. This recipe too has instructions for preparing ahead. I made the Cheese-topped dauphinois potatoes to go alongside the steak and these were delicious. In my freezer I now have some potato dauphinois for a rainy day.


Chicken tikka masala served with plain boiled rice and naan bread. The recipe is to serve 6 people, I made the full quantity and put half the cooked masala in the freezer for another day. This recipe uses chicken thighs but I am afraid I used breast because I am not a fan of chicken thighs - I know, I know!

Thank you Gemma.


2 Aug 2010

LEMON THYME, PROSCIUTTO, PECORINO AND GOAT'S CHEESE RISOTTO


I can eat a bowl of risotto at any time of the year. It's quick, easy, filling and doesn't cost a lot of money. If I can't think what to cook or am pushed for time, these days it seems risotto is top of the list.

We seem to be having some summer weather this year and I am trying not to have the oven on for any longer than possible, because of all the heat it throws out into my kitchen. This year the majority of my cooking has been done either on the hob or outdoors on the barbecue.

Once you have mastered the base recipe for risotto, the possibilities for adding ingredients are endless, almost anything goes. As long as you keep your stock simmering on the hob whilst you are making the risotto and stir, stir, stir, to achieve a creamy rice - you can't go far wrong! Making this recipe was a good excuse to give my new pan a test run and it made the risotto perfectly.

Here is a useful link to the BBC GoodFood website showing how to make risotto.

The adapted recipe is from Jamie Oliver - The Return of the Naked Chef.

Serves: 2

You will need:

25g butter, 1 finely chopped onion, 1 crushed clove garlic, 150g risotto rice, glass white wine, 750ml simmering vegetable stock.
A handful of lemon thyme leaves plus some extra for decoration, 50g grated pecorino cheese, 75g crumbled soft goat's cheese, a few slices of prosciutto

1. Heat the butter in a wide shallow pan and cook the onion and garlic until softened. add the risotto rice and stir until coated.
2. Pour in the wine and bubble until it's all absorbed. Add the lemon thyme leaves. Gradually add the hot vegetable stock, stirring until the rice is tender but still has a little bite. Add the grated pecorino cheese.
3. Lay the prosciutto over the risotto, crumble over the goat's cheese and scatter over lemon thyme leaves.


26 Jul 2010

It's Barbecue Time!


This year, so far, the summer has been fairly kind to us - last year the barbecue was used only a few times and the majority of them, when my husband was brave enough, were cooked under a couple of parasols, to shield both him and the barbecue from torrential rain. Unfortunately on Saturday, we had a very sudden and sharp shower, it was definitely a deja vous moment, with my husband muttering something like 'I don't believe it'!!!

The BBQ Grill and Chill Selection Pack is by Pipers Farm who are located in Devon. The pack includes 4 Red Ruby Steak Burgers(440g), 4 Pork Sausages(350g), 4 Red Ruby Grilling Steaks, 4 Spicy Chicken Drumsticks(600g), 4 Pork Steaks marinaded in lime and ginger(500g) and 2 Lamb Kebab(250g)Packs(500g).


For me, the lamb kebabs were the star and must be the best lamb I have ever eaten. My husband cooked the kebabs so they were still pinkish, succulent and juicy. The steak burgers were full of flavour, the Red Ruby Grilling Steaks were cut thick to help stop them drying out. The sausage was a reminder of old fashioned finely ground pork sausage which was pleasing, because I am not very keen on coarse textured sausage. Both the Spicy Chicken Drumsticks and and Pork Steaks had a tasty marinade.


The BBQ Grill and Chill Selection Pack is delivered direct from the farm in a huge box - open it up and there is a personalised signed letter greeting you as a customer, information regarding your purchase and a leaflet relating to the Pipers Farm family. Delve down into the box through the packing and you will find your meat box surrounded by ice packs. The ice packs can be re-used, and the box, paper and plastic packaging can all be recycled.



Inside the box is your meat selection, well presented and surrounded by ice packs. The meat is frozen and individually packed in free-flow vacuum bags. Each pack comes with its own set of information regarding the product, tips on defrosting and suggestions for cooking. The Lamb Kebab pack comes with lots of wooden skewers - just remember to soak them first before you use them (I forgot).

For this barbecue there was just the two of us. I couldn't possibly eat all of the selection pack, otherwise I would have to spend all week in the gym trying to use up endless calories. As the packs are free-flow you only need to take out as much, or as little as you need.

A few interesting facts about Pipers Farm:

Pipers Farm was started 20 years ago by Peter and Henrietta Greig when their sons were very young. Their goal was to produce healthy meat that as a family they could enjoy eating with complete confidence. Today, Pipers Farm helps to sustain 30 farming families who have nurtured the countryside for generations. They passionately believe in offering their customers the best and healthiest meat they can buy, always a pleasure to cook, sensational to eat and excellent value.

Pipers Farm are multi award winning - Red Ruby Steak Burgers have a Gold Taste of the West Awards 2008, BBC Best Food Producer 2007, are one of Rick Stein's Food Heroes.

Thank you Laurel and Pipers Farm.

22 Jul 2010

LAVENDER CUPCAKES


The inspiration for these cakes came from the wonderful lavender bush in my garden. I looked for recipes using lavender but as I am on a 'flowers and cupcakes' mission at the moment, Nigella's recipe in her book Forever Summer was perfect.

Nigella created these lavender cupcakes to raise money for the Lavender Trust, which is a charity for young women with breast cancer and was set up in memory of Ruth Picardie.


Whilst in the garden on a glorious hot and sunny day, I gained an unexpected 'new friend', a butterfly no less. As I started to cut a few lavender sprigs, he settled on the bush. He was a little camera shy and the photograph, unfortunately, doesn't show all of his markings.

For this recipe you will need to make some lavender sugar first. Simply put a few sprigs of lavender into some caster sugar for a few days and hey presto, lavender sugar.

For the cupcakes you will need:

125 g self-raising flour, 125g very soft unsalted butter, 125g sieved lavender sugar, 2 eggs, pinch salt and a few tablespoons of milk.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C /Gas 6 and line a 12 bun muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Put all of the cake ingredients, except the milk, into a food processor and whizz, now blend in the milk.
3. Fill the cake cases and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked.

For the icing:
250g Instant Royal Icing, violet icing colour, twelve sprigs lavender

1. Cut the peaked tops off the cooled cupcakes.
2. Make up the icing with a little water to a thick double cream pouring consistency. Put some food colour paste onto a skewer and dye the icing to a pastel violet.
3. Spoon some of the icing over the top of the cupcakes. Top each of the cupcakes with a little sprig of lavender before the icing sets.

Cupcake on FoodistaCupcake

3 Jul 2010

PINEAPPLE HIBISCUS CUPCAKES


Australian Women's Weekly books are always a source of inspiration and this recipe came from The Complete Book of Cupcakes. I seem to be in cupcake mode again............

The flowers are made from thinly sliced pineapple slices which have been coated in sugar syrup and dried in the oven. I think the flowers are really pretty.

The pineapple carrot cake recipe they gave for the cupcakes wasn't great and I think a lemon sponge cake recipe to fill 12 cupcakes would be a better option, then simply top with lemon cream cheese frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

30g unsalted softened butter, 80g softened cream cheese, 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind, 240g icing sugar, lemon juice

1. Beat the butter, cream cheese and rind in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, gradually beat in the sifted icing sugar. Add enough lemon juice to make a soft frosting.

Pineapple Flowers:

1 tablespoon caster sugar, 1 tablespoon water, 12 wafer thin slices fresh pineapple

1. Preheat the oven to 120°C/100°F Fan. Stir the sugar and water together in a small saucepan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, boil 1 minute.
2. Brush both sides of the pineapple slices with the sugar syrup. Place the slices in a single layer on wire racks over oven trays.
3. Dry pineapple in oven for about 1 hour. Immediately remove the slices from the rack to prevent sticking.
4. Carefully shape into flowers by pinching the centre of each slice, dry over an upturned egg carton.

Cupcake on FoodistaCupcake

20 Jun 2010

BBC Summer Good Food Show 2010 Birmingham

My day started in the Press Office where I was given tickets to see Matt Tebbutt in the Summer Kitchen and other treats. I was then asked if I would be willing to take part in the MasterChef Experience Invention Test.

Before I knew it I was being whisked away to the MasterChef Theatre, given an apron, briefed, shown to my workstation, and then the opportunity to familiarise myself with the fresh and dry ingredients provided. Also, a quick tuition of the Miele state of the art kitchen appliances I would be using. The name of the game is to produce something innovative in just 30 minutes. Phew! No, I didn't win or even come third, I thought I would give all of the other contestants a chance!!! I did have lots of fun, even though I couldn't produce anything that resembled even the merest hint of a Michelin star.

My husband bagged himself a front row seat and did his best to take photographs for ourselves and also another contestant, who unfortunately was at the opposite side of the stage to me.


In my session John Torode and Gregg Wallace were keeping a watchful eye over us with the help of Mat Follas and James Nathan, who are two previous MasterChef winners. Andi Peters was the compere and offered us an arm of support. We were all allocated a sous chef from Birmingham Food College and I was very fortunate to have such a helpful and charming right hand man.


After this we returned to the Press Office, sat on a comfy sofa and re-energised ourselves with coffee before our tour of the Good Food Show.

Chocolate Fondue.


I would love one of these!


I had a scoop of the cherry ice cream.


Nouga.


The Liquorice Stall.


Olive Oil.



Summer Kitchen with Matt Tebbutt.


Bubbly!



Thank you to Emma, Haymarket Exhibitions and the BBC Summer Good Food Show for a really great day out!