Monday, 2 May 2011

Royal Wedding Chocolate Biscuit Cake

According to one of the newspapers, this was the groom's choice:

140 g raisins - soak overnight in Whiskey or Rum - I used dark rum.

300g Rich Tea Biscuits - put them in a plastic bag and bash until they are a mixture of crumbs and postage stamp-seized pieces.

170 g golden syrup, 400g plain chocolate, 85g butter - heat gently in a pan until melted.

Stir the biscuit crumbs and raisin into the mixture and scrape into a brownie tin lined with cling film, press down and chill in the fridge.

That's it! Ready and apparently D-E-L-I-C-i-C-I-O-U-S!!!

Don't you just LOVE easy recipes? I DO!


Nicola x

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Royal Wedding Cupcakes

We - our neighbours from across the road and us - will be holding a Royal Wedding Tea Party - Nicole has already made meters and meters of bunting, enough to wrap around both cottages she says :) - and I am  thinking CUPCAKES.....

I have the cases, the decorations but a problem with the colours - I don't do dark blue, red is for Christmas and white, well white I love...

So I am on the search for pale red, pale blue - but not baby blue - does anyone have any tips? SO tricky - in my head my cupcakes look vintage-y, pretty but not TOO colorful....

Have a lovely Sunday!!!


Nicola x

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Left Overs

What is it with left overs? It is almost like they are willing one to eat them every time one walks past them....And when you have a cake left overs, it is even more dangerous.... But then again, left over calories - just like those calories one consumes whilst standing up - don't count, right?

We had our Spring Barn on Friday and served coffees and cakes in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. 
So I spent all of last Thursday marathon baking:

Rhubarb and White Chocolate Muffins ♥
♥ French Toast Cupcakes (from Cookie Girl's 'Eat Me' Book) ♥
♥ Vanilla Cupcakes for the kids with Marshmellow bunnies and chickens (Hummingbird Bakery) ♥
♥ Vintage's Amerikaner ♥
♥ Cherry & Quark Tray Bake ♥
♥ My Mum's Covered Apple Cake ♥

I also baked Martha Steward's Earl Grey Cookies, Cranberry Shortbread Hearts and Chocolate Crackles. At the end of the day my kitchen was covered under a layer of icing sugar, everything was sticky and all I wanted was something savoury to eat - and for me, that really means something :)....

I have been trying and trying - and am now giving up - to put links on all the recipes...for some reason it is not working - so should you want any of the above recipes,  I am happy to e-mail you the links.


Nicola x

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

One Pots

One thing I LOVE in winter are 'one pots' easy, so delicous, so warming!!! And I love my "le Creuset" it is well used and it is the wrong colour, I know, but when I bought my first Creuset pan some 20 years ago - with a wooden handle - which sadly has been changed to some clever plastic now - they did not do the lovey creamy/whitey colour they do now....

The first thing I cooked to start off this year's one pot season was

"Italian lamb shanks and roast vegetables"

Unfortunately, I did not get to take a picture of the actual dish - it got wolfed down before I had a chance to even think 'camera'....We had had guests that weekend and had been out all day...this is THE perfect dish for that sort of thing: easy preparation, verly slow cooking, nothing to worry about - and it comes out tasty and wholesome yet elegant enought to be serve at an informal dinner party.

Here is what you do:

Preaparation time : 30 min max!
Cooking time : 4 hours
Serves: 8

3 red onions, cut into wedges
3 red peppers, cut into large chunks
3 yellow peppers, cut into large chunks
10 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered (I cheated and used tinned)
1 large garlic bulb, halved (don't bother peeling it)
2 bay leaves
2 large sprigs rosemary
2 tbsp oil
8x350g lamb shanks
300ml white wine
3tbsp sun-dried tomato puree (again, I cheated and used ordinary tomato puree)

Prehaet your oven to 190°C , 170 for fan, 375 F or gas mark 5

- Place all the prepared vegetables and herbs in an ovenproof pot or roasting dish.

- In a frying pan, brown the lamb shanks in the oil, remove and pop on top of the vegetables.

- Deglaze the pan with the wine and let bubble for 1 minute, stir in the tomato paste and pour over the meat and veg, along with 200ml of water.

- Season well and cover tightly with foil - if you have a lid, put that on too.

- Roast for 3 hours, turning the meat once halfway through cooking.

- Remove the foil and cook for a further hour, again turning the meat once.

Serve with Dauphinoise potatoes....! The perfect winter dish!!!! Enjoy!


Nicola x


Monday, 1 November 2010

Sloe Gin and....

....Rosehip Gin?

For years I have been meaning to make some sloe gin.....this year I finally got round to doing it...and as I also wanted to make something with Rosehips, I botteld up some Rosehips too.

I gave them the same treatment as the sloes and we shall see what happens..... The Rosehip Gin - LOVE the name! I'd love it if it turned out nice! - was inspired by Moni and her grandmother's Rosehip Liqueur.

For now the bottles are sitting on my larder shelf and I turn them upside down every now and again (and love watching the sloes/rosehips tumble in the lazy, almost oil like, clear gin...).

I shall report back how it all turned out!


Nicola x

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Birthday Cake

I have discovered the pleasure of making sugar paste flowers (the ones in the pictures above are not quite finished) ..... I was making Victoria's Birthday Cake and had this vision in my head....

To cut a long story short, NOTHING I had ordered (ingredients, equipment etc) arrived in the right order or not in time. So plans had to be altered and the end result was not REALLY what I had hoped for....nevertheless - I did enjoy making these little hydrangea flowers....The cake - in my mind - looked a bit like an old ladies swimming cap - you know the kind? Often pointed and with rubber flowers on it...

Using supar paste was another one of those things, I was a little scared of...turns out, it is easy, and although a little time consuming and fiddly, very satisfying.

Sugar paste will definitely appear in (on) this year's Christmas baking....

Wishing you all a very happy new week!


Nicola x

p.s OH! Victoria did say that she liked her cake, the thing she was not too pleased about was the amount of candles....:)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Soda Bread

One of my favourite kinds of bread is Soda Bread..... So easy to make and - and I think this is one of the reasons why I like it - there is no yeast involved, no proving...(I am a bit scared of yeast). Here is my favourite recipe:

225g wholemeal flour
375g strong bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
25g lard
1 spring onion, finely chopped
2tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
50g medium oatmeal
600ml buttermilk (or cow's milk with a little lemon juice added and left for 20 minutes)

♥ preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F
♥ sift flour, salt, bicarb into a bowl and rub in lard
♥ stir in the spring onion, herbs and oatmeal
♥ add a little milk at the time and mix into a loose dough
♥ knead lightly until smooth an shape into 2 rounds
♥ place onto a greased baking sheet
♥ score each loaf into quarters and sprinkle with wholemeal flour
♥ bake for about 30 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped underneath

Best eaten fresh - but also nice toasted the next day.... I often half theamoutns and just make one loaf - it is so easy and quick, I'd rather do it more often and eat it super fresh...

One of my favourite quick lunches - an open sandwich with smoked salmon and plenty of horseradish on a fresh slice of soda bread. LOVE it!

Have a great weekend!!


Nicola x