Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Made by me

Despite the cooler weather my salad crops have been providing us with
delicious food to eat for around a month now. I am growing a variety
of mixed salad leaves and radishes. Hopefully the courgettes will
turn up in a month or two. And if the birds don't eat then runner
beans as well.

Monday, 23 May 2011

these are a few of my favourite things.....

Like everyone I have a selection of go-to recipes that work time and again, and taste delicious. It seems only fair to share a few of these with you, as it's unlikely that I will be cooking or baking for any of you soon! Unless my dream of Claire's Cakes happens some time soon!

1. Victoria Sponge Cake. This is a simple vanilla sponge, which should be light and airy. Fill with raspberry jam for a quick store cupboard make or add fresh strawberries and whipped cream for total decadence. I use a recipe from Nigella Lawson's first book How to Eat. Find it on page 26 of the hardback version. The great thing about this recipe is that you can make it in a food processor for a very quick make. I won't reprint any recipe here as they are not mine to start with.

2. Gingerbread Men. My search for the perfect gingerbread was a long one, but once I tried the nicely spicy gingerbread recipe from Dan Lepard my search stopped. This is my favourite because the gingerbread have a great flavour, are still a bit chewy in the middle (I don't want to break my teeth) but have the crunch on the outside. Find the recipe in Dan Lepard's Exceptional Cakes: Baker and Spice book.

3. Chocolate Brownies. Again the depth of flavour, fool proof, easy recipe has me reaching for Scoop by Natasha Zabolsky. Although this is an icecream book, she also has some recipes for things to have with your icecream! This brownie recipe calls for cocoa powder, and I find Green & Blacks cocoa powder is dark and rich enough to make these brownies delicious. The brownies are chewy in the middle and crispy and flaky on top. These never last long in my household.

4. All out show-off cake. This is my very very special occasion cake, as it's not cheap to make, and is incredibly rich to eat. I make Konditor & Cooks Curly Whirly Cake recipe is here. It looks brilliant when decorated with the vanilla bean frosting and the chocolate swirls but tastes to die for.

5. Meringues. All you need to know is 2oz of castor sugar to every egg white. Your bowl and beaters need to be scrupulously clean. No grease or dirt, otherwise it will not work. Beat your egg whites until you can stand the bowl upside down and the egg whites won't fall out. Then add in the sugar, beating as you go. You can cook these 2 ways; to make them pure white and dry and crisp all the way through a very very low heat 110 deg c for many hours for a crisp meringue. Or bake at 140 degrees for 40mins for a crisp outside and a chewy middle. Turn the oven temp down by 10 degrees if browning. Eat as desired, but with fruit and cream is delectable.

6. Lemon Cakes: I have 2 different types, depending on the occassion. To impress I make the sublime biscuity/ cakey lemon bites which I found online c2 years ago. Thank you wonderweb! Julie Biuso's recipe always gets a great response when I make it. Or if I want something less decadent, then a simple lemon drizzle cake. This sticky sponge is a classic.

7. Bread and Butter pudding. I have never liked bread and butter pudding, too dry too bready, and certainly not dessert! That is until my sister recomended that I try this recipe by Skye Gyngell. It was moist, and vanilla-y and delicious. This is the only recipe I'll be using in future.

8. Fruit Tart/ Cake - Ok I can't describe this but this is the fantastic Stone Fruit Tea Cake in the Rustic Fruit Desserts book (which I would recommend to anyone). You can get the recipe if you register at Gourmet.com . I use plums in it and it works o-so well! Most people want seconds! And get a sad look when you tell them it's finished!

Well that little lot should keep you very busy. Give me a shout of your go-to recipes, so we can all share!

Happy baking xo

Saturday, 14 May 2011


I have done it again and broken my rule of NOT BUYING ANYMORE COOKBOOKS - bad Claire!

But I saw these 2 and I knew that I would be cooking from them:

This book appealed to me, with the words, healthy and minutes. Plus there are alot of vegetarian recipes in here. Fantastic! Monisha's website is here.

The for some more baking pleasure:

Oliver Peyton is a judge on Great British Menu and he runs very nice restaurants and bakeries in London. I always like getting a good baker's recipes, so when I saw this and the book above on the book people I could not resist.

As always the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I am making dishes from my Indian cook book first. On Monday night I made an aubergine curry. It was straight forward, quick to prepare and cook and very tasty. What more could you want?

On Tuesday I made a spinach and tomato curry.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

the eagle has landed

Time has been running away from me again. After the fun extended break with so many bank holidays, we are now all getting back into our routine of work, school, nursery and home.

Each half term my son's school do a different project. This term it is about the rainforest (so I presume they will do some biology, geography, history etc within the topic). This Friday his class are doing a play about the rainforest. I do have to go to work, but when I saw what they were doing, I booked the morning off. (It's sad when you can't always get to see everything)

Last week, he came home with what he needed to do for the play. Number 1 learn lines, number 2 get an eagle costume together! Oh I do love another job, in our already choc-a-block week. My husband said he would take charge and get it done this week.

So yesterday (Monday) the eldest returned from school saying he needed the costume for today. Plans had to be changed as not all costume materials had been bought.

So with yellow card, that we had from are infamous Daffoldil hat and brown fabrics, left over from my sister's quilt, an eagle outfit was made!

The headpiece was made by my husband.

The wings that I made sewing 4 skinny quarters together, so they would overlap. I then hand cut all the "feathers" into the fabric. Then I hand stitched each wing onto the sleeves of a brown top (purchased for his last school play).

From the front, the graceful eagle still in his pjs.