Thursday, 31 July 2014
If any of you have been reading my blog for a while now, you will know that I am an absolute fan of gnocchi! It's one of my cupboard staples and something which I try to use in a variety of ways. I am always stretching the boundaries somewhat . . . seeing how far I can take it, usually with quite tasty results.
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Tuesday, 29 July 2014
We had the Missionary Sisters over for supper last Tuesday night and I cannot believe I am only getting to now tell you about these beautiful tarts that I made for our desserts! I suppose half a week pretty much without internet has really made me fall behind on my posts. But I am showing them to you today and that is what counts!
Monday, 28 July 2014
If you are like me you get so busy during the week that it can sometimes be really hard to get a decent meal on the table. Plus the weather this time of year is so hot, you don't really want to put the oven on for anything. Quick one pan suppers like this delicious Lemon and Chicken Stir Fry are just the ticket!
Sunday, 27 July 2014
I am happy to announce that I have finished my latest cookbooklet entitled Just Desserts! I think this is my best one yet. It is certainly one of my largest ones with a total of 42 pages filled to overflowing with lovely dessert recipes, and handy hints and tips from my kitchen to yours.
It's broken down into no less than EIGHT delicious chapters, including . . . "It's only Fruit" . . . (Hot Buttered Cherries, and Stuffed Figs plus more) . . . "Indulgently Creamy" . . . (Chilled Rose Souffle's, Rhubarb Fool and more) . . . "Trifles" . . . ( three very different versions) . . . "Let Them Eat Cake" . . . (Sour Cherry Cake, Pineapple and Macadamia Cake, to name just two) . . . "Pies, Tarts and Crumbles" . . . (Bramble Pie, Plum and Almond Crumble plus more) . . . "Meringues and Clafoutis" . . . (Strawberry Meringue Cake, Chocolate Vacherin, Blackberry Clafoutis and yes, more) . . . "Cookies, Brownies and Bars" . . . (Spicy Aztec Brownies anyone?) . . . "Bits and Bites" . . . (all those finishing recipes for sauces, pastry, curd, etc.) All in all, there are FORTY THREE delicious recipes that are some of my family favourites and are destined to become yours.
Interspersed amongst the recipes are little snippets of art, hints and tips and delightful quotes. Have you always wondered what the secrets are to baking really good cakes? Wonder no more. All of my secrets to success are right here, and it's available to you now for the same low price as all of my others at only £5.
This will be delivered to your e-mail as a downloadable PDF file, ready to print or store on your computer as you desire within 24 hours of your payment clearing. If ordering please make sure you have the latest version of Adobe Reader enabled, and that my e-mail address is in your safe folder! Also as the file is rather large make sure you have enough room to receive it!
Also at this time I would like to offer you the option of buying four out of my cookbooklet collection for the low price of £15. You can choose any four titles you wish. Just be sure to message me on the payment invoice which four you want to purchase! This is a real bargain, giving you one title for free!
Available Titles include . . .
A Very Royal Tea Party
The Great British Picnic
Christmas in the English Kitchen
Recipes to Keep
Spring Into Summer
Any four titles including the latest one for the low price of £15. Please note that all booklets come with my same no quibble refund guarantee if you are not satisfied with your purchase.
Thanks so much for looking and have a super day!
We've been suffering with a "Heat Wave" here in the UK over the past week. The temperatures have been downright almost unbearable. I am not a person that copes well with heat, especially when you combine it with high humidity. It just saps all of my energy and I don't feel like doing much of anything at all. On top of that we have had a really poor telephone connection these past couple of weeks and really bad internet connection all this week, which meant about two days ago it stopped working pretty much completely, only allowing us to get online for about 2 minutes at a time. Just long enough to tease you. Very frustrating to say the least. Happy to say an engineer was here for most of this morning and we are now back to snuff, telephone and internet.
The upshot of this is I was able to finish a commissioned piece of artwork, a new cook-booklet (Just Desserts) and I made no less than three different ice creams to tempt you with! Yes when the temperatures rise, I want ice cream! I never seem to crave it any other time of year . . . but during the dog days of summer, ice cream is my friend.
My ice cream maker never gets used near enough. Probably because it's one of those type that you have to freeze the churning bowl first. Half the time I never have room enough in the freezer to use it. This week I made room.
This first ice cream is Rocky Road. Not Rocky Road as it is known in North America, but Rocky Road as it is known over here in the UK, a delicious square made from chocolate, marshmallows, biscuit bits, cherries etc. (If you click on that link it will take you to my rocky road recipe)
This delicious chocolate ice cream incorporates all of those flavours. I have to say chocolate ice cream is not my favourites, but this went down a real treat! Probably because it has been so flippin' hot!
*Rocky Road Ice Cream*
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Where do I start, marshmallow, chocolate, coconut, candied cherries and peanuts. What's not to like!
450ml of double cream (2 cups)
450ml of milk (2 cups)
250g of bittersweet or dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (70% cacao, 8 ounces or 1/2 pound)
4 large free range egg yolks
100g sugar (1 cup)
30g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (1/4 cup)
40g roasted peanuts (1/4 cup)
45g candied cherries (1/4 cup
a handful of mini marshmallows (about 1/4 cup)
2 TBS shredded coconut
Heat the milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to the boil, then remove from the heat. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour in half of the hot cream. Stir until it is melted and combined. Beat the egg yolks, sugar and cocoa together in a medium bowl, until pale and creamy. Gradually pour in the remaining hot cream and the chocolate mixture, whisking to combine well together.
Return the custard to the saucepan and simmer over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until it coats the back of a metal spoon. Remove from the heat and let cool, about 30 minutes.
Pour the custard mixture into an ice-cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions as per your machine, until almost frozen. Add the peanuts, cherries, marshmallows and coconut. Churn for a further 3 minutes. Transfer to a freezer container, cover with baking paper and freeze until you are ready to serve.
Next I made coconut ice cream. I do love the flavour of coconut. Mounds bars are one of my favourite chocolate bars. If you drizzle chocolate sauce on this delicious coconut ice cream . . . well, it be just like a Mounds Bar! It's a very simple recipe which doesn't involve making a custard.
*Coconut Ice Cream*
If you love the flavour of coconut, this delicious ice cream is for you. It uses coconut milk and palm sugar for a real depth coconut taste! Coconut Palm sugar can be purchased via Amazon, or at health food shops.
100g of granulated sugar ( 1/2 cup)
100g of grated Palm sugar (1/2 cup)
180ml of water (3/4 cup)
400ml of coconut milk (1 1/3 cups)
225ml of heavy cream (1 cup)
shredded coconut or coconut curls to garnish (toasted)
Combine the sugar, palm sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Bring to the boil. Remove and stir in the coconut milk and cream. Refrigerate until cool, about 30 minutes. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers directions for your particular machine. Transfer to a freezer container, cover with cling film and freeze until you are ready to serve it.
I have to say that one of my all time favourite desserts has always been Rice Pudding. So when I found this recipe for a Rice Pudding Ice Cream, years and years ago in our local newspaper I had to clip it out and save it. I can't believe it took me this long to make it! This was my absolute favourite of the three ice creams. Do make the chocolate sauce. It's just wonderful!
*Rice Pudding Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce*
One of your favourite pudding flavours in a delicious ice cream. Don't skip the chocolate sauce! It's great!
450ml of milk ( 2 cups)
150g of short grain or pudding rice (3/4 cup)
1 vanilla pod, slit open lengthwise
50g of sultana raisins (a generous 1/4 cup)
the finely grated zest of one orange
the finely grated zest and juice of one lemon
2 TBS honey
For the sauce:
250g of bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped (8 ounces)
374ml of milk (1 1/2cups)
2 scant tsp of corn flour (cornstarch)
50g of sugar (1/2 cup)
Combine the milk, rice, vanilla pod, and raisins in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat. Stir in the salt. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the rice is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid, about 15 minutes. Take off the heat and discard the vanilla pod. (I rinse these off, dry them really well and stick them in my sugar canister.) Let cool, stirring it from time to time.
Stir in the orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice and honey. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers instructions.
To prepare the sauce the sauce, combine the chocolate and half of the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to the boil. Dissolve the corn flour in the remaining milk and whisk this into the hot mixture along with the sugar. Stir constantly over low heat until smooth and thickened. Keep warm.
Spoon the frozen ice cream into serving dishes and drizzle with hot chocolate sauce to serve.
I hate to be a party pooper, but they say the heat wave will come to an end tomorrow, and I for one am welcoming the prospect of being able to sleep without feeling too uncomfortable!
Friday, 25 July 2014
Everybody wants to eat healthy, and even websites that aren't related to food will try to give you advice about how to get rid of that bingo belly. However, those recipes aren't necessarily really healthy. Here, we will give you a truly healthy recipe that includes the four food groups and is also tasty.
Swap the Pan for a Grill
A key factor in eating healthy is to start using the grill instead of rushing to your frying pans. Frying pans cook food by simmering the contents in fat. And where does that fat go? Your food absorbs it and forces you to consume much more saturated fat than you should. But that’s where your grill comes in!
· 1 diced plum tomato
· 1 cup of rinsed black beans
· 1 cup of fresh corn kernels (two ears)
· 2 tablespoons of cornmeal
· 1 pound of prepared whole-wheat pizza dough
· 1/3 cup of barbecue sauce
· 1 cup of shredded mozzarella
For the black beans, you can purchase a can. They will still taste great, and will also make the cooking process that little bit easier – but don’t forget to rinse them first. Otherwise you risk exposing your pizza to unpleasant dark goo, which will surely put off any kids from sampling what is a delicious dish.
Another recommendation is to use smoked mozzarella to help contribute to the overall smoky vibe of the pizza. However, you can just make to do with regular mozzarella if you find the smokier kind difficult to source.
A final piece of advice for the ingredients is to stick to the prepared whole-wheat pizza dough, as preparing your own from scratch is an incredibly difficult task. Do yourself a favour and just buy the premade. There will be no battling against the stickiness of the dough.
Simply the cooking process by undertaking some advanced preparation of your ingredients. The sure-fire to not delivering the best possible dish is by leaving yourself too much work to do during the cooking process. Instead, why not have all of your ingredients ready to go? You can toss those black beans and diced tomatoes with salad greens and healthy vinaigrette in advance.
Core Cooking Process
Preheat your grill to a medium temperature, taking care to leave the door open. The oven and then your kitchen will only fill with smoke if you leave the door closed.
Take all of the pre-prepared ingredients – the tomato, beans and corn – and mix them together in a bowl. Let those wonderful flavours combine while you sprinkle the two tablespoons of cornmeal over a large baking sheet.
Position the pound of dough on the baking sheet and start to knead it into a circle, taking care to leave the cornmeal in position underneath. The aim is to coat the entire underside of the dough so that it can later be removed seamlessly from the sheet.
The time to remove the pizza base comes when you are ready to place it on your grill tray. The next stage is to cook the base for four to five minutes and without any of the other ingredients. Cook the dough until the crust rises and the bottom is lightly browned.
Take the base out of the oven once it has been browned and the crust has risen. Spread the barbeque sauce on the base, then following by adding the mixture of tomatoes, corn, and black beans, closely followed by the smoky mozzarella cheese.
Return the pizza to the grill and let cook for another four to five minutes, by which point the cheese will have melted and the crust browned further. Finish by letting the pizza stand for a minute before cutting it into six scrumptious slices.
The original recipe gives you protein, grains, fruit, and vegetables from the beans, whole-wheat dough, tomatoes, and corn. However, you can make simple tweaks to add or replace ingredients, as you so desire.
For instance, people that don’t like barbeque sauce can replace this ingredient with salsa. A different option is to increase the lean protein consumption by adding chicken or Quorn and taking away the mozzarella. The beauty of cooking is that you can explore the possibilities with your friends and family.
Here we are with day three of the Crispy Chicken recipes. This is the second recipe using the leftovers from that delicious Crispy Chicken with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce. If you didn't cook extra you are going to regret that decision now!
Thursday, 24 July 2014
You remember those delicious crispy fried chicken breasts I showed you yesterday? Well I hope you cooked extras because today I am going to show you something delicious to do with the leftovers! I told you I always cook extras and today and tomorrow I am going to show you just why I do that!
This is a delicious salad with crisp fresh salad greens . . . I used baby rocket (arugula), baby gems and baby spinach . . . crisp French radishes, fresh cucumbers from the garden, crispy salad onions, toasted pecans, and crumbled feta cheese . . . and yes, fresh sweet blueberries that are coming into season now!
You top all of that with some sliced crispy chicken . . . of course you can use frozen crispy chicken that you buy at the shops, but I am really hoping you have saved some from yesterday because that's the best. But that's not all . . . I have created a delicious blueberry dressing to drizzle over the salad . . .
Sweet and tangy with a bit of heat from the Dijon mustard, it goes so well with all of the elements of this salad. The sweet berries . . . bitter greens . . . hot little radishes . . . the salty creaminess of feta cheese . . . those crunchy toasty roasted pecans . . . crisp fried chicken chunks . . . the bland almost melon-like coolness of those crisp edged cucumbers.
There is nothing about this salad that isn't pleasing. Easy and quick to make. Pretty to look at with all of those colours and textures . . . delicious to eat. Plus the added bonus of being a tasty way to use up leftovers. And pretty darned healthy if I don't say so myself.
BON APPETITE! (As Julia would say!)
*Crispy Chicken Salad with a Blueberry Vinaigrette*You can either make your own breaded chicken breasts for this or use frozen breaded chicken breasts that you cook at home from frozen. Either way it is delicious.
and handful of radishes, trimmed and quartered
1/4 tsp garlic powder
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk all of the salad dressing ingredients together to combine. Set aside.
Place your salad greens into a shallow salad bowl. Add the cucumber, radishes and blueberries, toss to combine. Top with the toasted nuts, the chicken, the onions and the feta cheese. Drizzle with the dressing and toss together to combine. Serve immediately.
Alternately the ingredients can be layered into individual salad bowls and the dressing passed at the table.
Alternately the ingredients can be layered into individual salad bowls and the dressing passed at the table.
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
We're having a heat wave. Normally I would like to be cooking on the barbeque, but the Toddster doesn't really "get" barbequing, and I am afraid of the barbeque. (gas) One of these days we will make it pay for itself, but until then I am trying my best to stay as cool as I can in the house and wishing we could barbeque. I shall just have to overcome my fears and get with the program!
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
I contend that there is no such thing as a boring salad. When we were first married Todd would moan when I would say that I had made a salad. He soon learned that my salads were nothing to turn your nose up at and more than a little bit interesting!
Monday, 21 July 2014
WE do love a good cobbler in this house. We grow all of our own soft fruits in our back garden . . . black currants, strawberries, raspberries, tayberries, gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. We don't get a lot of anything at any one time . . . not yet anyways. The bushes are all still young and so at best we get things in dibs and dabs.
I tend to freeze a lot of it so that eventually I end up with enough to make a pie or some such with them. Hopefully with each year that passes, and as we add more bushes and plants, we will one day end up with a plethora of berry goodness. We do have a lot of strawberries now each season. It's taken almost four years to get to that point. The rest will eventually catch up as well, but in the meantime I make a lot of bumbleberry goodies.
There really is no such thing as a bumble berry . . . it's basically a name you give to a pie or dessert which has been created using at least three different berries . . . all "bumbled" together, and so it was with this Bumbleberry Cobbler which I baked for the missionaries when we had them for supper last Tuesday evening.
Containing random bits of all of the berries we have available at the moment . . . this cobbler had blueberries and blackberries from last year in it (we are still waiting for ours to ripen this year) mixed with black currants, tayberries and raspberries . . . the only real requirement being that there be at least three different types of berries . . .
Lightly flavoured with lemon sugar and topped with a crumbly buttery, vanilla infused scone topping . . . and baked until the berries are all bubbling up and sweet . . . the scone topping is browned and crisp . . . and the whole thing together is one delicious mass of tasty cobbler goodness . . .
Served warm . . . each bowl holding a portion of that thickened sweetened fruit, along with some of that buttery cobbler topping . . . and topped with a dollop of clotted cream, this dessert delights all of the senses. In short . . . it went down a real treat and the platter was licked totally and completely clean. I love it when that happens. Job done.
Serves 8 to 10
A gorgeous juicy mixed berry filling topped with a crumbly, butter, vanilla infused scone topping. What's not to like about this?
For the filling:
850g of mixed summer berries (raspberries, blackberries, tayberries, blueberries, etc.) (6 cups)
200g granulated sugar (1 cup)
the finely grated zest of one lemon
3 TBS plain flour (all purpose)
For the topping:
158g of plain flour (1 cup plus 5 TBS all purpose)
6 TBS granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
6 TBS butter, chilled, cut into bits
1 large free range egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBS granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
To serve: (all optional)
Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5. Butter a deep nine inch square baking dish. Set aside. Alternately you can use a 10 inch round quiche dish.
Mix together the sugar, lemon zest and flour for the filling. Place the berries into a bowl. Toss together with the flour mixture and pour into the prepared baking dish, spreading them out evenly and making sure all of the sugar, etc. is evenly distributed.
Whisk the flour for the topping together with the sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Drop in the butter. Rub it in with your finger tips until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Whisk the egg and vanilla together with a fork and then toss this into the flour mixture, tossing it all together until evenly moistened. It should be clumpy. Scatter this over top of the fruit as evenly as you can. Mix together the granulated sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle this evenly over all.
Bake in the preheated oven until the topping it golden brown and the filling is cooked through and bubbly, some 45 to 50 minutes. Cover lightly with some aluminium foil halfway through the baking time to prevent the topping from over-browning. Serve warm with clotted cream, ice cream, whipped cream or pouring cream.
Sunday, 20 July 2014
Saturday, 19 July 2014
Friday, 18 July 2014
I had in my mind to make Friands today, but not just any friands . . . raspberry and marshmallow friands. I went to the shops and picked up some lovely fresh raspberries and a bag of pink and white mini marshmallows and got home only to discover I had no ground almonds. I hate it when that happens.
Thursday, 17 July 2014
There are some days when you just don't feel much like cooking. We all get them. Even I have those days once in a while. Those are the days when I just can't be bothered to do much of anything, and yet . . . I am still hungry and we do need to eat.
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
When I was 9 years old I saw the Disney film, The Moonspinners, starring Haley Mills. It instilled in me a hunger to visit Greece, which has remained a dream for me up until this very present day. It is on my bucket list of things I want to do before I die and God willing one year I will actually make it!
Greece is set once more to become a prime holiday destination for Brits this summer, following an increase of 11% in the number visitors from the UK in 2013. Greek speciality foods producer Gaea has created a beautiful hat trick of recipes using it's authentic tapenades and top quality Greek olive oils to get sun seekers into Greek holiday mode!
Promising a heavenly taste of sun-kissed Greece, this three-course extravaganza features delicious offerings from the Gaea range, and offers a wonderfully unique chocolate mousse that combines chocolate and the finest Greek olive oil.
Enjoy your meal!
*Greek Salad Couscous with Kalamata Olive Tapenade*
Serves 4 to 6
Serves 4 to 6
extra virgin olive oil
the grated zest of one lemon
pinch of ground cinnamon
*Meat Balls with Sweet Red Pepper and Goat Cheese Tapenade*Serves 4 to 6
This is an easy to make deliciously simple recipe!
500g of ground lean beef (a generous pound)
6 to 8 TBS plain dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted (small handful)
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
4 TBS finely chopped green bell pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 TBS dried mint
2 TBS ouzo
140g flour (1 cup)
cooked, warm spaghetti (optional)
Homemade Tomato Sauce (optional)
Grated cheddar, Parmesan or Greek kefalograviera cheese (optional)
Once fried, the meatballs may be eaten along, packed inside flat breads, or served covered with tomato sauce with spaghetti and for extra Greek authenticity, sprinkle with kefalograviera cheese.
*Chocolate Mousse with C.O.P. Extra Virgin Olive oil*Serves 4
chocolate flakes and whipped cream for topping
Olive oil in Greece, which dates back 4000 years, is globally acknowledged for its purity and exceptional taste. More than 80% of the Greek olive oil is extra virgin, which is the top-ranked classification category in the world. This constitutes Greece as the world’s largest producer of extra virgin olive oil. Gaea’s extra virgin olive oil’s superior quality is appreciated by the international trade, which is the reason why Gaea’s exports to all markets are constantly increasing at a fast pace. Moreover, Gaea produces the 1st Extra Virgin Olive Oils in the world that have been certified Carbon Neutral!
Natural ingredients from Gaea – the Greek “Mother Earth” are finely chopped, crushed, or blended to make Gaea’s unique tapenades. They are flavoured with other ingredients such as garlic, herbs and lemon, and can be served as a Greek- meze, the typical Greek appetizer to savour and share. Gaea’s tapenades:
Are exclusively made from natural ingredients
Are combined by traditional, authentic recipes of the oldest and healthiest Mediterranean cuisine and serving suggestions.
For more recipe suggestions check out the Recipe Folder on the Gaea website.