Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Poached Pears

I love desserts and anyone who knows will vouch for that. But poached pears are not something I would choose form a selection. Too much fruit and not enough of the good stuff. This pear is poached in marsala and spices including cloves and cardamon. The best bit for me is the syrup that you make from the poaching liquer. Pour most of it away and them boil it and it reduces to this sticky sweet sauce. I would happily have that sauce over ice cream. Now don't get me wrong I did like the pudding. The pear was really soft and it tasted nice but it didn't give that MMmmmmm moment when you eat a really good pud.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Raspberry and brown sugar muffins.

Well it's been quite a while since I blogged about my baking but all will be revealed as to why very soon. Just to say I've been busy in the kitchen for lots of different reasons but I can't write about them just yet. Anyway, Raspberry muffins. I'm always wary about making muffins because they seem to have rules and I'm not good at following them. I was taught how to make them at teacher training college, very strange I know but it's the time that stands out. Once all the dry and wet ingredients are put together you should only stir the mixture so many times (the number eludes me but I know it's limited) I don't follow the rule. Mainly because I don't understand it and it's never completely mixed within that special number. If anyone has the answer please tell me. But that is beside the point, it's about the raspberry muffins. Any cake that involves fresh fruit is going to be moist and these are really good, a lovely caramel fruit flavour. The brown sugar on top gives them a slight crunch for a bit of texture, lovely.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Very naughty rocky road cake

What else do you do on a wet afternoon, make a cake. But this is not just any old cake, this is a heart attack inducing cake by the sheer amount of sugar and chocolate involved. It's a rocky road cake so it's a basic chocolate sponge (which I thin I'll try and make as a straight chocolate cake because it looked so good!) with rocky road addition, maltesers, marshmallows, white chocolate and digestive biscuits.

Zoe helped me make this cake so the digestive biscuits did get slightly pulverised so they weren't very obvious in the cake. The quantities for this cake are huge, the sandwich sections rise really well and came above the size of the tin so this cake was really tall, there was also more than enough chocolate buttercream. I could just dive into again. Thankfully now I'm back at work we didn't have to eat this all ourselves!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Minted lamb burger and homemade burger buns

You can't go far wrong with a decent burger. I'm quite a traditionalist and prefer beef with a bit of mustard and ketchup. This was lamb with coriander and a raita sauce. I didn't enjoy it, as usual easy to make etc etc but to me lamb should be enjoyed by itself. Don't get me wrong I like lamb curry but I wasn't keen on this one. Mark enjoyed it but I'm not in a rush to make it again, I think I'll stick to the good old british beefburger.

Now onto the bread rolls, these were meant to be the lovely soft rolls you get from the supermarket, perfect for a burger bun really. As usual with my bread efforts they were more like cannon balls. I don't think I kneaded them for long enough and I over cooked them. Whenever I make bread at the moment I always seem to be in such a rush, it's always last minute. My life is just too busy to spend time giving bread making the effort it deserves. I think I'll stick to cakes, much more rewarding, and soo much quicker!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Toffee Popcorn

I love love love popcorn, I'm quite happy to stick the machine on with a touch of salt, heaven. There were quite a few times at Uni when I would get back late having had a few drinks (ahh back in the day) and would make popcorn on the hob. Looking back it wasn't such a great idea, drunk student, gas hob. Well we all survived and I didn't burn the house down.

Well this one is slightly more complicated. You cook the popcorn as normal in a little oil, but in another pan you heat butter, light brown sugar and golden syrup. All bad things....... Once it's melted together mix into the popcorn a bit at a time. I made a couple of mistakes, first I put the popcorn into a cold bowl instead of leaving it in the pan and then stirred in the caramel, it went cold really quickly so everything got stuck to the bowl. The other was  not to listen to the advice in the book and let it cool down completely first. I was just to eager and burnt my mouth. But aside from the mistakes it was delicious. I also quartered the quantities, I am slowly learning that lorraine loves big portions and it was only me enjoying the popcorn so I was very good and made less than the 6 it serves!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Herb crusted lamb. Vegetarians look away....

This photograph may look quite scary to some people but to me this is heaven on a plate. Ok maybe slightly underdone but it was delicious!. To make the herb crust you whizz up loads of herbs with some bread crumbs and once you've browned off the meat you smear it with english mustard and spread on the crust. I have never cooked lamb like this before and I will make it again. I didn't even bother offering this to the children for their dinner, why waste decent lamb. There is something really special about lamb. If you're going to be paying the extra cost of lamb then it's so much better from the butcher and in Wales why get lamb from the supermarket that's been sent half way round the world. This lamb was really good, so the sides were simple mash potato and peas, can't be beaten.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Spicy Satay Chicken with Vegetable Rosti

This is another one of those combinations where we have the stuff in the house lets make both. It also happened to be a sunday lunchtime despite the fact that we'd been shopping and spent loads of money on food there is never anything for lunch. So in a ridiculously short amount of time before we had to get the children out for their swimming lessons I had to make lunch and this is the result. I'll start with the rosti, quite easy really grate vegetables, in this case carrot and sweet potato, mix with spices and an egg, mould and fry and lastly bake in the oven. Tasty.

Now I'll move onto the good part, the satay chicken. My first experience of satay chicken was probably the same as most people. The funny nobbly looking bits of chicken on a small stick from the supermarket party food aisle. Now if that's all you've ever had you'd probably carry on uite happily eating it. But I'm sorry I'm now officially a satay chicken snob. Proper chicken that looks like chicken, fried and finished with a touch of honey. But the best bit is the satay, peanut butter (given), chilli, soy sauce, mirin and garlic all whizzed up together. Very addictive and we did wish we'd had more chicken to finish it off. But not to worry I had a very nice simple tea of chicken and carrot sticks a few night later. Well we can't let satay sauce go to waste!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Pan-fried balsamic pear salad with pancetta, Gorgonzola and a warm honey dressing.

Anyone who has read my previous posts will know that I don't do fruit in savoury. So this was quite a stretch for me. I have to be honest I saved it for a night when Mark was out, he would not have been impressed with a salad for dinner and I absolutely loved it. In fact I'm really looking forward to having it again. I think it was the cheese and pancetta that saved the pears. I couldn't have a mouthful of just pear but with a bit of cheese or pancetta it was delish, probably from all the salt! I've never had fried pancetta before and I made sure it was really crispy, my word if you could afford it you would never eat normal bacon again, especially if you get it nice and crispy. I'm quite new to blue cheeses too, before I went through the first book I don't think I'd ever tasty any despite my parents best efforts. So this dish will definitely be added to my single nights in, yum.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Spicy Tomato soup with Dinner Rolls

You say tomato soup and you think of Heinz. I wasn't sure if this would work out but it was really delicious with a hint of spice from the Worstershire sauce. Basically you boil tomatoes, add spice and whizz up. The bread rolls are a basic white bread recipe. Since watching Paul Hollywood on the Great British bake off I've discovered that I used to kill the yeast when I added everything to the bowl by putting salt on top of the yeast. Well I was really careful with this mixture and made sure I kneaded it a bit longer. I did however make the mistake of only making up half the recipe. Whenever I make rolls we always end up with a couple uneaten and they go to waste so I halved all the quantities. The problem is, these are quite small rolls so we had to ration them out to make sure we all had enough to eat. Plenty of snack were eaten that afternoon!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Lamb Tagine

I'm not very familiar with the food of northern Africa. When I went through the first book there was a filo pie with a savoury filling but used essence of sweet flavours such as cinnamon. I love cinnamon and this dish does use some. Now I have to admit now that I did miss out a major ingredient from this tagine. It is meant to have pear in it. I am still trying to train myself to put fruit into savoury dishes but I do find it really difficult, everything about fruit in savoury is wrong in my mind. So I wasn't too worried when I discovered that we had no pears in the house when I made this dish. But the missing pears didn't detract from the dish, it was really tasty with a hint of spice and the sweet flavours of cinnamon.

As usual I had some ingredients missing, apart from the pears. We used to eat a lot of cous cous and so assumed we had plenty, no we had a spoonful in the cupboard so I had to use bulgar wheat. It is still tasty but a bit rougher than cous cous. I liked the addition of pine nuts in the cous cous to add a bit of texture. So overall it was a really tasty dish, and maybe next time I'll be brave and add the pears!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Warm and cosy Coq au vin.

Well this is just the sort of dish you need on a day like this. Even writing this now my fingers are so cold I'm struggling to hit the right keys. I admit it isn't the prettiest or most appealing dishes to look at but it would definitely give you that nice warm cosy feeling. I have never cooked coq au vin before, I think growing up we had so many stews that I tend not to make or eat them as an adult. My Mum bless her would try and big them up by giving them a different name but would always be faced with the sulking teenager who would respond with, 'so it's beef stew then'. What an annoying brat I was! But maybe I could start to be drawn back to the nice big bowl of hot stew again. This was really tasty and because I didn't even bother offering it to our children we had massive portions. But I think the big rule to any stew is having the warm crusty bread to go with it. You need something crunchy just to give you a change of texture otherwise you might as well be eating  soup, which for dinner just isn't right.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Granola Bars

I am determined to catch up on my blogs, I am about ten dishes behind and beginning to forget how the cook went and tasted which is the whole point of this so there should be one every day for the next week. I think the problem is I prefer to write about the sweet things. So far I haven't made many of the puddings and sweets in the book so I've got to do something about that. Anyway, Granola bars.. to me these are flapjacks but with fruit and nuts in them, maybe that's the official line anyway, I'm not sure. Usually I avoid anything that contains currants, I'm sure I've told you before that they spoil decent food for me, why spoil a perfectly good flapjack by adding fruit. Well, maybe I'm beginning to be converted. I quite liked the little sweet pockets of the fruit and the odd bit of pecan added a little change of texture. The great thing about these is you can make them to your own preference, so add dried strawberries instead or pistachio nuts instead of pecans. This is a great base to make as you like. Both my children enjoyed these and I think Henry would have polished off the entire tin if he could have had the chance. A great little make without the huge feelings of sweet guilt that usually go along with a cake. Yum.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Chorizo baked fish with sweet potato wedges.

Now officially these two dishes should not have gone together. But we had sweet potatoes in the veg box, along with cherry tomatoes so hey ho. The fish is baked with tomatoes and chorizo and herbs. Anything with chorizo is yummy in our house so this was a winner straight away. The potatoes were a very pleasant surprise. They are cut into wedges and baked in the oven with paprika. Meanwhile you fry off some bacon until it's really crunchy and pour on some maple syrup. Then mix the two together. These potatoes are amazing and I loved them. So what if officially you shouldn't really put maple covered bacon with a chorizo dish, I don't care. I will definitely be making those potatoes again. Just writing this I wish I was having them for tea tonight, there's always tomorrow. x

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Sausage Rolls big night out

It shows how long ago I made these because I made them for a Halloween party! This was a childrens party but they went down better with the grown ups. It's basically puff pastry and pepperoni fingers. These are a real faff to make, and of course Lorraine made it look so simple on the television. You have to get the sausages just the right distance apart to be able to get your fingers in the gap to squash the pastry , too close and my pudgy fingers didn't fit and too far apart all you'd end up eating is pastry. As you can see from the picture they areb't exactly consistent! But saying that, it did make a really nice change from sausage rolls, a bit more grown up. With the pepperoni it did give it a little more of a kick. Very tasty.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Double chocolate cheesecake.

I love any excuse to make a pud and having tea at a friends is one of the best reasons. Ever since I saw this one of the television I've wanted to make it, I cannot justify making a whole pud just for us at home, although if pressed I will. Just to warn you, it goes a long way. It's meant to be made in a nine inch tin which is massive!! I cut the recipe down by a third and made it in an 8 inch tin. Mainly because I'd forgotten to buy enough cream cheese so I was limited.

The base is made of chocolate digestives, and this makes a real difference, although I did eat quite a lot of it before it made it into the tin. I don't like a deep base, so there was plenty left over to munch on. Then it's basically melted chocolate with cream cheese and a little icing sugar. But it's the topping that looks so nice, you mix a little oil with some melted chocolate and it means you can store the pud in the fridge and you can still cut it without splitting the whole thing all over the table. The recipe calls for quite a lot of white chocolate for the pattern but I only had less than half in the cupboard (I tend to raid the white chocolate stash) and I still had more than enough.

You do need cream with this pud, it is seriously rich. But it's really really good and so simple. Definitely a take along pud.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Pork chops in a cider sauce.

As usual it's been quite a while since we eat this one, but I remember it was so easy to make. Fry the chop, let it rest and then make the sauce in the same pan, with cream and cider and a few herbs. Yummy. I like dishes where you can stick the potatoes on to cook and make everything else in the time it takes them to cook. I did let the sauce reduce a bit too much this time, but that seems to happen a lot in our house with so many distractions and a toddler crying with hunger and clutching at your trousers. Thankfully Zoe is getting really good at distracting him in times of need and he seems to find anything she does hilarious. This will be a make again, just need to encourage little ones to eat pork!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Salmon and Sweet potato cakes.

These are quite a nice lunchtime meal although it does have a little work involved. Everything needs to be cooked in advance and then you fry it off as a cake. I have to be honest, I wasn't keen on these, They were really wet when putting them together but I didn't like the flavour. I like sweet potato but I found it too rich with the salmon too. As to them being a bit sloppy but that is probably my fault because I couldn't take the time to squeeze the water out. Not a complete success and we have other fishcake recipes that we usually use so to be honest I think we'll go back to them. Not a criticism just not for us! (Well Mark liked them)

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Just like curries and stir frys we love Paella. I think anything that can be cooked in one pan is the best type of food. This one is pretty similar to our regular recipe, chorizo, chicken prawns, rice and saffron. Can't go far wrong and it was tasty. We had this one last week and have eaten paella again since, but we have reverted to our usual. Probably because Mark just does it, it's his recipe he always makes the paella. It just doesn't taste right whenever I make it. So it gets the thumbs up from us, but we love Paella anyone, so it was never going to be a problem.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Thai Green Curry

When I first read through this recipe I was really shocked: SHOP BOUGHT CURRY PASTE. I couldn't believe it, surely homemade is best. So I closed the book and of course, it's called Home Cooking Made Easy. Doh, why make a paste when you can buy really good ones. There are a couple of additions to make it a little bit more special. Not just paste and coconut milk here. There are peas and basil to start with. All in all a really good curry and now we have the rest of the curry paste for next time which is never a bad thing in case of emergency.

This will be a quiet week for me, not in terms of work but cooking. I've been almost forced not to cook anything from the book this week. It's due to a mixture of professional work load along with my daughters first christmas fayre and I have committed to making an inordinate amount of cakes and cake pops. But it does mean that I can catch up with past makes on the blog, as I've mentioned before I am really far behind. You can probably tell, it's been a while since I made the curry and I can't remember much of the make!!! But it was easy and it was tasty.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Chicken Kiev with roasted carrots

I have to be honest I've been putting this one off for a while now, not because it didn't taste good but because it looks horrendous in the picture. All that orange!!!! In terms of dishes this one includes a whopping three, not including the potatoes. It has the kiev as well as the flavoured butter inside which are separate recipes in the book. The roasted carrots are also another. The kiev is pretty straight forward, bang out the chicken, place a slice of garlic butter in the middle, roll it up and cover it in flour, egg and breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs caused me problems. They are specified as dry breadcrumbs so you can't just whiz up an old crust out of the bread bin. I spent ages wandering around Tesco looking for panko crumbs, which I had definitely seen there (anyone who watches Masterchef Austrailia will know what I'm talking about) . But of course in Tescos ultimate wisdom of what the shopper really wants, they have moved everything around, and in the strangest way and combination of products. It drove me insane, it used to make sense all the things they had together, it's almost as if someone in an office got bored and decided just for fun, lets screw with the people of wrexham......aarrrgghhhhhh. Ok rant over, didn't/couldn't find them. But then I had the most ingenious cooking idea I think I've ever had, anyone with small children will have a box of breadsticks in the house, my house is no exception and for some reason my children wont eat them anymore. But they make the best crispy coating ever!!!! Honestly they were brilliant. They made the dish.

Roasted carrots, well what can you say, put in roasting pan and bake in the oven, done. I also sliced potatoes in a similar way to the chicken recipe because they were yummy. So it may not be pretty but it was pretty tasty.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Butternut Squash Soup with Pain d'epi

In the past few days I've been in contact with a fellow blogger who is making her way through Mary Berrys Baking Bible. I have the upmost respect for both the Lady Berry and also the blogger for what she is undertaking She has over 250 recipes to get through and I think all of them are sweet. When I was making my way through the first book the biggest problem I had was to somehow get rid of all the sweet stuff so that I wouldn't have to eat it all myself. Thank fully I have lots of very willing friends who are prepared to sample my bakes, but what amazes me most is she makes everything look so pretty. Just looking at the photographs of my food, I'm just so pleased to have got another out of the way that I just grab the photo and tuck in.

So as you can see from the photographs above, I don't suddenly have a new career direction when it comes to photography. Thankfully though I do enjoy my labours and I got the chance to make bread. Since watching the bake off I've been desperate to make bread again and there's always a reason not to. Children being one, planning to do for school, laminating, cutting out, report writing etc. But by undertaking a project like this it means you have to do it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not being forced into this I really enjoy it and I loved making the bread. Apart from the very pointy ends I was quite pleased with it too. So often I think I've killed the yeast in the past but after a top tip from Paul Hollywood I'm getting past the salt/ yeast fiasco.

As for the soup, well it was really yummy, warming and tasty with a hint of ginger, even Zoe lapped it up so it must have been ok. So to work on for the next few weeks are my presentation skills. Been a bit lacking, won't see the results for a while as I'm so behind on updating the blog. This whole back to work and lots of cooking is not always a great mix.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Shepherds Pie

You can't beat a decent shepherds pie on a cold autumn evening in my book. My problem is the amount of time it takes to cook them. For most people midweek meals need to take less than 30 minutes from start to finish, well in my house they do. The problem with shepherds pie is you spend all that time making the meat sauce, boiling and mashing potatoes and then after all that you still need to spend at least 30 mins baking it! I'm sure there are people out there who spend their weekends preparing for the mid week situation and have a pie ready in the fridge just to stick in the oven when needed. Well I'm sorry I'm not that person. It's similar to a lasagne really all that work just to get half way there. Saying all that though, I do really like Shepherds pie and this is a pretty good one, very tasty. It's just all too much hard work for my liking.

Monday, 31 October 2011

White chocolate fudge cookies.

Well the cookies in Lorraines first book were simply amazing, everytime I eat a shop bought biscuit I'm always disappointed and wish I'd made the effort to make my own. So these had a lot to live up to! They did not let me don't and were really yummy, although I think I slightly overcooked them so they were more crunchy than chewy but nobody complained too much. In the book Lorraine has a guide number of 6 for these beauties, I got twelve and they were still huge!!! I can't even begin to imagine the size they would be if I only made six. I think I would happily scoff in cookie land all afternoon on a single one!

These are definitely up there with the make it again selection, it will just be a battle between these and the double chocolate, www decisions...... 

Sunday, 30 October 2011


When it comes to Lasagne I think everyone has a favourite recipe. Whether its a cook from scratch each time, or buy the jars of sauce or even ready made stick it in the oven. When it comes to lasagne you know what you like. In our house it's made from left over bolognaise sauce and home made cheese sauce. I very very rarely make a mince sauce especially for lasagne.

So this one was completely from scratch, it has a lot more ingredients than mine and a few missing. It has added pancetta (ours was smoked, don't make the same mistake it's all we could taste!!) and there is no cheese in the white sauce. Her white sauce (as I will now call it) was much easier to make than my normal way, melt butter, add flour stir in milk a little at a time. The difference was that she takes hers off the heat and you get fewer lumps and you feel slightly more in control, added bonus don't need to grate any cheese in a last minute panic.

It did taste really good and I think if we'd had the unsmoked pancetta it would have been better. The children didn't like it, I think it was a bit rich. If I was making lasagne especially then I would probably use this recipe again.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Herb crusted Salmon with Hasselback potatoes and Roasted Brocolli

Well this is a biggy, three recipes in one dish. Thankfully all three were pretty simple to make. Salmon is just covered in herby crust made with parsley and breadcrumbs and baked. The brocolli covered in oil and chilli and baked. But be warned, these are really hot, thankfully I had done half without any chilli on them for the children but I'm sure they were still quite warm even for their well trained curry palates. Finally the potatoes, which have been renamed hedgehog potatoes in our house. These were the trickiest thing to do, you have to cut slices into them without cutting through, I know it sounds really simple, you do it and see how you get on. The one in the photo is the only one that managed to stay whole! They were baked too, so little washing up which is always a bonus.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Chocolate fridge cake

Wow, hadn't realised how long it's been since I last blogged. It's definitely more difficult fitting this in now I'm back at work. I made the almost a fortnight ago now for our Thursday craft group. I've made fridge cake before, but years and years ago. This is a pretty simple one, chocolate, digestive biscuits and maltesers mixed together with a bit of golden syrup and butter. Gorgeous. I think fridge cake is magic, it just doesn't go too hard to eat and it's really yummy with quite a little amount of effort. So all in all not a lot to say about this one, wish I had enough chocolate in the house to make another now........

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Quick Teriyaki Chicken

The first thing to mention with this is, it's quick to cook as long as you've got everything ready first. I had this down as a quick wednesday night dinner because it's the worst night of the week in our house. Both me and Mark worked late, I have staff meetings he teaches after school. It's usually a case of whoever gets home first, get cooking because Mark has to be out again to go to orchestra and the children are usually starving. Well this one took about 20 minutes to cook, which I know isn't that long, but a quick cook for us us is get the rice on and by the time it's cooked everything else is ready.

 Ok time complaint over. It was really easy and it did taste good, there was a lot of sauce to go round  but it didn't really thicken the way I expected it to so stayed like a broth. It tasted good though and the chicken wasn't overcooked.

New recipes always take longer than you think so I will add this one to our quick things to cook mental list. One thing I notice about a lot of Lorraines recipes is that there isn't too much washing up and I like that. This pushed the boat out with three pans, but it's worth it.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Pad Thai

In our house we love love love Pad Thai, I don't know what it is but there is something very addictive about it. We have a recipe that we're happy with, it tastes good and it's pretty simple to make. So to be honest I was a little suspicious about this one, many of the ingredients were different, some were missing and some thankfully are the same. For example this one uses egg noodles, in ours we use rice noodles, also this one has an omelette, ours doesn't.

I was vary weary of that first mouthful, but I cannot believe that I even doubted Lorraine for one second. This explodes with flavour, it was stunning and I was gobsmacked, it was really really yummy. This was as usual pretty easy to make. The problem we have it that we bought a massive bag of monkey nuts when we first made pad thai and we are still making our way through it and that was the only hassle, shelling them. Word of advice, get everything ready before you turn the heat on. If I could stand all the washing up I would do it all the time and pretend I was on Something for the weekend with pretty little dishes. All very cheffy! Pad Thai fans, it may be different but it's really good. Wwww can't wait to make this again.......

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Quick Roast chicken and fresh green buttered beans

Well, were off, but this may be a slower start than last time. The great thing about the new book its that most of it is made up of traditional family meals with a few desserts, breads and treats thrown in for good measure. So the first one tackled was the roast chicken, hey it was a sunday and we've got to eat! I've never quite treated a chicken like this before, cutting up the back and then cracking it's legs. Not the most pleasant way to prepare food. But is tasted really really good. The best thing about this dish was the sauce, we love tarragon in our house and don't use it as much as we should. The potatos though were something else, you just slice them cover in olive oil and a crushed garlic clove and bake them for 45 mins, combined with the gravy they were delish and we really didn't mind that Zoe didn't want her, waste not want not!

I chose the fresh buttered green beans to go with it (there are also a few veggie options) they are cooked then tossed in melted butter and spring onions with a sprinkle of pomegranite seeds, but we got to the supermarket to late for the pomegranite, but we didn't miss it.

Overall a pretty good Sunday dinner in under and hour, we'll definitely be making this one again!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Special delivery!

Well a certain new cook book dropped through my door today and immediately I was devouring the pages within. When I finished Lorraines first book I said there was no way I would be repeating it with the second, but now it's arrived I feel bad not to do it! Looking through the book there are so many recipes that I would want to have a go at anyway that I might as well make them all. But, there definitely won't be the manic mission from last time and make sure I'm blogging everyday, or making so many over the weekend. I'm going to take my time with this book.

But of course I want to make so many dishes for my tea and for sunday night pudding, it will be difficult to decide where to start. The other problem is once you hit a magic recipe, the one that you always go back to time and again, it can be difficult to move on and try the others. I found that with the first book, the chocolate cookies were a magic recipe and the brownie is one that I'm always trying to get just right. But there looks to me like there might be a few new ones to add to that magic list and I really can't wait to try them!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Well it's been a while since I've blogged anything but watching The Great British Bake off it's got me thinking about this again. For anyone that doesn't know I applied to be on the bake off this year. It was missing out on the programme which inspired me to go through Lorraines book. It's sometimes a bit bittersweet watching it and picking out the people who are only there to make sure they've got a spread of backgrounds. I'm not trying to say they don't deserve it but it slightly bugs me. Saying that I am very relieved not to be there, just watching the pastry episode terrifies me, when I was interviewed for the programme I was very honest about my ability to make pastry and I think that's where I lost it. Watching it, everyone seems really good and have been busy practising!! I will continue watching with interest.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Blueberry and Lime cake

Well it didn't take me long to get back into baking again. After promising myself a proper break I just couldn't do it. Anyway we happen to have blueberries and limes in the house, so it would have been a waste not to use them! This recipe was in a Sainsbury's magazine article about Lorraine. Despite cooking everything from the book this is definitely my favourite cake, it tastes absolutely amazing. A friend Niki commented that it was really refreshing, and even for a cake, yes it was. After making this cake I'm also a convert for the creaming method. Yes it does take a little longer but the cake does seem to come out much better. I've been going through a bit of a rough patch with cakes recently, they have all been sinking in the middle half way through cooking, even my old reliable recipe. So this was a huge relief that it worked. I put it down to the oven being too hot so I've cooled things down. I seem to be swamped with cakes at the moment for birthdays and a christening so they've got to come out right first time! It's quite a task feeding cakes, they are like little pets around the place making sure their happy and moist! I'm sure it'll all be worth it.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Jam Roly Poly to the end.

Well, this is it, the final recipe. There is a part of me that can't quite believe it's all over. A friend described it like a wedding, you spend so long planning it, carrying out jobs, getting married and then poof it's all finished and you don't quite know what to do with yourself. There is also a part of me which is completely relieved it's all done. My body has rejected all sweets since I made this on Thursday. As a pud it's pretty simple, although I used lard instead of suet which made a really soft dough, and the jam wasn't very good. Lorraine suggests serving it with shop bought custard, but I didn't quite get to one, so home made it is, and it was a thick as it looks, need to practise that one.

I am planning at some point to go through the book and find some stats, I'd be really interested myself too, the basics like flour, butter, sugar and eggs. Overall I'm really proud of myself. Mark didn't really understand why I wanted to do this or why I felt I had to do it within a certain timeframe. But I'm the type of person who needs a deadline, and then I will do anything I can to beat it to get things done early. Mark is the opposite of that, a deadline to him means he has until that point to work, where as I'm one of those annoying people that would rather do it today than leave it until tomorrow.

So, the actual recipes, my favourites. I was asked today my top three so I'll go with those. At the top of the list has to be the chocolate cookies. I have spent so long trying to find that perfect cookie recipe which is chewy and gooey, mmmmmm. My second is the sausage rolls, mainly because they are so easy and they taste really nice, as well as getting Zoe interested in cooking. The third is a difficult one, there are so many to choose from but probably the white chocolate cheesecake, but also the chocolate melting puds. Basically anything which involved chocolate.

Mark's biggest highlight of this was the Asian Ham, he loved this so much he actually made it himself again a week later. He also loved the macaroni cheese and the fruit cake or tea loaf. Looking through my notebook there are just so many fantastic things; breadsticks, mojito cake, ricotta cake, churros. There are so many that I can;t wait to make again.
This is just one page of the plan, it's taken quite a beating over the last couple of months. My copy of Lorraines book is in a terrible state with pages sticking together. I like to keep my cookbooks pretty tidy, but I like to think it's been well loved. So that's it, all done. I'd like to think that a few people have been inspired to try a few things and I would urge any chocolate fan to try the cookies. I think I'll be taking a bit of time off the baking, both I and Mark are hitting a strict diet when we get back from France. I'm definitely going to enjoy someone elses baking for the next week and where better to go to do it?

Friday, 27 May 2011

Parmesan Lollipops

I thought I'd made some really simple stuff from Lorraine's book, but these are definitely the easiest ever. Simply grate parmesan, add poppy and sesame seeds, place a lollipop stick and bake for about 5 minutes. If you want to make a nice circle shape then use a cookie cutter. These are really tasty, although the flavour is very strong. I took them along to crafty tots and I was really surprised that the children liked them and some of the other mums came up with other ideas for them, using different cheeses and herbs and different seeds. The best thing about these is the speed you can make them. We were running really late and wacked them in the oven for 5 minutes and they had cooled enough to handle within another 5, and in the box and off we went. You don't even need the lollipop sticks for these and they make a nice little snack.

Baked Alaska

This has to be the most ridiculous pudding ever invented. It has a madeira cake base, with strawberry puree and a dollop of ice cream. This is finished off with a meringue coating which crisps up in the oven. My biggest tip for this is use decent ice cream. The ice cream was so horrendous, it was seeping through the meringue and we basically ended up with vanilla milkshake. It tasted really nice, despite the leaking ice cream but I have to say I'm not in a rush to make it again. I thought I would be super prepared and make it and give it plenty of time for the ice ream to harden before baking it. Don't do this, because the ice cream melted I took it out of the oven, but very soon realised that I had completely frozen the cake and strawberries! So all in all a bit of a disaster!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Mojito Genoise

I had been wanting to make this cake for ages once I saw the picture in the book. I am so proud of the way in turned out, sadly I didn't take a picture of the inside but it looked amazing, both sponges rose really well and evenly. This cake is made in a different way to a usual sponge, you have to whisk the eggs and sugar together over hot water for about 15 minutes before adding the butter and flour so you need patience, and a strong arm! For the first time there wasn't enough buttercream, I would double the amounts in the recipe, there was just enough to fill and put a bit on the top never mind the sides. For the nutty coating around the sides you can safely halve the quantities I had so much left over. I love the fact that this cake looks stunning but is really simple. I had a slice with the lime piece and I squeezed it over the cake, yummy. I was a bit confused the with sugar syrup, I think you're meant to pour it onto the cake while its still hot and then again when you put the buttercream on, it isn't clear in the book. But that doesn't really matter because this cake tastes as good as it looks and I will definitely make it again, but will put the rum in it next time.

Pumpkin and Rosemary Muffins

It's taken a while to get round to these, not because I wasn't looking forward to them but the sweet stuff always seem to get there first. I made these for an alternative lunch for myself and the children. I'm always looking for something that is relatively easy to make and doesn't involve bread, and can be made in about ten minutes. Well these are definitely not quick but they did taste pretty nice. Well I thought so, sadly Zoe didn't agree, she had one mouthful and started crying, an unusual reaction but at least she gave them a try. The method is pretty straight forward except when you add the dry to the wet ingredients you're only meant to give them around 8 stirs of the spoon. I don't know how you're meant to get it all mixed in just 8 stirs, I had no chance, there was still loads of clumps of flour so I had to sacrifice the texture for a few more stirs, oh well. I don't think I'll make them again, maybe try a different flavour like cheese but I'm not in a rush, I'll just have to think of something else for lunch next time.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Jam Doughnuts

Here's where the deep fat fryer has it's second outing and is put away for the next ten years! These are quite a lot of faff to make. You make a sweet dough using yeast and then you let it rise. These are meant to be minature ones, but I didn't really have the patience to make that many. Once they had risen and you lift them to get them in the fryer and they sort of collapse in your hands but puff up a little in the oil. I cannot honestly say that any of them look like a doughnut, they are all really strange shapes. But, despite all that, they are doughnuts and they taste pretty good, especially warm and with jam squirted into the middle.

Charlotte Russe

I am really pleased with this one, and it isn't anywhere near as much work as I thought it would be. Lorraine does give you permission to use shop bought sponge fingers, but I thought to be true to the book I better make them myself with her recipe. They tastes the same but I didn't get the batter quite right so when I piped them out they spread so they are massive, as you can see, more like sponge thumbs. Inside is a mango and passion fruit jelly mousse thing, it's made with cream but you add gelatine to it. If you made this with shop bought fingers then it would probably be the easiest and most dramatic pudding in the book. We had loads of sponge fingers left over, Zoe was secretly hoping that Nuzzle and Scratch would appear to eat them up! 

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Banana Souffle

I was ready for these to be an absolute disaster but I'm really pleased with the way they turned out. I had an evening by myself and Mark isn't a huge fans of bananas so I made these. Now the recipe serves four so I quartered everything, which is the main reason why I thought it wouldn't work. There should only have been one but there was plenty for two. I didn't go as far as eating both though. This is seriously sweet and a bit sickly. It's suggested that you serve it with a warm chocolate sauce and I think it definitely would have helped because I really struggled to get through one. The method for this souffle is completely different to the savoury one, it only uses egg whites, a bit like making a mousse. I think I will give these another go because they are so quick, beat egg white and fold in your flavour so I'm keen to have a go at making chocolate ones. Everything always seems to come back to chocolate!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Sausage Rolls

We have made these little sausage rolls so many times now that they have become ingrained as a family meal. The best bit about them is Zoe can help, she rolls up the sausages and 'paints' them with milk. We've discovered that the best sausages to use are skinless ones. These were the first thing we made when I got the book and I think we've made them at least every other week since then. They also freeze really well, so if you make a huge batch you don't need to worry about eating them all in one go. We tend to use half a packet of sausages and puff pastry each time and freeze the rest raw. A definite must make. Roll them up and bake for 20 minutes, lovely.

Creme Brulee

Well, this is the final stretch, the end is near so the blogs will start to come thick and fast now so I can catch up with the baking. Officially I've got 5 left to bake and I aim to make the last thing on wednesday, but that might be a bit ambitious, I've also got a birthday cake to make this weekend so I definitely need to finish before that one. But back to Creme Brulee, or Baked Custard, the custard itself was quite easy to make but I think I may have overwhipped the eggs because they rose and then collapsed after baking so when I cooked the sugar there was still a little pool of raw sugar in the centre. I bought myself a lovely blowtorch, thinking that every kitchen should have one, having never needed one. So I proudly opened the packaging and spent the next 5 minutes trying to get it started without lighting myself up, until Mark pointed out that it probably didn't have any gas in it, disappointment just doesn't cover how I felt, but I won't go into details. So we heated up the grill and above is the result, some quite severe caramelisation I agree but they did have a little snap in places. I love custard so I was quite happy with this pud, but I will try it again once I've got my gas!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

'I don't give a damn' chocolate cake

The selling point for me with this cake is the method. Stick everything in a bowl and mix. That really has to be the best way to make cakes. I don't really understand the science behind why you sometimes have to cream the sugar and butter, or add the wet to dry and visa versa, but there is and I wish I knew why. But this cake just works. The other bonus to stick it all in one place is also, less washing up! This cake has quite a fudgey texture, but isn't heavy. The recipe for the buttercream is also good for this one, it isn't over generous and there is just enough for the cake, so you don't waste any. So a pretty good chocolate cake and with as little washing up as possible.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Lemon and Blueberry Millefuille

This has to be one of the most comedic of all the makes so far, only because of the ridiculous heights these can get to if you stack the three pieces of puff pastry without splitting them. The one in the picture has the two lower pieces with the puff pastry split up. I did make one with the three levels without splitting and it fell over. I don't know how Lorraine makes them stay flat when they are being baked, because these rose in the middle which added extra height. But apart from all that, these are really simple and the lemon cream tastes really nice with the blueberries. I think I will try this again using the chocolate pattisiere, of even make myself a lovely custard slice!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Rum babas

I think this is the first recipe that hasn't really worked for me, but I don't think I can blame the recipe itself. They didn't rise, this could be for any reason but I don't think I put them in a warm enough place or beat them for long enough. They rose a little bit in the oven, but not hugely. But who cares!!! They tasted nice enough, probably a bit stodgier than they should have been, but with a bit of sauce and star anise cream they made a nice enough pud. They have yeast in them so they need a little bit of prep time, not a quick pudding, and of course a nice warm place to put them! This is another pud that I've never tried so I can't compare but I would be really interested to give them a go in a restaurant, but I don't think I've ever seen them, too seventies maybe? So from now on I'm on the look out.

Thursday, 19 May 2011


This is another one of the recipes that I've been looking forward to making for ages, I'd seen Nigella cook them too but there was a problem, oil. The stuff terrifies me, I always have to have Mark helping me when we deep fry anything, I'm always on pins thinking it's about to burst into flames. So I had a look in Tesco and found a deep fat fryer for £14, couldn't believe it, what a bargain. So with the oil heating away, to a set temperature I set to making churros. I've never eaten them so I was assuming they would have a similar texture to doughnuts, but they aren't at all. They are really light, and dangerously moreish, and easy to use. It was quite difficult to make sure there was enough in the bowl to take a photo as I was cooking them because when they are warm they are just amazing. But you have to eat them straight away, they don't last, they get slowly soggier after a couple of hours. A must make, if your brave enough with the oil.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Sticky Toffee Pudding

It's Sunday night and we need a quick pudding, so sticky toffee pudding it is. There is something missing from this one though, dates. Now I like dates, just not creeping up on me in an otherwise quite tasty pudding. I might have mentioned before that I'm halving a lot of the recipes to try and cut down on the amount of pudding that were eating and get through more, rather than having puds in the fridge for a couple of days (ha!), but there always seems to be something I'll forget about and this time it was the baking powder. Well it's quite powerful stuff and these puds basically exploded in the oven, thankfully I keep a baking tray in the bottom so the cleaning wasn't too bad. They tasted good and the sauce on top was amazing, but I could taste the extra baking powder, it was almost a metallic taste. It's awful to say but this was one of the puds that was just a tick on the list, nice but not incredible.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Pear Tart Tatin

This is one of those puds which I've seen being made on television so many times but never attempted before. Anything which involves caramel is always going to be popular with me so I was quite looking forward to this. It is really a lot easier than I thought, basically create a syrup with butter and brown sugar and then add fruit and darken the caramel as much as you dare. The fruit juices will stop the caramel from burning. Then stick some puff pastry on the top and bake.  Now anyone with the book will notice that the picture isn't quite the same. I didn't take as much trouble over peeling the pears and they were really ripe so kept getting squashed in my hand. The other thing you might notice is that you can see the centre of the pears and not the outside. I thought I had been really careful to turn them all over before putting the pastry on top, but as you can see I got it completely wrong, oh well, thankfully it all tastes the same!