Saturday, 30 April 2011

Coffee Cream Profiteroles

I've been looking forward to making these. The last time I made shoux pastry was with my mums help and they were for a family party so I'm not sure how much of the cooking I actually did. But they were a lot easier than I though they would be and we got enough out of the mixture for five mini croquembouche. The outside is meant to be covered with spun sugar, as you can see from the picture this didn't quite work out, it ended up as a crunchy caramel instead. I gave it two attempts, the first time the sugar dissolved but then cooled far to quickly in the water bath so it became solid and the second time it wouldn't cool enough. This one is definitely going to need more practise. But we still got the texture and flavour. I also made a warm chocolate sauce on the side, can't have profiteroles without chocolate sauce!!!

Friday, 29 April 2011

Vanilla Tuille Biscuits

Hands up all those who have had a thin vanilla biscuit with your ice cream. Well this is Lorraine's version. Mine aren't quite as thin as you'd expect them to be and I didn't manage to get them to curl round my rolling pin. I made these as an Easter present for Marks Nanna and I think they went down well, I had a couple of little leftovers which were lovely with a good cuppa tea. The only fiddly bit with these is having to make a template of a circle and then spread the mixture over it and lift it off, a really messy job, I ended up with vanilla gunk all over me. But then mess is all part of cooking, it's just a shame there isn't someone to tidy it all up.

Thursday, 28 April 2011


Welcome to the seventies! Only just noticed that the tablecloth is also completely in keeping with the food! But these are not filled with the mushroom or chicken stews of the past, these are filled with a pretty simple feta (yum) pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. I wasn't expecting great things from these, I used shop brand puff pastry (I'm being a real wimp about making my own!) and they got a bit burnt. Considering all that though they proved to be really popular. I was really impressed, they tasted really nice, and if I had any ingredients left I'd be taking them along to a royal street party, but they'll just have to make do with fairy cakes instead!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Mascarpone and Strawberry Swiss Roll

What a lot of trouble I had with this one. Wouldn't think it, I've made swiss roll before, I think I even made it in a school cookery class, but with this, you'd think it was the most difficult thing to make in the whole world. My first attempt didn't rise very much and then I couldn't get it off the backing paper, I ended up shredding it as I pulled. This pud was for a family meal so it had to be made. So I decided to start again, this is all an hour before we have to go (all very Masterchef!). Get everything out, not enough eggs. But I do have a lot of egg whites from all the pastry I've been making so I substitute an egg for two egg whites, it'll be fine. Well, it rose, sort of and I managed to get it off the paper but it went all funny. The cake that was touching the paper had a very strange texture, it was really smooth and smelled like pancakes. But it had to do, so I spread out the mascarpone cream, added the strawberries and rolled. Everyone was very polite about it, but it did just taste like a fancy pancake. I'm sure this isn't a true reflection of what it should have been so I'll have to try this one again. The cream was really yummy though.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Fig and Mint Tart

The last time I eat a fig I ended up with a raging sore throat for about a week so I wasn't looking forward to this one much. Thankfully my parents are huge fig fans so I took it along for a dish as part of a family lunch. In the book Lorraine says to eat it with a rocket salad, but we were very confused as to whether it should be sweet or savoury. Well, as it turned out everyone chose to have it for dessert. Everything in it is geared towards sweet; honey, figs, cream cheese, cream, mint but the pastry is savoury. As a sweet it wasn't quite sweet enough for me and was a little to sweet for a savoury so we all decided it would make a perfect starter. But whenever you decide to eat it, it's really delicious. On another plus side, I feel like I'm slowly beginning to conquer pastry, as long as I take my time.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart

If you own Lorraines book, or if you don't then borrow one, but whatever you do make this tart!!! This is the most delicious thing I have eaten for a long time. If you don't like hazelnuts then just miss them out, I'm not a huge fan but they didn't spoil it in any way for me. The chocolate pastry isn't as scary as it sounds because you can patch it up and make little chocolate biscuits with any leftovers. Lorraine gives quite clear instructions about getting this out of the tin, which I did try and follow, you have to try and separate it from the tin before you bake it and then get it out of the tin quite soon after its cooked. Well I had a complete nightmare. I got the side off but just could get it off the base, every time I tried to lift it I was splitting it, so I ended up serving it on the base and it turns out it was just one little stubborn spot was stuck to the bottom, ggrrrrr. But who cares when it tastes sooo goooodddd!!!!!!

Saturday, 23 April 2011


I've never tried Baklava, I'm not a huge fan of nuts and despite being a fan of try before you buy I've never been tempted at food markets. This recipe is quite scary, not for the method, which is pretty straight forward, but the sheer quantities of butter and sugar involved. I thought the meringue was bad this is incredible! I did have a bit of trouble with the sugar syrup, you cook it and boil until it thickens. I was boiling it for ages but just not thickening, so I tweeted Lorraine for advice, she replied pretty quickly and thankfully it didn't need to thicken too much so I just poured it over the pastry and it soaked it all up. I offered this Baklava to quite a few people and their first reaction was that they'd never had a piece quite so big, but I was just following instructions and made 16 pieces!! I did enjoy it, but one piece was definitely enough for me, despite me having a sweet tooth. Most of it has gone to family who are bigger baklava fans than me and I'm glad they enjoyed it.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Passion Fruit and Lime Meringue Pie

From looking at the picture above you'd probably think that everything had gone pretty well. Well I'm afraid it's all a big cover up. I very carefully put the passion fruit through the sieve to get all the juice and pushed through the pulp, then left it to seep while the children were put to bed. Came back and made a start on the rest of the filling, the pie case had already been baked in advance. I've never really used cornflour in cooking and didn't know what it would do but once it was heated with the sugar and lime it thickened really quickly. I was just starting on the meringue when I realised I hadn't put the passion fruit pulp into the mixture, so I quickly mixed it in and it seemed quite thick and I thought the eggs would help once it was baked so crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. It;s pretty safe to say that it didn't really work all that well, as you can see above it looked ok when it was hole. But the picture below gives a better version. All the juice that hadn't been cooked through with the cornflour has leeched out and the filling collapsed. The other thing about the recipe is that you're meant to put half the passion fruit seeds into the filling, which I did. I wouldn't recommend it though, it makes the eating quite hard work, enjoying your pudding and then a sudden crack on a seed. You're teeth are in enough trouble as it is with all the sugar involved!!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Chicken Pie

This is one of the few savoury dishes I've got left to do, and most of them involve pastry! This chicken pie has a lovely creamy sauce with tarragon, which I absolutely love, I am a huge aniseed fan so this was right up my street. I'm not sure if it's because I baste the pastry with milk but sometimes the pastry can taste a little strange, and not quite like normal shortcrust. Maybe its the butter or flour I use, or even the egg but something doesn't seem quite right. I'll keep trying, I've got quite a few pastry dishes coming up in the next few days with easter lunches so I'll have to push the boat out and use a proper eggy wash to glaze the pastry instead. This was a tasty pie, Zoe is slowly become accustomed to pastry so it might become quite a staple in our house!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Carrot Cake

I like carrot cake, it's not something I would immediately go for, especially where chocolate is involved. This is a huge cake, a 9 inch diameter and is meant to be three layers but I stuck to just two. I don't think I have ever grated so much carrot in my life! My issue was my sugar, I got it down from the back of the top cupboard to discover it was one huge lump! I had to spend ages sticking it in the food processor just to make it usable. So despite the fact that this should have been a quick bake it turned into a huge debacle, but it was completely worth it. It was really moist and even a couple of days later it still tasted great. Highly recommend this bake, the icing is also really yummy!!!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Asian Ham

Well this little fella is causing quite a stir in our house. I'm learning pretty quickly that if you see something on offer that you know your going to need for a future recipe, then buy it. So last week in Sainsbury's big joints of gammon were half price, brilliant! So Saturday night I set to soaking this beast over night. Sunday boiled it for two hours with various flavourings in the water, and finally creating a sticky coating to then stick it in the oven. Well, you might notice on the photo the odd bit of caramelisation! Quite a lot of smoke filled our house when this came out of the oven. But it was completely worth it. Now Mark likes his food and he puts up with quite a lot of new things which he will smile and comment that yes it's nice while I tell him all the things that are wrong with it. But this, I simply can't stop him from talking about it, I've never known him to be so determined to eat every last morsel of something. We have had it as part of our lunches and dinners and because it's so huge it should last us all week. Mark is already planning for us to make it again at the weekend! Perhaps I should introduce him to the recipe and the cooking facilities!  Going through the book I'm not so keen on going back and doing things again until I've finished, apart from a couple of things, like the cookies, and the mac n cheese which we now have regularly.

Going through my lists yesterday I worked out I had 39 dishes to go, out of 105. So the end is slowly coming into view. Most of the things left know are sweets and random savouries with a couple of Souffles. There also seems to be a frightening number of pastry dishes, looks like I'll be getting plenty of practise over the next couple of weeks!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Fondant Fancies

Ooooo Fancy! These are tasty little cakes with marzipan, buttercream and a fondant covering. I wasn't too sure about these, they looked like a lot of work but yet again, they were really delicious. Bake a cake, cover with marzipan, cut and fill with buttercream and then cut and cover with a really messy icing. They do take some time because after each stage you have to put them in the fridge. I had some royal icing left over from Zoe's cake so I used that on the top. Anyone with the book will have the original picture to compare them to, be warned these are not as dainty as the picture would suggest. I used the right sized tin and they were huge things! They are about 4 times the size of a french fancy by Kipling. Worth every bite though!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Victoria Sandwich

Underneath all this icing is Lorraine's Victoria Sandwich cake. With Zoe's third birthday coming up I didn't really want to veer away from the book so I used the victoria recipe. All Lorraine's sponges follow the same method of creaming the eggs and sugar and then adding the eggs and the flour. The problem is whenever I add the eggs they start to look like scrambled eggs, Lorraine suggests adding a bit of flour to make it smoother but to me it doesn't really work. I'm used to a sticking it all in the bowl and beating it all together. They were cooked in sandwich tins, but they didn't bake very evenly despite being on the same shelf, so when I sandwiched them together I had to use quite a lot of buttercream to get an even surface for the cake, which I hate having to do. Really I should have started again, but there are not enough hours in the day. I will give this one another go but keep it as a good old Victoria Sandwich cake.  

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash

This was another one of those dishes that I wasn't really looking forward to, maybe because it just looks too healthy! But I am a convert and even more surprisingly so is Mark. It is meant to be made with quinoa but I used cous cous, its packed with chilli, feta cheese, herbs and roasted peppers and it was really, really tasty. It was more than enough to fill us for a lunchtime. Yummy!

Friday, 15 April 2011

Cupcakes! mmmmmmmm

There is nothing quite like a good cupcake. Lorraine's are pretty traditional although once they've baked you pour a warm sugar syrup into which is meant to make them moister. Yet again the quantities prove that you can make more that you think, I made the twelve and got a couple more out and even the first twelve were overflowing in the oven. I made these for a coffee morning at Zoe's playgroup so I didn't get to taste one, seems strange buying back a cake that you've made yourself. I did have a little taste without buttercream and they did seem light but I found that the syrup made them quite greasy. But all in all a nice cake, and as usual a decent portion size!!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Maple and Coffee Pannettone

This was another Wrexham Orchestra special. Now the recipe states that you need a 7inch deep round tin. Well I though my tin was pretty deep but not quite enough, as you can see from the picture, it rose almost double the height of the tin. It was enormous! I think it was another case of it being left to rise for a little too long because when it was baked it didn't have that dense nature of a traditional pannettone and spreading butter on it would have been pretty tricky. To cut it I had to slice it horizontally first and have two separate cakes it was so tall. I did like the maple and coffee flavour. I love maple syrup but I would have had a lot of trouble getting through this one on my own!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Bakewell Tart

Not a lot of planning went into this one. I'd bought shortcrust pastry by mistake when I needed puff so this needed using up. Going through the book bakewell was the only thing that I had enough ingredients in for, or so I thought. So I baked out the pastry, made the frangipane for the filling and went to get the jam. Well, turns out that although I did have some it definitely wasn't edible. We don't eat much jam in our house and it tends to be just there for cakes, we're Marmite, Peanut Butter and Bovril (don't ask) kind of people. So I had to think quick, everything else was ready to go. So what you see before you is a Nutella Bakewell Tart. As it turns out it was pretty tasty. I am never using shopbought shortcrust again though. It wasn't nice, despite my checkered history of making pastry I'd much rather make the effort and get it slightly wrong than eat that again.

Monday, 11 April 2011


Well these were an experience to make. I wish Mark would have been around to take a photo while I was making them because they were like dealing with silly putty. I did my usual method of mixing everything in the machine and kept waiting for the right consistency but it just wasn't happening so I took it out to knead it by hand. What a mess! The texture is so bizarre, it was literally like pulling silly putty between your hands and then squeezing it together. It's meant to eventually turn to a more dough like consistency so you can shape it into balls, but this just didn't want to work. So as the picture shows, I didn't get it quite right, people who own the book will testify that they didn't really turn out very well. On top of that I burnt them in the oven, even the ducks rejected them so all in all, won't be making them again I don't think. I will just have to hold out and have the real thing in a few weeks.

Saturday, 9 April 2011


Pavlova is one my favourite puds. As you can see from the picture it very nearly became an Eton mess. In the book this is meant to be an apple, blackberry and quince pavlova but we had a load of raspberries and blueberries in and some egg whites that needed using up so this was the result. I don't think I cooked the meringue for long enough though, I got a bit nervous when it started browning. Which is daft because I've made meringues so many times and they've been fine. These had quite a spongy centre but the outsides were lovely and crispy. By the time it hit the bowl it was definitely an Eton mess, thankfully it all tastes the same.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Tiger Prawns with Foccacia

When i saw the tiger prawns on the television series I was so excited to try them, anything to do with prawns and chilli is always going to be good. So after a huge Mothers day lunch we gave them a try as a light dinner. Well, they are easy to make, but be warned these are sweet. You make a liquer of sugar and whiskey and then bake them in the oven with chilli. But not only were they sweet but really hot, the sauce would be really nice as a sweet dipping sauce. Mark was trying to lap it up with bread and eat it as a broth but even he, who always finishes his plate couldn't get through it. It did get a bit sickly after a while.

The foccacia is one of the last breads I've got left to make. Didn't quite get it right though, as you can see form the picture I didn't really get it flat enough before I let it rise so its a bit big rather than a soft flat bread. It still tasted nice though, you could taste the rosemary through the bread. Its nice to know that I'm around the half way mark, although I feel like I've been going through this book for ages and there is still a long way to go. It makes you realise what a lot of work goes into producing a cook book, there must be so many things that didn't make it into this one. Back to the kitchen!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Pork Pies

I wasn't looking forward to making these, not because they are pork pies but because of the pastry. It is a hot water pastry and is the easiest I have ever made, you can't do anything to damage it, so perfect for me. The filling has bacon, pork, spring onions and garlic but sadly no jelly (my favourite bit!). My parents are on a bit of a diet at the moment and my mum has given up processed sugar for lent so they've not been able to have any of my bakes for a while, but finally I could give them something. I did do the usual and make only half the recipe which was plenty for us. Lorraine is very generous with her portions, even where it states a number you can guarantee you'll get a couple more. These were really easy and I think I will make them again, even just for a nice activity with Zoe, we might make some mini ones. They are moulded into muffin tins so it's really straight forward. They also tasted yummy, but might have overdone the garlic slightly!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Whoopie Pies

I've made whoopie pies a couple of times before, with varying degrees of success. The first time they were so dense that they were a meal in themselves, but these thankfully worked out a lot better. The recipe was completely different. You heat all the wet ingredients with the demarera sugar and then mix with the dry and pipe out. They have quite a strange texture, a friend described them as similar to a swiss roll. They are very soft. They don't like being put into a tin though, they all got stuck to each other and the side of the tin so a lot got left behind. Zoe took a great liking to them and chomped away on it like a sandwich. Usually with cake she'll eat away at the icing and leave the sponge, so I think the soft texture made them a lot easier to eat. They were lovely and chocolatey, so that will always go down well with me!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


Lorraine makes it pretty clear in this recipe that if you don't get this spot on, then it isn't going to work. It also says that it would make about 60 so I halved everything. The problem with halving is that you get half way through your recipe and forget that your halving. So I had double the amount of some things, not a great start! She's good at describing how things should look at certain stages and it was becoming pretty clear that I wasn't going to pull this one off. It was happily spinning around in the mixture and wasn't becoming stiff at all (no jokes please!)  The ingredients for these little delights are basically sugar in different forms and gelatine. So as it was spinning around and it was becoming more obvious that this wasn't going to work I had to think of something because I hate wasting food when its gone wrong, I've done too much of that in my life. So I bunged a load of icing sugar in, woohoo it worked!!! It went lovely and stiff and shiny and I piped it out onto the icing sugar trays and hey presto. Now, what I also didn't get quite right was the rosewater. A few drops turned into quite a splosh so they were very floral in flavour but some people commented that they quite liked them like that. Even though I had halved the recipe I still ended up with about 60! So goodness knows how many I would have got from the whole thing. We are definitely all marshmallowed out in our house.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Speedy Chocolate Mousse

Everytime I look at this picture I just wish I had a little pot of this in front of me. A friend recently asked what my favourite makes had been so far, and they all involved chocolate. This is a dangerous one, because it is one of the simplest and fills a chocolate whole but is also extremely fatty. It is basically whipped cream mixed with melted chocolate set in the fridge. But it didn't stay there for very long. I made a slight mistake when I made it but I think it was to my advantage. I stopped the mixer while I added the chocolate and was faffing around with something so it was a couple of minutes before I mixed them together, so as a result there were little streaks of just hard chocolate running through the mousse but I really liked that. Don't think John and Greg would agree, but hey, each to their own.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Peppered Beef

I'll be the first to admit that this is not one of the prettiest of dishes I've cooked, but it was definitely one of the tastiest. The recipe says 800g of Beef fillet, so off we toddle to Hawarden farm shop, as the meat just didn't cut it in Tesco on a sunday morning. Well, we asked for 600g don't want to be greedy, and the butchers assistant picks out the beef, but doesn't want to cut it, just in we wait for the butcher and I happiky ask for the bigger end, he cuts it, weighs it, and I glance at the price. My internal voice starter going bonkers in my head £29.47!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I knew fillet was expensive but that is ridiculous. So, with a very red face I double check the price with the butcher, yes, thats right. Ummmmm, I'm sorry, but can we have something else? They were lovely and he recommended a sirloin piece which came out a third of the price. Meanwhile a huge queue had built up to view my humiliation. I grabbed my meat and scurried away.

I wish we could have had the fillet, because then this would have been amazing, it was delicious. I like my beef pink in the middle, when I eat steak I like it to have a quick fling with the pan before it's on my plate. But this was gorgeous, pink and juicy. Sadly the veggies didn't get quite the same attention, burnt the cabbage and carrots in butter, but the potatoes came out ok. The sauce was made with creme fraiche and was meant to have cognac but we didn't have any. Really need to get some booze in the house, have plenty of whiskey!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Doris Grant Loaf

This is a no need to knead loaf which was developed by Doris Grant during the 1940's who believed that the white loaf was evil and we should all have more fibre in our diets, and she forgot to knead it. She liked it so much that it stayed that way. It did make life a lot easier not having to knead it, well, I don't really knead anything, I have a machine to do it for me. But it saved some time. Stuck it in the airing cupboard and waited for it to rise. We had this with some soup for lunch and with Zoe screaming with hunger clinging to my ankles we grabbed it from the oven probably sooner than we should. We cut it in half and a lot of it came back with the knife. So Zoe had the end piece, she was quite happy and Mark and I made our way through the middle, it was the most stodgy and soggy bread I've ever eaten (my own fault) but the flavour was nice. I think I'll stick to a kneaded loaf though. Not at the top of my list of remakes.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Lemon and Raspberry Tart with poppy seed pastry

It would seem that my pastry problems have returned to haunt me and remind me of the real world. Everything was going so well, but I was being impatient. Once I'd put the pastry in the case and put it in the fridge I just couldn't leave it alone, it had to be done now! Well, I grabbed it out of the fridge and shoved it in the oven, well, I won't do that again. It shrank, I was lucky to get even the 1cm depth of filling in there, it should have been about 4cm deep. Luckily I hadn't made the filling until I got the base out of the oven so I cut the quantities in half, which was more then enough. As a result the pastry was also really tough. The type when you need a knife and fork, but you use the edge of your fork and half of it flies across the room! But I will persevere, there is nothing wrong with shop bought pastry. The filling was nice though!