Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Eves Pudding

Don't know about anyone else but after the festive season I always seem to have some fruit in the fruit bowl which is getting a little long in the tooth, I hate to waste food and try wherever possible to use them in some recipe or another. Eves Pudding is a great recipe to have in the arsenal and is delightfully comforting, it smells wonderful when baking and the lemony zesty aroma is a great pick me up. The Eve in the name refers to the fact that apples are used in the recipe.

  • 450g or so Apples - peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks (ideally bakers but whatever you have)
  • 75g Demerara sugar
  • Lemon zest - 1 whole lemon
  • 75g Margarine
  • 75g Caster sugar
  • Egg - free range
  • 150g self raising flour
  • Milk - about 1tbsp

  • Preheat your oven to 180c
  • Grease your baking dish
  • Place your apples in the dish and sprinkle with the demerara sugar and lemon zest
  • Mix your sponge in the normal manner, use the milk to achieve a dropping consistency
  • Spoon over your apples and smooth to cover
  • Bake for approximately 40-45 minutes until the apples are soft and the sponge is golden
Serve hot, warm or cold, either on its own or with cream, custard or ice cream. Delicious

Banana Crumble slices

And now for something completely different, after all the Christmas baking and spices here's a recipe to ring the changes and also to use any overripe bananas you are bound to have in the fruit bowl in the bargain. I haven't made this recipe in a while, its another one from my scrap book and can't remember why I don't make it more often. Enjoy.


  • 175g sugar
  • 175g Vegetable margarine
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 100g porridge oats
  • 2 medium bananas - mashed
  • 25g sultanas or raisins
  • Caster sugar to sprinkle


  • Pre -heat your oven to 180c fan / 200c non fan
  • Cream the sugar, margarine together
  • Add the flour and oats and mix to a crumble mixture
  • Lightly oil or spray your baking tin - which is approx 8 by 12 inches
  • Sprinkle half your crumble mixture in the baking tin, press down lightly.
  • Spread over the mashed bananas and sprinkle on the dried fruit
  • Sprinkle over rest of mixture and cover banana, press down lightly
  • Bake for 25-30 mins until golden
  • Sprinkle with caster sugar 
  • Cool in tin and cut into chunks.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Mincemeat and Sultana Muffins

Another lovely recipe to use your homemade mincemeat, these muffins are delicious and well flavoured, a real tea time treat and a great substitute to the traditional mince pie that is normally left out for Father Christmas on Christmas eve.

It's basically an all in muffin recipe and you can use any dried fruit you fancy, apricots, cranberries, I think raisins would all work really well but I chose sultanas this time round. I  used my homemade sloe vodka mincemeat from an earlier post but you could use ready made. 

  • 80g Sultanas or other dried fruit ( if you use apricots chop into small pieces)
  • 280g Plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 90ml sunflower oil
  • 350g mincemeat , good half of a large jar
  • 1 egg - free range beaten
  • 240ml milk
  • 85g caster sugar
12 -14 large muffin cases, muffin tray

Preheat your oven to 180c fan, 190c normal oven. 
Sift all you dry ingredients in to your  bowl, 
Add all the other ingredients (except the dried fruit element), 
Mix very gingerly until incorporated and then add the dried fruit, 
Quickly fold this in until all the flour is just incorporated ( do not over mix) 
Spoon into your cases and bake for approximately 20 -25 minutes, tested with a cocktail stick. Cool on a wire tray and sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.

Caramelised Onion Sausage Rolls

For my recent WI Christmas party , this is  the savoury recipe I decided to cook, its an easy twist on the classic sausage roll. Instead of using the traditional puff pastry I used shortcrust to ring the changes and if you are short of time you could use ready made to save time. Ideally if you can get hold of sausage meat then great but often as not I use a high meat content sausages and remove the skins. You could also serve them at a drinks party or even on a picnic.

  • Shortcrust pastry
  • Caramelised onion chutney
  • Sausage meat
  • Herb of your choice ( sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley)
  • Egg
  • Poppy seeds or sesame seeds

Firstly mix your sausage meat in a bowl with your chosen herb, use your hands to squeeze and fold the mixture together and put to one side. 
Roll out your pastry into an oblong approx 12 inches long by 8 inches wide.
Now half and half again to give you 4 pieces 12 inches long by 2 inches wide.
Half the sausage meat  and form each into a long sausage approx 12 inches long.
Spread 1 tbsp of caramelised onion chutney centrally along the length of one of the strip.
Place your sausage snake on top of the chutney.
Place your other matching strip of pastry on top.
Seal the edges with a little beaten egg, and crimp both edges. 
Repeat until you have 2 sausage snakes.
Place on a baking tray and cover with cling film.
Chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight if you want to pre-prepare.

When you are ready to bake -
Cut into pieces approx 1 inch in size.
Glaze with beaten egg.
Sprinkle with seeds.
Bake in an oven on baking parchment on a baking tray. 
Your oven should be at approximately  180 -200c
Bake until golden, this will be approx 15 - 20 minutes.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Family Teatime

Need an idea for a great Christmas gift for a friend or family ? Then look no further, Family Teatime is a lovely book which has some great cake, biscuit and tea time treat recipes. The book is beautifully illustrated with Vintage images and postcards and filled with tips and anecdotes on the origins of afternoon tea.

This delightful book has a practical wipe clean cover and has an illustration for each recipe featured. The recipes are for all the traditional teatime favourites and one or two surprises, each recipe is detailed and easy to follow. The book would be ideal for all the family to bake together and having fun experiencing a traditional afternoon tea.

I have enjoyed making a number of the recipes from the book, scotch pancakes, almond and cherry cupcakes and lemon bars  which all turned out well.

I have kindly been sent the book to review by Flame Tree Publishing, the book is available to purchase on Amazon.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Wholemeal mincemeat slices

In one of my earlier posts I made mincemeat ready for Christmas, its been maturing for a few weeks and is now ready to use in some lovely baking. I like traditional mince pies but feel that any of the commercial avlaible ones are overly sweet, therefore I enjoy making my own when time allows. This is a recipe I have made for the last few years and is the ideal vehicle for my lovely homemade mincemeat. The pastry is lovely and crumbly and is somewhere between a flapjack, biscuit and shortcrust pastry. The slices were very popular at my WI Christmas party.

  • 150g butter or quality margarine
  • 75g soft brown sugar
  • 225g plain wholemeal flour
  • 110g porridge oats
  • Approx 225g mincemeat, about 1/2 a large jar


You'll need a 11 x 7 inch shallow baking tin, butter well

Melt the butter and sugar in a pan, 
Once melted allow to cool slightly, then add your oats and flour.
Stir and mix thoroughly. 
Press half of this mixture firmly in the base of the tin, the firmer you press the better. 
Spread your mincemeat on top of the base coat smooth with a spoon.
Pour on the top and gain level across the tin and press down firmly. 
Bake in a pre heated oven  at 200C for approx 20 minutes or the top is browned slightly. 
Cut into desired pieces whilst still in the tin.
Cool in the tin fully and serve sprinkled with icing sugar. Store in an airtight tin.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Shortbread for Christmas

Things are starting to get festive in our household, I have always loved shortbread and I hadn't baked any for a few years so I thought I would bake some in the run up to Christmas. The buttery short sweet crumbly biscuit is lovely as a gift or great served as a afternoon treat with tea. To save time I mix mine in my trusty magimix food processor, Its important to use a quality butter in your mix to give the best results.There is just one problem it disappears very quickly !


  • 200g plain flour
  • 50g cornflour
  • 175g butter(unsalted) - softened
  • 75g caster sugar


Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until just coming together, tip out onto floured surface and form a ball of dough, shape and roll to desired shapes, place on baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven @ 160c fan / 180c no fan until lightly golden ( about 15-30 mins depends on thickness), remove from oven and sprinkle with caster sugar and cut whilst warm into desired pieces. Cool then eat, delicious. Store in an airtight tin.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Bailey's Tipsy Cake

Baileys Tipsy Cake, other Irish whisky cream liqueurs are available!

For our most recent Clandestine Cake club outing the theme was secret Santa, so basically it’s a mystery until we all turn up to the meeting, hoping that everyone doesn’t turn up with the same cake. I decided to bake a tipsy cake, easy but slightly different and definitely Christmassy in spirit, well at least rich in spirit – hick!

Tipsy cakes are basically sponge cakes soaked in alcoholic syrup, then served in dainty slices to your guests, from my research on the internet this seems to be another idea from the USA. My recipe is based on one by Thane Prince published in the Saturday Telegraph at least a decade ago, which survives as a clipping in my recipe scrapbook. Yes, I know very anal and OCD ish but it does mean I can find some fabulous recipe inspiration when I need it. It’s a great recipe and terribly easy.

Ingredients for the cake
  • 110g soft butter or quality margarine
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 110g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1 tbsp of hot water

Ingredients for the syrup
  • 150ml water
  • 55g caster sugar
  • 120ml Irish cream liqueur – baileys or Aldi’s version is good too and much cheaper!
  • To finish Whipping or double cream, chocolate shavings, shards, and whatever else takes your fancy.

Mix your sponge by the usual method adding the coffee mixture for the last mix, bake in a 6-7” ish loose bottomed  round cake tin, oiled and base lined, the oven is at about 160c for fan, 180c without fan. Bake until golden, well risen and cooked through when tested with a skewer, this is about 30-40 minutes. Allow the cake to cool for approx 10 mins in the tin, then turn on to a deep serving plate.

Now make your syrup, dissolve the sugar in the water and boil for approx 2 minutes until slightly reduced, allow to cool slightly and add you liqueur. Now make loads of holes in your cake and spoon your syrup, now allow to cool fully. Top with whipped cream and your decoration

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Golden Lion at Wheelton

On a blustery wintery day we paid our first visit to the Golden Lion Pub in Wheelton, a small village near Chorley in Lancashire. The Golden Lion is a traditional pub at the heart of the village and its community, we were warmly welcomed by the owners and the log fire burning in the grate.The pub is traditionally decorated and even has a pool table if you fancy a game, but on to the food. 

The emphasis is on good quality locally produced pub grub, all the favourites are available and everything is reasonably priced, they also have specials and their steak nights apparently are very popular.

We ordered our choices from the menu at the well stocked bar, they had a great selection of real ales according to Mr B, and waited in anticipation of homemade pie and steak pudding (from a local butcher of repute).

 The food arrived piping hot with a selection of fresh vegetables ( always a good sign ) and hand cut chips, yummy ! So visit this nice local pub when you are in the area for traditional lovingly prepared pub grub,  oh and a good pint too !

The pub is dog and walker friendly and has a large car park behind complete with chickens and geese.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Nigella's Clementine Cake

I have to thank my boss at works for the inspiration for baking this recipe, she made this for the "Children in Need" bake sale last week. After digging about in my recipe book collection I located the recipe. The recipe is gluten free as it uses ground almonds instead of flour, so its a handy one to have in case of a ceoliac visitor. The recipe is easy and fairly foolproof, its not the most pretty of cakes but it more than makes up for this flavour stakes.

  • 4-5 clementines ( about 375g )
  • 6 eggs
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder

Put your clementines in a pan with just enough water to cover and bring to the boil, simmer for 2 hours until soft. Keep an eye on the pan ensuring it doesn't boil dry. Drain and cool, once cool split and check for pips, remove any you find. Pulp the clementines in a food processor(all of it), then add the other ingredients and whizz until you have a smooth mixture.

Pour into a greased and based lined springform tin, roughly 7 inches across. Bake in a preheated oven 180c for approximately an hour, as the cake quickly browns you should cover it with foil after the first 30 minutes. Test with a cocktail stick , so that it comes out clean when its done. Cool in the tin, dust with icing sugar.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Slow Cooked Brisket of Beef

I use my slow cooker a lot in the winter, its an easy way to have a scrummy no messing evening meal waiting for you when you come home from work. They take a little getting used to, but once you have learned that you need to hold back on the liquid compared with oven cooking they are easy to use. A favourite recipe in our household is brisket of beef, tender melting well flavoured meat that can be used to create some delicious meals. I get my brisket from Spout House Farm which is near me, but any good butcher should have this for you and in a size of piece suitable for your family.

Its easy to ring the changes with this recipe and use whatever you have to hand, the main rules being the quality of the brisket and the quality of the stock.

  • Beef brisket - rolled
  • Flour - seasoned
  • Onions - chopped
  • carrots
  • bay leaves
  • mixed herbs
  • Beef stock / Beer / red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar or fruit vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Oil

Firstly make your seasoned flour, roughly 1 tablespoon of flour on a plate and add salt, freshly ground pepper and some mixed dried herbs. Roll your brisket in this mixture until well coated and don't forget the ends. Fry off your brisket to seal it in a little oil and to give a nice golden crust. Now place in your slow cooker ( if you don't have one then you can use a casserole dish and the oven instead but its a bit more hassle), next fry your onions and carrots in the same pan, scraping up any brown bits from the meat as this is were the flavour is, until the onions are slighty softened. Next add to the pan the stock / wine/ beer, balsamic, mustard and bay leaves and bring to a simmer, stirring ever so often to again loosen any sticky bits on the pan. Then pour this over your brisket in your slow cooker or casserole dish, put on the lid and if using a slow cooker cook for at least 4 hours on high, but I just leave it all day and it always turns out fine, if using an oven cook on 150c for at least 4  hours, but check every hour or so to see if needs more stock or water as it can dry out. Your brisket is ready when it falls a part when gently crushed with a fork, your gravy  will be well flavoured, thicken if necessary with slaked cornflour and serve with your favourite vegetables. Enjoy !

Friday, 18 November 2011

Smoked haddock and leek chowder

This is one of my favourite soup, so warming and comforting. Its loosely based on a recipe in "New Covent Garden Soup - Book of Soups" one of my extensive collection of cookery books. I first had their version off their stand that used to be on London Euston railway station, on a business trip. I make my version fairly regularly throughout the winter season, its easy to substitute the smoked haddock for salmon or prawns and the leek for onion, you could also add sweetcorn too.I used Leeks today as I had a fresh supply from the garden.

  • Large knob of butter
  • 2 large leeks - cleaned and chopped
  • 2 large potatoes - peeled and chunky chopped
  • 500ml fish stock - a stock cube is fine
  • 1 largeish piece of smoked haddock, cooked, de-skinned and flaked and any bones removed
  • Pepper
  • Dill Weed

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add 2/3rds of the chopped leeks and potatoes to the pan, cook gently without colouring for about 5 minutes, then add the stock and bring to a simmer, cook until the vegetables are just softened. Now allow your soup to cool and use a stick blender to liquidise until smooth. Now add the rest of the vegetables and bring back to simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, if you need to add more water you can do, add the flaked fish and dill weed, taste and season. You probably won't need any salt as smoked haddock is fairly salty.

Serve garnished with parsley or a swirl of cream or both if you wish.

Cosmopolitan - Chorley

The last few months has seen the opening of a new restaurant in Chorley - Cosmopolitan is a Restaurant, wine and cocktail bar. The food is modern Mediterranean in style but they also have a tapas menu. Situated on  St Georges St, right in the heart of the town this is an ideal venue for a pre theatre meal. The building itself is an old stables conversion and is fronted by a courtyard seating area, inside it is cosy and rustically decorated.

We were warmly welcomed on a chilly evening and ordered from the early bird menu, which had plenty of choice for all and was very reasonably priced at 2 courses for £10.95. 

The portions were very generous and well presented, generally the food was very good, my first course was the homemade chicken liver pate which was nicely herby. Hubby's first course was a huge hummus, olives and oil and vinegar selection, with 2 types of bread. Ours main arrived quickly and were piping hot, my vegetable risotto was well flavoured and very filling. Hubbys steak was cooked as requested (rare) if a little stringy and was accompanied by a nice pepper sauce and  seasonal vegetables. We had no room for desserts so they will have to wait till our next visit. 

Cosmopolitan is nice addition to the dining venues in Chorley town centre.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Food Bloggers Unplugged

I have been tagged by Sue @Twitottee to take part in the fun of #foodbloggersunplugged, the idea being to tag another 5 foodie bloggers to keep the initative on a roll. Sounds like great fun to me and enables us all to understand more about our fellow foodies, so I am happy to take part.

The questions we have to answer are as follows:-

1. What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
2. Who is your foodie inspiration?
3. Your greasiest, batter - splattered food/drink book is?
4. Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was          it, what was it?
5. Another food bloggers table you'd like to eat at is?
6. What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
7. Who taught you how to cook?
8. I'm coming to you for dinner what's your signature dish?
9. What is your guilty food pleasure? 
10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?

Finally...tag 5 other food bloggers with these questions...like a hot baked potato...pass it on!

Use this home made expensive Food Bloggers Unplugged  logo (below) on your blog and link up with the hashtag #foodbloggersunplugged on Twitter.

So here goes 
1.What, or who inspired you to start a blog ?
My hubby, he kept moaning about how I should be sharing all my makes with the world, I had a slow start but now really enjoy blogging all things foodie.

2.Who is your foodie inspiration ?
Got to be Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall,I have appreciated his work for years, just wish River Cottage was a bit nearer to Lancashire.

3.Your greasiest, batter-splattered food /drink book is ?
It's Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course, all the pages are falling out and its very tatty. 

4. Tell us about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it ?
That's a difficult one as I have eaten loads of lovely things in lots of different places. Think the best and most memorable was a fabulous meal in Dunworly, Southern Ireland at Otto's Creative Catering, a fabulous slow food, locally sourced/ produced organic venue. The food was amazing, all grown or produced on site and the meal was topped off by playing with dolphins on the nearby beach. Its now closed as Otto and his wife (Hilde) have retired. Darina Allen has visited too.

5. Another food bloggers table you'd like to eat at is ?
Carl Legge @CarlLegge on twitter, I love foraging and using different sustainable ingredients. I am also very interested in Permaculture and Carl is an expert in all of these things.

6. What would be the one kitchen gadget you would ask santa for this year ?
Another bowl for my beloved Kitchenaid mixer.

7. Who taught you have to cook ?
A combination of my Nanna, My Mum and my domestic science teacher at school.

8. I'm coming to you for dinner whats your signature dish ?
Tough one as I like to experiment and it changes, I am known however for my courgette recipes.

9. What is your guilty food pleasure ?
Peanut butter on plastic bread toast.

10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn ?
I used to be a member of a "blacked up" morris dancing group !

My bloggers I am tagging are (you must say this in a tension building manner)
  1. Carmela Hayes - Carmela's Kitchen 
  2. HonieMummy  - 
  3. Carla - Orangemartini
  4. Irwin Kraus - The Amateur peasant
  5. What Kate Baked
If you have been tagged you will need to link to A little bit of heaven on a plate. 
Go on join in and have a bit of fun. 

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sultana slab - a great traybake

I am entering this tray bake in Ruth "The Pink Whisks" Traybake challenge, Ruth was a finalist in 2010 series of the "Great British Bake Off" and has gone on to host a fabulous baking blog. I made this bake for Children in Need.

  • 450g sultanas
  • 3 eggs - free range please
  • 350g Sugar
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 225g butter
  • 350g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
Approx 8 by 12 inch roasting tin / tray bake tin


Preheat your oven to 160c, grease / oil your tin, I use oil spray to make things easy. Place your sultanas in a large pan and cover with water, bring to the boil and gently simmer for approximately 15 minutes until your sultanas are plump and juicy. Meanwhile in another bowl mix the eggs, sugar and almond extract. 

Drain the sultanas and put them back in the pan along with the butter to melt with the residual heat, if they need any help just put on a low heat, until all the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and allow to col slightly. Now add the egg mixture and then the flour and baking powder, mix thoroughly. Pour into your prepared tin. Bake for approx 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Cool in the tin and when cool cut into slabs, hence the name. Keeps well and will also freeze.


Mocha Ginger Biscotti

Biscotti are hard italian biscuits, which are usually served with coffee as breakfast or a snack. I love all things Italian food wise and make a number of different of types of biscotti, I like the combination of flavours in this bake, chocolate, coffee and ginger, its a bit festive and smells wonderful when baking. It makes a great gift served in a pretty metal tin or clear glass "kilner" style jar decorated with ribbon. I am entering this recipe in Vanessa Kimbells blogsphere campaign "Lets make Christmas".


  • 100g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 120g sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp ground coffee
  • 30g dark chocolate - roughly broken 
  • 2 eggs beaten (use free range)
  • 2 balls of stem ginger - finely chopped

Heat your oven to 180c. Sieve flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in your food processor, add the sugar, coffee and chocolate. Process until finely ground. Add the eggs and process until you have a firm dough, don't panic if it looks fairly sticky, it will be OK, quickly add the ginger and fold in. If you need to make the dough looser add milk. Tip it out onto a floured board, gently form into a log and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 150c. Allow your log to cool, then using a serrated knife carefully cut into 1cm wide slices. Lie these on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until firm. Then allow to cool completely on a wire rack, then store in a jar or air tight tin.


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Celery, apple and Lancashire Cheese salad

Celery is a pretty underrated vegetable. Most the recipes you see it in are for some form of waldorf salad , well my hubby doesn't like nuts so that crosses most of them of the list straight away, most also feature mayonniase too. I like the combination of celery and apple so I thought I would combine this with a good Lancashire cheese and see what I got.
Fenland Celery is a hierloom variety , that has a beautiful nutty mellow flavour and is crunchy and not at all stringy, so special that protective geographical indication status has been applied for.

The resulting salad was delicious and crunchy, dressed with rapeseed and balsamic vinegar.

Celery cake

As I love all things baking and having been kindly sent a sample of Fenland Celery to experiment with, its an heirloom variety grown in a traditional way, so special that PGI status has been applied for. I thought I would have a go at a celery cake. Yuck, I hear you all cry, after a little searching on the internet I discovered a few recipes which use celery as a baking ingredient, all are from the USA where people experiment a little more than here. The recipe uses mayonnaise as its fat / oil content, but don't let that put you off, I have done other mayonnaise recipes before and they have always turned out fine, the chocolate one being the best (of course). But that's a post for another day. I am using american cups so the recipe is a doddle to follow.

  • 3 cups plain flour - sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs free range
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mayonnaise ( low fat is fine)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups apples, peeled, cored and  diced
  • 1/2 cup celery - finely diced

Preheat your oven to 180C, oil and flour a 9 inch round cake tin.

Beat your eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy, now add the mayonnaise and beat until well incorporated. Now add your flour and milk in thirds, beating after each addition. Fold in your apple and celery and pour in your prepared tin, bake in for approximately 1 hour to 1 hour 15 until well rise, golden and cooked through when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool initially in the tin, carefully remove after 15 mins and finish cooling on a wire rack.

If you want to ice, mix apple juice with icing sugar and drizzle on top. 

The resulting is delicious and moist  !!!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Hotel Chocolat - Christmas Gifts

I have been lucky enough to be selected as one of the chosen food bloggers to review some of Hotel Chocolat Christmas range. Hotel Chocolat is the high street and mail order retailer of high quality chocolate products, their web site is a treasure trove of all things chocolatey, I choose two products to review and awaited eagerly for my goodies to arrive.

My first choice was a box of 6 Alternative Mince Pies, a chocolate cup of salted caramel topped with praline. I must admit I was little disappointed at the size of the pies, the flavour however was lovely, I am a fan of salted chocolates and caramels. These pies would make a nice stocking filler if a little pricey for that special person in your life, especially if they don't enjoy the ordinary mince pies.They come packaged in a cute little box which is festively decorated.

My next selection was a Mini Christmas Wreath, a cute wreath shaped chocolate , a wonderful mix of quality milk and dark chocolate for that intense chocolatey hit which is so enjoyable, the mix also has cranberries, cookie pieces and whole caramalised hazelnuts in it. This is a full 100 grammes of weight and is intensely satisfying, the wreath would make a great gift for just about any one and is wrapped in a cellophane wrapper tied with a Hotel Chocolat ribbon, to give a designer edge to the presentation.

Hotel Chocolat have a facebook page and also can be followed on Twitter @HotelChocolat

Chocolate ginger cake

I love ginger cake, the warming spice is one of my favourite flavours and now that the weather is starting to cool this is a great bake to make. This cake combines a traditional ginger cake recipe with chocolate. Everything is improved by adding chocolate isn't it !

  • 150g butter
  • 150g dark brown sugar
  • 150g treacle
  • 225g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarb
  • 190ml milk
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 100g plain dark chocolate- chopped
You will need a 20cm square cake tin or a deep roasting tin - oiled and lined


Heat the oven to 150c, melt the syrup, butter and sugar in a large pan over a low heat, then allow to cool slightly. Quickly add the flour, spices and bicarb, beat in and then the egg and milk, lastly add the chocolate chunks. Work quickly to mix until smooth, pour in your prepared tin and bake in your preheated oven for approx 40-50 minutes, until well risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin, can be consumed as soon as cool but benefits from being left to mature for a couple of days in an airtight tin to become sticky. 

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Cox Cookies and Cake - Adults Only cupcake book

What do you get when "Cake Boy" Eric Lanlard & fashion designer Patrick Cox work together ? a very funky uber hip twist on the cupcake. Cox Cookies and Cakes is a baking recipe book with a difference. the complete opposite of the saccharine sweet twee recipe books that feature gingham, butterflies and small furry animals. 

The black glossy book has shocking pink page edges and is distinctly aimed at the more adult market, showing how cupcakes and cookies can still be hip and cool. Kylie and Liz Hurley can't be wrong can they ! Heh the foreword is even by Sir Elton John no less. 

Eric as a master patisserie insists that his cakes taste amazing as well as looking amazing, something that other cupcake books seem to forget. Most of the recipes in the book are illustrated, but some of the pages are black so it could be difficult to read the finer points in a dimly lit kitchen, the recipes range from Red Velvet cupcakes to Black Skull cakes and look to be detailed. 

Content wise there are some more unusual bakes which may intimidate the more inexperienced baker and some of the decoration may be a bit edgy, thongs for example, for those used to the butterflies and flowers style, but the recipes I tried came out well.

I experimented with the Espresso brownies, which in the book features crystallised ginger not something I normally have in my store cupboard store I skipped the  ginger from the recipe. The brownies were moist with a mocha choc flavour and in celebration of the style of the book I used a gold glitter spray to decorate them. 

I was lucky to be given the opportunity to review this book by Octopus Publishing, the book is available to purchase on Amazon.

Sunday, 30 October 2011


Is it a bird ? is it a plane? no its achocha a mexican vegetable we have been growing in the garden this year. Despite almost taking over the garden, this is the sum total of the produce from the 4 plants, I don't think we will bother next year, apparently you cook them like green peppers. So I'll let you know what they taste like !

Cherry and Almond Loaf

Feeling a autumnal nip in the air, I wanted to bake something comforting and homely. This is cake is the equivalent of a cosy snuggly jumper. Based on a recipe from the Domestic Goddess herself, Nigella, its a pretty easy bake. Glace cherries always remind me of when I was little and my Mum used to buy glace cherries in different colours (green, yellow, red) and other dried fruits for Christmas loose from a lovely shop in Southport, the shop is no longer there and loose dried fruits is something you don't see now. 

  • 200g glace cherries, preferably the undyed if you can get hold of them
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 225g butter softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 2-3 drops almond essence
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 6 tbsp milk

Preheat your oven to 170c, grease and line your 2lb loaf tin

Firstly rinse your glace cherries,drain and dry and then tosh in a little flour. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually add your eggs and almond essence, until well mixed, now add the flour and ground almonds. Lastly mix in the milk and the cherries. Now spoon into your tin, bake for approximately 45 -60 minutes until golden and baked through when tested with a skewer. 

Allow to cool in the tin, stores very well in foil.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...