Back in the olden days, whenever I paid a visit to my Nan and Gramp in Cheltenham, there were certain foodstuffs I was guaranteed to enjoy. Items that were surefire crowd pleasers in the under 10 category, namely Dairylea triangles, tiny boxes of Kellogg’s cereals (aka the variety pack) and, best of all, battenberg cake.
I developed highly prescriptive methods to be utilised when eating each of these treats. Dairylea triangles must always be consumed in pairs, one thinly spread in a sandwich, cut into neat quarters and one meticulously removed from its tinfoil wrapper and nibbled delicately. The cereal should be consumed dry, straight from the box and by the handful, usually whilst watching cartoons on a Saturday morning.
But my favourite ritual involved the battenberg. A single, chunky slice would carefully be peeled, preferably in one perfect sliver of marzipan. Only then could the squares be separated and eaten one at a time, in alternating colours of pink and yellow. People who bite straight into a slice of battenburg frankly freak me out, how can they not know how wrong that is? Admittedly, I may missing out on the combination of flavours that biting off a corner would provide, but I do love a routine. (continue reading…)
Until today, I’d always lived up to my scaredy cat name and been more than a little terrified of making preserves. It wasn’t so much making the chutney or jam itself, more the whole process of sterilising jars and keeping everything scrupulously clean. It always seemed like such a palaver and I was sure I’d mess it up, scold myself with boiling water and produce a preserve that didn’t last five minutes, rendering the whole thing pointless.
But then I discovered that you don’t have to boil your jars for ages in a humungous pan of water, you can actually perform the whole sterilisation process in a dishwasher on the hottest setting! I had to give it a go. All I already had the perfect beginners recipe.
Back in November, I visited my sister in New York and one lunchtime she presented me with a platter of round slices of toasted french bread, smothered in melted cheddar and served up with this chutney on the side. She’d made the chutney to use up a glut of apples from an apple picking trip to upstate New York and I immediately knew this recipe had to go on the blog. However, a lack of glass jars and me constantly forgetting to order them, combined with my preserving phobia, led to a 3 month time lag. (continue reading…)
I’m a little behind on this chia seed thing. (It is still a thing right, I haven’t missed it altogether?)
I’m not good with trends, but in my defence I bought a pack of chia seeds around 6 months ago, had no clue what to do with them and was too lazy to find out. I may have intended to adapt this granola recipe to include them, who knows, but it didn’t happen. Until last night they were sitting, completely unloved, at the bottom of a drawer full of baking stuff.
For those of you out there who haven’t heard about these tiny, super-hyped seeds, they are apparently loaded with fibre, omega 3, calcium and protein along with lots of other nutrients and they also fight belly fat. I had to give them a go.
Despite all of their nutritional value, the property I care about here, is their ability to produce a super creamy and decadent pudding that’s healthy but definitely doesn’t feel like a chore to eat. When you soak the seeds in milk they become slightly jelly-like which makes for an amazing pudding. With the addition of chocolate, you’ve got yourself an amazing dessert or a cheeky little breakfast, and what’s more it’s gluten free and, if you so desire, vegan too! (continue reading…)
I’ve been thinking about this cake all week. Sitting at my desk, occasionally glazing over in front of my spreadsheets and dreaming of sticky, syrupy blueberry cake with a hint of lavender.
It’s always worrying when you dwell on a recipe so much, without actually having made it, by Friday night the fear of disappointment was upon me. I already felt defeated as I started to whip up the batter and boil the syrup. The overnight wait to test the cake was almost unbearable!
On saturday morning, after the last photograph had been taken, it was finally time for my first taste. Not to sound immodest, although I often do, but this cake blew me away, pure and simple. (continue reading…)
When my friend Rebecca comes to stay, I pretend to be a tourist. Together we visit London zoo, art galleries and museums. We wander the streets and admire landmarks, and we also spend a lot of our time on missions to specialist shops and eateries. As Rebecca is, rather stressfully for a keen baker like me, a strict vegan.
I’ve come to utterly love our weekends, not least because our Saturday nights are usually finished off with a cocktail or 2. So when she came to stay this weekend I felt she needed a treat, something to sustain her through our endless tourist ramblings. It was time to take on the challenge of vegan baking.
There was only one place to go for guidance and that was the wonderful blog, Minimalist Baker. Dana features lots of vegan recipes, all tirelessly tested and tweaked, so I knew she’d see me right. And oh boy, did she! (continue reading…)
First thing’s first, I must apologise to anyone who clicked though to this post expecting to see some pancakes. Nope these aren’t pancakes, they’re granola bars, but as far as I’m concerned oats, butter and golden syrup = flapjack. Sorry Americans!
My boyfriend’s first and only attempt at baking, and in addition, the first thing he ever cooked for me, was some coconut and apricot flapjacks. They may have crumbled into tiny shards, but they were utterly scrumptious. Therefore, flapjacks have a special place in my heart. And then, I saw Nigel Slater dip a flapjack into melted dark chocolate and I almost fainted.
So when one of my friends requested a tray bake that could possibly be eaten for breakfast, I knew what had to be done. Admittedly the addition of chocolate makes these a pretty decadent breakfast but it’s only a thin coating, go on treat yourself! (continue reading…)
Wheat doesn’t like me, not one little bit. Too much wheat and my belly swells into a solid little bowling ball, which ruins the line of a good pencil dress. Graphic, I know, apologies.
So a few months ago I decided to cut back on my wheat consumption, I’m never going to give it up completely, as frankly a life without cake and biscuits just isn’t worth living, but I figure a little less wheat pasta and bread can only be a good thing.
Whilst biscuits and cakes just aren’t the same in a wheat-free format, there are certain wheaty foodstuffs that can actually be pretty marvellous when you switch out the flour for something a little different, mainly those that involve a bread dough. (continue reading…)
Guys! Guys! Guys! (To be shouted in the Brooklyn accent of my tiny niece) I beg you, I implore you, make your own marshmallows, it’s an absolute revelation.
The inspiration for this recipe came from evening at Mark Hix’s marvellous restaurant Tramshed. What sets Tramshed apart is the fact that its menu is super simple, offering you the main course choice of either chicken or steak. Between the 4 of us, we ordered both a whole roast chicken and a massive steak and let me tell you, these guys know what they’re doing. However, it was the dessert that really knocked me out.
Our choice of dessert consisted of a chocolate fondue with fresh mini donuts and marshmallows for dipping, insanely decadent. I don’t think I’d ever eaten a freshly made marshmallow before and they just blew me away. They were fluffy, sweet and moist, they melted almost instantly in the mouth and, thankfully, they bore absolutely no resemblance to the packaged, chemical ridden variety. (continue reading…)
Merry New Year all! So another Christmas has come and gone. Mine involved a rebellion against tradition, resulting in a truly excellent Christmas dinner of roast duck with a herby root vegetable gratin, and sprouts with bacon and chestnuts (okay so the rebellion didn’t go as far as sprouts, some traditions are here to stay)
As it turns out, starting a food blog leads to birthdays and Christmases filled with wonderful new cookbooks and tableware, as evidenced by both this recipe and the fabulous cake stand featured in the picture above. Isn’t it beautiful? I think so and I’m truly grateful.
I’m also grateful that every year my lovely boyfriend buys me an utterly fabulous bottle of sloe gin for Christmas. For those unfamiliar with the wonder that is a good sloe gin (none of that cheap fake chemically nonsense please) I beg you, try it this winter over a little ice (if you like your liquor strong) or mingled with tonic.
For me it will always be my winter beverage of choice, it has a certain astringency and bitterness that warms my cockles. So when I was flicking through one of my Christmas cookbooks and came across the concept of cocktail cupcakes, I knew what had to be done. (continue reading…)
Pat me on the back, I have officially sorted your Christmas breakfast. Well, that is provided you like chocolate for breakfast, and given that my all time favourite breakfast cereal is cocopops, you know I do.
Can you imagine, getting up on Christmas morning and opening your stocking as the beautiful smell of baking drifts around the house. Then sitting down to a soft, warm, chocolately breakfast bun, punctuated with the crunch of hazelnuts? Let’s make it happen!
And best of all, you can do the preparation the night before and all you’ll have to do in the morning is pop them in the oven. I can’t imagine anything more perfect! (continue reading…)