Slow-Fried Potatoes with Thyme and Brie

2015-01-07 19.31.11

This recipe is from one of the first cookery books I had growing up – ‘Real Food’ by Nigel Slater and is packed with delicious, comfort food recipes.

2015-01-07 18.41.47

It isn’t due to excessive scanning for recipes that the book looks a little worse for wear. We rescued a border collie called Tom who was an amazing dog, but had a few special tendencies. Sometimes when we went out and he was left alone he took his anxiety out on the post, the cookery books in the kitchen or once when I left my bedroom door open; my school books. My parent’s had to write a letter to my Business Studies teacher, who was also the Headmistress, explaining that our dog had actually eaten my homework!

Somehow Tom managed to leave the recipes in tact so I have still been able to use it. I was in Tesco the other day and I saw a new revamped version of the book. Obviously it didn’t look like my book at all! I won’t replace my book though, it always makes me think of Tom who only left us last year.

Back to the recipe! I haven’t made this recipe for a while – definitely not in the two and a half years Rien and I have lived together. It was only after Christmas when I was looking at what was in the fridge and saw some brie that I remembered this recipe. Nigel’s original recipe says to use taleggio cheese but the first time I went to make this they didn’t have any in the supermarket so I used brie instead. It was delicious so since then I have always stuck to brie. Please feel free to use talleggio and tell me if I’ve been missing out all these years!

500g waxy new potatoes
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
50g butter
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp fresh thyme
100g brie (or taleggio)

  1. Cut the potatoes into slices approximately the width of a £1 coin
  2. In a large, shallow pan melt the butter and the oil. Once melted add the onions and fry very slowly until they are pale and golden

2015-01-07 18.33.38

  1. Next add the potatoes, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Stir to make sure everything is properly mixed and the potatoes are coated in the butter and oil. Cover the pan and leave on the lowest heat to cook slowly for 40-50 minutes. Stir them every so often to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan

2015-01-07 18.40.06

2015-01-07 18.41.25

  1. Test to see if the potatoes are cooked by sticking the point of a knife into them. If the knife goes in easily, they’re done if not give them a few more minutes before testing again
  2. When the potatoes are cooked, lay slices of cheese onto the potatoes and cover with the lid for a couple of minutes to allow the cheese to melt

2015-01-07 19.26.03

2015-01-07 19.33.14

This recipe makes enough for four people to have as a side dish for a main meal. It is guaranteed to be very popular so you could always do a few more potatoes encase people ask for seconds (which the will!). This is s delicious and slightly different way of having potatoes instead of normal boiled new potatoes. It does take a little bit of time, but once you’ve prepared all of the ingredients you can leave it to slowly cook away and only come back to give it a stir once in a while.

I absolutely love this recipe so I’d love to know if you try it!

 

Raspberry & Mascarpone Sponge Pudding

2014-12-26 17.41.11

This is a delicious pudding my family has been making for years. My sister first got the recipe from one of her friend’s Mum’s. Since then, we have all made it on numerous occsions. We refer to it as the raspberry pudding so I don’t know what the original name was or whether Mrs Betts found the recipe somewhere or made it up herself. But this recipe is all down to Mrs Betts so a big thank you to her for sharing this recipe.

My sister, Ally made this for pudding on Boxing Day. It was a welcome change instead of something like Christmas pudding that none of us are really that fond of. We’d had a lovely roast dinner cooked by my Mum (she cooks the best roasts) and a few hours had passed when the raspberry pudding was calling my name from the fridge. Initially it was just my brother-in-law and myself who wanted some, but after I brought his into him, Ally and my Mum soon decided they could find some room. Then when Rien remembered what we meant by raspberry pudding, he had some too. My brother-in-law then went back for another ‘small piece’ and came back with a bigger bowl than his first!

This is definitely one of my family’s favourite puddings. This time Ally used low fat mascarpone which I don’t think was intentional, but it tasted as good as it always does so is a good way to slightly lower the calories. Having said that, this isn’t a healthy pudding, but is great for special occasions as a treat.

500g mascarpone
397g condensed milk
400g sponge fingers
600g tinned raspberries in light syrup
2 tbsp Marsala or Kirsch (optional)
150g fresh raspberries
small grating of dark chocolate

  1. Mix the mascarpone and condensed milk together in a bowl or jug

2014-12-26 17.19.35

2014-12-26 17.21.14

  1. Drain the tinned raspberries making sure you keep the syrup they were in and add the Marsala or Kirsch to the syrup if you’ve decided to use it
  2. Dunk the sponge fingers a couple at a time in the reserved raspberry syrup. Make sure the fingers are completely covered in the syrup. You want to give them a couple of seconds so they can absorb some of the syrup but don’t leave them in there for longer than that or else they will soak up too much and you’ll run out of syrup!

2014-12-26 17.23.51

  1. When you have a few of the sponge fingers that have absorbed some of the syrup, line them next to each other vertically in a dish roughly 23x23x5cm. Once you have covered the bottom of the dish completely with sponge fingers, scatter with half of the tinned raspberries

2014-12-26 17.24.10

2014-12-26 17.25.58

  1. Pour 1/3 of the mascarpone mix on top of the sponge fingers making sure the fingers are completely covered
  2. Repeat again with another layer of soaked sponge fingers, tinned raspberries and mascarpone mix but lay the fingers horizontally

2014-12-26 17.28.42

  1. Add a third layer of soaked sponge fingers vertically in the dish. Add the final third of the mascarpone mix and spread evenly
  2. Place the fresh raspberries on the top and grate the dark chocolate using a fine grater

2014-12-26 17.41.11

  1. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes or so to chill and then serve

2014-12-26 22.07.52

 

This pudding is incredibly easy – it requires no cooking or fancy equipment, just mixing, dunking and layering! This is a perfect pudding for people that aren’t very confident or don’t like recipies that are too complicated or take a while. Unfortunately as you can see, it isn’t the most beautiful of puddings when served!

Cheese & Bacon Twists

 

2014-12-30 13.45.34

Is it just me or does it not get much better than cheese and bacon wrapped in crisp pastry? These really are as good as they sound!

I saw this recipe on one of Lorraine Pascale’s TV shows and instantly knew it was something I would be making. I love cooking shows because I like to see the way in which people create dishes. I try to show how a dish is made the best I can when I write posts by taking photographs along the way so people can see if theirs looks as it should do. One thing I really don’t like is when cookery books don’t show you a photograph of the finished dish. For me the photograph is what I look at first to see whether I want to make a recipe and helps me picture the dish.

I made these between Christmas and New Year. As I was so busy seeing family, I used shop bought puff pastry and cut corners even more by using pre-rolled pastry! I know this is a bit lazy, but when you don’t have a lot of time and if you’re like me and haven’t yet mastered rolling pastry out into a perfect rectangle; pre-rolled pastry is a godsend!

As with all recipes I think you should adapt them to your personal tastes. Lorraine’s original recipe used English mustard, but I much prefer wholegrain mustard so this is what I used. If you don’t like mustard at all, just leave it out. If you are trying to be a bit healthier you can buy lower fat pastry. I have used this when making sausage rolls before and I didn’t notice a difference in taste, but I did find it harder to seal the edges with egg. The pastry seemed to not want to stick together at all but the end result was still as good.

375g puff pastry
plain flour, for dusting
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
100g mature cheddar, grated
14 slices streaky bacon
1 egg

  1. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and grate your cheese
  2. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle of ½ cm n thickness
  3. Turn the pastry so that the longest side is facing you, spread over the mustard and sprinkle with the cheese

2014-12-28 10.07.23

  1. Place the pieces of bacon onto the pastry, leaving a small gap between each piece

2014-12-28 10.10.50

  1. Cut the pastry between each slice of bacon and then twist each piece of pastry 4-5 times. Put on the baking tray

2014-12-28 10.16.08

  1. Chill in the oven for 15-20 minutes
  2. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Remove the twists from the fridge and brush with beaten egg

2014-12-28 11.02.28

  1. Reduce the oven to 200°C and bake the twists for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is well risen and golden-brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool

2014-12-28 11.26.22

I don’t think the pre-rolled pastry was as thin as it would have been if I had rolled it out myself which is why it only made 7 straws instead of 14. Next time I make these I will roll the pastry out myself and see how many I can make.

These were delicious and would make a perfect lunch or if you cut them up would be good for a picnic or a buffet. The original recipe can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/bacon_and_mature_cheddar_58920.

2014-12-30 13.43.43

Mixed Berry and Cinnamon Muffins

Whole berry muffin 2

Photo by Greedy Betty

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year celebrating with your family and friends and eating lots of delicious food. Like a lot of people, I don’t set New Year’s resolutions but have things I would like to achieve. This year, like last year, my aim is to become healthier. For the first six months I did really well last year and was pleased with my progress, but after a lovely holiday to Mexico, I really struggled to get back into the right frame of mind. So after realising I can do it, my aim this year is to go further and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I do believe in treating yourself every so often though so there will still be recipes for when only naughty food will do!

This is a great first recipe for 2015. It is another in my search for a tasty but healthy muffin. I came across this recipe in Lorraine Pascale’s ‘A Lighter Way to Bake’. My Mum bought me the book for my birthday and up until then I hadn’t heard of Lorraine. In the book she takes popular recipes that she has tweaked and made healthier. One thing I really like is that is not only shows you how many calories are in a serving, but it also states how many calories you would typically find in the usual recipe. I find this interesting because if I’m being good, I like to know just how good I’m being!

This recipe has a fantastically low 155 calories per muffin but you can tell it is a healthy muffin. Due to the lack of sugar and the only sweetness coming from the maple syrup, the muffins weren’t as sweet as I would usually want a muffin to be.  Not only are they low in calories, they also use wholemeal flour which is a plus! I did enjoy them and I will make them again – especially as they are so healthy.

The very talented Greedy Betty took the photos of the finished muffins which she also made. As a food blogger, how good the photographs are really affects how appealing your recipe is. Having a talented photographer to take great photos is a great help and is a service Greedy Betty provides (more details at the bottom).

For the muffins
300g wholewheat plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
2 egg whites
200ml semi skimmed milk
100g low fat natural yogurt
50ml sunflower oil
4 tbsp maple syrup
200g frozen summer berry mix

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC, 180ºC fan and line a 12 hole muffin tin with liners
  2. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon in a bowl and mix
  3. Beat the egg and egg whites together and then add the milk, yogurt, oil and maple syrup and beat again until combined and smooth
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix, it will be quite sloppy
  5. Gently fold in two thirds of the frozen berry mix

2014-12-07 14.53.27

  1. Divide the mix between the liners and scatter the remaining berries over the top of the muffin mix and gently press them in

2014-12-07 15.00.07

  1. Bake for 20 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin briefly before allowing to cool completely on a wire rack

Whole berry muffin 1

Photo by Greedy Betty.  Discounted rates for food bloggers available. Details on  http://greedybetty.com/about/

Mary Berry’s Chocolate Cupcakes

2014-12-04 21.51.41

I was shocked when I realised I hadn’t posted this recipe already! It is my go-to recipe for chocolate cupcakes and is so tasty I haven’t felt the need to look for an alternative. I often use different frosting recipes as sometimes people find a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting a bit too chocolately (crazy I know).

I made these again recently to take into work as someone was raising money for Bowel Cancer UK. As it was December, I thought it was only appropriate for me to frost them with Christmas trees. I didn’t use the chocolate icing from this recipe but used my standard vanilla butter cream recipe from my vanilla cupcake blog post (http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=37).

I added gel colouring to make it green and then used a star tip nozzle. I then added a few sugar balls to look like baubles and lights and added a star on top. It was simple to do and looked really cute and Chritsmassy! They helped raise money for a really great cause and I was pleased that my cupcakes were the first to go!

I have made these cupcakes on many occasions, each time they have gone down very well. They are very simple to make and delicious.

For the cupcakes:
4tbsp water, boiled
40g cocoa powder
3 eggs
175g unsalted butter
165g caster sugar
115g self raising four
1 tsp baking powder 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC and line a cupcake tin with liners and set aside
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the boiling water. Mix until it forms a thick paste and then add the remaining cake ingredients. Mix until combined

2014-12-03 20.25.01

  1. Divide the mix between the cupcake liners – this mix makes 12 large cupcakes. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack

2014-12-03 21.32.46

For the frosting:
60g unsalted butter
30g cocoa powder
3 tbsp whole milk (add more if you want to pipe it)
250g icing sugar

  1. Melt the butter and sift in the cocoa powder and icing sugar
  2. Add enough milk to get it to the right consistency and cover the cupcakes

The original recipe kept the frosting thick and then used a pallet knife to spread it onto the cupcakes. When I use the frosting, I add a little more milk to thin it down so that I can pipe it.

281860_10154435039150165_829530934866789458_n

Here are the chocolate cupcakes with Nutella frosting which I featured on a different blog post (http://www.curlyscooking.co.uk/?p=900).

I found the original recipe here – http://www.bakingmad.com/mary-berry-chocolate-cupcake-recipe/

Baked Vanilla Doughnuts

2014-11-22 16.16.26

I absolutely love doughnuts. As with everything I am quite fussy about what I consider to be my perfect doughnut. In my opinion Marks and Spencer have created the perfect filled doughnut and you can’t beat a Krispy Kreme vanilla glazed doughnut. Marks and Spencer fill their doughnuts with raspberry jam and lightly sprinkle them with icing sugar – not covered in crunchy granulated sugar.

Although I love doughnuts, I have never been very keen on the idea of making doughnuts because of all the faff involved with frying. A while ago I realised you could get doughnut trays so that you could make doughnuts in the oven which completely gets rid of the frying – perfect! I’m not trying to say that a baked doughnut is healthy by any stretch of the imagination, but a baked doughnut has to be healthier than a fried doughnut. I bought my doughnut trays from Sainsbury’s months ago and have been desperate to use them but didn’t get round to it – until now!

For my first attempt I wanted to try some vanilla doughnuts. I initially found this recipe on Pinterest and it is from a great blog called Cooking Classy (http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/02/baked-vanilla-bean-doughnuts/). I was really impressed with how great these tasted, they were lovely and light and fluffy with a fantastic flavour.

One tip I have is that when you are filling the doughnut tins, fill them just over half way. I got a bit carried away and filled them nearly to the top which meant I had doughnuts that were about 5cm high and not the prettiest looking. If you fill them just over half way, you should get very pretty, dainty doughnuts which I was incredibly happy with.

For the doughnuts
2 2/3 cups plain flour
1 ½ baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
3/4 tsp salt
¼ unsalted butter, melted
¼ vegetable oil
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
spray oil (for the trays)

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC and spray the doughnut tray with oil
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter, vegetable oil, sugar and vanilla bean paste. Once this is combined, mix the eggs in one at a time and then add the vanilla extract
  4. Add the flour mixture and milk to the wet mixture alternating between the two starting and ending with the flour (add 1/3 of the flour followed by half the milk etc). Mix until just combined after each addition

2014-11-22 14.37.15

  1. Spoon the batter into the doughnut holes. I haven’t found a particularly quick way of doing this, I just used two teaspoons and tried to keep it in the holes as much as possible!

2014-11-22 14.51.43

  1. Bake in the oven for 8 – 10 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean. Allow to cool until lukewarm on a wire rack
For the glaze
1 ½ cups icing sugar
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 small pinch of salt
2 – 3 tbsp milk
Food colouring and sprinkles (optional)
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the icing sugar, melted butter, vanilla and salt. Once combined stir in 2 tbsp of milk and then gradually add more if needed to get to the desired consistency. Don’t add too much at a time or else it will become too runny
  2. Add food colouring if you want and then dip in your doughnuts. If you are adding sprinkles, add them straight away or else they won’t stick once the glaze has dried

2014-11-22 16.15.38

2014-11-22 16.15.32

 

I was really pleased with these doughnuts and will definitely be making these again as well as trying different recipes.

Raspberry Jam Muffins

2014-10-12 20.38.39

This is another attempt at a healthy muffin for breakfast. After the Nutella muffins, I thought I would try a spoonful of jam instead. You can use any jam you like, but make sure it is a good quality one as it does make a difference. To enhance the raspberry taste further, I added some freeze dried raspberries to the mixture and then to try and make it healthier I used half plain flour and half wholemeal flour. I didn’t use just wholemeal flour because it can change the texture and make it a little dryer and the aim is to make muffins that are healthy but also tasty.

I was very pleased with how these muffins turned out. The jam works really well because it provides a lovely moistness to the muffin. I was most impressed with how few calories there were in each muffin – just over 150! This was a massive improvement on the Nutella muffins and are equally as tasty.

1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup caster sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup no fat Greek yogurt
12 tsp raspberry jam

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a muffin tin with liners
  2. Mix together the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder and freeze dried raspberries
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the vegetable oil, eggs and yogurt
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined

2014-10-12 16.18.33

  1. Fill the cases half way with mix and then add a level teaspoon of jam into the middle of each muffin. Cover the jam with the remaining muffin mix

2014-10-12 16.27.54

  1. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean

These are another really simple and quick recipe. They also freeze really well so you can get them out the night before and they’ll be defrosted ready for your breakfast.

Gluten-free Sundried Tomato Bread

2014-10-18 11.02.21

I made this recipe when my friends from uni came to stay for the weekend as my friend Zoe has Coeliac disease. I usually buy her a little loaf from the shop but decided I wanted to have a go and see how it turned out!

She recommended a Good Food recipe to me because he had tried it before and she knew it was nice. The recipe was incredibly easy, far easier than bread using flour with gluten as it doesn’t require any kneading.

The bread doesn’t rise a lot so don’t be alarmed if it looks quite flat. I haven’t tried any gluten-free bread before so was intrigued to see what it would be like. It was very different to bread I am familiar with as it seemed to have a softer texture more like cake than bread. Zoe said it was very tasty and she recommends toasting it to give it a bit of a crisper crust.

200g gluten-free white flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp gluten-free baking powder (most types are gluten free but check)
284ml buttermilk 
3 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
50g sundried tomatoes in oil (approximately 6-8) coarsely chopped
25g parmesan

  1. Heat the oven to 180ºC or 160ºC in a fan oven. Grease a 2lb loaf tin with a small amount of olive oil. Grate the parmesan and chop the sundried tomatoes

2014-10-17 19.15.58

  1. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, tomato purée and oil

2014-10-17 19.26.29

  1. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry and then add the sundried tomatoes and half of the parmesan
  2. Pour the mixture into the tin and smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top and bake in the oven for 50-60 mins until a skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool

2014-10-17 19.32.18

The sundried tomatoes I bought were in a lovely olive oil with herbs so instead of using ordinary olive oil, I used the oil from the jar to give extra flavour. It isn’t the sort of bread that you would use to make a sandwich really because it does make quite small slices, but cut into slices with some meat and cheese makes a lovely lunch.

Zoe has said that in general, gluten free bread isn’t that great and can be a bit boring. The sundried tomatoes and parmesan give this bread a lovely flavour which makes it one of the best recipes she has tried.

The original recipe can be found at http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2070/glutenfree-sundried-tomato-bread

My Christmas menu & first event

2014-11-06 18.26.21

As I have mentioned before, I have been very busy recently with a Christmas menu I put together. It is a list of treats that I thought would be perfect for people to enjoy over Christmas or to give as gifts. The first items I came up with for the menu was chutneys. As you know I had already made my apple and sultana chutney which I knew was tasty so I decided to include it in the menu. One of my favourite shop bought chutneys is caramelised onion which we love to eat with Camembert so I decided I would like to give it a go and see if mine was as good as ones you can buy. The final chutney I decided to make was Mary Berry’s Christmas Chutney – it was a no brainer.

I started making the chutneys back in September because I knew they needed time to mature and get even more delicious. I stared by ordering and making 36 jars of chutney. Once I had started advertising the chutneys to friends and colleagues, it quickly became clear that I needed to order more jars! I was very shocked at how popular the chutneys became and realised last weekend that yet again I needed to order more jars! I’m not going to lie, I hate peeling tomatoes and I have peeled more onions that I would care to imagine, but it is a great feeling to know that something you have made is so popular.

2014-09-28 20.34.47

2014-09-28 20.36.08

I wanted to include little treats that would look good displayed in cellophane bags. Fridge cake was an obvious choice as it is so popular when I make it – it lasts 5 minutes at work. I have always referred to it as fridge cake but some people know of it as rocky road.

Cat Fridge Cake 2 copy

 (Photo by Betty)

I decided to put a spin on my cheese straws that are so popular by turning them into chilli cheese stars. I originally saw the idea on Food Network when Jonathan Phang was making them and thought it was a great idea. Instead of using his recipe, I stuck to my usual cheese straw recipe but added fresh and dried chilli powders before cutting them into stars. I didn’t want to make them too hot so didn’t use the West Indian hot pepper sauce that Jonathan used. Mine have a lovely gentle heat that I think is suitable for everyone’s taste.

Cat Stars 1 copy

(Photo by Betty)

I wanted to have some fudge on the menu; one chocolate and one vanilla. I found a lovely dark chocolate and pistachio fudge recipe by Nigella that turned out really well but I had no such luck with the vanilla fudge. I wanted a fudge with a creamy texture and after four failed attempts I gave up. Two attempts made what people told me was very nice Scottish tablet but this was quite crumbly so not what I was looking for. Another attempt tasted lovely and creamy but it just didn’t harden up enough and was very sticky. The final attempt with the 4th recipe was a complete disaster so I finally gave up!

Cat choc fudge 2 copy

(Photo by Betty)

Mum has a Mary Berry Christmas book so I had a look through there and saw these lovely snowflake shaped iced biscuits. They’re simple to make but really tasty and look very pretty. Someone said to me that they weren’t planning on ordering the biscuits but when they saw the photo they looked so pretty they decided they had to have them.

Cat Star Cookies

 (Photo by Betty)

I had to include mince pies because to me its not Christmas without them – I am a huge fan. My friend Millie told me that if you eat a mince pie on every day from Christmas to Twelfth Night (6th January) you will have happiness for the next 12 months. I thought this was a very cute idea and any excuse to eat mince pies is valid in my opinion!

Cat mince pies 2

(Photo by Betty)

For something that wasn’t too sweet I decided to make some fruity biscotti which a lot of people associate with Christmas. The recipe I chose is packed with cranberries, raisins, almonds and pistachios. I find it slightly dry, but it is traditionally drank with black coffee in Italy.

Cat Biscotti 2 copy

(Photo by Betty)

Finally, I decided I wanted to include some form of sweet. After watching Sweets Made Simple on BB2, I saw how easy cinder toffee was to make. Although it is quite simple, it looks really impressive. I thought you would need all sorts of fancy equipment to make it but liquid glucose is the only ingredient you will need to buy, everything else you’ll already have in your cupboard.

Cat Honeycomb

(Photo by Betty)

The lovely and very talented Betty photographed my Christmas menu for me and made everything look fantastic. She staged the photographs beautifully and gave them a great Christmassy feel. I have had a number of people say to me that the photographs are what made them decide what they wanted to order as they were too tempting to resist! Please visit her website www.greedybetty.com to see more of her fantastic photography.

I initially saw the Christmas menu as a way of friend’s ordering my food, but as the popularity has grown I have put posters up at work and even did my first little event the other day! My friend Tula invited a number of people to her house for what she called her Christmas Extravaganza. I was very excited that she had asked me but also slightly nervous because this would be the first time people that didn’t know me would be trying my food and I would be able to see their reactions.

My Mum came along with me and with her help, I was able to put together a table that I was very happy with and people even commented on how professional it looked. This had a lot to do with my Mum’s help with the food labels and the amazing bunting she made for me. My Mum has spent hours making all of the labels for each item and they would not have looked anywhere near as good if I hadn’t had her help. She is very creative and has been a massive help from the start.

I was nervous about the chutney because although I had tried it once I had made it, I hadn’t tried it when it had matured. I asked my Mum to try it first because I knew she would give me an honest opinion, and luckily she said it was delicious! I was very happy with how many people said how tasty they were and bought them as gifts and for themselves.

2014-11-06 18.26.31

I am so pleased with how successful my menu has become and the upcoming events I have. I am going to have a very busy few weeks!

2014-11-06 18.26.06

2014-11-06 18.26.37

2014-11-06 18.26.44

Broccoli Soup

2014-10-26 19.04.37

 

We are well and truely in what I am calling Soup Season. Although the weather isn’t as cold as it usually is at this time of year, a lovely soup is still perfect on a cold, dark evening.

Soup has for many years been something I have been incredibly fussy about. I had a bad experience with some Heinz tomato soup when I was a lot younger and it has stuck with me. I don’t eat soup in restaurants and I have only found one bought soup that I liked which was Covent Garden chicken soup; but then to my disappointment they changed the recipe.

My Mum knows how fussy I am when it comes to soup so for Christmas last year she bought me a soup maker. The one I have is the Morphy Richards Sauté and Soup Soupmaker and is fantastic. Instead of following different steps and waiting for the soup to come up to the boil and then liquidising, this soup maker allows you to put all the ingredients in the machine at the start. It then does all of the work itself taking 21 minutes for smooth soup or 28 for chunky soup.

Since getting the soup maker, it has made making soup so much easier and quicker. It has also meant I have been able to experiment with even more flavours and am quickly expanding my soup repertoire – I’ve even made tomato soup!

The following recipe is the original one my Mum always used when she made her broccoli soup. It was from a microwave cooking book which looked like it was from the 70’s by Jill Spencer. Cooking soup in the microwave doesn’t sound particularly gourmet, but trust me this soup is delicious!

1 small onion
25g butter
25g plain flour
600ml hot chicken stock
230g broccoli florets
300ml milk
salt and pepper

  1. Chop the onion and put it in a 1.5 litre oven proof dish along with the butter. Cook in the microwave for 2 minutes
  2. Stir in the flour and then add the finely chopped broccoli, stock and salt and pepper. Cook in the microwave or 6 minutes, stirring twice
  3. Allow to cool slightly and then liquidise. Add the milk and the reheat in the microwave for 1 minute
  4. The soup can keep for up to 3 days in the fridge and just reheat in the microwave

Rien isn’t a fan of broccoli but when I first made him this soup he kept saying how delicious it was. Coming from someone who isn’t forthcoming with compliments about food, this must have meant he liked it! When we were next having soup for dinner, he automatically assumed it was broccoli soup and he was a bit gutted when he realised it wasn’t!

I really recommend trying this soup – you won’t be disappointed!