Hare Cottage Pie With Crunchy Topping
One of the great things about blogging is the number of people I ‘meet’ via my blog or reading other peoples posts. I regularly catch up with the Muddy Guide a weekly post on Muddy Stilettos giving local ‘What’s On’ info. There’s always a gem of discovery: pretty beach destinations, great vintage shops or a catch up on cafes in Covent Garden. Continue reading
Chocoate Sauce And Banana Caramel Shortbread
I’ve mentioned before going to boarding school at 11. A small, very old school, rich in tradition; with a parallel language. Almost everything had a nickname. From compulsory activities – Gravel Crunching, Spud Bashing, Squizzing, Sticking And Licking. To teachers, the chalk lobbing Chemi T and the feared threesome, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. Named with the malice only a girl’s school can muster. Food, of course, had comparable names. Flabby tinned peaches and custard became Dead Goldfish, Bullet hard boiled eggs in cheese sauce, became Convent Eggs and the most anticipated rare treat, Chunky rectangular slabs of shortbread, slightly soft in the centre, with jugs of thick chocolate custard were affectionately named Thames Mud And Barges. This is my re-invention of that much loved dessert, using the caramelised bananas from my banana bread recipe. Continue reading
Confit Tomato And Spring Onion Bruschetti
From time to time you hear those throw away lines, on the bus or the tube. ” I told him that if he wanted to do that, he’d have to go somewhere else!” Or “She said they were getting married to have children, but I know he doesn’t want any.” Do you ever wonder what happened next, or is it just me whose nosy? You can pass quite a long journey contemplating those outcomes.
Similarly I was listening to a food programme where they kept talking about Confit. Not duck or goose but all sorts of produce. A throw away, “Then I put confit spring onions on it.” made me wonder about those neglected vegetables that would benefit from that languorous olive oil soaking. I began working my way through the fridge to see what can or can’t be slavered in the deep warmed evo. Continue reading
Lacey Heart Pancake
Do you go all out for Valentine’s Day or try and avoid the commercial ordeal altogether? Does the idea of a table for two in a restaurant with a ‘special’ menu, fill you with horror or with future potential? I’ve always been a fan of the hearts and flowers but not in the one sided way it can be viewed, as a totally girls day. ’Men aren’t that bothered’, one of the Glam Teens pointed out to me.
A romantic gesture is never wasted, and sometimes a reminder to make one isn’t a bad thing. But it doesn’t have to be a commercialised gesture. A simple homemade supper in front of a good movie, a note in a packed lunch or just remembering to text a message from time to time. It isn’t cheesy and can be fun. Continue reading
Convent Eggs on Brioche
At age eleven I was sent to an all girls boarding school, not the rolling countryside keep your pony at school kind of place. But a small site with a playing field and plenty of space for the music school and Chapel. We were kept firmly ensconced behind tall gates only allowed out on sundays for a crocodile walk ( in a line, two by two).
Oddly enough, I enjoyed my time there, although I do remember being constantly hungry. Initially, because the food portions were fairly small and there wasn’t a tuck shop to fill up with in-between meals. Then, as we got older, we became fussier, I like to think more discerning and realised that much of the food was really awful. Toast for breakfast, barely browned and kept ‘warm’ on long trays waiting for a single tinned tomato to be dropped onto it, completing the soggy, slightly metallic flavoured concoction. Or pasties, which were really vol au vents with lids, that were exceptionally greasy and filled with what looked like old newspaper. And Convent Eggs, not the wonderful baked eggs with a topping of cream that you find if you google the recipe, but a hard bullet of a boiled egg, black around the solid yolk, clothed in a spoonful of pale yellow sauce tasting more of flour than the cheese it was supposed to be. This was also served on the infamous toast, but this time as our last meal of the day at 5.30 for tea. The only dish that was more universally dreaded was Fridays fish lunch, which was truly unsalvageable. Continue reading
Vintage Recipe – Dripping Cakes
It’s wonderful to come across old family recipes, those handwritten notes that slide out of your Mother’s or Grandmother’s cook books. Yellowed at the edges, creased down corners and gems of memory. For this reason I search out old cook books, preferably 1960s and earlier. I love the simplicity of some of the recipes and the fact that they take for granted that you can cook. The Method is often very brief and the oven temperatures, medium, cool or hot and in my latest find, a text book from 1910, written for King Edward’s School in Birmingham, it advises stacking the oven with plenty of wood before baking. Continue reading
Brick Lane Street Sign With It’s Bangladeshi Translation
The beginning of the week was return to Uni time for The New Londoner. I piled all his clean laundry and tech equipment into the boot of the car and packaged up a Coca Cola cooked ham and a bottle of wine to take back with him. I know bread, milk and eggs would have been more sensible, but there really is nothing like the Nigella ham. Continue reading
Pear Tarte Tartin, Glossy With Caramel
The dishes are washed and the leftovers dealt with, it’s nearly time for the tree to come down. But, for the next few days the pressure is off. Now, with not a turkey bone or slice of goose in sight, it’s about curling up in front of the fire and watching re-runs whilst indulging in the new cook books from under the tree. Continue reading
Border Biscuits, Deliciously Different, Biscuit Collection
‘OMG they make the best ginger biscuits you can buy.’ my friend said spotting the tin of Borders biscuits on the side in my kitchen. She’s right. The aromatic bite of the crispy, dark chocolate covered, ginger biscuits is as unlike the average ginger snap as you can get. To my delight on receiving the Border Biscuit Tin Selection the same can be said for every cookie in it. A wonderful gift to take on Christmas Day and very different from the dry Auntie type tin that we may all be more familiar with.
Chocolat And Walnut brownies
Border say their biscuits embrace the traditional and ‘homemade’ but enjoy innovation. Strawberry Cream Shortbread really does come with the fresh taste of strawberries, bright and summery. Lemon Souffle cookies have a real hit of lemon and the Toffee Apple crumble is rich with nibs of chewy toffee. Innovation clothed in the familiar and very yummy
So how could I resist using the chocolate covered Chocolate And Walnut Brownies to make a fabulously rich Rocky Road.
The biscuits were kindly given to me by Border Biscuits
Chocolate And Walnut Brownie Rocky Road
Chocolate And Walnut Brownie Rocky Road
- 125g butter
- 300g white chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons of golden syrup
- 200g chocolate and walnut brownies
- 100g mini marshmallows
- 100g tiny marshmallows
- 3 tablespoons icing sugar sifted for dusting
- Line a brownie tin with parchment paper
- Put the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a pan over a moderate heat, until the chocolate has just melted
- Meanwhile, chop the biscuits into small pieces (I wanted to keep the brownie pieces bigger than the traditional ‘crushed’ with a rolling pin)
- Stir the biscuits and marshmallows into the mixture and turn out into the lined brownie tin.
- Top with the tiny marshmallows
- Refrigerate overnight, then cut into small squares
- Dust all over with icing sugar
Rocky Road Filled Cookie Cutter
I also filled greased cookie cutter shapes with the rocky road mix, as gifts to take to friends, perfect for children and the cookie cutters can be used later.
Rocky Road Filled Angel Cookie Cutter
Iced Cookie Heart Tree Decoration
My mother used to experiment with Christmas. I mean that it was never the same from year to year, there weren’t really any family traditions, apart from putting up the tree on Christmas Eve. However, that tree might be a real one fragrant with earth and pine. Hauled up to our first floor flat, propped in the corner of the lift and dragged down the long polished parquet corridor to the front door. Decorated with glitter heavy baubles and that wonderful angel I’d found in the market.
It might be a fake tree, showy silver, shiny and brash. Skinny, so that it didn’t take up too much room; decorated with bushy multicoloured tinsle and twinkling red, blue and yellow lights.
Or the dreaded cardboard tree, a clever slotted together three foot high construction, devoid of Christmas gaudiness in every way. I really disliked that tree, it was super chic with hand-made paper baubles, plain white lights and traditional Scandinavian straw decorations. No tinsle, no glass baubles and no colour. My childhood self struggled with all that minimalism. To redeem it the tree needed some of these cookie decorations, they can still be chic one colour creations or as multicoloured and decorated as you like. Give them to friends as a Christmas tree gift. Fix them to a wreath or just give them as decorated cookies.
Mixed Cookie Tree Decorations
makes about 20
- 250g Plain flour
- 125g caster sugar
- 180g cold butter, cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 1 medium egg
- Bought tubes of coloured icing – Red, White and green, mine came with icing nozzles
- 1 pot white iridescent holographic powder/lustre/silk
- 2 or 3 drinking straws
- 1 clean fine paintbrush
Snowflake Cookie Decoration Using A Star Cutter
- Heat oven 200c or 180c fan
- Mix the flour and sugar together in a bowl
- Rub the butter into the flour sugar mix, like making pastry
- Add the vanilla and the egg, stir to mix and then using your hands make into a dough.
- Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for about 1 hour
- Roll out to about 6mm or 1/4 inch, it needs to be thicker to withstand being hung on the tree
- Using a selection of cutters cut out your shapes, using a drinking straw make a hole in the top of the shape to allow a ribbon to be threaded through after the cookies are iced
- place on a lined baking sheet and place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown
- Sometimes the ribbon hole seals up slightly in the cooking. If so, using the same straw carefully enlarge the hole
- Leave on a cooling rack until totally cold before icing
- Ice simply or as complicated as you like, the iridescent hologram powder hides a myriad of mistakes. I used the little paint brush to manipulate any icing that had got out of control and topped it with the powder while the icing was still damp.
- If the icing is too dry use edible gum from the cake supply stores
- Leave to one side to completely dry and thread ribbon through the hole
Holly on A Tree
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