Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they were fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Baked Chicken with Tarragon and Dijon Mustard

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This is a delicious chicken recipe that I made for our tea the other night.  I had some partially boned chicken breasts that I wanted to use.  I adapted the recipe from one that I found in a Diana Henry cookery book entitled A Bird in the Hand, chicken recipes for every day and every mood.  It's a great book.  I have a number of Diane's cookerybooks and I have to say I really like her recipes.  They are very good.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Refresh with O-teas

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I was recently sent a sampling of Oteas to try out, some of their herbal blends and fruity teas.  I don't drink regular tea, so its always nice to try something herbal that I can drink.

Oteas was born out of a desire to promote and support an active, healthy and balanced lifestyle. Their teas are expertly blended with the highest quality ingredients.  They are sourced from around the world, from countries including India, Sri Lanka, China and Japan.

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 The tea is  in pyramid shaped bio-degradable bags to maximise their infusion and to provide a superior taste. They come in 7 different ranges,  each with a variety of different blends.   You can choose from Black, Detox, Fruit, Green, Herbal, Organic or Rooibos and indulge in mouth-watering blends such as Date & Lime, Moroccan Mint and Lemongrass, Ginger & Cinnamon.

The blends are available in pouches or tins, each containing 15 bio-degradable tea bags, with prices ranging from £3.39 to £4.49 per pack.   The most eye catching and quirky member of the Oteas family is their individually boxed tea bags, which is what I received.   They are available in collections of 3, 12 or 24, with prices starting at just £1.29.   These delightful miniature boxes make the perfect gift for any tea-lover.   They would make great stocking stuffers coming Christmas time.

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For those who are keen to embark on a health kick, they also offer a Detox range, called ‘Oteatox’ which is currently stocked in Lloyds Pharmacy.

Oteas also offers around 400 different teas in a loose-leaf only format, which is rising in popularity.

I quite enjoyed the selection I was sent.  I think my favourite was the Liquorice one.  I love Liquorice anyways and this had a lovely flavour without it being over-powering!  I also loved the cute little pyramid boxes.  Great for gift-giving.

To find out more  do check out their webpage.

Courgette Gratin (Zucchini)


I was given a mammoth Courgette the other day. I didn't mind at all . . . we kinda like courgettes, and as long as they aren't overly large, there's still a lot of value in them.  Once they get too big, they get a bit too spongy for me. I prefer small to medium sized ones, but the larger ones are quite good to use to make tasty courgette loaves.  In North America you will probably know this vegetable as the indomitable Zucchini!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Crock Pot Marinara Sauce

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I love this time of year when we blessed enough to be enjoying an abundance of fresh local produce!  I grew my own tomatoes this year and I have to say I did a really great job of it!  (Not to brag or anything!)  I took advantage of some of them, as well as some which I bought to make up the difference, to make a delicious homemade crock-pot marinara sauce.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Orange Poppyseed Muffins

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I am not sure what it is about poppyseeds, but I love anything with poppyseeds in them.  When I lived out West we used to be able to buy the best poppyseed sweet buns at the grocery store bakery in Medicine Hat.  They were to die for!  I have been craving them ever since!  I will have to find myself a recipe one day and make my own.  These muffins are not quite buns, but they are quite delicious in a different sort of way!

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Blackberry, Apple and Almond Crumble

There is no dessert that Todd loves more than a good crumble.   Apple.  Blueberry.   Strawberry rhubarb . . . if it has crumble in the name, Todd loves it.  Well, maybe not as much as the memory of his mother's apple pies, but almost!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Toffee Banana & Toasted Pecan Loaf

mmm . . . mmm . . . mmm . . . This was my ABSOLUTELY favourite kind of day . . .  no, the sun did not shine, nor was it really, really hot.  It was kind of muggy actually and humid, so weatherwise not great.  It was my favourite day in another kind of way, in a tasty baking kind of way  . . .

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Chicken and Pepper Rice

When my veggie box came this week, there were two lovely big and fat red peppers inside, amongst other things of course! I have always loved the flavours of peppers . . . raw and with dips, sliced and sauteed and in omelets (I like to use more than one colour in these), sliced and sauteed with beef strips to make pepper steak . . . the possiblities are endless. I never run out of ideas on how to use them!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Bettys Classic White Bread Rolls and the GBBO

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For nearly 100 years, people have been flocking to Yorkshire for a taste of Bettys. Bettys was founded by Frederick Belmont, a Swiss baker and confectioner who came to England in search of opportunities to develop his craft skills. He opened his first Café Tea Rooms in Harrogate in 1919 and named it 'Bettys'. The reason why remains a mystery to this day.

Lots of things have changed since then. They now have six Café Tea Rooms in Yorkshire and the Bettys name has become famous the world over. They have also added a mail order service which delivers deliciousness to homes from Tunbridge Wells to Tokyo, and they share their knowledge and passion for food through Bettys Cookery School.

But in other ways, they are unchanged. Still family-owned, they believe in doing business in a way that is fair to people and kind to the planet. And at their Craft Bakery in Harrogate they still practice the artisan skills that Frederick Belmont brought to Yorkshire from Switzerland nearly 100 years ago.

Its now Great British Bake Off Season here in the UK, and in honor of that each week Betty's will be sharing a delicious recipe, plus a video and their baking tips to go with each recipe. The kind of thing you won't find in any cookery book!

This week they are sharing their recipe for Classic Bread Rolls with us.   After watching the video, I think even I will be able to bake  us some lovely rolls!

*Classic White Bread Rolls*
the Betty's way
Makes 8
400g strong white flour (3 cups)
35g butter (2 1/2 TBS)
5 g sea salt (1 tsp)
8 g fresh yeast (2 1/2 tsp)
110ml whole milk (scant half cup)
110ml water (scant half cup)

To Decorate:
20ml whole milk (1 12 TBS)
1 egg, beaten
selection of poppyseeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
1.  Place the flour and salt together in a bowl. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until it is fully mixed through.
2.  Add the yeast to the milk and water and mix with a fork.  Allow to stand until the yeast has dissolved before adding this to the dry ingredients.
3.  Gradually add the liquid to the dry ingredients, together with the dissolved yeast.  Work the mixture together until it forms a ball of dough, and tip ou tonto a work surface.
4.  Knead gently for about 10 minutes until the dough becomes soft and smooth.
5.  Allow the ball of dough to rest under a slightly damp cklean tea-towel for 5 minutes.
6.  Roll the dough into a sausage shape first and, using the scraper, divide th edough into 8 evenly sized pieces.  Roll each into a round shape.  Allow the dough to relax again for five minutes under a damp tea-towel or clingfilm before making each ball into a shape.
7.  When the dough has been shaped, carefully place onto a baking tray.
8.  Brush the dough with a little egg/milk mixture and sprinkle with seeds of your choice.
9.  Place the tray in the prover or leave in a warm place covered with clingilm for about 20 minutes, or until doubled in size.
10.Bake the bread in a preheated oven at 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6 (fan assisted) oven for 10 to 15 minutes, (depending on shape.)
11.The bread is baked when golden brown in colour and when tapped underneath they should sound hollow.  Place on a cooling wire.
~o~Beautiful Bread~o~

When kneading, always work the dough in the same direction. This will deveop the network of gluten strands.

To avoid sticking to your dough, use the one second contact rule - don't touch your dough for more than a second as you knead it

Imprint your dough with your thumb - if it springs back, its ready.

This stage is really important - what you're trying to do is trap energy in the dough.

When Lisa holds up the underside of the balled off dough, you can see the swirls of the core - yet the top is smooth.

The  movement you're looking for is down and over.  Notice in our film how Lisa pushes slightly down and she rotates the dough in her palm, travelling in the same direction.

If you don't hav ea dedicated prover, few of us do, its easy to create one.

Simply take a bowl, turn it upside down in your sink, add hot water and your tray of dough, and cove rwith some cling fim.

Do you get tangled up in clingfilm?  Than fold it back on itself to double line it - it prevents it from misbehaving!

Allow the dough a final 10% to finish the race.  In other words, remove the dough from the prover a little before it has completely risen.

This is because the yeast needs a last bit of energy to take into the oven for a perfect rice.

When cooling your bread, make sure there's an airflor under the tray.

This prevents soggy bottoms!

Do check out the Betty's Baking Secrets Page, for a whole lot more baking secrets during the GBBO and beyond.   Also don't forget to check back next week to see what's baking next!  (With any luck I might even get it baked myself to show you my results!  There is no rest for the wicked!!)

Green Peach Salad

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This lovely salad comes from a cookery book which I just love and can't recommend enough. Genius Recipes, by Kristen Miglore.  Its a compilation of  recipes that promise to rethink the way you cook.   There hasn't been a dud in the bunch.  I have loved every one I have tried, and this one here today is no exception!