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.
I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air.
~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Friday, 31 October 2014

Green Pepper Steak

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This is one of those quick, easy and simple recipes that every cook should have up their sleeves.  I wish I had a pound for every time I have cooked this over the past 45 years or so . . .  I'd be a very rich woman!  Green Pepper Steak is one of those delightfully quick and tasty dishes that goes together in a flash and can be on the table in not much more than half an hour or so.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Coconut and Lime Glazed Banana Muffins, a taste of the Tropics!

 

One fruit that I am not overly fond of is bananas.  You will never see me peeling a banana and eating it like that.  They just don't appeal to me in that way.   If you slice them into a bowl and add lashings of warm custard, or  scatter slices of them over a bowl of crisp rice cereal. . .  they somehow become much more appealing to me. 


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Delicious One Pan Autumn Warmer

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I have a love affair going with the Bratwurst sausages.   Todd and I love German Food full stop.  It's one of our favourite places to visit . . .  I had the most delicious brats and sauerkraut once when we were there.  

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The photograph I took doesn't really do it justice.  It was absolutely flippin delicious!  Boiled potatoes . . .  that tangy kraut, perfectly cooked and a grilled brat.  So good!  You know something is fabulous when six years later you are still thinking about it!  Me-thinks I best start saving my pennies to go back!


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Posh Spice

















Prestat's NEW Orange & Cardamom Chai Thins

Velvety Milk Chocolate Thins, Orange and Cardamom Chai £11.50

Prestat, chocolatier to Her Majesty The Queen, has launched some fabulous NEW Orange & cardamom Chai Thins - a perfect treat to enjoy over Diwali.  The thin disks of velvety milk chocolate have just received the Gold Great Taste Award, and are infused with Mediterranean Orange Oil, Cardamom and Chai - producing the taste equivalent of a fabulous firework and the vibrant colours of Rajasthan!

In 1902, a chocolate shop called Prestat was opened in London by descendants of Louis, Dufour, the man who created the world's first recorded chocolate truffle in Champray, France in 1896.  Prestat's reputation for making exquisite handmade chocolates quickly spread and before too long, maharajas, sultans, presidents and stars of the stage and screen had all experienced the delight that only the finest chocolate can bring.  Granted a Royal Warrant, Prestat chocolates continue to be served at every major state banquet.

Prestat is one of the few British Artisan chocolatiers to make all it's own chocolates, giving it completely control of recipes and the sourcing of ingredients as well as the opportunity to nurture the traditional skills needed to create it's handcrafted chocolates.

For more infomation and stockist details check out their web page at www.prestat.co.uk

Creamy Chicken, Broccoli & Cheese Soup























 





When I was growing up we never, ever had broccoli to eat. I had never even heard of the stuff. My dad would only ever eat a few vegetables . . . peas, beans, carrots, swede, potatoes and once in a while corn, and so my mom never cooked anything else.

And more often than not . . . they came from a tin. Ugh . . . tinned vegetables.  Not so tasty . . .


Monday, 27 October 2014

Keeping Time with Oregon Scientific

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As you have probably correctly surmised I am a rather keen cook.   No surprise there.   As a keen cook, I really rely on having quality tools in my kitchen to work with.   When I used to cook at the Manor, I regularly cooked Silver Service Formal Dinner Parties with multiple courses for anywheres up to 40 people (and once a cocktail party for 200).  People used to ask how I managed to do it all.   I had excellent tools at my fingertips and one of my secrets was . . .  I used multiple timers.

I always use kitchen timers when I am cooking, even now when I am only cooking every day stuff for the Toddster and myself.  I am a person that is easily distracted and so a kitchen timer has saved my bacon and THE bacon more than once!

I was recently sent a gorgeous Kitchen Timer from Oregon Scientific to try out and I am really keen to tell you all about it.






















 This is the Oregon Scientific Two Channel Kitchen Timer with Clock & LED Visual Alert, which I have been using in my kitchen for the past week or so and I have to say that I just love it.

Some of it's features are: 

  • Dual timer with count up/down function
  • Adjustable alarm volume – high / low / mute – with LED alert
  • Digital clock
  • With stand, magnet and hanging hole
  • Batteries are included
  • Product Size : 90(W) x 76(H) x 20(D) mm  

  •  The Kitchen Timer with two channels and LED alert gives a combination of clock and timer within one design. The two-channel timer allows you to alter between the count up and down functions according to your needs. The alarm volume can be adjusted, and the LED alert will flash continuously when the alarm is muted. The timer comes with stand, magnet and hanging holes which enable you to move around kitchen / home as required.  

    What I love about it most is that I can set it up to time two things that I am cooking at the same time.  This is a brilliant feature.   What I also love about it is that it is really LOUD!  I can't tell you the number of times I have missed a timer going off because my deaf husband who always forgets to turn his hearing aid on has the television on at about a bazillion decibels and I haven't heard it.   That has not been a problem at all with this Oregon Scientific Two Channel Kitchen Timer.  It is so loud and piercing that I can hear it all over the house . . .  and it flashes red as well so even if I couldn't hear it I would see it.

    I love also that I can hang it on a string around my neck if I wanted to . . .  I love that the magnets on the back mean that I can just stick it to the microwave or the refrigerator, or front of the stove.   I love the little stand that means I can have it sitting up on the counter within my eyesight, with that green count down light flashing and that red light flashing when it is done.

    In short I love it.   This would make a fabulous gift for any foodie on your Christmas List this year.  I highly recommend.   I'm really happy with it myself and I think you would be too.

    To find out more,  check out all of the details on the Oregon Scientific  Page.  

    Note:  Although I was sent one of these to use any and all opinions are my own.

    An Alsation Tart . . . Got Bacon?

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    I think Bacon has to be high on the list of just about everyone's favourite foods, don't you?   I know we love the stuff.   I have often thought I would like to stop eating meat altogether . . .  but I could never give up bacon or a good steak.   Those two things are heaven to me.

    "Nothing is quite as intoxicating as the smell of bacon frying . . . "
    ~James Beard 


    Sunday, 26 October 2014

    Easy Fruit & Cheese Danish

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    I think my youngest son had to be the pickiest eater ever born.   The youngest of five he took on, not only all of his own food dislikes, but also the food dislikes of his older brothers and sisters.  Getting him to eat was somewhat of a nightmare. He went through periods of time where he would only eat hot dogs . . .  and then mashed potatoes . . .  peanut butter sandwiches . . .  corn and rice.  I used to really despair of him ever growing up to be healthy . . . thankfully my fears were for naught and he is now a pretty healthy eater and normal in every way!

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    He used to love pizza pockets and those Pillsbury Toaster Strudels.  I think he practically lived off them for a time.  I do confess that I kinda liked them too . . .  but only in a lazy, "I can't be asked to cook  and yet I am starving" kind of a way.   I only mention this because these delicious Easy Cheese Danishes I am showing you here today almost remind me of those toaster strudels, except  . . .  of course they are better.  Because you make them yourself.

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    And oh how very easy they are to make.  With just a bit of ready roll puff pastry, some cream cheese, a few store cupboard essentials and some jam . . .  and less than half an hour later you can be munching on one of these very delicious pastries.

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    You can use whatever kind of jam you want . . .  I have a penchant for  strawberry and cherry . . .  today I used blueberry because I didn't have any cherry . . .  apricot would be very tasty as well.   Just pick your favourite flavour!  mmmmm ..... plum preserves would be gorgeous.

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    It's as simple as cutting your puff pastry into rectangles, dolloping on a simple to make cream cheese filling . . .  swirling it with a bit of jam and baking.  Oh . . .  there are a few other little steps in there as well, but nothing too complicated.  I hope you'll give them a go and that you enjoy them as much as we do!  I do like to pull out the stops at the weekend and make us a breakfast treat now and again!  I haven't had any complaints yet!

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    *Easy Fruit and Cheese Danish*
    Makes eight

    These are so lovely and so easy and simple to make.  Delicious.  

    1 sheet of ready roll puff pastry, all butter
    115g of cream cheese (4 ounces)
    50g of sugar (1/4 cup)
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    1 TBS heavy cream
    2 TBS jam (I used strawberry on half and blueberry on the other half)
    1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tsp water
    demerara sugar to sprinkle (turbinado)  

    To ice:
    130g of icing sugar, sifted (1 cup)
    1 to 2 TBS of lemon juice  

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    Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.  Line several baking sheets with baking paper. 
    Whisk the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and cream together.   Set aside.  Unroll your puff pastry.  Cut it into 8 rectangles.  Place four on each baking sheet, leaving lots of space in between.  Using a sharp knife, and taking care not to cut all the way through, score a border all the way around each, about 1/2 inch deep.  This will help the edges to rise and create an edge to help keep the filling in.  Place 1/8 of the cream cheese mixture in the centre of each.   Spread it out almost to the border on each.  Top each with a few dots of jam and swirl it a bit with the end of a toothpick.  Brush the border of each with the beaten egg yolk mixture and sprinkle with some sugar.

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    Bake for 13 to 14 minutes, until golden brown on the edges and nicely risen.   Remove from the oven and lift off carefully onto a wire rack to cool completely.

    Once the pastries are cold, whisk together the icing sugar and enough lemon juice to make a thickish drizzle.  Using a spoon, drizzle some of this decoratively over each pastry.  Allow to set and then serve.

    Saturday, 25 October 2014

    Almond Glazed Poppy Seed Bread

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    I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have baked this delicious tea bread!  It was a popular request when I worked at the Manor for the tea parties and Ladie's Luncheons, and was often requested as something to send when there was something needing sending such as in a new baby, or death in a family etc.  It's a North American thing.  We send food to show our support at times of need.

    Friday, 24 October 2014

    Spooky Ghost Cake Pops and a Better Baking Boutique!

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    Britains biggest and best loved home baking brand - Dr Oetker, will open it's doors to the EVEN BETTER BAKING BOUTIQUE on Friday 7th November until Sunday 16th November, 2014.

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    Each day the interactive baking space will play host to a range of inspiration experiences to encourage the nation to become even better bakers.   These include demos, product show cases, taste testing, master classes, and for the first time ever, consumers will also get the chance to purchase all of the amazing products on the spot.

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    Even Better Baking Ambassador Juliet Sear will host a very special master class on Friday 7th November, sharing all of her insider hints and tips on perfecting a range of tricky techniques.  These include the art of perfect piping, simplifying sugar roses, truly irresistible toppings and Christmas themed modelling.

    On Thursday 13th November, cake pop expert and baking extraordinaire April Carter will host an exclusive Cake Pop Night, designed to give consumers the confidence to turn their own favourite pop stars into quirky cakes on sticks!  Consumers will get the chance to learn from teh best and have a go themselves on the night, to the backdrop of a DJ spinning everyone's favourite 80's pop tunes.

    Other master classes taking place at the Dr. Oetker Even Better Baking Boutique include Beautiful Baking Trends, Chocolate Emporium and Winter Wonder Bakes.
    For more information on the full schedule of experiences and to register for a place at any of the exclusive master class's just visit HERE.

    What:  Join the cake experts Dr Oetker at the Even Better Baking Boutique for a range of master classes in how to creat the ultimate cake creations.

    When:  Friday November 7th to Sunday November 16th, 2014

    Where:  12 Dray Walk, Brick Lane, London E1 6QL

    Details:   Register for the Classes online.  See link above.

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    *Spooky Ghost Cake Pops*
    From Dr. Oetker. 


    For the cake balls:
    120g Dr Oetker 72% Cocoa Extra Dark Fine Cooks Chocolate (4 1/2 ounces)
    150g soft unsalted butter at room temperature (10 1/2 TBS)
    200f Light muscovado sugar (1 cup soft light brown)
    3 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten
    2 tsp Dr Oetker Madagascan Vanilla extract
    125g plain flour (1 cup less 1 TBS) 


    For the Cake Pops:
    2 X 100g bags of Dr Oetker White Chocolate chips melted for sticking the balls onto the sticks and coating the balls (a generous cup)
    1 tsp of vegetable oil
    To decorate the Ghosts:
    1 X pack of Dr Oetker White Regal Ice
    (This is a fondant type of icing which you roll out)
    icing sugar for rolling out
    Dr Oetker White desgner icing for sticking the regal ice to the cake pops
    Dr Oetker Jet Black Gel Food colour

    Preheat the oven to 140*C.275*F/gas mark 1.  Butter and line a 7 inch square cake tin.

    To make the fudge brownie mix melt the extra dark chocolate in a microwave on medium power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring each time until melted, or in a heat proof bowl on a gentle heat over a bain marie.  Leave to cool.

    Beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or electraic hand beater for approximately 2 minutes until pale and fluffy.   You can also do this with a wooden spoon in a bowl. 

    Tip:  If you are in a rush or the butter is quite cold, the addition of a couple of tablespoons of boiling water at this stage, beaten on slow until mixed will speed up this process.

    Add your eggs on a slow speed, about a third at a time, mixing until combined.   Add your cooled chocolate, stirring continuously.  Add the vanilla extract and stir.  On slow speed mix in the flour u ntil just combined.  Do not overbeat.  Alternately fold in by hand.  Pour the mix into your cake tin and bake for approximately 40 minutes.  check it with a sharp knife or metal skewer.  You want this to be slightly underbaked so the knife should comeout pasty with a nice paste on the knife.

    Leave to cool, then turn out into a bowl and crumble with your hands to fine fudgy crumb. 

    To make the cake balls, take a handful of fudge cake mix and squeest together tightly.  You are aiming for little balls about the size of a large whole walnut, approximately 30g each.   If the mixture is dry, the addition of a little chocolate or vanilla butter cream will help the mixture stick.

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     Once you have all of your balls ready, dip the end of your stick into th emelted chocoalte chips and push the stick into each ball, about half way in. Hold the ball to stop it splitting open when the stick goes in.

    Once all the cake pops are ready, refrigerate them for 1 to 2 hours before dipping them, or pop them into the freezer for 20 minutes, so the balls are firm enough to hold  when dipping in the coating.

    To coate the cake pops, melt Dr Oetker Fine Cooks White chocolate on lower power in a microwave bowl until just melted, stirring occasionally, or over a bain marie on a gentle heat.  Plunge each cake pop into the chocolate coating until completely covered.  Tap the cake pop gently on the side of the bowl to shake off the excess.  Once all are covered, dip each cake pop again.

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     To decorate the ghosts, roll out half the white regal icing into a large rectangle, using plenty of icing sugar and a large plastic rolling pin.  Roll fairly thinly - 2mm to 3mm thick.  Squeeze a little Dr Oetker white designer icing onto the tops of the cake pops or brush with some melted white chocolate to aid in sticking of the sugar paste.

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     Using a cake cutter or small bowl, cut out circles of regal icing and place on each of the pops, smoothing down over with your fingers to creat the white sheet effect.   Allow a little wavy movement by using your fingers to create smooth waves.

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    Draw on the ghost eyes and mouth using the Dr Oetker Jet Black Gel Food colour.

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    Aren't they just A D O R A B L E !!!


    And just so that those of you with a Gluten problem don't feel left out, here is a delicious recipe for some Gluten Free Banana Muffins!

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    *Gluten Free Blueberry and Banana Muffins in Edible Wafer Cases*
    Makes 12

    From the Dr Oetker people. 

    For the muffins:
    75g coconut oil (sunflower or vegetable oil can be used) (5 1/2 TBS)
    1 medium over ripe banana, thorougly mashed with a fork
    200g fresh blueberries (2 cups)
    zest of one lemon
    220ml of butter milk (scant cup)
    75g of light muscovado sugar (1/2 cup soft light brown)
    2 medium free range eggs, beaten lightly
    250g Gluten free self raising flour seived with 1 sachet (1 tsp) Dr Oetker gluten free baking powder (about 1 2/3 cup)
    2 packs of Dr Oetker Edible Wafer Cupcake cases (can use paper liners) 


    For the topping:
    150g Quark (1 1/4 cups, can use yoghurt or sour cream)
    150g of Cream Cheese (2/3 cup)
    5 TBS icing sugar
    1 tsp Dr Oetker Sicilian Lemon extract
    Dr Oetker Madagascan Vanilla Grinder for the topping
    optional extra blueberries and dried banana slices to finish  


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    To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4 and place the edible wafer cup cake cases on a baking tray.  

    In a stand mixre or wit han electric hand beater, mix the sugar and coconut oil together until well mixed and in a liquid consistency.  Add the mashed banana, lemon zest, buttermilk and egg to the sugar mix and beat well to combine everythin gtogether.  


    Tip in the flour and baking powder.  Mix very lightly to just combine.  Add the blueberries and gently fold in.  Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases.  Place into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. You may need an additional 5 minutes until they are springy to the touch.  Allow to cool and turn out onto cooling racks after 10 minutes.  

    To top the muffins, take the quark and cream cheese straight from the fridge and gently mix together with the sugar and lemon extract.  Don't over beat.  Gently spread the desired amount of topping over each muffin.   Garnish as desired.  

    Tip - For the cake batter use a plastic piping bag to pipe the mixture into your cake cases more neatly and evenly.

    To join Dr Oetker on Facebook check out:  www.facebook.com/DrOetkerBaking
    To visit their webpage:  http://www.oetker.co.uk
    All Dr Oetker decorations are available from the Dr. Oetker online Store:  www.oetkeronline.co.uk