Tomato and Chilli Chutney

I am psyching myself up for Christmas so brace yourselves for a deluge of edible gift ideas that will be headed this way….. A few years ago I was really strapped for cash right before Christmas so I had to get creative with cheap homemade presents. Everyone was delighted with their homemade biscuits, mincemeat and chutneys so I have been making them every year ever since and will share some of them with you over the coming weeks.

You can make this chutney as mild or hot as you like by adjusting the amount of chillies to suit your taste.

For those who have never ventured into chutney making territory before, cheap preserving jars are available on eBay, at Hobbicraft shops and online and a great UK website for supplies is http://www.nutleyskitchengardens.co.uk/jam-preserve-making/ Size wise I tend to use jars of roughly 180-225ml capacity.

I have a 5lt casserole pot with a heavy copper base which I use for chutney making so if you don’t have a preserving pan a good quaility 4-5lt saucepan/casserole pan will do the trick. Also, be aware your home will smell of vinegar for days afterwards so I suggest opening windows, whacking up the extractor fan to max and not having any washing drying indoors whilst embarking on chutney making! It really is worth all this prep so I hope I have forewarned you rather than put you off!

Tomato and chilli chutneyContinue reading “Tomato and Chilli Chutney”

Bonfire Night Gingerbread Cupcakes with Lemon Icing

I struggle to get used to the shorter days at the best of times but now that the blog is up and running I’m having to be super organised to get things cooked/baked during daylight hours so I can photograph them in natural light. I really was spoilt over the summer and miss not being able to shoot my week day dinners so be warned there will probably be a lot of baked goods appearing over the winter months!

With Bonfire Night almost upon us, I thought I would share my favourite gingerbread recipe which was torn from an issue of Waitrose Food Illustrated many moons ago. These gingerbread cupcakes with lemon icing are light and airy rather than dense and sticky and so quick to make. They would also be great around Christmas time.

For non British readers, Bonfire Night is also known as Fireworks’ Night or Guy Fawkes’ Night. It’s a British tradition dating back to the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when Catholic conspirator Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James I.

The anniversary of Fawkes’ arrest on 5 November is celebrated each year with fireworks and bonfires.

Bonfire night gingerbread cupcakes

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Sea-Salted Chocolate and Pecan Tart

Having recently tasted a Paul A Young chocolate mince pie, I knew this sea-salted chocolate and pecan tart recipe couldn’t fail to be good. It is one of those stop/start recipes which is best attempted on a weekend or day off or made the night before it will be served as there are three hours of refrigerating required. Hopefully that hasn’t put you off as the resultant tart is rich, decadent and definitely worth the effort!

The recipe suggests a tart tin 24cm in diameter and 2.5cm deep but I used a slightly deeper 20cm tin which worked just as well.

Paul A Young Salted Chocolate TartContinue reading “Sea-Salted Chocolate and Pecan Tart”

Italian Meatballs in Chunky Tomato Sauce

The Hairy Dieters: How to love food and lose weight is one of my favourite cookbooks and their Italian Meatballs in Chunky Tomato Sauce recipe has become a staple in my kitchen now. I cannot recommend the book enough. The meatballs are easy and delicious, freeze well and make a quick low calorie dinner with a small serving of pasta and a big salad.

meatballsContinue reading “Italian Meatballs in Chunky Tomato Sauce”

Christmas Cake

I think it must have been in about 2009 that I started making my own christmas cakes. I tried a few different recipes in the early years but since giving Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake recipe a go I haven’t looked at another recipe.

I have tinkered with the quantity of some of the ingredients over the years and have to disagree with Delia’s insistence on not checking the cake unit at least 4 hours has passed, mine is always cooked at around 3hrs 50 so I feel her timings are vastly overstated. Hopefully below you will find the recipe for a dark and fruity Christmas cake laced with brandy, rum or whisky as you see fit.

I suggest placing a roasting tin of boiling water below the shelf on the bottom of the oven right before baking the cake as the steam helps to make a moister cake. I also place a baking tray on the rack above the cake as this further protects the top from burning.

Christmas Cake Delia SmithContinue reading “Christmas Cake”

Brandy Soaked Fruit

Is it too soon to mention the C word?…….I hope not! I try to make my Christmas cake by mid October and have been using Delia’s Classic Christmas Cake recipe for some years now having made a few tweaks to suit my own tastes. I definitely stand on the Mary Berry side where alcohol in cakes/desserts is concerned and frankly more is more. Delia suggests a quite stingy 45ml brandy while Mary goes for 150ml so I’m edging up towards Mary’s measure!

To get started I like to soak the fruit for 5-7 days before baking the cake. Delia only soaks hers overnight though so if you are short on time, overnight is fine. And some cooks swear by a month or more soaking so start it whenever you have the time. For readers in the UK, Asda currently have 500g bags of dried fruit on 3 for 2 promotion so thats my cue to get soaking fruit.

Brandy Soaked Christmas cake fruitContinue reading “Brandy Soaked Fruit”

Apple & Blackberry Crumble

My late summer foraging gained me over a kilo of blackberries that are slowly being depleted from their freezer home as crumble and porridge season begins. I like my crumble with tart fruit to counter the sweet and crunchy oaty topping but feel free to add more sugar to taste if you prefer it sweeter. The blackberries can be swapped for raspberries or frozen summer berries.

Apple and blackberry crumbleContinue reading “Apple & Blackberry Crumble”

Maple and Pecan Layer Cake

It was my birthday last week and like all passionate sad bakers, I made myself a cake. This Hummingbird Bakery Maple and Pecan Layer Cake recipe had been in the ‘to try’ pile since late last year and so I thought it was time to test it out. As always with Hummingbird recipes, I found the icing to be too sweet for me although everyone else thought it was great!

hummingbird Maple and pecan cakeContinue reading “Maple and Pecan Layer Cake”

Hazelnut Chocolate Brownies

It dawned on me recently that I had never made full fat brownies before. I regularly used to make lower fat brownies from the “Cook Yourself Thin” cookbook and have even turned my hand at Gwyneth Paltrow’s vegan brownies but never the indulgent, no calories spared brownies. Last week this changed as I researched the ultimate brownies and settled on Nigel Slater’s ‘Very Good Chocolate Brownie’ with the addition of hazelnuts as I had some that needed using but you could use brazil or walnuts or leave them out altogether.

As I have learnt with the modified brownies I have made before, timing in the oven is crucial. Nigel suggests the following: ‘it is worth checking after 25 minutes, just in case, then every three minutes after that. I reckon you are looking for a cake whose outside edges feel a little springy, the inside soft, but not at all liquid. Stick a thin skewer or knitting needle in. If it comes out with visibly wet cake mixture stuck to it then put it back for three minutes longer. If, on the other hand, you have a slight goo stuck to your skewer then you are probably there. Leave the cake out to cool before cutting. It needs time to calm down. Oh, and if you pull out your skewer and it comes out clean then I’m afraid you have blown it’.

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Baba Ghanoush & Maneesh Flat Breads

Forgive me for reposting this but I can’t leave my terrible first post up on here and I think the combination of maneesh and baba ghanoush is a winner so this week you get two recipes instead of one. Baba Ghanoush is my favourite dip narrowly pipping cool and creamy Tzatziki at the post and I have been making my own for a few months now. There is a stall – Arabica Food and Spice – in Covent Garden who make the best Smoked Aubergine dip I have ever tasted but this is pretty good too. I have halved Paul Hollywood’s Maneesh recipe which was taken from his book Paul Hollywood’s Bread

Maneesh Baba Ghanoush

Continue reading “Baba Ghanoush & Maneesh Flat Breads”

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