Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Strawberry Glut

My parents have a pretty big garden and half of it my Dad uses as a vegetable patch. I remember picking huge gooseberries, loganberries and raspberries which were sweet enough to eat straight off the bush, watching my Mum top and tail French beans ready for the freezer and my Dad making ‘tomato paste’, from his mother’s recipe, with the excessive amounts of tomatoes that we used to end up with in a good year! It taught me not to waste food and to plan ahead when food shopping. I’m a militant list writer…

Dad phoned me the other night as he had some spare plants (two peppers and a pot of coriander!) for the cottage garden. Growing plants from seed is unpredictable, sometimes you’ll plant twenty and two come up or you’ll plant twenty and the whole lot come up! And also, that the strawberries had gone mental this year! I walked into their kitchen to pick up the plants and there were four huge bowls full of strawberries. Mum had already made about a ton of jam and the plants were still groaning with fruit. I carefully liberated two bowlfuls (half a carrier bag!) of the best looking ones!

After stuffing ourselves on thick strawberry pancakes, we needed to find something to do with the rest and works with practically every fruit. Fruit leather!


Fruit, roughly chopped (Core and peel apples, take the stones out of cherries, plums, apricots, damsons, take the tops off and hull strawberries etc) Apples are good for bulking up recipes! I made up 400gr of fruit with strawberries, cherries and apples.


Lemon Juice


1, For every 400gr of chopped fruit add 100ml of water into a large saucepan with a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice and simmer until the fruit is cooked.

2, Mash into a smooth paste or put into a food processor and blend. Pass through a sieve if necessary to get rid of pips (especially if your using fruits like strawberries or raspberries). Add sugar if it needs sweetening up!

3, Line a large baking tray or a big cake tin with greaseproof paper and spread the fruit thinly to about 3-5mm

4, Pop into a preheated oven (60o/c, if possible, or the lowest setting your oven will go to) to dry out. This can take upwards of 8 hours dependant on how thickly it is spread.

5, When it has stopped being sticky on top, peel off the paper, place onto fresh greaseproof paper. Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Rose Madeleines

Since the discovery of the Madeleine pan in one of my favourite shops in town, I have been searching for the perfect recipe. I made three loads of batter and had to tweak the fourth one to get what I wanted. The perfect very light, buttery taste and the delicate taste of roses which just shines through at the end.

Makes 24 (dependant on pan size)

2 eggs

65gr caster sugar

70gr unsalted butter, melted plus extra for greasing the pan

65gr caster sugar

Pinch of baking powder

1tsp rosewater

Preheat oven to 190o/c

1, Beat the eggs and sugar together until doubled in size. This can take about five minutes.

2, Add in the rosewater and beat for another minute.

3, Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in delicately with a spatula.

4, Pour in the melted butter and again fold in slowly with a spatula.

5, Brush tin with butter and also dust with flour. If you have a silicone tin or a non-stick one then you probably won’t have to use flour but still liberally brush with butter.

6, Bake in the middle of the oven for 5-10 minutes depending upon the size of your Madeleine tin. I like watching the first lot, timing it and then the next batch wont have to be under surveillance!

7, Remove from the oven and let cool for a couple of minutes. A sharp tap on the worktop made mine slip out before cooling them on the rack. They are delicious warm!

8, Dust with a little icing sugar and serve!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Lemon Curd

I love things that can be opened, dolloped in, baked in or spread over anything that needs zinging up. Lemons in this house don't last long...

Juice and zest of 4 large lemons
4 eggs (medium to large)
360gr of caster sugar
230 gr of unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

Makes 3 x 190gr jars

1, Place the eggs in a saucepan and whisk (a balloon whisk is best for this), add in everything else and put over a low heat and whisk until the butter has melted.

2, Turn the heat up to medium and continue whisk vigorously for 5-8 minutes. It should start to thicken. Don't let it get too hot or the eggs may split!

3, When it gets to the consistency of lightly whipped double cream then remove from the heat and carry on whisking for a couple of minutes. You can pass it through a metal sieve to get rid of the zesty bits, just work it through with a wooden spoon. Seal into sterilised jars and keep in the fridge. It should last for around a month unopened, or a week once the jar is opened.

This truly is an amazing thing to keep in the fridge. It gets smoothed onto toast in the morning, makes a great base for lemon meringue pie, is amazing swirled into the tops of blueberry muffins before baking and is brilliant even on porridge!

Madeleine Tin

There is a tiny shop in town that sells French antiques, collectables and linen and its an amazing treasure trove stuffed to the gills with amazing little bits and pieces once you get inside.

My favourite section is obviously the kitchenalia and today I carefully pulled out this Madeleine tin!

I'm really looking forward to making some tomorrow!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Cream Tea!

I tempted "weather fate" with the Ice Cream Cones. We had some amazing rain afterwards! I’m not going to apologise, my garden is unbelievably green! And all but my onions, who suffered a devastating enemy neighbour cat attack, have bloomed or taken to the soil really well after relocation from their comfy pots!

So I intend to tempt fate again, today we had scones!


220gr plain flour

60gr butter

25gr sugar

150ml milk


1, Preheat oven to 220o/c (Gas Mark 7)

2, Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips

3, Stir in the milk and fold it in until it forms a soft dough

4, Place on floured worktop and flatten with your hands until it is about 2cm thick

5, Stamp out your scones with a cutter, traditionally it you should use a 2inch round cutter but I used a heart shaped one

6, Gently, knead the scraps of dough back together and cut out more shapes

7, Place on lined baking tray, brush with a little milk and bake for 10-12 minutes until they have turned golden brown. Turn out onto a wire rack and cool.

8, Serve with clotted cream, jam, strawberries and a giant pot of tea!

N.B - This recipe is also great for cheese scones, just replace the sugar with 25gr of very strong grated mature cheddar and add a pinch of salt.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Banana Honey Flower Breakfast Cakes

Cake? For breakfast?

Well, its more of a muffin…

I’ve been trying to actually eat breakfast before I leave for work or on my way to work. Normally, I wake up late, get ready in a hurry which involves trying to find something suitable to wear to work, throwing on some makeup, tripping over the cats, making sure I have my keys, tripping over the cats, taming my hair which is a bit Diana Ross-esque first thing and then shooting out the door trying to justify to myself that I can get to the office in 13 minutes (no chance…)

Lack of breakfast doesn’t get me until about 10.30am when I’m slumped over my keyboard fumbling at a can of diet coke and something unhealthy… Bad move…


250gr flour (made with 125gr of wholemeal and 125gr of plain flour)

2tsp baking powder

80gr brown sugar

4tbsp of honey

4 bananas (mashed, these are best if they are very ripe!)

2 eggs

100ml of melted margarine

2tbsp water (or milk. If I have any left after making a curry, then coconut milk is brilliant)


1, Preheat oven to 180 degrees (gas mark four) and line a 6 hole muffin tin or grease a six flower silicon mould (I am in love with my silicon moulds…)

2, In one bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together and then add in the gritty bitty bits your left with in the sieve in as well. Stir in the sugar gently,

3, In another bowl add the rest of the ingredients, these should all be wet.

4, Mix the wet ingredients into the flour/sugar mix and gently combine with a large metal spoon. Don’t over mix or they will lose all the precious air they are holding and become dumpy and stodgy!

5, Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

6, Remove from the oven and set aside for a couple of minutes before turning onto a wire cooling rack. Sieve a little icing sugar over the top! Store them in an airtight container and grab as rushing out the house!

Ice Cream Cone Cakes!

Summer is officially here in our corner of the United Kingdom which is definitely a relief! I think it was well deserved after all the snow we had before and after Christmas!

We’ve cleared the garden, which took more than a couple of weekends due to the previous owner’s distinct lack of any garden maintenance! We bought the house in April 2009 and after all the pandemonium of buying and moving, arrival of the baby cats and Christmas the garden hasn’t been a priority! This afternoon we planted all our vegetable plants which I cannot wait to come to fruition!

So we thought we would celebrate summer, and these cupcake cones are perfect!


125gr caster sugar

125gr butter

2 eggs

125gr self raising flour

1tsp baking powder

1tsp vanilla essence

Flat bottomed ice cream cones


1, Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (or gas mark 3)

2, Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and light

3, Mix in the eggs and vanilla essence

4, Mix in the flour

5, Place 10-12 cones onto a 12 hole bun tin and fill with the cake mix. I used Askey’s flat bottomed cones and filled them up to just before the first ridge on the inside, handy!

6, Place them quickly into the oven and bake for 15-20mins, checking to see when they are cooked when a clean skewer can be inserted and comes out clean. They have to be put in the oven fairly swiftly or the cones will get soggy and they will explode out the bottom when you least expect it.

7, Remove them from the oven, and leave to cool.

8, Pipe butter cream icing onto the tops to make them look full of ice cream. I used a large star nozzle which is perfect bearing in mind the size of the cones!

9, Decorate with hundred and thousands and either a chocolate flake or a chocolate finger! Voila!

This recipe can be used as a base for making chocolate cones, lemon or even strawberry ones. Simply add two tablespoons of cocoa powder in place of two tablespoons of flour in the cake batter and use chocolate butter cream icing. For lemon ones, simply add in 2 tsp of lemon zest or replace the vanilla essence with lemon essence and use lemon buttercream! Perfect for garden parties and birthday parties!