Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Cake

Mixed dried fruit ( sultanas, raisins, currants candied peel, chopped dates ) 22 oz
cherries or chopped dried apricots 3 oz
chopped pecans 2oz
5 eggs
4 oz Muscavado sugar
8oz butter
10oz SR flour
3 tsp mixed spice
Booze, 5fl oz or half a mug. I used Beaume de Venise, have been known to use sherry, Madeira, brandy or whiskey. One at a time!
Flaked almonds

Soak the fruit and spices in the booze overnight.
Use the butter at room temperature and cut into cubes, add the sugar and eggs and beat till fluffy. Add the fruit mixture and mix using a wooden spoon then add the flour and mix. If the mix drops easily off the spoon it is ready to cook. If not add up to 5 fl oz cold tea to make the mixture looser.
Put into a well buttered 8in square cake tin and sprinkle flaked almonds over the top.
Bake in a pre heated oven at gas 2 for 2 hours. After this time check to see if the cake is ready by prodding it with a skewer or knife. If it comes out with sticky cake mix on it give the cake another half hour and check it again.
This improves with keeping if it doesn't get eaten in the meantime.
I usually make an almond paste topping covered by lemon icing instead of the flaked almonds.
We have the first slice on Christmas Eve in the afternoon.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Sausage and Red Cabbage Casserole

This winter warmer is a one pot dish. While it cooks slowly in the oven the flavours meld together and makes a sweet and tasty liquor and the house fills with inviting aromas.
Veggie sausages could be used instead.

for 4-6 servings

I red cabbage
4 onions peeled and sliced
3 cloves garlic chopped
12 sausages (I used Waitrose Gourmet sausages, they are not fatty and have a good flavour, or Toulouse sausages would be great)
6 medium sized potatoes sliced, no need to peel.
1 handful raisins
I tbs Branston Pickle
Large glass of red wine
teaspoon French mustard
2 Bramley apples cored and sliced
1 tsp Seasoned Pioneers cardamom masala spice mix
a drizzle of olive oil

Fry the onions and garlic in the oil. I used a Le Creuset casserole dish.
Add the sausages and brown.
Add the wine, mustard, raisins, pickle, apple slices and spice.

Cover with a layer of red cabbage and finish with a layer of potato slices.

Put the lid on the casserole and cook at gas 3 for 2 1/2 -3 hours

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Autumn Raspberries

We are well into November now, some of the trees have shed their leaves while others, like the silver birch in the background of these photos, still hold onto their golden leaves. The raspberries are still are still producing fruit at the rate of a small bowlful a day. I originally planted 2 varieties, one of them called Autumn Bliss, and one year they were fruiting right up till Christmas. Just about the only care these raspberry canes get is a pruning followed by a thick layer of home made compost once a year. The Autumn crop is more flavourful and less sharp than the Summer crop.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Cinnamon Bun Day

Cinnamon Rolls, Nordic Bakery, London.

It's Cinnamon Bun day today in Sweden. Also known as cinnamon rolls these delicious treats are made by spreading a mix of cinnamon, butter and sugar onto a sheet of dough then rolling it up.
They are served in several Northern European countries including Finland and Iceland. The first time I tried one was on a whale watching trip in the north of Iceland. It came with a mug of hot chocolate. The Finnish version is larger and is called korvapuusti which means 'a slap on the ear'!
I have also baked them using the recipe on Annes Food blog
You can buy them frozen from Ikea. They are good but the ones from the Nordic bakery pip them at the post.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Borough Market, Southwark London.

Borough Market is London's oldest food market. Near Southwark Cathedral on the Thames at London Bridge, much of it is tucked away among the railway arches under the viaduct. By night it is a wholesale fruit and veg market, by day a foodie's delight.
The only other time I have been here was years ago as part of a painting course. The night time market had long finished and at that time there was no daytime market so the brighly coloured fruits and vegetables had gone. We had the challenge of painting this empty place in different colours that were to be all the same tone. It was a useful lesson.
I looked forward to seeing the place buzzing and alive with colour and smells of food.
As I wove my way around this gourmet maze I was offered all sorts of goodies to taste. Olives from Greece, wafer thin Jamon from Spain, Turkish meze and Turkish delight, a spoonful of green Thai chicken or Carribean chicken curry, a thimbleful of mulled wine, little cubes of cheeses from England, France, Italy, Spain, Holland..... and chocolate brownies. Trains rumbled overhead and as lunchtime approached the market became more crowded.
My Italian lunch came from Gastronomica, ciabatta with Mozarella, Parma ham and rocket. To take home we bought some duck confit and a very heavy bag of cheeses, Remeker from Boerkaas and Mayfield from E Sussex and a big hole in the pocket!
Then time to leave for lunchtime jazz at the Southbank Centre.
Flickr group

Mulled wine with lavender

or time for some Pimms or Sangria

cheeses from the Dutch Frisian Isles

From Flour Power City bakery there are artisan breads and cakes. Their luscious chocolate brownies are made with 30% Caillebout chocolate and butter and eggs

giant meringues flavoured with raspberry, strawberry or chocolate sit next to Portuguese custard tarts ( Pastel de Nata)

Outside some of the stall holders and shoppers brave the wet weather

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Switzen Plum Cake

This is more of a tart than a cake. When cooked the base has a crumbly texture with a crisp edge and the flavour of the plums is intensified and the juice slightly caramelised.

750g Switzen plums, halved or quartered and stoned

Mix the following ingredients together with a food mixer
225g SR flour
115g butter or olive spread
90g golden granulated sugar
I large egg
1-2 tsp almond or vanilla essence

Spread the mixture evenly in a 25cm cake tin, arrange the plums on top and bake for about half an hour on gas 6, turn down to gas 4 and bake or another 10-15 minutes. Or the mixture can be rolled out like pastry though it will be thicker than you would normally do pastry.
Lovely hot or cold.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Miso and Cucumber Soup

How cool is that? As a cucumber I suppose. The 2 cucumber plants that I got at the plant swop earlier in the year have done well. The cukes are smaller than supermarket ones at about 6-8in or 15-20cm and have a good flavour. I devised a soup to make use of some of them and included some Cavallo nero also from the plant swop.


2 cukes
1/2 onion
4 teacups or 3 mugs water
2 tsp Marigold's miso stock powder
small piece of fresh ginger between 1-2in (2.5-5cm) to taste
1-2 handfuls of chopped Cavallo nero (kale)

I chopped all the ingredients using a Thermomix then cooked for about 20 min.
I then blitzed the mixture till the chunks of veg virtually vanished.
I added the kale and cooked for a few more minutes.
The ginger and kale were an afterthought and made all the difference to the flavour.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Raspberry and Almond Flaugnarde

A clafoutis is a dessert made from cherries baked in a flan like batter. It originates from the Limousin region of France. When other fruits are substituted the dish is traditionally called a flaugnarde. In Brittany the Far Breton is a similar dessert that contains prunes and sometimes rum.
I used raspberries as I have them from the garden. Vanilla is often used but I had run out so used almond essence instead.
250g raspberries
55g plain flour
55g sugar
3 large eggs
I tsp almond essence
1-2 handfuls flaked almonds
350 ml milk
Butter a baking dish then add the raspberries to the dish.
Mix the flour and sugar then beat in the eggs. Add the milk and almond essence, beat till smooth then pour this layer over the raspberries. Sprinkle the flaked almonds on top.
Bake at 180c or gas 4
Sorry there is no photo this time. I cooked it for some friends who came for a meal at the week end. To see what it looks like click on the link at the top for clafoutis.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Tea and Cake

Yesterday I went to a Summer Tea tasting lead by Jennifer Wood, founder of the Canton Tea Company. It was at the Petersham Nursery's Teahouse. Petersham Nursery is hidden away up a narrow lane between a church and the R Thames and is an eclectic mix of unusual plants, antique garden furniture, glasshouses, flower filled borders as well as being foodie heaven ! There are lots of places to sit and meet friends.

The teas were delicious and delicate with the exception of one of them!
They were Jasmine green tea, White tea silver needle, Green tea Poochong, Black tea Bai Lin Gong Fu and iced tea made with Bai Lin Gong Fu and honey.

There was a selection of wonderful homemade cake: lemon polenta and almond, coffee, parsnip and maple syrup, chocolate brownie, beetroot. and fig.

The coffee cake was moist and light and came in joint favourite with the lemon polenta and almond, richer and full flavoured.

and then there was this....................................

2005 Xing Hai cooked loose Puerh Tea compressed into the form of a cake. To produce this tea leaves are dried then dry pan fried to prevent further oxidation. The next process is fermentation by micro organisms and is done in a similar way to composting by piling dampening and turning to produce ripened Puerh.

Some were reluctant to try this brew. The smell was variously described as grassy or earthy, tobacco, leather even unwashed dog or dung! The flavour was robust and interesting. I went back for more trying identify what the smell reminded me of, probably a mix of the inside of a brewery and a haystack. It is believed to have extraordinary health benefits.
These guided tea tastings are held occaisionally. The teahouse is open most of the time.

Sunday, 18 July 2010


Home made houmous is very quick and easy to make and tastes so much better than most shop bought stuff.
I used

I 400g can chickpeas drained
I dessert spoon of Tahini Paste
Juice of between half and a whole lemon added to taste
Finely chopped fresh garlic, I used about half a clove but sometimes more.

All the ingredients were blitzed together for a couple of minutes with a hand held blender.
It is best made a few hours before eaten so that the garlic flavour can permeate.

I rarely use salt and prefer to add freshly ground black pepper just before eating.

I divide the mixture between several ramekin dishes and freeze some. To part of the mixture I added smoked paprika to taste. The other portion is garnished with fresh mint

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Cheese and Onion Bread

I made a basic white bread dough using 1 lb white flour with water, yeast, sugar and salt.
This was kneaded and left for about one hour to double in size. I chopped one small onion, fried it in olive oil then left it to cool. I added this to the dough with 2 sprigs of freshly chopped sage and 1oz grated cheese. I shaped the dough into 1 loaf and 3 rolls on baking trays and left them in a warm place for half an hour to rise further. I sprinkled some grated cheese on the tops and baked on gas 6 . I ate the rolls while still hot and crusty and they were delicious.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Picnic Basket so far...

As I explained in my last post I am taking part in a virtual picnic. It would be lovely to sit down with all the bloggers and taste the food for real but in another way we really can as all the recipes are provided.
What a lot of goodies there are in the picnic basket now! Here I have listed links to the recipes from all the letters of the alphabet leading up to the one I chose.
The complete list will be published on Louise's blog on July 1st

A- Almond Joy Pie

B- Baked Beans

C-Chocolate Picnic Cake Janet

D-Dutch Funnel Cake

E-Easy Blender Chicken Pie

F-Five Bean Salad

G-Granola Bars (Stephanie) @ Fun Foods on a Budget

H-Herb and Cheese Pasta Salad

B- Baked Beans

C-Chocolate Picnic Cake Janet

D-Dutch Funnel Cake

E-Easy Blender Chicken Pie

F-Five Bean Salad

G-Granola Bars (Stephanie) @ Fun Foods on a Budget

H-Herb and Cheese Pasta Salad

which leads on to my recipe
I- Incredibly Fruity Raspberry Cakes

Monday, 28 June 2010

International Picnic Day

Incredibly Fruity Raspberry Cakes

Raspberry Latin Rubus idaeus well it's got an I in it!

I am taking part in International Picnic day organised by Months of Edible Adventures

Each blogger taking part choses a letter and devises a recipe beginning with that letter. I have chosen the letter I. I only found out about it at the last minute so there weren't many letters left and I don't think there are many foods beginning with this letter! The first 2 that come to mind are ice (as in ice cream ) and ink (as in squid ink) so it's a bit of a challenge.

At the moment there are plenty of raspberries in the garden so I thought I would devise a recipe using these.

Incredibly Fruity Raspberry Cakes

I think I put raspberries in the bottom of a PineappleUpside Down cake in place of cherries so I thought I would try them in a Victoria cake mix.
200g olive spread or butter
190g golden granulated sugar
4 large eggs
150g raspberries
200g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla essence.

Oven on at gas 5
Beat the olive spread and sugar and vanilla essence till it looks creamy
Add the eggs one at a time and continue to beat
Gently fold in the flour and the whole raspberries. If the mixture looks a bit stiff add a little milk. I didn't need to as the mixture slipped easily off a spoon.
Half to two thirds fill cupcake cases with spoonfuls of mixture and bake. Check after 10-15 min, they should spring back when you gently touch them. If too soft bake for a few more minutes.
This quantity will make about 20-24 cakes depending on the size of the cases.
Dust with icing sugar if you like otherwise they are lovely as they are and you are ready to pack them in a box and join the picnic.

Variants using the mix above

1 Add fresh basil leaves. Tear the basil into small pieces and add to the mixture or put a leaf on the top before baking. I think the flavour combines well.
2 Add cocoa powder for a chocolately version, I didnt measure this I just added it till it looked really chocolatey.

I need to get some bigger paper cases!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Fanny's Farmshop and Teagardens

On a narrow winding leafy lane in Surrey is the entrance to Fanny's Farmshop, tea rooms, tea gardens and much more... The first time I went I was greeted by Fanny's friendly dogs.
In the farm shop there is local produce for sale and a selection of home made cakes.

A cream tea among the flowers in the garden

Or High Tea in the tree house?

With Pooh bear? And yes that is a tree branch growing right up through the table!

In the farm section there is a Vietnamese pot bellied pig. It was found wandering a local high street and was rescued by Fanny!