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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Meatballs In Tomato Sauce

Rachel Roddy Recipe from The Guardian Life & Style

Serves 4
60g soft white breadcrumbs, preferably from stale bread
60ml milk
400g minced beef
2 fat sausages (skin off, I used chorizo sausages)
1 egg
30g parmesan, grated
A grating of nutmeg
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley finely chopped
Salt and black pepper

For the sauce
6 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
A pinch of dried chilli
750g fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
3x400g tins plum tomatoes, chopped

Put the breadcrumbs in a small bowl with the milk and infuse for 10 minutes, or until the bread absorbs the milk. Mix together the meatball ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Using your hands, mould into balls roughly 35g in weight, then put them on a baking tray to rest while you make the sauce.

Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic and roughly chop the fresh tomatoes.  Warm the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan and gently cook the onion, garlic and chilli for about 15 minutes or until soft. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the tinned tomatoes, bring to a simmer, for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Bake the meatballs for 15 minutes, turning them once, until they are just starting to brown.

After 45 minutes, the sauce should be thick and rich. Blast it with an immersion blender for a smoother consistency, simply poach the meatballs in the sauce for a further 15 minutes. Then allow the meatballs and sauce to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Cook 400g of pasta in plenty of well-salted, fast-boiling water. Serve with the meatballs in sauce and freshly grated parmesan.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Drinking Chocolate Cake

Last Week was chocolate week in the U.K !

I discovered this chocolate cake recipe on Lavender & Lovage Blog.  I have tested lots of chocolate cake recipes and decided to try this one.

I have made a few adaptions but you can visit the recipe at Lavender & Lovage

150g self raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
180g caster sugar
200g very soft butter
4 medium free-range eggs
75g Green & Blacks organic drinking chocolate (or any other drinking chocolate)
3 tablespoons hot water (not boiling)

Chocolate Icing
225g plain chocolate (broken into pieces, or chocolate of your choice)
125ml double cream
150g softened butter (unsalted)
225g icing sugar (double sifted)

Pre-heat oven to 175C/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line two cake tins measuring 20cms/8”.

Mix the drinking chocolate with the hot water.

Whisk all of the cake ingredients together, until light and fluffy for at least 1 minute. 

Then add the hot water/chocolate mix and whisk again until the cake mixture is light and fluffy.

Divide the cake mixture between the two prepared cake tins and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the cakes are firm to touch and well risen.

Allow the cakes to cool in the tin for a few minutes, before carefully turning them out on to a wire cooking rack. (I found these cakes very delicate & crumbly to handle).

Cool the cakes completely before icing.

To make the icing
Sit a bowl over a pan of simmering water and add the chocolate and cream to the bowl and gently melt, stirring all the time until the chocolate and cream are blended and smooth.
Remove the chocolate and cream from the heat, then add the butter to the hot chocolate and cream mixture, stir it until smooth.

Sift in half the icing sugar and mix well, add the remaining icing sugar and mix until very creamy and smooth. Set aside to cool until thickened.
When you are ready to ice and fill the cakes, spread half of the icing over one of the cakes, and then place the other cake on top.

Spread the rest of the icing over the top of the cake.

After tasting this chocolate cake, everyone loved it especially my boys. I decided to make the Lavender & Lovage Chocolate Cherry Cake unfortunately I couldn't get any cherries as it is the end of season, so I used raspberries instead. Chocolate & Raspberries go together well.  
I made the Chocolate Raspberry Cake for my Dad Johnny's Birthday. Happy Birthday !!!

It is the basic recipe for the Drinking Chocolate Cake, baked in two sandwich tins then cut in half to make 4 cakes. Then you brush each layer with Liqueur before adding the chocolate icing to sandwich the layers together

Melt 100g of chocolate and dip your fresh raspberries into the melted chocolate.

I used Crème de cassis a sweet, dark red liqueur made from blackcurrant's to brush the chocolate cake layers before topping with the chocolate icing.

It was the perfect Sunday afternoon Birthday Cake ! 

We had a slice after Johnny's Lunch and then went for a long walk in Bolnhurst countryside.

Johnny's Chicory Salad

This is Leon with his bag of Golden Nuggets ready to feed the fish at the big pond !

Saturday, 18 October 2014


In the last Christmas Bake Off Special, Mary Berry made a Tunis Cake, which I have been meaning to try. I had a request from a customer a few years back to bake a Tunis Cake for her mother, she tried to describe the cake to me as I had never heard of it before.

A Tunis cake is a Madeira cake topped with a thick layer of chocolate and decorated with marzipan fruits. It is traditionally eaten at Christmas.

Scottish bakery Macfarlane Langs produced commercial Tunis Cakes in the 1930s, and when they merged with McVitie & Price in 1948 to form a company called United Biscuits (which still owns the McVitie’s brand) the recipe passed to the new company. McVitie's produced a Tunis cake until the mid 1980s. It is now sold seasonally by Tesco, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer. An early recipe does not include the chocolate and marzipan topping.

Origin of Tunis cake seems uncertain. It is thought the recipe dates back to Edwardian times. However, the reason for the name perhaps dates back a lot further to the days of Carthage’s wars with the Roman Empire. After a victory the Tunis warriors would celebrate with cake and wine, which is why Tunis cake is made for celebrations.

I used Mary Berry's Tunis Cake Recipe, with some adaptions as I love marzipan, I made a marzipan layer, in-between the cake and ganache layer.

For the cake:
225g softened butter
225g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
70g ground almonds
4 large eggs
finely grated zest of 1 large lemon

For the ganache topping:

300ml double cream
400g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces

200g natural marzipan

apricot jam for brushing

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm deep cake tin with baking parchment.

Measure the butter, sugar, flour, ground almonds, eggs and lemon zest into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high speed for 1 minute. Spoon into the prepared cake tin and level the surface with a palette knife or spatula.

Bake for 45 minutes, cover with foil to prevent the top from browning and cook for a further 15 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack.

Brush the top of the cake with warm apricot jam.

roll out the marzipan into a disc large enough to sit exactly on the top of the cake.

Pour the cream into a small pan and bring almost to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted. When cool but not setting pour the chocolate mixture over the cooled cake and put aside to set.

To serve, remove the cake from the tin and carefully peel off the parchment paper so that you get a clean line between the cake and the chocolate layer.

Decorate with Marzipan fruits or Christmas themed Marzipan Decorations, or glittery gold stars.

Delicious ! On sale in my shop today.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

blackberry galette

This recipe is by Nigella Lawson I had some blackberries leftover in my freezer and quite fancied trying the pastry made with polenta, to soak up the juices.

60 g plain flour
30 g polenta
1 tablespoon caster sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
65 g cold butter
2 tablespoons iced water (or enough to bind)

1 punnet blackberries (approx. 150g)
approx. 3 tablespoons caster sugar
3 heaped tablespoons creme fraiche (plus more to serve)

In a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients, then add the butter diced into small pieces. 
Pulse briefly until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then add enough iced water to form a dough, pulsing gently to mix.
Form it into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
Roll the pastry out into a rough circle, transfer to a lined baking sheet and scatter blackberries on top, leaving a good 7cm margin round the edge.
Sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons sugar, to taste, then dollop with creme fraiche.
Sprinkle a further tablespoonful of sugar over, dampen the edges with water, then wrap them over themselves to form a knobbly, ramshackle rim and put in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Cherry Cake British Bake Off Technical Challenge

Mary Berry's Cherry Cake was the first Technical Bake Challenge of the latest series 
The Great British Bake Off. I decided to bake the Technical Challenge Recipe set out each week, and to serve them at Fancy.
One of the main aims for this technical challenge was to ensure your glace cherries are evenly suspended in the sponge and not sunken to the bottom !

I am not a big fan of glace cherries, think it goes back to my childhood when my mum was baking I kept asking for a cherry, in the end she gave me the whole tub,  I was then sick from eating too many of them.  Bit like the Witches of Eastwick Cherry Scene Jack Nicholson.

I have modified Mary Berry's Cherry Cake Recipe to fit my larger Savarin mould of 10 inch diameter.

300g glacé cherries
340g/8oz self-raising flour
265g/6oz softened butter, plus extra for greasing
265g caster sugar
2 lemons, finely grated zest only
75g ground almonds
6 medium free-range eggs

For the decoration
175g  icing sugar
1 lemon, juice only
flaked almonds, toasted
5 glacé cherries, quartered

Preparation method
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 10 inch savarin mould with butter.

Cut the cherries into quarters place in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well then dry thoroughly on kitchen paper and toss in 3 tablespoons of the flour.

Measure all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl and beat well for two minutes to mix thoroughly. Lightly fold in the cherries. Turn into the prepared tin.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until well risen, golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out and cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, mix the icing sugar together with the lemon juice to a thick paste. Drizzle over the cooled cake using the back of a spoon, sprinkle over the toasted almonds and reserved cherries.

chicken & ham pie

I love it when the season changes and the cold dark nights draw in.  It means heavy comfort dinners, lots of pastry, mash & vegetables.
I have been making this pie for a few years now, and surprisingly its one of the dinners that everyone in my family likes.  Saying that there are a few different requirements, but this pie meets them all.

Samuel likes the pastry on the bottom of the pie because its softer (but not soggy !), and Seb likes the pastry on the top because its crispy & light, therefore this pie has a top and a bottom.  Samuel doesn't like too much pastry so I make one giant pie instead of individual pies, he can have the middle with less pastry and Seb has the sides !

Its best to make the chicken & ham filling and let it cool before assembling the pie.

serves 8
4 Large Free Range Chicken Breasts (chopped)
(Murdoch & Sons of Cardington Free Range Chicken is very good)
200g Pulled Ham Hock 
200ml Full Fat Milk
200ml Chicken Stock (if you don't make your own, Waitrose do a good one)
75ml Double Cream
3 large pring Onions finely chopped
3 Garlic Cloves crushed
3 TBS Plain Flour
50g Butter
1 egg beaten (egg wash)

550g (2 x 275g) Puff Pastry (rolled out into two large sheets approx  28 x  38cm) 
If you prefer to buy your puff pastry rather than make it from scratch choose an all butter puff pastry.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan and cook the chopped chicken, garlic & spring onions until chicken is white.

 Stir in the flour and cook through.

Add the chicken stock and milk, simmer until thickened.

Add the ham hock and cream and continue to cook gently until thick and creamy.

Leave to cool. (chilling is even better if you have time). The sauce will thicken when cold making it easier to assemble your pie.

Place one sheet of puff pastry onto a baking sheet and spread filling over leaving a 1 inch gap all the way round.

Brush edge with the beaten egg.

Lay the other sheet of pastry on top and seal edges.

Fold bottom edge of pastry over top edge and make a fancy edge pattern.

Slash a few holes in top of pastry and brush all over with beaten egg.

Chill in fridge until you are ready to cook.

Bake in oven at 200 C for 45 minutes until crispy golden brown.

I like mash, mushy peas & gravy with mine !

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