Monthly Archives: January 2014

Red Hot Chilli Pipers(Avicii)

In the month that celebrates Burns(Rabbie) It’s only right that we have some men in kilts playing pop music to see out January, right? ūüėÄ

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The Case of the Missing Bouquet.

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I’m going to tell you a story. Are you are sitting comfortably? Yes? Then I’ll begin.

Once upon a time there was a girl, she loved flowers, so much in fact that she got a job in a florist shop. Many people(when I say “people” I mean boyfriends/husband/life partner etc )on learning her chosen occupation, decided that it gave them an “out” as it were, to not buy her any.

“OH but you work with flowers, I’d be scared I got the wrong thing!” Was/is a common excuse when challenged on the lack of blooms on a birthday etc(even Valentine’s day was ignored by a couple of boyfriends who claimed it was SO Difficult they didn’t bother. In hindsight I realise now it was NOT my fault, but was in fact due to them being tight(yeah ok, when I said “her” I meant “me”)!

In fairness my other half now, is lovely AND I do(did) get surprises really nice bouquets, it’s just not that often. And…um….yes the last twice I have complained about the state of the arrangement sent by the florist…so that maybe goes some way to explaining why it is not a more regular thing. “Shot myself in the foot”, is a phrase springing to mind!

Anyhoo, I have found the solution! BLOOM & WILD (< click name for a link) are a company with whom you set up a flower SUBSCRIPTION-genius eh?

Pick your price range and they send you a box of gorgeous blooms through the letterbox(I don’t have a standard size so was handed them by my lovely postie)!

I was/am impressed! For the money they are great flowers, well thought out selections and with gorgeous packaging.

Also just in time for Valentine’s Day they have come with a great way to drop a “hint” to someone that you really, yes even though you are a girl/a florist/a gardener/a boy/look at flowers occasionally etc etc and all those rubbish excuses, REALLY would love a bunch for a gift. Brilliant! ūüôā It’s FAB value too at ¬£50 for THREE bunches for 3 months! that’s ¬£16.66 if you’re a maths type person and worked it out!

http://www.bloomandwild.com/share?segment=valentines

Getting back to the flowers I got , let me start at the beginning.

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When I get a gift, any kind of gift, if it’s wrapped in brown paper or a cardboard box and nothing else, no matter the present within, it kind of just doesn’t have the same effect as a package that’s been thought about. These are flowers straight from the grower and so are never going to look anything other than stems, laid on their sides in a box. But if they have a nicely designed box, fabulous cellophane and a really nice purple bow, TAH DAH! They suddenly DO look more interesting and luxurious. Brilliant!

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One thing that you are up against, being at it is a box of flowers and not¬†arranged in any way, is that you do have to put the flowers together in some fashion in the vase. If you are not a florist or have never been to a floral art class in your life you might think you have no idea what to do. Resist the urge to panic! For fear not, there are even instructions(know of another flower company who does this? I don’t)¬†on how to place the blooms, as long as you have a vague idea what they are. There are drawings of some of the most popular flowers/greenery but not all. You will however get a good idea of what to do from the guide, so you’ll be fine.

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It’s even got my¬†name on it! Cute and personal, I feel loved! ūüôā

What you actually get I the box is a good balance of greenery and flowers, colours & variety of flowers are well chosen(nothing garish) the overall look being classic and elegant. Apparently they are also thinking of doing  selections by colour too, which would be amazing, considering all the friends I have who are lovers of only white flowers.

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My flowers have lasted well into the second week, with central heating on that’s some feat! I have the greenery and carnations still going in a¬†now smaller vase, they may even last until my¬†next bunch, I’ll keep you posted on that!

If you are thinking of starting a subscription for a Valentine’s gift, I can honestly say I think you’re on to a winner, a gift that you get again & again, only a good thing right?

Go forth, gift flowers to someone and revel in being a fabulous boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/life partner/superhero¬†whatever you want to be called(‘cos that’s what you are)!

ps. I do know some of my photos are¬†not brilliant, but¬†I don’t mind that they are a little imperfect.¬†Hope you don’t mind either ūüôā If I was looking on a blog and the shots were all as if a professional had taken them, frankly I’d be suspicious and think I was (perhaps) being fed a “line” as it were.

A very lovely breakfast loaf(no need to knead)!

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This recipe is super simple and inspired by one I read from celeb chef wife-turned chef herself Tana Ramsay.

It’s delicious, healthy and with the added benefit of slow releasing carbs from the oats, a filling start to the day, without being as heavy as a bowl of porridge.

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You need:

70g Apricot chopped(go for unsulphured if you like, I just couldn’t get my hands on any at the time)

70g Cranberries dried

70g Walnuts chopped

150g Caster Sugar

500g Self Raising Flour

40g Porridge Oats(I recommend Stoats!)

1 Teabag, normal black tea here!

100mls Milk

2 Eggs

1tsp salt

1tsp Baking Powder

Topping:

1 heaped tbsp Demerara sugar

2 tbsp Oats

A little cinnamon if liked

What to do:

Have ready two 2lb loaf pans(greased & lined)

Set oven to 170c/gas 3/375f

Place the fruit in  saucepan with 400mls of water and the teabag, bring to simmer. Switch off heat, stir in oats, put the lid on and leave to cool.

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In a bowl whisk eggs with sugar until foamy and leave ribbon trails in mixture(you know sometimes I don’t even bother & nobody seems to notice much difference)

Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into the egg/sugar mix, stir to combine.photo-43

Next stir in the milk, followed by the tea soaked fruit(you’ll want to move the teabag probably before ¬†tipping this into the flour!)

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Mix until combined and no flour is showing. At this point you may need a splash of milk extra to what I have said, you want a thick, but dropping consistency.

Spoon into your prepared loaf pans. I use paper liners as it’s quick and looks nicer, if you happen to be gifting one as I tend to do.

Sprinkle with the extra oats, demerara sugar and cinnamon and place in the oven for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean.

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Remove from oven. Leave five mins then transfer from pans to rack to finish cooling.

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I find the best way to eat these loaves is grilled as it makes the most delicious toast. ¬†It does have a rather heavy texture, something I am working on improving(Tanas was the same incidentally) but once toasted golden, the taste and texture improve and it really is tasty. Honest!¬†¬†Ignore this last wee bit of info, because once I have rejigged the ingredients it’s pretty much perfect¬†now(& really good untoasted too)

*note to self “prefect recipe before posting blog”-doh! ūüôā

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I have it on good authority these last a good week, but it never lasts that time in my house! FYI these loaves freeze well too!

Go forth, bake and enjoy!

Mellow Yellow Lady(or How to Make Lemon Curd)

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 I LOVE lemons!

Lemon drinks, lemon cookies and cakes, the colour of lemons is just so appealing to me also. That reminds me, you know I once(when a good bit younger) saw a lady dressed head to toe in yellow in the street! She had yellow hair accessories and yellow skirt and cardigan and jacket and nylons on, and even a lemon coloured handbag! Considering the small rural village I grew up in, this was quite and unusual sight I can tell you.  It was a sight, kind of  amazing and bewildering at the same time. Did I mention that she was an elderly lady? which kind of makes all the more cool/weird in my book! I want to be that lady when I grow old ad weird(er).

Soooo getting back to the recipe! It was after a trip to the local Waitrose, when I found unwaxed lemons with leaves(love that a few green leaves makes the fruit bowl look SO much nicer) had found their way into the trolley(how DO they do that?) that I decided to make some jars of lemon loveliness. Seeing as hubby had been craving it and had in desperation bought a lurid, almost fluorescent, jar of lemon preserve. I took pity on him and now I am the best thing ever, well, second I expect to a slice of toast and curd!

These are proper jars of sharp, citrusy, tangy, creamy loveliness, not something that is not dissimilar to the base of those horrid sweet, lemony-ish but somehow never quite “real” enough tasting lemon meringue pies you get from the frozen aisle of the supermarket. The colour is also just as pleasing as the taste, you can thank Mother Nature for that!

Here’s what you need:

Makes 2 jars(ish. Mine made about one and a half jars, they are quite big jars though!)

3 unwaxed lemons(or give them a good old scrub!) Zest, finely grated, and juiced

2 Eggs whole

2 Egg yolks

75g/3oz Butter

350g/12ozCaster sugar

Here’s how to do it:

First you want to zest and juice the lemons, don’t you love the smell of lemon?

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Place sugar zest and juice in a heavy based pan or double boiler, if you’re swanky like that, and slowly heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Whisk the eggs together in a separate bowl.

When the sugar is dissolved, add a little of your hot lemon mixture into the eggs. Mix this together until combined and then return the whole lot to the lemon sugar mix that is still in your pan(double boiler).

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Heat over a low/med heat until thickened stirring continuously! You can tell when “done” by checking that it coats the back of the spoon, and you can leave a line in the curd when you drag your finger across it.

When ready, pour into sterilized jars, seal, and leave to cool.

These jars should keep for 3-4 weeks in the pantry. Though probably not if you are like my family. I can see a lemon Pavlova featuring in our future very soon!

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Go forward, cook and enjoy!

Ps. After describing the Lemon Yellow Lady to someone, I heard that she used to pick other colours to wear too! How cool is that?

Random Recipe entry and some random thoughts

So my wee one did the “random” bit for me(whilst I hovered like a hawk so he didn’t crumple any pages. Why I thought it was a good idea to let him near the book I don’t know, I am sure I have aged about 5 years!

Did I mention I like books? Nice, neat books with perfect spines and no dog earred pages. Well, I do.)

Anyways he selected page 77 of Baking (from my home to yours) by Dorie Greenspan, thus giving me Dorie’s Molasses Spice Cookies for Belleau Kitchen‘s Random Recipes challenge, nice! ūüôā

So here go, this recipe is super easy and oh my word the smell whilst baking(& end result) is amazing! Thank you small person!

If you are any sort of foodie type at all you most probably have all the ingredients for these cookies sitting in your larder right¬†now. They are so simple to make they would be a great “baking day” activity with small people. *Makes mental note to do this myself*

You start by creaming butter and sugar together.

The add in the egg, molasses(or black treacle if you are like me) ad mix again.

Finally you gradually mix in the flour/baking soda/spices(Dorie includes in the recipe to use a “pinch” of black pepper, well my boys like spicy peppery so I ground up some and put in a pretty big pinch!) and mix taking care¬†not to overwork anything!

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You are left with a soft dough, which needs chilling down in either the freezer(30 mins) or fridge(a hour or until you want to use it).

Here’s my dough all wrapped up and ready to go into the freezer, yes, I am impatient!

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take your cookie dough and roll into balls, sugar them and place on your baking sheet.

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I really would recommend doing the whole tossing the cookie balls in sugar then flattening to bake, makes for a nice crunchy exterior, totally worth the faff in my book!

Please ignore the photo of the flattened dough, well, in as much ignore the amount on the sheet!¬†Ms Greenspan¬†reckons you’ll get about 12 on a baking sheet, which I have to say is optimistic, I only managed 5 or 6(walnut sized balls, then flattened to discs about 3 inches across) as they seam to spread quite a bit, you don’t need to see the photo of my first shot at it. Suffice to say it was one big sheet of spicy cookie! :/

So don’t be me, give them plenty of space to “grow”, unless you like HUGE cookies in the shape of a rectangle, as is your wont.

I love this recipe! it is easy to follow and makes loads of cookies. And the end result, is a spiced cookie, full of peppery, gingery fire with a real depth, crunchy and crisp that seem to me to be even better the next day.

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Go forward, bake and enjoy!

Belleaukitchen’s Random Recipes

Ok so here’s the challenge;

step one: take newly gifted Xmas cook books(for me that’s GBBO Everyday, Great British Baked by Mary-Anne Boermans & Baking by Dorie Greenspan)

step two: randomly select a book

step three: randomly select a recipe

step four: cook/bake recipe

step five: blog link & tweet about it

simples!

Fancy joining in? Here’s the handy dandy linky bit for Dominic’s Random Recipes challenge

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UPDATE: my tiny helper, the toddler, helped me “choose” my recipe picked out of dorie’s book(well, if you were two & a half wouldn’t you pick the biggest book too?) the recipe on page 77 Sugar Topped Molasses Spice Cookies!

New Year-New Recipes

And so ladies and gentlemen for my first trick…I mean RECIPE, sorry always loved magic shows as a kid, don’t know what came over me, here it is in all it’s glory, tah dah!

Ps. It may be not quite a “magic” trick but I assure you these WILL vanish into thin air!

Pps. Click anywhere on the page to see the book at Waterstones¬†ūüôā

Cornflour Cakes

These were something of an intriguing find in my Christmas present Great British Bakes by Mary-Anne Boermans. Having never baked a cake with solely cornflour in the carb part of the recipe I was curious to give it a whirl, the promise of being “quite unlike any other cake” swung it! These little cakes are really rather good, and Mary-Anne is right, the texture is unusual and not something we in the 21st century are used to, but in a good way!¬†Also they are GLUTEN free, which is nice ūüôā

Don’t be tempted to not put the curd in the middle of these cloud-like morsels, you really DO need it. I’d cheated as I didn’t have enough lemons in the fruit dish, but did have a jar of bought lemon curd and a slightly past it’s best fruit to spritz juice into it(just was not cutting it on the tartness scale).

Here’s what you’ll need:

cakes:

80g butter

56g sugar

112g cornflour

1/2 tsp baking powder

zest of 1 lemon

pinch of salt

1 egg

glaze:

mix together icing sugar with fresh lemon juice to make a smooth lemony icing

filling: lemon curd, however you get to have it(bought in the shop, or making your own) is fine, we’re all friends here

preheat the oven to 200c/180f/gas6

line a bun tin with paper cases

cream the butter until very soft add sugar and beat again until light and fluffy

add the egg,  zest and beat until totally mixed

sift together flour salt and baking powder, add to the butter slowly a spoon at a time until combined completely

drop spoonfuls into the paper cases until 3/4 full

bake for 8-10 mins until golden

when baked and cool, slice a little cone out of the cake and plop ina little lemon curd(however you make it) put back the top and glaze with the sharp citrus icing

place on a fancy plate with a doily and impress the vicar, or not, they are equally delicious with a builder’s mug of strong tea on your own in the kitchen, honest!

enjoy! ūüôā

New Year-New Stuff!

2014 means lots of things to me. This is the year we will move home & relocate to a new part of Scotland, Fife! Having done the whole “flitting”(Scottish term for house move) many many times, let’s see…nine times(gosh even more times than I remembered!) I am dreading the actual shifting of possessions from one location to another. The fact however that this will be the last ¬†time is something both reassuring and joyous too! It’s all a bit of a confusing one.

 

So, coupled with a house move, decorating the WHOLE place and serious toddler/teenager taming I shall also be ¬†“cooking some books” which is to say I will be taking recipes from cook books and seeing how they work out. There ¬†will, I assure you be much tweaking, fiddling and jiggery pokery, I rarely leave anything alone(sometimes a recipe just doesn’t “sound” right to me, y’know how it is? No? Just me then? My hubby might just be right, I AM a weirdo?) but the end result is usually always good.