Friday, 27 July 2012


I always have scones at the best times. 

We had scones at Hilsdon's birthday and on the day we signed our house contract. I always have them on holiday in Cornwall and when we go to National Trust houses (History nerd for the win).

And because I'm so gluten free and awkward, when I fancied scones this week I had to make some myself. 

I used a Delia recipe, similar one can be found here except she doesnt say buttermilk or egg in her book. So here we go...

What you need:

225g of self raising flour
75g of butter
1 and a half tablespoons of caster sugar
1 pinch of salt
150ml of milk

And what to do...

1.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.
2. Sift the flour into a bowl. Rub in the butter.
3. Add the caster sugar and the salt. Stir it in
4. Add the milk a bit at a time and stir it with a knife. (I'd never stirred with a knife before. Was a new and interesting experience.) You may not need to add all the milk, at least I didnt, because the mixture might be sticky enough without it. Use some logic, you can't cook without it. 
5. Liberally dust a board and a rolling pin with flour and roll out your pastry. REALLY THICKLY. Delia says never less than 2cm thick. BELIEVE HER because I misjudged it and ended up with mini half scones. Which are super cute, but not hefty enough for my taste in scones. 
6. Cut your scones out with a pastry cutter or a thick biscuit cutter or, if you're really stuck, use the rim of a small glass. 
7. Place the soon-to-be-scones on a greased baking sheet on a tray, dust with a little flour and place them in the oven for about ten to fifteen minutes until they're lightly golden brown.
8. ENJOY. With sunshine, tea, jam and clotted cream. 

(I follow the Cornish method of making up scones - jam first, then cream because you SPREAD jam and you PUT cream. Whereas silly old Bryony does it wrong. Or the Devon way. Which involves cream first then jam. Because apparently, cream is like the butter. I prefer my way because you can get away with more cream. But ultimately, it's your call...)

And yes, from the melty clotted cream on my scones, you can see that the weather has been SUPER lovely down south. A bit too hot for me (our car thermometer hit 36 degrees celcius earlier this week) but it makes a change...

Thursday, 26 July 2012

"WHAT have you done to my kitchen?!"

Is invariably the response I get from Mum when, once a year, I embark on the quest that is Jenny's Birthday Cake. I've been making people birthday cakes for years but until a while ago I'd never attempted anything really fancy - but then it was Jenny's 18th (and she's really awesome), so effort was made. This was the result:

There's a story behind the cow.
It went down brilliantly and was really yummy, and I happily considered it my best baking achievement. But then this year I had to try and beat it. ERK. So, I altered my recipe for chocolate and raspberry cupcakes that everyone always loves, and this is what happened.

The cupcake recipe:
- 4oz/100g softened butter or margerine
- 4oz/100g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 5oz/125g self raising flour (can be gluten-free if you need it)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1oz/25g cocoa powder
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 4oz/100g fresh or frozen raspberries
- 2oz/50g chopped up chocolate

I altered this a bit to get the amount I wanted - I had two 9" springform tins and actually fiddled the recipe to a 3 egg/125g version, but then for some reason I doubled that... so then when the cake was put together it turned out MASSIVE. Miscalculation of amounts there... BUT it was still awesome. And I can guarantee that having more of it was no bad thing!
To successfully make a normal size cake, use 125g of butter + sugar; 3 eggs; 150g flour; 1/2 tsp baking powder; 30g cocoa powder; 1 tsp vanilla; 125g raspberries; 75g chocolate.

1. Begin by pre-heating the oven to 180°C, and greasing your cake tins. Something I've discovered recently is that if you also dust the tins with flour it helps with the non-sticking, which is particularly useful with things like bread.
2. Beat together the butter and sugar A LOT until you think it looks done, then keep going for another couple of minutes. The more air you get into this the better the cake will be - my Grandma swore by it.
3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract until you have a silky smooth batter.
4. Add the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and fold in with a metal spoon. I'm not sure why you have to use a metal spoon but everyone always says so... if I find out I'll blog it.
5. Add the chocolate and the raspberries and mix carefully - you don't want to destroy the raspberries too much.
6. Spoon the mixture into the tins, using a spatula to get it all out the bowl, and bake for about 30 minutes (20-25 if you're doing the cupcakes). Once a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean, remove them from the tins and put them on a wire rack to cool.

Additional things you will now need:
- MORE raspberries. Approximately a small punnet. Judge from the picture below.
- raspberry jam
- chocolate butter icing (whisk together some butter and icing sugar until it looks like butter icing, then add some cocoa powder to make it chocolatey)
- royal icing
- some form of decoration: I used sugarpaste and writing icing

7. Spread a layer of raspberry jam onto one of the sponges - whichever you want to be the bottom one. I use whichever is slightly flatter for the top, as it makes icing etc easier.
8. Add a layer of raspberries. Feel indulgent and also healthy because it's fruit.
9. Cover with buttercream. Feel even more indulgent.
10. PUT THE OTHER SPONGE ON TOP. I find this very excitng. My sister says I need to get out more.
11. Warm up about a tablespoon more of raspberry jam (but don't put the metal spoon in the microwave, obv), and brush the entire cake with it. There doesn't need to be loads, but this helps the royal icing to stick, and tastes nice to boot.
12. Using some icing sugar to prevent sticking, roll out your royal icing. Use the rolling pin to lift it, and place over the cake. Smooth out as best you can, then cut around the bottom with a sharp knife. THEN make a ball out of some of the left-over icing and use that to make the icing on the cake super smooth.
13. Decorate. I used black sugar paste and bought a little craft knife, and made the first bit of the music score for 'happy birthday', because Jenny is a big music person and I thought it was cool. Stick down using vodka (!), or edible glue if you think you'll use it enough for it to be worth the money. I then did a big '19' because I realised there was no way I could do the whole song.
You haven't lived until you've made a 3.5cm treble clef out of sugar paste.

14. When you're happy with the decoration, use a pin to attach a ribbon around the bottom. This isn't strictly necessary, but as well as looking pretty it hides any icing mistakes, so win-win.
15. Present to impressed friend and enjoy getting to eat it. VOILA.

And for the record, the kitchen wasn't that bad. Not really. I tidied up...

Sorry Mum.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunny Sunday with the Madre, as you do.

I made this tonight, after a lovely sunny London day, involving random medieval art, cats in flatpack furniture and the Cutty Sark.

The Cutty Sark. (Plus bunny shaped cloud.)
And then we came home and I maaaaade Glamorgan Sausages with Red Onion and Chilli Relish. Courtesy of the Hairy Bikers. AND IT WAS AWESOMMEEE.

That recipe shows you how to make the stuff on the left. I'd write it out again but I didn't actually change anything because this was a new one to me... Okay, I maay have mucked about a bit with most of the quantities but I'm pretty sure the original recipe is miles better. 

All that was served with rocket leaves aaand roast potatoes. A la my Madre.

They look so crunchyyyy.
The trick is to peel em, boil em til they're ready to eat then you roast em. Put them in a deep oven tray, drizzle them with plenty of olive oil and then cook them at 200 degrees celsius for about an hour. Every now and then, take the tray out, give them a shuffle around and a bit more olive oil and they'll be as crunchy as anything. Simple really...

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Goats Cheese Stuffed Peppers

As Zosia said in her explanation of Life Lately, everything has been manic. I have been running through poppy fields in France for a week (expect posts about French food in the near future), so I have something of a blogging-backlog which I shall now attempt to sort out - especially as before I went away I was on cooking duty at home for a fortnight. LOTS OF COOKING.

Things were a bit mad in the week before we went away too, what with millions of people having birthdays (cake post also coming up) and trying to pack, so we were trying to use up things we had in the fridge and think of things to make that didn't take much effort but would still be lovely. Enter stuffed peppers.

 These are brilliant to make at uni too for the same reason - and you can pretty much stuff them with anything you like. You don't even have to use peppers - Zosia tends to hollow out tomatoes and use the filling as part of the stuffing, and if I liked mushrooms (don't judge me) I would use those too.

These are the quantities for 1 person, so you can multiply to however much you need:
- 1 large pepper
- 75g goats' cheese
- 2tbsp creme fraiche
- 1 small red onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 3 spring onions
- 4 cherry tomatoes
- 4 sundried tomatoes
- 2 tsp red pesto
- fresh herbs. I used thyme, parsley and chives
- salt and pepper

1. Start by preheating your oven to 200°C. Wash the peppers, remove the stalks and cut them in half, then stick them on a baking tray and put in the oven for about 15 minutes while you make the filling. This will make them softer and, in my opinion, more yummy. That's a technical term.
2. For the filling, start by chopping up your red onion and garlic and frying them in a bit of butter for about 5 minutes, until they're soft and smelling amazing.
3. In a bowl, put the goats' cheese (you can use more if you like - 75g was all we had) and creme fraiche and mix thoroughly to create a sort of goats' cheese mousse. The more you mix the more air will get in and the moussier (also a technical term) it will be, so it's about how long you can be bothered to mix really.

Two stages of the moussey filling. Basically, a bowl full of lovliness.
 4. Prepare the rest of the ingredients that need it - wash and chop the spring onions into small pieces, half the cherry tomatoes, chop the parsley and chives and strip the thyme leaves. Add everything (including the red onion and garlic) to the goats' cheese mixture and stir well.
5. Take the peppers out of the oven and STUFF. You CAN get it all in. Have faith. And determination. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, add a tad more seasoning and put back in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes - until the peppers are wrinkled and the filling looks set and cooked.

Before and after cooking. Basil garnish not necessary, but I thought it made it prettier.
6. Serve with something salady like leaves or cous cous, or just eat by themselves.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Gooseberry Pie

So this is like, one of the most specialist recipe combinations everrr. 

We're talking gluten free gooseberry pie. Because my dad gave me GLUTEN FREE READY MADE PASTRY. Which is a revelation because I'd never seen that before, I love pastry and gluten free flour is, 'scuse my french, a bitch to make into pastry.

Plus my grandma gave me thousands of gooseberries. She grows them and they all decided to turn up at once before a rainstorm so she had to pick them and, stupidly, I said I'd do something with them. Course, they're awkward little fruits, more bitter than sweet and you can't even buy them at Tesco. 

 So Yes. Here's how I did gooseberry pie:

What you need:
200g of ready made pastry
500g of gooseberries
100g of caster sugar
A splash of water
Some egg yolk

And what you gotta do:

1. Preheat the oven to aroun 180 degrees celcius/whatever your pastry packet says. 
2. Grease the pie dish with a little butter or oil. 
3. Thinly roll out the pastry and place it over the pie dish. Push it down and shape it to the shape of the dish. Trim off the edges and save these to one side to make the lid of the pie.
4. BLIND BAKE IT! This should involve baking beans. I don't have baking beans. I asked the internet. Internet said use rice. I asked the madre. She said use lentils. I used lentils.  I spent ten minutes picking lentils out of the cooked pie crust. Don't use lentils.

The cat watching the pie become a pie.
5. As your pie crust cooks, its time to make the filling. place the gooseberries (washed, topped and tailed) in a pan. Add the caster sugar and a splash of water and heat it up. Leave to simmer for about five minutes until the fruit is nice and soft. (I used frozen gooseberries so I cooked mine for a bit longer.)
6. Take your pie crust out of the oven.
7. Strain the gooseberries through a collander to get rid of the water. Place them in the pie crust.
8. Roll out the remaining pastry so it's large enough to cover the pie. COVER THE PIE! Brush the edges of the crust with egg yolk, and put the pie lid over the pie. Squash down the edges with a fork. Poke a few holes in the pie lid and brush it with egg yolk.
9. BAKE THE PIE. For around 25 minutes until its golden brown.
10. Sprinkle with a little caster sugar.
11. EAT THE PIE. Withh ice cream. Or custard. Or cream.Wonderful.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Life Lately

Bryony and I have both been a little MIA lately. 

She's been away seeing interesting places and I've been CAMERA-LESS after my old one died a death at Chateaux Hilsdon.

GOOD NEWS IS Bryony's home today and my camera situation is all sorted. 

So you'll be hearing more from us imminently. 

I would like to sincerely apologise for this in advance. HA.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Cooking en masse

Occasionally, before doing a night out, people come round to our flat for pre-drinks. And occasionally they come for dinner too. The most I've cooked for to date was 15 - a terrifying task when in a kitchen not *really* big enough for the 6 it's given to, with a hob that takes an age to heat up and an oven that only works when it wants to. The way to avoid panic is to plan, and to make something that manages to be delicious, filling and easy all at the same time. 

My solution is twofold: 
1. Plastic plates and cutlery. Because it's all very well being green, but who wants to wash up for 15 people?
2. A savoury puff pastry tart with a potato salad and green leaves.

Photos from when I recreated at home - despite my organisation, there just was not time to stop and take photos while the masses were hungry waiting for food. Apologies.

Tart: (serves 6)
- 375g pack puff pastry
- 250g cherry tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 orange pepper
- 50g sundried tomatoes
- 125g pot goats cheese
- 2tbsp (approx) Sacla red pesto
- handful fresh basil
- salt and pepper

Potato Salad: (serves 4)
- 450g new potatoes
- 4 spring onions
- 3tbsp mayonnaise
- 3tbsp creme fraiche
- handful of both fresh parsley and chives
- salt and pepper

Lots of things can be done earlier on in the day, so when people start arriving you can swan around in your lovely dress having done your hair and make-up and avoid this situation:
All dressed up for Harry Potter night. I am the exhausted, not-quite-ready-looking girl on the left, not the one on the right in the apron as you might expect. I believe that was donned to prevent food/drink spillage on the white shirt.

- which is never good when it's only 8pm. With this particular meal, you can do the potato salad in the afternoon which is a big plus.

A funny shaped potato. I had to get it in somewhere.
1. Start by washing the potatoes and cutting away any sprouting bits. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and then put the potatoes in. Bring back to boiling and cook for 20 minutes.

2. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, chop your spring onions and put into a large bowl. When the potatoes are no longer too hot to touch, chop them into small pieces and add them to the bowl too. Follow with the creme fraiche, mayonnaise and herbs, and season. Voila. This can now go in the fridge until you need it (though admittedly, it is nicer at room temperature - so perhaps take it out 20 minutes or so before you want to use it).

The tart is equally easy to make, and bits of it can still be done in advance.

1. VEGETABLE PREPARATION TIME. Wash and half the cherry tomatoes, de-seed and chop the pepper into smallish pieces, chop the red onion and the garlic and put them all in a baking dish. Season and drizzle with olive oil, then put into a preheated oven at 220°C for 15-20 minutes. This part could be done in advance, as if necessary you could then cover with cling film and come back to them later on.

2. Roll out your pastry on a floured surface. You want to get it approximately 1cm thick and as even as you can. Then, take a sharp knife and roughly score where the crust of the tart will be. This means that when the vegetables are added and weigh down the pastry in the middle, the bits around the edge are free to puff up to their heart's content. Score along the sides too - as this will help the layers to separate and also aid the puffing-process.

3. After letting the pastry rest for a couple of minutes, spread the area you want the vegetables to lie on with the pesto before using a slotted spoon to heap on the vegetables (the slotted spoon stops so much juice coming with them, and helps prevent a soggy bottom on your tart). Add the sundried tomatoes and sprinkle over the goats cheese - when I last made this meal at home I only used half a pack of the latter to avoid being accused of using too much cheese, but my sister said she would've liked more and I should've used the whole pack, so really it's completely up to you.

4. Tear the basil and sprinkle over, and then bake for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden and it's all looking good. Note: I think it says 15 minutes on the pastry packet, but you'll need a few minutes longer as there's so much topping. When it's done, you can garnish with a bit more basil just to add to the wow-factor, and you're ready to serve.

And as for the salad - buy yourself a few bags of baby salad leaves and whip up some Honey and Mustard Dressing during the day, and you're set. All done together, it gives you time to do this...

Hello from Tonks and Luna
...if you want to. Feeding the 5,000 has never been so easy. Unless you're Jesus. But that would be a whole different blog post.