Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Now it's all over...

I hope you all had a nice Christmas. Mine was very good. I decided to give myself a couple of days off and to be honest, it felt a bit odd just doing nothing after such an intense year. Even our holiday wasn't very relaxing.

To be honest, I feel as though I have really overdone things this year. I don't think I have eaten that much, but I just don't feel good. So, I have decided to start 2012 as I mean to go on with a challenge for January. I'll bring you more news on this very soon.

Watch this space for some interesting blogs too - I've been very behind on things recently, so I hope to catch up soon.

I'll be in touch with more over the coming days.


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Thank you and Happy Christmas!

So, it's finally Christmas. Everything has been done very late here this year. I have been absolutely swamped with work in the last few weeks and am very behind.

Today the tree has finally gone up, I made a wreath from some holly and ivy I picked up on this afternoon's walk, and we've baked some sensational vegan mince pies for my vegan sister using Vanessa Kimbell's instant mincemeat recipe. And to my surprise, they are even better than the "regular" ones I made last week!

I just wanted to write a quick post to thank everyone or all their support this year. It's been such a fantastic year, from winning awards, to cooking alongside top chefs and meeting so many fantastic people. I know there are even better things in the pipeline for 2012 which I can't wait to share with you all.

Thank you for reading my blogs and I wish you and your families a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2012!


Charlotte X

The tree finally is put up!

My homemade wreath - took 15 minutes to make and was FREE!

Mince  pies fresh out of the oven

Friday, 16 December 2011

What I will be eating this Christmas: Part II

This morning I’ve been making my Christmas cake. Yes, this morning. I do not believe you need to make your Christmas cake six months in advance to achieve a superior result. I must add though, that I don’t think my family have a old Christmas cake recipe passed down through the generations, as so many families do, so it’s not like we have any long-standing family rituals when it comes to Christmas cake.
In recent years, we have really enjoyed this recipe for a last-minute Christmas cake. Sadly, I am in the minority in our household for actually liking icing and marzipan, so we always go for a plain cake topped with nuts. This cake is very easy to make and once it’s cooked, you don’t need to feed it or ice it - it’s just ready to be wrapped up and kept until Christmas or cut immediately.
All I do in advance is put the fruit in a bowl to soak. This fruit has been left for 36 hours

Sticking with the theme of keeping it simple, I make this cake in my Kitchen Aid

Here's the cake ready to go in the oven, topped with whole brazil nuts

This recipe is adapted from a Delia Smith recipe, and can easily be adapted further to suit any food allergies. Replace the flour with 200g of Shipton Mill Wheat Free Blend and use gluten free baking powder in the same quantites for a gluten free cake. Use soya or sunflower margarine instead of butter for a dairy free option, and just omit the nuts for a nut free cake. It’s very straightforward to play with and works well every time.
Charlotte’s Kitchen Christmas Cake
Makes one large 8” cake
225g Self raising flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
150g butter
3 large eggs
150g dark muscovado sugar
2 teaspoons mixed spice
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
100g chopped nuts
For the soaking:
150ml Spiced orange and clove brandy
400g Homemade mincemeat
100g prunes, chopped
100g glace cherries, wholw
175g cape sultanas
50g mixed peel
  1. Place all the ingredients in the soaking section into a bowl, mix well and leave to soak. I like to leave this for 36 hours if I can
  2. Preheat the oven to 170C/ Gas Mark 3
  3. Grease and line an 8” round cake tin
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar (I do this in my Kitchen Aid)
  5. Add the eggs and beat in
  6. Add the flour, baking powder and spices, and mix lightly
  7. Finally, add the soaked fruit and nuts and gently fold in until evenly combined
  8. Bake for 2 hours in the oven
  9. Leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes after removing from the oven, then leave to cool fully on a wire rack. 
  10. Wrap and enjoy in a couple of weeks’ time, or eat immediately.
A quick snap of the finished cake whilst cooling

Thinking about Christmas food, we’re going to buy our meat this weekend. I would like a rib of beef and a free range turkey crown. I hope to get this from the lovely Henry Herbert at Hobbs House Butchery. It was a great pleasure to meet Henry (and indeed his brother, Tom) at the Tetbury Food Festival, where I cooked earlier this year, so I plan to try their meat this year. 
Watch this space for more last-minute Christmas food next week!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

My Christmas list: what to buy for foodies like me with lots of kit already!

My Christmas list this year is all food-related. Forget shoes and handbags, this is what really gets me excited.
First of all, and most lusted-after on my list is the Cuisinart ice cream maker. I’m desperate to get my hands on one, having really got into making ice-cream this autumn, thanks to Ben Vear and his excellent book. I adore Cuisinart’s products. I have their Elite Blender which is excellent. Their products are so solid and well-made and perform exceptionally well. I might also add that the Spice and nut mill is also on my wish list.
I’m quite well-off for kitchen gadgets and to be honest, I am often disappointed with so many I have bought.  What I really want are lovely objects which work well and look good in the kitchen. I want my equipment to be good quality, robust, and I want to know that it will last being used over and over again for years to come.
The girly side in me really would like a set of these Emma Bridgewater tins and some of their lovely mugs. I love the fact that they are made in Britain and the designs are gorgeous, although they are not typically what I would go for in the kitchen.
I also have a new-found obsession with homemade pizzas, so a pizza stone such as this French one by Emile Henry would be also be useful.
I can’t get enough books. I have quite a collection and I particularly treasure my collection of copies signed to me. On my list for Christmas this year first is The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit which is a book I have wanted to read for some time. It's had great reviews and I think would be a great read over Christmas (bear in mind, I don't read fiction, I just curl up with cookery books). 

Next up, is Orchards in the Oasis by Josceline Dimbleby, another book I've wanted for ages. I was thrilled that Josceline was also on the lineup at Wimborne Food Festival back in the Autumn. Being a bit too young to remember some of her earlier writing, I only really heard about her in the early days of Leon, which is of course, run by her son, Henry. I am really thrilled though, as this week, Tony's mum found some 1970's original books of hers in her collection which she has passed on to me, so I hope to read Josceline's food writing through the years this Christmas. 

Sticking with the Leon theme, the next book I am hoping for is this beauty by Allegra McEvedy: Bought, borrowed and stolen. I am a huge admirer of Allegra. I think she is a truly inspirational woman. She's a fantastic chef whose recipes I adore. I love her style of cooking; modern, interesting, with a healthy twist, and her approach to the sourcing and sustainability of the food we eat is very important. Enough gushing, but Allegra is a real heroine of mine. 

I'll finish briefly with a mention of another heroine of mine: Rose Prince. I was lucky enough to meet her at Feast of Dorset where I also cooked this year. Many of the reasons I enjoy Rose's writing and recipes so much are similar to the reasons why I like Allegra's work: the fact that she champions great food, cooked from simple, local, seasonal, sustainable ingredients. Kitchenella, her most recent book, and the only one of hers missing from my collection, would be a wonderful present this year.

Friday, 9 December 2011

What I will be eating this Christmas: Part I

I'm starting to get organised now in terms of what I will be eating this Christmas. I think the key for me is to keep things simple. Nothing fancy, just great ingredients and a few lovely treats.

I have been in London this week, and I have stocked up on a few essentials that I love every year.
First of all, I bring you an absolute essential. I have to confess I buy this all year round, but I like to have a good stash in to last over Christmas and New Year. A really good coffee. I buy mine from Monmouth Coffee in Borough Market or at Seven Dials in London. Monmouth is my personal favourite, although there are many great coffee roasters out there.

The great thing about Monmouth is that they source their coffees from individual farms all over the world, from Asia to Latin America. You know exactly where the coffee has come from and that it has been well-produced. I'm currently drinking the Finca Valentín from Bolivia and the Tres Pueblos from Nicaragua. Often their coffees are bought in smallish quantities, so you find the varieties they sell in the shop change regularly.

Next on my list, is cheese. I don't really buy or eat cheese throughout the year to be honest (with the exception of Parmiggiano Reggiano in cooking, so Christmas is the one time I really enjoy a selection of cheeses. For me, it has to be really good cheese. I am totally indifferent to average cheese and happy to go without. But really great cheese, to me, is a revelation. We always get our Christmas stash of cheeses from Neal's Yard Dairy. I picked our cheeses up yesterday from Borough Market, and just had to take some snaps of the sensational selection of cheeses on display

I chose three large pieces of cheese. As ever, Neal's Yard take preorders for Christmas cheese, which I have done before, which you can collect right before Christmas. Alternatively, which is what I have done this year, they stock cheeses which will ripen in time for Christmas. So, I have their unbelievable Colston Bassett stilton, some Lincolnshire Poacher cheddar, and some Spenwood, which is an English hard sheeps milk cheese, not dissimilar to the very wonderful manchego. Having lived in Spain I certainly acquired the taste for manchego and membrillo, so I buy a wonderful English quince paste from Neal's Yard to go with this. Their English quince and damson pastes are also always on my Christmas list as they work so well with the cheeses. What is even better, is that they are made in Bermondsey (of all places!) with Brogdale fruit, which is grown in Kent.

Finally, I have made Vanessa Kimbells' instant mincemeat recipe from Prepped! which I talked about in my last post. It is absolutely stunning and I can't wait to cook with it. One of the main reasons I wanted to try this recipe, apart from the fact that it is absolutely delicious, is because it uses no suet. I'll be using it to make mince pies, both standard mince pies and gluten free vegan mince pies for my assorted loved ones who cannot eat various foodstuffs. Recipes to follow!

The ingredients for the mincemeat

And the finished mincemeat
Finally, I'll just add that I am generally not a huge mincemeat fan, bar the odd mince pie. This one is so good, I've had to put it on the very top shelf of the fridge to keep my hands off it. It is incredibly good.

So, that's it for now. I'll be making mince pies and Christmas cake in due course. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

What I will be drinking this Christmas

Although I have started to think about what I will be cooking this Christmas, I haven't really started to make any Christmassy food yet. The reason being is that I love Christmas food so much, I just can't keep away from it once it's in the house. So, in an attempt to try not to go up a dress size by January, I'm trying to save it for Christmas itself. Fighting the bulge is difficult enough at any time of the year, but I figure trying to stay away from sugary treats until Christmas has to help.

Anyway, the last thing I want is to turn this blog into talk about diets, so enough of that. I really do find though, that festive themed drinks are a very nice nod to the impending festive season before Christmas is really here. I do find if I start to get festive too early, the main event can be a bit of an anticlimax.

So, starting with alcoholic drinks, here are some of my favourites.

First up is my mulled cider, which I made for Let's Make Christmas just a couple of weeks ago. Just click on the link for my recipe.

My mulled cider
Next, I have to include mulled wine. I cheat and use the excellent Steenberg's Organic mulled wine sachets.  A beautiful blend of spices, which makes mulled wine so simple to make.

And finally, I made Spiced Orange and Clove Brandy yesterday (see my previous post). As I mentioned yesterday, I will be using this in my Christmas baking and it is delicious on it's own. Vanessa Kimbell recommends in Prepped! to enjoy this with ginger beer (1 part brandy to 3/4 parts ginger beer) to make a Christmas cocktail, so we will be enjoying this in our household, too.

Spiced Orange and Clove Brandy

Next, why not make your daily cups of tea a little more festive? Steenbergs Christmas tea is delicious. A spiced black tea which is not dissimilar to a chai, and is really lovely.

Christmas tea and my new Christmas mug - a lovely gift from Tony's Mum!
And sticking with hot drinks, I adore Steenbergs Christmas Drinking Chocolate. Deliciously rich, spicy and chocolatey, and with the added bonuses of being organic, fair-trade and dairy free. No milk powder in here; just cocoa, sugar and spices. My vegan sister can enjoy this made with soya milk, too. 

Organic Christmas Drinking Chocolate
And finally, why not make my muller cider, but as mulled apple juice with just apple juice and spices? Just follow the recipe using a litre of apple juice (I used fresh, pressed English apple juice).

Enjoy... and cheers!

Thank you to Steenbergs for the lovely tea, hot chocolate and spices!

Monday, 5 December 2011

What I'm making this Christmas

Spiced Orange and Clove Brandy

My preparations for Christmas start today. The first thing I'm making is Spiced Orange and Clove Brandy, from Prepped! by Vanessa Kimbell. You can find Vanessa's recipe here.

I've followed the recipe almost exactly, but have replaced the caster sugar with Vanessa's Orange and clove sugar, again from Prepped!

This took me just a matter of minutes to make, and I plan to use this in my homemade mincemeat and Christmas cake. Yes, my Christmas cake is not made. I always make a last minute one.

I'll be blogging all the recipes I use in the run up to Christmas....watch this space!

What to cook?

What to cook? Ever wondered that? It's something I spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about.

Last sunday, my lovely sister came for lunch. I was exhausted and had no food in. And my sister is a vegan. Not entirely out of choice I should add. Take a vegetarian with a diary intolerance and you pretty much end up vegan, apart from eggs and honey I guess.

I felt really uninspired to cook, but I suddenly had a brainwave - an idea I had seen on Nigel Slater's most recent television series, roasted peppers with tomatoes and garlic.

The photos are quite dark. It was a cold and gloomy day in London. One of those days when you stay in with the light and heating on all day long. And this recipe, although it appears summery, was just perfect. Warm, comforting, yet vibrant and fresh. I'm not going to even write a recipe here. All I did was cut peppers in half, remove the pith and seeds and stuff them with cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves (skin on), followed by a drizzle of great quality extra virgin olive oil and bake until soft and slightly charred at the edges.

I served the peppers with some homemade black olive spelt soda bread (recipe to come soon) to mop up the juices.

Here's one of my favourite photos of my sister and me. I'm so lucky to have such a wonderful sister

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Easy Vegan Banana Bread

My loaf fresh out of the oven

This banana bread is so simple and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes using storecupboard ingredients. I’ve used cups to cut down on washing up for this recipe.
Makes 1 large loaf (2 lb tin)
3 large bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups plain flour (wheat flour, or 1 1/4 cups gluten free plain flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup light brown soft sugar
1/3 cup milk (you can use soya or rice milk to make this cake vegan)
Optional extra
1/2 cup sultanas, walnuts, chocolate chips or cranberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/ Gas Mark 3
  2. Grease and line a 2lb large loaf tin
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large bowl
  4. Whisk the oil and sugar together in a separate bowl. Add the mashed bananas and milk and combine evenly
  5. Add the dry ingredients and fold in gently. 
  6. If you are adding any extras such as dried fruit or nuts, add them now and stir to combine evenly
  7. Pour the batter into the loaf tin and place in the oven. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes.

Free From Food Festival

This weekend marked the very first Free From Food Festival in London, held on the South Bank, just a couple of steps away from the Thames.
Organised by the delightful Caroline Aherne, this event brought together some of the best freefrom food prodocers in the UK. Caroline had clearly taken great care in selecting a wide range of food producers, meaning there were all sorts of products on offer, from fish and chips, to cakes, to spices and drinks. There was something there for everyone.
The Free From Festival ran from Friday to Sunday, and due to my impending house move, I didn’t manage to get down there until Sunday.
It was a glorious day, and the square where the festival was held was packed full of people who were really delighted to find so many excellent products on offer, all in one place!
Caroline and Ben
I caught up with Caroline who was just helping Ben from Beppino’s to set up for his cookery demonstration – one of many which took place over the weekend.
The demo tent
People travelled from all over the country to attend, and I hope there will be many more Free From Food Festivals to come!
Delicious looking vegetarian street food
Gorgeous day on the South Bank

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Bite n Write

So, after all the excitement of Let’s Make Christmas in London last friday, I had a very early start last Saturday morning to catch the train up to Birmingham to go to Bite n Write.
I’ve been looking forward to this event for months now, particularly as some of my favourite food bloggers were going, and most of them live up North i.e. a long way away from me, so it was a great opportunity to catch up.
The day started at Birmingham New Street where we had all arranged to meet up. It was a bit surreal all meeting up and putting faces to Twitter names, trying to spot fellow food bloggers waiting on the concourse, too! How do you spot a fellow food blogger? I was going to tweet what I was wearing, but then thought that the brown hair, black coat, jeans, black boots etc would possibly not be the most helpful description...
Having gathered the troops, we headed en masse to the Custard Factory in Birmingham. Fortunately, Louise knew where we were going, as this was my first trip to Birmingham! I’m not sure how I have never been there before, but there you go.
We all had chance to grab a coffee and mingle before the conference started. First up on the agenda was Craig Fraser from Frasershot, a professional photographer who offered some excellent advice on obtaining good quality food photographs at home. This was followed by lunch and chocolate tasting from Artisan du Chocolat. Their chocolates were exceptionally good, and we were lucky enough to try a great number of samples from their chocolate range, including flavoured bars (marsala chai and mole were my personal favourites), and some delicious chocolates and truffles, including the wierd: sage and thyme, and the wonderful: tobacco and jasmine tea.
In the afternoon we were treated to talks from Jeanne from Cook Sister and Ben from the Great British Bake off, and of course, moi.
As most of you know who were there, I attempted to condense my presentation to try and recuperate some time, as we were running very late by this time, so sorry it was rather rushed.
The afternoon rounded off with a Wordpress workshop, and then drinks at a nearby bar. A few of us headed out for dinner and drinks afterwards, which was lots of fun. Here’s hoping there will be another Bite N Write next year. Thank you to Annie for organising the day.
Here are some of my photos of the day

Artisan du Chocolat chocolates
My lovely fellow bloggers
Blogger cupcakes!
Ben Fraser from the Great British Bake Off talking on video blogging
The lovely @comidayvida and @tinnedtoms talking over supper

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Let's Make Christmas

What a crazy couple of days it’s been. In preparation, I decided to clear my diary for the day on Friday. I planned to spend the morning kicking back drinking coffee whilst the cake I planned to enter into the competition was baking away in the oven. Well, that didn’t happen. I ran out of hot water mid shower whilst I was conditioning my hair, ran out of fairy liquid with a mountain of washing up to do and spilt coffee everywhere. The day was not off to a good start. But any bad omens were fortunately only a feature of friday morning, as friday afternoon turned out to be tremendous fun.
Having suffered a few setbacks in the morning, I rushed to get my Christmas gifts ready to take with me and managed a couple of quick photos before I left the house.  I almost took a photo of the kitchen to make you laugh as it really was in such a state but I decided I’d actually be too embarrassed to post the photo in the end, but you can picture the trail of destruction in my wake.

Here’s a photo of the ingredients I used as I got started (and before the kitchen was trashed). Some of you have been asking which chestnuts I used, and here are the ones I used, which I think are by Clément Faugier - they were from Waitrose. I usually buy Merchant Gourmet chestnuts, simply as they are often the only ones I can find on sale, but this brand worked fine. Another question I have been asked, is if you can use chestnut puree. My answer to this would be yes, but you probably need more than a can, as I whizzed the chestnuts up into a puree with the milk too. I reckon you would need around a can and 1/3 to 1/2 extra. But this is just an estimate.
I actually found it really hard to find anywhere stocking chestnuts at the moment, so I suggest that if you see some, snap them up for your larder. I got mine in Waitrose at Westfield, which seemed like the only place I could find in London which had them in!

Here’s a photo of the finished cake before I headed out to Fortnum and Mason. I topped it with some finely grated 74% chocolate (the same as I used in the cake) and some fresh chestnuts. I did buy a very nice gold ribbon from John Lewis to go around the cake, but sadly, it clashed with the cake base, so I left it off.
The mulled cider was very simple to put together. I just had to zest the fruit and slice the ginger and that was all the hard work required for this. Same for the dulce de leche. The washing up is more of a faff than making it. Here are the cider and dulce de leche ready to go.

Sadly, the cake didn’t withstand the journey in from Brixton. A fellow passenger very helpfully slammed themselves into my whilst I was getting off the train at Green Park. Sadly, my cake was damaged... I knew I should have driven!
The event itself was excellent and a really wonderful chance to meet some lovely people and catch up with familiar faces. Here’s hoping there will be another Let’s Make event soon. Thank you to Vanessa for organising it and Dan for judging.
See my previous post on Let’s Make Christmas with my recipes here
If you would like to read more, take a look at Vanessa and Sarah’s excellent blog posts.

Free From Food Festival

This weekend marks the first Free From Food Festival, held on the Southbank Centre Square in London. 
It will be a great opportunity to come on down and meet free from food producers and watch cookery demonstrations. For more information on when and where, just have a look at this.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bite n Write

Just a very quick post as I am absolutely snowed under, but I wanted to let you know that I will be speaking at Bite n Write in Birmingham this weekend. This promises to be a really great day, and I know that so many of my favourite bloggers are going to be there, which is incredibly exciting to all be able to get together again and meet new faces.

It should be a really exciting and informative day. I'm looking forward to picking up lots of tips on how I can improve things here too. For more information on what's going on and how to get tickets, take a look at the Bite n Write website.

Thank you to the wonderful Annie Ko for all her hard work in putting together this event.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Let's make Christmas

I have to confess, my thoughts have already started to turn to Christmas. This happens every year in my attempt to get organized. I emphasize the word attempt here.
Last year, I made some chocolate truffles for friends and family. I really enjoyed the experience of making my own gifts, which were, thankfully, very well received.
So, I was absolutely delighted to be asked to participate in Let's make Christmas by the fabulous Vanessa Kimbell. I’m really looking forward to attending this event at Fortnum and Mason next Friday and catching up with some of my favourite food bloggers.

My thoughts quickly turned to what I shall make. I have to confess that I am not a huge fan of dried fruit (with the exception of glacé cherries), so anything I make for Christmas tends to use as little dried fruit as possible. I really don’t like Christmas pudding or most Christmas cakes (I can, however, make an exception for a very good mince pie), so I wanted to try something different.
I have tried and tested all recipes and given them to my friends, family and colleagues, who enjoyed all of them, and have said they will be trying them at home, so I hope that bodes well given that one of my foodie heroes, Dan Lepard is judging after all. No pressure!
So, as per the rules of the competition, here is what I will be entering.
First up, as you would expect, is a cake, and it is my alternative Christmas cake. It’s a Chocolate and Chestnut cake. Seasonal, yet different and perfect for Christmas entertaining. Next up is one of my favourite festive drinks: mulled cider. I recently discovered this at our favourite pub in Oxfordshire, the Trout in Wolvercote. It’s a little bit different, but totally delicious. And finally, in the jar-based products category, is actually my favourite preserve of all time; dulce de leche. Yes, it’s not festive per sé, but I think it makes a sensational gift, and a real change from jams and chutneys. I discovered dulce de leche when I spent a month travelling around Argentina after University. My friends and I decided to take the budget option and stay in youth hostels the length and breadth of the country. The only option for breakfast at every hostel we visited, from La Pampa in the north to Ushuaia, at the tip of the country (and the southernmost city on Earth) was bread and dulce de leche. I was actually genuinely upset when my suitcase-smuggled supplies ran out upon my return to Blightly, having become thoroughly addicted throughout the course of the month, with dulce de leche ice creams every day, alfajores and dulce de leche on bread every morning. On reflection, it is a wonder I didn’t need a seatbelt extension for the return journey given how much delicious yet wickedly unhealthy food I had consumed during my travels.
I digress. My recipes are below, with some cheeky preview photos of my trials. I will update this post after friday’s event.
Chocolate & Chestnut cake

Wheat and gluten free
Serves 8-10
  • 250g dark chocolate, broken up into in chunks
  • 250g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 200g pack of peeled and cooked chestnuts (I use Merchant Gourmet)
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 80g vanilla sugar (I use homemade, recipe from Prepped)
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 125g caster sugar (again, I use homemade vanilla sugar as above)
1. Preheat the oven to 170°c/Gas Mark 3 and grease and line a 9” diameter springform  cake tin.
  1. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a pan over a very gentle heat or alternatively in the microwave for a minute or two. 
  2. In another pan, heat the chestnuts with the milk sugar for around 30 minutes. I keep a lid on to stop the milk from evaporating. When the chestnuts are soft, I blitz them in the food processor.
  3. Put the egg yolks in a bowl and mix with the caster sugar. I use an electric whisk or the Kitchen Aid for this. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture and the chestnut purée until you have a smooth mixture. 
  4. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold them carefully into the chocolate and chestnut mixture.
  5. Transfer the mixture to the greased, lined tin and bake for around 45- 50
Festive Mulled Cider

  • Around 2 bottles of good quality dry English Cider
  • 500ml apple juice
  • 50g Vanilla sugar (again, I use homemade)
  • 50g Cardamom sugar (ditto homemade from Prepped)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 few cloves
  • 4 Star anise
  • 1” root ginger, sliced
  • 100ml good quality Brandy
  1. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. 
  2. Bring to just under a boil and leave for at least twenty minutes before serving. 
  3. Make sure the cider does not boil
  4. Serve in glasses whilst hot.
Dulce de Leche
Makes one 450g jar
  • 1x 450g (appx) jar of sweetened condensed milk
  • A little sea salt (I use Maldon or Cornish Sea Salt)
  1. Preheat the oven to 220° C
  2. Pour the jar of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk) into a Pyrex dish and stir in the sea salt
  3. Place the Pyrex dish within a larger Pyrex dish, and add hot water to the larger dish (I use water from a recently boiled kettle) until it reaches halfway up the side of the Pyrex dish which contains the condensed milk
  4. Cover the Pyrex dish containing the condensed milk snugly with foil and bake for 1¼ hours. 
  5. Once the Dulce de Leche is nicely browned and caramelized, remove from the oven and let cool. Once cool, whisk until smooth. I do this with an electric whisk or Kitchen Aid, and place into jars immediately.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

South West Food Bloggers

For some time now, I've wanted to meet up with fellow food bloggers in South West England. Although my company is based in Dorset, I am going to be spending much more time in the area soon, and wanted to get together with my follow foodies to meet up.

Having looked for various groups to join, I couldn't find any, so I decided to set about creating one. I will be organising meet ups and exciting fun-filled foodie events in the region over the coming months, so please do get in touch and say hi, and watch this space.

I will be in touch with more information as soon as possible, but I hope to hear from some of you soon.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Making Christmas

I will be participating in Let's make Christmas, hosted by Vanessa Kimbell. I will be posting later today on what I will be cooking, so please check back here soon for the recipes!

For more information, see Vanessa's blog.