25 November 2007

30 Days to Christmas

I hope you didn't throw anything at the screen just then!
Maybe if I share some ideas with you you may relent!

Here are some of my ideas for Christmas presents:

























For something a bit special, how about a piece of wooden art. Hand cut, painted and collaged by the super talented Gypsy and Twink.

























This one is for the cooks among us, Mrs Beeton's Board Game.


























I thought you might like these knitted cake tree decorations. Great if you are cutting down on calories!










Or how about a limited edition piece of artwork by Christopher Wright.



















Then, there are these gorgeous Japanese fabric, covered bookmarks. Perfect for a stocking filler. Such a bargain price too!



















Last, but not least, why not add that personal touch by making some of Nigella Lawson's Chocolate and Pistachio Fudge.

Hope you are all organised for Christmas! I am slowly getting there.

I wonder if I could bribe someone to do all the wrapping for me?

20 November 2007

Hot Mango Chutney

I am busy jarring up more preserves! This time it is a Hot Mango Chutney. This chutney, like most, is supposed to improve with age, but I have tasted it and it is absolutely gorgeous! It isn't too hot, but that could be adjusted easily.


Hot Mango Chutney

2 large mangoes, peeled stoned and chopped into chunks
2cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 small red or green chillies, seeded and chopped, leave the seeds in for more heat
175g/6oz onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
450g/1 lb cooking apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
600ml/1 pint white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
225g/8oz demerara sugar
225g/8oz granulated sugar
















Put all the ingredients except the sugars in a preserving pan or a large heavy-based saucepan. bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 10 minutes or until the fruit is beginning to soften.

Add the sugars and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil. reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until thick.

Cool the chutney slightly, then spoon into jars, cover and seal.

Makes 3lbs
(I managed to fill 4 jars, as you can see from the photo!)










I got this recipe from Good Housekeeping: Preserves by Joanna Farrow. This has been the one preserve book that I keep going back to and I had a huge pile of them from the library! I bought a cheap book on preserving, but honestly, I wish I had paid that bit extra and bought this one. The even more annoying thing is that it is now 1/2 price on Amazon! But I am not going to give in buy it, I shall just copy down the recipes I want and keep my pennies for Christmas!

18 November 2007

Pimp My Potato


Charlotte over at The Great Big Vegetable Challenge has challenge me to take part in a baked spud match!

Charlotte, her son Freddie and daughter Alexandra have reached the letter P in their journey around the alphabet of vegetables. They are about to wave tattie bye to the common potato. So here we go with my entry!

Pesto Power
on a Potato!
























































I sauteed a handful of mushrooms in some olive oil, with a little garlic and seasoned the mushrooms well. I stirred in a few spoonfuls of pesto, a glug of double cream and a handful of torn basil leaves. And hey presto or should that be pesto, a creamy green sauce that is utterly delicous!

It got the thumbs up from Graham, hope it get's the thumbs up from you too!

17 November 2007

Fake Mini Cheesecakes













This is more of a serving suggestion than a recipe!

I went downstairs, to have a break, I was catching up on my mail and there was Graham making himself a snack of hovis bicuits with soft cheese. I had an eureka moment, although, I will be the first to admit, not much of one! I thought, my summer fruit jam would be lovely on top of those digestive biscuits and cream cheese. Voila, instant mini cheesecakes!

I only managed two!

12 November 2007

Sunday Morning Muffins















Had a bit of a long lie this morning, really needed it, but I couldn't lie all day, because we had plans. I decided, while I am still in my muffin mood to made some double chocolate muffins. They would surely set us up for the day!

I got the recipe over at Little Bird Eats . A lovely chocolate pick-me-up! I tried one tonight, heated up with a little custard, boy oh boy, that was even better! Yum!

08 November 2007

Summer Fruit Jam













This is such a quick and easy jam to make and it can be made out of season too. Just substitute the fresh fruit with frozen. It has a fabulous flavour either way! The fruit I used this time was frozen. The fresh berries are past their best now.

Summer Fruit Jam

400g sugar
400g summer fruit (a mixture of berries)
juice and rind of 1 lemon


Place the sugar in a heatproof bowl and pop in a moderate oven for 10 minutes to heat up. Put a saucer in the freezer to test the jam. Place the fruit in a saucepan with the lemon juice and rind and heat up. Simmer for 3 minutes and crush most of the fruit with a potato masher. Add the warm sugar, stir to dissolve and bring to the boil. Boil for 3-4 minutes over a high heat, stirring regularly. To test, put a spoonful on your cold plate, leave to sit for a few seonds and then push finger through the jam, if it wrinkles , it's ready. Remove from heat and pour into sterilised jam jars. The jam will set as it cools.

Makes 2 x 400g jars of jam


Don't do what I did and have the bright idea of popping the sugar in the microwave, until you smell something burning and realise that your plastic bowl has started turning to goop on the base! Hmmmm!

03 November 2007

Mum's Fruit Loaf





























A few of you mentioned comfort food when we were talking about Autumn. Well, this is the ultimate comfort food for me, my mum's fruit loaf! It is a double whammy, first you have the smell of spices drifting around the house and then out comes a gorgeous cake filled with fruit and tasting of cinnamon and ginger. Mmmmm!

Mum's Fruit Loaf

1/2 block of butter
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup sultanas
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self raising flour
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 150c, 300f, Gas Mark 2.

Add the butter, water, sultanas, sugar and spice to a pan and bring to the boil. Set aside to cool.

Once cool add the flour, baking soda and egg and mix well.

Pour into a prepared loaf tin (I buy greaseproof inserts for mine) and bake in the centre of the oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Insert a skewer, if it comes out clean, it is ready.





























The first bite is the best. Still warm and smothered with butter!

My mum has made this loaf for as long as I can remember. She has the recipe scribbled into the margin of a cookbook, under the title: Australian Fruit Loaf. Her favourite cook books are filled with newspaper and magazine cuttings and with notes and recipes scribbled in with a pencil. I am not bold enough to write on the pages of a cookbook. I don't know if this is a healthy respect for books or if I am just not brave enough to put my thoughts into them!

Wendy over at A Wee Bit of Cooking made my mum's loaf for a cake stall at the Highland Games in June, but I am sure she won't mind if I share it again!

ps Wendy, I had some of your Membrillo Paste on oatcakes with cheese last night and it was gorgeous! I especially liked it with white stilton with apricots, it worked really well!

01 November 2007

What do you love about Autumn?














So what do you love about Autumn?

Well, soup making and walking in the crisp air came tops in my poll, with 9 points each.

What I love the most about Autumn, is crunching through leaves on a crisp, cold day and then going home to a mug of really dark, hot chocolate!















I don't have any autumnal photos to show you, as my garden isn't very sure if it is Autumn yet!

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