Food In Fiction #3 - Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe

Welcome to the third post in my Food In Fiction Series.

I have noticed more and more the tie-in between food and fiction. As foodies, I am sure you love when food takes center stage in a novel and when the author kindly includes some recipes, well that is just an added bonus.

Tesco gave me the idea for this edition. Tesco now have a Book Blog where they review books. They got in touch with me and asked if I would like to review one, but it was a different kind of review. They wanted to categorise books into moods and not genres. I had a wee look through their list and knew immediately which book I wanted to review.

Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan.

Recipe and author interview after review.

I love Jenny Colgan's books and the fact this one was about someone who loves to bake, well that was just an added bonus. TheTesco Book Blog listed this book as "handpicked to turn your heart in somersaults". I think that is a fair assessment.

Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe
is the story of Issy Randall, a girl who has a dull life and a dull boyfriend, but she is about to break away from all that.

The highlight of Issy's day is baking for her friends and work-mates. So when she is made redundant, it is just the push she needs to open up her own cupcake shop, but only after a good long session of moping around at home, feeling sorry for herself and vegetating.

Armed with her Granpa Joe's recipes and years of experience baking with her grandpa in his bakery and creating all sorts of fabulous sweet treats, Issy set's up her shop. Not everyone is happy for her to do well in her business and she soon learns who her true friends are.

This novel, although chicklit does not have the least bit of fluff. It follows the struggle of a young business woman determined to succeed. There is the sadness of a dear family member growing old and frail, there is the struggles of a single mother and that of a single father.

There is a joy in the relationships in this book and I was left feeling slightly bereft when I closed the last page. I think I will be opening this book again and again. Oh and don't let me forget to tell you about all the wonderful descriptions of food and the enticing recipes scattered through the pages. You are going to love it!

You may expect me to be making cupcakes after reading this book, but I decided to use the ingredients I had to hand and make a simple cookie recipe from the book.

Not Going to Work Nutella Cookies

Issy makes these cookies after she is made redundant and is slopping around the house feeling sorry for herself, of course it never gets so bad that she doesn't want to bake.

I was a bit dubious after reading the recipe as I have never made a cookie dough using the technique for making scones, but I went for it anyway. They are not the prettiest cookies, but they have a lovely brown sugar flavour to them. I imagine they would be great with a cup of coffee, if you liked that sort of thing.

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Nutella Cookies
Also known as Not Going to Work Nutella Cookies from the novel 'Meet me at the Cupcake Cafe' by Jenny Colgan. They have a lovely brown sugar flavour to them, even though they don't contain any brown sugar.
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 100g soft butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in a little hot water
  • 2 tbsp warm golden syrup
  • 2 tsp nutella
1 Preheat the oven to 200c/gas mark 6.2. Sift the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Rub in the butter, add the sugar, bicarb, syrup and nutella.3. Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on a greased baking tray, pressing down the centre of each ball with your thumb.4. Bake for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, as you can see mine are a little brown at the edges.notes: Issy (the main character in the book) says that while these are baking you should eat 4 tsp of nutella, then eat the entire tray of cookies while reading a gossip magazine and wearing pyjamas.
Total time: Yield: 16-18 cookies

Interview with Jenny Colgan

1. Issy Randall loves to bake, it seems only natural, as she spent so much of her childhood in her Grandpa Joe's bakery. Are you a bit of a baker yourself? Did you learn to bake or cook from someone in your own family?

My mother cooks and bakes, but I didn't really learn till I had children of my own then I got interested. The thing is, though, I'm really lucky and only work part time so it doesn't seem too much to ask that I cook!

2. Do you have a dish or cake that is a family favourite?

Everyone likes the usual ones- lasagne, fish pie. I like fish curry and I make a good pad thai. As for cakes, no the children aren't picky! But everyone loves peanut butter cookies and I have to lock fruit cake away from my husband.

3. Is there a cookbook you find yourself returning to again and again?

I keep my own cookbook, if I find something that works very well twice it goes in. Simon Hopkinson is very good, but the one I return to again and again is the BBC food site, their recipes tend to work brilliantly. And for the big things, like Christmas cake, only Delia will do. My mother cooked from Delia religiously, so if I want to do something like she did it, that's where I have to go. My friend who is a brilliant asian cook teases me and calls me the 70s chef because I like to try things like duchess potatoes and bouillabaisse.

4. Issy opens a cupcake cafe and indeed they seem to be popping up all over the place. Do your eyes light up when you see a cupcake or is this very much an Issy trait?

Oh yes, the first concession that opened in Selfridges I used to take a gigantic detour to get there. Gorgeous. It's the icing, isn't it?

5. I have read you spend much of your time in France. Has the cupcake phenomenon taken hold there?

I do live in France, and no they don't bake here- seriously. I need a new mixing bowl and I can't find one. They cook and take that very seriously but nobody bakes, because the patisseries are so good, so you would always buy sweet things. They have macarons, which you have to admit are also very very good.

6. The French are famous for their p√Ętisseries, do you have a favourite French sweet treat?

Our local patisserie does a melt-in-the-mouth pain au chocolat, it's just unbelievable. I'm also fond of croissant aux amandes, but they have about a jillion calories each so I try and limit myself!

7. I felt happy and sad when I turned the last page of Meet Me At The Cup Cake Cafe. I was really sad to say goodbye to the characters. I did think about Issy and her friends for a few days after I finished the book. Do you find it hard to say goodbye to your characters? Do they linger?

Oh, how kind, that's a really lovely thing for an author to hear. When I finished Olivia Manning's Fortunes of War sextet I was bereft that I'd never meet those people again. When you're writing though, all sorts of other things come into play- your next book, your deadline- so I don't feel sad as such and I'm very lucky with Cupcake as hurrah, we're doing a sequel! So I am currently writing about them all at Christmas time. I did enjoy seeing them all again. Austin and Darny are having some trouble with having a woman living in their house, and Helena has gone completely mad with her new baby, it's funny. And we're doing loads of lovely Christmas recipes.

8. Where do you write your novels? Do you have set routine?

Funnily enough I write them in the local patisserie. They are very nice there. It helps to be amongst the smell of baking! And yes I have a routine; I have three children under six and my husband is a sailor, so I have to be organised. The boys go to school and Delphine goes to creche and I work till 1.30 every day. It's such a luxury, I feel so lucky.

9. I noticed our good friend the Caked Crusader made an appearance at the end of your book with advice on making cupcakes. Do you follow food blogs? Do you have any you would like to recommend?

Isn't she absolutely brilliant! I love The Caked Crusader, and I love How Sweet at How Sweet Eats who shows you loads of gorgeous unhealthy things then tells you to take lots of exercise.

10. I was excited to hear that your next book also has a food theme. Can you give us a sneak preview and tell us a little about it?

Ooh yes, I love this one, we're so excited. It's called Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams and it's about a London nurse who has to go to the country and take care of her great aunt and sell her crumbling closed-down sweetshop to pay for her care. She thinks it's going to be the most boring job of all time but of course it turns out to be a lot more interesting that she was expecting. I talk lots about sweets, especially sweets you eat as a child, and there are recipes for fudge and marshmallows and coconut ice and flashbacks to the sweetshop in the second world war, and it's just generally, I hope, really good fun but quite touching too.

A big thanks to Jenny for the interview.

Disclosure Statement: I received this book free from Tesco to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Fresh Ginger & Parsnip Soup

This is my entry for this Month's No Croutons Required. NCR is a little bit special this month. I teamed up with Dom over at Belleau Kitchen and so No Croutons Required Does Random Recipes was born.

This month you have to select a random soup recipe, make it and post it for our challenge. Randomly select a soup from one of your cookbooks, but remember it has to be suitable for vegetarians. You have until the 29th of November to submit an entry. You can find all the details here.

For my random recipe I decided to use the 30-Minute Vegetarian by Johanna Farrow. A much under-used book on my bookshelf. It is a pocket sized (A5)cookbook filled with lots of appetising meals that are great for an after work meal. The polenta chips with saffron mushrooms looks great as do the couscous fritters with beetroot and creme fraiche and the cranberry, oatmeal and cinnamon scones. I really must re-visit this cookbook more often. It has some real gems in it.

My friend Andrew did the hunt for the recipes and Graham picked a number. I had to disregard the first pick as it had butter beans in it and I have a real phobia about butter beans after an incident as a child. But, the second soup was the Fresh Ginger & Parsnip and I was happy to give that one a go. I added ground cumin to the recipe as I felt it needed some spice to counter the sweetness of the parsnips. It isn't going to be one of my favourite soups, but it was pleasant enough and I enjoyed some lovely homemade bread with it.

I didn't manage to get in touch with Joanna to ask her permission, but I am publishing the recipe, with full credit and links in the hope that she won't mind.

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Fresh Ginger & Parsnip Soup
A slightly sweet creamy soup with a kick of spice from the fresh ginger and the extra cumin I added.
  • 25g/1oz butter
  • 50g/2oz fresh root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 500g/1 lb parsnips, sliced
  • 1 litre/ 1 ¼ pints vegetable stock
  • 1 - 2 tsp ground cumin
  • a good grinding of salt & pepper
  • a dollop of greek yoghurt to serve
  • a sprinkling of cayenne pepper to serve
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the ginger and fry gently for 1 minute. Roughly chop the remainder and add to the pan with the parsnips. Fry gently for 2 minutes.2. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes until the parsnips are tender.3. Transfer the soup to a food processor or blender and process until smooth, or leave the soup in the pan and use a hand-held electric blender.4. Return the soup to the pan, Add the cumin and stir well. Warm the soup through for a minute, then season to taste.I served my soup with a dollop of greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper, but you could use creme fraiche and scatter some finely sliced spring onion on top.
Total time: Yield: Serves 4


Basic White Loaf

I was surprised and delighted when a copy of Paul Hollywood's 100 Great Breads landed on my doorstep unexpectedly.

Bread in Fife

I'm rather keen on breadmaking since I went on a bread making course with Chele (Chocolate Teapot) back in August.

We had a rare day and we were so inspired by our teacher Colin. Saying that, I don't make a lot of bread, because we don't eat bread every day, but I do like to be able to. Especially if I have an uncomplicated day off.

I had such a day today. Graham was at work and Cooper was with his childminder, so I got stuck into my housework (after a long read of my book) and then made a loaf of bread and a pot of soup before heading out to collect the wee boy.

100 Great Breads

I didn't need to think twice about which cookbook to peruse.

100 Great Breads is a real bread making bible, with such a great variety of breads. From basic breads, through French and Italian breads, on to traditional bread, then herb and seed breads right through to fruit and nut breads and finishing with sweet treats such as Croissant Pudding, Wimbledon Muffins and Normandy Apple Tart.

It's a beautiful book filled with the tales of breads, some great tips and the most mouth-watering photos.

Simple White Loaf

I decided to start at the beginning and make a simple white loaf, something I haven't tried up to now. The perfect partner to our homemade soup.

It cut beautifully. The crust was crisp, slightly chewy and delicious.

It was gone in a flash, so I think that says it all really. It maybe could have done with a few more minutes, but all in all I was very happy with it and Graham and Cooper really enjoyed it.

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Basic White Loaf
An easy, basic white loaf with the tastiest crust. Prepare to make two as one doesn't last long at all.

This loaf comes from 100 Great Breads by Paul Hollywood.
  • 500g/1 lb 2 oz strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 60ml/2 fl oz olive oil
  • 20g/¾ oz fresh yeast or 15g of instant or dried yeast
  • 250ml/9 fl oz water
1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, taking care not to put the yeast on top of the salt (if you are using dried or instant yeast, leave it to froth for about 15 minutes in a little warm water before adding it). 2. Knead well with your hands and knuckles, then leave to rise for an hour, I kneaded my dough until it was silky and very elastic. Paul doesn't cover his dough, but I like to cover mine lightly with some oiled clingfilm and then a tea towel.3. Oil a 450g/1 lb loaf tin. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and mould into a sausage shape . Put back in the tin and leave to rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour. I covered my dough once more.4. Preheat the oven to 230c/210c fan/450f/gas mark 8. Dust the top of the dough with flour, put the tin in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.5. Take out of the oven and turn the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool.
Total time: Yield: 1 loaf
Notes: There was a printing error in the book which has been flagged up. The quantity of salt should be 7.5 to 10g of salt and not 1 tbsp. However I was happy with the flavour of the bread. I think a white loaf needs a bit of flavour.

Disclosure: I was sent this book to review I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

Tagliatelle con Spinaci e Funghi

This pasta is a firm favourite in this household. I don't like to have it too often as it is coated in a rich cheese sauce, but when we do have it, we really enjoy it.

Spinach, juicy and peppery mushrooms, unctuously glossy cheese sauce and salty feta cheese, such a winning combination of flavours.

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Tagliatelle con Spinaci e Funghi
Tagliatelle with spinach & mushrooms in a rich, creamy cheese sauce, finished off with some crumbly feta. Luxury on a plate.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 large field mushrooms or portabello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 pint / 570ml milk
  • 40g plain flour
  • 40g butter
  • ½ onion
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 50g mature cheddar
  • 30g vegetarian parmesan
  • 100g baby spinach
  • a grinding of salt and pepper to taste
  • enough tagliatelle for four
  • a generous slice of feta, to crumble on the finished dishes
1. Pour the milk in a microwaveable dish and add the half onion, peppercorns and bay leaf. Microwave until warm.2. Melt the butter in a pan and then add the flour. Stir until it is well combined.3. Add the milk a little at a time (use a sieve) and whisk until it is absorbed. Do this until all the milk has been used. Simmer gently for a few minutes.4. Add the cheese and whisk until it has melted. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Keep it warm until it is required.5. Once you have started the sauce. Cook the pasta according to the instructions. 6. Saute the mushrooms in the olive oil with the garlic until they are soft and juicy. Season with lots of black pepper for a fabulous flavour.7. Rinse the spinach in a colander, then pour over a kettleful of boiling water to wilt the spinach. Pour a little cold water on, so you do not burn your hands, then squeeze out the excess liquid. I like to pat it dry with a teatowel as well before chopping it.8. Once the pasta is ready, drain it, then coat in the cheese sauce and stir through the spinach and mushrooms.9. Serve in bowls topped with crumbly feta cheese and a good grating of black pepper.
Total time: Yield: serves 4


Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo bars are a new concept to me. I have heard them mentioned on other blogs, but didn't know much about them, then I saw them in my copy of Cox Cookies & Cake.

Custard filling, mmmmmmmmmm! I would take these over a cupcakes any day. Although I would change the recipe somewhat. There really wasn't enough custard filling to fill the bars in quite the way they were shown in the cookbook, so I doubled up the custard filling. Next time, I will also use more custard powder and less icing sugar for a more custardy flavour. The colour was there, but the custard flavour was rather lacking.

In case you haven't come across Cox Cookies & Cake, it is the new venture of shoe designer Patrick Cox and master patissier Eric Lanlard. They have a shop in Soho, London selling their wares and this new book to accompany it. None of your delicate petals and pastel shades in this book. It is a full on neon-nightclub of a book and that includes the cakes.

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Nanaino Bars
These custardy slices, which are reputedly the national sweet of Canada are a delight and very moreish. A coconutty biscuit base, topped with a custard icing, then finished of with a layer of chocolate.

Ingredients for the first layer
  • 65g/2½oz sugar
  • 15g/½oz cocoa powder, sifted
  • 125g/4oz digestive biscuit crumbs
  • 65g/2½oz desiccated coconut
  • 65g/2½oz walnuts, finely chopped
  • 125g/4oz unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
Ingredients for the second layer

  • 50g/2oz butter, softened
  • 25g/1oz custard powder
  • 250g icing sugar
  • a little warm water (optional)
  • Ingredients for the third layer

  • 150g/5oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 50g/2oz unsalted butter

  • Instructions
    1. Line a shallow 20cm (8 inch) square baking tray with baking paper.2. To make the first layer: in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together except the butter. Pour the melted butter over and combine well. Using a spoon, press this into the tin and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes to set.3. To make the second layer: cream the butter with the custard powder, ideally with an electric hand whisk, until fluffy. Then add the icing sugar a little at a time. Add a little warm water if it gets too stiff. Smooth the creamy mixture on top of the biscuit base, and again place in the fridge for 15 minutes to set.4. To make the third layer: melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth and glossy, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Let it cool slightly, then pour over the custard layer and smooth with a palette knife. Chill for a further 15 minutes, or until set.5. Take out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving to allow it to soften slightly, then cut into bars with a large sharp knife.
    Total time: Yield: 10 bars

    I am entering my nanaimo bars for this month's Bookmarked Recipes (there is plenty time to add your own bookmarked recipe, just add your recipe to the linky) and for Karen's new challenge Teatime Treats. The theme is ginger and bonfire treats. These would definitely be great for bonfire night and I added a spot of ginger into the base.

    Disclosure Statement: I received this book free from the publisher to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

    Cake Fairy - Key Lime Pie with Meringue

    For this month's Random Recipes Dom set us the task of choosing a cookbook and page number for each other. He called it "I'll show you mine.....if you show me yours!". Dom paired me up with the lovely Cake Fairy.

    Cake Fairy hails from London and just started her blog in May. You could never tell as her blog looks very stylish and accomplished already. As you can imagine her favourite thing to do is bake and oh the delights! Let me share a few of them with you.

    Autumnal Apple Crumble Cake

    Raspberry & White Chocolate Cupcakes

    Ginger Bundt Cake

    Don't those just look gorgeous? I do hope you pop over to see Cake Fairy, say hello and follow her scrumptious blog.

    Just in case you are interested Cake Fairy selected cook book No.4 for me and page number 216, which turned out to be Richmond Maids of Honour from Delia's Vegetarian Collection. They were absolutely addictive. I just posted them yesterday, so if you carry on at the end of this post you will see them in all there glory and can check out the easy recipe.

    As well as our random recipes, Cake Fairy and I decided to try a recipe out from each other's blogs. I was no hardship for me, with so many tempting baked goods to try. I decided to make the Key Lie Pie with Meringue. I haven't tasted it yet, well to be truthful, I did taste the ginger base as I made it and it did taste the lime topping, just to make sure it was right you understand and the meringue, well meringue is always a delight, so hopefully my meringue will be too. The pie is sitting prettily and patiently in my fridge until tomorrow night, when my best buddy Andrew comes for dinner.

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    Key Lime Pie
    An easy key lime pie. A ginger biscuit base, topped with a creamy, but tangy lime layer. Made extra special by a layer of meringue on top.
    • 375g gingernut biscuits, crushed
    • 150g unsalted butter
    • 8 large limes, juice and zest
    • 570ml double cream
    • 397g sweetened condensed milk
    1. Crush the gingernut biscuits. I recommended putting them in a bag, covering with a tea towel and crush with a rolling pin (or wine bottle!). Crush them as small as you can be bothered to as the smaller the better.2. Melt the butter in a pan on the hob and stir in the crushed biscuits. Lightly press this mixture in to a medium sized tin. Put in the fridge to chill and harden (about 30mins to an hour)3. Zest and juice the 8 limes.4. Put the lime juice into a large bowl and add the cream and condensed milk. Whisk for 1-2 minutes.5. Fold in the lime zest.6. Check your base has hardened and it is not flaky then pour the creamy mixture on to the biscuit base.7. Chill in the fridge for one to two hoursNB If you are having a dinner party it is okay to make this the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight. Cover with foil just to stop the fridge smell penetrating it. You can then top with the meringue and bake just before guests arrive.
    Total time: Yield: Makes 1 Pie

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    Meringue Topping for Key Lime Pie
    The perfect finish to a zingy key lime pie.
    • 4 large egg whites
    • 150g caster sugar
    • 30g icing sugar
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • a pinch of salt
    1. Preheat the oven to 190C.2. Put the egg whites in to a very clean bowl (no oil or egg yolk - this is important as the meringue won't get enough air in it). Whisk until, when you draw out the whisk, the egg whites form a stiff peak.3. Gentle whisk in the caster sugar.4. Stir in the icing sugar, vanilla and salt.5. Whisk gentle until the mixture turns glossy.6. Spread the meringue on top of your key lime pie. You can swirl it around with a palette knife or fork to create patterns and peaks. Put the fork in to the meringue twist and pull up.7. Bake in the oven for 10 mins. The peaks should turn browny golden and the troughs should be white.8. Wait until it cools to serve, although this isn’t a rule.Devourer with friends and loved ones x
    Total time: Yield: 1 pie topping


    Richmond Maids of Honour

    Richmond Maids of Honour

    Graham has a buffet at work today for someones birthday, so I used a whole pack of pastry to make Delia's Richmond Maids of Honour.

    Then we ate quite a few (whoops), so I set him out for another block of pastry and used half of that as well.

    So I can tell you that there is enough almond topping for one and a half blocks of puff pastry in this recipe.

    I don't see how you could load any more topping on to the pastry really without it spilling over. I also couldn't find the right size of cutter, so I made the first batch with a heart cutter and the next two with a smaller round fluted cutter (I found the round pastries were easier to fill).

    Which made lovely bite-sized pieces which are easy to hoover eat daintily. They are delightful and would be great to pass around at a party. Delia did us proud again!

    Oh and do admire the silpat liner that Andrew brought me back from America. It is the best thing since sliced bread, honestly. Nothing sticks to it, even the curd the leaked and turned into molten toffee.

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    Richmond Maids of Honour
    These dainty pastries flavoured with lemon and almonds come from a Delia Smith Recipe. They are easy to make, but I have to warn you, they are very very addictive!
    • ½ packet puff pastry
    • 225g/8oz philadelphia soft cheese
    • 40g/1½oz caster sugar
    • grated zest of 1 lemon
    • 25g/1oz ground almonds
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • 2-3 tbsp lemon curd
    • enough icing sugar to dust
    1.Take the pastry out of the fridge about 20 minutes before you start.2. Pre-heat the oven to 200c/180c fan/gas mark 6/400f.3. Cut the pastry block in half, reserving the second half for another day. Roll the pastry out to a square of about 28cm on a floured board.4. Cut out circles with a 8 cm pastry cutter. Be careful not to twist as you remove the cutter. Try for a sharp tap, as they will go a bit awry if they are twisted.5. Place the circles on a prepared baking tray, leaving a little room between them.6. Dot a meagre ½ teaspoon of lemon curd in the centre of each pastry.7. In a bowl mix together the Philadelphia cheese with the sugar, lemon zest and ground almonds.8. In a separate bowl, whisk up the egg and egg yolk then mix into the cheese mixture until well combined.9. Dollop a spoonful of mixture over each pastry, covering the curd and soothing out, but don't take it quite to the edge.10. Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the pastry starts to turn a little golden.11. Put on a wire rack to cool. Once cool, dust with icing sugar. 12. Say you will just have one, but be prepared to eat at least 4, if not more.
    Total time: Yield: makes 18

    Jamie's Great Britain - Roasted Veg Vindaloo

    Jamie Oliver has a new TV show called Jamie's Great Britain. The six-episode series kicked of last night with Jamie exploring his and his family's old stomping ground, London's East End and Southend-on-Sea where he sampled and cooked pie and mash, oysters, winkles and jellied eels. The programme ended with a bbq on the beach with his Mum, Dad and his Nan who he oddly calls Tiger.

    Over the six weeks Jamie travels the length of the country searching for today's British classics and looking at the roots of each dish. Jamie visits Yorkshire, The Heart of England, Essex and East London, Bristol and Somerset, South Wales and Scotland and gathers together a plethora of recipes which can be found in his new book that accompanies the series called, yes you guessed it Jamie's Great Britain.

    I have to admit to only watching with half an eye last night, as the programme was so meaty and fishy, too much for me to enjoy really. I did like the Bloody Mary sauce he made for oysters and I will be tuning in each week in the hope that he casts some of his magic over vegetables and presents us with some mouth-watering desserts.

    I was excited to get my hands on a copy of the book and it is indeed a thing of beauty. It is very visual, absolutely chocablock of photos and graphics and it is on lovely thick paper. Just how I like my cookbooks. I really am a sucker for a cookbook with great photos, printed on good quality paper.

    Other than how the book looks, after my first skim through I was disappointed with how meaty the whole book seemed. It is obviously one of those books you need a bit of time with. The main courses are as a whole meat or fish based, but actually there are plenty of soups, salads, cakes, desserts and dressings for us vegetarians to enjoy.

    It is sad to admit, but I decided to do a count of the recipes that are suitable for vegetarians, for your benefit you understand, not anything to do with me and my lists, no nothing at all! I was pleasantly surprised that there was a respectable 86 out of the 130 recipes the book boasts that can be enjoyed by veggies.

    Here are a few of the recipes that have caught my eye:

    Apple & Watercress Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing & Crushed Walnuts
    Shredded Rainbow Salad
    Potato & Smashed Fennel with Crispy Thyme Breadcrumbs
    Sour Cranberry Bakewell
    Wonderful Welsh Cakes
    Rhubarb & Rice Pudding
    Flavoured Gin & Vodka

    Roasted Veg Vindaloo

    A couple of weeks ago I made Jamie's Roasted Veg Vindaloo from the cookbook. So what did I think of it? Well the curry paste is excellent and I will be using it again. Oh how delicious is smells and it has an excellent full, spicy flavour, but the curry itself was lacking something. To be fair, Jamie did serve his with chicken skewers, which would add another texture. So the second night we had the curry, I added some mushrooms, carrots and courgette and it was excellent. Of course, dishes such as curries, soups and chillies are always better the next day, once the flavours have really developed. I would still suggest adding some extra vegetables if you decide to make this curry.

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    Vindaloo Curry Paste
    This is the curry paste used in the Roasted Veg Vindaloo from Jamie's Great Britain by Jamie Oliver.

    A flavourful and spicy curry paste that is easy to make and has a bit of a kick.
    • 1 bulb of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
    • 1 heaped tablespoon each of turmeric and garam masala
    • 2 heaped tablespoons raisins
    • 1 level teaspoon each of sea salt and cumin
    • 1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds
    • 2 dried red chillies
    • A bunch of fresh coriander, leaves picked and stalks chopped
    • 1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 200ml (7fl oz) white wine vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons each of Worcestershire sauce (veggie) and rapeseed or olive oil
    1. Put all the paste ingredients except the coriander leaves into a liquidiser and whiz until smooth, then scrape into a bowl.2. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the liquidiser, season well, then blitz until smooth and put aside.
    Total time: Yield: enough for 2-3 curries

    print recipe
    Roasted Veg Vindaloo
    A vegetarian vegetable vindaloo from Jamie's Great Britain by Jamie Oliver.

    This curry is better served day two for full flavour and benefits from some extra vegetables added to it.
    • 1kg (2lb 4oz) large ripe tomatoes
    • a pinch of Sea salt and ground pepper
    • 1 cauliflower, stalk sliced, leaves removed
    • 3 red onions, peeled and roughly sliced
    • 1 x 400g (14oz) tin of chickpeas
    • 500ml (18fl oz) organic veg stock
    • 500g (1lb 2oz) mixed peas, broad beans and sweetcorn
    • 1 x 200g (7oz) bag of baby spinach
    • some Natural yoghurt, to serve
    • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
    1. Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.2. In a large casseroletype pan, toss the cauliflower florets and onions with half the curry paste. Add 600ml (1 pint) of water, and roast for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through.3. After 40 minutes, carefully move the hot pan from the oven to the hob. Drain and add the chickpeas, along with the stock and blitzed tomatoes and simmer on a medium heat for about 30 minutes.4. Mash a few times to thicken the sauce. Add the delicate veggies (corn, peas, beans and spinach) for the last 3 minutes of cooking, then have a taste and correct the seasoning. Marble through a few dollops of yoghurt, scatter over the reserved coriander and chopped fresh chilli (leave the seeds in for extra heat), then take straight to the table. 5. Serve with fluffy rice.
    Total time: Yield: Serves 6-8

    Such a long post, but there is such a lot to fit in.

    If you would like a copy of Jamie's Great Britain, you are in luck. I have been give two copies to give away.

    Giveaway guidelines:

    1. For your first entry, just leave me a comment.

    For extra entries:

    2. Follow Tinned Tomatoes and leave a separate comment to say you have done so.
    3. Follow me, @tinnedtoms on twitter and leave a separate comment to let me know you have done so.
    4. Tweet the competition using (Win a copy of 'Jamie's Great Britain' Cookbook @jamieoliver over at Tinned Tomatoes and leave a separate comment to say you have done so.
    5. Like the Jamie's Great Britain Facebook Page and leave a separate comment to let me know you have done so.
    6. Like the Tinned Tomatoes Facebook Page and leave me a seperate comment to let me know you have done so.

    Yes, that is 6 opportunities to win one of two copies!

    Remember to leave separate comments as each comment is a separate entry. The giveaway is open in the UK only.

    This giveaway runs until Monday 28 November 2011. Good luck everyone!

    Phew, my second giveaway this week and there is still one running over at Little Tums.

    Win a Soldier Egg Cup and Soldier Toast Cutter Set over at Little Tums. This giveaway is worldwide. I am happy to post it out to the winner, wherever they live. The giveaway runs until Friday 28 October 2011.

    You can also enter to win a free lifetime membership to Eat Your Books, an online search engine for your own cookbook collection. This giveaway is worldwide. The giveaway runs until Sunday 13 November 2011.

    Disclosure Statement: I received this book free from the publisher to review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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