Steamed Cherry Bakewell Pudding


Oh I do so love when the cooler temperatures arrive and I can get down to the business of cooking comfort foods again. So does Todd.  He does enjoy my salads, but he is a WW2 baby and he likes his stodge much more than those leafy greens and veg.

I love it when he talks about his school dinners.  He adored his school dinners.    That is where he had his main meal of the day.  There was not a lot of cash and rationing was in full force for all of his growing up years.  His dad was a window washer after the war.  His mother never worked outside the home.  School dinners were a big help.  He especially waxes lyrical about the puddings they had . . .  spotted dick, treacle sponge, etc.  And always with custard.


I wanted to make him a special pudding this weekend, to spoil him a bit and so I made him an old fashioned  steamed pudding  . . . but not just any steamed pudding would do . . .


I did him a Steamed Cherry Bakewell Pudding, and yes . . .  served up with a warm custard sauce.  A dessert right after Todd’s old school, school dinner, stodgy heart!!


Picture this . . . a lovely moist and buttery steamed pudding . . . filled with the lovely flavour of almonds . . . coming from both the ground almonds and the almond essence used in making the batter . . .


Topped with some lovely sweet/tart morello cherry preserves . . . sitting there all scrummily on top of the pudding . . .  and then gilded with an unctuously delicious custard sauce.


Dare I say it?  TO DIE FOR!  Todd was in pudding heaven.  He even had seconds.


  I dare say the leftovers will go down a real treat today as well.  I confess although I shouldn’t be eating such things . . .  a tiny taste does make me smile also.  Hooray for comfort!  Don’t ever be intimidated by a steamed pudding. They are quite the easiest things to make.  Truly.

*Steamed Cherry Bakewell Pudding*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

A delicious steamed pudding stogged full of scrummy almond flavour and slathered with morello cherry preserves.  Served with a custard sauce, this is old school, stodge, deliciousness!

For the pudding:
110g of butter, softened (1/2 cup)
110g of soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup packed)
2 medium free range eggs, beaten
a few drops of almond essence
75g of self raising flour, sifted (2/3 cup)
75g of ground almonds (14 TBS)
2 TBS semi skimmed milk
3 heaped TBS of morello cherry preserves (jam)

For the Sauce:
150ml (5 fluid ounces) of milk
250ml of heavy/double cream (8.5 fluid ounces)
50g of caster sugar (1/4 cup fine sugar)
6 large free range egg yolks
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds removed

To make the pudding.  Butter a 1 1/2 pint pudding basin.  Set aside.  Take a large piece of greaseproof paper or foil, make a pleat in the centre and then spray it lightly with nonstick cooking spray, or spray oil.

Cream together the softened vutter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, a bit at a time, until well incorporated.  Stir in the almond essence and then fold in the flour and the almonds.  Stir in the milk to give a dropping consistency. 

Spoon the jam into the bottom of the buttered basin.  Pour the batter over top.  Cover the pudding basin with  the prepared paper or foil and secure in place with some string or a rubber band.  Place into the top of a steamer or large saucepan which is half filled with boiling water.  Cover and steam the pudding for 1 1/2 hours, checking periodically to make sure that  your pot of water does not go dry, and topping up as necessary.

About 20 to 25 minutes before the pudding has finished cooking make the sauce.  Place the milk, cream and one tsp of the sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Bring to a gentle simmer and then turn the heat down to the lowest setting.  Place the sugar and egg yolks into a bowl and whisk together with a hand whisk until creamy. light and pale in colour.    Continue to whisk and slowly pour the warm cream mixture  into it at a slow drizzle.  Strain the mixture through a fine sieve back into the saucepan.  Add the vanilla pod and the seeds.  Cook, whisking constantly, over low heat until the mixture thickens somewhat.  Don’t be tempted to rush this process, or you will end up with scrambled eggs.  The mixture should coat the back of a metal spoon when it is done.  Pass through a fine sieve again and keep warm until needed.

Kids are funny creatures aren’t they.  The things they love to eat.  When I was a child the idea of having a Swanson’s frozn Turkey Dinner with Cranberry sauce sent us all into ecstasy!  To us, that was a real treat!
Bon appetit!

Halloween Bark

 photo DSCN9403_zpsfwe7xota.jpg

I recently put together some little Halloween Gift bags for the children of a friend of mine.  I wanted to do something special for them because just a few weeks ago on FHE (Family Home Evening) they had popped over with some lovely cookies for us.  It really touched our hearts that they would do something like this for us and so I wanted to do something nice in return.  And so I did what any mom or nan would do at this time of year, I made them some Halloween treats!

 photo DSCN9384_zpszbdbckag.jpg

Halloween bark.  Its such a simple thing.  I had long planned on making some as I had been gathering the ingredients for a few weeks. It made it all the more special that I also got to make it for some lovely children!

  photo DSCN9387_zpszrxmk9em.jpg

I had bought the candy corn mix on Amazon.  I loved it because it had Indian Corn, Candy Corn and pumpkins in it.  Perfect for this use. I bought the autumnal coloured smarties at Hobby Craft.  They were right by the cash and caught my eye.  I bought my googlie eyes there also.

 photo DSCN9386_zpsfknf17sv.jpg

The googlie eyes really make it.  Without them this would simply be melted chocolate with some candy thrown on top.  I also added Dolly Mixtures and some mini Oreo Cookie biscuits.   Altogether it looked just great!  This is so easy to make and you can adapt it to whatever toppings you can find, or even use dark or white chocolate or a mix.  Kids love it.  You should have seen their eyes light up.  Made me smile big time!

 photo DSCN93831_zpsoh9qwpth.jpg

*Halloween Bark*

Makes about 1 pound

I made this up for some neighborhood children as a treat for Halloween.  They loved it!  It’s colourful and fun!  You can sprinkle whatever you want on top.  I used candy corn and pumpkins which I bought online from Amazon, smarties,  mini oreo biscuits, jolly mixture, etc.  The googlie eyes were the best part.  I picked them up at a cake decorating supply shop.  They really made the bark!

12 ounces (weight) of milk chocolate or candy melts (2 cups)
2 tsp white vegetable shortening
200g of small candies, etc.  (mini oreos, candy corn, m&m’s, googlie eyes, etc.)  

 Have a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready.  Spray the paper lightly with non cooking spray.  Set aside.

Place the chocolate and vegetable shortening into a medium sized microwaveable bowl.  Blitz on the 80% setting (medium high) for about 1 minute.  Stir.  If the chocolate still doesn’t melt, blitz at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Pour onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out thinly.  I use the back of a metal spoon.  Sprinkle with your chosen Halloween Goodies, placing them haphazardly over the top of the melted chocolate.   Place in the refrigerator to harden.

Break into bits once firm.  I try to keep the googlie eyes together.  Store in an airtight container.

 photo DSCN9382_zpsvoipwqtd.jpg

Eddingtons had sent me this really neat pumpkin jack-o-lantern cake tin to use.  I was very keen to try it out.

Promise not to laugh  . . .

 photo DSCN9392_zpsfnk9vwqv.jpg

Haha, decorating cakes is not really my fort!  This pan actually made it a bit easier, because the indentations for the eyes, etc. baked right into the cake.

 photo DSCN9388_zpsch3i1nue.jpg

All I had to do was bake the cake and top with a glaze, and then fill in the indentations with some goulish cake decorations.

 photo DSCN9395_zpswuja1ckg.jpg

I thought it was pretty gruesome anyways.  I used  Mary Berry’s all in one plain sponge recipe.  You just bang it all into a bowl and whip it together.

The Eddingtons Spooky Pumpkin Cake Tin can be purchased online at Ocado for £3.20.  It is non-stick and dishwasher safe.  The non-stick coating makes for an easy and clean release.  I only spritzed the tin with some low fat cooking spray prior to baking and cean up was very easy as well.

Again, don’t laugh at my decorating skills . . .

 photo DSCN9396_zpsbmu44vty.jpg

I also made them bat cookies and ghost cookies using a recipe for buttery cut out cookies I found on the Land O-Lakes website.   I glazed them with a simple icing sugar glaze, which I left plain for the ghosts and then tinted black for the bats and the ghost eyes.  Those googlie eyes came in really handy once again for the bat’s eyes!

 photo DSCN9389_zpszh2hqu2x.jpg

I used Eddingtons bat, ghose and pumpkin cookie cutters, also available online at Ocado, for £1.20 each.  They are made from high quality poly resin coated stainless steel and simple to use and clean.   They’re great!  I had no problems with any dough sticking to them at all.

 photo DSCN9384_zpsuoetbcxn.jpg

And now I think I have answered that age old question I keep being asked, which is why don’t you apply to go on the GBBO?  Why?  See above.  I can bake great cookies, quick breads, pies and cakes, but I am sadly lacking in the patience and finer skills needed for great decoration and I am hopeless at breads most of the time.  Thankfully Halloween baking means that things actually look better if they are a bit ghoulish!

 photo DSCN93832_zpsqygjtxby.jpg

Happy Halloween!

Christmas is coming!

 photo dotcomegiftshop logo_zpsmn6kj4t2.jpg

Christmas is coming, Christmas is coming and I am getting in the mood for picking up some gifts now for family and friends.  One of my favourite places to get quirky, unusual and delightful well priced items is dotcomgiftshop!   I’ve been buying from there for several years now and have always been well pleased with the choice and what I have gotten.  They carry everything from dedicated Christmas items to gifts for women, men, children and yes, pets . . .  household items, vintage look items, craft items,etc.  I love their hobby section, but then as dedicated hobbiest, I would!

 photo vintage-apple-apron-lifestyle-26331_zps0o5tgzcu.jpg

This is a fabulous apron.  I just adore the vintage look print and the quality of it is excellent.  100% cotton duck, and very affordable at £12.95.

 photo DSCN9487_zps1tg32lti.jpg

It is so cheerful!  I love it.  And they have a whole kitchen line which follows the same cheery design.

I recently ordered some kitchen items from them.  I love their Japanese designs and their vintage kitchen items.

 photo DSCN9223_zpshddehwcw.jpg

I love the quirky designs of these Japanese ceramic mugs.  Just the right size, and these retro kitchen items, the sugar pourer and the salt and pepper shakers.  Just what I was looking for.    The mugs are priced at   £4.95 each and the sugar pourer was £3.95 and the salt and pepper shakers were also only £3.95.

 photo DSCN9298_zpsp948vbhy.jpg

I also ordered myself an enamel basin.  I had fallen in love with the photograph and the price was just right.  £8.95  It arrived chipped however, but a quick e-mail to them, and lo and behold a few days later . . . 

 photo DSCN9486_zpsktvhkrwm.jpg

A brand new one arrived and in perfect condition!

 photo enamel-basin-25458-lifestyle_zpsu18wkdht.jpg

This is now going to be my dedicated bread mixing/rising basin.  It reminds me so much of my mother’s basin which was my grandmother’s before hers and I am feeling very, very nostalgic about it.

Some of the reasons I like dotcom giftshop are:

  • The prices are very reasonable, providing fairly good value for money spent.
  • Delivery is quick and reasonsable, often free on orders over £20 in the UK.
  • They have an incredible variety of gift items to choose from, for any age and gender!  As well as for the home, for the crafter, for the holidays, etc.
  • They have a dedicated wish list, so you can pop your favourites into it for shopping later on.  (I hate it when I have really liked something in an online shop and then can’t find it again very easily.) 
  • All items are well packaged and usually arrive intact, but if they don’t, they quickly replace anything which has been damaged in transit.
  • I adore their Vintage lines of, well . . .  everything!  Sewing, kitchen, toys, crafts, etc. 

In short, I love dotcom.giftshop and I think you will too.  They make online shopping a pleasure.

Note – I was sent a free apron and a gift certificate to purchase anything I wanted.  I was not required to write any review at all. They were simply sent to me because I had been a previous customer in the past and I have a blog.   I couldn’t help sharing with you however because I . . . to be totally honest, do love the shop.  Nothing was required of me in the least.  End of.

Sausages with Mustard and Apple

 photo DSCN9427_zps6ykmusas.jpg

Todd is so happy that the cooler weather has arrived, not because he likes the cold, but because he knows there will be fewer salads on the menu and more meat and potatoes, and my Todd, he is a meat and potatoes kind of guy!  Especially when it is a tasty entree like these Sausages with Apple & Mustard.   How much more autumnal can you get!

 photo DSCN94271_zps5qucxhpi.jpg

Fancified bangers and mash.   He loves his bangers does my man and they go so well with mashed potatoes.   Usually with a gravy on the side, but today I chose to fry them up with some apples and onions, a little bit of heaven and earth.

   photo DSCN9428_zpsjxrjyyu0.jpg

You want a nice and meaty, well flavoured butcher’s sausage for this.  I used Lincolnshire today, but any good sausage will do.  I prefer gluten free because they are meatier, and I like them that way.

 photo DSCN9429_zpsthet32o8.jpg

There is a bit of punch in the sauce from the grainy mustard and some sweet/tartness from the apples . . .  the savouryness of the onions and then again a sweet/tart hint of red currant jelly.  I like to thicken the sauce up a bit to glaze and coat the sausages.

 photo DSCN9430_zpslnlaw7bp.jpg

You don’t really need any gravy with  flavourful sauce like this.  Todd loves his mash and he loves his peas and this meal went down a real treat with him.  I will repeat.  Adapted from a recipe I found in Good Food’s “The Easy Cook Cookbook.”  (I highly recommend.  Nothing faffy in that book!  Just simple, quick and easy eats!)

  photo DSCN9434_zpsvgfyrlck.jpg

*Sausages with Apples and Mustard*

Serves 4 

You want a meaty and well flavoured sausage for this.  I always use gluten free as there are no fillers.  This day I used Lincolnshire, but Cumberland are also beautiful.  This is simple, quick and easy to make.  A real family pleaser. 

8 meaty, well flavoured sausages

(preferably gluten free)

1 TBS olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and cut into wedges

2 appls, cored, peeled and cut into wedges

1 rounded TBS red currant jelly

2 TBS wholegrain mustard

1 chicken stock cube

300ml of boiling water (1 1/4 cup)

1/2 tsp dried thyme

salt and black pepper to taste 

Heat the oil in a large skillet.  Add the sausages and brown them all over, about five minutes, turning them frequently.  Add the onion and cook until golden.  Add the apples and stir fry for several minutes.  Whisk together the boiling water, chicken stock cube, mustard, currant jelly, dried thyme and seasoning.  Pour over all.  Simmer, uncovered, until the apples are tender and the sausages cooked through.   Scoop out th apples and onions.  Set aside and keep warm.  Bring the pan to a boil and reduce the liquid until it begins to glaze the sausages.  Toss the apples and onions back in , heat through and then serve immediately with some mash or rice.  Delicious!

 photo DSCN9431_zpsvaaqhjvd.jpg

Your family is sure to love this simple and delicious weeknight supper!  Bon Appetit!

Windfall Crumble Cake

  photo SAM_0677_zpsbba87454.jpg

This is the perfect cake to make with the apples and pears that fall off your trees before they are totally ripe and is the perfect use for those hard ones you pick up at the Grocery store before they are ready to eat.  In fact, I have had apples and pears that I bought in the shops that never quite ripen.  Most annoying!

 photo SAM_0678_zps48af0244.jpg

This is a really delicious cake.  I like to call it Windfall Crumble Cake.  I developed the recipe when we were living down south and were surrounded by pear and apple orchards.  We were free to pick up and use the windfalls and this was a most delicious way of doing so!

 photo SAM_0691_zpse245d004.jpg
This is a tasty cake that goes well with hot drinks . . . perfect for breaktime . . . with a buttery crumb which is not too sweet . . . topped with the chopped fruits . . . and then with a moreish oaty sweet and buttery crumble topping baked on top.

 photo SAM_0692_zps15d53121.jpg

Kind of like a fruit crumble except it’s not a fruit crumble.  It’s a cake.  I added lots of spice to the crumble topping . . . ground ginger, cinnamon, cardamom  and nutmeg.  A bit of sweet from the brown sugar . . . and some nuttiness from old fashioned oats.  A bit of butter and sugar and tis the perfect crumble.

 photo SAM_0695_zps8dff2af6.jpg

You would be happy eating this one plain, with a hot cuppa . . . or warm from the oven with a nice scoop of cold vanilla ice cream melting down over the top, tucking itself into all that buttery crumble topping . . . dripping down the sides of that warm and buttery cake . . . highlighting the flavours of that lovely fruit.

  photo SAM_0697_zps4060a63c.jpg

Mind you, a spot of cream would go down a real treat with it as well.  That’s quite British actually.  They like a bit of cream with their puddings . . . or warm custard.  It’s quite a nice idea really, for what is vanilla icecream actually . . . but a bit of frozen vanilla custard . . .

 photo SAM_0700_zps9a278090.jpg

This was the perfect thing to do with the apples and pears from our trees.  Then again, you don’t need windfalls to make this, just apples and pears.  I like that idea too . . .

 photo SAM_0693_zps12b709b3.jpg

*Windfall Crumble Cake*

Makes one 9 inch cake

A delicious cake, with a buttery moreish texture, topped with chopped pear and apple and a spicy crumble topping.  Fabulous!

For the cake:

125g unsalted butter, softened (8 1/2 TBS)

125g caster sugar (2/3 cup)

2 large free range eggs, at room temperature

125g plain flour (1 1/4 cup)

2 tsp baking powder

1 firm pear, peeled and chopped

1 firm apple, peeled and chopped

1 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the crumble topping:

60g plain flour (10 TBS)

1/4 tsp powdered ginger

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

3 TBS soft light brown suar

50g chilled butter, cut into cubes (3 1/2 TBS)

2 TBS old fashioned oats 

 photo SAM_0710_zps76f7940c.jpg

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Butter a 9 inch spring form pan and line the bottom with baking paper.   Set aside.

Mix the chopped fruit with the lemon juice and set aside.

Stir together the flour, spices and sugar for the topping.  Drop in the butter and rub it in until you get a crumbly mixture.  Stir in the oats.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar for the cake together until pale and creamy.   Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Sift together the flour and baking powder.  Stir this in, beating until smooth.  Spread in the prepared pan, making a slight dip in the centre.   Top with the cut up fruit.  Sprinkle the crumble topping over all.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the cake tests done and the cake is golden on top.  Let coo slightly before removing from the pan.   Serve warm, cut into wedges with some ice cream or lightly whipped cream.

SACHER TORTE, the Betty’s Way Part Two

 photo Bettys Baking Secrets ident_zpsswblamou.jpg

 Its now Great British Bake Off Season here in the UK, and in honor of that each week Betty’s will be sharing a delicious recipe, plus a video and their baking tips to go with each recipe. The kind of thing you won’t find in any cookery book! Here is week Nine of their delicious hints and tips and recipe.

 SACHER TORTE, the Betty’s Way Part Two


1 X 15 cm deep baking ring


For the chocolate glacage (Mirror glaze):
50g caster sugar (1/4 cup fine sugar)
100g liquid glucose (1/4 cup)
50ml water (scant 1/4 cup)
220g dark chocolate (8 ounces)
100g butter, chilled and diced (7 TBS)

for the Torte:

50g apricot jam (1/4 cup)

 photo GBBO Chocolate temp  design 01_zpsdgmzzhrq.jpg


In a heavy based pan, bring the caster sugar, liquid glucose and water to the boil until all the ingredients have dissolved into a syrup.

Take off the heat, add the chocolate and the butter to the syrup and stir until completely dissolved to achieve a glossy finish.

Assemble the torte by slicing the sponge in half horizontally.  Tyrn upside down so the flat base becomes of the top of your torte.

Spread all the apricot jam over the middle of sponge, then add 2 to 3 TBS of the chocolate glacage before sandwiching together.

Place in th baking ring.

Now to press it down.  Cover the torte with a sheet of baking parchment and place a large pan on top of it.  Place some tin cans inside the pan for extra weight.

Place in the refrigerator, wighted down, for 2 hours, or ideally overnight.

To fnish the torte gently reheat the remaining glacage over a low heat until it’s fluid, but not too runny.

Remove the pressed torte from the baking ring.

Place the rote on a cooling wire with a sheet of paper beneath the wire.

Pour the glacage over the torte, allowing it to flood naturally over the top and sides.  Leave to partially set for 15 minutes.

Use the excess chocolate glacage from beneath the cooling wire to fill a piping bag, then pipe the word Sacher onto the top of the torte.  Leave to set.

 photo GBBO Chocolate temp  design 02_zps0fkumtnt.jpg


Tempering Dark Chocolate


Make sure you’re feeling happy and relaxed – it’s a delicate task which can be affected by a bad mood!  As we like to say, “Chocolate’s in charge”.

Switch off your phoe and prepare your working area fully.  You won’t have time to move things around or respond to calls.

Be aware that the weather can afect your chocolate work.  It’s very  sensitive to temperature.


Chocolate has a memory – it will take on the qualities of the surface it touches.  A shiny surface makes a shiny chocolate, so use a glass bowl to warm the chocolate.

Glass it good for another eason:  cereamic and metal are better conductors of heat and can over-heat the chocolate.

If using a bar, break the chocolate ino similar sized pieces so they melt easily.

Use more chocolate than you need.  The larger volume means it changes temperature more slowly, giving you more time to work with it at specific heats.


Create a bain marie with a couple of centimetres of water simmering in a pan under the glass bowl.  Don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.

Work the chocolate with the back of a wooden spoon against the bowl.

Keep checking the temperature, but make sure your thermometer doesn’t touch the surface of the bowl itself, or the temperature measurement may be wrong.  Keep it moving around the chocolate, as some spots can be hotter than others.

Heat to 45-48*C, but remember – nearly there is there enough.  Take it off at around 39-40*C as the temperature will continue to rise.  If it does need a little more heat, use the bain marie in ten second bursts to stay in control.


Now bring it down to a tempered temperature of 25-27*C.

Work the chocolate by movvin it around on a flat surface, gradually taking the temperature down.  A marble or granite surface is best. Plastic or wood can dull the chocolate, so avoid that if possible.

When the chocolaate reaches 25-27*C, scoop it back into the bowl, place back over the bain marie and take it back up to 29-31*C.  It’s now ready to use.

Come back next week for the final part of our recipe for Sachertorte and to find out how to use your tempered chocolate to create stylish decorations.  For more Betty’s Baking Secrets visit

Fruity Chicken and Rice Pilaf

You can pick up some tasty little goodies in the grocery store, and I’m not just talking about food. For years now I have been collecting little recipe cards, pamphlets and booklets that I thought had tasty recipes in or on them.

I have quite a collection as you can imagine. The recipes are normally quite, quite tasty. My favourites have always been the Waitrose Cards, but I have found little gems in most of the shops.

I even have some very old Robin Hood baking pamplets that I had collected when I was a girl. They’re just lovely. This recipe here today came from a magazine clipping advertising chicken tenders.

I have adapted it somewhat and it is a recipe we both really enjoy. It gives us a tasty dinner on the day and then leftovers to stick in the freezer for another time. It has just enough spice to suit our tastes, with middle eastern flavours. The frozen peas are my addition . . . because they add colour and texture and we like them.

Quick, easy and a great way to stretch a pound of chicken, this recipe pleases on many levels. I forgot to sprinkle the chopped nuts on top today . . . so you’ll just have to imagine how pretty it is with them added!

*Fruity Chicken and Rice Pilaf*LinkServes 4
Printable Recipe

This is a quickie dish that I adapted some years ago from one of those booklets you pick up in the grocery store. It’s delicious and always more than welcome.

2 tsp olive oil
1 pound fresh chicken tenders (or the equivalent of boneless, skinless chicken breast,
cut into strips, crossways)
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
210g of uncooked regular long grain rice (1 cup)
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and minced
a handful of sultana raisins
a handful of chopped dried apricots
1 heaped tsp of curry powder (I use a medium strength)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp salt
500ml of chicken broth (2 1/4 cups)
white pepper to taste
a handful of frozen petit pois
to garnish:
chopped toasted almonds or pistachio nuts

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the chicken and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is browned and the onion is softened. Stir in the rice, spices and the carrot and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until very fragrant. Stir in the fruit and broth, mixing all together well. Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook, covered for about 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. Take off the heat, stir in the petit pois and set aside, covered, for about 5 minutes. Fluffy up the rice and serve immediately, garnished with some toasted nuts if desired.

I love using Olive Oil when I can in my cooking.  I have a light for every day use and then a good quality fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil for salads and dipping, drizzling, etc.  The people from Jamie’s Italian sent me a lovely Info-graphic to share with you extolling  the virtues of Olive Oil featuring cooking suggestions, a how to guide to professional tasting and facts on where it is sourced from.

Ferment Pickle Dry, a review

I was particularly interested when I was recently offered the chance of reviewing a new cookery book entitled, Ferment Pickle Dry, by Simon Pottley and Gaba Smolinska-Pottley.  (Published by Frances Lincoln)  There is something very Mother Earthly about wanting to grow what we eat and also to preserve what we eat, a deep seated desire which probably hearkens back to the very roots of mankind’s beginnings.

Of course today we can go to the shops any time we want and pick up whatever we want, in season or not . . .  but I think a certain sense of joy and accomplishment has been lost  along the way.  As a dedicated foodie, I want my food to mean more.

The authors of this very special book are passionate about growing, preserving and cooking using traditional techniques which they share and teach at their Walthamstow workshop, The Fermentarium.

Well organized and presented, this book is divided into three sections, or methods of preservation . . .  Fermenting, Pickling and Drying.

Fermentation involves a metabolic change that converts sugars to acids, gases or alcohol. Many of the fermented foods you are familiar with have a distinctive sour taste that is down to the lactic acid produced by fermentation – foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut and kimchi. Most of us enjoy the fermentation of sugar to alcohol that creates beer, cider and wine.

Pickling uses an acid solution to preserve the produce within it by killing or vastly inhibiting the growth of the bacteria that cause food to spoil. In some cases, pickles are also partially fermented, and salt also contributes to the preservation process.

Drying foods simply means removing moisture, either by use of the sun, or man made heating. Since most of the bacteria and yeast that cause food to spoil or change thrive in moisture, dried foods discourage such spoilage.

In each section, you will find a very varied selection of recipes taking inspiration from the preserving traditions of countries all around the world. For each of these recipes, the authors also provide ‘partner recipes’ which offer clever and delicious dishes making use of the various preserves.

Image result for Ferment, Pickle Dry Book

In the Ferment section, plain live yoghurt is used in blackcurrant yoghurt ice cream, fermented gherkins & grapes are used in a sour grape pickletini and in fermented gherkin & nasturtium caponata, long-fermented pizza dough is used to make peppe rosso 10-inch pizza onto which several fermented toppings are also used, cabbage & apple sauerkraut is used in sauerkraut bubble & squeak, preserved lemons feature in preserved lemon cous-cous and amazake is used in drunken rice pudding. This section also includes guidance on sourdough starters followed by a selection of sourdough bread recipes.   Everything sounds positively delicious and looks simple enough to execute.

The Pickle section includes a vast array of pickled fruits and vegetables. Pickled cherry tomatoes feature in a Greek salad, pickled plums are used to great effect on a pickled plum flammekueche, pickled oranges lift a dish called pickled oranges, spice cuttlefish & squid ink linguine. The honey-pickled garlic starts my taste buds to tingling, and the recipe for pulled pork with swede mash, grilled nectarines & honey-pickled garlic sounds positively heavenly.  I also love the sound of miso pickled mushrooms and miso pickled eggs both of which are used in misozuke and soba noodle salad. There are also  recipes for herrings pickled in a variety of different ways. Most recipes in this section are savoury,  but there are also dried fruit pickled in brandy which are shown to be used in a decadent coffee meringue cake.  *Nom* *Nom*

The Dry section includes funghi, vegetables and fruit. I  have my own dehydrater,  which I sadly haven’t used but I am looking forward to breaking it out to make dried wild mushrooms, which are a premium price ingredient in the shops, and there are recipes for using them in both wild porcini soup and dried mushroom sauce. The variety of vegetable ‘barks’ such as sweet potato crackling (which then features in a potato crackling fritata) sound very intriguing. A honey-glazed Chinese beef jerky has also sparked my interest. Many dried herbs are used to great effect in a variety of infusions and teas.  I have a fondness for herbal teas.  There are also methods for drying fruit and then using them.
Image result for Ferment, Pickle Dry Book

There are a fair amount of photographs, (Photography by Kim Lightbody) not as many as I normally like, but the ones that are there are great!

Preceding the recipes, the introductory chapters of the book provide suggestions for basic equipment needed, a guide on how to sterilise and seal correctly, and an introduction to a few key ingredients. These, together with the straightforward recipes, make this a suitable book for those new to preserving, as well as those who simply want to expand their repertoire.  I, myself, am looking forward to getting stuck into some of the recipes and methods!   I have a bunch of apples and pears that I want to dry, and those apple and pear crisps are sounding pretty tasty!

This is a lovely book which teaches you how to preserve foods using the ancient methods of fermenting, pickling and drying. Its packed with recipes showing you how to use your newly preserved ingredient in everyday meals. From pickled oranges transformed in a squid and linguine dish, to dry kale and pickled celery incorporated into a vibrant stir-fry, the duel recipes in this cookbook will ensure you never end up with jars of forgotten and unloved preserves.

Ferment Pickle Dry, ancient methods, modern meals
By   Simon and Gaba Poffley
Photography by  Kim Lightbody
Publish by Frances Lincoln, September 2016 (£20)
Hardcover, 256 pages, colour
ISBN-10: 0711237786
ISBN-13: 978-0711237780

Many thanks to Frances Lincoln for sending me a copy to review.  I was not required to do a positive review.  Any opinions are my own.

Scalloped Tomatoes with Herbs

 photo tomatoes_zps2b8gsnt7.jpg

 We had a windstorm a week or so ago and our tomato plants all blew over.  I was force to pick them all.  Most were green.   I had thought to make some green tomato chow, but alas time got away from me and they ripened in the bowl before I could get that done.  That was okay however because I love tomatoes and I am never at a loss as to what to do with tomatoes!

 photo DSCN9436_zpsepnazfjq.jpg

I quite simply love tomatoes and have been collecting ways to use them for years and years and years.  This recipe today comes from a small green notebook which is filled with lovely home style old fashioned recipes, laboriously copied by myself years ago from books I took out from the local library.  Unfortunately I was not quite so good at keeping a record of which book they came from.  I can date this notebook to the years I was living in Meaford, Ontario, and I think it might have been from a book called Canadian Cookbook by Elizabeth Baird, but I could be wrong, so do forgive me if I am.  In any case it is a delicious recipe.
 photo DSCN9437_zpspeuw1p59.jpg

And so very simple.   Sliced tomatoes are layered in a baking dish with a mix of buttery sauteed onions, bread crumbs and herbs, and then topped with a simple mix of plain herbed breadcrumbs and dotted with butter prior to baking.

 photo DSCN9438_zps1krysinq.jpg

The end result is a type of tomato pudding . . .  so delicious with the soft buttery onions, the sweet tomatoes, the herby breadcrumbs . . .

 photo DSCN9440_zps99fjw8hf.jpg

I suppose you could add cheese if you wanted to, but you really don’t need it.  It’s fabulous just the way it is.  I could sit down and eat a whole bowl of this all on it’s own.

 photo DSCN9443_zpsbpbce9iu.jpg

*Scalloped Tomatoes with Herbs*

Serves 4 to 6

This is simple and delicious.  If you don’t have fresh tomatoes you can use tinned whole tomatoes, drained and sliced.  I always peel my tomatoes, as I am not fond of cooked tomato skins.  See note at bottom. 

60g butter (1/4 cup)

3 to 4 onions, peeled and sliced

1 1/2 tsp white sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 cups coarse soft bread crumbs (120g)

2 TBS minced parsley

1 tsp chopped chives

6 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 TBS butter 

 photo DSCN9457_zps7dzz1k99.jpg

Melt the  butter in a skillet.  Add the onions, sugar, seasonings, and thyme.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes until softened without browning.  Combine the bread crumbs with the parsley and dhives.  Stir half of them into the onion mixture, mixing together well. 

Butter a medium shallow baking dish.  Arrange half of the bread crumb mixture in the dish.  Top with half of the tomatoes.  Top with the remaining bread crumb mixture and then the remainder of the tomatoes on top.  Sprinkle the herbed breadcrumbs which remain (without the onions) over top.  Dot with the remaining 2 TBS of butter.

Bake in a preheated 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4 oven for 35 to 45 minutes until the tomatoes are tender and the crumbs are golden brown. 

  photo DSCN9435_zpsw9vyryvz.jpg

Note – to easily peel tomatoes, cut a small x with a sharp knife into the base of each and place into a bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for about 1 minute to 1 minute and a half.  (The edges should look like they are beginning to pull away from the cuts).  Drain well and cover with cold water to stop the cooking process.  Drain again.  The peels should now slip off quite easily. 

 photo DSCN9461_zps1vcvc8b5.jpg

I hope you will give this a go, and that if you do you will enjoy it!  You could also use drained tinned whole tomatoes, sliced.  If you do I recommend Cirio.   Really I do.  Bon Appetit!

The lovely dish I have used for this bake today is the Wades Medium Flan dish.  It is stoneware created in Stoke-0n-Trent here in the UK by Wade Ceramics.   It is microwave safe, dishwasher safe, freezer safe and oven safe.  You can purchase it online at Harts of Stur for £14.99.  I love it.  It is the perfect size for a flan if that is what you are wanting to bake.  I have been using it for small casseroles and it works beautifully.  It cleans easily and does everything it is supposed to.  It has become my favourite baking dish for our needs at the moment!

Note – I was sent the flan dish by Eddingtons for the purpose of review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  Any opinions are entirely my own.

Apple Butterscotch Pudding Cake

When I was really small my mother used to bake us delicious goodies several times during the week . . . there was always fresh baked cookies in the cookie jar and the occasional pie and cake. She went back to work when I turned 11 though, so all the baking stopped . . . or homemade baking at any rate . . . .at least until I was trusted and allowed to experiment in the kitchen on my own.

She did sometimes buy these pudding cake mix thingies for desserts once in a while. I think there was a chocolate one and a butterscotch one and a really fake apple tasting one . . . but as a child we were just glad to have dessert. It didn’t really matter that it came from a mix or that it didn’t really taste all that great. It was sweet and that’s what counted.

Of course as an adult and experienced baker I have come to appreciate the finer qualities of desserts that are homemade. I love pudding cakes . . . I make a really good Gingerbread Pudding Cake from scratch, as well as a Cinnamon one, and an Apple and Blueberry version which is totally scrummy as well. Let’s not forget Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake either, that is like the ultimate of the ultimate pudding cakes!

There is just something that is so very special about the alchemy and magic of a cake that makes it’s own sauce when it’s baking! It’s like a tiny delicious little miracle happening in your very own oven, just for you!!

This is a really scrumdiddlyumptious version . . . with the sweet/tartness of Granny Smith Apples on the bottom . . . topped with a buttery sponge, filled with raisins . . . and a lucious butterscotch sauce that appears like magic and goes fabulously well with it all.

Eaten warm and topped with a nice cold scoop of vanilla bean icecream, I don’t think you can get much homier or delicious. Of course my Brit husband would argue that fact and say that custard is much much better . . . but the Canuck in me still longs to have a nice big scoop of ice cream, preferably a good vanilla . . . on top of my cakes, pies and desserts. I just can’t help it. Old habits die hard!

But what really is icecream though . . . it is frozen custard. So I guess you could say that we both like custard on our desserts . . . just in opposite forms! He likes his warm and dripping . . . and I like mine cold and melting.

In any case . . . this Apple Butterscotch Pudding Cake rocks! With custard or with ice cream. You just can’t get much better than this. I do declare!

*Apple Butterscotch Pudding Cake*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

A delicious dessert topped with a fluffy raisin sponge atop tart sliced apples in a delicious butterscotch sauce that appears as if by magic!

4 large Granny Smith or other cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced (about 4 cups)

For the sponge:
150g self raising flour (1 1/3 cups)
50g caster sugar (generous 1/4 cup)
80g unsalted butter, chilled and diced (5 1/2 TBS)
1 medium free range egg
100ml milk (7 TBS))
the finely grated zest of one unwaxed lemon
50g of raisins or currants if you prefer (generous 1/3 cup)

For the Sauce:
80g light muscovado sugar (6 1/2 TBS)
25g unsalted butter (2 TBS)
100ml water (7 TBS)
Pinch fine sea salt
the juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*f/gas mark 4. Have ready a 2 litre oval gratin or other shallow oven proof dish.

Whisk the flour and sugar for the sponge together in a bowl. Drop in the butter. Rub the butter in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Beat together the egg and milk. Stir in along with the lemon zest and the raisings. Arrange the apple slices in the bottom of the dish and smooth the sponge mixture on top.

Place the sugar, butter, water and salt for the sauce into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil. Whisk in the lemon juice and then pour this mixture over top of the batter in the dish. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake is golden brown on top and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.

Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before spooning out into dessert dishes to serve. (A scoop of icecream goes nicely!)