Guy Fawkes Night

With so much excitement about Halloween out there poor old Guy Fawkes night is being lost. So, as this holiday is one I celebrate more than Halloween I thought I would do a Guy Fawkes tribute post. As it is such a big event in my life I often forget that people outwith Britain are probably completely unaware of Guy Fawkes Night, as its roots are in British History.

Who was this Guy Fawkes?
Guy (Guido) Fawkes Night (or Fireworks Night or Bonfire Night) is on the 5th of November. To remember the failed assassination attempt, by a group of English Catholics, on King James I and his family by blowing up the Houses of Parliament during the State Opening on 5th November 1605. Although several men were involved in the plot Guy Fawkes is remembered as he was the explosives expert in charge on the detonation itself. They, after obtaining the lease to one of the stores under the Houses of Parliament, filled the room with 36 barrels of gunpowder, under a store of winter fuel.

The plot was uncovered because several members of the conspiracy were concerned about the fact that several of their Catholic friends would be present and subsequently killed. So they sent letters advising that they should not attend. Although the conspirators were aware that 'the secret was probably out' they continued with the plan. Guy Fawkes was discovered, 'lighter' in hand and arrested. On his arrest he far from denied his involvement he declared that it was his intention to kill the King and his family.

Fawkes was interrogated under torture (which was only permissible at the time with direct orders from the King) and revealed the names of all the conspirators. The other were eventually arrested and after trial all were sentenced to be Hung, Drawn and Quartered

Why did they want to kill the King?
Essentially, they believed that the tolerance for Catholicism in England would continue to drop under the leadership of James I so wished to remove him from the throne and, due to the laws of succession, Princess Elizabeth, would become Queen - a Catholic Queen.
How do we celebrate?
Traditional celebration involves the creation of a 'Guy' a man, usually made from straw or newspaper stuffed clothing, being placed on top of a bonfire and burned (only when I write this down do I realise how morbid that is!). Children usually make the guy and often went around the towns with their 'Guy' collecting money -
"Penny for the Guy?"
The money would then be put towards buying fireworks.
As a side note this is how the term 'Guy' came to mean 'Man'
Many places still put the Guy on top of the fire but most of the true meaning is lost to history. The fireworks are still popular, why the term Fireworks Night, came to replace Guy Fawkes Night. In the week running up to and including (and usually past!) fireworks are let off by individuals or a larger town events. There is usually a barbeque and toffee apples and it is a very social and exciting time.

So it is off to a Fireworks party I go in two weekends time, the 8th. Plenty fireworks, and tasty food, I'll get some recipes up for things you can make for it! I recommend making some Toffee Apples, kids'll love 'em!! As a little taster why not try the Rocky Road recipe, its really easy, kids can help out and it always reminds me of Bonfire Night!!

Here ends my salute to Guy Fawkes Night!

Rocky Road


Ingredients

  • 100g butter
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 150g milk chocolate
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g digestives , roughly crushed
  • 200g , marshmallows quartered (use scissors)


Method

  1. Gently melt the butter, chocolate and syrup in a pan over a low heat, stirring frequently until smooth, then cool for about 10 mins.
  2. Stir the biscuits and sweets into the pan until well mixed, then pour into a 17cm square tin lined with foil and spread the mixture to roughly level it. Chill until hard, then cut into fingers.

Want to give it a go? Download the .pdf version, easier than writing it out!!


After a discussion on the Blog Catalog forum about digestive biscuits I just had to make some Rocky Road, I love this and for some reason I associate it with Bonfire Night, don't know why. However, it is not one of the things that I am taking to the Bonfire Party at my Mum's, there is a whole host of recipes coming your way for that!!!

Hey! I'd love to know if people are using my recipes!! If you are leave a wee comment on the recipes post! Also, why not head back and let me know how you got on!!?

Steak Parcels

Ingredients
(Makes 3 Parcels)

3 Minute Steaks
1 Red Pepper
4 or 5 mushrooms
3 tblsp soft cream cheese
3 rashers bacon (either smoked or unsmoked)
salt and pepper

Method

Place the a steak onto a piece of grease-proof paper. Slice the pepper and mushrooms into bite sized chunks. Put a tablespoon of cream cheese onto the steak ans sprinkle over a third of the peppers and a third of the mushrooms. Cut a bacon rasher into strips and place them onto the steak. Season with salt and pepper.

Fold the greaseproof paper around to make a parcel and place on a baking tray. Repeat with the other two parcels. Place in a very hot oven, 200oC for around 20 minutes. If you want to brown the meat slightly then open the parcels a bit for the last 5 minutes.

To serve you can either remove the steaks from the paper, as shown in the picture, or for a bit of interest why not serve the steak in the paper.


Want to give it a go? Download the .pdf version, easier than writing it out!!


This happened as a result of me planning one meal and then finding out I didn't have the ingredients I needed! That's the first step for cooking, be prepared...

Hey! I'd love to know if people are using my recipes!! If you are leave a wee comment on the recipes post! Also, why not head back and let me know how you got on!!?

10 Days to Faster Reading

I have just finished the 10 Days to Faster Reading book by Abby Marks Beale. It was excellent. It talks you through various techniques for speeding up not only your reading but your comprehension as well. At first I was dubious as to whether this would work, sometimes it felt as if I was just skimming across the words without really taking anything in! But I was! After each exercise there was a comprehension test which asked questions about what you had just read and I was astonished that I was actually remembering and taking in the information!!

I would definately recommend this book to anyone wanting to speed up their reading, or even to people who are just interested in the techniques! You will not be disappointed! I doubled my reading speed over the 10 days, and if i'm honest I didn't put in as much practice as was recommended! I went up to 480 words per minute with an 80% comprehension rate! I intend to continue practicing the techniques in the book to try and increase this further.

The book also recommends further titles to extend your abilities!

Seriously, give it a go!!



Crunchy Oat Biscuits


Ingredients
  • 115g butter
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 115g self-raising flour
  • 115g light brown, soft sugar
  • 115g rolled oats
  • 115g sultanas
  • 2tsp water
  • 1tsp mixed spice


Method
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150oC.
  2. Gently melt the butter and syrup in a saucepan.
  3. Mix the flour, sugar, spice, sultanas and oats together in a bowl.
  4. Stir in the melted butter together with the water and combine well.
  5. Leave mixture to cool for 5 minutes then mould into balls and place well apart on a baking tray.
  6. Bake for around 25 minutes then remove from oven, allow to cool slightly before turning onto a cooling rack.

Want to give it a go? Download the .pdf version, easier than writing it out!!
These are wonderfully easy and taste great, the best way to fill up the biscuit barrel!! This recipe should make around 30 biscuits but of course you can make them as big or as small as you want!!! This is a great recipe for beginners in the kitchen with quick tasty results!!
Hey! I'd love to know if people are using my recipes!! If you are leave a wee comment on the recipes post! Also, why not head back and let me know how you got on!!?

This Weekend..

No recipes today I am afraid as I have been away, and by 'I' I mean 'We'. We decided to have a short break, very short, just one night, in the Lake District so we went online on Wednesday night, picked a B&B and nooked it Thursday! In the car Friday and we were off! We made a stop on the way down at a Lead Mining Museum, I have driven past the sign for this SO many times so this time we stopped! And we were glad we did, Not only are you surrounded by some brilliant countryside but the museum offers a guided tour through a mine, into old miners cottages and round the first, and biggest, subscription library in Scotland. The tour guide was great, we were a small party just us two and a family of four but that was perfect as it allowed for plenty questions.

After the Mining Experience we were back on the road and arrived in Keswick at about 6.30pm, just as the B&B lady had given up on us and started on her tea... oops!! We headed into town for our tea and ended up in an Indian resturant, after walking all over Keswick trying to find a Mexican we had seen an advert for!! After my first experience in an Indian Resturant, I was keen to give it another go!!

The following day the weather was umm... seasonal with winds only gusting to 110mph, breezy!!! It was also accompanied by rain so we stuck to indoor pursuits, first off was a puzzle museum with all sorts of optical illusions, holograms, stuff like that!! There were even optical illusions that you could be part of... take a look at the crazy photos, I swear I have done nothing to them!! Seriously, if you go to Keswick ever go take a look at this place!!
Second stop was the Pencil Museum, the only one if its type in the world. Again another interesting stop and well worth a visit, all about the history of pencils and also how they are made!! The Pencil Museum signalled the eend of our little break but we have both enjoyed it immensely!! So it was off home where we decided there was still time so went to see Saw V at the cinema!!

Thanks Everyone

I would just like to say thanks to everyone that has been visiting the site lately, it is great to see you all. I hope you like what you see and I hope that some of the recipes have inspired you to give them a go!! If you do have a shot come back and let me know how it went, just leave a comment under the recipe post!! I'd love to hear that people are getting enjoyment out of these recipes too!!!
I have seen that a couple of people visiting think they aren't great at cooking, well, I am currently working on something to help you out and hopefully change your minds!! Give me a week and there will be a grand unveiling!!
Just a bit about the weather, I just had to say this! About three days ago I was driving into work thinking that suddenly it had gone all Autumnal, all the trees are red, gold and yellow and how nice everything looked! Ahh! How beautiful is Autumn.. Well, not now, now it is pouring with rain, and pretty much has since I noticed the beauty... thanks world :)

Banana & Apple Loaf

Ingredients

2 ripe bananas
1 level tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tblsps boiling milk
100g soft margarine
175g caster sugar
2 eggs
225g plain flour
1 level tsp baking powder
1 apple (I used a bramley apple!)
1 tsp mixed spices
Method


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180oC then grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.
  2. Peel the bananas, put them in a large bowl and mash well.
  3. Peel and chop the apple into small chunks.
  4. Dissolve the soda in the milk and add to the mashed banana, together with the remaining ingredients and mix very thoroughly for 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Pour into the tin and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until the loaf is well risen and golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and cool slightly before turning out the loaf and leaving to cool fully.
Want to give it a go? Download the .pdf version, easier than writing it out!!
This is a very, very moist loaf but tastes great! Use a plate! The chunks of apple really heighten the flavour and the bananas give just a soft under flavour! I love simple cakes and loaves and what is simpler than this? Bung it in a bowl, mix, bake! Awesome!
Hey! I'd love to know if people are using my recipes!! If you are leave a wee comment on the recipes post! Also, why not head back and let me know how you got on!!?

Honey Barbeque Sauce

After all the excitment of cooking those Barbeque Skewers I decided to have a little bit of creative time when it came to cook those old, cheap chicken legs from the freezer. These things were left over from a barbeque a few weeks ago. The usual, buy one get one free pack, one gets eaten, one goes in the freezer and forgotten about!!! So I decided to release the chicken! I wanted to do a roast on Sunday but hadn't the time to cook a whole chicken, so I defrosted those legs and roasted them!! But I created my own spicy honey glaze for them, read on...
Ingredients
(for 7 chicken legs)
3tblsps clear honey
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt
black pepper
couple of drops of tabasco sauce
I roasted the chicken legs as normal, with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.
To make the glaze I just mixed all the ingredients above together.
Then 20 minutes before the end of their cooking time I poured on my glaze, making sure I covered all of the legs.
Back into the oven. Don't worry if it looks like the glaze has all run off the chicken, the honey will boil in the oven, bubbling over the chicken legs and caramalize on them as it does so. Turn the legs once after about ten minutes.
Don't worry about burning, or charring of the skin, makes them taste better!!
I am afraid that I don't have a picture this time, but I will try to get one as I want to try these on the barbeque at the Fireworks party!! Along with making that Baked Toffee Apple Tart. If anyone tries this let me know how it goes. I may try altering the spices to make it a bit spicier next time, this could turn into a challenge.
Honey Glaze Challenge, take the base above and add to it to make your own creation! Come back here and share it with everyone!!!

Cherry Cake


Ingredients

175g glace cherries
225g self raising flour
175g soft margarine
175g caster sugar
juice of half a lemon
50g ground, or chopped, almonds
3 large eggs
Want to give it a go? Try the Download version, easier than writing it out!!
Method:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180oC and grease and line 7 inch cake tin, round or square.
  2. Cut each cherry into quarters, put in a sieve and rinse under running water. Drain well and dry very thouroughly on kitchen roll.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in the eggs a combine.
  5. Mix in the flour, almonds and lemon juice.
  6. Once mixture is well combined fold in the cherries.
  7. Turn into the prepared cake tin and cook for around 1 1/4 hours, or until a skewer comes out clean.
  8. Turn onto cooling tray for 10 mins before turning out.
  9. Store in an air tight container.
I made this at the request of David, he likes his Cherry Cake so my idea of Banana Loaf didn't go down too well! But this cake is amazing! As you can see, my cherries sank, I have yet to master how to stop that happening, but the cake tastes great and it is SO moist. You can hear that soft moist sound when you break a piece off!! Amazing!!
Hey! I'd love to know if people are using my recipes!! If you are leave a wee comment on the recipes post! Also, why not head back and let me know how you got on!!?

Freebie of the Week

Win a Years Free Shopping from Sainsbury's!! How much food would that be? Pig out!!!

http://www.emailinform.com/free-competitions/sainsburys/PageGen.asp

Celebratory Meal

Well, it was David's last day with his current work, yesterday, so I decided to cook him a celebratory dinner, I have listed the recipes below incase you guys want to try them out!! The skewers were really tasty and I would love to try them out on the barbeque some time!

I have been asked by a friend of my mum's for a recipe I made at Christmas last year. I will put it up on here at some point, as it got such good reviews with my family and friends (enough that they want to make it themselves) I figure it must be good enough for here! Unfortunately, I won't have a picture to go along with it but the next time I make it I will get it up for you!! It is a mint chocolate mousse, but it is very heavy and solid, definately not for the faint hearted!!!!

Happy cooking people!!

Lime and Honey Parfait with Seasonal Fruits


Ingredients


3 limes, juicy
125ml clear honey
3 egg whites
120ml whipping cream

For the summer berries:


2 limes
400g Raspberries
100ml clear honey
200g Blackberries
200g Blueberries

Method


  1. First make the parfait. Using a fine bladed grater, remove the zest from the limes. Juice the limes, then reserve the zest and juice together.
  2. In a small, heavy-based saucepan, boil the honey for 3 minutes, until the honey begins to caramelise. Add in two-thirds of the lime juice and zest and boil for about a minute. If you have a sugar thermometer the temperature should be 121ÂșC.
  3. While the honey is boiling, use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites in a mixing bowl to very firm peaks.
  4. Pour the hot honey and lime mixture, in a slow steady steam, onto the beaten egg whites, whisking continually. Be careful to incorporate the egg whites evenly, taking care that the mixture does not harden around the edges of bowl. Continue whisking until the mixture is cool.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the whipping cream until firm but not hard.
  6. Gently fold the whipped cream into the egg white mixture along with the remaining fresh lime juice and zest. Be careful not to over-mix as you will lose volume.
  7. Divide the mixture into six 150ml ramekins or one large container and freeze for at least six hours.
  8. To make the summer berries, squeeze the juice of 1 lime. Liquidise one punnet of raspberries with the honey and lime juice. If the mixture is a little thick, just add a few tablespoons of water.
  9. Strain the raspberry mixture through a sieve into large bowl and toss in the second punnet of raspberries, the blackberries and the blueberries.
  10. To serve, spoon the berry mixture into six bowls. Dip the bottoms of the parfait moulds into hot water, turn the frozen parfaits out and place each parfait in the centre of each berry-filled bowl.
  11. Finely zest the second lime and scatter the lime zest over each portion, then, finally squeeze over a little lime juice over each dessert and serve at once.

This was very light but very limey! I made it as one large block, rather than the seperate ramekins. It was very much like a sorbet type sensation, very cold and fresh followed by a strong citrus blast!! It was great with the summer berries!

Hey! I'd love to know if people are using my recipes!! If you are leave a wee comment on the recipes post! Also, why not head back and let me know how you got on!!?

Barbeque Skewers

Ingredients

½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 cloves
1 heaped tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
zest and juice of 1 orange
a small bunch of fresh thyme, very finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
150ml/5½ fl oz Heinz organic tomato ketchup
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 x 400g/14oz pork fillets
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful of fresh coriander
juice of 1 lemon


Method

  1. Crush up the cumin, fennel seeds and cloves in a pestle and mortar and mix with the paprika, orange zest and juice, thyme, garlic, ketchup and balsamic vinegar.
  2. Season the pork fillets with salt and pepper, then toss them in most of the marinade until completely coated. Feel free to marinate for half a day, but at least an hour.
  3. If you have metal or wooden skewers, lay the fillets side by side and skewer them together about 2.5cm/1 inch apart.
  4. When you're ready to cook, simply put the meat on to a barbecue or under a hot grill for 15 to 20 minutes or until nicely charred.
  5. Every time you turn the meat, brush it generously with the leftover marinade so you build up a sticky, blackened glaze.
  6. Slice the meat between the skewers, or just slice each fillet in half, and sprinkle over some chopped coriander or squeeze over some lemon juice if you fancy.
This makes a very orangey glaze so if you aren't that keen just leave out the orange. As you can see I just served it with rice which was nice, its neutral taste against the strong flavours in the pork marinade. It says to blacken it, setting it alight certainly does this (*cough*) but I don't recommend it!!!
Hey! I'd love to know if people are using my recipes!! If you are leave a wee comment on the recipes post! Also, why not head back and let me know how you got on!!?

Fried Mozzarella Parcels

Ingredients

For the mozzarella
8 slices of white bread, thinly sliced
200g/7oz buffalo mozzarella
2 medium eggs
125ml/4fl oz milk
6 tbsp plain flour



Method
  1. To make the mozzarella, cut the crusts off the bread and cut into slightly larger discs than the mozzarella slices.
  2. Slice the mozzarella into into four thick slices about 1cm/0.5in thick.
  3. Beat the eggs lightly and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Dip the slices of the bread on one side into the milk and then place a slice of the mozzarella on the dry side.
  5. Season the mozzarella and make a sandwich with the other slice of bread, milk-soaked side on the outside.
  6. Dust the sandwich with flour and then soak into the beaten egg.
  7. Deep fry the sandwich in a hot fryer until golden coloured and crisp on the outside.
  8. Drain on to kitchen paper and place the hot sauce on the plate, place two of the slices in the middle and serve.
I also added a fresh basil leaf into each parcel just to give it that extra flavour. DOn't worry if it looks like the parcels are not staying together, they join up and seal once you start frying them! This gets very messy so keep a cloth nearby!! The sauce is a cranberry and raspberry jelly.
Why not try it with a blue cheese or a strong cheddar?
Hey! I'd love to know if people are using my recipes!! If you are leave a wee comment on the recipes post! Also, why not head back and let me know how you got on!!?

The Clock is ticking.... along nicely!!

Just thought you might like an update on the old clock front! Well, as you can see it now has a completed frame! I suppose it looks a bit like a clock, well more like a clock than a pile of square cardboard tubes!
I am actually, by the looks of my instructions going to be starting the workings of the clock in the next run so I am a bit paranoid now that if it isn't exactlly right this may be a disaster, and as I have chosen to post about it, everyone will now of my failure!!

Oh the humanity!!

Flower Bargain!!!

Just thought I had to add this in!
When do you buy flowers?
I'll tell you when, Saturday night, 8pm, Tesco! That's even the where too!!
The picture, lovingly edited with Paint, shows three bunches of flowers: the tulips, the pink roses in the main vase and all the other flowers in the vase. Now, what did I pay fro all three?
How much!!? How MUCH!!? I hear you scream.
Well, drum roll please
dun dun d-d-dun dun dun duuuuunnnn

69p

Yep! It's true! I do get worked up over silly little things!

Halloween's Around the Corner

Well, I said that I was going to experiment with an adult version of the Toffee Apple for my mum's fireworks party! And I have done, I have put the recipe up for all you lovely people to see the fruits of my labours! (And those fruits are apples mind!) I think that it could maybe do with a tweak here and there, but it is more in presentation than in method! I think it will be popular to cold, hungry people watching fireworks (it certainly was with my taste testers), and I really think it captures something about Autumn and the fireworky/halloweeny feel of this time of year. Make sure you have it nice and warm and straight out of the oven though!!

I thought I would add these photos of our stupid cat, he has taken a liking to the fish food we give to our pond fish, and the fact the tub is nearly empty doesn't stop him from getting his fill! I was tempted, I admit it, to put the lid on but I didn't! To be honest I don't think he would have noticed, as long as he had his fish food....

Baked Toffee Apple Tart

Ingredients:

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
3-4 Cooking Apples
2 x 400g tins of Condensed Milk
120g butter, melted
4 tblsps golden syrup
Icing sugar to dust
Brown sugar, for topping

Method
  1. Roll out pastry and line an 11 inch tart mould. Place in freezer for an hour.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180oC.
  3. Remove tart mould from freezer and bake blind for 15 minutes.
  4. Peel, core and slice your apples. Dust with icing sugar and set to the side.
  5. Combine condensed milk, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook, whisking, for 10-12 minutes or until golden.
  6. Pour over the cooked tart base. Arrange the apple slices on top and pour over any juices, sprinkle with brown sugar.
  7. Cook in the oven for 40 minutes. Cover with greaseproof paper to prevent the apples burning, you can remove it towards the end of the cooking to allow them to brown a little.
  8. Serve warm with cream or ice-cream.
This creates a very thick layer of caramel so you may wish to reduce the amounts according to taste (or increase them!). This was another success! A nice variation on the traditional apple pie.
Hey! I'd love to know if people are using my recipes!! If you are leave a wee comment on the recipes post! Also, why not head back and let me know how you got on!!?

Flour Tortillas


Ingredients

500g plain flour, sieved
0.5 tsp Baking powder
1 pinch Salt
100g lard
120ml warm water



Method
  1. Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, rub in the lard.
  2. Add the water in a steady stream, and combine, until the mixture becomes a stiff but pliable dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  4. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces and roll each piece out to form a 30cm circle. Cover with cling film to prevent them drying out.
  5. Warm a heavy frying pan or griddle and cook each tortilla for 1 minute on each side, until the surface bubbles and has turned a light golden colour.
  6. Wrap the tortillas in a clean tea towel to keep them warm and pliable until you have cooked them all and are ready to use them. Fill as desired.
Made these as a very cheap alternative to the bought ones. They start off very crispy and you don't think that you will be able to roll them but pop them in the microwave for about a minute on high and they will be just perfect! Happy Mexican!!
Hey! I'd love to know if people are using my recipes!! If you are leave a wee comment on the recipes post! Also, why not head back and let me know how you got on!!?

Freebie of The Week

How about this for strange!

This weeks internet freebie is Blooming Tea!! Its tea that blooms and then you drink it! It kind of hard to explain - just go take a look!


And get your free sample of blooming tea here:




This morning I spotted a great sunrise!! As I headed to the bathroom I wondered why the house was all lit up in red, and on peeking out our little storage room window I saw why..
So I go raking through the house in search of my camera so I can share this great view with you guys too! Our cats couldn't work out why I would spend all this time looking for a black box to point out the window but I won't go down the stairs, into the kitchen, disturb the other cat, go to the cupboard get a tin and FEED THEM!!! But such is life little kittens, you can wait a bit longer..

Just a note to say..

Hi,
I spotted some great Autumnal/Halloween craft projects and thought that I would share them with you!! My mum is having, hopefully, a fireworks party this November, a big one. She used to host them reqularly and they were a lot of fun!!
I am going to make something for it so I shall keep you posted!! I was thinking toffee apples but figured that they may be somewhat lost on the guests coming to this party, not many children but I figured maybe do an adult version of them... dessert with a toffee apple background!! Might practice this weekend, i'll let you know how it goes and get the recipe up for you lot as soon as I know it works!!
ooooo.... I could make a gigantuplex pumpkin.....

Shepherd's Pie


Ingredients
  • 455g lean steak mince
  • Beef Stock Cube
  • 1 Large onion, chopped
  • 2 Carrots, diced
  • 4 medium potatoes, chopped

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 oC
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan, add the chopped onion and cook until soft.
  3. Add the mince and cook until brown.
  4. Add the carrots and 200ml of beef stock, bring to the boil and reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Peel and roughly chop the potatoes. Cook in boiling water until soft. Drain and mash with a little milk and a knob of butter.
  6. Transfer the mince into a shallow oven proof dish. Spoon the mash potato on top and cook for 30 minutes.

The Clock Continues..

Just a brief clock update! I think I have done all the straight stick-y pieces for the clock case which means I will be able to start sticking it together tonight! I haven't included a picture of the pieces, if you really want to know look at the pictures below and pretend there are about 25 of them!!
So far I am finding it relatively easy, although I think that this is probably going to be the easiest part. I am still keen to see if it works. I have discovered that paperclips are an invaluable tool in the process as the pieces have a tendancy to ping apart as the glue dries!! Apparently I am going to have to use paperclips in the actual design at some point, that aught to be interesting.. I believe that they are used as axels in the design, which I guess makes sense. I am looking forward to see the mechanism itself, as it is all being done by weights which means the internal designs must be very accurate. I have no previous knowledge of how a weight powered clock works so this is all new to me...

Vanilla Sugar

Used vanilla pods can be rinsed, dried, and placed in granulated white sugar to produce what is called vanilla sugar.

The bean is cut in half and buried in the sugar, covered, and left for a week or two to allow the vanilla to permeate through the sugar. This vanilla sugar can be used in place of regular sugar and adds a wonderful vanilla flavor to desserts. To make vanilla sugar place a cut vanilla bean into 1-2 cups (200-400 grams) of granulated white sugar or confectioners sugar and store in a covered container for a few weeks before using. One tablespoon of vanilla sugar has the flavoring power of 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Raisin Rice

Ingredients
  • 50 - 75 g triple blend rice
  • 1 medium green pepper
  • 1 medium red pepper
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 4 tbsp California Raisins
  • 45 ml soy sauce
  • 60ml dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp honey

Method
  1. Cook the rice in 2 parts water to 1 part rice for 30 - 40 minutes, or until fluffy.
  2. Stir-fry the peppers and shallots until the shallots begin browning.
  3. Place the soy sauce, honey and sherry in a saucepan with tbsp of of warm water and simmer for 7-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to the rice.
  4. Mix the rice, raisins and vegetables together, then serve.
  5. A great accompaniment to Sunshine Kebabs.

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Sunshine Kebabs

Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 45 ml soy sauce
  • 60 ml dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 garlic cloves, skinned and chopped
  • 2.5 cm of fresh ginger, finely grated
  • ground pepper

Method
  1. Mix soy sauce, sherry and honey with all of the ginger, garlic and pepper. Add 2-3 tbsp of warm water.
  2. Add the chicken and mix well. Chill for at least an hour, turning occassionally.
  3. Put the chicken chunks on to skewers and grill for 10 - 15 minutes.
  4. Serve with Raisin Rice.
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Zesty Cod Parcels

Ingredients
  • 4 thick cod fillets
  • 8 rashers of bacno
  • 1 red chilli
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Fresh Chives
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Grated Lemon zest
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 oC.
  2. Remove the skin from the cod fillets and trim the fat from the bacon.
  3. Finely chop and deseed the chilli and finely chop the garlic. Snip the chives into small pieces.
  4. Season the cod fillets on both sides, spinkle over half the garlic, chilli, chives and lemon zest.
  5. Wrap each fillet in two rashers of bacon and place on a baking tray.
  6. Sprinkle over the remaining ingredients and bake for 20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through
  7. Remove and serve with steamed vegetables.


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Start the clock...



Well, I made a start on the paper clock! three little tubes all cut out and stuck together. One thing which is a bit of a shame is that the thing is going to be just white with lots of lines on it but maybe that adds to the charm.

I am using glue that is supposed to be for sticking jigsaw puzles together, figured that aught to be strong enough!! I may do some more today which won't appear in this post, obviously!! Because it is quite theraputic!

On a completely different note, sorry for the sudden influx of recipes! I decided to do a bit of baking at the weekend, thinking, 'I'll even photo it and pop it on my blog, pad out the posts a bit!!' then I got carried away and spent pretty much all of Saturday cooking!! But it gives you all something to stare at and think 'MMMMMMMM! Gotta get me some of that!!'

Pear and Blackberry Crumble




Ingredients
Four pears, medium - large
120g blackberries
handful of sultanas
1/3 cup sugar
Flour
Butter
Brown Sugar
Want to give it a go? Download the .pdf version, easier than writing it out!!

Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 200oc.
  2. Peel the pears and cut them into chunks. Place in an oven proof dish with the sultanas, blackberries and sugar. You may wish to add a little water if your pears are not that juicy.
  3. Cover and put into the oven for 30minutes (longer if you want softer fruit).
  4. Make the crumble topping with plain flour, brown sugar and butter. Place all the ingredients together in a bowl and rub with your fingers to create fine breadcrumbs. Make enough to cover the top of your fruit 1-2 cm deep.
  5. Sprinkle the crumble mixture on top of the fruit, return to the oven, uncovered for a further 15 minutes. You may wish to use the grill to really make the crumble mixture golden.
  6. Serve warm with cream.
I am sorry that the ingredient amounts are a bit vague for this one, but I made it up as I was going along. We have a pear tree and some bramble bushes in our back garden and I have kept meaning to try this but never got round to it!! I was very pleased with the result and I hope you all have a go yourselves...
Remember - if you are using very fresh fruit, particularly blackberries, make sure you wash them well first... beasties love 'em!
Hey! I'd love to know if people are using my recipes!! If you are leave a wee comment on the recipes post! Also, why not head back and let me know how you got on!!?

Shortcrust Pastry - Sweet

Ingredients
  • optional: 1 vanilla pod
  • 125g/4½oz butter
  • 100g/3¾oz icing sugar
  • a small pinch of salt
  • 255g/9oz flour
  • zest of ½ a lemon
  • 2 egg yolks, preferably free-range or organic
  • 2 tablespoons cold milk or water

Method

  • Score down the length of the vanilla pod, if using, and remove the seeds (keep the pod for making vanilla sugar).
  • Cream together the butter, icing sugar and salt and then rub in the flour, vanilla seeds, lemon zest and egg yolks.
  • When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, add the cold milk or water. Pat and gently work the mixture together until you have a ball of dough, then flour it lightly.
  • Wrap the dough in clingfilm and place in the fridge to rest for at least an hour.
When you need to use the pastry remove from the fridge and use straight away. Alternatively, you can freeze this pastry for later use.

Crunchy Sponge Squares


Ingredients
Base:
170g digestive biscuits, crushed
85g butter, melted

Topping:
60g butter
1/2 cup of sugar
3/4 cup Self Raising Flour
1 egg
1/4 cup of milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Jam (I used Apricot)

Want to give it a go? Download the .pdf version, easier than writing it out!!

Method
  1. Preheat overn to 180oc and grease and line an 18cm square baking tin.
  2. Mix the butter and digestive biscuits together and press firmly into the base of the tin.
  3. Cream together butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the egg.
  5. Mix in half the flour then half the milk.
  6. Mix in the remaining flour and milk.
  7. Spread the jam across the top of the biscuit base, you can make this as thick as you wish.
  8. Pour the topping mixture over and ensure it is spread evenly.
  9. Place in the oven until firm to the touch and golden. I placed another piece of greaseproof paper over the top with a hole cut in it as my oven tends to burn the top of things. This certainly prevented that happening and also helped stop the cake rising in the middle.
  10. I added a little brown sugar over the top dduring the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, then cut into 16 pieces.
I made this as the result of an accidental mis calculation in another recipe (long story) but I ended up with too much biscuit base and didn't want to waste it. I went through the cupboards, saw what I had and, with a vague bakewell recipe in the back of my mind, created this! One thing to note, due to the type of base it is very crumbly so you may want to make sure that it is cooled sufficiently before trying to cut. Having said that, they are tasting great a little warm..
They smell great too, sitting by me while I type this mmmmmmmm!!
Hey! I'd love to know if people are using my recipes!! If you are leave a wee comment on the recipes post! Also, why not head back and let me know how you got on!!?

Chocolate Caramel Slices





Ingredients
Base:
170g digestive biscuits, crushed
60g butter, melted

250g milk or dark chocolate for the topping
Caramel:
400g condensed milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup
60g butter, melted

Want to give it a go? Download the .pdf version, easier than writing it out!!

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180oC and grease and line an 18cm baking tin (square).
  2. Combine the digestive biscuits and butter together. Press firmly into the base of the tin.
  3. Combine all the ingredients of the caramel in a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook, whisking, for 8 minutes or until golden. Pour over the biscuit base.
  4. Bake for 12 minutes or until firm, cool completely, then refrigerate for 3 - 4 hours or until set.
  5. Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Pour over the caramel and return to the refrigerator until set. Cut into 16 pieces.
This makes, as you can see from the picture, slices with a large quantity of caramel work the numbers yourself to vary the caramel to chocolate to base ratio!
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Blueberry & Mango Cheesecake

Ingredients
  • 150g Reduced fat digestives
  • 75g butter
  • 4tsp powdered gelatin
  • 250ml orange & mango juice
  • 2tbsp fruit sugar
  • 250g curd cheese (quark)
  • 200g light soft cheese
  • 1/2 mango
  • 50g blueberries
Method
  1. Crush the biscuits finely and melt the butter. Mix the butter and biscuits together and press intot he bottom of a loose bottomed 18-20 cm tin,
  2. Chill.
  3. Placew 150ml of the orange and mango juice in a bol and sprinkle over the powdered gelatin. Leave for 5 mins until it has swollen. Place the bowl over a simmering pan of water until the liquid is hot and the gelatin has dissolved. Stir in the remaining juice.
  4. Mix the fruit sugar, quark and cream cheese together until smooth, then whisk in the mango and orange juice mixture.
  5. Pour into the tin and leave to set for 2 hours.
  6. Remove fromt he fridge and decorate with mango slices and blueberries.

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Blackcurrant Cheesecake Ice Cream

Ingredients
  • 150g tub cream cheese , beaten
  • 100g blackcurrant conserve
  • 5-6 shortbread biscuits, crumbled into chunks
  • 1 plump vanilla pod
  • 300ml full-fat milk
  • 300ml double cream
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
Method
  1. Place a container in the freezer. Split the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape the seeds out with the point of the knife and tip into a pan with the milk, cream and pod. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least 20 mins. For the best flavour, this can be done a few hours beforehand and left to go cold (see tips, below).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks together for a few minutes until they turn pale and fluffy. Put the vanilla cream back on the heat until it's just about to boil. Stir in the cream cheese then carefully sieve the liquid onto the yolks, beating with the whisk until completely mixed.
  3. At this point, get a large bowl of iced water and sit a smaller bowl in it. Pour the custard back into the pan and cook on the lowest heat, stirring slowly and continuously, making sure the spoon touches the bottom of the pan, for about 10 mins until thickened (see rules, below). Strain the custard into the bowl sitting in the iced water and leave to cool, then churn until scoopable (see methods, below).
  4. Sandwich layers of the ice cream in the container with large dollops of blackcurrant conserve and chunks of biscuit. Freeze until solid.
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Time for excitment...

It arrived yesterday!! I am looking forward to starting it and David is also keen to see whether it works or not!! As am I! For those who are wondering open mouthed at what I am talking about it is this...

Yes, you read it right! Build your own paper clock!! I will photograph and keep you all updated as it progresses...


Step one... go buy glue!