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The Chequers (Brownies)

Today was a very lovely day. My brother Jay took me, Billy and Dylan out for lunch. Just a few miles from where we live is a gorgeous little gastro pub called The Chequers and we have been going there for years. Billy was 15 when he worked there to earn extra pocket money, Jesse also did a one day stint but decided it wasn't for him as when one or two of the oriental delights he was meant to be serving to a customer fell from the plate and he kicked them into a bush!!!

Anyway, i've had lots of lovely days, evenings, birthdays and normal days spent here. Saturday morning they serve the most gorgeous brunch, I hope you know what I mean when I say it is a clean fry up! No fat swimming on the plate, just lovely juicy sausages, nice meaty bacon, good fat toms, beans in a little pot (don't you just hate bean juice all over the place?????). Lovely white china tea pots ( I love white china all fresh and clean looking) and nicely cooked farm fresh eggs, yummy.

In the Winter it's as snug as a bug in a rug. Newspapers, roaring fire, just so so cosy. It's equally as welcoming in Summer as there is an amazing decking area out the back for the more formal dining, then a gorgeous garden for bar meals and snacks where my boys and nieces have spent many happy times. But to top it all it faces the most wonderful matching green.

When Dylan was younger I spent many contented Friday evenings watching him play cricket while sipping a lovely long fruity Pimms. November 5th wouldn't be the same without a visit to The Chequers and I don't think i've missed one in 15 years. Boxing day, the Hunt leaves from the Green and is something quite spectacular to see. I haven't got shares in this place but I genuinely love it.

Today we sat out the back on the decking under the canopy. You always see somebody you know and I think that is a sign of a well run place when customers return time and time again. I saw my lovely pilates trainer Suzi with her beautiful little girl Lily. Billy and Jay also knew other people there.The staff are always friendly and the service is very good, there's something for everyone on the menu.
Well enough about them, lets get back to the job in hand, because after all this is meant to be a cooking blog. For years i've baked but my immediate family have never really taken much notice. My friends on the other hand loved the freshly baked goods with a passion but not so much Rich, the boys & my brother. Until earlier this year when they realised I was quite good (all will become apparent in a few weeks) so since then they like to sample my different bakes, which suits me, as I love trying out new bakes and these are the people who are in my life mostly.
So today I knew my brother was coming here early for a little sit in the sunshine before lunch and obviously something with a cup of coffee. I've wanted to try pistachio and choc chip brownies for ages and had a recipe in my head, so I knew he'd be a willing guinea pig. He said they were the best cakey thing he'd tasted, so I'll share with you.

100 g dark chocolate broken
20 g milk choc broken up
115g butter
300 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 large eggs
140 g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
75 g pistachios
80 g white choc chips

Grease and line 7inch tin preheat oven to 170

Melt chocolate and butter in micro, give a good stir. Mix in sugar and vanilla paste, add eggs, sift in flour and cocoa powder fold in. Add nuts and choc, I like white chocolate chunks cut from a bar.

Bake in oven for 35-40 mins. test with a cocktail stick. Leave to cool serve either as a cake or with ice cream, for simple chocolate sauce, Mix 100 g choc, with 100 ml of double cream, melt in micro, mix and pour all over. YUMMA

Cupcake Kids

 "A loving heart is the truest wisdom." 

 For the last 2 days I've been cupcaking with some of my most favourite people. Yesterday, with my cousins adorable little children, today with my darling god-daughter. Both days have been really nice in different kinds of ways. Yesterday I drove the 90 miles to my aunties home, on the Kent coast, every time I go I always wonder why I left it so long before returning, My auntie is one of those people, who always makes you feel welcome, she's always there with a smile, a cup of something, a homemade cake, an ear and good sound advice, the sort of person who was born to be a mum, she is the kind of mum i've always tried to be, she's so kind, gentle and supportive, always putting others needs first. This shines out in her family and their home in Broadstairs, it's absolutely glorious there. Every season is different, I feel I haven't had a proper visit unless we've had a walk along the front, what ever the weather! Anyway yesterday morning I got up VERY early, dropped boys to where they had to go, made my lovely cousin Ben a lemon drizzle tray-bake, he says it reminds him, of the pancakes our nan use to make  when we were young, and yes I know what he means all that crunchy sugar and syrupy lemon juice, i'm hoping thats what he means, not that my sponge is flat and stodgy!!! I then Knocked up 18 nude cuppies a big lakeland icing bag of buttercream, sprinkles and off I went. The children loved them, and the grown ups didn't say no either, I think it's so important to get children involved with cooking at an early age. My aunty along with my nan were two of the main role models to me when I was a child, with tasty bakes always popping from their ovens.
After the cup cake making, a lovely catch up, My aunty indulged me in my other passion and walked with me while I snapped the coast line.The striking bleak house stands majestically overlooking the bay, we popped into a little photography exhibition, the fresh sea air, oh how I love the place.
Today I was up and out very early, on my way home I popped to the supermarket to collect all I needed to make rainbow cornet cupcakes with my goddaughter Macy and her friend Emily. This is my 1st attempt at rainbow sponge, I knew it wasn't very difficult just split the sponge in 3 bowls, a little food colouring and away you go, the girls were very excited.
 I just whipped up a 8,8 & 8 sponge with 4 eggs, we split the mixture in 3 and coloured it, spooned 3 spoonfuls into each cone, put into the oven for 20 mins, @ 170. Whip up buttercream 500g icing sugar and 125g butter, 3 tablespoons of milk, beat for 10 mins. Spoon into piping bag and swirl onto cooled cone cakes.
Macy and Emily really enjoyed baking these little cuppies both let their creative flair run wild, it was so lovely to spend time with people I love doing the thing I love xxx

Hotel Arts, Barcelona, (Churros, spanish doughtnuty things)

Barcelona, I love the culture, the food (amazing tapas). The most gorgeous Hotel Arts, the beautiful sunshine. 

A few years ago, the 1st time I went to Hotel Arts Barcelona, I was delighted when I found these gorgeous, crispy doughtnutty delights on the breakfast menu

So I thought i'd give you a recipe for churros which I have loved from a young girl. My friends dad from school, was spanish and I have fond memories of him making them for us. 

  • 60g butter
  • 150 ml whole milk
  • 1 tsbp lemon juice
  • 110g plain flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • oil for frying
  • chocolate & cream for dipping
  • caster sugar & cinnamon 
Heat milk, lemon and butter in a saucepan, bring to the boil.

Sift in flour and salt, stir quickly with a wooden spoon, leave to cool (warm to touch) 

Mix in eggs a little at a time, beat until thick and shiny.

Spoon into a piping bag, pipe 3-4 inch churros I cook in a deep fat fryer, but they can be cooked in a heavy based frying pan. 

Cook for 3-4 mins, coat with sugar and cinnamon . 

Heat chocolate and cream in a saucepan, till chocolate melts, for a lovely dipping sauce.       

*To make ahead, pipe the churros onto parchment, flash freeze then pop into freezer bag when solid, fry straight from frozen.           

Shortbread For My Nan.

This morning I was popping into see my nan, I wanted to take her a lovely treat, my nan is an amazing lady, she is 86 and still walks and swims everyday. She was the person who inspired me to bake. When I was a little girl i'd stay with her most weekends, she would totally overindulged me, we'd play shops, where she'd allow me to pull out all her larder I'd be the shopkeeper and she my customer, we would bake, maybe just off trimmings from the pies that she would be making, but enough to get a small child interested and give me the passion for baking I have today.

Mary Berry's Shortbread (another totally inspirational lady)

Makes 30 fingers


Cake tin needed: a 30 x 23cm (12 x 9in) traybake or roasting tin
225g (8oz) plain flour
100g (4oz) semolina
225g (8oz) butter
100g (4oz) caster sugar
50g (2oz) flaked almonds (optional)
25g (1oz) demerara sugar, for dusting

Step One
Preheat the oven to 160°C/Fan 140°C/gas 3. Lightly grease the tin.

Step Two
Mix together the flour and semolina in a bowl or food processor. Add the butter and sugar and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture is just beginning to bind together. Knead lightly until the mixture forms a smooth dough.

Step Three
Press the dough into the prepared tin and level it with the back of a spatula or a palette knife, making sure the mixture is evenly spread. Prick all over with a fork, sprinkle over the flaked almonds if using, and chill until firm.

Step Four
Bake for about 35 minutes or until a very pale golden brown. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then cut into 30 fingers. Carefully lift the fingers out of the tin with a palette knife and finish cooling on a wire rack. Store in an airtight tin.


I know bread takes a bit of time to make, and to be honest I never use to like making it,well thats not strictly true, i'd just never really got into it, but I love it now, I mainly knead all my doughs by hand, there is something deeply satisfying about kneading yourself,  you can just get lost in the momentum of it. With bread making I think you can't rush it , just enjoy the fact it needs time taken over it and something lovely will come out in the end. Its like the saying goes everything comes to she who waits :)


20g of fresh yeast
7floz lukewarm water
1 teaspoon of sugar
340g strong white flour
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil infused with basil leaves for at least an hour

150g mozzarella (not buffalo)
150g parma ham
picante peppers or sun dried tomatoes
basil leaves

1 tablespoon of olive oil
4 sprigs of rosemary

preheat oven 220c
put olive oil and basil leaves into a small bowl
place yeast in a small bowl, mix to a thin cream with a little water
stir in the sugar
leave to stand for 5 mins,
sift flour into a large bowl
make a well in the centre, pour in yeast mix, strain olive oil pour into mix, with enough of the remaining water to get a soft dough,knead with a bread hook for 6 mins, or 10 minutes by hand, place in an oiled bowl covered with clingfilm for about an hour, until doubled in size, lightly flour or oil work surface, turn out the dough, knock back, then pat and stretch into an oblong, scatter fillings over, then roll dough into a sausage shape place on an oiled baking tray cover with clingflim leave to prove until soft and pillow like then brush with basil infused olive oil and top with rosemary sprigs,put in oven after 10 mins turn down to 200c bake for a further 20 mins.
Bum bread

500g strong bread flour
10g salt
15g dried yeast 
100g butter 
300ml water

Put flour, salt and yeast into a freestanding mixer with bread hook attachment. Slowly add lukewarm water, knead for 1 mins now add the softened butter, continue to knead for 6 minutes in mixer  or 10 mins by hand.
Put into an oiled bowl leave to prove for 2 hrs, until doubled in size.
Turn out and knock back. 
Shape into 2 equal balls,put into 2lb loaf tin, cover leave to rise for an hour.
Slit the top with a very sharp knife.

Put a baking pan in bottom of oven, while pre heating, Put a cup of water into it, to create steam for a nice crust.Bake in either top of AGA oven or @ 220 in normal oven, for about 25-30 mins. 

Really easy to follow recipe for brioche loaf I found online.

Prep Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 50 minutes
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk, warm
2 ¾ oz unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs plus 1 egg, divided and lightly beaten
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Gradually add the warm milk, butter, and 2 eggs into the flour mixture; knead until the dough is smooth. The dough is ready to rise when it is completely smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise for 2 hours, or until it is doubled in size.

Transfer the dough from the bowl onto a floured work surface and punch it down a few times. Divide the dough into 3 equal-sized balls. Roll each ball into a 10-inch long rope, and then braid the ropes together. Tuck the ends under and place the braid in a greased 9-inch by 5-inch baking pan. Alternately, you can punch the dough down and form it into a simple oval. Cover the pan and allow the dough to rise for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour, until it is doubled in size.

I baked in the top oven in my AGA for 25 mins, with a cup of water throw into a roasting tray under it.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the dough covering, gently brush the loaf with the beaten egg, sprinkle with a small amount of sugar, and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 minutes, until the brioche is golden brown. Allow it to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then transfer it to a wire cooling rack.

A Quick Sunday Tea (swiss roll)

Sometimes people will just pop over unannounced on a Sunday afternoon, leaving you in a total quandary of what to feed them, without even mentioning, the stresses of the lunch time washing up still in the sink! Wet towels on the bathroom floor, kids toys, computer games, fizzy cans and sweet wrappers everywhere. 

Well, a swiss roll is an easy answer to the feeding, from cupboard to table within 45 mins, because it hasn't any fat in it, it's so light it cools very quickly, enabling you to fill and roll within minutes of it leaving the oven. It can be filled with lots of different things, any type of jam, either on its own or with buttercream, whipped double cream, mascarpone and icing sugar mixed together, really whatever you have in the store cupboard or fridge. 

A few sandwiches and everyone is happy, they may even go away saying what a wonderful hostess you had been or they could just tell everyone what a frightful mess your home is, but if they are true friends, they will love you mess and all, but a little bribery never hurts!
  • 4 eggs
  • 115g plain flour
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • You'll also need a greased and lined swiss roll tin (41cmX28cm)
Mix sugar and eggs until light and fluffy and volume is quadrupled in size, and leaves ribbons on top of the  batter.

Fold in vanilla bean paste, then flour taking care to keep as much air in as possible. Spoon into a lined swiss roll tin, bake in either the top AGA oven or @ 220 for 10 mins. Turn out onto a clean tea towel sprinkled with caster sugar, leave to cool.
Make an indentation about an inch from the edge with a knife, taking care not to cut all the way through. Cut off edges.

Once cool spread over jam and whatever  else you fancy as a filling, roll with tea towel, rolling away from you, pushing the tea towel as you go. 

This weekend, I needed a clone !! ( Roast chicken)

This weekend has been so so busy, I truly could have done with two of ME.

Friday night I had my lovely antenatal group (of 25 years) over for a catch up and a take out but as it was the gorgeous Denise's 50th birthday I felt the need, not only to clean the house and have something lovely in the flower department arranged but also to knock up a birthday cake.

I met all of these wonderful ladies when I was an 18 year old mum to be, it's so funny how in life we were thrown together, yet against all odds we have remained firm friends for all of these years. The support while are babies grew and ever since has been so amazing, the bonds are so strong that I couldn't imagine my life without them in it .

Anyhow friday morning I dropped the boys to work then took El for a walk, came home and started on the cake. A yummy pecan and maple syrup one from cake days.

Billy then called to ask me to collect Harley (the gorgeous grandson) which I did. He then called for me to pick him up from work. In-between I hoovered and dropped Dylan off to his friends. I didn't get home until 6 when Maria caught me looking like i'd been pulled through a hedge backwards.

The evening was fab, except for two runs to the Indian, as they only included half our order, and it's a 20 min round trip ARRRRRGH !

Saturday was spent in a flurry of fondant hearts and crosses as I needed to make 80 toppers for the Baptism cupcakes i'd promised to make my friend for her lovely baby Eva's baptism sunday (today).

Sunday dropped the cuppies off, collected Dylan from his friends, his bag from another friend, got in, made the boys sausage and egg bagels, then started the ironing at 2pm, cooked a full Roast.

  • Chicken (best you can afford) brushed with oil, sprinkled with sea salt, stuffed with a lemon and some thyme, into the top oven for about an 90-120 mins. Rest under foil for at least 40 mins.
  • Roast potatoes par boiled for 15 mins, strained, olive oil and a knob of butter into the pan, sea salt, tip into hot baking tray, into hot oven 210 for 75 mins min.
  • Yorkshire puds mix together cup of plain flour, cup of milk, 3 eggs, pinch of salt, pour into very hot oil in baking tray,cook at 210 for at 35-40 mins.
  • Carrots put carrots onto big square of foil, squeeze over some honey, a sprig of thyme, fold up foil, bake in top aga oven for 50 mins, then bottom for 40, or normal oven at 200 for 75 mins leave in warm place in foil for 15 mins after to rest.
  • Gravy spoon off fat from meat tray, sprinkle in some gravy granules, a mug of water, glass of white wine, put onto hob,with a wooden spoon mix all the juices and bits together,bring to boil strain and serve.
  • Broccoli steam or micro very briefly, add water to  unmade gravy.
  • Stuffin, I use a packet, just add some butter when adding the water,then stir in a little of the chicken juices before cooking or 20 mins.
After cooking, washing up and feeding Ellie I carried on with the ironing till 9pm. Thank heavens it's all done but those boys have just filled the washing basket when I had my back turned for 3 minutes, so tomorrow it all starts again!!!!!!!!!!!!!                                                                                  

Salsa Verde & Apple Streusel Cake

Tonight my friends lovely daughter popped round for dinner. We had lamb steaks, salute potatoes, salad and a delicious salsa verde. For dessert I made apple streusel cake.

The salsa verde was such an amazing flavour burst in your mouth. It's the first time i've ever made it. I didn't follow any particular recipe, just a load of fresh herbs, namely coriander and parsley, with the addition of a little mint, just one stem, then some chopped capers,crushed cloves of garlic and a splash of olive oil, quite a bit of chopping, and thats about it, other than leaving it for half an hour to let the flavours develop.
  • Pkt coriander
  • Pkt parsley
  • Stem of mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of capers     
  • 2-3 fat garlic cloves   
  • olive oil           
Apple streusel cake

pre heat oven 180
  • 500g chopped cored eating apples 
  • (tossed in a tablespoon of lemon juice)
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • Topping
  • 40g hazelnuts
  • 40g plain flour
  • 25g dark brown sugar
  • 25g butter
  • Firstly make the topping, just blend ingredients till you get a crumbly texture,in the food processor. Transfer into a bowl.
  • Now cream butter and sugar in processor until light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time.
  • Sift in flour, baking powder and cinnamon,fold in milk,then chopped apples.
  • Spoon into prepared 9 inch tin.
  • Spoon over streusel topping.
  • Bake for about an hour, cool in tin for 10 mins, then finish cooling on a rack. Delightful.

This cake is so light, with the lovely warming flavour of cinnamon running through, I served it at room temp, with a little pouring cream, it was truly gorgeous, one I will make time and time again.

Cake Pops

I know I only blogged last night but today I made cake pops and am really excited to share with you. I think these little delights on a stick are such a fab idea.They could actually cure the carnage from party bags when the back seat of your car looks like Mr Kipling's factory floor.
When my boys were small my car was so bad that I had a mouse living in it !!!! I had to catch it in one of those humane traps.

Anyway LETS NEVER TALK OF THAT AGAIN (hang my head in shame). These are great for all ages, any flavour combination & design, literally you can let your creative side run wild. This morning I googled these little treats and the results were amazing.

I started with some left over vanilla sponge, in fairness it was quite a lot, about a 4, 4, & 4 sponge.

Then I whipped up some buttercream, with buttercream I always use a quarter of butter, to icing sugar and a little milk, to this i added vanilla paste for extra flavour,but anything would be fab (coffee, Earl Grey, lavender, orange zest, lemon zest, the list is endless).

Then combined it with the sponge, to which you roll into walnut size balls,melt chocolate of your choice, but i've got to say only use what you'd eat (crappy chocolate = crappy cake pops) then dip the tips of your lolly sticks into the melted chocolate, push into the little balls, put in the freezer to chill for about 30 mins.

Once nicely chilled, the fun begins. Dip the cake pop into the melted choc, give a little twirl round, then dip into what ever takes your fancy. Leave to set on a baking tray.
  • Any kind of sponge
  • buttercream  
  • chocolate (I used 250g for 20 cake pops)
  • lolly sticks
  • sprinkles, sweeties, glitter, flower decorations.

A Very Hectic Weekend Deconstructed Trifle

This weekend has been very busy to say the least. On saturday Dylan had rugby trials for Essex so fingers, toes, eyes, knees in fact everything crossed.

While he was there I popped round to see my most beautiful friend Sarah and her family, including Jess my adorable godson .

Got back, straight up the motorway to collect Harley, (the gorgeous Grandchild) and then onto Sainsburys to get food shopping for the evening as I had 6 of my friends and 1 sister from New Zealand coming over for dinner.

As a thank you to them for being so fab (we've had a terrible time over the last 13 months and I don't know what i'd have done without the support of these wonderful people). By now it was 4pm, only 4 hours until they would all arrive expecting dinner cooked from scratch.

The house looked like it had been burgled (3 big boys and 1 baby boy will do this). Luckily i'd made the mini meringues and vanilla sponge at 7am so only 2 and a 1/2 courses left to complete, a flower arrangement to do and every room to tidy, with the boys untidying as I went !!!!!

Stress levels were rising along with my voice. The long and short, I got it all done, just, unfortunately I still looked like i'd been rolling around the rugby pitch when they arrived.  If my friends sister hadn't of been coming from NZ i'd probably not been so stressy but you always want new people to have a good 1st impression don't you?
A nice vanilla sponge
Homemade strawberry jam ( slightly set)
softly whipped double cream
Fresh raspberries
mini meringues
mint leaves
framboise (raspberry liqueur)
Basically just cut little circles of sponge, pour a teaspoon of framboise over each.

Then layer on some lovely freshly made jam, onto lightly whipped cream,top each one with a small handful of Raspberries and meringues, finish with some lovely fresh mint leaves.

For starter I made the prawn linguine, that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago, just in  smaller portions, with the addition of some lemon zest.

Then it was Jamie O's 30min mustard chicken, Errrrr hello, took at least an hour, that boy must be taking some kind of rocket fuel, mind you I have to say, it was delish, and I have tried quite a few of his 30 min recipes, they have all been yummy, and easy to follow.

Both, along with my trifle went down very well. We had a lovely evening. At 2am I was clearing up and loading the dishwasher for the 4th time,as all needed to be cleared and pristine, as my brother and his girlfriend and Reg (THE Pest) dog were coming over at 10am for breakfast.

My Local Farm Shop

Yesterday I popped along to my local farm shop. It made me realise how fortunate I am to have it on my doorstep and that I should try and support local farmers more often.

Nearly everything is sourced locally so obviously less impact on the environment and all much fresher and free from preservatives.

I know that the big supermarkets are much more convenient but from now on I intend to use my farm shop a lot more frequently.

The butcher there really knows his stuff and the staff are very helpful, the chickens are always second to none.

They have  beautiful grounds with gorgeous little animals running around, there are lots of events going on throughout the year which I feel is fab for the local community.

When Dylan was small he went to the village school, Ashlyn's were  always happy to arrange events for school trips, teaching the children about farming, animals, crops etc.

There is a lovely little cafe/restaurant which serves homemade produce, including the fab sausages and bacon they sell in the shop, to traditional homemade cakes. With stunning views over the Essex countryside it really is a lovely way to dine.

  • 8oz S/R flour
  • 8oz stork ( or butter)
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of camp coffee (or 2 teaspoons of good instant mixed with 2 tablespoons of boiling water)
  • 2oz of finely chopped walnuts
  • 8 walnut halves to decorate
  • 1lb icing sugar
  • 6oz softened butter
  • a little milk mixed with coffee

Method (Preheat oven @170)
Mix Flour, sugar, butter, eggs and coffee together, either by hand or in a food processor, until soft and creamy.

Fold in chopped walnuts.

Divide between 2 prepared sandwich tins.

Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins until the tops springs back if pressed gently.

Mix icing sugar,butter and coffee milk together in a freestanding mixer (or with a hand whisk)

I mix mine with paddle attachment for about 10 mins for a really lovely fluffy butercream.

Sandwich 2 cakes together with two-thirds of buttercream, then  top with the rest, add walnut halves for decoration.

Nutella Muffins

I really love making muffins you chuck a few dried ingredients in a bowl, a few wet ones in a jug, combine the 2 and you get something, wonderfully yummy. Sometimes I weigh out all the ingredients the night before, then combine the 2 when I get up, ready to bake for breakfast, so nice with a cup of latte and fresh orange juice. And so simple.
  • 300g plain flour
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 250 ml whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 85g unsalted butter ( melted)
  • 200g Nutella
  • 60g chopped hazelnuts
  • 12 squares of milk chocolate

  • 45G caster sugar
  • 30g chopped hazelnuts
Heat oven to 170˚c.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, mix wet ingredients in a jug, mix both together, pour into 12 muffin cases in a muffin tin, put a square of chocolate into each one.

Then mix the toppings together and sprinkle over the top of each muffin.

Cook for 25-30 mins.

Daniel Boulud (madeleines)

A few years ago I was so lucky to spend christmas and new year on holiday, we started off in New York, it was truly amazing, I swear it was the most magical place i'd ever been too. 

Richard and I spent some quality time together, whilst the boys spent their time trailing around 5th Ave and such like.Anyway before we went my gorgeous hubby had made reservations at the most wonderful place I have ever eaten in, I swear I will remember this night for the rest of my life, we have been to some amazing places, but none have ever matched up to 'Daniel'.

There were lots of older not so good looking men with the most stunningly beautiful young women, the decor and ambience were amazing. 

As we sat down they brought over a small stool (for my handbag),there was a Bedouin tent in one corner for a private dining.The food was like nothing i've ever experienced,to begin we had the most amazing amuse bouche, then I had a prawn cocktail like i've never had before, then beef that literally melted in my mouth, dessert to die for,but the thing that i'll never forget are the buttery light as air madeleines that they serve with coffee,so today I decided to see if I could surf the web to find the recipe, and to my delight there it was.So today I made some, they were gorgeous,so I share it with you.

This following recipe was originally published in the cookbook “Chef Daniel Boulud – Cooking in New York City.
Makes 6 dozen small or 1 dozen large madeleines
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon ( I used orange zest)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl using a wire whisk, mix the eggs, sugar, honey, brown sugar and lemon zest. Add the flour mixture and whisk just until combined. Add the melted butter, stirring just until incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Liberally spray either a nonstick 20 mould or 12 mould madeleine pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place the batter in a pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe the moulds two-thirds full, using about 1 teaspoon of batter for the 20 mould pan and 2 tablespoons of batter for the 12 mould pan.
4. For the small madeleines, bake until the centres rise and the edges are golden brown, about 4 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking. For the large madeleines, bake for 5 minutes, reduce the heat to 350°F, rotate the pan halfway, and continue baking until the centres rise and the edges are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, invert the pan and tap it against the counter to release the madeleines. Serve the madeleines warm, dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

My Friends Wedding: Part 2 (cupcakes)

Well, today was D'ish day. (obviously not D day as it's not the wedding day) I had to take my wares to   see if they were deemed good enough to adorn the top table, of my lovely friends wedding, (not really as she'd always said I was doing them , but this was just my crazy insecurities)  So last night I made 2 dozen cupcakes and 18 more this morning.
  • vanilla 
  • chocolate with white choc buttercream 
  • lemon drizzle
  • marble
  • chocolate orange
  • carrot with orange frosting
As you all know I was extremely nervous, and to make matters worse, I had never met the groom-to-be before. What I didn't know was that other people were also popping in for lunch and of course would try out the cupcakes.

Now for people who know me well, will know i'm a terrible baby when it comes to meeting people I've never met before, I panic that i'm of very low intelligence and will not have the  intellect to converse with new people. It's something i've suffered with all my life,  over the last couple of years i've really tried to push myself to overcome this affliction, the funny thing is that once i've got chatting you normally can't shut me up.

Anyway they all loved them, and here are the recipes to follow........

Basic cupcake recipe
240g plain flour
280g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
240 ml whole milk
80g butter softened

Pulse flour, caster sugar, baking powder and butter in a food processor, add half the milk, mix eggs into the rest of milk at this stage add with either lemon zest, orange zest, coffee shot, melted chocolate or vanilla essence, or grated carrot, chopped pecans and raisins.

Either spoon or ice cream scoop into paper cases in a muffin tin bake for 20-25mins @ 170. Leave to cool on wire rack.

500g icing sugar
125g softened butter
few tablespoons of milk

Either orange zest, lemon zest, melted white, milk or dark chocolate, strawberry coulis, shot of espresso, the list goes on and on.

Mix butter, milk and icing sugar in a large bowl on a freestanding mixer for about 10 minutes for lovely fluffy buttercream, in last 2 minutes add in flavouring, spoon into a piping bag.

In-between the sponge base and buttercream sometimes it's nice to add a little syrup, it can either be some sugar, water and flavour (squeeze of orange, lemon, lime) heated in a saucepan until sugar all dissolves, or my fav is some granulated sugar with either orange or lemon juice freshly squeezed over it.

Then as cupcakes come out of the oven spoon a little over each cake, it gives a lovely crunch under the soft buttercream and above the springy sponge.

My Friends Wedding

My lovely friend has asked me to make her a cupcake tower wedding cake and to be honest I'm a little scared. Not only is it the biggest day of her life, she has a celebrity mag covering the wedding and I've never done anything to this scale. 

Although I know i'm perfectly capable,  I'm still quaking in my sandals. Tomorrow she's asked me to pop over with some samples. She's sampled lots of my cooking and in fact my cuppies before. It's not helping one bit. I've had acid indigestion all day and can't put myself in a normal frame of baking mind, recently I experienced this for the 1st tim, and wasn't able to regain composure for weeks. So I just hope I can snap myself out before the big day !!!!!

Any tips for positive mind will much be appreciated.

A Little Laughter Goes a Long Way (Tiffin)

I have a friend called Lisa who is very lovely, she has a daughter called Sofia, who one day,  when she was about 6, looked at me and said "Jo you like a laugh don't you" I replied" yes" she said its good to laugh isn't it !

A few years later that still makes me smile, she and I always have a laugh whenever we meet, she normally joins her mummy and me for a baby-chino.

Well, this morning  was a morning when I didn't stop laughing, alas Sofia missed out, as she was at school. My friend Elli and I took the dogs for our normal morning walk, but decided on a different route for a change, now those of you who live near the country will know that lots of the footpaths have over grown, we'd been going for about an hour when my Ellie (the dog) decided she knew a better way home, to which she leads us through the most over grown footpath you have ever seen.

I swear it was like being in the jungle, at no time could we see Slinky and Ellie, but at some points I couldn't even see Elli the person, well this " torture" went on for nearly half an hour Ellie's lead kept getting wound into the over growth, Elli the persons bottoms kept falling down, in the end we were having to go ahead of the dogs to trample down the vegetation just so they could get through, but do you know what it was fantastic.

I felt like a kid again on an adventure and we laughed for the whole time. Nothing beats laughter except maybe tiffin.

100g butter (melted)
25g soft brown sugar
3 tbsp cocoa
4 tbsp golden syrup
225g crushed digestives
150g dried fruit ( raisins are most common but let your imagination run wild, imagine freeze dried raspberries yummy)
400g melted milk chocolate

Melt the butter, syrup sugar and cocoa in a pan over a gently heat until the sugar and butter are liquid. Add the biscuits and dried fruits, stir until well combined,spoon into a lined tin, press down and into sides, cover with melted chocolate leave to set before cutting into squares.