Strawberries and Chicken

The boy, when asked what he would like for his birthday dinner, raised his eyes to the sky and thought long and hard. In fact he thought for so long I left the room to put the coffee on. He followed me shortly to announce. “Strawberries and chicken, mummy!”

Right ok, well after a little teasing out of the details, we both agreed the chicken would be fried, and the strawberries would be in the cake. Thank god!

It is a tradition in my house for birthday meals to be full of “Crappy kids food”. I hold my nose and buy all the things which are pretty much banned from my house, sweets, crisps, white bread, you get my drift. However this young boy requested fried chicken, mac n cheese, and a strawberry cake.

Whenever things are a bit wobbly in the family, arguments, disappointment, sadness. I usually resort to my staple comfort recipes. It is amazing how a big plate of fried chicken can bring a smile to a sulky child’s face, or help an angry sibling, calm down and ask for another hot and crispy piece of chicken.

The fried chicken and mac n cheese are a no brainer for me to make. The strawberry cake however took a bit of thought. In the end I used a simple recipe for vanilla cake, and sweetened some cream with icing sugar then added the strawberry pieces, English of course.

I leave you with my vanilla cake recipe and a few photos of said feast.

Happy birthday Rufus!

Strawberry Rufus Cake

This is a simple sponge cake, super easy to make and goes perfectly with a cup of tea, or a glass of Prosecco.

Ingredients

  • 175g (6oz) softened butter.
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar.
  • 3 large eggs.
  • 175g (6oz) self-raising flour, sifted.
  • 1tsp baking powder.
  • 1tsp vanilla extract.
  • pinch of salt.

For the Filling

  • Small tub of double cream
  • 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
  • Couple of drops of vanilla extract
  • Strawberry Jam
  • Tub of strawberries

Method

Cream the sugar and butter together until light and pale. In a separate bowl sift the flour and mix in the baking powder and salt. Beat an egg into the butter sugar mixture, then gently fold in a third of the flour mixture. Repeat until you have mixed in all the flour and eggs.

Take two 8inch cake tins and line them with parchment paper. Pour in the cake mixture and put in a 180C oven for 20 mins or until the cake is lightly browned and pulling away from the edges of the tin.

Leave to cool while you whip together the cream and icing sugar and vanilla, until the cream is thick and spreadable.

When the cakes are cool take them out of their tins and spread the strawberry jam onto the top of one cake, then add a layer of cream and a layer of strawberry pieces. Place the second cake on top and add another layer of cream and strawberries.

Lovely x


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As Deep as The Hue of Red Wine

I actually survived three weeks of being a full time mum. Its the longest I have ever had my kids with me, all the time. They were constantly around me. I was constantly around them. We all survived, just a few skirmishes along the way. Pavlina (their nanny) was on holiday for a couple of weeks. Then on the day she was due to return, I got the phone call, she was sick and couldn’t come into work for another week.  She was in tears, I was in tears, the kids were in tears. We finally managed to pull ourselves together and actually it was a fun couple of weeks.

I have been doing a bit of PR for a friend of mine who had his first solo exhibition at The Photographers Gallery. Beautiful exhibition you should go and see. Anyway I take the kids to see it. We leave and they literally drag me kicking and screaming into McDonalds. I caved.  I figured a meal in McDonald’s would give me some bonus mum points, of course I am deluded but one lives in hope.

As we are sitting in Mcdonalds I get a text from a friend. “Hey I am assisting on a shoot for Mcdonalds, I thought of your lovely kids, would you be interested?”  How bizarre is that? So a week later they turn up and photograph not only the kids but me too…I wasn’t expecting that at all!

I also wasn’t expecting a call from my brother inviting us up to Scotland for the week. The kids has the most wonderful time. We spent a day rock pooling and searching for mussels. I had visions of us collecting bucket loads of mussels and cooking them for dinner. Uhh well we found a few tiny ones and Bella found one full grown mussel. Pasta it is then.

I took a few pictures oh and I made a crumble which was divine. I realised as I was about to rub the butter in for the crumble top that I did not have enough butter so used the rest of a pot of creme fraiche instead. It was really really good. I leave you with that recipe.

Rachelle x

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Apple and Berry Crumble

I am totally rubbish at measuring out crumble topping ingredients. I usually look at the amount of fruit I have and the size of the dish I am baking it in and then take it from there. I don’t think you can have too much crumble, so inevitably I make too much. I use a mixture of flour and rolled oats, please use butter and not margarine, that stuff is pure evil as far as I am concerned. I also use regular eating apples, I guess because I always have them around and cooking apples are (in my opinion) an unnecessary  purchase.

For the Crumble:

100g of rolled oats

100g of plain flour

75g of brown sugar

100g of cold butter (cut into small cubes)

1 large pinch of Maldon sea salt

For the Apple and Berry Filling:

800 grams of eating apples (cored and quartered. Put in a bowl of cold water with the juice of one lemon)

350g Frozen summer berries

100 grams of caster sugar

Juice of a lemon

Method

Preheat the oven to 190.C/375.F/gas 5

Butter a large baking dish.

Make the crumble add the flour, oats, brown sugar and salt into a large (ish) mixing bowl, rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles damp sand.

Place the berries and apples into the buttered baking dish. Add a couple of nobs of butter too.

Sprinkle the crumble mixture on top.

Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 mins until the crumble is golden and the berries and apples are bubbling.

Serve with creme fraiche or cream or ice cream. I never have leftovers of this but if you are lucky to have some. Eat cold for breakfast!


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Can You Feel The Love

Ok who stole my seven year old daughter and replaced her with a fourteen year old oik. “Lola can you please pick up your clothes”. Her reply “I am not your slave! Why don’t you find someone else to boss about?  Oh yes and my favourite retort of the month.  ‘I wish you were dead and when you are dead I will spit on your grave’  I must admit the latter comment took me back a little, then I just smiled and said Mmmm bit harsh love!  She then proceeded to draw a (really quite good) picture of me in my grave and her, well you know doing her thing. I think it was titled I Hate Mum.

I stuck the “I Hate Mum” next to the “I Love Mum” picture (that she had drawn probably hours before) on the fridge. Lola didn’t see the humour in that – of course.

I felt that with all this “teenage angst” in the house, I should endeavour to lighten things up. You know, rise above the temper tantrums and well basically ignore them. Lola finally forgave me for my absolutely outrageous request. The forgiveness was actually fuelled by the Chinese New Year feast I made on Sunday. Nothing that a pile of singapore noodles and twice cooked pork can’t fix. Pork belly, such a brilliant and cheap cut of meat. Perfect for this dish. Oh and Julie no you cannot use diced pork shoulder! YOU NEED THE FAT.

Its been a week of celebrations, Chinese New Year, Pancake Day and Valentines Day is today. I have never really been a fan of VD (as I like to call it). If you love someone shouldn’t you show them pretty much everyday that you care. Anyway thats just my opinion. Lola woke me up this morning and asked if she could make me breakfast in bed because it was valentines day..Ahh you see who needs a bunch of flowers!

Anyway for the sake of my kids I channeled the spirit of VD and made a bunch of shortbread hearts dipped in chocolate. I love this shortbread recipe. Its easy and makes a ton of cookies. The recipe is by Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa). One of my ambitions is to sit in her kitchen for a day watching her make giant amounts of food. Oh and also I would quite like to sit in Nigel Slaters kitchen, Carluccio..Ok I shall stop now! I leave you with some pics from the week and Ina’s fab shortcake recipe.

Have a great rest of the week. Oh and by the way I am launching another blog in a week or so…So exciting I can’t wait for you guys to see what I have been up to…

Love

Rachelle x

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Shortbread Love Heart Cookies

This recipe makes about 12 large cookies. I roll the dough out to about half a centimetre thickness. Less is more when it comes to handling shortbread. When you get to the flour stage whizz in a food processor until just coming together. Cling and put in the fridge. If you don’t have a processor then use your hands to combine briefly until the mixture comes together. Leave to rest for half an hour. Enjoy x

Ingredients
3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions
Preheat the oven to 180C

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt; then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and roll shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 3-inch heart-shaped cutter. Place the hearts on an ungreased sheet pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

While the cookies are cooling. Melt 100grams of your favourite chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. When the chocolate has melted dip to your hearts content…(no pun intended)

 


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Every Cloud….

Hey its been a good week really. The kids are doing well at school. Tilda received another 100% attendance certificate! I do love this school but a certificate for showing up! Kind of weird. I decided today I would face the music. The really horrid scary things that need to be dealt with. Yep thats what I am going to do, obviously after I have cooked something, photographed it and written this blog. So actually maybe I will face the music tomorrow…Do you see how I am not facing the music at all!

My obsession with all things rocket is still going strong. I could easily spend a week creating all kinds of rocket dishes. I can’t seem to get enough of the peppery leaf! I have pretty much everyday this week had, some variation of a rocket salad for dinner. Last night I whipped up a salad with warm chorizo, goat cheese and apple. Really bloody yum.

I also made a rocket and black pepper soda bread, with a roast carrot and potato soup. Basically just cleared out the veg in the bottom of the fridge. Roasting the potatoes and carrots just gives them a bit more sweetness and depth of flavour.

Well I shall leave you with my recipe for black pepper and rocket soda bread. If you want the recipe for the soup I will happily email it over. I also made a carbonara with chorizo and cabbage, which was again me scrabbling around the fridge for something to feed the kids. Oh yeah and forgive my recipe page, I am working on it. So should hopefully have all my recipes bookmarked by the end of the week.

Have a wonderful beginning of February.

Love Rachelle x

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Rocket and Black Pepper Soda Bread

Soda bread is a staple in my house. I hate buying bread, I will pretty much do anything to avoid it. It is so cheap to make and the kids will take pretty much any variation I throw at them. I ran out of plain flour so made up the measurement of 500g with 100g of oats and 50g of ground almonds. You can add, raisins, seeds, wholemeal flour, I have even thown in some museli that was knocking about. It is very forgiving and lends itself to sweet or savoury flavours. The variations are endless. The only thing you have to do, is not knead it. Literally mix it together in a bowl until it forms a ball, the less handling the better. I then smother it in yogurt of buttermilk before putting it in the oven. This creates a golden crust, its also really satisfying smearing gloopy  yogurt over the soft dough……Oh dear I really need to get out more. x

Ingredients 

  • 350g plain flour
  • 100g oats (not the powdery ones)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • large handful of rocket
  • 1tsp of freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Fat pinch sea salt
  • Approx. 400ml buttermilk or live yoghurt
  • A little milk, if necessary

Method

1.  Put flour, oats, almonds, rocket, black pepper and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl and stir in the salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the buttermilk, stirring as you go. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of milk to bring the mixture together; it should form a soft dough which is a little sticky.

2. Tip it out on to a lightly floured work surface and form the dough into a ball. This is not going to be the consistency of a yeast dough. You want to get it into the oven so the bicarbonate of soda can do its thing.

3. Put the round of dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and if you have any yogurt, or buttermilk left over smear it on top of the loaf and make a deep cross on top of the dough.  Put it in an oven preheated to 200°C/gas mark 6 and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped underneath.

4. Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes, eat warm with butter. So good. So very good.

 


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Skating on Thin Ice

The snow was so pretty on London Fields. I walked the girls to school in the morning it was idyllic. The snow totally transformed our little park into a shimmering wonderland. Promises of snowball fights and snow angels were made and kept. As I walked back through The Fields, I decided that I needed to shake off this feeling of doom and dread. I tried to put my finger on exactly why I was so down. I have initiated the Divorce, I am making the decisions, selling properties, moving, buying, it’s all down to me. I can’t really blame anyone else for the pickle I am in. Of course all of the above can be contested but really if they are, to be honest I think, whatever happens, myself and the kids will be OK. Mainly because I have never made a decision that I have regretted in my life and this sure as hell won’t be the first one.

Feeling a bit pleased with myself that I had (maybe only temporarily) got myself out of my funk, I decided that I would take all the terrifying tasks to hand this week. Reading the mail is always a good start when it contains Divorce papers to be signed amongst other things. Did that signed them. NEXT!

I also decided on my walk (very productive this walk). That this year I would have more fun! I bloody will.  I am going out more, I will work a ton (that is always fun for me) and I will date! Arggghhhaghahghghhhh. That is the noise in my head every time I think about it.

Anyway I am sure I will keep you posted of any dating escapades/disasters in the future

Due to my distinct lack of appetite over the last week or so it is amazing that I have cooked anything. But you know me, even in the direst of dire circumstances something will be created in the kitchen, even if it is just a rocket salad with almonds, goats cheese, fresh squeeze of lemon and some olive oil! That was probably my favourite meal of the week.

My comfort food staple is Lamb Tagine. I’m sure my version isn’t totally authentic but to be honest I don’t care. Its warming, spicy and I always serve it with couscous. I made this for the kids on Monday and it was demolished. I also had a fantastic boozy lunch with friends on Sunday and made an emergency bread pudding to take with me for desert.  I didn’t have enough croissants so filled it out with soft (slightly stale) hamburger buns…No one noticed. I probably would have used not so stale brown bread if I didn’t discover the rolls. I added some broken dark chocolate too.

My gift to you is my recipe (based on an Ina Garten recipe) for croissant (and any other bread you have left) bread pudding.

Life is good

Rachelle x

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Bread and Butter Pudding

Ok this is Ina’s recipe except I don’t really do raisins so I substituted them for a bar of dark proper chocolate.  Just broke it up and scattered it. I also found the croissants I used were too thin. So I padded it out with some bread rolls.

  • 3 extra-large whole eggs
  • 8 extra-large egg yolks
  • 500ml of full fat milk
  • 500ml of cream
  • 160grams sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 croissants, preferably stale
  • 100g good dark chocolate

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, the cream and milk, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside. Slice the croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the sliced croissants, then add the dark chocolate, then the tops of the croissants (brown side up). Pour the custard over the croissants and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.

Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1-inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn’t touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.


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Not Enough Fairy Lights in the World

I think I have reached maximum fairy light capacity in my house. If there are any stray Santa’s out there that need a grotto, drop me a line, you can totally use my place.  Its been a bit of a weird week. I have a ton of work lined up from January but the next couple of weeks are of course quiet. I am suffering from cabin fever. This  is the longest I have not been booked for work. I should be relaxing shouldn’t I? I should be preparing for Christmas, enjoying the kids, doing all those jobs that I have been putting off….etc etc etc…..NOOOOOOO I prepared for Christmas last week, I did it in a day and half. I cannot be more prepared. Christmas could arrive tomorrow with 7 hours notice I could make it happen….

In order to make my ‘cabin’ more bearable I filled it totally with fairy lights. Its magical, I totally love my bedroom/office. I have (not so secretly) always wanted to put a Christmas tree in my bedroom. I remember visitin my father in France at Christmas and instead of sleeping in my room I slept on the sofa so I could see the tree…No I wasnt 12, I think it was probably 8yrs ago! This year the tree is in my bedroom. I am happy. Just to clarify I live in a ground floor live/work apartment. My bedroom is also an office. I didn’t schlep it upstairs..I’m not that weird!!

This week I also attempted to make a Tunis Cake. I had never heard of it until 3 or 4 years ago when my friend asked me to pick one up for her. I believe McVities used to make it. I think I brought it from Tesco. Its a sponge cake topped with a thick chocolate icing (that cheap gacky icing that you can only get on a brought cake). The cake is finished off with three pieces of marzipan fruit. It is truly horrible but wonderful at the same time. It has been discontinued. My friend asked me to make one. I did. It didn’t really work out. I googled it, found a recipe. I strayed from the path and added too much buttermilk (not in the recipe). It wasn’t sweet enough and also for the topping I melted a couple of chocolate bars, milk and dark. But it was just too posh, didn’t have the claggy consistency. The marzipan fruit was probably the only success.

Anyhoo, I leave you with a festive recipe for edible tree decorations. A bit Nigella and a bit me….

Happy Christmas

Rachelle x

 

 

 

Edible Christmas Tree Decorations

This is based on a recipe by Nigella. I use it every year. This year I added some stem ginger.

For the biscuits

  • 320 gram(s) plain flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon(s) ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoon(s) black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 100 gram(s) butter (soft)
  • 100 gram(s) soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 large egg(s) (beaten)
  • 2 tablespoon(s) honey (runny)
  • 3 tbs stem ginger (chopped)
  • 2 tbs stem ginger syrup

For the icing and trimmings

Icing sugar mixed with fresh squeezed lemon juice

Edible glitter or whatever you choose to decorate with

Method

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3.

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and pepper in a food processor and, with the motor on, add the butter and sugar, then, slowly, the beaten eggs and honey and chopped stem ginger with juice though don’t use all of this liquid if the pastry has come together before it’s used up.

Form 2 fat discs and put one, covered in clingf ilm or in a freezer bag, in the fridge while you get started on the other.

Then dust a work surface with flour, roll out the disc, also floured, to about 5mm and cut out your Christmas decorations with cutters of your choice, which could include fir-tree shapes, angels, stars, snowflakes, and so on.

Re-roll and cut out some more, setting aside the residue from this first disc, well covered, while you get on with rolling out the second. When you’ve got both sets of leftover clumps of dough, roll out and cut out again, and keep doing so till all the dough’s used up.

Now take a small icing nozzle and use the pointy end to cut out a hole just below the top of each biscuit (through which ribbon can later be threaded).

Arrange the pastry shapes on the lined baking sheets and cook for about 20 minutes: it’s hard to see when they’re cooked, but you can feel; if the underside is no longer doughy, they’re ready. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Make up the icing. Make it thick enough to use in a disposable piping bag. If you dont want to use a piping bag just use a fork and make the icing runny enough to drip from the ends of the fork. I use this method loads and it looks fab.

Carefully ice the cold decorations, using a teaspoon (the tip for dripping, the back for smoothing), and scatter sparkles or sprinkles as you like. When the icing is set, thread ribbon and hang on the tree.

 


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Adjust my Duvet!

Just when I think the two year old cannot be any more demanding, noisy, runny roundy, throwy, jumpy, he adds another string to his bow. Every night for a week I have been woken by a demand to “Adjust my duvet!”. To give him a little credit he does  say it in a way that is firm but fair. Look mum your awake, I know I woke you but while you are here, can you adjust my duvet. I am living with a total diva. Elton John would not be so demanding…..

In between adjusting duvets, I dd a little bit of recipe testing this week and began working on Christmas to do lists. This is my first Christmas alone with the kids. Im  actually not stressed about it. Maybe I should be but somehow I feel that it is really important I live the reality of the situation. I could go to relatives and be amongst extended family. Its not something that I ever did before so I feel why do it now? Also to be honest the thought of eating anywhere else but at home on Christmas day seems like utter madness!

Actually when I look back on the last couple of weeks I have cooked quite a few new recipes. I spent a few days up in Glasgow visiting a friend. I do love Glasgow its dark gothic architecture. I found a great coffee house too and the thrift stores are amazing.  Anyway, whilst there I threw together a really lovely cabbage and chorizo dish. I served it alongside a basic spanish omelette. I finely sliced the cabbage and roughly chopped up a chorizo. The chorizo is cooked first in a saucepan with a little more olive oil then you would ususally use, as it forms the basis of the dressing for the cabbage. When the Chorizo has leached out its colour and crisped up a little I tip it out and throw the cabbage into the now paprika coloured oil with a table spoon or so of water. This cooks for a few minutes then I toss in the chorizo and season with salt, pepper, a dash of cayanne or paprika and a spritz of fresh lemon juice….Fab!

I also made a bakewell tart this week, but as I was about to do the filling realised I had forgotten to buy raspberries! I had some cranberries in the freezer left over from a shoot, so working on the principal that they are the same colour as raspberries. I threw put them in a saucepan with a little red wine (the remains of a bottle i had opened the night before) and some sugar. The combination of the sourish cranberries and the sweet almond tart, was divine. I made it again two days later and when I attempted it the second time I totally forgot to add the melted butter to the mixture. No worries just tipped the melted butter ontop of the pie (that was about to go in the oven) and mixed it in. Didn’t seem to affect the finish product at all. I will be making it for christmas day pudding….

I leave you with my cranberry bakewell tart recipe. Try not to forget the cranberries or the butter!

Have a wonderful week!

Rachelle x

 

The beginning of a fabulously simple Tortilla

 

Left over roast chicken, a bit of cheese and some left over cabbage and chorizo a quick Quesadilla lunch

Adjust my Duvet!

Cranberry Bakewell Tart

This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawsons Raspberry Bakewell Tart. The Pastry is divine, if a little tricky to work with. Just patch it up if it breaks, I think the key is to leave it in the fridge for at least 20mins after you place it in the pie dish.

Ingredients

For the Pastry

  • 175g plain flour
  • 30g ground almonds
  • 65g icing sugar
  • 130g butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • a little cold water if needed.
For the Filling
  • 300g frozen or fresh cranberries
  • 50mil red wine (optional use water if you like)
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 25g flaked almonds
Method
Turn on the Oven to 190C
First make the pastry, put everything in a food processor and pulse till the pastry comes together. Add a little water if need be. Cling wrap and place in the fridge for 15mins. Roll the pastry out and line a deep 26cm pie or quiche dish, then place back in the fridge and make the filling.
Place the cranberries into a sauce pan and add the wine or water and icing sugar. Then cook for about 10mins over a low/medium heat until the cranberries are beginning to burst open. Set aside.
Beat the sugar and eggs together and add the melted butter. Stir in the ground almonds. Take the lined pie dish out of the fridge, pour the cranberries into the bottom of the dish and then pour the almond egg mixture ontop. Scatter with the ground almonds and place in the oven for about 30mins. Check after 20 mins the pie should look golden and just the risen and fragrant.

 

 


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Autumn Ramblings

I think Autumn is my favourite time of year. I love the colours and the light. Daylight is at a premium and maybe that is why when it is around, it is appreciated all the more.

It is now that the buildup to Christmas begins for me. I know as a parent I should be stressing out about getting the tree, buying presents, etc etc. I however have pretty much planned the cooking days. ordered the turkey and ham and I’m happily thumbing through cookbooks coming up with inspiring festive recipes. I’m not going to bang on too much about christmas now, however I will tell you about the most delicious Stollen Recipe I found. Stollen orginates from Dresden. Its a really old recipe dating back to the 1500s. I am not mad about fruit bread and to be honest I cannot stand candied peel but there is always an exception. I have brought it for many years and put up with the candied peel because for me it signifies that christmas is here. Its a staple in my house like gingerbread cookies made for the tree and mince pies.

I found a wonderful recipe from a former head chef at the Dorchester.  For me the best thing about making my own Stollen is that I can remove the candied fruit and peel and add my own variation of mixed fruit. I prefer currants to raisens but I totally don’t mind glace cherries.  I added a bit more marzipan (you can never have too much). I wish I had a photo of the finished article but it was late and to be honest it looked like a giant white slug!! My photographic skills are not so wonderful..yet. I did attempt to shoot it cut up the next morning, but I turned my back on it and the 7 yr old snarfed it….Oh well thats a good sign i suppose.

I leave you with my version of Stollen. Please make it, if not just to make your house smell divine. I also leave you with a few photos of our Autumn Ramble through leafy Hackney.

Rachelle

 

 

Stollen

Please feel free to amend the quantities of dried fruit etc to your taste. I did!!

Ingredients

Serves: 12
  • 2 teaspoons dried active baking yeast
  • 175ml (6 fl oz) warm milk (45 C)
  • 1 large egg
  • 75g (3 oz) caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 75g (3 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 350g (12 oz) bread flour
  • 100g (4 oz) currants
  • 50g (2 oz) red glace cherries, quartered
  • 175g (6 oz) diced mixed fruit
  • 200g (7 oz) marzipan
  • 1 heaped teaspoon icing sugar

Method

Prep: 2 hours | Cook: 40 mins

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the egg, caster sugar, salt, butter, and 3/4 of the bread flour; beat well. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition.
When the dough has begun to pull together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in the currants,  dried cherries. Continue kneading until smooth, about 8 minutes.
Lightly butter a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Lightly grease a baking tray. gently turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. pinch about half an inch of marzipan at a time and dot all over the dough. Fold the dough over to cover it; pinch the seams together to seal.
Place the loaf, seam side down, on the prepared baking tray. Cover with a clean, damp tea-towel and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 150 C / Gas mark 2 and bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Allow loaf to cool on a wire cooling rack. Dust the cooled loaf with icing sugar.

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Run for Cover

The two year old has taken over. We are at his mercy. It is like living with a diminutive megalomaniac. Nothing is sacred, everything is thrown, broken, chewed and abused. The throwing, the throwing! Why oh why does he have to throw everything? The girls run for cover as soon as he has a toy in his hand. No amount of cajoling, bribing, asking nicely or just plain telling off will stop the madness.   The trouble is he is so cute, you have to forgive him within seconds…

Amongst the missile fire, I managed to bake a cake for the Pavlina’s birthday (the kids childminder) and I am pleased to say, all of the cake remained either on his plate or in his mouth. I made Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Malteser Cake. Its a staple in our house, I can practically make it in my sleep.

For Halloween the kids did a mountain of pumpkin carving and from the spoils I made a pumpkin cheese cake. I am not really a huge fan of pumpkin pie. As I am half American I feel I should attempt to like it but I find the texture quite cloying. I know a lot of recipes call for canned pumpkin, which is an ingredient that I have never really felt comfortable with.

I made a traditional biscuit base and then roasted squash with fresh ginger and brown sugar. I also added stem ginger too just to give it a bit of a spicy hit. I think this might become a part of our Halloween supper from now on.

I leave you with my recipe for pumpkin and ginger cheesecake and also a few photographs of my Thanksgiving side dishes which were featured in Fashion Affair Magazine this month.

Have a wonderful week!

Rachelle x

Butter wouldn’t melt…yeah right!

Naked Potatoes

Posh Green Bean Casserole

Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Malteser Cake

Pumpkin and Ginger Cheesecake

For the base

  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 100g butter

For the filling

  • 500g pumpkin or squash peeled and roasted
  • 60g fresh ginger grated
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 2tbs butter
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 100g stem ginger
  • 2tbs stem ginger syrup
  • 150ml double cream

Turn the oven on to 180c.

Peel and chop the squash roughly place in a roasting dish toss with the grated ginger, sugar and butter. Roast for 30 minutes until soft and cooked.

Whilst the squash is roasting put the digestive biscuits and the butter into a food processor with the blade attachment and whizz till the mixture resembles damp sand. Tip into a 9 inch pie dish and using your fingers or the back of a spoon press the mixture firmly down. Place in the fridge to cool.

Take the cooled squash and place in a food processor with the stem ginger and the ginger syrup. Puree and tip into a large mixing bowl. In a medium bowl whisk the cream to soft peak stage. Tip into the bowl with the squash add the cream cheese and mix thoroughly. Pour into the chilled biscuit base and using a spatula evenly spread the mixture over the base. Place in the fridge to chill for an hour or so. Serve with pouring cream.

 

 

 

 


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Aside

Gone are the days…

At some point this week I might have said, “Gone are the days when I was happy”. Maybe for a brief moment the combination of exhaustion and emotional upheaval may have made me say such a thing. I have had a permanent knot in my stomach for a week or so now. All very handy for keeping slim though not so handy when you are cooking everyday for work and also for three phenomenal little eaters.  Those three mouths to feed have been the only reason I have managed to push aside the dramatic thoughts and keep on going.

Anyway navel gazing and worry has never been part of my philosophy.  You won’t get away with it in our house.  I was in a particularly difficult mood a few days ago. After telling Lola to sort her room out for the fourth time, she just rolled her eyes at me and said “God mum you are soooo shouty…I’m not deaf you know and also….what are you wearing?”  OK I was dressed in a very special outfit, I cant even begin to describe it, but lets say a lot of clashing colours and a hand made tank top were involved. It was a very fair comment!.

Its been a pretty quiet week or so work wise. I am preparing to write a column on Thanksgiving for next months edition of Fashion Affair Magazine and testing lots of recipes. Im feeling a Mexican inspired Thanksgiving may occur. I want to make a Mole so badly but can’t find my dried chilli anywhere. How weird they have all disappeared. Ho hum a trip to the Cool Chile Company is in order.

I made the most fabulous lemon meringue pie this week. Its a recipe that my mother always used from Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. But I find its not lemony enough so I up the lemon juice and the cornstarch. My first attempt without adding more cornstarch was a bit of a runny disaster. It all got eaten though.

After making a filo pie on the Fabulous Baker Brothers. I was inspired to make a chicken, mushroom and leak filo pie. Filo pastry is fiddly but worth it and I love the  home made look of the pie.

I leave you with a my recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie and I wish you a happy rest of the week.

Love Rachelle x

Collard Greens

Thai Curry

Cinnamon Danish

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemony and yummy!

Ingredients

For the Pastry

  • 1half cups plain flour
  • half teaspoon salt
  • half cup of butter
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
Put all the ingredients together and whiz in a food processor until they form a ball. A few short pulses should do it. Cling and put in the fridge for half hour.
Turn the oven on to 170 C.
Roll out the pastry and line a 9 inch pie dish with the pastry. Trim the edges and using a fork prick the pastry all over to stop it rising when you bake it. Line the raw pastry with greaseproof or foil and then fill the pie with baking beans (I use dried kidney beans).  Bake for 15mins and then remove the beans put back in the oven for another 6 mins or until the pastry is golden.
Remove and turn the oven up to 180C
For the Pie filling
  • 1half cups sugar
  • 9 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • Dash salt
  • 3 beaten egg yolks
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 baked 9 inch pastry shell
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
In a saucepan, combine 1 half cups of sugar, the cornstarch and the salt. Stir in water.
Bring to boiling over medium heat and cook stirring constantly, till thick, about 5 mins.
Remove from heat, stir small amount of hot mixture in the egg yolks, then return to remaining mixture in pan.  Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Add lemon peel and butter. Slowly stir in lemon juice. Cool to lukewarm.  Pour into cooled baked pastry shell.
Beat egg whites with 1 teaspoon lemon juice until soft peaks form. Gradually add 6 tablespoons of sugar. Beating until stiff.
Spread meringue over filling. sealing in edges of pastry to avoid shrinking.  Bake in moderate oven, 180C for 12 to 15 mins or until the meringue is golden brown.  Cool before eating.

 

 

 

 

 


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