Monday, 1 December 2014

Peanut Butter Dog Treats


I've baked these peanut butter dog treats for the pooch before.

They were received with such enthusiasm that I decided to make a double batch - they're so easy you'll quickly get the knick-knack of them. 


Bailey seems to have a sixth sense - knowing when something I'm baking is intended for him, he then pesters me in the kitchen, dogging my every step.


Of course his dogged efforts eventually pay off and he gets rewarded with some freshly baked biscuits.


I store them in a glass cookie jar adorned with pretty ribbons and a cute button...I couldn't decide between the little sitting dog or the dog bone button.
Doggone it, I just couldn't choose...


…so I went for both...


Individually wrapped in clear plastic bags with a ribbon looped over the top and a button attached, these peanut butter dog treats would make a lovely Christmas gift for a friend who is dog-crazy.

Or hang it on the tree for Fido so your four legged friend gets a treat along with the rest of the family on Christmas morning.



Monday, 4 August 2014

Homemade Hummous (& Tahini)


Its been forever a little while since my last blog post.
Last month I booked a ticket to spend a week in London and flew 36 hours later…
July is a pretty good time to take a holiday from the valley - the days are short, dark and chilly.
Although London wasn't exactly how most of us know mid summer to be, it was light until almost 10 which was a real treat.
I spent most of my a bit of time in Hyde Park: running, walking, reading, listening to music while lying on the grass, people watching, drinking Pimms sun-downers at the Lido and the Serpentine Restaurant - its virtually my backyard when I visit and I love it.


Then just as I was packing for home, another spontaneous little trip happened to the South of France, showing a friend all my usual haunts on the beautiful Côte d'Azur and spending plenty of time lazing by the pool. The next thing I knew, I was away from home for a month! 


I'm incredibly lucky that I have enthusiastic Bailey-sitters and could leave him with them for such a length of time - allowing me to relax and enjoy my time in the sunshine, secure in the knowledge that Bails was in excellent lipstick-covered hands!


Cannes has a wonderful daily fresh food market but one of the things (besides real cheddar cheese) that I found myself craving on this trip and unable to source, was hummous.
So to the trusty Google-machine and then I simply made my own. 
I won't be resorting to the store-bought variety again in a hurry - this recipe is easy and the result is delicious.

To make this creamy hummous you'll need:

400g can chickpeas in water,
1/4 C lemon juice,
1/4 C tahini*,
1 generous T garlic,
1/3 C olive oil,
1 t salt,
1/2 t cumin,
paprika for sprinkling.

*I couldn't find tahini so made my own:
Take 1 C sesame seeds, pour them onto some greaseproof paper in a baking tray and toast them in an oven preheated to 180ºC for 10-15 minutes…tossing regularly so they don't burn. Keep an eye on them.
Blitz them in a food processor and when they form a thick paste, add 1/3 C olive oil.

Once you've blitzed your tahini, scoop it out and store the excess in a jar.
Pop 1/4 C back into your food processor (no need to clean it in between) along with the lemon juice and whiz it up.
Next add the garlic, olive oil, salt and cumin and keep the processor running.
Add half the chickpeas** and give it a good blitz then add the last half. 
Scrape the sides down as you are processing to make sure everything gets blended and is creamy.

If its still a little dry, add more olive oil to your liking.
Scoop it out into a dish and pour over a little more olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.


Serve with fresh ciabatta and soft butter.

** I've made this several times and have taken the time to skin the chickpeas and also left the skins on when in a hurry. Using skinned chickpeas resulted in a slightly smoother texture but for the extra effort its hardly noticeable. The verdict: no need to skin them.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Cauliflower Cheddar Soup with Bacon Bits


Its good to be back on the farm after the most amazing trip to Prague.


Although the days have been lovely and mild without any wind, the nights are getting cooler and I've finally pulled out the winter duvet…another great way to get through the long nights is to tuck into steaming bowls of hearty soup.


To make this delicious cauliflower soup you'll need:
300g cauliflower, washed.
1 chicken stock cube,
1 C boiling water,
1 generous C milk,
150g extra mature cheddar, grated,
dash Tabasco,
Salt and pepper
2 rashers crispy bacon, chopped,
truffle oil.


Roughly chop the cauliflower and throw into a pot along with the stock dissolved in boiling water.
Allow to simmer and add the milk.
Simmer until the cauliflower is cooked through.
Add a generous splash of Tabasco, salt and pepper.
Use a stick blender to blend until smooth.
Return to the stove and throw in the grated cheddar, stirring until it has melted.


Dish up generous portions and sprinkle with bacon bits, drizzle over a little fresh cream and truffle oil.


Serve with fresh crusty bread and butter...


Snuggle up on the couch in front of a roaring fire and enjoy.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Chocolate Macarons with Kahlua Ganache


Macarons - these humble morsels have a reputation for reducing grown women to tears…both the women tearing their hair out doing the baking and those doing the tasting.


Despite having ample opportunity to taste the real deal while living in France for a year, I've never really understood all the fanfare around macarons. For some reason they never really captured my imagination - or my taste buds for that matter.


That is, until a friend came over for dinner and brought a batch she had made…to say I was bowled over is an understatement.


They were so soft and light, seemingly completely insubstantial, yet packing a punch of chewy sweet delicious lingering flavour…I was smitten…and once they were sob finished, I had to have more…immediately!


Louise mentioned the Ottolenghi recipe so I did a quick search which came up with a few different options as well as instructions and oven temperatures that varied quite widely.
After a few experiments, I've found a combination that works well with my oven. 


In a food processor whizz together:
110g icing sugar, 50g ground almonds, 12g cocoa powder.
Once its a fine powder, sieve into a bowl.
Using an electric beater, whip up:
2 egg whites until stiff.
Add in 40g castor sugar.

Once the meringue forms soft glossy peaks, add half the almond mix and fold in gently. Add the remaining mix and fold until incorporated.


Place a piping bag upright in tall glass to make it easier to fill then scoop the meringue into the bag.

Line 2 baking trays with non-stick parchment paper. As a guide you can draw circles leaving spaces to allow for the mixture spreading.
Pipe the meringue into each circle forming a disc.
Give the tray a bash on the counter to remove air bubbles.

Leave the trays out for 15-30 minutes for the mixture to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 170ºC and bake for 12-14 minutes.
At 12 minutes open the oven door to allow steam to escape.
Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the trays.

Allow to cool.

I have found that the macarons on the bottom tray tend to crack so I pipe fewer onto this tray but after trying countless a few variations in my oven, I've realised they are a necessary sacrifice to prevent the top tray from cracking…they still taste every bit as delicious.


For the ganache, heat 100g double cream in a saucepan.
Once its simmering, remove from heat and add 100g chocolate (I use Cadbury's Top Deck).
Allow to stand for 2 minutes and then whisk until its smooth and glossy.
Add 2 T Kahlua and mix it in.

I put my ganache into the fridge to harden.
After 10 minutes it should be firm enough to scoop between 2 macaron wafers.


Last week I headed out to dinner with friends in town and wrapped a few macarons in a gift box for the hostess.
I decorated my box with beautiful ribbon and an exquisite button from the new Incomparable range


I parted with these macarons rather reluctantly…next time I think I'll pop to the farm stall on the way and take a bunch of flowers instead!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Yoghurt Fig Cake


We are slowly heading into Autumn here…we've had a few weeks of insanely hot weather so its taking a while to adjust to days that are slightly cooler and noticeably shorter.
The last of the summer's fresh fruit is on the shelves in bulk for a steal.
I couldn't resist a few huge boxes of figs for R29 (that's about £1.60!)

Before I have to resort to making fig jam, I Googled a few ways to use up all of this figgy deliciousness and found myself tempted by this light and tasty yoghurt cake which I originally saw over on Life Love Food.


I adapted it slightly and it is perfect for a hot summers day when you're serving tea and need something tasty but light to serve.

You'll need:
4 eggs, separated,
1/2 C castor sugar,
3T flour,
1 and 2/3 C full fat plain Greek yoghurt,
juice of 1 lemon,
6 figs, cut in half from the top down.

Cream together the egg yolks and castor sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the flour and stir until combined.
Then add the yogurt and lemon juice until combined.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and gently fold them into the yoghurt mixture.
Pour into a greased springform pan and top with the figs.
Bake at 180ºC for 50 minutes until golden brown.
The cake will rise to the edges in the oven but will subside once removed.
Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt.


If summer had a taste, it's all wrapped up in this cake.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Blaize's 40th


My (older) brother turned 40 in January…crazy really. We were just kids not so long ago. 
Luckily we had a weekend-long party where we could behave as though we were kids again!
He had a big bash up in the wine cellar on the farm…we decorated the storage crates and wine vats with hundreds of fairy lights and balloons.


Mother Nature put on quite a special show with the exquisite views and a beautiful sunset.


The theme was Gunther and the Sunshine Girls - not one I was familiar with and I'm rather sorry I had to Google it to figure out what to wear as I'd prefer to live in blissful ignorance!


There were a lot of moustaches being sported…some of them by the men!


…and pouting was the order of the day…I think it might be best to let the pictures speak for themselves...







An incredible, mostly memorable party celebrating a very special human being.
Happy Birthday Blaize.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins


If you're looking for a healthy, low fat recipe for banana muffins then you've come to the wrong place click on my earlier banana muffin recipe for delicious virtually fat-free muffins and read no further…really, you have been warned! 


These banana muffins are easy to whip together in 5 minutes and require only one bowl - my sort of wonderful.


Which leaves me with only one question…what are you waiting for?


Turn the oven to 180ºC.
Mix together the following:
3 bananas, roughly mashed,
1 C sugar,
2 C flour,
1 t bicarbonate of soda,
1 t vanilla,
3 T sour cream,
2 eggs,
1/2 C butter, soft,
1 C chocolate chips (I used Cadbury's Top Deck)


Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases in a muffin tin.


Pop them into the oven and keep yourself occupied for 20-25 minutes while they bake.


Try to allow them to cool before inhaling enjoying them with a hot cup of tea...




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