Tuesday, 23 December 2008


I had some Stollen in Thornton’s Coffee Shop the other day and decided to buy one for Christmas. Not a single shop in Heswall had any so I headed for the recipe books and despite a shelf full of books found not a single recipe. So it was off to the web. Lots of recipes, including one from Liverpool chef Simon Rimmer so I had to choose his. Here it is, slightly adapted by me, now cooling in the kitchen...

3½ fl oz warm milk
2 tsp dried yeast
pinch salt
1 tsp caster sugar
8 oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp ground mixed spice
7 oz mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, mixed peel, glace cherries)
1 oz flaked almonds
2 oz butter
1 free range egg, beaten
9 oz marzipan
1 oz melted butter
2 oz icing sugar (or caster sugar)

1. Place the milk and yeast in a bowl and mix well. Leave to sit for 5 – 6 minutes.
2. Sift the sugar, flour, salt and mixed spice into a mixing bowl.
3. Add the fried fruit, almonds and 2oz butter and mix well.
4. Add the yeast and milk mixture and mix well.
5. Add the egg and stir to make a dough.
6. Knead the dough for 5 -6 minutes, cover and leave to prove for 20 minutes.
7. Uncover the dough and turn out onto a clean, well-floured, work surface. Using your hands knock the dough back to reduce the volume, then knead for 3 – 4 minutes.
8. Push and roll the dough out by hand into a flat oval about 9 x 7 inches.
9. Roll the marzipan into a piece about 7 x 2 inches. Place the marzipan into the centre of the dough, then fold the edges of the dough to seal in the marzipan.
10. Place the stollen seal-side down onto a greased baking tray. Cover and place in a warm spot to prove for 1 hour.
11. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/ Gas 4 / 365°F.
12. Place the stollen on the baking tray into the oven to bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
13. To finish, remove the stollen from the oven, brush with melted butter and dust with icing sugar.
14. Leave to cool then serve in slices.
15. (May be served warm by re-heating in microwave for a moment and can be accompanied by a dollop of thick cream or ice cream if so desired.)

Monday, 15 December 2008


I’m not supposed to drink alcohol. Firstly it gives me migraines (or should I say more migraines) and secondly it clashes with about six of the tablets that I take. Normally I don’t miss it. A glass of wine with the occasional dinner would be nice but the price is not worth it.

However, as Christmas comes around I begin to fancy a drink. I love liqueurs. I also love eggnog. At this moment I’m absolutely dying for an eggnog (and I haven’t even had breakfast yet!)

So, instead of having an eggnog I’ve settled for looking at all the recipes I could find and deciding which I would like best. I’ve settled for this recipe.

There are a number of websites totally devoted to eggnog and whilst I haven’t explored this one I love the way the topping has been put on in shapes.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Chips (British Chips!)

The ideal chip is crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. My Mum always used to peel and cut the chips well in advance of the meal and leave the chips soaking in water. I always assumed this was just to save time when she came to make the meal itself. Instead it seems there was method in her madness (so to speak). Leaving the cut potatoes to soak for at least two hours reduces the starch content.

The chips should then be patted dry and deep fried in hot fat (150°C) for about six minutes. Then they should be taken out and drained on paper towels to remove the excess fat. A couple more minutes of frying with the fat at a higher heat (180°C) should create the perfect British chip.

Saturday, 6 December 2008


I came across this recipe on Nan’s Blog. I anticipated that my son would love them. He didn’t – I just wish I’d eaten them all straight out of the oven as I was tempted to do. Next time I won’t leave him any!

1 ¼ cup grated cheddar cheese
1 ¼ olive oil
1 ¼ rolled oats
1 egg

Beat the egg, then add the oil and beat again.
Stir in the cheese and the oats.
Put in a greased 8in x 8in baking tray.
Put in the oven at 180°C for about 40 minutes.

In my view they are best eaten warm.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

A speckled egg

Having commented about how long it was since I saw a double yolker I just realised also how unusual it is nowadays to see a speckled egg. When I was young eggs ranged through all shades of brown and white (can you have shades of white?) and were variously speckled or unspeckled. This one – in a tray of two and a half dozen – was the only speckled one I’ve seen in ages. Why? Are speckled eggs less marketable for some reason?

Incidentally, I have since learned that Richard had a double yolker a week or so ago. That means we probably had two in the same batch.

Friday, 21 November 2008


How’s this for an ideal breakfast toast with marmite or base for Welsh Rarebit? Or you can just eat it on its own as a soft and fluffy bread. Once again it’s a bread machine recipe.

Water – 300ml (11fl oz)
Peanut Butter – 3 tbsp
Olive Oil – 1 tbsp
Strong White Flour – 450g (16oz)
Dried Skimmed Milk Powder – 2 tbsp
Salt – 11/2 tsp
Castor Sugar – 2tsp
Fast-acting yeast - 11/4 tsp (1 sachet)

Pour the water into the breadmaker bucket.
Add the peanut butter, olive oil and about half of the flour.
Sprinkle on the salt, castor sugar and skimmed milk powder.
Add the rest of the flour.
Mound the yeast in the centre.
Put the bucket back in the breadmaker and set the menu to 1 or basic white. Set for a light crust and 1kg.
Leave the machine to do the rest...

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Double Yolk

Well, that hasn't happened to me for years (literally). About 1 in 1000 eggs has a double yolk so it isn't all that rare. In some countries, markets sell cartons of double yolked eggs. If you reckon on using about nine eggs a week, as we do, then you would expect to get one every two years. But it is certainly many years since I had one despite always using free range eggs and not battery ones.

Double yolkers happen when ovulation occurs too rapidly or when one yolk somehow gets "lost" and is joined by the next yolk. Double yolkers may be laid by a pullet whose reproductive cycle is not yet well synchronized or, occasionally, by a heavy-breed hen, often as an inherited trait.

You can also have no yolkers (cutely known as 'fart' eggs!), double shelled eggs, eggs without shells, eggs of weird shapes and even a five yolker - which made the Guinness Book of Records.

Photo courtesy of © Michelle Byerly

An egg within an egg happens when an egg that is nearly ready to be laid goes backwards and gets a new layer of albumen covered by a second shell. This extremely rare example of an egg within and egg comes from Michelle Byerly, of Jasper, Texas. The egg was laid either by a Buff Orpington or a Black Australorp in early 2004. The internal egg had no yolk.

According to where you live, a double yolk can mean anything from an forthcoming wedding to a financial windfall to a death in the family. I think I like the middle prospect best!

So would a double yolked egg produce twins, I wondered? The answer, it seems, is probably not, the presence of the two yolks would generally lead to an unsuccessful hatch because the nutritional value of the white is insufficient for two embyros.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


I bought some pork roll the other day but it had virtually no fat or skin on it so I asked the butcher to add some. This he did, tying it around the roll with string. (This was after he had weighed the roll and told me the price so I didn’t get charged for the crackling). The end result was a superb piece of tender meat with great crackling and a fine accompaniment – a variation on one of Simon Rimmer’s from ‘Something for the Weekend’.
Serves 4 but you may want to add mashed potato to make it really filling.


1kg/2lb 4oz pork belly, ready-rolled
2 tsp vegetable oil
200g/8oz smoked bacon cubes (lardons)
500g/1lb 2oz cabbage, chopped
50g/2oz butter
100ml/3½fl oz white wine
200ml/7fl oz double cream or Elmlea
2-3 tbsp sea salt
juice of one lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
2. Make deep cuts in the pork belly skin at 2cm intervals
3. Rub the sea salt and lemon juice into the skin of the pork belly. Place into a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes.
4. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/360F/Gas 4 and continue to roast the pork for about one hour, or until completely cooked through.
5. If you are serving it with mash – put the potatoes on to cook with twenty minutes to go.
6.About fifteen minutes before the meat is due to be finished, heat the oil in a large pan. Add the bacon cubes and fry until crisp and golden-brown.
7. Add the cabbage and butter and cook 3-4 minutes, until the cabbage starts to wilt.
8. Add the wine and the cream and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes, until the mixture has reduced to a thick sauce.
9. To serve, remove the pork from the oven and carve into thick slices.
10. Place a large spoonful of the cabbage mixture onto each plate and top with slices of the pork. Drizzle with a little gravy and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

How high is your Yorkshire?

After much research The Royal Society of Chemists (RSC) has published guidelines saying a pudding has to be more than 4in (10cm) tall. According to scientist John Emsley, another ingredient for success is native Yorkshire blood. He said: "It's the instinct of people born and raised in Yorkshire. You can tell if the cook has the right touch." The judgement followed an inquiry from an Englishman living in the USA who e-mailed the society seeking scientific advice on the chemistry of the dish following a string of kitchen flops.

According to the RSC the pudding should always be served as a separate course before the main meal, and the best gravy made from the juices of a roast joint should be used. When I first went to Leeds I discovered that Mrs Smith with whom I lodged for a while was a great cook. Evening meals, when I was there, were first class but Sunday lunch was the piece de resistance. Like all good Yorkshire housewives she served Yorkshire pudding and 'proper' gravy as a separate course before the main meal. The original theory is said to have bene that it was to fill up the belly and save money by serving less of the more expensive main course. Mrs Smith didn't seem to realise that was the objective and served the most enormous Yorkshire Pudding - halved between us, followed by a huge main course and then a big (and usually equally filling) dessert. Sunday afternoons were spent snoozing. It's the only time in my life I've been over 81/2 stone!

For my recipe for Yorkshire Pudding mix see Toad-in-the-Hole.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


Here's a super starter to the day from MissPrism.

Heat up a mugful of milk in a small saucepan. Break up 40g good dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids is best - if it's any stronger you have to add sugar too, and three ingredients is more than I can cope with at breakfast time).
Switch the hob off sos's you don't burn the house down, then put the chocolate in the hot milk and whisk it like billy-o until there are no lumps left. Pour the hot chocolate into a mug and drink it.

Breakfast is healthful
and chocolate is breakfast;
you do the logic.

(MissPrism's "Somewhat old but capacious handbag" blog can be accessed from the side panel of my Rambles from my ChairBlog)

Sunday, 2 November 2008


This is a basic wholemeal bread recipe using a bread-maker.

350ml (12 fl oz) water
2 tbsps olive oil
450g (16oz) strong wholemeal flour
1½ tsp salt
1¼ tbsp soft brown sugar
2 tbsp dried skimmed milk powder
1 sachet (2 tsp) fast-acting dried yeast

Put the water into the bread-maker bucket. Add the oil and half the flour. Sprinkle with the salt, sugar and dried milk. Add the rest of the flour and then put the yeast in a small well in the centre.
Replace the bucket in the bread machine ands set the menu (usually no 1; 1kg; medium crust).

Press the button and let the machine do its work.

When the bread is cooked, carefully shake it out of the bucket (being careful not to burn your hands in the process) and put it on a wire tray to cool. After an hour cut and eat!!!

Thursday, 16 October 2008


This serves three or two hungry folk! Ideally the batter should be made the day before but it doesn’t suffer too much from being made at the time.


8 Pork Sausages
4 rashers streaky bacon halved lengthways
110g (4oz) Plain White Flour
300ml (½ pint) Milk
2 Small Eggs
8 long thin slices of cheese
½ tsp Salt
Gravy granules made up to 1 pint.

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl, then make a well in the centre and break in the eggs.
Mix in half the milk using a wooden spoon and work the mixture until it is smooth; then add the remaining milk. Season. Beat or whisk until fully combined and the surface is covered with tiny bubbles.
Allow to rest for 15 minutes and whisk again before use.
Preheat the oven to 230°C; 450°F: Gas 8
Fry the sausages and bacon in a pan to lightly colour them and remove excess fat.
Put the sausages and bacon to one side and place the fat in a small roasting tin or Yorkshire Pudding dish adding a little oil, if needed, to bring the amount of fat up to about 4 tbsp. Heat the fat until smoking hot then pour in the batter.
Add the sausages and place the strips of bacon on top with the cheese slices on top of the bacon.
Place into the hot oven and bake for about 5-10 minutes at 230°C; 450°F: Gas 8, then reduce to 200°C; 400°F: Gas 6 and bake 15 to 25 minutes or until the batter around the sausages has risen and is a deep golden brown.
Serve immediately or the pudding will deflate.

If you are like Richard and I you will want plenty of gravy to accompany this dish! Jo prefers it without. (Observant folk will notice the example in the picture doesn't have eight sausages and the bacon and cheese weren't laid out perfectly. I had not originally aimed to do it for a blog posting - the principal objective was to eat it!)


Sometimes you want a quick and easy dessert to follow a complex dinner menu. Ice cream is hard to beat and when you add a couple of blackberries, some chocolate or strawberry sauce and a brandy snap it can look and taste first class. And it only takes a minute to put out. Of course, if you’re really out to impress you can add a flake as well!

Monday, 13 October 2008


Originally I had intended to only post about recipes I had made but this one from recipes4us seemed so gorgeous that I couldn’t resist posting it here at the start of Chocolate Week, even though I have never made it. It serves four ordinary people or two chocaholics.

4 Egg Yolks
3 tbsp Caster Sugar
120ml/4fl.oz. Sweet Sherry
100g/4oz Dark Chocolate, shavings or coarsely grated

1. Put the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl and whisk until the mixture is light and creamy.
2. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, add the wine and continue to beat with a whisk until the mixture becomes thick and forms soft peaks.
3. Remove from the heat then add the chocolate and mix gently.
4. Spoon the Sabayon into individual glasses and serve immediately.

(Don’t forget that the left-over egg whites can be used for meringues.)

Saturday, 11 October 2008


I love Walnuts and Jo’s brother Brian gave us some produce from his allotment the other day so I invented "Walnuts on the Side" and had it with a Steak and Kidney Pie. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Unfortunately I didn’t take much notice of quantities – I tend to just chuck stuff in when I’m ad-libbing. The following would serve two.

150gm of roughly chopped walnuts
6 small new potatoes
3 small carrots
80 Beans – fresh from the pod
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Soy Sauce
Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper

Cut the potatoes into quarters and chop the carrot into small cubes. Put in a pan of boiling water with the beans and simmer for five minutes. Roast the walnuts in a dry frying pan over a low heat for five minutes. Then add a tablespoon of olive oil and continue stirring.
Add a generous splash of balsamic vinegar, another generous splash of soy sauce, and season with the salt and pepper.
Drain the vegetables and add them to the frying pan.
Stir occasionally over a gentle heat for ten minutes.
The pan can then be left, heating it up occasionally, for as long as you want while you make whatever the Walnuts on the Side is to accompany.
P.S. I think I’ll add some Parsnips next time as well!

Sunday, 5 October 2008


One of my favourite Greek dishes. Ideally the meat should be prepared and marinated overnight in the fridge.

Ingredients:-Pork fillet – cut into cubes
1 lemon
2 heaped teaspoons coriander seeds
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic – crushed
½ pint (275ml) dry white wine
Black Pepper – freshly milled
Green Salad

Put the pork in a shallow dish and sprinkle with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Pour the oil over the meat and then the juice of the lemon. Then pour over 2 tablespoons of dry white wine. Crush the coriander seeds (in a mortar and pestle – it’s a about time you used it for something). Sprinkle the coriander seeds and crushed garlic over the meat and stir the ingredients together. Cover with a (clean) tea towel and leave overnight in the fridge.

Make a green salad and put the rice on to boil.

Melt oil in a large frying pan and when its nearly hot add the marinated pork and cook over a medium heat. Keep turning them over and when browned add the rest of the white wine. Let it bubble for about ten minutes and reduce to s syrupy consistency.

Serve the pork with the rice and a green salad.

Saturday, 4 October 2008


This was Mum's recipe and provides one of the easiest, sickly sweet cakes you could hope to come across.

6oz Butter
6 tblespoons Syrup
9 tblespoons Sugar
½ lb cooking chocolate

Slowly heat the 6oz of butter, 6 tablespoons syrup, 9 tablespoons sugar and ¼ pound of chocolate in a very large saucepan. When mixed, add crushed cornflakes and continue to mix well. All the cornflakes should have some of the mixture but the overall effect should be one of a sticky mixture rather than a wet one. Turn out into baking trays and press evenly. Cut into shapes. (You can use square, oblong or round trays - the latter give segment-shaped pieces.) Leave for 1 hour to cool..

Thursday, 2 October 2008


Note this recipe takes some time to prepare because the first part needs to be allowed to cool before the topping is added and the pie goes in the oven. Overall, I would allow over an hour. Nevertheless, it is well worth it!

350g (12oz) skinned smoked haddock fillet
350g (12oz) skinned unsmoked haddock fillet
2 leeks, sliced
50g (2oz) butter
50g (2oz) plain flour
600ml (1 pint) hot milk
black pepper
juice of ½ a lemon
2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill
3 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped
1kg (2 1/4lb) potatoes, peeled, cut into even sized pieces
300ml (1/2 pint) milk
2 heaped tablespoons grainy mustard
75g (3oz) mature cheddar cheese, grated

I prefer undyed smoked haddock - there is no difference in the flavour but I don't see any point in eating chemicals for the sake of it!

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
Butter a 2 litre (3 ¼ pint) shallow pie dish, about 6cm (2 ½”) deep.
Cut the fish into 1cm (1/2”) pieces, discard any skin and bones.
Boil the leeks in salted water for about 5 minutes and drain well.
Melt the butter in a good sized pan, add flour and cook for a few moments not allowing it to colour. Whisk in half the hot milk and allow to thicken. Whisk in the remaining hot milk and whisk until smooth. Add the fish and a little salt and pepper. Cook over the heat for 2 minutes stirring at all times. Add dill and chopped egg and turn into the buttered dish. Spoon over the leeks and set aside to become completely cold and firm.

Boil the potatoes in salted water till tender, drain and push the potatoes to one side in the pan. Add the milk and let it become hot, mash the potatoes with the milk with a potato masher then whisk in the mustard.
Spread the mash over the cooled fish and scatter with the grated cheese.
Stand the dish in a large roasting tin (just in case it boils over).
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling at the edges.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


4 oz margarine
4 level tablespoons golden syrup
3 oz granulated sugar
8 oz rolled oats
¼ teaspoon salt

Grease a shallow tin about 71/2 inch sq. Put margarine and syrup in a saucepan over low heat until melted. Remove from heat and add sugar, oats and salt. Mix thoroughly. Turn into greased tin and cook in a very moderate oven (mark 3; 170) for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then cut into 12 bars. Place on a wire tray to finish cooling.

Friday, 26 September 2008


1 Egg White
450g (1lb) Icing Sugar
Peppermint Essence or Oil of Peppermint

Beat the egg white until frothy but not stiff.
Sieve the icing, adding enough to produce a fairly stiff mixture.
Add a few drops of the essence or oil.
Knead the mixture into a firm paste and roll on a surface dusted with sieved icing sugar.
Cut into rounds or form small balls and flatten. (Alternatively use sweet cutters or a very small pastry cutter shape).
Place the peppermint creams onto rice paper (edible) or on parchment or greaseproof paper.
Place in a warm place to dry for 24 hours.
Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008


4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
6 waxy new potatoes
4 cloves of garlic
1 red pepper
12 cherry vine tomatoes
3 shallots
pinch Saffron
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 chicken bouillon stock cube
175 ml dry white wine
small jug water, to add as required
olive oil
salt and pepper
Steamed Spinach to serve

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
Add the peeled and halved potatoes, peeled and halved garlic and the peeled and sliced shallots, then sauté for a few minutes.
Add the large pieces of chopped red pepper, season with half a stocxk cube and a pinch of saffron and sauté for another minute.
Add the cherry tomatoes and sauté a little more.
Add the water to just cover and simmer.
Cook slowly to reduce the water and cook the vegetables, stirring from time to time to break up the tomatoes.
Once cooked the water and olive oil should emulsify and the peppers and the potatoes should be tender, the latter with a lovely yellow colour.
This can be left over a very low heat to simmer.
Meanwhile, fry the chicken in a frying pan seasoned with dried rosemary, salt and pepper in a little olive oil and butter for approximately 8-10 minutes until cooked.
Serve the fried chicken thighs with the saffron vegetables and steamed spinach on the side.

Monday, 22 September 2008


Yes, it’s getting nearer to that time of year again... Only 81 baking days to Christmas! But who says you can’t eat rum or brandy butter all year round?

4oz (110g) unsalted butter
3oz (85g) dark brown muscovado sugar
4 tbsp brandy

Mix the ingredients well until completely combined,. Store, covered, in the fridge. Eat!

For rum butter substitute 4 tbsp of dark rum for the brandy.

Saturday, 20 September 2008


2 cups white flour
2 cups wholemeal flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup sultanas
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2oz margarine or slightly softened butter
1 tbsp syrup
1 cup milk (or a wee drop more)


Finely sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Rub the fat into the flour. Add all other ingredients, milk and syrup last. Mix well.
Put in a 10"x7"x2" tin
Bake in the middle of the oven – gas mark 6 (200°) for 50mins to an hour – test with a skewer. When it is done the skewer should come out clean – that may mean leaving it until the outside is almost burned. Turn out onto a wire tray and leave to cool.
Serve with butter in fairly thick slices. Keep in an airtight container.


8 chicken drumsticks
300g flour
2 tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1 tsp salt
500 mltre buttermilk (Buttermilk can be created by adding lemon juice to milk and leaving for ten minutes).
750ml veg oil

Cook the chicken in water for 20 – 30 mins with the bouillon. Skim off any excess fat / bubbles. (Use resulting stock for soup)
Cool chicken pieces in fridge for ½ hour
While chicken is cooling mix the garlic, cayenne, parsely, thyme, salt and flour. Submerge the pieces in buttermilk and roll in the seasoned flour.
Deep fry in hot oil (A few at a time so the heat isn’t lost)
Remove and place on a wire tray to drain.
Serve while hot.

Thursday, 18 September 2008


½ a 270g bottle of sandwich spread
2 medium carrots
1 medium potato
2 sticks celery
¼ onion
¼ red pepper
2 mushrooms
1 tbspn sultanas
2 tbspn walnuts
Pinch salt
Pinch freshly ground pepper

Dice the potato and one carrot and boil for ten minutes. Drain.
Grate the other carrot and finely chop the pepper, onion, mushrooms and celery. Coarsely chop the walnuts.
Mix all the ingredients together, slightly mashing the boiled potato and carrot in the process.
Cool in the fridge.
Serve as a side salad with just about any cold meats, green salads, etc. Serves three. Simply double quantities for huge portions or to serve six.

My Recipes

This should really read "my" recipes since few of them are really mine - they have been collated from a variety of sources. In fairness (to myself) a number of them are original or contain original twists. I also rarely do anything the same way twice - a fact which sometimes disappoints Richard who says - "I liked that Sausage Pie you did last week", hoping for a repeat and being mystified when it turns out to be completely different.

These recipes do all have one thing in common. They have been tried and tested by me and I enjoyed them. Failed recipes, like the food, go on the compost heap of life.

It will take me a while to upload all my favourite recipes so here, while you wait, is a slice or two of Apple Scone. You can have it with or without butter, warm or cold. Please enjoy..