Saturday, 23 February 2013


I want to start off with an apology as this torte post has been REALLY overdue. Since then I have made 3 tortes which has actually educated me further on what works best.

Thanks to all my friends that have helped me, especially Miss Tamsin Wilson who brought me an ingredient which vastly improved the recipe (details to follow)

The original reason I selected this dessert is that I was cooking for me and my family and Josh and his family at Christmas and my mom is allergic to eggs, which limits the elaborate pieces you can create. However, Thanks to the BBC Good Food wizards you gave me

Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte (recipe etc in the link)

Firstly, the buttery biscuit base....

Bashy fun - great way to release stress and tension (thanks to Lovegrove for the fabulous new rolling pin)

 Add the butter to the biscuit slowly or the yummy juice will not spread evenly

Try your best to evenly distribute the smashed up digestive biscuits - don't scrape as it will upset the levelling process...

The Caramel core.....*drool*

For many years I have got through cooking life without a pestle and mortar and I did manage to crush my whole sea salt with a spoon although I now have some funky spoons. On my 3rd making I used my Pestle and Mortar (thanks Emma and Simon and it does make a huge difference to the distribution of the salt in the caramel..

HANDY HINT - Salted Caramel is a GREAT hangover cure.....I recommend having some in your store cupboard  in case of emergency.

Although the recipe says 1 tsp of sea salt, I added and tasted throughout (because I wanted to check the balance was right.....honest) I am quite sensitive to salt so this worked best for me.

When putting the caramel on the biscuit base I recommend a lot of care and attention. After mixing in the crushed sea salt the caramel loosens up so it tends to be a lot more runny.

The chocolaty gooey yummy bit...

Here is where Ms Wilson delivered the wonderful Extra Thick Cream. The extra thick cream really reduced the amount of time that the torte had to set and really added an extra shine to the mixture. If you have the option of this DO IT for the torte....

The Icing Sugar mixing can be a little messy but it turns out for the best....

 Adding the chocolate...

Once the caramel is set its time to get that bad boy on the road

Make sure you add the mixture around the caramel blob to seal it in (it keeps it in the middle....)

TA DA!!!

 Leave it to set in the fridge. The extra thick cream meant that this bad boy was ready to roll in around 3 hours unlike the  normal double cream mixture which I ended up leaving overnight.

The Decoration

Cream and caramel mix

The icing set

Now as you know my dyspraxia means I am not the best with fiddly things as my hands seem to be all over the place....Thank goodness for Mr Joshua who is wonderful and took the role of executive icer...

Making this dessert has really boosted my confidence in making sweet things as I know its not my strongest point. It helps that friends and family have said that they have enjoyed it too....Think it may be my fave pudding now...

What's your favourite pud?

Eat Drink and Be Merry

H xxx

Friday, 18 January 2013

The Mains

And onward I trot!....To The Mains!

This was the lovely de-boned Turkey Crown I had from my local Butchers (Edmonstons). It weighed just over 2kgs and took about 1 hour 45 mins to cook in my fan oven. The quality speaks for itself  (especially as they had that many orders for them in all 3 men got lost in the walk in fridge) and the meat was delish. On Christmas day I cooked this simply with sea salt and cracked black pepper on the top, rubbed in with a little oil.

It fed me and Josh well and had plenty left over for a Turkey Gratin.

I got this recipe from the Co-op Magazine

You will need:

  • Left over turkey chopped into pieces (enough to cover the bottom of your chosen dish)
  • 15g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 70g pancetta (or bacon lardons if you prefer)
  • 1 clove of garlic (I upped it to 2 as i'm a garlic head)
  • 25g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 600mls of semi skimmed milks
  • 80g of mature cheddar
  • 55g flaked almonds
  • 25g of parmsan cheese
The original recipe suggests using individual ramekins which I have done but this also works well in a larger dish. You will need to adapt amount of ingredients for the sauce accordingly

1. preheat oven to 180 for fan or 170 for normal oven and place the turkey into your dishes to cover the base
2.. melt butter and oil in pan and add the pancetta and fry for a few minutes (I like mine crispy) and add the garlic. Stir in the flour and coat each pancetta cube. then add mustard powder (and a splash of white wine if you fancy) and gradually stir in the milk. The sauce will quicken thickly so make sure you keep stirring. Add the cheddar and season to taste.
3. Add paramsan to the top and cook for around 25 mins. 

This can be used as the main part of a roast or even with some crusty bread. I personally added a little more mustard powder for that punch.

Honey and Mustard Rub Perfect for a Gammon joint

I laced my gammon with cloves then mixed mustard powder with water to create a thick paste. I then added a couple of tablespoons of honey and mixed together well. I used a brush to add the majority of the rub to the gammon then drizzled all over. Cook as normal but keep a keen on the honey to make sure it doesn't burn!

Sorry about the lack of piccys here but Josh is out sledging and pics are on his phone!

Eat Drink and Be Merry


Christmas Starters and Sides are here!

Happy Snow Day all - I have some time to write my blog. Hurrah!

So here goes.... The Starters and Sides!

These bad boys are my

Brie and Cranberry Twists.

I cooked these as one of my starters on family day, everyone loves a little nibbley bit. I got this out of mu BBC Good Food magazine and they are super easy and a crowd pleaser (my father-in-law was even enjoying them)

You will need:

  • 12 sheets of filo pastry
  • 1 block of brie - chopped into chunks
  • Cranberry Sauce (I made my own which I will detail underneath)

So you need 3 sheets of the filo pastry to be together, the longest edge facing you. Brush the whole top sheet with a little melted butter. Along the bottom space 3 blocks of your brie equally making sure that you leave gaps at the end too and then add 1 tsp of cranberry sauce per block of brie. Slowly roll the filo pastry away from you so the brie and cranberry are enveloped. Cut out brie blocks leaving enough pastry each side to twist. Brush again with butter and grind a little black pepper. Pop in the oven for around 10 mins and viola!

So you'll want the cranberry sauce recipe. Here goes...This one I got from a tesco magazine for our first Christmas (so about 2 years ago) and i love it. Simple and zingy and def brightens up a simple roast.

Port and Cranberry Sauce

You will need:

  • 400gs of fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3-4 tablespoons of port
  • 2 clementines, zested and juices
  • 75g of caster sugar.

Pop the cranberries, port and clementine zest and juice into the pain. Warm using a medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes until the cranberries have softened. Add the sugar, mix well and leave to warm for another couple of minutes. Set aside and cool at room temperature!

Asparagus, Parma Ham and Camembert Tart

I think out of all the starters this was my favourite. In fact writing about it makes me want to eat it. I cooked this for me and Josh on Christmas Day and did another for games night around Josh's parents house - it all went so i'm assuming that's a good sign.

Find the recipe right HERE!

For some reason I found the hunt for individual tart tins very challenging so opted for one big tart which was great for me as I got the chance to pick away at it on Christmas day night instead of the usual turkey sandwich.

The ingredients, sorry for the blur
torn parma ham and chopped up Camembert

pastry after first cook

ahh lovely asparagus

chopped and separated  May be worth waiting to chop once they have cooled, i was far too keen!

 Out of the oven....YUM!
And Out of the tin!

 The tart was great. I served it up with some rocket salad and a little drizzle of balsamic glaze. In the second tart i didn't quite have enough Camembert so opted for a brie/Camembert mix which worked a treat!

The Alternative Parsnip

This is what you will need - honey, turmeric  cayenne pepper and zests of an orange and lemon.

Prepare your parsnips in the usual way and par boil for around 10 mins. Place in a roasting tin and drizzle with olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and  drizzle over a good amount of honey (to coat) a pinch of cayenne and turmeric and mix in. add the zest and place back in the oven until cooked.

The first time I made this I added a *little* too much cayenne and they were very spicy but it gave kick to the roast. Worked well on some roast potatoes too! This is why I adore Thomasina Miers - she is great!

I ate these far too quickly so no photo - sorry guys!

Curried Carrot Soup

Another Tesco classic. Get the recipe from right here!

I cooked this for family day as another optional starter. It manages to make around 6 portions but they arent particularly big. 

love the carrots

The spices I Used

spice covered onions!

The recipe gives you the option to make the cumin snaps, I have made them before and they were lovely but opted out for family day as not everyone likes the spice. Really gorgeous thick soup - I added lots of pepper to make it have that extra kick!

Bacon Wrapped Cranberry Stuffing

Another recipe that I have used for the past 2 years at christmas, the rosemary sprig really adds to the appearance!

The recipe calls that you buy sausages and then remove the meat from the skins but sausage meat is readily available over Christmas from the butchers or supermarket and saves the messing around!

all ingredients mixed together in a large bowl, try not to handle the meat too much as it will make it less tender.
Make the sausage meat into little stumps and tear the streaky back bacon in half if you can (mine from Edmonstons Butchers was really wide so helped when doing this) Roll the bacon around sausage meat mixture (its ok to overlap)

Good thing is if it is a tight fit, adding the rosemary sprig looks pretty and keeps it together

Cook for 30 mins or thereabouts and all done.

These were Tamsin's first sausage meat stuffing balls so I will let her be the judge of what it was like. Fancy one? come and get me :)

Prosciutto Wrapped Bread Sticks with a pesto dip.

By far the easiest of all of the starters to make - there is no cooking!

You will need:

  • One pack of bread sticks
  • 2 packs of prosciutto
  • 125g of soft cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of pesto (add more according to taste)

Place cream cheese in a bowl, add the pesto and mix thoroughly
Tear prosciutto slices in half and wrap around the top part of the bread stick  Pop them in a tall glass to serve.

I don't think i need to tell you to dunk your bread sticks in the mix, do I?

And there you have starters installment!

Whats your fave of this lot then?

Eat Drink and Be Merry

H x

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Epic blog preview

Happy New Year my lovelies….how was everyone’s holidays?

Well, the festive period was certainly a busy one – the busiest one ever in terms of food and cooking! I think that this year I may have overdone my experimenting, some of them I even forgot to photograph, and for that I am sorry.

As this post will be epic, I thought I’d give you a rundown of what to expect to keep you all excited then I can run away and write my backside off!

***drum roll please*** here goes:

Starters and sides…

·         Asparagus, Camembert and Parma ham tart
·         Curried Carrot soup
·         Brie and cranberry twists
·         Prosciutto wrapped bread sticks with pesto dip
·         Alternative parsnips
·         Bacon wrapped cranberry stuffing
·         Port and Cranberry Sauce


·         Turkey gratin
·         Honey and mustard rubbed gammon


·         Salted caramel chocolate tart
·         Jaffa cake pots
·         Chocolate orange ice-cream

I will also be filling you in on a couple of dining experiences over the holidays at The Parks in Uttoxeter and The Wolsely Arms near Rugeley.

I am hoping to get this all done by the end of the week at the latest. Especially as I have started content for my next instalment. I have a feeling that tomorrow will be a write off as it’s my first day back after a couple of weeks off!

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

H x

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Christmas Craft Weekend - The Results!

Howdy all and apologies for the delay, things have been more than hectic. But it's back by popular demand....Harriate!

So me and lovegrove embarked on a day of drinking and craft round at Jessie's house on the 24/11 and oh what fun we had. 

I did a lot of the unknown or as it is known to you all Baking!

I even got a bit carried away with the creation side that i forgot to photograph 2 of the recipes ...whooops. I'll get them out of the way first..

Toffee Popcorn Bark - This one was simple but effective and went down a treat with all the people in the room so comes highly recommended as a special treat.

Here's what the wonders of the bbc made it look like:

Needless to say mine didnt come out quite as preened. 

You will need:
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 200g white chocolate
  • 2 x 30g bags toffee popcorn   We just got a big bag of popcorn and made it more popcorn based!

As I am totally ill prepared for the world of baking we didnt have the '20 x 30' baking tray and used a lovely oval baking dish lined with baking parchmant (thats right we had some!) Melt the chocolate (white and milk seperate) and allow to cool a little. Pour most of the choc into the dish and swirl around, chuck in the popcorn and top with the remainder then chill!

So Yummy. As I said up there the cutting wasnt nearly as elegent as the BBCs version but made great finger food during the party - get involved.

The Drink....

The second one without a pic of my own was the trusty alchol mixture that we made. Now during the festive season I'm a sucker for mulled wine however, i felt for day time drinking something lighter was needed hence/.....

WINTER PIMMS PUNCH (recipe can be found HERE :) )

I was a little sceptical as this has brandy in - the only time i use brandy is for Steak Au Poivre but decided to get into the spirit of festivities and give it a whirl. I must say that i found it a little overpowering so decided to top up with a lot of lemonade. It left the mix tangy yet warming and if you like Pimms you are well in. The BBC have got some great drinks suggestions, have a looksie 

So here comes the photos:

You will need:

200g marshmallows
3 tbsp golden syrup
100g Rice Krispies    100g of coco pops - oooh yeah i live wild
6 ice-cream cones
500g icing sugar
½ tsp green food colourings
sweets and sprinkles , to decorate

You need to melt the marshmellows and golden syrup together then add the coco pops. Once the heat is taken off you need to move quickly as the marshmellows start to set - push the mixture into the ice cream cones but make sure youre careful we had a few casualties and leave to set for a while

Mix icing sugar with water and green food colouring to make a thick paste. There is no evidence to support the fact i added a little too much water and had to add more icing sugar. Im not going to lie it tasted a bit bitty (does that even make sense?)

Once the cones themselves have set, dip them into the icing sugar mixture and then decorate. Points of error for this section include - we didn't have any lolly pop sticks or a cooling rack. This made the pops hard to balance and they wobbled over a few times. We had bought some pretty accessories including soft balls (hehe) of silver and pink and general confetti. 

They all looked good and here's an example. The taste wasn't as good as the appearance  They were really stodgy and rich - we couldn't even finish one. My error with the icing sugar made a difference for sure. 
For this i think ill blame the punch. Yeah it intoxicated me :S that's my final story.

The day after the night before....the baking continues.

The Cinnamon and Raisan Loaf.

You'll need:

190g/7oz softened unsalted butter
190g/7oz caster sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
190g/7oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4tsp salt
25ml/1fl oz soured cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
70g/2 1/2oz raisins

Preheat the oven, 170c/160c fan/gas 3 and grease the loaf tin (I had to buy this especially)

While the oven's preheating, you cream the butter and sugar together until creamy and pale. Then you beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down the sides as you do so with a spatula. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt, then using the same spatula, you fold in the dry ingredients. Once the flour's been combined in, fold in the soured cream and vanilla. Into a smaller bowl you spoon in about 200g/7oz of the mixture, then you fold the cinnamon into this, and into the vanilla mixture you fold in the raisins.

Pour in the vanilla mixture first then the cinnamon and then you swirl it with a skewer.

Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Once baked, take out of the oven and leave to cool.

Turn out of the tin and slice likeaso....

And serve with some amazing cornish clotted cream ice cream....

Now for this i did have a lot of help off lovegrove. Turned out really nice and dare i say it? Moist. The only thing I wanted was a stronger cinnamon taste so be liberal. If youre a beginner like me make sure you have some supervision!

The one I can do allllllll by myself....The Peanut Butter cookie :)

You'll need

  • 115g of butter,crunchy peanut butter, caster and muscavado sugar and rolled oats
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 85g flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons of bi-carb and baking powder

The method in the madness

  • Oven to be set at 180c. Grease a baking tray
  • mix the butter and peanut butter together. Beat in the suagrs, the egg and the vanilla essence
  • sift in flour, bi-carb and baking powder then add the oats
  • Shape the mixture into flattish balls and make sure you space far enough apart

  • Bake for around 12 mins and leave to cool for 2.
These were tasty but i did have a spacing issue:

hmm soft gooey goodness

Easy fun and tasty to make - we added some milk choc chips on top for even more sugary goodness

The Jammy Biscuits:

You'll need:

  • 225g of unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 200g plain sugar
  • 100g ground almonds Not for me thanks!
  • 100g of strawberry jam


  • Beat together butter and sugar and add flour - leave dough to chill for an hour
  • Knead dough, roll and shape and divide into equal size balls.
  • Using one ball roll out until about 5mm thick and cut out as many shapes of your cutter as possible and repeat with the second ball. Make sure you cut small circles in the second shape batch.

  • Cook cookies for 20- 30 mins at 140c and allow to cool.
  • Place blob of jam on the shapes without the circle cut out and place holed cookie on top gently

TA DA. Not perfect but not bad for my first attempt.

The biscuit turned out more shortbread like but it was really tasty. I added a little extra jam than the recipe called for just cos i like it.

So the non baking trial:

Feta and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

 4 Sweet Potatoes
200gs Feta Cheese
Handful of fresh coriander
Drizzle of olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
8 Tortillas

Roast the sweet potatoes in a hot oven for around 50 mins - check they are soft with a skewer. Scoop out potato filling into a bowl and mash using a fork and adding the oil and pepper. Add the coridander and continue to mash. Crumble the feta into the mixture and gently mix in.

Take a tortilla and add mixture down one side. Fold over.

Warm a griddle pan and add the tortilla to it when hot. Leave to cook on one side for a few minutes and turn over. Cook until the feta is starting to melt.
Serve with some mexican dips - salsa, guacamole and sour cream.

A nice hearty and filling snack. Good mixture of flavours with coriander and pepper adding a little kick.

So thats me all caught up.
What would you recommend for me to have a go at baking?

Enjoy your week and have a look at my Christmas Tree

Eat, Drink and Be Merry.