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Cake Monday: Apricot and marzipan twist

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This is what’s currently proving in the bottom of my oven.

The first part of the recipe was easy and simple but I’m a little scared about the filling and shaping parts so I doubt mine will look anything like the picture when it’s finished!

It’s going to go into the freezer for Christmas as my mum is a huge fan of marzipan.  I normally make stollen but I thought I’d try something a little different this year.

I love experimenting with different flavours of bread, both sweet and savoury, but don’t often differ from a standard loaf method and shape so this is something new.

Wish me luck ….

Elephant memories

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My dinner tonight was another box from the freezer, this time Devilled Chicken.

It was made from a recipe that I acquired from a street market when in Sri Lanka 3 years ago and it always brings back fond memories of my time there.  I spent four weeks volunteering at an elephant orphanage as I absolutely adore elephants, I had a brilliant time.

The chicken is very spicy (for me anyway) but it has tons of flavour.

Devilled Chicken

  • 1 kg chicken pieces (I usually use thighs as they have more flavour)
  • 250g onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 250g tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 50g crushed garlic
  • 25g grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp malt vinegar
  • 50g sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground mustard

Mix 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp salt, 2 tsp pepper and the vinegar.  Pour over the chicken pieces and leave to marinate for 40 minutes.

Heat a small amount of oil in a pan and fry the chicken pieces in batches until they turn golden brown.

In another pan, add 1 tbsp oil.  Then add the onion, remaining pepper, ginger, garlic and mustard.  Fry on a medium heat for 2 minutes.  Add the chilli sauce, 2 tbsp of soy sauce, chillies, ketchup and tomatoes.  Simmer for 4-5 minutes until you have a sticky sauce.

Add the chicken pieces to the sauce mixture, and simmer until the chicken has completely cooked.

A leftover roast

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Pretty much everything I’ve eaten this weekend has been from the freezer and it’s been quite tasty, if I say so myself.

There was a box of watercress and pea soup for lunch yesterday, with frozen bread rolls.  Then (home-made) frozen chips and scampi for dinner.

Today was more soup for lunch (the box was just labelled ‘soup’ and I still don’t know what was in it, which is why I normally label things better!).

I then had a roast dinner which was amazing as it’s been ages since I’ve had one.  I had a partridge with roast potatoes, spinach and carrots, all from the freezer.  I made a sauce/gravy to go with it from the same brambling trip as the cake last week.

Bramble gravy

(No ingredient list as I didn’t really measure much!)

Heat a big knob of butter in a frying pan and gently fry half a diced onion until soft.  Add a mug of weak chicken stock and boil until reduced by half.  Add in a big splash of port and about 150g blackberries.  Stir and heat until the blackberries start to go soft and squishy.

I wanted to take pictures but my camera’s broken at the minute so you’ll just have to imagine.

Vegetables (but not fresh this time)

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Carrying on the quest to clear the cupboards and freezer, I’ve been cooking quite a bit this weekend.

I dug out some of the frozen veggies that were leftovers once upon a time and made a pea, spinach and ham soup (the gammon was frozen upon purchase several months ago).  It was tasty and I got to use my new Lakeland purchase, though some of it has gone back in the freezer so I don’t know how much space it’s actually saved in there!

I also used up the sausages I was defrosting to make a batch of sausage, tomato and black eye bean pasta sauce, using up some of the generous supply of tinned tomatoes I had in the cupboard, and some tinned beans.  I was conscious of using up some of the many spices and condiments I have floating about too so made sure to add plenty of cumin, cayenne pepper and other sources of heat.

I also made some custard to go with the blackberry cake I made on Friday as it turned out a little bit dry, this used up some of the custard powder and the tin is almost empty now.

I’ve managed to throw out a few empty tins (into the recycling rather than the bin!) and there are quite a few packets looking distinctly emptier than they were so fingers crossed my cupboards will soon be bare.

Lots of empty packets

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It’s been a productive evening for using up forgotten food from the cupboards and freezer!

I finally got round to making some barm brack after leaving the fruit to soak in the tea last night.  I’m going to keep half of it to eat now and slice the other half up to go in the freezer.

I noticed how many almost-empty bags of flour I had so decided to make another cake and had a root around to see what I could put in it.  I’ve had tubs of blackberries sitting in the freezer since my brambling trips last autumn so decided to use one of those, and a couple of other bits and pieces…

Blackberry, cinnamon and polenta cake

  • 250g butter
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 140g polenta
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 200g blackberries

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in the eggs one at a time.  Add the polenta, flour, baking powder and cinnamon and mix until you have a smooth mixture.

Place half the mixture in a greased 8 inch round tin.  Scatter the blackberries over and then top with the remaining mixture.

Bake for approximately 50 minutes.

I’ve also got some sausages out of the freezer to make something with tomorrow, not sure what yet!

All together I’ve managed to use up seven packets of stuff tonight, quite impressive if I say so myself.

Cake Monday: Barm brack

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Ok, I’m cheating a little bit this week as I haven’t actually made any cake for tomorrow.

Part of the spring clean this week was to sort out the multiple boxes of recipes I have and in the process I came across this, which is an old family favourite.  I’m going to make it at some point because I have a lot of dried fruit to use up in the cupboards.

It’s also lactose free so I thought I’d share it …

Barm Brack

  • 140ml cold tea (you can experiment with different types, smoky flavours work well)
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 350g mixed dried fruit
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 180C.

Put tea, sugar and dried fruit in a bowl.  Cover and leave to soak over night.

Well grease a 2lb loaf tin.  Mix the soaked fruit and sugar plus the liquid into the flour.  Add the beaten egg to make a smooth mixture.  Turn into the tin and bake for about 1 hr 45 mins.

Turn out to cool.

It gets better with age so try and leave it a couple of days before you start eating!

Flavoured oils

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I always keep a little tub in my veg drawer filled with things like garlic, chilli, herbs, etc. and they usually get used up in normal day to day cooking.

However, when I was having my spring clean of the kitchen I sorted out the drawer of glass jars, tubs and bottles that I keep to re-use and I was reminded of an idea.

I have been meaning to make some flavoured oils for months so I thought I would crack on and do it, and it would be the perfect way to use up all the little bits in the tub.  And whilst it doesn’t use up any of the oil I have in the cupboard it does get rid of a couple more containers.

I’ve only made two so far, garlic and ginger, but I have several bottles of the same style currently sitting empty so will fill them as the week goes on.

I’m thinking they will actually look quite pretty all lined up together!