Friday, March 30, 2007

lemon syrup loaf


Here's a quick recipe for Lemon Syrup Loaf. It keeps well thanks to the copious amounts of syrup although it taste so delicious fresh, it usually gets consumed on the same day. It's also great tarted up with some fresh raspberries, creme fraiche or cream for a quick pud.

Lemon Syrup Loaf

170g each of butter (room temperature)
170g self-raising flour
170g caster sugar.
1 level tsp of baking powder
2 large eggs
2.5 fl ounces of milk
grated zest of 1 large or 2 small lemons (keep lemons for juicing for syrup)

Juice of 2 lemons
50g icing sugar (or granulated/castor)

Heat oven to 170ºc

  • Place all the ingredients in to a food processor or mixer until combined and is a 'dropping' consistency.

  • Line a loaf tin (1lb, I think) with cake liners or grease with butter.

  • Cook for 30-40 minutes or until skewer comes out of cake clean and place tin on cooling rack.

  • Gently heat lemon juice and add icing sugar until dissolved.

  • Pierce cake (still in tin) and pour over syrup until it's all absorbed in the cake.

  • Once cake is cool, gently lift out of tin.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

fifi lapin, the design conscious bunny


I like Wednesdays, it's the only day of the week where I have two hours to myself, to get on a do stuff I want to with  feeling any motherly guilt.

This morning I did research for St.Jude's. As I'm hopping from one site to another, I keep writing 'in my head' blogs for All Things Considered. I get really excited and inspired when I see and read about creative people and their art, it reminds me of my student days weaving away in the then non-blog world of the '90's.

One of my discoveries today was FiFi Lapin. A 19 year old fashion student (I think) from London. Fifi, very possibly inspired by Mifi, is a rabbit dressed in designer clobber.

So taken by the illustrations on sale at Fifi's Etsy store, I have emailed to ask if Fifi could be drawn wearing Evie's very own eclectic mix of definitely non designer clothing.  (I should add that this is a service offered). I do hope that it's possible, I will get one for Matilda too. I have a feeling this talented young designer will have a successful future so I'm going to start collecting Fifi Lapin's wardrobe now.

floor porridge


I could feed a squirrel for a week with the muck I sweep up off our 'rustic' (manky, filthy chipboard) floor after every meal. This was breakfast.

Dorset Cereals create better breakfasts. Their Fruity Porridge and Muesli selections are very similar to that pictured above, only they have far less hair and grit but do have similar proportions of dried fruit in their mix.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Angie Lewin


While I was looking through a few websites last night, I came across Angie's prints on Bloesem, one of the design blogs I enjoy reading.

As Irene Hoff, Bloesem's editor writes, "I love the color pallets and of course the illustrations themselves".

I agree. Angie's knowledge, understanding and use of colour is, in my eyes,  perfect. I'm not just saying this because Angie is a friend and share a passion for home baked macaroons or even because I contribute to St. Jude's Modern British design blog. I'm saying it because Angie has a unique and beautiful style which stands out amongst many other artists and designers influenced by botanical structures and forms.

Thursday, March 15, 2007



I did make biscotti at the weekend, about 80 of the addictive, crunchy little treats. Chocolate chunks, home-made candied orange peel and whole toasted hazelnuts were packed into the basic sugar, flour and egg dough. Biscotti actually translates as baked biscuit (these are twice baked). So referring to them as 'biscuit' must seem a bit odd to the Italians who incidentally dunk them in Vin Santo which must seem a bit odd to us Latte loving dunker's in the UK...

Making these biscuits is simple. In fact so simple, that eating 80 in 2 days isn't a problem as making another batch is so darn easy.

All you'll need is:

  • 2 large baking trays

  • silicone paper

  • 135g granulated sugar

  • 245g plain flour (Italian 00 is good)

  • 2 large eggs

  • 3/4 tsp baking powder

  • pinch of salt

  • 100g hazelnuts, lightly toasted

  • 100g candied orange peel, roughly chopped

  • 100g 70% plain chocolate, roughly chopped

  1. Using a free standing mixer or electric hand whisk if you haven't, whisk the eggs and sugar until very thick, takes about 5 min's.

  2. Mix all other ingredients together in a bowl and fold into the egg mixture.

  3. Using wet hands,  place dough into 2  lengths on each lined baking sheet. You should have 4 lengths about 5cm wide.


  4. Place in 150ºc oven for about 12-15 min's until lightly golden and springy. Turn down the oven to 130ºc.

  5. Leave the cakes until cool, then cut on the diagonal using a sharp bread knife.


  6. Once cut, place back on the baking sheets and cook for a further 10-15 min's.

  7. Cool on a baking tray and consume until you are ready to make more...

Monday, March 12, 2007

scent of a spliff

Spring landed with magnificent splendor at the weekend; blue skies, warmth, blossom, freshly cut grass, vegetable seeds sown and even talk of excavating our bikes from the shed and going for a pedal.

But too much sitting around pondering about what to do with our day made us lethargic but in the end we did go for a tu-tu wearing (Evie) lakeside walk at Whittlingham, Trowse.


It was just before this photo was taken that Evie questioned us about a heady and pungent smell wafting from a circle of  laid back youths. Like me,  she could be a super smeller and, as curious as ever, she had to find out what an earth that smell was.

Stu and I ended the day smelling more heady spliff's at the UEA where we attended a superb gig performed by LCD Sound System with our good friend Simon. Definately worth checking as is Simon and Angie's blog, All Things Considered but more of that later...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

biscuit obsessive


Today I must try and not eat biscuits. Everyday over the past week I have been eating more and more; digestives both chocolate covered and not, rich tea fingers (usually half sucked and dropped on floor by Matilda), home made salty chocolate sables (recipe sourced from Foodbeam),  chocolate, fruit and nut fridge cake and biscotti.

How can stop eating biscuits when all I want to do is make them? I was thinking of making a sugar free biscotti using grape or apple juice for the girls like the ones Organix make, but they'll only they be dull, bland, sucked and then squidged into the furniture. I reckon I should stick to what I know will taste good even if it means eating biscuits daily for the next week...

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

mushrooms & cream

I'm trying, as always to cook healthy, inexpensive meals using
ingrediants that are both fresh and also from the store cupboard. Last
nights meal was meat-free, tasty and extremely simple. I cooked mushroom and leek stroganoff with steamed rice and buttered spinach with sultanas and pinenuts.

250g mixed mushrooms, cut in half, left whole or sliced depending on variety and size
2 large leeks, sliced
25g dried mushrooms, soaked in 1 pint of boiling water for an hour
1 medium onion or shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
butter and olive oil
a small glass of brandy, wine, sherry or masala
1/4 pint cream/soured cream/creme fraiche

  1. Start by straining the mushrooms from the stock and reduce the liquid by 3/4 at a gentle simmer.

  2. Heat oil in large saute pan and fry onions and leeks until browned. Add thyme.

  3. Add large knob of butter to onions then fry the mushrooms.

  4. Once the mushrooms have browned add the garlic.

  5. Pour in your chosen alcohol and reduce.

  6. Add the mushroom stock and reduce until half the liquid has evaporated.

  7. Add cream, seasoning and simmer until ready to serve.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

choc au vin


I made Coq au Vin yesterday so I would be less tied up in the
kitchen today when most, but sadly not all the Sullivan's where here. I
really missed not seeing Matt, Claire and Alice, we all did. The girls
(Evie, Lucy and Matilda) got on fabulously and having Alice here,
watching them all play together would have been very special. Still, we
have May to look forward to, a week in Thorpeness, in a big house with
big birthdays, I can't wait.

For pudding I cooked the Warm Chocolate and Mascarpone Cheesecake
(newly named, Damp Chocolate & Mascarpone Cake) as Stu rightly
said, 2 pud's for six was utter gluttony. This Cheesecake was totally
delicious and from now on will not be called a Cheesecake,
because, as I mentioned last week, it makes peoples noses slightly curl
up (it did Dad's). It will also not be called cheesecake because it was
nothing like one. It was moist, melting, light and totally uncurdy.
Next time I make it, I will add amaretti biscuits to the base and
perhaps not put the tin in a foil parcel and water bath, as when I
removed the cooked cake, the biscuit base had been dampened with
condensation. Not that this really mattered, I think I was the only one
that noticed and what with the runny cream and ice cream additions,  it
soon went damp anyway.

Take 1 large free-range happy chicken, with inner accoutrement's if possible (freeze the liver for basis to a bolognase sauce later or to make into a pate)
For the stock - celery, carrots, garlic, neck, bay leaf, peppercorns, onion
300g of shallots, peeled
olive oil
1 bottle of red wine (I used Cotes du Rhone in an attempt to keep the dish French)
250g button mushrooms
a good handful of fresh Thyme
a glug of Brandy or something similar (failing in my attempt to be totally French, I used Marsala)
2 cloves of garlic
10 rashes of smoked, streaky bacon or lardons (cut bacon into small pieces)
3 celery stalks, broken in half
1 carrot
4 bay leaves


Start by dividing the whole chicken into portions, (1 large chicken should feed 6 people) and leave to soak in the wine overnight.

  1. Place the remaining chicken carcass in a pan of water along with the stock ingredients and simmer for 1-2 hours. The stock will be added to the casserole.

  2. Remove Chicken from wine and pat dry with kitchen paper. (You need them to be dry to avid excess spitting when frying).

  3. Add a small glug of oil to a frying pan and fry the bacon then add to a casserole dish.

  4. Brown the chicken portions in the bacon fat in batches then place in casserole.

  5. Brown off the shallots and garlic, then add to the chicken. Then do the same with mushrooms, adding butter if pan is too dry.

  6. Add a heaped dessert spoon of flour into the residual fat and then add brandy (masala). Simmer, stir, then add the wine until you have the base of the gravy. Add this to dish.

  7. Top the gravy up with the stock then add the celery, bay leaves, thyme and carrot. Add neck.

  8. Cover and cook for 1.30 Min's at 150˚c

  9. Once cooked, remove meat and vegetables and place on a plate. Add the gravy to a shallow pan and simmer until reduced to a desired thickness.

  10. Place meat back into casserole, poor over reduced gravy and serve.

Friday, March 2, 2007

birthdays and blue skys


The sky was a vibrant, Spring filled blue this morning. Evie woke us all with her Julie Andrews style (latest role model) chirping at the delight of it being a "such a beautiful morning".

Today is Alice's first birthday. Happy Birthday Alice. Sadly this morning's happy start was soon dashed when I spoke to Matt who told me of Claire and Alice's poorlyness in the night which meant that they were now not able to make the trip from Ireland to Norfolk. 

We are all so disappointed, it was going to be a fun weekend and we were so looking forward to having everyone here for lunch on Saturday. Still, with Matt not here, it means that we are at least a case of wine up, a portion or two of Coq au Vin better off and perhaps we could make do with one pudding not two. (tongue in cheek flippancy, no offense meant Matt). But which pudding do I sacrifice; Treacle Tart (enthused by Angie earlier in the week which has got my taste buds going) or a Warm Chocolate and Mascapone Cheesecake? It's a tricky one. I want to eat Treacle Tart but the sell by dates on the pots of Mascapone in the fridge might win the cook off. Is two puddings for six adults and three small children greedy? Well yes, clearly it is but I could always send home goodie bags or better still send a mini pudding trolley1st Class to Belfast...