Monday, 26 September 2016

Gizzi’s Season’s Eatings

I love this book! Gizzi’s Season’s Eatings Feasts & Celebrations from Halloween to Happy New Year by Gizzi Erskine Mitchel Beazley 2016.

I’m quite a Gizzi fan, all the recipes of hers that I have cooked have been lovely. So, it was with much anticipation that I awaited this new book.  We went on a long weekend break the day this book came out, and it came with me as part of my holiday reading! I couldn’t leave it!!

Chapters are: Devilish Delights * Sparkle & Pop* Celebrating the Harvest* Festive Baking* Bring Back the Buffet* The Night Before Christmas* Christmas Day* Festive Foraging* and  Ring in the New.

The pictures are good, some a little dark to reflect the season, some simply bursting with Hygge. The graphics are fabulous! Cats, deer, trees, pumpkin and all things Christmassy. Good chatty intros to the recipes.

There are so many tempting recipes for cold weather food. I have made three so far, Old School Sausage Hotpot & Root Vegetable Mash, Tartiflette de Savoyard-(ish) and Epic Malted Hot Chocolate. All fab and will make them again. Next on my long list are: The Infamous Erskine Turkey Curry, Little Gilded Ginger Sponge Puddings, Blueberry & Spelt Cobbler, ‘Nduja Sausage Rolls (though I’ll use the alternative chorizo, as never seen ‘Nduja), Smoke-Roasted Treacle-Cured Salmon with Potato, Cucumber and Buttermilk Salad not to mention the fabulously indulgent Chocolate-Orange Cream Liqueur,  though I’m saving it for December!

So, to come full circle, I do like a good Christmas and winter feasting cookbook, and this one of Gizzi’s I just love. :)

Monday, 7 March 2016


This is a fab veggie book!  Vegetarian by Alice Hart (Murdoch Books 2010).  I wanted to blog about it because Alice has a new vegetarian book our later this month, which I have high hopes for… anyhow, it seems right to do this one first.
I’ve bought a number of vegetarian books over the years, and really, an awful lot of them seem to find their way to the charity shop, more so now than before, as space has become very tight in our house, I expect it’s the compulsive book hoarder that lives here that is to blame….   (I’m only half kidding),  my point though, is that now with space at a premium every book must earn its place  - be it to cook from or as inspiration reading.
I do really like this book, it is the first book I’d come across that felt like it was vegetarian by default – just filled with very nice recipes.  I’ve made the giant couscous salad with roasted parsnips and peppers and a preserved lemon and charmoula dressing, which was very good, if portioned on the small side. Plus a sort of warm salad, quinoa with parsley, pesto, cranberries, roasted hazelnuts and mushrooms.    The recipe pictured here is cashew fried rice, which you serve with chilli tomato jam. I’ve never bothered with the jam, but have substituted sweet chilli sauce or sriracha.  It was the first time I’d made fried rice as the main event, and really loved it. A keeper.

Two other recipes that I am keen to try from this book are warm salad of slow-roast tomatoes, labne almonds, on mujadhara  and carrot and coriander fritters with a halloumi and sweet lemon dressing. Both of which look so good.
If the second book is anything like as good as the first, it’ll be a winner too!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Sweet Traditions for Hearth and Home

I’m a sucker for most cookbooks, but even so, more recently I’ve been more selective than ever, which is partly financial and partly the fact that we are fast running out of space, the normal places for keeping books have long been filled and there are piles of books growing wherever I can fit them in.   I know I am due a clear out, but if I’m honest, I’m so dreading doing this that I’ve been putting it off… 


Anyhow, there are genres of cookbook that I have especially soft spots for and one of them is Christmas books and cookbooks. This book from the other side of the pond has a foot in both types, being a memoir of Christmases past with recipes.  An Old-Fashioned Christmas Sweet Traditions for Hearth and Home by Ellen Stimson (The Countryman Press 2015) I had not heard of this author, but will get her other (non-cookbook) in the New Year to read.


I just love the cosiness and wrap-me-up-in-a-warm-blanket with a roaring fire in the fireplace feeling it has.  Perhaps with snow falling softly outside. Ellen is a Christmas girl as she says, and she really is, she gets the very best feelings of Christmas and Winter, and can transfer them to the written word very well indeed.  When I first started reading this book I found it evocative of Laurie Colwin and Diana Henry’s writings. Which for me is a very good thing, though this lady has a voice all her own too.


There are her family’s stories and pictures of some of their precious Christmas tree ornaments or baubles if you prefer.   Of course there is also food, divided up into different sections  like Butter & Sugar, Cabin Food, Treats for Four Legged Friends, Party Foods, Christmas Eve Brunch, Christmas All Day Long and The Next Day.


I’ve not made anything from this book yet, but I had to share it with you now, before the big day arrives for this year. It’s an easy read, and could easily be binge-read (awful phrase, but you know what I mean), but I’m stretching it out in the evenings to last me up until Christmas Eve.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Christmas Rocky Road with Turkish Delight and Pistachios

I posted my take on Christmas Rocky Road adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe in Christmas a few years ago, by changing the dark / milk chocolate ratios. Here I’ve taken it further away from the original. This year I felt like changing it up a little. 

Last year I was frantically busy for most of December, so much so that there was no Christmas Rocky Road made.   I have been toying with the idea of adding pistachios and chopped up Turkish Delight for a while, and when I eventually tried it is was really gorgeous. Give it a go!  

Christmas Rocky Road with Turkish Delight and Pistachios
Adapted from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson 2008.
85g soft unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
100g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons golden syrup
100g amaretti biscuits (the hard ones), crushed into crumbs and lumps
65g mini pink and white marshmallows,
75g glace cherries (bright red ones look best here!)
40g pistachio nuts
1 x Fry’s Turkish Delight bar chopped into 12 pieces

1 teaspoons icing sugar, to dust
Edible white glitter, to dust (optional)

(1)Heat the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat, then cool a little for 5 1 10 minutes.

(2)To the melted chocolate mixture add the biscuit crumbs, marshmallows, glace cherries, pistachio nuts and Turkish Delight, fold in well to coat everything.

(3)Tip the mixture into a 7” square baking tin and smooth the top the best you can with a spatula.
Refrigerate until set.

(4) To serve, cut into 12 bars and dust with icing sugar and optional edible glitter for the festive factor.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Christmas Gingerbread Men Reindeer Cookies

A couple of years ago a mum at my daughter’s school Christmas Fayre made the red nosed version of these. Search for ‘upside down gingerbread reindeer cookies’ to see them.  I tried to find the original idea for these online, but I couldn’t.  I’m not going to use the picture without crediting it, hence the what-to-Google bit above.
Anyhow, I made these for my daughter’s party bags one year, and other times beside.  The gingerbread recipe in the link  here works like a dream, and is gingery enough, without having an off-putting level of spice for children too.
They are very cute. You need a sort of rounded gingerbread man cookie cutter, but I found mine easily and cheaply online.  A few smarties and some white and black icing and you are ready to create. It’s a fun and easy little project for Christmas-time.  There is only one red nosed reindeer in my picture, and this is because I was told in no uncertain terms that there is only one Rhudolph! =)

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Pioneer Woman Cooks A Year of Holidays

I’m a huge Ree Drummond fan, I just love her! All her cookbooks are good, and although I’m planning to post about Dinnertime, her newest (fabulous) cookbook soon, the one I’m posting about today is her one from a couple of years ago.
The Pioneer Woman Cooks A Year of Holidays by Ree Drummond, William Morrow 2013. Ree says there is nothing more delicious than a holiday. It’s true too! This could be down to many factors, taking time to plan and anticipate special meals, having a little more time to prep and cook, perhaps spreading the workload of the cooking amongst family and friends attending a holiday gathering.  I know when I recall holidays past it family and food that I remember most! I hope that isn’t just me!
Ree covers 12 holiday occasions from New Years Day to New Years Eve. Some are ones I am very familiar with like Mothers’ Day, Easter and Christmas. Others are new to me like The Big Game and Cinco de Mayo. Although the book is set out in chapters for each holiday, at the back there is a list of dishes by type, so it is easy to pick out a main course or dessert if it isn’t a holiday time.
I’ve cooked quite a number of dishes from this book. And although I have some pictures of sweet things, I have also cooked many dishes that I don’t have pictures of.  The four that are standouts and I make again and again are Turkey tetrazzini (unbelievably delicious, great with chicken too), potato skins, scalloped potatoes with ham (mmmm) and  Mummy dogs. Though I must mention cranberry sauce, orange smoothies, BBQ cocktail wieners, yoghurt-brown sugar and berry parfaits, broccoli-cheese soup, devilled eggs, perfect egg salad, straight up pico de gallo, perfect potato salad (though I keep my potatoes in chunks), cheddar chive biscuits, Chocolate mint shooters, lemon crème pie shooters and peach cobbler. Whew! And I’ve still got lots I’d like to try! It’s a great book.
Of the three sweet things that I do have pictures of, the cake is particularly swoon worthy.
Chocolate Strawberry Cake
When I make this one I halve the recipe, the whole thing would be great for a big party, but I have a small family and tend to therefore have smaller gatherings,  a one tier cake is still a thing of great beauty.  A brownie like fudgy base spread with chocolate hazelnut spread which is topped with sweet vanilla cream then topped with strawberries. Oh my! Amazing. Recipelink here.
Super easy to make, my daughter loves these. Recipe link here.
Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
A Chocolatey cookie, dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed peppermint candy canes. Sweet!  The only change I would make to this recipe is to fully coat the tops of the biscuits in chocolate and candy cane sprinkles as I like to have both in each bite.  Recipe link here.
 Just one more of that cake, in cake you needed a closer look!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Ina Garten's Wild Mushroom Risotto

I don’t know if it’s the time of year – Autumn just tipping into Winter – but I have been really craving mushrooms for a couple of weeks now. If we are out for dinner then that might be crispy battered mushrooms with garlic mayo.  At home though, it is more likely to be mushroom soup, mushroom stroganoff or mushroom risotto. 
I’ve made a lot of different mushroom risottos from a lot of different books, and my two favourites are one by Giada De Laurentiis and this one from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter 2008.  I quite often like Madeira or Marsala as the boozy part because the flavour goes so well with the mushrooms, but the white wine here is milder. Use what you like or have to hand.
We like our risotto a little soupy, not too much mind! For my tastes a dry risotto is a chance of a great supper wasted. It all depends what you like best though, there is no right or wrong in my book, just different tastes.   
This one must have been on on of Ina’s T.V. shows, as I found the recipe for Ina's Wild Mushroom RIsotto online here at the Foodnetwork to share.