Friday 16 December 2011

How to Be a Domestic Goddess, Review and one copy to give away

Now for a post about a book that is dear to my heart. How to Be a Domestic Goddess Baking and the art of Comfort Cooking by Nigella Lawson first published in 2000 by Chatto and Windus. This was Nigella’s second cookbook (after How to Eat). I was asked a little while ago if I’d like to review this book, which of course I would! I have a copy from when it first came out, so I asked WH Smith if they would be ok if I gave away the copy I was sent to a reader on here, and they said yes, so thanks to WH Smith for the paperback copy to give away. Just leave a comment to be entered for the draw, first name out of the hat on 22nd December 2011. Closing date for comments to go in the draw is 21st December 2011 at midnight. THIS IS NOW CLOSED.

Pink Wafer Rose Bud Fairy Cakes

When this book came out I cooked from it obsessively for a good number of months. It’s a great book, a baking book to entice existing bakers, but with enough of a modern edge to appeal but the new bakers too. The book is nicely presented, although do be aware this is not a book where every single recipe is pictured, but the pictures are all tempting. I still love it today, all these years later. The main chapters are: * Cakes* Biscuits* Pies* Puddings* Chocolate* Children* Christmas* Bread and Yeast* and The Domestic Goddess’s Larder*.

Dolly Mixture Fairy Cakes

I have baked a lot from this book, it was in my pre-blogging days that this book came out, which is a shame, as I could have had some pretty pictures of cakes and cupcakes on here! I have been particularly taken with the cupcakes in Domestic Goddess and some of the recipes I have made are: Burnt Butter Brown-Sugar Cupcakes (which were a lot nicer than the title makes them sound), Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing, Blueberry Muffins, Baklava Muffins, Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes, Espresso Cupcakes, Night and Day Cupcakes, Cappuccino Cupcakes, Jam Doughnut Muffins, Chirstmas Morning Muffins and Christmas Cupcakes which are very beautiful as well as delicious.

Cake wise I’ve made a few too, Nigella’s Victoria Sponge is my go-to recipe, Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake is fabulous too - I sometimes make it as cupcake sponges too, Flora’s Famous Courgette Cake, Butterscotch Layer Cake, Boston Cream Pie, Marzipan Fruit Cake, Coconut Cake, Chocolate Marsala Cake – one of my favourite cakes and Chocolate Pistachio Cake. The Strawberry Shortcakes definitely need a mention too as do the Peanut-Butter Squares which are like home-made Reese Peanut Butter cups. This is not an exhaustive list of all I’ve baked from this book – but you get the picture, there is a lot to tempt the baker and eater!

Butter Cut Out Biscuits

I made these for a party a while ago.

Fairy Cakes

I’ve made these often, and here are three ways I’ve decorated them for parties.

Store Cupboard Chocolate-Orange Cake

I’ve made this one a few times too, if you use marmalade you get a bitter-ish orange taste, I prefer it with jam for a sweeter fruity vibe.

Banana, Cherry and White-Chocolate Cupcakes

These are very easy, a quick mash and stir is all that’s needed. I think these are super comforting. A number of years ago I made these when my hubby had a friend round, they were not that long out of the oven. Every time I have seen his friend since he sees me and thinks of these cupcakes!

Good luck with the draw if you enter and hope you win (NOW CLOSED), but if not WH Smith have a great cookery selection here.

The winner is the second commenter Aby Wilson - well done Aby, I'll be in touch and you'll soon have your book :)

Next up: One Sweet Cookie by Tracey Zabar

Sunday 4 December 2011

Monday Morning Cooking Club, Review

Ever since I read the information about this book I was itching to get my hands on it! Monday Morning Cooking Club by Merelyn Frank Chalmers, Natanya Eskin, Lauren Fink, Lisa Goldberg, Paula Horwitz and Jacqui Israel, published in 2011 by Hardie Grant Publishers. With thanks to Caroline and Hardie Grant for my copy.

It was worth the wait too. I would have to start off by saying that I’m not Jewish, but for some time now I’ve been buying and looking at books searching for ‘the’ book on Jewish food. I don’t know exactly what I was looking for only that I had not managed to find it, but let me tell you, for me - this is it!

So what is the Monday Morning cooking club? Well it is a Monday morning meet up for the six authors of this book, where they have hunted out recipes, tried and ditched, or tried and kept the recipes. The recipes in the book are the keepers, all accredited to their family owners, and there is a little information about each family, and how they came to Australia – the country where they all now live. I love the little snippets of family history, particularly as I get older where recipes come from their provenance and how they have evolved is ever more important to me.

Chapters are: *Our Story* Who we are* The cooks, their stories, the recipes* plus a glossary. The book is nicely laid out, with lots and lots of pictures, and they in turn are very doable and look like they have been cooked in a family kitchen.

There are so many recipes I’d like to try over the next while like: Chocolate Almond Florentines, Bienenstich, Mediterranean Fish Stew with Couscous, Sophie’s Orange Cake, Mamoul, Chicken Persian Pilau, Lauren’s Tuna Salad, Almond Kifli, Israeli Couscous Soup and Mum’s Crumb Cookies (date bars), Gina’s Hair Raising Honey Cake – to name but a few.

A lovely book all round, worth keeping an eye out for - interesting for the cook, but also the cookbook reader too. Here are the three recipes I’ve tried so far:

My Own Red Chicken

This is an oven bound sort of sweet and sour chicken. It’s punchy and loud, but I loved this recipe.


These are suggested as accompaniments to soup. Little yummy savoury beef puff pastry morsels, well actually not so very little! Beef mince cooked with red wine, tomatoes, kecap manis and Worcestershire sauce, then encased in puff pastry and baked. They would be nice for supper with a good salad too.

Ginger Snaps

I love ginger snaps, but have never got round to making them myself until now, very easy and results in a good crisp gingery biscuit. A lovely biccie to have in your cookie tin or jar.

Next Review Up: One of Nigella’s classics - How to Be a Domestic Goddess with one copy to give away.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Rachel Allen Easy Meals - Review

Bacon and Potato Gratin with Buttered Cabbage

First off I didn’t mean to go awol, but we have been having problems with the computer, which I do hope are all fixed now. No Cake Slice Bakers today either but do have a look at the blogroll to see what my fellow bakers have baked.

I’ve been a fan of Rachel Allen for a number of years now, and in the past few years it’s with much anticipation that I’ve looked forward to her new books. Her latest one this year is Easy Meals by Rachel Allen published by Harper Collins Publisher in 2011.

It’s full of easy meals and a good number of them are fast too. Lots of picture of the finished dishes, you know really attainable ones. It has a clean layout, not as girly as some of her previous books. The chapters are: *Store Cupboard,* Fast and Fabulous,* Five Ingredients or Less,* One Pot, * No Cook, * and Fuss-Free Extras and Sides*.

I must confess when it first arrived I felt a bit underwhelmed, but I nipped down to our nearest shop and bought the ingredients for bacon and potato gratin and buttered cabbage (see below), and was converted!

A lot of photographs of the dishes, though not every single one is pictured. The book has a very clean, simple layout and for this reason it’s not my favourite Rachel book – I prefer the more feminine and embellished books she has. However, all the recipes I’ve tried have been good, and the book has grown on me.

I feel it’s a sort of follow on from Home Cooking, and that’s no bad thing for the family tea table. There is a TV series on UKTV Food to go with the book ‘Rachel Allen’s Easy Meals’ so that’s a bonus too! There are plenty more recipes I’d like to try, next on the list are: Vanilla Buttercream Squares, Chicken Skewers with Carrot and Apple Salad, Coconut Macaroon Meringue, Fish en Papillote three ways, Honey Mustard Pork Chops, Provencal Beef Stew and Coconut and Cardamom Pannacotta.

As well as the recipes below I’ve also made Rachel’s caramel rice pudding which was lovely, no picture to share here though, plus a couple of her quesadilla options and they were good too, likewise no picture.

Bacon and Potato Gratin with Buttered Cabbage

I made this one the day I received the book, to be honest I might not have made it, but it had to be something my local shop would sell, and this fitted the bill perfectly. Really tasty and well partnered with the cabbage. Even the little one liked it, and of late she has been so fussy. I’m making this again this week.

Carrot, Ginger and Coconut Soup

A great soup this one, smooth, creamy, carroty and a bit spicy from the ginger too, a keeper for sure.

Chicken and Chorizo Rice

This one is hearty and satisfying, I added in some cooked peas and sweetcorn for a few extra veggies and colour.

Chicken Biryani

Now a long slow biriyani, but this was another winner, lovely with a few dishes of bits and bobs, yum!

Little Banoffee Pots

These were yummy too, cream, bananas and toffee – what’s not to like?!

Chocolate Toffee Peanut Squares

I’ve been quite resistant in the past to using salted peanuts in my cooking, but here they do work, giving something familiar a new dimension, mmm.

Stir Fried Steak with Kale

Made this for hubby and I one night, and we both liked it, not cheap, but worth it for a midweek treat.

Pork Stir Fry

Or Rachel’s sweet and sour pork, enjoyed this, would add in a few more veggies next time.

Mediterranean Pasta

This is a one pot pasta dish where the pasta is cooked in with the sauce. I wasn’t sure about this method at all, but I overcame my prejudices and the resulting dish was fast and really delicious.

Next Review Up: Monday Morning Cooking Club

Thursday 20 October 2011

Cake Slice Bakers October 2011 – Apple Cake with Maple Frosting

It’s October and in the Cake Slice Bakers that means it’s the month when we welcome new members and start baking from our new book, which we continue to bake from once a month for a year. I’m pleased to tell you that our new book is The Cake Book by American author Tish Boyle published by John Wiley and Sons 2006. I’ve owned this book since it came out and although I have a lot bookmarked I’ve not managed to get round to baking from it until now, but I’m very much looking forward to trying some of the lovely cakes from this book.

Our starting cake is a really nice one for this time of year – Apple Cake with Maple Frosting. It’s a slightly spiced cake batter which has peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples and chopped walnuts folded through it before baking. The frosting is a cream cheese number that is again lightly spiced and also has some maple extract.

I liked the cake and the frosting, the maple extract gave a sort of butterscotch Angel Delight taste to it, or at least the one I remember as being so beloved from my childhood. I had the maple extract in my cupboard having needed it for another American recipe, that I’ve not managed to get round to yet, but I will… I ordered it from Ebay one day a little while ago.

Can’t wait to see what next months’ one is, but in the meantime I’m off to see some of the apple cakes from my fellow bakers here on the Cake Slice Bakers blogroll.

Next Review Up: Rachel Allen Easy Meals

Thursday 13 October 2011

A Month in Marrakesh – Review

Well we had a Moroccan night chez moi last week, courtesy of recipes from a new cookbook - A Month in Marrakesh by Andy Harris published by Hardie Grant Books 2011, with thanks to the Publisher for my copy. The author has a background in food and is currently editor of Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie’ Magazine.

I think it has a masculine edge, it’s nicely done. Loads of pictures of food and absolutely fabulous scene setting pictures of Morocco and life in Marrakesh by the great photographer David Loftus.

Chapters are: Breakfast, Salads and Vegetables, Street Food and Snacks, Soups, Savoury Pastries, Tagine, Roasts, Desserts and Condiments. There is also a Glossary of Moroccan Spices, Moroccan Grains and Pulses then finally Moroccan Ingredients.

There is slow food, fast food, vibrant and different salads and unusual desserts. There is also a real deal couscous recipe in the Glossary section of the book, no boiling water and 10 minutes in a cling covered bowl here! This needs steaming, cooling, fluffing with butter and more steaming, cooling and fluffing… This method gives a fabulous couscous, but it does take time. Something to make one day when you have a relaxed timetable and feel like showing your friends and family a little love and great couscous!

Having dipped my little finger into the food of Morocco I’m sure I’ll be trying out some more soon. Some of the dishes on my list from Andy’s book are: Seffa with Stewed Fruit, Chorba, Sept Legumes with Couscous, Lamb and Prune Tagine and Mahallabia (milk pudding). Here are the three dishes I tried out:

Chicken Tagine

I took a gentle introduction to Moroccan food with this tagine, it should have been rabbit, but, I swapped it for chicken instead. I deliberately chose a mild mannered tagine, and it was nice, the flavour delicate and aromatic, the meat so tender.

Date Compote and Greek Yoghurt

This was a very unusual dish, a compote of dates and almonds flavoured with thyme, and rose. I have honestly never tasted anything like it before. The compote was layered with Greek yoghurt which should have had lemon juice folded through, but my yoghurt was pretty sour already, so I omitted this step. I served this with shortbread, which was totally misplaced, but good!

Avocado, Persimmon and Mango Salad

This was a fabulous salad - unusual, sweet, gentle but full of delicious tastes, we had this dish one lunch time with some cold chicken and it was lovely.

Next Up: Cake Slice Bakers

Next Review Up: Rachel Allen's Easy Meals

Wednesday 28 September 2011

The Great British Bake Off - How to Bake, Review

I was very pleased to see a second series of the Great British Bake Off this year, having enjoyed the first series a lot and a new book too - The Great British Bake Off: How to Bake: The Perfect Victoria Sponge and other Baking Secrets by Linda Collister published by BBC Books in 2011.

This one is different from last year's book and a lot more of a `tie in' companion to the 2011 series. A good amount of pictures (though not all recipes are photographed by any means), well presented and easy to follow. Chapters are: *Cakes* Biscuits & Teatime Treats * Bread * Pies and Savoury Pastry * Tarts & Sweet Pastry* Patisserie * Puddings & Desserts *Celebration Cakes*.

The first seven chapters have a 'Technical Challenge' by Paul or Mary, and there is also a number of `How to Make the Perfect' recipes. For example, the Biscuits and Teatime Treats chapter has Mary's Brandy Snaps for the technical challenge and the How to Make the Perfect recipe is for Almond Tuiles.

There are also coloured pages from the contestants with their recipes. It doesn't say who each recipe belongs too, but they are certainly easily identifiable as Bake-Off recipes, in the introduction to the book these bake off recipes are described as `the most successful recipes from the bakers'. There is a code to enter online to be able to upload the recipes from the final.

As well as the step by step recipes mentioned above there are a good number of pictures of the finished bakes, they are not all pictured, but there are plenty for me. The layout is good, clean and easy to follow. If I'm being picky, I would say I would have liked to have known who each of the contestants recipes came from. I’ve jotted the names down beside the recipes while watching, but would have liked them to have been credited to their respective contestants in the book as well. It's a good baking book, relevant for a new or inexperienced baker who is looking to learn; but equally so for experienced and keen bakers on the look out for new recipes.

EDIT: This is the day after the bake off final, and the booklet from the publishers (all 27 pages) is an excellent addition to the main book. It gives all the recipes from the final and also tells you who all the bake off recipes in the book are from.

Next on my list to try are:
Mary's Coffee and Walnut Battenburg, Keith’s Earl Grey Cupcakes, Sticky Maple-Apple Traybake, Sticky Chicken Pasties, Warm Cherry Crumble Pie, Jo’s Limoncello and White Chocolate Croquembouche, Stilton, Potato and Caramelised Onion Pie, Jason’s Pina Colada Macaroons, Stem Ginger Shortbreads, Sticky Orange Marmalade Cake, Mary-Anne’s Chocolate Orange Mousse Cake and Holly’s Mint Chocolate Macaroons! ’d be surprised if I don’t get round to a second post from this book in the future!

Cherry Bakewell Cupcakes

The first recipe I tried before it was even on TV was Holly’s cherry bakewell cupcakes, they were very good too, almond-y sponge, lemon icing and a cherry on top. I used old fashioned dyed red cherries, as my Mother and Hubby tell me in no uncertain terms that the natural ones don’t taste the same! Hubby was especially taken with these, and the cake dome was empty very soon. Click here for the recipe.

Cranberry Cooler Macaroons

This one was Jason’s recipe, one of a trio of ‘mocktail’ flavours, or cocktails without the alcohol. Almond shells filled with a sort of cranberry and orange cream fool mixture. I overfilled these because I wanted to serve them as a dessert with *more* filling. They’d be lovely at Christmas when cranberry season is in full swing. Really looking forward to trying his Pina Colada macaroons too.

Rum and Raisin Cheesecake

I reckoned I wasn’t going to bake another cheesecake, as we generally do prefer an unbaked one. However, when I saw Jo make this on the bake off it had to be made! It’s creamy with just the right amount of rum. Click here for the recipe.

Next Review Up: A Month in Marrakesh

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake – Cake Slice Bakers September 2011

Well, in the Cake Slice Bakers group we bake one recipe per month from the same book for a whole year. This month is the last month for our current book Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman published by The Taunton Press 2009. Usually we vote on a few options to select the cake for the month, however this month as it was the last one from this book we all got the opportunity to choose the cake to make ourselves.

That was quite hard I can tell you! I was torn between three: cranberry walnut bundt cake with maple espresso glaze, dulce de leche coffee cake and the one I made Nutella Swirl Pound Cake. I thought about baking two, but I always seem to have a longer list of want-to-bakes than I have opportunities and calories to eat them!!

So Nutella cake it was. This was an unusual cake, tight tender crumb and big swirls of nutella. The swirling was a bit difficult, and maybe I didn’t swirl enough, but then again mine looks pretty much like the picture in the book, so maybe this was the kind of swirl that was aimed for, who knows! It was a nice cake, my lot liked it especially spread with a little butter, and right enough the butter seemed to draw out the very essence of the nutella, which must be a good thing.

If any readers would fancy joining the Cake Slice Bakers please email your Name, Blog Name, Blog URL and the email address you use to access the your blog site to: appleandspice[AT]hotmail[DOT]co[DOT]uk with 'New Cake Slice Member' as the subject. Spaces are limited, but if you fancy joining do drop Katie an email.

If you'd like to have a look at the other recipes made by our members this month do have a look here for the Cake Slice Bakers Blogroll. Can’t wait till next month to reveal our new book!!

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake

From Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman

4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups plain flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
8 oz / 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 x 400g jar (13 ounces, about 1 cup) Nutella

(1) Preheat oven to 325oF / 17o C (I did 160 oC in my fan oven). Line a 2lb / 9 x 5” loaf tin with baking parchment.

(2) Combine the eggs and vanilla in jug and beat lightly. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

(3) Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixer until fluffy. Turn mixer to low, add egg mixture in slowly, scraping down sides as necessary.

(4) Add flour mix 1/2 cup at a time until fully incorporated. Beat 30 seconds after last addition.

(5) Scrape 1/3 of batter into pan and smooth with a spatula. Spread half of the Nutella over batter and smooth the top. Add another 1/3 of batter, then the rest of the Nutella, topping with final 1/3 layer of batter. Swirl by running a knife through the mixture.

(6) Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until cooked. Let cool in tin for 15 minutes, invert onto wire rack and cool completely.

Next Review Up: British Bake Off How To Bake

Thursday 8 September 2011

JME Power Dressing Review

A little while ago I was sent the Power Dressing set from JME, Jamie Oliver’s range. They came packaged in a cardboard box together, a sort of cute wine bottle box, but bespoke for the JME bottles. The great play on words really appeals to me, drawing parallels between power dressing for a business meeting and power dressing your salad =)

A great pair for salad dressings they are too, good balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil that is bright, green and fruity. Nice idea for a gift or a little luxury for your own kitchen.

One of my friends often brings a great bottle of oil when invited to a dinner party, as well as the more usual wine. Being the kind of cook I am, that really appeals to me, the oil lasting a lot longer than the wine! With thanks to JME and James for my review set. Click here for stockists.

Next Review Up: The Great British Bake Off How To Bake

Sunday 21 August 2011

Nigella Kitchen… Another Helping

Coffee and Walnut Cake

First off, apologies, I didn’t manage to do the Cake Slice baker recipe this month, but I’ll be back again next month for the last recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes.

Kitchen Recipes from the Heart of the Home by Nigella Lawson published 2010 by Chatto and Windus. I’m still cooking from this the most recent Nigella Lawson cookbook – and here is my next instalment.

Coffee and Walnut Cake

Moist sponge and creamy icing. Rich, but good.

Spring Chicken

This chicken dish was very light, not a favourite. I did use the leftovers in the pasta sauce suggestion in the book, and it was nicer with the touch of cream we thought. Won’t do this one again though.

Turkey Meatballs

We liked this one – all of us. Maybe not Nigella's most spectacular meatballs, but still a good midweek supper.

Mixed Meat Pilaf

I’ve made this one a number of times, it’s really good. You do need some pine nuts and pomegranate seeds, but it lifts leftover lamb into a wonderful dish worth dreaming about in its own right.

Devil’s Food Cake

A very moist and delicious sponge and a really dark icing. Instead of 300g dark chocolate in the icing I used 200g dark and 100g milk chocolate, but it was still too dark for us. I think sometime in the future I’ll try this sponge and the icing from the chocolate cake in Nigella Bites. Have very high hopes for that =) At its best two days after making we thought.

Chorizo and Chickpea Stew

This is a store cupboard recipe, and quite quick to boot, but it’s good, chorizo sausage, chickpeas, apricots and tomatoes. The couscous with a bit of pasta in it and scented with cinnamon is quite unusual, but also good.

Not Quite Sl@t’s Spaghetti!

Not least because the one in my picture is not of spaghetti!! I bought this square pasta from M&S, cute don’t you think? Also not quite the recipe in the book because I reduce the anchovies to 1 for a half quantity. I like it though, light, quick and full flavoured.

Korean Prawns

The recipe in the book is for calamari, but I’m allergic to it so I used prawns. Spicy and good. Actually it’s on the very edge of my chilli tolerance, but still I like it. Beautiful colour too.

Grasshopper Pie

I’ve saved the best for last here, oh my goodness this is fabulous! It’s not cheap to make the first time as you need two liqueurs, but we really, really loved this! It’s cool, minty, creamy and so light too. Of course now I have the liqueurs - crème de cacao blanc and crème de menthe I can make it anytime. Whether that is a good this or not I don’t know!

Next Review: JME Oil and Vinegar

Next Book Review Up: The Great British Bake Off How to Bake