Wednesday 28 March 2012

What’s For Dinner? By Fay Ripley – Review and one copy to giveaway

I’ve been looking forward to this one for ages, and when I got my copy I was not disappointed! What’s For Dinner easy & delicious recipes for everyday cooking by Fay Ripley 2012 published by Collins. This is Fay’s second cookbook and follows on from the first, it’s aimed at the same audience, I think. I liked her first one, but actually I think this one is even better.

This book is aimed at people who cook the day in day out family meals for children and adults alike. I’m a reasonably adventurous cook, but when you have little people to feed this is not necessarily a winning combination!

I find Fay’s approach to feeding little ones really helpful, she is good at creating recipes that include new tastes but not in a way that is overwhelming to little palates. Big people like her recipes too. Some other recipes aimed at children that I’ve come across are just not what you want to eat as an adult, but Fay crosses the divide well, and manages to mostly please both sets.

The book is nicely done, well presented, recipes are easily followed plus there is a picture of each recipe. Chapters are: *Monday* Tuesday* Wednesday* Thursday* Friday* Weekend* Cornershop * and lastly *Sides*. There are hints and tips at the end of recipes, feeding little ones etc. Having the meals in ‘days’ means you can’t just go to a main meals section, you have to flip through. There was a time that would have annoyed me, but now I think this is ok, if forces me to look through again and maybe discover a little gem that I had previously missed.

Some of the recipes I’ve marked to try are: Quick Zingy Kebabs with Tzatziki, Hoisin Pork Fillet with Lemon and Ginger Noodles, Nutty Mango Rice Salad, Crispy Prawn Salad, Hot (tomato) Pesto Chicken Nuggets, Show Off Chicken Platter, Colly Stuffed Jackets with Sticky Snags, Falafel Burgers, Little Greek Almond Moons, Blueberry and Coconut Cake and Easy Bakewell Cake.

I have one copy to give away to a commenter on this post, selected at random. To be entered please leave a comment saying why you’d like to win this one. Closing date is 4th April at 12 mid-day 2012. Good luck! NOW CLOSED
Here are my first makes from the book.

No Fuss Smoked Salmon & Boursin Risotto
This recipe came about by serendipity. I went down to my local shop on the hunt for something for my own lunch, and I saw Scottish smoked salmon. Freedom Foods smoked salmon. Buy one get 2 free!! It would have been rude not to. J Of course this meant I then had extra salmon to think how to use up, I was looking through Fay’s book and immediately came across this risotto, which I had not even marked previously!
The cheese should be goats cheese, but I swapped it for Boursin instead. This is a cheats risotto simmered with the lid on the pan. I’ve tried a few oven baked risottos before, but wasn’t very pleased with the outcomes, they were usually ok, but not wows. This one was moist and creamy with the cheese, delicious already, but more so for us adults with the fish and dill. What I ended up with was a fast supper so good I could hardly believe it! My little one would not eat smoked salmon, but before I stirred in the fish and dill I removed her bowl and added in some bits I know she would like. Smiles all round.

Pea and Bacon Soup
Pea, bacon and mint soup with crispy oven baked croutons. Yum! I did the croutons with soda bread, which for a yeast-free-er like me was a real bonus.

Cottage Pie
Different from the one I normally make as it has a tin of tomatoes in it and also parsnips along with potatoes in the mash. It was good.

Italian Chicken Bake
Chicken baked with the flavours of pizza. I served this with garlic bread, I think new potatoes would go as well, and I’ll do this next time, especially since I can’t have garlic bread.

All in One “Paella”
Not quite paella as I know it, but a nice prawn rice dish for supper.

Green Macaroni in Minutes
A vegetarian macaroni with leeks and spinach added in. We adults liked it and little one was very, very suspicious of the greenery in it, but did eat it. J The recipe link is here.

Sweet Sticky Chicken
An Asian inspired chicken that baked to sticky deliciousness. A serious hit in my house! My little one at this, and hubby before he’d even finished his first plate was keen to see if there was more, who could blame him though, it was a real treat.
Served with Egg Fried Rice
Egg Fried Rice is a regular on my table, this one is a prefect side.

Rustic Italian Savoury Scone
Loved this one, a scone bread, quick to make and flavoured with pesto, olives and mozzarella, yum!

Nutty Nuggets of Deliciousness
Short crumbly buttery, nutty biscuits sandwiched with Nutella. Addictive! Recipe link here.

Festive Pig in a Bun

I call these porkie patties. Sausage meat with dried cranberries and pine nuts added into them. Some of us had them in buns and some not. Amazing with a bit of blue cheese.

Served with Coleslaw

I served them with Fay’s coleslaw, which was a good one. The patties and coleslaw are the ones pictured on the cover of the book.

Next Up: Winner of Fay’s book

Next Up after that: Quadrille’s New Voices in Food – the first four books.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Cake Slice Baker March 2012 – individual Warm Chocolate Cakes

Well, it is the 20th of the month – so Cake Slice Baker time! This month we are again baking from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle published by John Wiley and Sons 2006. Our recipe is for individual warm chocolate cakes from the Flourless Cakes chapter.

I love a molten chocolate or lava pudding, and have made a number of them before. This one was a little different to others I’ve tried in that it has no flour or ground nuts to bind it and it is essentially a baked chocolate mousse. It also varies in that the pots are buttered and lined with granulated sugar.

They were easy to put together, and the granulated sugar lining made the outside of the cakes a little crunchy. I made this recipe two times, the first I baked them for 15 minutes and there is just a chocolate gungy bit in the middle. Second time I doubled the sugar and baked for 10 minutes, this was very molten, but the outside was not baked enough – I was looking for a result like this one I’ve made before. I’ll try 12 minutes next time and I’m hoping for perfection!! They were relatively light and deliciously chocolate-y, but did need a bit more sugar for us.

I like my molten chocolate cakes with raspberries and a teensy dribble of cream, but of course you can have them however you like J To see how my fellow Cake Slice Bakers got on, do have a look at the blogroll here, I’m just off to do so.

Next Up: What’s For Dinner? by Fay Ripley, review, first makes and one copy to give away.

Monday 12 March 2012

Even More Nigella Kitchen…

Well, here I am again with another Nigella post. This instalment comes from Kitchen Recipes from the Heart of The Home by Nigella Lawson 2010 published by Chatto and Windus. This is my sixth post from this book, for any new readers click on the Nigella Kitchen line at the bottom of this post or in the ‘Books Cooked from So Far’ on the right hand side to see the previous ones.

I’m not quite finished with trying new recipes from this book, but my mind can’t help wondering onto the new one Nigella is currently working on. It’s to be an Italian one called ‘Nigellissima, Italian Express’ - due out this year, so I’ll look forward to that. In the meantime though here are my latest makes from Kitchen – a bumper helping!

Pork and Apple Hotpot

I’ve made this one a few times now, the first time a lot of the lovely sauce evaporated away, but I’ve been careful since. Pork, bacon, apples and light spicing – think mixed spice rather than curry spice. It’s a lovely warming and comforting oven bound hotpot.

Lemon Polenta Cake

I’m not sure if I would have made this one, but when round at my friend Anna’s one night she produced this fabulous cake for pudding and served it with berries and cream. It was gorgeous, and so I came to make it myself too. Gluten free as well.

Smoked Haddock My Mother’s Way

This was ok, I did bake it for the 10 minutes suggested but my yolk became hard, which was a shame. Might try it again one day.

Coconut and Cherry Banana Bread

I liked this one, not a looker as so many loaf cakes are not, but good spread with butter.

Guinness Gingerbread and Scarlet Plums

A dark delicious gingerbread that gets more moist and sticky if baked a few days before needed. Lovely with a cup of tea or coffee. Also a great hearty pudding accompanied by the scarlet plums. They are plums poached with sugar, cinnamon and cranberry juice, loved both these recipes, together or separately.


I think of this as green minestrone, as there is no tomato in it. I’ve made this one so many times, and have deviated from it as well. It is most definitely at its best with a parmesan rind simmered in with it, then removed, but it is worth making anyhow. There is a tablespoon of wine to add in at the end if you like, so little peoples soup can be dished up first, than the wine added.

Scallops and Thai-scented Pea Puree

Made this for hubby one night, we both liked it, and I was especially taken by what a little Thai Green curry paste did for the pea puree. Again not a looker - but good. We needed pudding after this.

Speedy Seafood Supper

Light and easy, I made this with prawns instead of calamari. Spot of tabasco would be nice too.

Pasta alla Genovese

I liked this one, a good pasta and pesto, wasn’t convinced by the need for the potatoes here, even though it is traditional. Hubbs and little one apparently don’t like pasta and pesto!! Now I know too J

Ed’s Mother’s Meatloaf and BBQ Gravy

I’ve made this one a few times as well. Mine is always crumbly when hot, but is slices well cold and makes a fabulous lunch the next day too. The gravy is good too, though not essential to the yummy meatloaf.

Ham Hocks

I used the smoked ham suggested in the recipe, and they were very smoke-y, little one loved this. I’m not so sure, I’m glad I tried it, but I’ll stick to hams I think!

South Indian Vegetable Curry

This one was good, get your 5 a day in one go and light too!

Quick Brownies

I really didn’t like this one, it just wasn’t what I want and expect a brownie to be.

Japanese Prawns

A warm prawn salad flavoured with Sake and wasabi. I don’t have Sake so I use sherry therefore mine are not quite Japanese. It doesn’t really matter though these are so good, light and flavoursome yum! I’ve made this one loads too, I call them ‘lunch prawns’.

Frangelico Tiramisu

I made half the quantity of this just for us (fortunately) it was way too boozey for our tastes. I have a friend who made it too, and she said the same. If you do make it, I’d say at least halve the liqueur.

Lemony Salmon with Cherry Tomato Couscous

The salmon was great and I’d make it again, wasn’t so taken with the couscous though. To be fair though couscous isn’t my favourite starch.

Brownie Bowls

These are good, I like them just cooled from the oven. You do need to buy a special tin for them, but they make for a cute presentation: your own little edible bowl. Though actually I find them cute to look at even empty. Yummy filled with vanilla ice cream and butterscotch sauce.

Next Up: Fay Ripley’s What’s For Dinner?

Monday 5 March 2012

Cake Magic, Review and Recipe for HRH Fav Cake

I have a bit of an interest in cakes tagged with ‘favourite of’ or ‘liked by’ the Queen Mother, our present Queen’s mother who passed on a number of years ago now. I’m not sure where this interest comes from, but it is undeniably there. I’ve collected three recipes so far, one from a Maida Heatter book for a chocolate cake, a date pudding liked by her in The Fabulous Baker Brothers by Tom and Henry Herbert, and this glorious one here.

Cake Magic by Kate Shirazi published by Anova in 2011. It a lovely colourful book, and I like the layout and patterns here and there. Not all the cakes are pictured, but a large percentage of them are. There are a few ‘getting started’ pages covering *The outs and ins of tins* Basic ingredients* Timing and testing* and * Troubleshooting*. The recipe chapters are: *Everyday Cakes* Posh Cakes* Little Cakes* Tea Breads, Buns and Loaves* and * Cheesecakes*. Plus of course it has Kate’s commentary and introductions, in her frank and often amusing style.

I’ve marked a number of cakes I’d like to try in this one including: Famous Five Cake, Chocolate Orange Loaf, Orange and Sultana Cake, Fig and Raisin Tea Bread, The Fondant Fancy, A Sophisticated Cake (almond and lemon flourless with icing and rose petals), Chocolate Meringue Tower and Chocolate Chestnut Cake to name but a few…

This recipe here is one Kate found in her Grandma’s recipe book. The sheet with the cake recipe on it was titled ‘Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s Favourite Cake’. Now I’m not making any claims here, it may or may not have been a favourite. It was the reason I was particularly drawn to make this cake first, rather than some of the others above. I have always wanted to go up to visit the Castle of Mey, her Scottish home latterly, way up north, and one day hopefully I’ll get there.

Anyhow, in the meantime I would like to think she liked this cake, and if she did well and good, but if not; well it’s a fantastic sticky toffee cake to have with tea or coffee. The topping is almost like a thin (though not too thin!) layer of fudge, and the cake is moist and sticky because of the dates, especially the day after making.

HRH Fave Cake

Posted here from Cake Magic by Kate Shirazi published in 2011 with kind permission from Anova books, thank you.

150g / 5 oz / ¾ cup stoned and chopped dates

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

250ml / 8 fl oz / 1 cup boiling water

200g / 7oz / 1 cup caster (superfine) sugar

200g / 7oz / 1 cup unsalted butter – (divided see recipe)

250g / 9oz / 2 ¼ cups self-raising flour

1 large free-range egg, beaten

300g / 10oz / 1 ½ cups light muscovado sugar

4 tablespoons double (whipping) cream

1. Preheat the oven to 160 oC / 325 oF / Gas mark 3. Grease and line a 20cm / 8 inch square cake tin. Put the date and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl, pour the boiling water over and leave to soak for 5 minutes or so.

2. In a big bowl (or mixer), beat the caster sugar and 50g / 1 ¾oz / scant ¼ cup butter, flour and egg, then stir in the date / water/ bicarbonate of soda mix.

3. Put the mixture in the tin, level out the surface and bake for about 35 minutes or until firm and springy to the touch. Cool on a wire rack (in the tin) while you get on with the topping.

4. Put the muscovado sugar, remaining butter and the cream in a pan. Gently heat to melt the sugar (stirring often) and then boil rapidly for 1 – 2 minutes stirring all the time. Leave the mixture to cool a little, then spread all over the cake and leave alone for 1 – 2 hours for the topping to fully set. Serves 8.

My Note: I cut this into 16 squares, and also beat the cooling topping to thicken a little.

Next Up: Even More Nigella Kitchen!

Hairy Biker Book Winner

I put numbers in a box and no. 7 came out first.

So congratulations to the seventh commenter Jean. Please get in touch with me Jean or leave a comment here with a way for me to contact you, and I’ll get your Hairy Bikers Big Book of Baking on its the way to you!