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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Gazza's Goulash with Rosemary Dumplings

Another recipe from the Abel & Cole Cookbook, this is a lovely warming one-pot meal just right for a day when we have snow on the 31st March! Although, I actually made this last weekend before the snow.

Gazza's Goulash with Rosemary Dumplings
Serves 6

The Goulash
2 glugs olive oil
1kg (21/4lb) braising beef such as chuck or blade, cut into 2.5cm (1in) chunks
2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika (a very mild paprika)
2 tbsp tomato puree
4 mugs chicken or beef stock, plus more if you need it
2 bay leaves
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm, 1/2 inch dice (you'll notice that mine are a bit bigger than that!)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Soured cream, to serve 

The Dumplings
1 egg
1/2 mug water
1tbsp salt
1 mug plain flour
1 tbsp chopped rosemary

Heat a glug or two of olive oil in a large, heavy-based lidded pot, add the beef and brown it , then remove with a slotted soon.  You may have to cook the beef in batches so the pot is not overcrowded.  Once the beef is out of the way, fry the onions for 3-4 mintues.

Return the beef to the pot and throw in the garlic, paprika and tomato puree and give this a good stir around for a few minutes.  Add the stock and bay leaves and simmer with the lid on for  45 minutes over a very low heat.

While the pot is boilling away, prepare your dumplings: mix the egg, water and salt together, and then add the flour, combine it and mix in the rosemary.  Let the mixture rest for about 20 minutes or so.

Once the pot has been simmering for 45 minutes, add the potatoes and more stock if needed - you need the goulash to be quite wet for the dumplings to cook.  After about 15 minuites, when the potatoes are tender, add the dumplings by dolloping one teaspoon of the mix at a time into the pot.  Return the lid and leave this to cook for 10-15 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with a dollop of soured cream.

Now for my verdict: 

The recipe - most of the recipes in the book use mugs for measuring, which is great if you are a novice cook without much equipment, however, it would have been nice to have weights as well for those of us who prefer more accurate measurements.

The goulash was absolutely delicious, the beef tender and the potatoes had soaked up all the lovely juices, I would be concerned if they were cut as small as was recommended that they would disintegrate but maybe not.  

The dumplings, on the other hand, were not as light and fluffy as I would expect from a dumpling.  Whenever I have made dumplings in the past I've used suet, there are good vegetarian suets available too, but as this is a beef stew ordinary suet should be just fine.  I'm adding a recipe below for the dumplings I've made before and never had a failure.

Alternative Dumpling Recipe from Delia Smith's Cookery Course
110g (4oz) self-raising flour
1/4tsp salt
50g (2oz) suet or vegetable suet
1 tsp herbs (rosemary in this case)
salt & pepper

Mix the flour, salt and pepper.  Stir in suet & herbs, add just enough water to make a soft but not too sticky dough, shape into 8 small dumplings.  Cook as above.

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Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had a notion for something with peanut butter in it.  I buy the Whole Earth Crunchy original peanut butter, but haven't had any for some time.  While blog hopping round the cooking blogs, I saw some muffins with pb and choc chips, I decided not to make those but went in search of a cookie recipe featuring the same ingredients.  

 Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Southern Food About.Com ) 


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) 125g butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup chunky or smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375Ā°F/190C/Fan oven 170C/Gas Mark 5. Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugars until light. Add the egg and mix until fluffy.
Blend the flour, baking powder, soda and salt together well. Add these dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Add the chocolate chips.
Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

 It was a dream of a mix to make and came out just the right texture.
No fancy fiddling making into balls and getting all sticky, just wallop down a teaspoon of dough and put it in the oven.

As usual my cookies varied from slightly over done to slightly underdone with some perfect ones!  I'm hoping that my new cooker will cook more evenly, I think it is because the door seal on the old oven has really past it's best so heat escapes from the front of the oven.

As there were really far too many cookies for us to eat (we would have eaten them all because they are delicious, but it wouldn't have been good for us) I made up a little package to take to a Party Lite party I had been invited to last night.  This is where crafting meets cooking!  I'm even beginning to quite like my own handwriting!

The cookies got 5 stars on the site and I would agree.

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Sunday, 28 March 2010

Vegetable Tagine with almond & chickpea couscous

If you are a frequent visitor to my blog you may already be aware that my cooking is often led by what's on special offer in the supermarketLast week it was Butternut Squash that was on offer, I didn't get around to making anything with it last week, so had a look for a recipe and found this 
on the BBC Good Food website.
I really enjoyed the couscous which has harissa mixed through and the chickpeas were a great addition, I took the pic before remembering to add the toasted almonds, but they added a very pleasant crunch.
The Tagine itself was dominated by the flavour of the coriander and mint that is added at the end of cooking.  I felt there needed to be more depth of flavour and I think this is down to the stock and the seasoning.  The recipe does recommend a strongly flavoured vegetable stock, I used Marigold Boullion Powder, but that still did not seem enough.  I would definitely make this again and experiment with different flavours in the stock, probably use less coriander and mint too.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Pickled Herring for Lunch

I'm cheating a bit here, as there is no cooking involved in this plateful at all!  However, it looked so pretty I had to take a picture and blog it!  I have made pickled herrings before and they turned out really well, they are one of my favourite foods especially the sweet pickled ones like these.  Avocados were half price in Tesco last night and just ripe and those little tomatoes are so sweet.

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Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Knock Knock!

I saw this recipe for 'Knock-up Fruit Cake' on Meandering Through My Cookbook, a blog by Hopeeternal.  It sounded like my kind of recipe i.e. basic recipe plus whatever happens to be in your cupboard, which for anyone who has read my blog for a while will know is pretty much how I cook!

The recipe was easy to follow and created a similar result to the picture on the blog, but I have to say that it did not keep particularly well.  I'm not sure if I overbaked it, although it was not burnt, but it seemed a little bit dry for my taste.  I may try again but think I prefer a boiled fruit cake with tons of fruit and really moist.  It's just a matter of taste.  I used dried cranberries, raisins and chopped dates for my fruit, I also used butter rather than margerine and I have to say that the cake part did have a lovely taste.

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Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Minute Apple Tart

I was looking for a quick dessert for our dinner on Sunday.  I had some puff pastry in the freezer and some apples in the fruit bowl, so a quick search on the web found me this recipe for Minute Apple Tart.

It was very easy and absolutely delicious served with vanilla ice-cream!

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Monday, 22 March 2010

Soda Bread

There were a lot of Irish Soda Bread recipes on the web last week celebrating St Patrick's Day.  I really like soda bread, so I thought I would make some too.

Irish Soda Bread
275g wholemeal flour
75g plain flour, plus a little extra
50g pinhead oatmeal
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
11/2 tsp salt
1tsp sugar
1 egg
1 234ml carton of buttermilk (I didn't have any so used 2tbsp of yogurt and made up the liquid with milk)
1tbsp rolled oats (I used more pinhead oatmeal)

Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5.  Grease a baking tray.  PUt the flours, oatmeal, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl and mix.  Beat the egg and buttermilk together and add them.  Mix with a fork and then your hands to form a smooth dough.  Shape the dough into an oval, add a dusting of flour, brush wiht milk and sprinkle with oats.  Use the blunt side of a knife to make indentations diagonally across the bread.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, then put on a wire rack to cool.

I found the oven was too hot as my bread had a bit in the middle that wasn't quite cooked,  I had to take it out after about 40 minutes or it would have burned.  I'll try again with a cooler oven.

It does taste fantastic though, the real deal!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

The Abel & Cole Cookbook

I was contacted by Emma Healey of Abel & Cole to review some products for them.  Unfortunately, Abel & Cole don't deliver to the wilds of south west Scotland yet.  So I wasn't able to review their lovely organic veggie boxesm, but I Emma was able to send me the Abel & Cole Cookbook.  It arrived on Thursday but I didn't have much chance to look at it until today.

As a cookbook it is written in a very relaxed style.  I enjoyed the introductions and finding out about the history of the company.  The book is set out by the seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and the idea is that you should cook by the seasons.  Even though I have only had a superficial look through the book so far, I can see that I generally don't cook seasonal produce, and how restrictive seasonal cooking would be unless you have access to the likes of Abel & Cole.  Certainly the south of Scotland is not the place for growing vegetables, it is dairy, beef and lamb country.  A few potatoes but the ground just isn't suitable for vegetables other than for potatoes.

So what did I make?

Not a Spring recipe at all, but a Summer recipe for Honey Glazed Salmon Steaks.
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard ( I used 1 tsp as I have had encounteres with Dijon mustard before!)
1 tbsp runny honey
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
2 salmon steaks  ( you will note that I had three salmon steaks!)

Mix together the vinegar, musard, honey, garlic and seasoning in a  bowl.  Brush over both sides of the salmon and leave in the fridge for about an hour.

Heat a ridged fying pan to a very high heat, then rub it with a little oil.  Sear the steaks for about 3 minutes on each side, turning only once.  The fish is cooked if it flakes easily when lightly prised with a fork.  The cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the salmon steaks and how you like them cooked.  Remove from the girll, bursh with any remianin glaze and serve.

I served the salmon with roasted cherry tomatoes ( oops imported) and a Leek and Potato bake - YES, seasonal cooking at last.  There isn't a recipe in the book for a Leek and Potato Bake, but there is one on the Abel and Cole website HERE.
and the finished plate....
The salmon was moist and delicious and the leek & potato bake went very well with it, as did the tomatoes.

I'll be back with more recipes from the Abel & Cole Cookbook very soon.

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More Chocolate - this time to give away!

I'm not giving it away, heaven forbid!!!  No this is a generous offer on the Jam and Clotted Cream blog so why not hop on over there and see if you can win a gorgeous Easter Egg from Hotel Chocolat.  Alternatively you could just visit their website and drool!

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Sunday, 14 March 2010

Chocolate and Sausages!

One of my colleagues at work has just returned from New York and gave me this candy bar. Beligan white chocolate with lemon peel and ginger. Check out Dylan's here .
I'm usually not that keen on white chocolate as I find it too sweet, but this was delicious. It was creamy and the little crunchy bits of lemon and ginger took away from the sweetness of the chocolate.

Remember I was telling you about all the eggs I had to get through? Well there are only two left in the basket now (another 6 will arrive tomorrow lol!) I roasted the onions and sausages in the oven in a little olive oil and then added the red and yellow peppers. Six eggs beaten with seasoning went in after the peppers had started to soften and it was a tasty supper served with a mixed salad.

I had a fairly major cook-in this morning. Big pot of Carrot & Tomato soup, Chicken Korma, Pork with rosemary and mushrooms and Arabian Lamb. I'm freezing all of these away for the time when the kitchen is out of commission, another couple of weeks before that happens yet as the joiner was round last night to say he has been held up with the job he is doing at the moment.

I also made a spinach and cottage cheese canneloni. Not pics as yet I'm afraid.

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Saturday, 13 March 2010


I've accumulated quite a lot of eggs, we get them from someone at DH's work and although it's only half a dozen every week, some weeks I seem to end up with a dozen at the weekend knowing that there are another half dozen arriving on Monday!

I have plans for a frittata for supper on Sunday but thought I'd make something different for lunch today. A quick scoot round BBC Good Food and I found a recipe for a Potato Cake with eggs and chilli. As I didn't have a fresh chilli, mine is more of a potato cake with eggs and black pepper!

Potato Cake with Eggs


550g potatoes (about 4 medium)
1 onion
2 tbsp olive oil
4 eggs (I only used 2 as it was lunch)
salt & freshly ground pepper
crusty bread to serve ( I favour Tesco's Rye and Sunflower)

  1. Peel and coarsely grate the potatoes, then squeeze out as much liquid as you possibly can with your hands. Set aside on kitchen paper, dabbing off any leftover juices. Grate the onion and do the same (I chopped my onion finely rather than grate it).
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, tip in the onions and cook over a medium heat for 5 mins, stirring until soft and lightly golden. Stir in the potatoes and mix. Fry the mixture in an even layer for about 15 mins until cooked and golden underneath. Meanwhile, heat the grill to high.
  3. Slide the pan under the grill and cook for 5 mins or until golden on top. Using a spoon, make four dips in the surface of the cake. Crack the eggs into the dips, season. Cover with a lid or baking sheet, place back on the hob and cook for 4-5 mins, depending on how you like your eggs cooked. Serve straight from the pan with lots of crusty bread.
You do need to make sure the potato is well seasoned otherwise it doesn't taste that good, but overall this was a tasty dish, not particularly quick but a good and substantial dish when you don't have a lot else available.

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Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Picnic 1946 stylee!

As I haven't been doing any cooking worth blogging, I thought I'd share some of my recipe ephemera. This little Ministry of Food leaflet belonged either to my MIL or my husband's grandmother. It came with the house, as did most of the really old recipe cuttings that I have managed to gather together.

The cover is interesting as it features both the image of a 'packed lunch' for the worker, in a factory, and also the traditional picnic hamper for a day out in the countryside.

on the back page is the leaflet number, there must have been a series, but this is the only one I have, and the date June 1946.

Here are some of the pages, just in case you were wondering why the recipes don't seem to follow on from each other, the leaflet is one sheet of paper folded, so not too easy to scan!

The recipes are not too bad really, athough I don't fancy Butter or Margarine extender, but I guess that was what you had to do when food was rationed.
Who'd have thought that there would be hamburgers and coleslaw on the picnic menu in 1946!

Flapjacks are pretty much the same then as now, but coffee essence - bleurgh!

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Saturday, 6 March 2010


I started out with a recipe for Mustard Stuffed Chicken from BBC Good Food but no mustard was involved and I couldn't get any nice mozzarella so used some Dolce de Montagne from M&S. All I did was put the cheese in the centre of the chicken breast and wrapped it in smoked bacon, then put it in an ovenproof dish added a little chicken stock covered with foil and baked in the oven for 35 minutes, then took off the foil for another 5-10 minutes to brown the bacon.

I served this is potatoes boulangere, a recipe I haven't made for a while. Sliced potatoes are layered with sliced onions and seasoned, pour over about 1/4 pint of stock and bake in the oven for 40 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through. I usually cook it covered and then remove the lid for the last 5 minutes to brown. Are you seeing a pattern here?
The cheese melted nicely in the middle -mmm yum!

This is what the potato dish looks like when it comes out of the oven, nice and crispy on top and soft and unctious underneath.

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Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Fresh from the Oven round up

You can see all the Fresh from the Oven loaves HERE in the round up.