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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Chicken Stuffed with Figs and Goats Cheese

How exactly are you supposed to react when you are contacted by a goat?  That's Ethel the Goat from Capricorn Goats Cheese who invited me to join the #CarpricornChallenge - national search for goatally scrumptious recipes using ingredients from Somerset including Capricorn Goats Cheese.

Ethel sent me this amazing hamper full of lovely goodies, it was packed with jars and bottles, packets and fresh produce.

After looking at the ingredients, I had a bit of a think and decided to stuff some chicken legs with goat's cheese, figs, honey and thyme in a sort of, Somerset meets Scotland meets Greece, kind of way.

Chicken Legs stuffed with Figs, Goats Cheese and Honey

4 Chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)
1 100g drum of Capricorn Goats Cheese
4 figs, quartered
8 teaspoons of honey
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
chicken bones
1/4 pint water
1/2 tsp chopped thyme leaves
stock vegetables e.g. chopped celery, carrot, onion (I also used some coriander stems which I had frozen as per Melanie at Edible Things - a brilliant idea for saving veg bits for making stock later)
salt & freshly ground pepper

I've made a little YouTube Video to show you how to debone your chicken, it's really easy and creates a perfect pocket for all kinds of stuffings.

So once you have your chicken leg without the bones in it,   stuff it with chopped figs, goats cheese, thyme, salt and freshly ground pepper, more figs, more goats cheese and two teaspoons of honey.  Then close up and secure with cocktail sticks.

Now make the sauce,  heat the oil in a pan, add the bones and cook until the little bits of chicken left on them start to turn golden.  Add the vegetables and cook for two minutes, then add the water, thyme and seasoning.  Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and brown the stuffed chicken legs. Remove the chicken legs to an ovenproof dish and deglaze the pan with 1/4 pint of cider, I used Burrow Hill Farm Pressed, Somerset Cider  Add this to the stock/sauce and pour around the chicken legs.

 Bake in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes until the juices of the chicken, when pierced with a skewer, run clear.  Remove the skewers from the chicken legs and once on the plate, strain the sauce through a sieve to remove any bits.

Serve the stuffed chicken legs with the sauce.  I also served roasted vegetables, including red onion, red peppers, butternut squash and halved tomatoes. 

Now I'm not normally a huge fan of goats cheese but the Carpricorn Goats Cheese was mild and creamy and delicious and complemented the other stuffing flavours and the chicken very well.  The sauce was particularly good and some of the cheese had leaked out into it  and went well with the tang of the Burrow Hill cider.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinion expressed is my own.

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Thursday, 24 May 2012

ABC of me

Many thanks to Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog for passing on the ABC (Awesome Blog Content) Award to me.  This means I now have to think of 26 words that mean something to me, one for each letter of the alphabet.

A - Art.  One day I will have time to develop my skills, for now I appreciate the skill of others.
B - Baking.  I've been baking since I was a little girl and still love it.
C - Create.  Making things makes me happy.
D - Digital Scrapbooking.  I love the immediacy and flexibility of scrapping my photographs with digitial kits.
E - Earrings.  I have many pairs.
F -Farm.  Where I live.
G -Garden. A place to potter around, my garden has changed purpose many times.
H - Home.  I love my home and like to spend as much time here as possible.
I - Images.  I love words, but I love images more.
J - Joni Mitchell.  My favourite musician.
K - Kitchen.  Somewhere I like to spend my time.
L -Laugh.  I can usually find the funny side of any situation, I love to laugh.
M - Massage.  I'm a bit of a spa junkie.
N -Non-judgemental.  I strive to be non-judgemental, it's not easy.
O -Optimistic.  Always look on the bright side of life.
P -Parents. There is my Mother and Mother-in-law and these are also my roles.
Q - QI.  Makes me laugh so much.
R - Relax.  Sometimes I find it hard to relax (see M).
S - Saxophone.  My husband plays the saxophone and I hear it every day.
T - Twitter - I know, I spend far too much time on Twitter.
U - University. I loved my time  studying at university and now work at one.
V - Vote.  I was very affected by 'Shoulder to Shoulder' the suffragette TV series and always vote.
W -Wine. No explanation needed.
X - Xylophone. I used to play a little bit of xylophone when I was at school.
Y - You!  My blog would be nothing with YOU my readers. Thanks.
Z -Zabaglione. Totally delicious.

Now I have to nominate some other bloggers for the ABC award.  I've decided to nominate three bloggers:

Please feel free to join in!

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Lamb Steaks with Adobo Seasoning

The theme for May's Sweet Heat Challenge is 'Mexican'.  I love mexican food and have several Mexican cook books.  I decided to try something different that I had never made before and chose an Adobo Seasoning which I adapted as a marinade for lamb steaks.

The Sweet Heat Challenge is hosted this month by Souperior, it's usual home being Lyndsey Fleenor's Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops.

Adobo Seasoning

3 cloves of garlic crushed
3 hot chillis, deseeded and chopped
1tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 cloves or 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
120ml white wine vinegar
3 lamb steaks
1tbsp sunflower oil

1. Put the chillies and garlic in a blender or mortar.  Add the oregano, cum seeds, cloves, coriander seeds cinnamon aand salt.  Process or grind with a pestle to a rough powder, add the vinegar and blend again.

Cover the lamb steaks with the marinade cover with cling film and leave to marinade for 3- 4 hours.

Heat the oil in a pan and sear the steaks, then turn down the heat, add the rest of the marinade and cook for about 10 minutes until the lamb is cooked through.

 Although hot, this wasn't overpowering and the flavours are totally delicious and a very different type of Mexican food from the standard chilli con carne, fajitas and other various tortilla based dishes.

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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Rhubarb and Elderflower Tarts

It's time for Tea Time Treats!  So, get floral in the kitchen, bring me some flowers please! ALL types of bakes or cooked goodies that would be suitable for a Tea Time Table are acceptable, so that can be scones, pancakes, muffins, cakes, bakes, biscuits, cookies, pies, tarts etc etc…….


 The Tea Time Treats is run by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked

Rhubarb and Elderflower Tarts (makes 3)

Enough leftover Avoca pastry to make three tartlet cases
2 sticks of garden rhubarb, sliced finely
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornflour
2 tsp Elderflower Cordial

1. Cut out pastry and line three tart tins.  
2. Mix together the sugar, cornflour and rhubarb in a bowl.  Add the Elderflower Cordial and mix together.
3. Divide the mixture between the pastry cases and bake for 10-15 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the rhubarb has softened.

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Monday, 21 May 2012

White Bean Soup - Random Recipe #16

It wasn't really soup weather yesterday, but I had planned to make my Random Recipe for the challenge at Belleau Kitchen and I was bloomin' sure I was going to make it!  The theme this month is 'First and Last' with the rules as follows:

 randomly select a book
2. look at the first and last recipes
3. choose one (or both if you're feeling flash..) of the recipes and make it
4. post the recipe on your blog with a link back to my blog and include the random recipes logo
5. deadline is midnight on the 29th May

 The book I picked was the Good Housekeeping Best 30 Minute Recipes which I see is still available to buy, although I must have had mine for over 20 years.  It's a great book which I have used a lot, but never have I made the first recipe for White Bean Soup.

White Bean Soup
Serves 4

1tbsp oil
125g onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 level tsp copped fresh rosemary or 1/2 level tsp dried
425g can haricot beans, drained and rinsed (I soaked dried cannelini beans overnight then boiled for 30 minutes before adding to soup)
1.1 litres vegetable stock
salt and pepper
Toasted wholemeal croutons and sprigs of fresh rosemary to garnish

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion with the garlic and rosemary for 1-2 minutes.  Add the beans, stock and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Puree half the soup mixture in a blender or food processor and return to pan. Bring back to the boil, stirring all the time. Adjust the seasoning.
3. Serve the soup sprinkled with croutons.  Garnish each bowl with a sprig of rosemary.

This was our first meal outside on the patio this year, my son joined us and, on taking a spoonful of soup, pronounced 'That's really good' with a sound of surprise in his voice!  Praise indeed.

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Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Great Macaron Challenge!

When I saw that the 'We should Cocoa' blog challenge was to combine chocolate and almonds,  I knew that it was time to overcome my fear and make chocolate macarons!  I decided to tweet my intention just to make sure I didn't back out and Sue, from A little bit of heaven on a plate, tweeted right back that she would make them if I would!  And so the Great Macaron Challenge had begun.

 I am fortunate enough to own a copy of 'Mad about Macarons!' by Jill Colonna and used the technique and recipe in there for the Dark Chocolate Macarons.  Everything was very precise and very clearly explained with text and step-by-step photographs.

This is the mixture or macaronnage with all the air pushed out of the beaten egg whites and the ground almonds, cocoa and icing sugar.

The mixture was then piped onto baking sheets covered with baking paper.  If I'm going to be making many of these I will invest in a macaron mat to make it easy to make them all the same size.

Yes, they are rather flat (more practice required) but at least there is an obvious 'foot' which pleased me no end.

The filling is a chocolate/coffee ganache, and I was pleased that when they were put together, the macarons looked more like they should.

Sadly, Sue's macarons did not work out, not even enough to show on her blog.  I hope she will have another go, I definitely will be making more.

We should Cocoa is being hosted this month by Laura at How to Cook Good Food  full details of the challenge are available on Choclette's Chocolate Log Blog  the other founding member of this challenge is Chele at Chocolate Teapot who is taking a bit of a break just now.

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Saturday, 19 May 2012

Hazelnut, Apricot and Honey Wholemeal Loaf

The Alpha Bakes challenge for May is to bake something beginning with the letter 'H'. It's hosted this month by Caroline of Caroline Makes  who alternates hosting with Ros from The more than occasional Baker I had a browse through my books and found this Hazelnut, Apricot and Honey Wholemeal Loaf in The Great British Bake Off, How to BakeThat gives me two H's!

It's a sweet wholemeal bread mix, with honey instead of sugar and milk instead of water.  Added to it are toasted hazelnuts and chopped apricots.  I think I would add a little more liquid to the mix next time as the dough was quite tight and heavy. 

In the book they loaf was made as a plait, so I followed suit, then brushed with milk to give a shine to the loaf.  

I served the loaf sliced, lightly buttered with sliced Fair Trade bananas and a bowl of Fairtrade oranges and Fairtrade Bananas.  It was a really nice change for breakfast and very filling.

I'm entering this for 'Breakfast Club #22, Let's hear it for Fair Trade' run by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours. The challenge runs every month with details of hosts on its own Breakfast Club page. 

This month there is a prize for entering the Breakfast Club challenge so get over there and join in!

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Friday, 18 May 2012

Pizza Night!

Sometimes, I just don't feel like cooking, usually it is on a Friday night.  So I was delighted to be asked to review a Dr Oetker's Ristorante Pizza,  I chose the Pizza Mozzarella, these were priced £2.78 at Tesco Online.
 You put the pizza straight onto the oven tray so it cooks from below as well as above.

10 - 12 minutes in the oven and the pizza is ready straight from the freezer.

We have eaten many ready-made pizzas, both chilled and frozen and I have to say that it was a really delicious pizza.  The crust was thin and crisp and the topping had real pesto and mozzarella on top and was well distributed across the pizza base.

 Disclosure Statement: I received this Dr Oetkers Pizza for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. The prices are correct at time of posting.

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Monday, 14 May 2012

Make it Moussaka!

I seemed to have a lot of bits and pieces of food left over after my visitors had been.  I had also bought two aubergines which were on special offer, so I decided to make a sort of moussaka.

Here are the ingredients I had, but you could use any combination as filling between the aubergines:

2 aubergines
2 rashers of bacon 
1 tin of tomatoes
Left over chilli
Left over shepherd's pie
400g mushrooms (half a family pack) sliced
4 grilled tomato halves
small quantity of cooked mangetout peas
200ml soured cream
1 egg
olive oil for brushing

Switch on your grill to full heat.  Slice the aubergines  lengthways and lay out on a baking tray, brush with olive oil.

Put the tray of aubergines under the grill and gril until golden brown and soft, turn and brush with more oil.  Do this until all of your aubergine slices are cooked.

Fry the bacon in a little oil in a large pan, when it is cooked, add the sliced mushrooms and saute gently until soft.  Add the left over chilli mixture and shepherd's pie.  Add a tin of tomatoes and heat through, mixing the ingredients together.

Place a layer of the mixture in the base of a large baking dish, then add a layer of aubergines, another layer of the meat and tomato mixture and then put the remaining aubergines on top.

Mix together the soured cream and egg together and season, spread over the aubergines.

Bake at 180C for 40 minutes until golden brown and bubbling around the edges.  Serve with crusty bread and a salad.

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Sunday, 13 May 2012

Rhubarb and Marionberries

I had rather a busy time recently, both with work, visitors and attending the cupcake class last weekend.  So here I am again with very little in the way of tasty treats to show to you.  On Friday night we ate Donal's ultimate chilli from Delicious Magazine (June 2012) with the guacamole and the tomato salsa salad also featured as accompaniments.  I served it with rice and crusty bread.  That went down a treat,  I didn't even add any chilli to make it palatable for my grandson and served some chilli sauce on the side, but it really didn't need it.

Yesterday, we went to visit Threave Gardens, near Castle Douglas.  There is a lovely walled garden, it's a little bare at the moment but with promise of things to come. The glass house is a little more fruitful, we were lucky to be able to enjoy a walk around the grounds as it was a dry day and not too windy or cold, unlike today!

In the walled garden I saw these lovely rhubarb forcing pots. They look so attractive sitting over the pale stems of rhubarb, while it tries to escape through the ground to reach the light, popping up round about the pots.

There were also many apple trees, standard ones and also those which had been espaliered along some wires, plenty of blossom, so hopefully a good apple year.

Inside the glass house, I spotted this passionflower, high up on it's vine.  I had to hold the camera up and guess, it took a few goes to get this shot, but I think it was worth it.

Another area of the garden which was growing well, was the herb garden.  There was fennel, oregano, chives and mint, all looking fresh and delicious.

Tayberry is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry

On our way out of the walled garden, I noticed these little tags showing the various berries that were grown in the garden.  I thought they looked so good and I'd love to try all these berries. Particularly when I saw the tag for 'Marionberries' which I'd seen mentioned on the White on Rice blog just last week, I certainly didn't expect to see them locally.

The Loganberry is also a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry but resembles the blackberry more than the raspberry.
The Boysenberry is a cross between a raspberry, a blackberry AND a loganberry!

The Marionberry is a Marion Blackberry, a hybrid cross produced mainly in Marion County, Oregon, USA.

A Sunberry is a hybrid cross between two members of the nightshade family, Solanum villosum and Solanum guineense.

Blackberry variety

The Tummelberry takes it a stage further:  a purple soft hybrid fruit (tayberry) of the blackberry and raspberry created by crossing it with another hybrid of the blackberry and raspberry

Another Blackberry variety
I'll be back soon with some cooking,  I created a sort of faux mousakka tonight with all the leftovers from the weekend, so will be sharing my 'sustainable' cooking with you shortly.  Hope you enjoyed the excursion to Threave Castle and it inspires you to find some different sorts of berries.

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