Oat White Bread – Ideal for Toast!!

Hello again it’s me!! I know, such an unoriginal introduction. But here I most definitely am and I bring with me a scrumptious recipe for Oat White Bread.

I made bread today – I use made in the most liberal sense of the word; I weighed some stuff, poured some stuff flipped a switch & my trusty bread maker kneaded, proved & knocked back the dough, I then, in an effort to feel like I had contributed to the ‘making’ process shaped the loaf, placed the dough in a tin, placed that tin in a hot oven, turned out the cooked loaf, washed up the tin (phew I’m working up a sweat just thinking about all that activity – do you think I could successfully turn cooking into a fitness video??? Answers on a postcard please?!!!).

Anyhow, today wheat flour, oats, yeast, a pinch of salt, water, honey & butter became a rather knobbly looking loaf, in my kitchen. And now I can’t wait for tomorrow morning, cos that means brekkie in bed!

Think Downton Abbey, complete with tray on legs, cuppa tea/coffee and TOAST.  The oaty loaf is nice enough, but it’s in a league of it’s own whe cut, toasted, buttered & spread with jam. The only way you’re really going to understand is if you make some (ideally a day ahead – this bread inproves in flavour over a couple if days).

So I’m going to help you by telling you how I made my loaf.

This recipe is for use with a bread maker or stand mixer (with dough hook attachment). It can easily be made by hand using basic bread making & kneeding skills. Unfortunately due to a very dodgey back I chose, what is for me, the easy option!

This recipe produces a 1 1/2 lb loaf.

You will need :

1 x 2 – 3 lb buttered loaf tin

450g/1 lb Strong White Flour

50g/2 oz Porridge oats (unflavoured, not quick cook), ordinary flat rolled oats

25g/1 oz Unsalted Butter at room temperature

1 tsp honey

1 x 7g Instant Dried Yeast Sachet

1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

300 -340ml hand hot Water

Method :

Preheat your oven to its hottest temperature (250C – same for fan oven).

Place 300ml of warm water into the bowl (of you bread maker/stand mixer or wide heavy bowl suitable for mixing dough in).

Add the dried yeast from the sachet & the honey. Mix around with your fingers (I enjoy this bit!)

Place the flour on top of the yeast/water mixture & then add the oats, salt & butter.

if using a bread maker set the machine to the dough cycle and press start!

If using a stand mixer lower the dough hook into the mixture and mix in a low speed for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Remove dough from the bowl & shape into a ball before placing into an oiled bowl. After placing the dough in the oiled bowl, turn the dough over so that both top & bottom have a covering of oil, cover tightly with cling film and leave in a warm, draught free place until doubled in size 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

If making the dough by hand, using your clean hand bring all the ingredients together and mix within the bowl until you have a cohesive ball of dough. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a clean, lightly floured surface. Hand kneed the dough for 10-15 minutes until the dough changes, it will start to feel more elastic, have a smoother form and also appear to work with you when you are kneeding it. Proceed as above for proving your dough.

Once your dough is doubled in size gently ‘knock it back’.  Either use the settings in your bread maker to mix the dough (effectively ‘knocking it back’ for 1 minute, or gently punch down into the large, airy ball of dough in the oiled bowl, pressing & turning the dough to bring it back to almost it’s original size.

Turn out your dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface & stretch the dough lengthways until it is 3 x it’s original length. Take one end and fold it back in, just past the middle part of the dough, repeat with the other end. Turn the dough 90 clockwise and repeat the stretching and folding technique. Repeat this process twice more.

This small, but important process, once incorporated into all my bread making has had an undeniable improvement in the quality, shape, structure and texture of every loaf I have subsequently baked! Who’da thunk it???!!!!

Place the shaped loaf in the buttered tin, cover with a slightly damp tea towel & place in a warm, draught free place until doubled in size (approx 1 – 1 1/2 hours).

When ready, remove the tea towel & place the loaf tin in the oven. I immediately reduce the heat by 25C as I don’t like a very hard, dark crust. This loaf should take approx 20-30 minutes to bake. It is cooked when it is a golden colour & the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the base.

If you cannot wait until tomorrow to taste your super, additive free, homemade loaf, PLEASE wait until it has, at least cooled to room temp. Otherwise you will be left with a squished, misshapen loaf.

For a family of five this loaf will easily disappear over breakfast!! For singles & couples it is also very nice for sandwiches & other recipes requiring bread.

Which reminds me, a friend came for lunch yesterday and we had homemade leek & potato soup (will post recipe soon!) and this bread – I made some earlier, went beautifully with it. Perfect for dunking!!

I have to go now, my eldest, Star, is having 3 girlie friends over tomorrow for a belated, birthday, sleepover.

I need all my strength to prepare the FEAST AND JOIN IN THE FUN!!!!

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Blueberry and Lemon Muffins!

Hi there I hope you are having a good day? I have been baking the scrummiest, yummiest, Blueberry and Lemon Muffins – ooh the smell whilst they were baking was truly mouth watering!

Lemony blueberry muffins - pop the kettle on!!!!!
Lemony blueberry muffins – delish

I’ve been thinking about the names that different foods are given, for example : Buffalo wings, the name totally confuses me. You see Buffalos don’t have wings, well not the ones I’ve ever seen on Telly or in books. Now wait for it – this is gonna come as a massive surprise – they are Chicken Wings. Who’da thunk it?

Also, as far as I’m aware, Moussaka doesn’t have Moose in it or Mousse!! Bell peppers don’t go ding a ling a ding, when shaken. I’m pretty sure Horseradish doesn’t have horse in it. Such is the English language : if you think of any more please post em in the comments box? Thank you kindly.

Well I can guarantee that these Blueberry and Lemon Muffins definitely have both Lemon and Blueberries in them. Now although I call these muffins, they aren’t proper muffins in the strictest sense,  but they’re not cupcakes either! So I settled on muffins, you know that whole thing with the English Language!!  It doesn’t really matter, all you need to know is that they are good – seriously (in a fun way!!!) good!

Little jammy pods throughout the muffin.
Little jammy pods throughout the muffin.

So good in fact that unwrap, place 2 Blueberry and Lemon Muffins in a bowl, whilst still warm and slather with custard, or cream, or both!!! Then dig in!!!!

Recipe : makes 15 Muffins

8 oz Unsalted Butter – room temp

8 oz Caster Sugar

8 oz White Self Raising Flour

4 Whole eggs (pref free range) – room temp

8 oz  Fresh Blueberries, rinsed & dried

1 Unwaxed Lemon, zested & squeezed

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp Kosher Salt

Method :

Preheat the oven to 190C (175C fan)

Cream the butter & sugar together, in a bowl ( or bowl of a food mixer, with paddle attachment) until pale and fluffy.

Break the eggs into a separate bowl. Briefly beat together with the Vanilla Extract.

Add half of the flour & half of the beaten egg mixture along with the salt and mix together until just combined – I use a wooden spoon for this part of the process.

Repeat withe the remaining eggs, flour, lemon rind & juice. Mix gently until the ingredients are just combined.

Add the blueberries to the mixture and fold in gently, so as not to break up the blueberries & not overwork the flour ( if the flour is overworked the muffins will be tough, not soft & crumbly).

Place 15 muffin cases into muffin pans and then using a standard ice cream scoop, carefully transfer a scoop full of muffin mixture into each case. If your scoop is a different size to mine (one scoop should fill a muffin case) you may need to adjust the number of cases used & the cooking time.

Cook for 13-15 minutes. The muffins should have a golden colour & spring back from a light press with your forefinger. Little pods of burst jammy blueberries should be visible on the top of the muffins as well.

Leave the muffins to cool in their muffin trays for 10 minutes – this allows them to firm up & easier to remove to finish cooling on a baking rack – if you try to remove them straight away, not only are they very hot, but also very squidgey & easy to mishape whilst handling.

Now arrange nicely & take a photo!!! Email this photo to 5 friends, put the kettle on & see who arrives first!!!

Not only do they look scrummy, they make the house smell AMAZING!!!
Not only do they look scrummy, they make the house smell AMAZING!!!

These muffins are at their best, just warm. Each blueberry, when cooked forms it’s own little pod of jam throughout the muffin. Seriously yummy & very hard to stop at one, two, three….. Remember they’re for sharing!!!

Enjoy! Remind yourself that blueberries are a ‘super food’  and there’s a whole lemon in the recipe, happily kid yourself that the feast before you is good for you – all that Vitamin C!!!!

These are soooo easy (10 mins prep time) to make please give them a try?

A fab recipe to make with children who will wolf them down as quick as they are cool enough to eat. With big jammy, smiling faces & wide eyes begging you to make another batch for them to share at school. Go on – it’s fun!!!!

The perfect bite sized feast, to share!

Sammie x

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello there, if you love peanuts, chocolate and cookies this is the recipe for you!!!  I’m in serious trouble – literally – I made the mistake (cos it was on offer – I’m shallow  & I’m good with it!!!) of ordering, Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream. Nuf said! So I made these Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Double Peanut and Chocolate Chip Cookies!
Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Well maybe not!! But it’s soooo scrummy. I know I mentioned about having more of a savoury tooth, well, peanut butter is savoury. Funny thing is I’m not actually a ‘get a spoon & eat it outta the jar’ crazy fan of Peanut Butter! But when you mix it with something sweet, like in Cookies with a generous sprinkle of Chocolate Chips/Chunks- ooooh – it’s seriously good.  Same goes for Chocolate covered Peanuts and Snickers bars!  I mean, for all my chat about sharing, I confess, I hid the Peanut Butter Cup ice cream in the back of the freezer & whilst I’m in confessional mood, just to doubly make sure, I bought my 3 not so lil ones, their fav ice cream so they wouldn’t take mine.

Such a bad, bad mother – yet I feel no guilt!!!!

Now I’m sad cos the tub is empty. I’m going to be working on a homemade version – but meantime I had a revelation : Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies.

 

A thing of beauty - well to me anyway!!!!!
Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies – where’s my cuppa?

Oh yes people – I did not fail you (or me). Even my daughter Snugs (nickname didn’t want you to think I was completely nuts – she loves her real name Sparkle, Twinkle, Tooth Fairy!!!).

This is one of my favourite made up Cookie recipes in like, EVER!

Recipe : Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies makes 25-35

You will need 2 baking sheets lined with Parchment Paper

160g/5 oz Caster Sugar

225g/8 oz Unsalted Butter – room temperature

1 x Egg Yolk (pref free range) at room temperature

1 tsp Vanilla Extract I use Nielsen-Massey

1/4 tsp Salt I use Maldon

3 tbsp  Smooth Peanut Butter

275g/10 oz Plain White Flour

100g/4 oz Milk Chocolate Chips (or chunks) plus approx 1 oz extra for topping

100g/4 oz Peanut Butter Chips ( I use Reece’s – bought online)

Method :

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan, gas mark 4

First of all, place the sugar & butter into a large bowl (or bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment), using either an electric whisk or vigorous effort with a wooden spoon (for those of you who are watching your diet, A : This probably isn’t the recipe for you or B:  You will feel less guilty later on when eating the cookie – that is if you haven’t fallen asleep on the sofa due to over exertion!!!).

This beating (or creaming) lark is actually very important – not quite sure why – not sure I even care!! What I do know is that if you, in the words of MJ himself “Beat it, beat it”,  until it is pale yellow & fluffy, then the finished cookie is much, much better.

Next add the egg, vanilla extract, peanut butter, salt and resume beating, with your preferred method and background music of choice!

Ready to be whipped!
Ready to be whipped!

When all the above ingredients are beautifully mixed, add the flour, peanut chips & chocolate chips/chunks. Using only a spoon (wooden or otherwise), gently combine all the ingredients, slowly stirring them together – if using a stand mixer, mix on slow, with the paddle a attachment until everything is just combined.

I was not paid by Reece's to advertise their product!!
I was not paid by Reece’s to advertise their product!!
If you can't stop yourself eating this straight from the bowl, that fine - there will be fewer cookies to bake though!!! Don't say I didn't warn you!!!!
If you can’t stop yourself eating this straight from the bowl, that fine – there will be fewer cookies to bake though!!! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!!

Using a teaspoon & clean hands remove a large teaspoonful of mixture and roll gently into a ball – approx 1 inch across & place on the lined baking sheet. Continue as above until you have 16 balls, 8 evenly spaced apart on each sheet.

Ready to be squished!!
Ready to be squished!!

Now comes the fun bit ( if you liked making mud pies in the diet when you were younger, you’re gonna lurve this!). Place a few 5-8 choc chips/chunks in your hand, remove a ball from the baking sheet, place it on top of the extra chocolate in you hand & squish down. You want the cookies to be about 1 1/2 – 2″ across. Repeat with remaining balls until you have 16 super chocolately topped cookies, on the baking sheets begging to be cooked.

Put me in the oven NOW!!!
Put me in the oven NOW!!!

Make sure the cookies are evenly spaced apart as they will spread a bit more during cooking.

Place both sheets into the preheated oven. Start to check if they’re done after 10 minutes. DON’T TOUCH! Since these cookies harden up as they cool, once baked they should have a lovely golden brown colour. In my oven these take about 13-15 minutes to cook.

A thing of beauty - well to me anyway!!!!!
Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies. A thing of beauty – well to me anyway!!!!!

Remove the sheets from the oven & allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets completely, or if you are very careful transfer the parchment paper, with the cookies on to a cooling rack – the cookies will still be very soft & you run the risk of breaking a few this way (as I did earlier today!).

With the remaining dough you can either bake the rest of the cookies, rolling into balls & cooking on fresh parchment paper, as before, or you can place the dough onto cling film, form it into a log, wrap tightly & refrigerate for up to 4 days, or double wrap & freeze for up to a month. Defrost the frozen cookie log overnight in the fridge & then with either log, remove from the fridge for 15 minutes before slicing into discs & baking as before.

Cookie dough log, ready for fridge or freezer.
Cookie dough log, ready for fridge or freezer.

Ooh I bet two of the cooked disc shaped Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies with the ice cream sandwiched in the middle would be scrumptious, messy & definitely something to share with friends & family alike!!!

One of my bestest friends in the whole wide world is on holiday at the mo! She’s gonna love me so much more when she tastes one of these!!

Ooh yummy, cuppa coffee and cookies
Ooh yummy, cuppa coffee and cookies

 

If you have enjoyed the recipe for these Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies then you may also like these:

Cherry Bakewell Cookies

FF Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cherry Bakewell Cookies

Chocolate Heart Cookies

FF Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Heart Cookies

Monster Mint Chocolate Cookies

FF Double Peanut Chocolate Chip Cookies
Monster Mint Chocolate Cookies

 

Just to be clear, I’m not seeking applause, just a smile! Knowing I’ve put a lil smile in someone’s heart makes me feel loved & all soft & squishy inside. Try it – cos it’s a really nice feeling.

Until next time have fun, feast and give thanks for all the opportunities that are about to come your way when you start to share. It’s so much FUN!

Sammie xx

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Spicy Sausage & Bean Casserole

 

Tastes Scrummy & Is So Good For You As Well!!!!!
Tastes Scrummy & Is So Good For You As Well!!!!!


We are a family of 5 and not only is this casserole really easy to make, it only requires 1 packet of sausages, so this makes a very economical – not to mention TASTY meal. Served with thick slices of RUSTIC WHOLEMEAL PUMPKIN SEED BREAD – for mopping up the juices!

But before we get on with the recipe, I wanted to share my thoughts about something: I Love Autumn (or Fall as it’s called in the States). Don’t get me wrong I love Summer, infact, I confess, I love all the seasons. Much as the glorious, unending sunshine places like California portray, I simply love the change in seasons we enjoy in England. Indeed throughout the entire United Kingdom.

There is something about, at first, the almost subtle change in weather, usually towards the end of August/beginning of September where I live. The deep, deep green of the leaves on the trees, the rustle as the wind blows through the drying out leaves. Followed by the gorgeous change, through deepest red to fiery orange and a last nod to the daily lowering of the sun in the sky, as the leaves turn yellow. The confetti like fluttering of the leaves on a blowy day. The ravages of an adorned tree, ripped overnight of its leafy covering, by a violent storm.

I love sunshine, even on a clear, frosty, winters day. There is something to be said though for darker, rain & wind filled days, snuggled up on the sofa, the smell of a spicy casserole, gently bubbling away in the oven. AND puddings!!! They are more wanted, some may say needed during the colder months.

Although I love sunshine (& believe me if during the deepest, darkest months, I was to win a holiday somewhere warm with blue seas I WOULD NOT turn it down!!!!!), I fear that I would miss the change in seasons if I lived somewhere where summer was never ending.

Now to the recipe: it is truly my creation, although some who have tasted it say it resembles a Cassoulet! All I know is, it’s quick to put together, tastes yummy & makes the meat (good sausages) go a long way. Oh & there’s only 1 pot to wash up! Winner all round.

This recipe serves 5, however just add an extra tin of beans & it will easily stretch to six people.

You will need a large ( 4 litre) ovenproof casserole dish, or bigger if making for more than 6 people.

Preheat the oven to 175C.

1 large onion – chopped into small dice

1 Aubergine – chopped into 1/2″ cubes

1 packet good quality sausages (usually 1lb or 450g) each sausage chopped into 4 pieces.

2 tins (2 x 400g) of chopped tomatoes

1 tin (400g) baked beans

2 tins (2 x 400g) butter beans – strained & rinsed with cold water

4 individual bulbs of garlic – minced

1 chilli (or 1tsp chilli flakes) finely chopped

1/2 bottle of red wine ( or 100ml Port – any type except Tawny)

2 tbs tomato puree

Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper to season.

Place the onion, aubergine & sausages in the casserole dish & pour over the red wine or Port.

A good glug of Port!!!
A good glug of Port!!!

Add both tins of tomatoes, then half fill each tin with cold water, swirl around so that you get all of the tomato juices left inside the tin & pour into the casserole dish. Add the baked beans & swirl with water as before, pouring into the dish, then add the rinsed butter beans.

Add the minced garlic, chilli, 1tsp of sea salt (1/2tsp if using free flowing salt) & a good grinding of black pepper.

Mix the tomato purée with half a tin of water & pour over the casserole ingredients. Now mix all the ingredients together, I use 2 wooden spoons.

If needed add more cold water until all the ingredients are just covered with liquid. Making sure there is still a good inch between the liquid & the top of the casserole dish. If there isn’t, don’t worry, either pour the entire content into a larger dish, or split the ingredients between 2 casserole dishes (the final casserole shrinks – so can be combined at the end, if you wish to serve this at the table!).

Place the lid (or cover tightly with tin foil) onto the dish & place into the oven.

Leave at 175C for 1/2 hour then reduce the heat to 150C. Leave for 3 hours. Check & top up with recently boiled water so that the ingredients are just covered with liquid again. You can also check the seasoning & add more salt/pepper to taste.

Clamp on lid (or foil) & return to the oven for 2 more hours. You can repeat the liquid adding throughout the day, the longer this casserole cooks the better it tastes!

However it will be ready after 5 1/2 hours. I serve this in bowls with a large loaf of bread cut into thick slices, with butter on the table for those who prefer their bread buttered.

And enjoy!! Sit around eating, chatting, sharing & enjoying the food & company. Remembering to dunk the thick slices of bread into the juices.

Crusty, Crunchy, Robust Bread - IDEAL FOR DUNKING!!!!!!
Crusty, Crunchy, Robust Bread – IDEAL FOR DUNKING!!!!!!

 

I really would advise using good (not cheap, pale sausages – as they will not hold their shape during the long cooking process & you will end up with a very oily casserole) sausages – I use GRAIG FARM ORGANIC  sausages. I have used pork, turkey & chicken sausages &they all work beautifully in this casserole.

REMEMBER YOU ARE ONLY USING 1 PACKET OF SAUSAGES TO FEED UP TO 6 PEOPLE!

You can easily make a vegetarian dish by omitting the sausages and adding an extra aubergine!

I have successfully feed 14 people by doubling the ingredients (& using a whole bottle of red wine).  I haven’t found anyone yet who has disliked this dish!

It also has the added bonus of being very low fat & high in fibre & I prefer wholemeal bread for the dunking, it stands up to the robust flavour of the casserole.

If you are cooking for a smaller number of people it is worth knowing that this dish freezes fantastically well.

My favourite memories of eating this dish are from a holiday in Devon where I was cooking for our hosts, more people were added to the guest list throughout the day & we all sat round a huge farmhouse kitchen table, elbow to elbow, relaxing in each other’s company whilst bread was passed around.

GOOD TIMES WITH GOOD FRIENDS = A RECIPE FOR GOOD MEMORIES.

See feasting really is fun!!!!!

Until next time have fun feasting.

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Still Smiling!!!

This Cosmos makes me smile!!
This Cosmos makes me smile!!

Good morning – well it is for me.  Well better than yesterday.

Yesterday I had a migraine (which I get frequently, too frequently). I spent the day burying my head in pillows in a pitch dark room, in horrendous pain & fighting nausea. Not nice.

But today I’m feeling a bit better, I keep having to rewrite parts of this blog, as after a migraine it’s like all the wiring in my head goes wrong. I say & write words, out of order, back to front or just draw a complete blank. But the fact that I can tolerate some light, see out of both eyes (I lose sight in one or both eyes) & don’t feel nauseous is definitely a good thing. So I’m smiling!!! That’s me!! Always looking on the positive side of life.

As I’ve shown, life can be tough – in fact I also have other conditions which severely inhibit what I can do on any given day. Does it get me down? Yes! Have I had to learn ways of dealing with the restrictions, pain etc – yes!!

I always try to focus on something positive that has happened that day – a snuggle with my babies (I refer to my children as my babies a lot. I’m good with that & they are too!), a cry with my hubby (it’s good to let things out & not hold them in). My husband comforts & loves me like no other person on this beautiful planet & I love him to bits. Just knowing that he chose me, married me & stays with me through good times & difficult ones makes me smile.

So no, life’s not always easy but I have a lot to smile about. I have a wonderful family. I’m loved. I have true friends who love & accept me as I am. I also have Faith – the cornerstone of all I am.

My total belief in Jesus, my Lord & Saviour , who loves & accepts me just as I am is who I lean on. I celebrate life because of Him. He is the permanent smile in my heart.

All the love & sharing that I have comes from Him.  Until next time, keep smiling & sharing xx

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Setting Things Straight!!

Ooh yummy, more my thing!!
Ooh yummy, more my thing!!

Hello again. I am aware that I may have given those of you who read my blog, but don’t actually know me the wrong impression!

Having looked back at the recipes I have posted, it would be fair to make an assumption that I may have a particularly sweet tooth? I have a deep, dark secret…… I usually only ever have 1 piece of any cake that I bake, sometimes I don’t have any at all; well maybe a small nibble of someone else’s, just to check the flavouring!

Is that bad???

The thing is I actually have more of a preference for savoury food. On our honeymoon my husband & I stayed in a gorgeous little guest house in North Devon. Our stay included breakfast & dinner every day. We had a wonderful week there, eating scrumptious, home cooked food. In the evening I would always choose cheese & biscuits over desert (hubby ALWAYS had desert!!!).

On the last night I decided to have a proper pudding. The owner of the Guest House came over to me & asked if I was ok?? She thought I wouldn’t ever have a pudding!!!

The thing is I enjoy all types of cooking, however when cooking dinners or savoury things, like a quiches I almost never measure the ingredients. Even if I’m following a recipe, I mostly use it as a guide, increasing, decreasing, leaving out or adding ingredients as I cook, tasting, seasoning as I go. Which means we end up with some gorgeous dishes that I remember how to cook in future, but don’t know how to write an exact recipe for.

I apologise. Sorry in our house is always a ‘doing’ word. So next time I make ‘Chicken, Spinach & Ricotta Lasagne’ or ‘The Best Beef Pot Roast Ever’ & even ‘Roast Pork With Mustard Cider Sauce’, I will measure everything. So that should you wish to cook, you will have a recipe to guide you too!

I will also try to figure out how to post photos of the finished product! I’m not tech savvy, all my blogging so far has been done using my phone!!!!

So now I’ve set things straight, I should confess that I have a serious weakness for Cookies & Biccies, preferably homemade & with a cup of tea!

Talking of which the kettle’s boiling! Mmmmmmm big smile on my face. Cuppa tea & 2 lemon shortbread cookies await. And I know the cookies are good as I gave one to my shopping delivery man yesterday. I shared & he smiled.

See it works, sharing is fun!!!
Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Keeping it real!!!

Lopsided loaf that stuck as I hadn't greased the tin properly!!!!
Lopsided loaf that stuck as I hadn’t greased the tin properly!!!!

Hi and a massive thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read & comment on my blog.

I honestly never thought anyone would read my blog, let alone comment or try the recipes.  I feel so flattered that people have left comments – please keep them coming?

So I was writing a draft titled ‘Totally Nuts about Brownies,’ but I just couldn’t seem to finish it & I’ve just realise why!

In the intro chatty bit, that I tend to write before I post a recipe, I had gone into a  ridiculous, bossy list of ingredients that I would not cook without. Who am I trying to kid, I’m not Raymond Blanc (wrong sex!!),  or Saint Delia (there will only ever be one Delia) I’m Sammie! I’m a real home cook.

I’m passionate about using good ingredients & if you can grow a few at home all the better.  Real home cooking isn’t always perfect! But that’s half the fun

I’m a home cook with a passion for cooking & sharing the real food that I make.  Not some strict, straight laced home economics teacher telling you what you should and shouldn’t do!

I’ve learned to improve my cooking & baking skills by practising, hoarding & reading an obscene number of cookery books & watching a dangerous amount of Food Network Channel (seriously my children were considering sending me to rehab, but I said No, No, No).

I’ve made loads of mistakes along the way, curdled rice pudding with fresh raspberries cooked in it ( I was aiming for a scrummy, creamy rice pudding where the raspberries had cooked into little pools of jam – the result was a vile curdled mess!!).  I’ve cooked an entire dinner party meal a day early as I’d got my dates muddled up!  I’m not even a good writer : on a recent eBay listing where I was having a clear out & selling some stuff, I actually wrote on a listing ‘IF YOU ATE THE WINNING BIDDER….’ & what’s worse is I didn’t realise for over a week (the word ate should have read ARE!!!!).

Mars Bar Cookies that splurged - should have chilled them before baking!!!
Mars Bar Cookies that splurged – should have chilled them before baking!!!

 

There are a million other things that will come out over time, but I wanted you to know I’m just a regular girl who wants to share my world with you. The good, bad , ugly & most of all the fun bits.

The brownie recipe will be posted soon, promise. But for now I need to catch up on some Zzzzzzzz’s. So as my mummy used to say to me & I now say to our children : Nun night, sweet dreams & God Bless.

Oh & to my sister & I, “will you girls stop talking you’ve got school in the morning?!!!” Yep I say that to our girls too!!!!

Until next time share a smile & see what happens? Xx

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Why – Feasting is Fun?

Hi, it’s a good question if you think about it!

When I looked up Feast/Feasting/To Feast in the dictionary the simple translation was ‘to eat sumptuously’!  Ooh that’s a long word, but what does it mean to me & why have a blog about feasting??

I absolutely adore food, recipes, cooking and people!  What I’ve come to realise is that I get the most pleasure from cooking or baking something when it is then shared with others.  Whether it’s knocking up a batch of brownies because I know one of our children has had a particularly hard day at school, or trying to find & then perfect a recipe for ginger cookies, after a conversation over the garden fence with a neighbour who had been struggling to find the ‘right’ ginger cookie in the shops.

It’s part of my nature to investigate & develop theories & ideas.  In the garden it may be mixing purple Verbena Bonariensis with Bright Orange Canna Lillies.  Both have completely different structures : the Verbena is frothy on long stems with small wispy leaves that sway in the breeze, whilst the Canna Lillies that I have stand tall & strong with their deep red, thick stalks & leaves, brazenly opening buds of pure sunset orange.  The combination shouldn’t work, but somehow, for me it does.

I take the same approach in the kitchen.  Gooey, yummy, chocolate brownies that are great & loved by all who try them, except me!  Yes they are good, but how can I make them better??

What is lacking?  What would make then not just good but great?  Then I start to play!! The good thing about sharing food is that I’m never short of volunteers!  And so the journey starts, adding nuts : which taste the best & compliment the brownie, rather than fighting against it?

It’s so much fun!  I get to bake & play with tastes & textures & at the same time SHARE the food I am making!  Ultimately, everyone will have their own personal favourite, but isn’t that how it should be?

Sharing is so much a part of who I am as a person, indeed my whole family are big on sharing, especially my mum & my gorgeous younger sister, whom I both love and treasure their opinions & feedback, especially as they are both very talented and exceptional cooks in their own right.

When I cook or bake something & then share it with another person I feel as though I am physically showing them my love, as much as if they were to receive a hug or shoulder to cry on. Equally food shared can be an expression of love for celebration : my daughter had 2 birthday cakes this year, a chocolate fudge covered chocolate marble cake for our family celebration:

Double layered, chocolate marble cake, covered in chocolate fudge icing - stop drooling!!!! I promise to post the recipe x
Double layered, chocolate marble cake, covered in chocolate fudge icing – stop drooling!!!! I promise to post the recipe x
My Pinkle Star's favourite - the previous year!!
My Pinkle Star’s favourite – the previous year!!

AND an incredibly decadent ice cream cake filled with fudge/chocolate honeycomb & a ton of other ridiculously sweet goodies that you wouldn’t eat everyday, but together made for an exceptional birthday cake topped off with a firework candle that lit up the whole room!

WOW!!! This chocolatey, fudgey ice cream cake can take the heat!!!
WOW!!! This chocolatey, fudgey ice cream cake can take the heat!!!

If I’m unwell (I suffer from migraines among a host of other things that I won’t bore you with!), I’m usually laid up in bed for a few days.  Knowing there’s a cookie jar full of homemade shortbread makes me feel like I’m sharing a little bit of myself, my love, with the children, my hubby & all the wonderful people who help us out when I’m – what I call ‘ out of action!’.

Giving the first ripe pear of the season from the tree in our garden to my wonderful mother-in-law, just because I know they’re her favourite makes the rest of the pears taste better as they ripen!  Or I think they taste better!!

I have found that sharing is not only a way of showing love, but it is fun!  People smile when you wrap up some cake for them to take home, that’s got to be a good thing, hasn’t it??

I hope by reading this blog, not only will you be inspired to try the recipes posted, but more importantly you will be encouraged to share your results.  Drop a few cookies round to a neighbour who you only really see at Christmas, when you exchange cards, say thank you to your post man/lady with a pre wrapped slice of cake next time they knock on your door!  But most of all SMILE, it costs nothing & you will be amazed at how contagious it is, yes you make get a few funny looks (first check to see if you have anything stuck between your teeth!!), but I will guarantee you will get more smiles in return than the dodgy looks!

I’d love to hear how you share, or if you’ve been inspired to share. MacMillan Cancer Care have their annual Coffee Morning coming up.  What better idea than to open up your home & share a morning or afternoon with family, friends & neighbours, whilst raising money & a smile or two for a very worthwhile cause.

Bake plenty of goodies & encourage others to bring along their star bakes , invest in some cellophane bags & ribbon (easy to find & cheap on Amazon UK) & share out the leftovers at the end.

 That’s surely guaranteed to send everyone home with a smile!!!
Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr

Super Easy Shortbread Cookies.

Hello again. I’m really enjoying this blogging lark, I hope you are enjoying my thoughts & recipes too? Please leave a comment if you try any? I’d love to hear how you got on. So let me bring you my Super Easy Shortbread Cookies.

Today’s the day…..all the children back at school. My mind is buzzing with all the possibilities that today holds! All the things I put off during the summer hols to spend time with our 11, 13 & 15 year old children.

I love having them home, they all get along pretty well (not bad for 2 older girls & my boy!) & I shall miss their music/chatter/mess… Well maybe not the mess. But they do fill our home with energy & fun. Still tomorrow is the weekend, so today I shall enjoy the peace knowing chaos is only a day away.

Hmmm there’s jam to be made, not really in the mood for that, tidying – but it’ll only need doing again on Monday!! Cookies! I have nothing really against shop bought biccies but you really can’t beat homemade & these are a doddle!!

SUPER EASY SHORTBREAD COOKIES

You will need :

2 x baking sheets with parchment paper on them.

Cling film (I’ll explain later!)

Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature : it really makes a difference.

Recipe:

5 oz Caster Sugar (plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling on top)

8 oz Unsalted Butter

1 tsp Vanilla Paste, or 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp Salt (I use Kosher Salt)

1 Egg Yolk (I use large free range eggs

8 oz Plain White Flour

2 oz Corn Starch

Method:

Place butter & 5 oz sugar into a bowl (if using stand mixer use the paddle attachment). The next part is going to be much easier (but not impossible!) if you have an electric mixer, or stand mixer. Whisk or beat (using a wooden spoon) until the mixture is very pale yellow. Now mix in the egg yolk & vanilla paste/extract. Sift in the flour, salt & corn starch. Mix thoroughly, but gently until all the ingredients are combined. Now take a big, deep breath. The smell is scrummy & will help you recognise later when the Super Easy Shortbread Cookies are nearly cooked!

Set the mixture to one side so that you have a clear work top in front of you. You will need a clear 2 ft of space in front of you. Wipe this space with a clean, slightly wet, dish cloth. Taking the clung film unwrap about 12 inches, laying it over the damp work surface as you do so. Magically the cling will lay flat & not become a tangled mess!!!!

Place half of your cookie dough on the cling film in a rough log shape. Using your hands & the cling mould the dough into a log, with a diameter of approx 1 1/2″. Wrap tightly making sure the cookie dough is as even as possible along the log.

Dump half the dough out onto the cling film...
Dump half the dough out onto the cling film…
Using the sides of the cling, alternately shape into a rough log...
Using the sides of the cling, alternately shape into a rough log…

Carefully transfer this to the fridge laying it on a flat surface (the dough will still be quite squishy – I usually lay it lengthways across my palm!). Repeat this process with the rest of the cookie dough. Leave the dough to rest & harden up for at least 2-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 180C (165C fan oven) just before you remove the cookie dough log from the fridge.

Remove 1 log from the fridge & leave to warm slightly for 5 minutes (I find leaving it for this time makes the dough easier to cut & not crack!). Using a sharp knife cut regular discs approx 1/4″ (1/2cm) wide. You should end up with 6-10 cookie discs. Place these on the parchment paper lined baking sheets, making sure there is at least 1″ gap each way between the discs.

Cut the through the dough log with a sharp knife - don't make the slices too thin as the cookies will spread on baking.
Cut the through the dough log with a sharp knife – don’t make the slices too thin as the cookies will spread on baking.

Sprinkle each cookie with a little sugar,  reserving half of the sugar for a final sprinkle over the shortbread cookies once they are baked.

I can only fit 2 baking sheets in my domestic oven & leave the other dough log in the fridge, tightly wrapped for up to 4 days. The logs can also be frozen, tightly wrapped in a double layer of cling film for up to one month.

Bake the Super Easy Shortbread Cookies for 8-15 minutes (it really does depend on how thick you have cut the discs & your oven).

When you start to smell the scrumptious buttery, vanilla smell it’s time to check on your cookies. DON’T PROD THEM – however tempting!!!! They will still be soft & firm up on cooling. These cookies are cooked when they turn a light golden colour. Remove from the oven, careful they are hot!

Leaving the cookies on the baking tray give them a final sprinkle of sugar & leave to cool completely.   Once cool place in an air tight container (I use a large, clip lid Kilner jar, as the sugar makes them sparkly & I like to show them off!!!!!). If you can wait they actually taste better the next day – but who am I kidding?

Yummy - someone put the kettle on? Now where's Polly when you need her?????
Yummy – someone put the kettle on? Now where’s Polly when you need her????? Super Easy Shortbread Cookies.

Pop the kettle on & try one, just to make sure they’re ok!!!    These cookies travel well & I like to pop some in cellophane bags tied with pretty ribbon & pass them onto friends & family. They are also scrummy when shared with a close friend over a cuppa & a heart to heart.

REMEMBER FOOD ALWAYS TASTES BETTER WHEN ITS SHARED!

For lemon shortbread add 1 tsp of finely grated lemon zest to the sugar/butter mixture. I only use Vanilla Extract NOT paste when I make lemon shortbread – I find the vanilla bean paste competes with the lemon flavour. Mix, prepare dough logs, bake & store as above.
JUST A QUICK NOTE: I have found that, when I want to bake some more Super Easy Shortbread Cookies, it’s better to remove the dough log from the fridge 15-30mins (depending how warm the air is. After letting them warm slightly not only are they much easier to slice ( a small serrated knife is good for this), but they are also much less prone to cracking, splitting, falling apart, than if you try to cut them when they are fridge cold!!! I learnt the hard way!!!!

Until next time happy baking & have fun feasting.

Sammie x

 

 

.

Share This Facebooktwittergoogle_plustumblr