Hi, thanks for stopping bytoday. I hope you are well? As for me, I have a rotten sore throat (plus the high temperature etc that go with these horrid virus’). I need soup! Not any old soup, Leek and Potato Soup! I love this soup, it’s the one thing I can eat when I am feeling unwell and haven’t got an appetite. When I’m unwell this is what I feast on.
So I make a big batch of this soup when I’m well, then I freeze it in single portions. That way if I’m not feeling bril, like today, all I have to do is grab a portion out of the freezer, reheat and eat!
Recipe: Leek and Potato Soup
0.5kg Potatoes – I’ve used King Edwards, floury potatoes work best in this recipe.
1tsp Nutmeg – freshly grated
1/2tsp Sea Salt – I use Maldon
1/2tsp Black Pepper – freshly ground
1 Vegetable Stock Cube
1 Tbs Butter – for sautéing leeks
50mls plus a little extra Double Cream
Place a large, heavy based saucepan on the hob, add the butter and melt on a slow heat.
Trim the top and bottom of the leeks. Make a slit down the entire length of each leek. Wash each leek thoroughly under cold water, making sure that any dirt, trapped between the layers, is washed out. (This is best done under a tap of cold running water – or you can chop the leeks, place in a bowl filled with cold water, swish about to dislodge any dirt and drain.)
Chop the leeks into roughly 1/2″ dice.
Add the chopped leeks to the melted butter in the pan. Then add half of the salt and stir ( the salt will stop the leeks burning). Sauté the leeks for 5-10 minutes on a medium/low heat until translucent (the dark green parts of the leek won’t change, don’t worry that’s ok!).
Whilst the leeks are sautéing peel and chop the potatoes (1″ dice for the potatoes). Place the prepared potatoes into a bowl and cover with cold water.
Once the leeks are translucent add the potatoes and the water they have been stored in. Pour over enough recently boiled water, from a kettle, until the potatoes and leeks are completely covered in liquid.
Turn the heat up and bring to a boil, immediately reduce the heat to a simmer.
Add the stock cube, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Hold back on adding the rest of the salt, stock cubes vary in their saltiness. Better to add a the salt later, than have an over salted ruined soup!!!
Cook the soup on a gentle simmer for at least an hour. This slow cooking breaks down the tough fibres found in the dark green tops of the leeks, enhancing not only the colour, but, importantly the flavour of the soup. I’ve made this soup before leaving it to simmer happily, on a low heat, all morning. Not only did it taste delicious, the house had a wonderful, welcoming, warm aroma!
When the soup is fully cooked it’s time to blend! There are various ways to do this: A potato masher can be used to simply ‘mash’ the potatoes and leeks into the liquid. This will not give the smoothness achieved by using a blender, but creates a wonderful textured soup.
I’ve used an immersion blender for my soup. As can be seen from the photo, make sure you move your pan away from direct heat whilst blending. The soup is completely blended until super smooth.
Other ways of blending including using a liquidiser or food processor. I personally would not liquidise the soup until it has cooled. Whatever you decide, ensure you follow the manufacturers instructions for your appliance. Just looking out for your safety xx.
When you have your soup at the desired texture, stir in 50mls of double cream. This makes such a difference. If you are seriously counting the calories (or are allergic to milk products), check the soup for seasoning and eat as is. However, I don’t skip the cream stage!!! Once this relatively small amount of cream has been added it enriches the soup, rounds out all of the flavours and takes the soup to a whole other taste experience – basically it’s worth adding the cream!!!!!
Then serve yourself up a big bowl, with a little extra swirl of cream, should you desire and enjoy.
A warming feast to enjoy in the colder months. Excellent for soothing sore throats.
This soup freezes very well for up to 3 months. Pour into single serving, freezer proof plastic containers. Perfect for sharing if one of your friends or family members fall ill. Once frozen it is very portable, so a bowlful of homemade soup is just a quick drive away!
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Victoria Sponge Cake, light, buttery, golden sponges sandwiched together with homemade raspberry jam. A simple recipe that yields a completely knockout cake both in flavour and looks. Master this recipe and you will forever be asked to “bring THAT cake” when gathering with friends and family. Put simply, this is a cake for feasting.
Since a Victoria Sponge Cake is two identical sponge cakes put together with a slather of jam in the middle, it is a great starting point for any baking journey. Because there are no complicated decorating techniques, or steps in the method, the finished cake is all about two things. First of all taste; good quality ingredients are key, butter should not be substituted with margarine. Also, texture; a light sponge is a direct result of not over mixing the cake batter.
Raspberry jam lends a sweet, slightly tart, intense fruit flavour against the buttery, vanilla sponge. While a good quality bought jam is fine to use, making fresh jam adds an additional edge. Since it requires very little time to make I really urge you to try it. Finally, with a light touch and using great quality ingredients the finished result is the Queen of all cakes. I say Queen as this cake is named after Queen Victoria herself.
Recipe: Victoria Sponge Cake serves 8-10
2 x 20cm (8in) greased loose bottom cake tins, the base of each lined with baking parchment.
225g/8oz Caster Sugar plus 1/2 tsp for dusting the finished cake
225g/8oz Fresh or Frozen Raspberries – I used frozen from Waitrose
Method: Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan oven, gas mark 4
Making the cake sponges
First of all thoroughly grease with butter, both cake tins and line the base with baking parchment.
Place the sugar, butter and salt into a large bowl. Whisk the ingredients together until pale and fluffy – if using a stand mixer use the paddle attachment.
Rub a little of the mixture between your fore finger and thumb. If no grittiness is felt the sugar is well mixed into the butter.
Next add the eggs and vanilla extract. Add 1 tablespoon of the flour and whisk together for 30 seconds to combine.
Sift the flour (and baking powder if required) into the bowl.
Whisk the ingredients together until just combined. Over whisking, or beating will develop the flour’s gluten, resulting in a tough, baked cake.
Spoon the cake batter into the prepared tins, dividing evenly between the two. If wanted weigh equal quantities of cake batter into the tins.
Smooth the top of the batter with a spoon.
Place the tins into the centre of the oven (centre and lower shelf if they cannot fit on one shelf).
Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden in colour. The cakes are baked when the top springs back when lightly pressed.
As soon as the cakes are baked remove from the oven and place the tins on a cooling rack.
Allow each cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutesbefore turning out, top of the cake uppermost and placing directly on to a cooling rack.
Making the fresh raspberry jam
While the cakes are cooking make the raspberry jam:
Into a large, heavy bottomed saucepan add the lemon juice, raspberries and sugar.
Also place 2 small plates or saucers into the fridge to chill.
Stir the ingredients together with a wooden spoon and bring up to a simmer on a low heat.
As soon as the sugar is dissolved increase the heat to bring the jam up to a rolling boil – bubbling vigorously but not over the sides of the pan.
Stir to ensure the jam does not stick. Take care as the jam will be very HOT.
After 5 minutes at a rolling boil spoon a few drops of hot jam on to one of the chilled plates. Allow to cool for a minute. Using your finger, push one side of the jam, if it wrinkles up the jam is ready; it has reached setting point. Should the jam not wrinkle continue cooking for a further 2 minutes and test again.
As soon as the jam has reached setting point remove the pan from the heat.
Pour the very hot jam into a heatproof bowl and set aside to cool.
Assembling the cake
To assemble the Victoria Sponge Cake ensure both sponges and the raspberry jam are cold.
Carefully peel the baking parchment away from both sponges.
Place a sponge, flat side up on to a plate or board.
Spoon all of the jam on to the flat sponge and spread almost to the edge. Also, add a layer of whipped cream if desired.
Place the second sponge, flat side down, on top of the jam covered bottom sponge.
Finish with a light dusting of caster sugar on the top of the cake.
Serve this cake sliced with a good quality, fresh made cup of tea. Alternatively a glass of champagne for a special occasion compliments both the event and cake.
Store in an airtight container and eat within 5 days.
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Learning to master a simple recipe and make it well is the foundation to becoming a great cook and baker. Since cake decorating and presentation are of no importance if the product being served and shared does not taste appealing. Flavour always comes first in any feast. Never more so than when the feast is marking a special occasion. Friends and family bring out the flavour even further, as my long held belief shows that food shared always tastes better.
Whatever you are making, baking and creating in your kitchens, have fun preparing your feast.
No part of this post may be reproduced or duplicated without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.
Bread is something that I really enjoy making. Flour, yeast, salt and water, combined and worked, create a bread with real taste. Add in a few extra flavours and the possibilities are endless. Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread is an incredibly easy, yet packed with flavour bread. Perfect for making at home.
This week in our house is all about birthdays. Our Lil Man will be 12 this week, it’s also my Sister’s birthday in the same week. Definitely time for Feasting, Celebrating and Fun! Covert baking operations during the day – ready for surprises on their special days. Ooh I love a celebration – well that is as long as I’m not the center of attention!
Fortunately, shyness is not something our son could ever be accused of having. His enthusiasm and passion for life is infectious and wonderful to see. He waits all year for his birthday and the night before, without fail, he reaches ‘ready to explode’ status!Christmas is the same for him, times a gazillion!I adore his passion & zest for life, even if at times it can be exhausting and overwhelming.
So, to make life a bit easier on myself today, I grabbed a previously, made and frozen Chicken and Four Cheese Lasagne from the freezer last night and left it to defrost in the fridge overnight. Yes, I confess to feeling a tiny little bit smug.
Since I have a bread maker that makes my life (in the world of bread baking), so much easier, I decided to whip up a couple of these GARLIC ROSEMARY FOCACCIA BREAD. Also, as this is such a reliable and easy recipe, I decided to share it with you.
GARLIC ROSEMARY FOCACCIA BREAD: makes 2 loaves.
You will need 2 x lightly oiled 8×8″ square tins ( with at least 2″ depth), or – 1 larger oiled baking tray (2″ deep) to bake one large focaccia.
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper for top of the bread
2 tbs Fresh Rosemary – finely chopped
8 Garlic Bulbs (4 for bread mixture, 4 for topping the bread).
Method: Preheat oven to 220C/200C fan, gas mark 7
When using a bread maker or stand mixer:
Place the warm water into the pan or bowl of the device you are using, making sure the dough hook is attached to the stand mixer.
Sprinkle over the sachet of dried, activated yeast and swish about with clean fingers to mix.
Next place the flour on top of the liquid mixture. Add the oil and salt.
Now add 1 tbs of the finely chopped Rosemary and salt.
Add in four minced bulbs of garlic. I’m a very big fan of my garlic press (no peeling or chopping), but you may chop, process, squish with the back of your knife. Please don’t write in with other methods for finely mincing garlic, just be happy that you’re innovative.
Now mix & prove (if using a bread maker). With a stand mixer, attach the dough hook & mix for 8-10 minutes, until the dough has a silky, stretchy, elasticity about it.
If kneading by hand, bring all the ingredients together and work (knead) the dough until you can feel the change, when the dough again stretches easily and feels silky to touch – a good way to check that the dough has been worked enough is that it should be hard to tear.
Shape the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl, then turn the ball over, so the top has an oily layer & cover tightly with cling film. Place in a warm draught free place until doubled in size (about an hour).
Prepare the baking tins (or large tin if only using one) by placing some oil in the tin (approx 1tsp for a smaller tin). Then using your fingers or a piece of kitchen towel completely cover the inside of the tin with a light slick if oil. When doing this by hand, your nails also benefit from a cuticle treatment.
Talking of fingers, if you have long nails it’s probably easier to apply the oil with the kitchen cloth. It also probably means you look after your hands and nails may not need a quick, olive oil cuticle treatment. Just saying, I NEED the treatment.
If using a bread machine switch on to knead cycle to knock the dough back for a minute. With the dough in the bowl, remove the cling film & gently punch down (enjoy the soft enveloping feeling!)the dough to knock out the air bubbles and gently knead by hand for 2 minutes.
Divide the dough in two (or leave whole if making a larger Focaccia) using a sharp knife or a dough cutter.
Place half the dough into each tin (or all into one tin).
NOW is the absolutely BEST thing about making this type of bread. If you loved making mud pies when you where younger, or maybe still do, you’re going to LOVE this next bit.
Using your the heel of your hand, gradually press the dough out until it reaches the edges of the tin and is roughly the same thickness across the tin.
Next using your fingers, have great fun making lots & lots & lots of dimples in the dough – to give it the classic focaccia look.
Can you tell how much I really love that part? So much fun!
Drizzle a little olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt flakes, the rest of the finely minced Rosemary, a grinding of pepper and the rest of the garlic. Split over 2 tins if making 2 Focaccia loves.
Lightly oil some cling film: TOP TIP: Using a clean wet cloth wipe some of your work surface so that it is damp. When laying your cling film over the top it will lay flat and not attempt to attach itself to itself, you, or random kitchen objects. You can then easily spread a light coating of oil over the cling using your hands, or a pastry brush.
I know there’s oil in the dough, the tin has been oiled, you’ve just drizzled oil on top of the focaccia – JUST TRUST ME!
Most of the time you could get away with not oiling the cling, but and it’s happened to me, it WON’T EVER STICK if you oil the cling!
Cover the top of the tin with the oiled cling (so it’s airtight) and leave in a warm, draught free place until doubled in size. Alternatively, place the dough in the fridge. While it will take longer to rise, the bread will develop a lovely flavour, due to the slow prove. It’s your dough, so, do whatever you fancy.
ANOTHER IMPORTANT TIP – I have successfully risen the dough slowly in the fridge, completely forgotten about it, so it quadruples in size. Knock it back by recreating the dimpled effect, as before, left to rise and it’s turned out fine.
Bake the focaccia in a preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until a golden colour and still quite soft. The base should sound hollow when rapped with a knuckle.
Once baked, remove from the oven, take a deep breath, the smell is intoxicating. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, run round the outside with a palette knife until you can feel the loaf easing from the tin. Turn the bread out and place on to a cooling rack. Repeat with second tin.
The Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread will be marshmallowy soft & is fine to serve warm as is. Or cool, wrap in foil and freeze for up to one month.
If you prefer a slight crust to your focaccia, 10 mins before serving, place the bread directly on to the rack of a preheated oven (as for baking the dough) for 5 – 10 minutes, depending on how crusty you like it.
Because this bread is thinner than a loaf, you can cut or tear the bread whilst still warm.
This bread goes with any dish you would normally serve garlic bread with. It also goes fantastically well with soup. Spicy vegetable, leek and potato are especially good with this bread. It is ideal for dunking!
One Garlic Rosemary Focaccia Bread is plenty for our family of five, so I wrap in foil and freeze the other one.
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I really hope you give this recipe a try. You can vary the herbs. I’ve used Thyme, Oregano and SHOCK/HORROR dried mixed herbs. Ooh I’m such a rebel! But seriously, it works better with the woodier herbs (rather than parsley/fennel) mentioned. Since I find that soft herbs are better mixed with butter and oil, then slathered into a baguette/ciabatta (part bake baguettes work well for this!).
Until next time, I hope you have fun giving this recipe a go and enjoy feasting with whoever you share it with.
See you soon. Sammie xx
No part of this blog post may be replicated without written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.
Hello again. I’m really enjoying this blogging lark, I hope you are enjoying my thoughts and recipes too? Please leave a comment if you try any. I’d love to hear how you got on. So today let me bring you my Super Easy Shortbread Cookies.
Today is 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 holidays to spend time with our 11, 13 and 15 year old children.
I love having them home, they all get along pretty well (not bad for 2 older girls and my boy) and I shall miss their music/chatter/mess… Well maybe not the mess. But they do fill our home with energy and 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 and these are a doddle.
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: Super Easy Shortbread Cookies makes 20-24
150g/5 oz Caster Sugar (plus 2 tsp for sprinkling on top)
1 Large Free Range Egg Yolk – the white can be frozen for up to one month, perfect for Pavlova
225g/8 oz Plain White Flour
50g/2 oz Corn Flour – corn starch
Place butter, sugar and salt into a large bowl.
Whisk or beat (using a wooden spoon) together until the mixture is very pale yellow.
Now mix in the egg yolk and vanilla paste/extract.
Sift in the flour and corn flour.
Mix thoroughly, but gently until all the ingredients are combined.
Now take a big, deep breath. The smell is scrummy and 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 space in front of you. Wipe this space with a clean, slightly wet, dish cloth.
Taking the clung film unwrap about 12 inches (30cm) lay it over the damp work surface as you do so. Magically the cling will lay flat and not become a tangled mess!
Place half of your cookie dough on the cling film in a rough log shape.
Using your hands and the cling mould the dough into a log, with a diameter of approx 1 1/2″ (7cm)
Wrap tightly making sure the cookie dough is as even as possible along the 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 and harden up for at least 2-3 hours.
Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan, 350F, gas mark 4, just before you remove the cookie dough log from the fridge.
Remove 1 log from the fridge and leave to warm slightly for 5 minutes (I find leaving it for this time makes the dough easier to cut and not crack).
Using a sharp knife cut regular discs approx 1/4″ (1/2cm) wide.
You should end up with 10-12 cookie discs.
Place these on the parchment paper lined baking sheets, making sure there is at least 1″/2.5cm gap each way between the discs.
Sprinkle each cookie with a little sugar.
Place the baking trays in the centre and lower part of the oven
Bake the Super Easy Shortbread Cookies for 14-17 minutes. When baked they are a light golden colour.
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 and firm up on cooling. These cookies are cooked when they turn a light golden colour. Remove from the oven, careful they are hot!
Leave the cookies on the baking tray to cool completely.
The sprinkle of sugar added just before baking gives the cookies a sparkling sheen once baked.
Pop the kettle on and try one, just to make sure they’re good. These cookies travel well and I like to pop some in cellophane bags tied with pretty ribbon and pass them on to friends andfamily. They are also scrummy when shared with a close friend over a cuppa and a heart to heart chat.
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Since I am a self confessed Cookie Monster, I assume that others are too. Baking fresh cookies, ready to share, is one way of showing my friends and family how much I love them. I mean I’m giving away cookies! Whether it’s cookies, cakes or other bakes, I have never had anyone turn down the gift of a homemade treat.
If you want to see more of my recipes, or show me your bakes you can find me on Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest – @sammiefeasting
No part of this post may reproduced or duplicated without the written permission of the owner. Please see my Disclosure Policy.