Sunday 30 November 2008

Chilli Jam

My Husband picked up a copy Of Nigella new book 'Nigella's Christmas' for me just after it was published. It is a simply lovely book. As well as the recipes being of the usual Nigella standard the illustrations and ideas for Christmas decorations are wonderful. A beautiful book to simply sit down, read and enjoy. The recipe for Chilli Jam sang to me. It tastes every bit as good as it looks. Not too hot but tongue tinglingly tasty. Just lovely with savoury food. Excellent with cheese and cold meats. A real keeper of a recipe. Easy to make I would highly recommend it. You do need jam sugar/pectin added sugar to make this otherwise it won't set.

150gms/5oz long fresh red chillies de seeded and cut into four pieces each.
150gms/5oz sweet red peppers cored de seeded and cut into chunks
1kg/2.2lbs Jam sugar
600mls cider vinegar

6x250 ml/40z sterilized sealable jars with vinegar proof lids

Put the cut up chillies into the food processsor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the chunks of sweet pepper and pulse again until you have a vibrantly red-flecked processor bowl

Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a wide, medium-sized pan over a low heat without stirring. (No I don't know why either)

Scrape the pepper mixture out of the bowl and add to the pan. Bring to the boil and leave it at a rollicking boil for 10 minutes

Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool. The liquid will become more syrupy, then from syrup to viscous and from viscous to jelly like as it cools.

After about 40 minutes, or once the red flecks are more or less evenly distributed in the jelly (as the liquid firms up, the bits of chilli and pepper start being suspended in it rather than floating in it), ladle it into your jars. If you want to stir it gently at this stage it will do no harm. Then seal tightly.

Make the jam up to one month before using or giving.
Store in a cool dark place for up to a year.
Once opened store in the fridge and use within a month

From Nigella Christmas-Nigella Lawson

My Tip :If you don't have vinegar proof lids line the lids with a wee circle of grease proof paper.

Saturday 29 November 2008

Daring Bakers- Caramel Cake

Thank you to Dolores Natalie Alex and Jenny who provided November's challenge which was Caramel Cake with caramelized butter frosting from Shuna Fish Lydon. There was an optional recipe for Golden vanilla bean caramels
The recipe for the cake can be found at the above link.
I made the caramel syrup first which I thought would be difficult but was in fact very easy. I then made the frosting. There was so much for one cake and it was far too sweet and thick for me I didn't use it. I made my own butter cream recipe and used the caramel syrup in it. It was still a bit on the sweet side but the texture was a lot lighter.

The Cake.
I reduced the sugar by 3 oz and I am glad I did. I made it as a sandwich cake but there really wasn't enough mix for that.
The cake had a nice moist texture and I liked the caramel drizzled over the top. The syrup seems to keep well so it will be nice to have some on hand to use on other cakes. I didn't get time to make the caramels The recipe for them can be found in
Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111

Monday 24 November 2008

Rosemary Remembrance Cake

I have looked at the recipe for this cake for the longest time in 'Feast' by Nigella Lawson. The rosemary always put me off for some reason. I made it finally for a memorial cook-in we were having for our dear departed friend Pi on Vi's Pantry. As it was Remembrance week end it seemed appropriate for that too. It is a very easy cake to make. I am just sorry I have not made it sooner. It is wonderfully moist with a madeira like texture and just a slight taste of Rosemary which complements so well. This amazed me as I was convinced it would make the cake taste strange. Even if you don't like rosemary I urge you to try it. It is a lovely cake with or without the herb.

Rosemary Remembrance Cake

Makes approx. 10 slices

1 eating apple (approx. 180g /6-7oz in weight)
1 small sprig and 1 long sprig rosemary
1 teaspoon caster sugar
Juice and zest of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon butter

For the cake batter
225g /8 oz butter
150g /5 oz caster sugar plus 1 tablespoon
3 eggs
300g /11oz plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Peel, core and roughly chop the apple and put into a saucepan with the small spig of rosemary, the teaspoon of sugar, the lemon zest and juice, and butter. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for 4-8 minutes until the apple is soft. How long this takes really depends on the variety of apple you’re using. Coxes cook the fastest, and are good here. Leave to cool, and fish out the rosemary sprig when it is cold.

Preheat the oven to 170.C/325.F/Gas 3. Line a 2 lb loaf tin with a loaf tin liner, or butter and line the bottom with baking parchment.

Put the cooled apple into a food processor and blitz to a pulp.
Then add the butter, 150g sugar, eggs, flour and baking powder and process to a smooth batter. Spoon and scrape into the loaf tin and smooth the top.
Sprinkle the surface with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and then lay the long sprig of rosemary along the centre of the cake.
On baking, the rosemary sheds its oil to leave a scented path down the middle of the cake.

Bake the cake for 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean, then leave to cool on a rack. Slip the paper-lined cake out of the tin once it is cool.


This is also lovely if the Rosemary is left out and a good teaspoon of cinnamon is cooked with the apples instead.

Friday 21 November 2008

Toffee Apple Pork Chops

Why is it sometimes when you throw something together without any particular plan it turns out really well. Other times you plan a meal with such attention to detail and it is just so-so. This came about as I had two pork chops and a cooking apple that needed using. It was so tasty I had to record it.

Put the chops in a roasting pan.
Peel core and slice the apples in a little lemon juice to stop the apples browning and lay them on top of the chops
Pour some apple juice into the roasting pan.
Sprinkle the top of the apples with dark brown sugar.
Drizzle over some maple syrup.(I like quite a lot)
Cook in the oven for about half an hour.
Et voilà - dinner is served.

Monday 17 November 2008

Mississippi Mud Cake

I bought 'Southern cakes by Nancy McDermott some time ago but up until now I hadn't made anything from it. I love the southern cooking so rich and totally unhealthy. Following a healthy diet is a normal day to day thing but sometimes a little of this stuff is just what the doctor ordered. Definitely a chocolate feel good factor to cheer up the winter days so that must be good for you mustn't it? The author states that she doesn't know how the list of ingredients transforms into such a tasty cake. I am here to tell you it certainly does. I have to confess I scratched my head a little while reading the recipe. Enjoy this delicious fudgey chocolate delight.


225gms/8oz butter cut into big chunks
62gms/2 1/2 ozs cocoa poder
4 eggs well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
400gms/14 oz sugar
250gms /9oz plain flour
pinch salt
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts ( I didn't use these)


450gms/1lb icing sugar
62gms/ 2 1/2 oz cocoa powder
100gms/ 40z butter
125mls milk or evaporated milk
1 teasp vanilla extract
4 cups mini marshmallows or 3 cups marshmallows quartered ( I have no idea how to convert this to metric or imperial).

To Make The Cake

Pre-heat the ovem to 18o.C/350.F/Gas 4

Grease and flour 13 x 9 " / 13cm x 20cms tin

In a medium saucepan melt the butter and the cocoa over a medium heat stirring now an dagain until the butter is melted and the mixture is well combined about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the beaten egg, vanilla sugar, flour, salt and nuts.

Beat with a wooden spoon until the batter is well combined and smooth

Quickly pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 - 25 mins until the top is springy to touch and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan


Prepare this while the cake is baking so you will be ready to pour it over the hot cake.

In a medium bowl sieve the icing sugar and coca powder and combine well.

Add the melted butter milk and vanilla.

Mix well

Set aside until the cake is done.

Remove the cake from the oven and scatter the marshmallows on top.

Return the cake to the oven for a few minutes to soften the marshmallows

Pour the frosting al over the hot cake and leave to cool

Cut into small squares.


I made the cake in a 23 cm x 23 cm/9" x 9" tin. This gave me squares 1" thick. If made in the bigger pan I think they would be very thin.
Make half the amount of frosting if using this size of tin as there is a huge amount.
I didn't have enough marshmallows so the photo is not quite a true representation.

As a Post Script these actually taste even better after a couple of days. They get fudgier.

Sunday 16 November 2008

Cranberry Jam. For The Turkey and Beyond.

Taken from Nigella Lawson's 'Feast',this is such an easy jam to make as cranberries are bursting with pectin so it sets so easily. I love to make it for the Christmas table as I am not keen on cranberry sauce. I doubled up the quantities as I wanted some to give as gifts. The jam is darker than it normally is because of this. Doing it again I would do it in two lots as the bright colour is lovely. Don't just use it for the turkey, although it is just perfect with that, it's lovely on toast or to use in baking and cooking when jam is called for. It's nice with other savoury dishes too such as lamb. Great with the Christmas left overs. Turkey and cranberry jam sandwiches. Lovely.

Cranberry jam

350gms/12oz cranberries

350gms/12oz caster sugar

Put a film of water in the bottom of a large saucepan and add the cranberries and sugar.

Stir patiently over a low heat to dissolve the sugar; this will take a little while. Turn up the heat and boil the pan rapidly until setting point is reached, about 7 minutes. (Alternatively it will have reached a jam-like consistency.)

Pour the jam into a sterilized jar (s) and seal immediately.

Makes approx 350 mls

Friday 14 November 2008

Jessie Tweddles Tea Loaf

This is an old recipe of my Mother's. I have not a notion who Jessie Tweddle was but when having a cup of tea at my Mother's the statement 'You'll be having a piece of Jessie Tweddles tea loaf' was always made. I gave the recipe to a friend on Vi's pantry and it really kicked off. This easy to make little loaf has quite a following now. It is quite simply delicious. If you can, leave it for a few days before eating as it is much the better for it. Enjoy a slice with butter.

Jessie Tweddles Tea Loaf

4 oz/100gms marg/butter
4oz/100gms brown sugar
8 oz /200gms dried mixed fruit
1 Teacup cold tea
1 level teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda
8 oz /200gms Self Raising Flour
1 teasp mixed spice
1 egg

Simmer marg/butter, sugar,fruit, tea,soda bic. for 20 mins.
Allow to cool add egg flour and spice.

Bake in a loaf tin at 350.F/180.C/Gas 4 until skewer comes out clean.

Cherries and nuts can be added if desired.


You can use any combination of fruit you like or just one
I added strong coffee instead of tea and replaced a tablespoon of flour with a tablespoon of cocoa and it was delicious.

Thursday 6 November 2008

Irish Barm Brack

This is a most common bread in this part of the world. It is sold in supermarkets and bakers up and down the country. It was traditionally made at hallowe'en. The word barm comes from an old English word, beorma, meaning yeasty fermented liquor. Brack comes from the Irish word brac, meaning speckled - which it is, with dried fruit. Hallowe'en has always been associated with fortune telling and divination, so various objects were wrapped up and hidden in the cake mixture — a wedding ring, a coin, a pea or a thimble (signifying spinsterhood). It is no longer just a Hallowe'en treat. A wonderful bread with egg enriched dough. Lovely fresh with butter or just perfect toasted. My husband has long been a fan so I have spent some time perfecting this bread and at last I've arrived. If you try it I don't think you will be disappointed.


200 gms/6oz sultanas (or more if you like)
1/2 teasp mixed spice
strong tea - enough to cover the fruit
juice of a lemon.


250 gms/9oz plain flour
250gms /9oz white bread flour
2 eggs
200 mls/7 fluid oz milk
50 gms/2oz melted butter
2 tablespoons runny honey
1 tablespoon dried active yeast.
pinch of salt


12.5gms/1/2 oz butter softened
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice.


Place the fruit tea lemon juice and mixed spice in a saucepan.
Let it simmer until the liquid disappears. About ten to twenty minutes
The fruit will be nice and plump.
Leave to one side.
It doesn't have to be cold but it doesn't matter if it is.

Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer if you have a dough hook

Warm the milk and add a little of the honey.
Sprinkle in the yeast and stir.
Leave for five or ten minutes until the yeast is quite frothy.

While this is happening melt the butter and beat the eggs.
Make a well in the flour and pour the yeast mixture the butter eggs and the rest of the honey in.
Mix until you have a nice soft dough (not sticky though). Not too soft as when the fruit is added it will add a little more liquid.
If you feel your dough is too dry add a little water a teaspoon at a time but go carefully. You want to be able to handle the dough easily not have a sticky pile in the bowl.

Knead with a dough hook for about five minutes or by hand for 10 minutes.
Towards the end of kneading mix in the fruit by hand
You can add this at the beginning into the flour but the fruit ends up all squished and squashed and not a bit nice.

When you have all the fruit combined and not too much has escaped, form the dough into a ball.
Turn this in an oiled bowl so that the dough has a light film of oil.
Cover with a tea towel or cling film and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in volume (about an hour).

When the dough has risen, pull it out of the bowl onto a lightly oiled work top with lightly oiled hands. This stops the dough sticking to you and everything else.
Form it into an oblong and divide into two equal pieces.
Form these into two balls and place on a greased and floured baking sheet.
Flatten the balls slightly.

Cover with lightly oiled cling fim and leave to rise again for about half an hour.

Pre-Heat your oven to 200.C/180.C Fan/400.F/Gas 6
When the bracks have risen snip the tops with scissors or slash with a sharp knife a couple of times then place them in the oven and bake for about thirty minutes until golden brown and the bottoms tap hollow.

While they are baking, mix the spice with the softened butter,
As soon as you remove the bracks from the oven smother them with this spicy butter. (I find those silicone pastry brushes great for this job)
Leave on a cooling rack


I expect this would work with instant yeast in which case just warm the milk and add everything to the flour. I have found with enriched doughs that the dried active yeast gives a better rise but of course you must do what is easiest for you.

Use any dried fruit you like and /or mixed peel. You can add more or less fruit. Whatever your taste is really.

The kitchen smells heavenly while making this.


Wednesday 5 November 2008

Farewell Pistachio

I cannot continue my Blog without paying tribute to Pistachio who left us today for a better place. She helped run a foodie forum I spend time in. A wonderful cook who also had her own Blog. Her recipes were inspiring as was she. A child of the sixties she embraced that exciting era. She spoke up for her beliefs and had a wonderful sense of humour. The world will be a poorer place for her passing. She will be greatly missed by many.

Sleep well Pi