Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Plum Crumble

I had some sad plums sitting in the kitchen. They were annoying me intensely as they were bought as'Ripen at Home' you know the sort of thing. They were still hard but were beginning to go bad. I love plums and didn't want to waste them. I put my thinking cap on and decided to make a crumble. This is what I did.

Plum Crumble
To serve four

8 - 10 plums
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teasp cinnamon
A good slug of Marsala or other sweet dessert wine ( or fruit juice would do)

Stone and half the plums and place in a saucepan
Sprinkle them with brown sugar and cinnamon and stew them gently in the Marsala until just tender, about ten minutes.
Lift them out and place them, with the juice, in a buttered oven proof dish.


12 (approx)digestive biscuits
2 tablespoons of flour
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
100gms/4ozs butter.

I whizzed it all together in the food processor but if you are doing it by hand you could smash the biscuits to fine crumb in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. Rub the butter into the flour stir in the sugar and then the biscuit crumbs
Scatter the crumble over the plumbs
Bake in a pre heated oven 180.C/160/CFan/350.F/Gas4 for about 15-20 minutes.

It was delicious. I certainly will use this again with other fruits. Lovely and golden and crunchy

A Lovely Award

Top recipes blogs award

I received this award this morning with the following notification

Congratulations! Your readers have submitted and voted for your blog at The Daily Reviewer. We compiled an exclusive list of the Top 100 recipes Blogs, and we are glad to let you know that your blog was included! You can see it at

I am so thrilled and surprised to receive this. Thank you all who voted for me and my Blog.

Join Me In A Dander Where I Live

I am lucky to live here. Sometimes you don't 'see' what's round you and then when you take some photographs it gives a whole new appreciation. This is my usual route with my grandchildren. Yesterday we were collecting conkers (chestnuts)

Found One

Picking and Feeding Brambles to the Dog.
The Hedgerows are laden

The Majestic Mountains of Mourne in the Background

Pity About the Wheelie Bin

Just beyond the trees Lough Neagh, the biggest Lough/Lake in the UK

Making Friends and Meeting People

The last Bend

And Home

The Conker Haul

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Steak and Chips

What could be nicer than a fillet steak done on the griddle served in a little pool of pan juices and marsala. My butcher knows I am fussy about my steak and always keeps aged fillet for me. I have it cut 3-4 cms thick. I never butterfly it just squash it a bit with the heel of my hand to spread it out a little. The meat is so tender even when raw. It is an expensive cut and the flavour and texture so meltingly delicious it needs little in the way of embellishment.
Oil the steak' not the pan or you will get a smoke filled kitchen' and give it a good grinding of black pepper
Place on a hot griddle and squash it a bit with a fish slice or spatula to get those nice ridges. Cook for three minutes then flip over and cook on the other side until you just see the blood beginning to ooze. This will give you a steak with a thick pink band but no blood. Remove from the pan and leave the steak to rest on a warm plate and while it is doing so add some marsala to the pan to deglaze. As it is frothing add a chunk of butter and whisk in. Pour over the steak. Wonderfully simple and so tasty.
Serve with chips..........what else.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Orange Panna Cotta

I have heard much of this very simple dessert. I didn't know however that it was so simple or I would have made it ages ago. For some reason I had it in my head that this was a very exotic and complex dish. I was a great fan of jelly whip as a child. Oldies will remember the strawberry jelly with evaporated milk whipped in at the point of set. Oh I loved that. Even ordinary jelly with evaporated milk poured over sets my heart a flutter. I am very easily pleased. Panna cotta has shot to the top of my favourites list on finding out just how simple it is to make. It's just exotic jelly really. A perfect dessert as it tastes wonderful and is oh so easy to prepare. Looks lovely too so it could happily grace any table before the cheese and port. Endless variations too. It would be lovely sitting in a little pool of fruit coulis or perhaps a chocolate or caramel sauce. This particular one is lovely. Just a little hint of orange. Perfect. Thank you to Kerry who gave me the recipe.

Orange Panna Cotta


Vegetable oil, to grease
600ml thickened cream
150ml milk
2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind
100g /4oz caster sugar
2 tablespoons boiling water
3 teaspoons gelatine powder


Brush six 125ml (1/2 cup) capacity dariole moulds with oil to lightly grease.
Place the cream, milk, orange rind and sugar in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes or until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is heated through. Strain the cream mixture through a fine sieve into a heatproof jug.
Place the water in a small jug. Sprinkle withthe gelatine. Whisk with a fork to dissolve. combine the gelatine mixture and cream mixture.
Pour the mixture evenly among the moulds. Place the moulds on a tray. Place in the frige for 4 hours or until set.
To serve, invert 1 dariole mould onto a serving plate. Cover with a hot, damp cloth and, holding the mould to the plate, shake to remove panna cotta.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies

These are about the most wickedly decadent things I have ever had the pleasure of making. How can anyone not like brownies? I love full fat cream cheese too so mix the two together and it's heaven on a plate. They are very very easy to make. Gorgeous warm from the oven. Just the thing for unexpected visitors or a quick dessert or just for sheer indulgence

Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies


125g/5oz butter
125g/5oz dark chocolate, chopped
200g/7oz brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
50g/2oz plain flour, sifted
50g/2oz cocoa powder
0.25 tsp baking powder
200g/7oz Philadelphia or other full fat cream cheese
50g/2oz caster sugar


Combine butter, chocolate and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and stir over medium heat until chocolate and butter have melted. Remove from heat and whisk in eggs.
Add flour, cocoa, and baking powder and stir until well combined. Pour into a greased and lined 18cm x 28cm rectangular tin.
Beat Philly cheese and caster sugar until smooth and creamy.
Spoon randomly over chocolate mixture and swirl with the tip of a knife. Bake at 180ºC, 350ºF, gas mark 4 for 35 - 40 minutes or until cooked through.
Allow to cool before slicing.

(I used self raising flour because I'm lazy)


Thursday, 3 September 2009

Milk Loaf

I like to have soft white bread in the house for sandwiches and toast as my grandchildren will eat no other. I prefer to make my own as I know what is in there and always use milk to add a little extra protein, calcium and vitamins for those growing little people I often cover my loaf with another loaf tin while baking to achieve nice soft white bread as you can see here. I was therefore intrigued to see this bread tin on the Lakeland site. It is called a milk loaf tin

I loved the shape and also the little marks which I thought would make an excellent guide for cutting. The children love their little round slices. It makes perfect sandwiches and is as soft as can be. A good buy I think. The card that came with the tin recommended 350 gms of flour but it wasn't quite enough to fill the tin. It also recommended one rise in the tin itself. This took a very long time. I assume because the metal was cold. I made the bread my own way and it worked perfectly. This is so often the case when you get a recipe with a piece of equipment. It never seems to work. I often wonder where they get these recipes from.

Milk Loaf

450g/1lb Strong white bread flour
1 teasp fast action yeast
250-270 mls/ 1 cup warm milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
25gms/1oz melted butter or 2 tablespoons of oil
A little honey (optional)


I tend to make a starter sponge with my bread but this is not necessary. If you want to do it this way, place all of the liquid and all of the yeast with half the flour in a bowl. Mix well, cover and leave for an hour or up to eight hours if you wish. Then just add the rest of the flour and the other ingredients and knead as usual. I do find it gives a nicer texture and crumb but it's not always possible to make the time. I often do this either just before I go to bed for morning bread or put it together in the morning for bread for dinner. You can do this with any bread recipe you have.

For the quick route

Place all the ingredients in a bowl.
Mix together.
Check at this point if your dough is too dry or wet. It should come together as a nice soft dough that comes away cleanly from the sides of the bowl when you start to knead. If it is too dry (shaggy looking) add a little more milk. If it is sticky add a little more flour
Knead for ten minutes by hand or for five minutes if using a dough hook on your stand mixer. You should have a nice smooth elastic ball of dough.
Form it into a ball and place in a slightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume which should take about an hour.

Lightly grease and lightly flour the tin.

For the next stage oil you hands and work top to stop everything sticking.
Pull the dough gently out of the bowl then dimple out flat on the work top with your fingers to expel the excess gas. Make the long edge about the same length as the tin.
Now roll it in a sausage towards you pressing each fold along the line with your thumbs.
Tuck in the ends and you should have a cylinder shape. Place this in the tin and press it down gently to fit.
Cover with the lid and leave for half to one hour. There is a little spy hole on this tin so you can see the dough reach the top.
(If you are using an ordinary loaf tin it should rise to to nearly the top of the tin and place the tin in a supermarket carrier bag while rising. It keeps the moisture in If you shake the dough very slightly it will feel very light so you know it is ready for the oven)

Bake in a preheated oven 200.C/ 180.c fan/Gas6/400.F
for approx thirty to thirty five mins.
Then it is just a case of unmoulding it from it's tin and leaving it to cool on a wire rack.
If done in an ordinary loaf tin it should be well risen and golden tapping hollow on the bottom


When I am making up the dough I turn my oven on at the lowest point for a few minutes then turn off. I put the bowl of covered dough in there to rise. This gives a nice warm environment for it
For the second rise I preheat my oven and set the loaf on the hob to get warmth while it rises. In this case I also warmed the milk loaf tin a little too.

Now I'm off to make a brown version for Granny :)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Jammy Doughnut Muffins

This is my first entry for Sweet and Simple Bakes, a blog run by Rosie and Maria. Every month they put up a tried and tested recipe as a challenge for all to make. They have some lovely bakes. It's a fun thing to do and encourages you to try different recipes. These jammy doughnut muffins are this month's challenge. I changed the recipe slightly and used apples stewed in cinnamon and brown sugar instead of the jam. They were gorgeous straight from the oven. Going down the apple route you need to eat them straight away as they don't keep too well. Mind you that was no great hardship as they were lovely. I have to confess I didn't actually make these at all. It was my five year old grandaughter who is always helping me in the kitchen. I thought she did a really good job too.

Jammy Doughnut Muffins

Any flavoured jam would be equally as delicious to use in this bake as opposed to strawberry and raspberry. You may have some delectable homemade jam(s) you wish to use or what about the sublime Dulce de Leche, (“toffee sauce”) even a thick vanilla custard or stewed apples. The amount of baking powder is correct in this recipe, I know it seems a vast amount but it does work.

Makes 12


275g (10 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
3 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
100g (4 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
2 eggs
200ml (7 fl oz) milk
75g (3 oz) unsalted (sweet) butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 tsp strawberry or raspberry jam

For The Topping

100g (4 oz) unsalted (sweet) butter
150g (5 oz) granulated sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon (optional)

You will need 12 hole muffin tin lined with paper cases.


Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl, and stir through the sugar. In large jug, lightly beat the eggs then add the milk, cooled butter and vanilla extract and beat together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients stir gently until just combined. (Do not over mix, its fine to have a few lumps in the mixture.) Spoon half the muffin mixture into the base of each paper case. Top each muffin with a teaspoon of jam. Now equally between each paper case, top with the remaining muffin mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes until well risen, golden and firm to the touch.

For The Topping: melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Spread the granulated sugar in a wide, shallow bowl with the cinnamon if using. When the muffins are baked, leave in the tin for 5 minutes. Dip the tops of the muffins in the melted butter and then roll in the sugar. You can serve these muffins warm or cold; however, I do prefer to eat them whilst warm.