The Last Hurrah Daaarling Olive and Red Pepper Roast Chicken

img_5560I am 45 years old in two weeks and cannot believe it. I don’t care if the new 60 is the old 40, I don’t want to be 45. I don’t want to have failing eyesight and a turkey dewlap under my chin. I don’t want to walk like I pooped myself for the first few strides after getting up from the chair and I definitely don’t want all this sagging……..everywhere. I feel old and frumpy and covered in inappropriate and rampant pubic hair. I mean WTF?!!!! I want pert and perky, tight and taut, even the words are jaunty and upbeat and wannabee. They speak  of lots of earnest bobbing about and a seemingly endless future. Instead I feel ready to slip into a pair of  camel crimpolene slacks with a fabulous elasticated waist. I know I need to bitch slap myself but I am as tired as a 45 year old perimenopausal  has-been. I am truly at a proverbial fork in the road, do I dig deep and rally or do I keel over all the way to Country Casuals and the Edinburgh Woollen Mill?  It all looks so jolly comfy. Middle age is such a bitch. I hold my hands up to ignoring my gradual decline into  History Teacher Looky Likey but I set fire to the rain whilst ramming a doughnut and some chips into my face if I’m to be honest and I think I should. I feel like I’m among friends. So I need a plan of monumental action. A plan with the power of an old TV AM makeover and a gastric band. I need a pixie haircut, fillers and a waist. I need a bra that is up to the job of defying gravity without resembling a pair of braces and a new wardrobe that says  simple yet still suitable for an impromptu weekend in Paris (in theory alone). I need  an excercise program to rival that of Beth Tweddle’s in order to overhaul my  thighs and lift my curiously flat ass. It would be lovely to get my bunions done too but one step at a time…….In short I need to make some significant changes and I’m still not feeling it. Am I lost in a middle aged  frumpy fugue unable to find my old self or define a new one ……….a midlife crisis now that I am no longer in the maternal spotlight, or is it as  I suspect,  just that I simply cannot be bothered,  cannot be arsed to put in all that boring hard work? It was exactly the same with school. I’m Short term Sue, Manyana Melanie, Later Lesley. Having to get off my arse and apply myself to something that bores me cross eyed fills me with serious teenage attitude and yet I must if I am to stave off full frumpy, forty fatness, a slow and debilitating condition that few ever return from. I must find a way  forward that brings me back from the brink, allows me a new lease of perimenopausal glamour and gives me a last Hurrah Daaarling, even if it is with the help of a Tena Lady or three.

So I have begun walking this week with my slim, young, Amazonian long legged friend. I figure I must look like a weeble walking furiously beside her in my too tight coat and inadequate foot wear. She is colour coordinated and calm. How long I will remain her fat friend remains to be seen but I am hoping that this is the beginning of the end.

To reward myself for all the frantic shuffling this week I cooked this stunner of simplicity. It is easily the easiest and the most crazily delicious.I  make it mostly as a bish bash bosh Hangover Sunday Lunch.You Roast the Chicken halfway and then throw in the veg and just plonk the whole lot with a good sprinkle of salt  on some tagliatelli. The outstanding result belies the minimal method. The only proviso I make is that you use a quality Chicken. Serves 4 comfortably.

  • 1 Quality Chicken Organic if poss.
  • 3 Peppers sliced into 6
  • 1 large onion sliced into large chunks, I slice them like orange segments
  • 3 medium size carrots cut into chunky batons
  • 2 large teaspoons of Tapenade
  • 60 ml of olive oil.
  • Seasalt such as Maldon
  • 500g of fresh pasta.You can use dried but the packets of fresh from the supermarkets are better.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C, cover the Chicken with a glug of oil and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper.Cook for half the recommended cooking time.
  2. Put all the veg into a bowl and pour over remaining oil and three large pinches of sea salt.Mix in the tapenade.IMG_6562.JPG
  3. When the chicken is halfway through it’s cooking time then tumble in the soused vegetables and put back in the oven.
  4. Remove the tray from the oven and take out the Chicken making sure you tip all the juices out from it’s cavity (horrible word whichever way you turn it) and leave it to rest covered with foil and a tea towel for half an hour.IMG_6563.JPG
  5. Keep the veg and juices warm in a low oven.img_6565
  6. When just about cool enough strip the chicken in any way you fancy.I use my fingers savagely.
  7. Prepare the pasta according to the packet instructions and throw into the tray of roasted veg and divine Chicken juices, mix well.img_6566Taste for seasoning and then serve in pasta bowls with the Roast Chicken piled on top.
  8. Apply to jowls.

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Leek and Cauliflower Cheesy Soup.

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My weight loss  is sort of going to plan.I have managed to stop gorging on Xmas Pate and Coleslaw but only because it’s not there any more. My name is Jenny and I am a Binger and as one of my  friends said to me, inside is a morbidly obese, chain smoking alcoholic that has to be trussed up at all times. She was talking about herself but it is totally me too. I would so love to spend all my  time  squiffy with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth (in a glamorous red lipstick way ) stuffing my face with Chips, Cake and huge bars of Galaxy whenever it simply took my fancy. Basically it’s how I spent my twenties, lots of black Coffee, Cigarettes and Vodka with not an avocado or second thought in sight. God it was lush. But of course come your  thirties and the party’s over. These unhealthy habits only bite you on the arse and give you an even bigger one with dimples. So as I feel the cold hearted Mistress of Middleage’s breath close on my shoulder  the time has come to leave the Xmas excesses behind, embrace the vegetable and step away from the Burger Van, Marlboro Lights and  Tequila…in the sure and certain hope that I will resemble Kylie Minogue  by April……..there has to be hope…

This is a bobby dazzler of a recipe to help with your Cold Turkey. It’s Cheesy and savoury and seriously delicious. It’s perfect for Winter, full of vegetables that love each other and you could throw some pasta and chunks of ham to make a heartier meal if you needed something more. I usually serve homemade rolls or toast with Soup. I don’t think you can beat it but fresh Tiger Bread from Tescos comes a close second. Who needs a dirty kebab?….

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 3 medium leeks
  • 1 litre chicken/ vegetable stock
  • 100g mature cheddar cheese
  • 50g parmesan cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 50g flour
  • 400ml milk
  • salt and pepper
  • knob of butter and 2 tbsps olive oil

Method

  1. Fry chopped leeks in a large frying pan in a knob of butter and olive oil over a gentle heat, so as not to burn, for five mins or until soft. Putting a lid on top helps to soften them quicker.
  2. Chop up the cauliflower into slices and add to the pan with the leeks and pour over the stock and leave to gently simmer with lid on until soft-about 15/20 mins.Be careful not to let the veg burn.
  3. Meanwhile melt butter in a saucepan and then add flour and mix together to form a roux.Add the milk and using a whisk break down and disperse the roux within the added milk and bring to the boil while whisking.It will form lumps but if you keep whisking they will disappear and a shiny white sauce will appear.
  4. Add the cheese and simmer gently for ten mins.
  5. Either use a blending stick or a food processor to whizz the cheese sauce and contents of the vegetable pan together and season to taste.Add more stock or water if the soup is too thick.
  6. Apply to middle-aged face.
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Roasty Tomato Soup with Buns

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Oh for the love of God. I knew it would end in tears and I’ve only got myself to blame and I’ve always got to go one step too far and I should have known better……. No S..t  Sherlock, all of my serial stuffing of face has led to a significant weight problem that I can ignore no longer in the piercing and brutal light of my inability to fit into my coat anymore. The final straw that broke the fat camels back was that I had to leave the house with it undone yesterday using only a long scarf to keep the icy elements away from my flabby frontage. What a sorry state of affairs to find myself in with a choice between walking around like a trussed up overweight chicken with minimal arm movement or risking chilblains on one of my bellies. So the time for action is NOW, before I lose conviction or pass a doughnut. To serve as a motivational tool in desperate moments, tonight I am going to photograph myself in the mirror in my mismatching underwear, making sure to get the money shot…..my back fat….. you could get lost in the stuff……wish me luck I’m going in…..

So in the spirit of my new and necessary healthy eating plan here is a delicious Roast  Tomato Soup with Rosemary and Garlic. I have made Bread Rolls to serve with it, I of course will be on the Ryvita.

  • 1 kg tomatoes.I use the bigger sized tomatoes as it makes it much easier to deseed later on.I heartily recommend that you pick quality toms, preferably on the vine.It does make a whole heap of difference to the taste.
  • 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock.
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic.
  • sprig of rosemary (large)
  • 2 medium size carrots
  • 2 red onions
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp of cream (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 190 C. Cut tomatoes and garlic bulb in half, drizzle over olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until just starting to colour.IMG_6513.JPG
  2. Cut up the carrots, celery, onions and drizzle with olive oil and season.Put the rosemary in too and roast as above.IMG_6514.JPG
  3. Allow tomatoes to cool and then roughly deseed and pull off the skin.Both of these techniques are simple as the seeds and skin will come away with just your fingers.Squeeze out half the garlic cloves and put the other half in the fridge to use in a sauce or to make garlic butter with.It is beautiful stuff.
  4. Put all the ingredients along with the crispy leaves of the rosemary in a large saucepan and use a stick blender, or  a food processor, to blitz to a puree before putting in the saucepan.
  5. Bring to a simmer and let bubble away for ten mins or so.If it is a bit too thin then simmer for longer until its how you like it. You could chop up a potato (quite small) and roast along with the tomatoes to give a thicker soup if you like it that way.
  6. I add a little cream at this point but it is a suits you sir moment.Season to taste.

Bread Rolls

One basic bread recipe and when you get to take dough out after first prove you shape into roughly the same size balls and place in a greased or lined roasting tray about 30 x 23 cms ish.IMG_6515.JPG

Then cover and set about giving it a second prove as in the standard bread recipe.Before baking it at 200 C for about 30 mins ish whereupon the buns are brown and hollow when given a good tapping.Apply to skinny face.

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Thai Turkey Noodles

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Well I am exhausted and considerably more overweight than a week ago. In fact I’m massive, my food belly is about 38 weeks and three days. My head is full of Slimming Soups and Ryvita whilst my heart is still buried face first in the leftovers. I should only be allowed near the fridge under supervision or wearing a gimp mask with my hands tied behind my back. The truth is I cannot be stopped until all has gone and the fridge is bare.I  find it impossible to not help myself to a nibble or three every time I pass. I feel like I’m on a Cruise. Has anyone seen the mobility scooters?

This is a dish for your Turkey leftovers and it is lush.I visited Thailand seven years ago and fell in love with it’s food and flavours. Sweet, salty,  with a little heat this is a Satay of sorts, simple and so easy to put together.Truly in the spirit of all that is a Xmas leftover.  Festive to the last.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsps peanut butter (chunky)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 6 spring onions trimmed
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 bunch of coriander
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • 250g Turkey slices/chunks
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 300g packet of noodles

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. Place all ingredients apart from the noodles and turkey into the food processor and blitz to a smooth paste.img_2536
  2. Take half of the paste and coat the turkey with it and place in a moderate oven to warm through for ten mins or until hot.img_2538
  3. Prepare noodles according to instructions (usually just a blast from the microwave)
  4. Mix the remaining paste with the noodles.I usually chop them in half before mixing to save much tangling.
  5. Remove turkey from the oven and place on top of noodles.
  6. Apply to chubby face.

I think some tender stem broccoli served with a splash of soy sauce is perfect with this.

I have linked this post up with FiestaFriday.net. – The Not So Creative Cook – Ginger & Bread.

I have also linked up with DreamTeam and Cook Blog Share.

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Family Xmas Gammon and Braised Red Cabbage.

FullSizeRender (28).jpgThis is just a cracking meal for all occasions.It is my go to for a laid back Sunday Lunch, Boxing Day or entertaining friends and family. It always seems to go down a storm with adults and children alike. It’s the Sausage, Chips and Beans of the Sunday Lunch, and as is my wont, it is crazily easy to prepare and will sit  in comfortable silence awaiting it’s  curtain call. That allows me to prepare sides in a ridiciously laconic manner, this morning I did it  in my pyjamas, think Jo Brand in toasties, with bad hair and make up still down my face from the night before but more importantly with not an anxious thought in sight. Absolutely love it and you cannot believe how many delicous different accompaniments go with this sweet and salty hunk of Ham. I always try to have one of them wet if you know what I mean, just to oil the wheels otherwise the whole meal may be a little dry. So there is only one real possibility of a F..k up and that’s the quality of the meat. Personally I don’t like to eat Danish intensively reared Pigs and the English bred Pigs are usually super expensive so I wait for Supermarket half price offers (usually Tescos) and will buy a couple and freeze. That’s not to say that the Danish Gammon does not taste good, annoyingly it does. But I would prefer to support a happier piggy life than a downright miserable one. In order to assure  the quality of the meat I rely on its Provenance and buy a superior Supermarket brand. Nowadays you don’t have to soak and boil the gammon before cooking to remove saltiness but I always rinse it under the tap.

For this Family Xmas meal I am serving it with Roast Potatoes and Red Cabbage. The Red Cabbage can also be made ahead and just reheated. Infact we might as well just call this a b….y ready meal and cover it with clingfilm.

Red Cabbage

  • 1 Red Cabbage,stalk removed and chopped into strips
  • 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsps soft brown sugar
  • 2 sharpish apples peeled and cut into half moons about 1 cm thick
  • 2 red onions cut into half moons
  • 80g of butter
  • salt and pepper
  1. Pre heat the oven to 110 C. (I put mine in my Aga Simmering Oven)
  2. Melt the butter in a large casserole dish
  3. Add the onions and soften
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix wellimg_2529
  5. Cook gently for five mins
  6. Put into the oven and cook for an hour.
  7. Taste for seasoning

Gammon

Place in a roasting tray and cover with foil. Cooking times are 30 minutes per 500g plus 30 mins- so for my joint of 2.642 g cooking time is 3 hrs and 5 mins at 180 centigrade.I did what I usually do when cooking joints of meat.I cook it hours before and then keep warm or reheat covered .It gives you your oven back when you’re juggling and one less thing to get frazzled about. Apply to Swiney Snout.

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Cook Once Eat TwiceI have linked this recipe with Cook Blog Share with Easy Peasy Foodie,Cook Once Eat Twice with Corina at Searching for Spice. and The Food Calender at Charlottes Lively KitchenBrilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

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The Mother Sticky Toffee Cake.

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This is a Cake of Toffee Pudding Gorgeousness. My son was so excited to have his favourite pudding in a Cake it made him get up extra early. He would live off the stuff if he could, that, ice cream and chips. I do admit to  feeling drawn almost daily to  letting him feast off this nutritionally bereft menu just to see his little face light up and feel like I’m not torturing him towards an eating disorder with peas.The guilty police are for ever knocking on my door, damn them. My eldest child, George simply refuses to eat any fruit and veg that isn’t a raisin or pureed into oblivion and it concerns me deeply. I look at those wonderful recipes in Jamie Oliver’s books and think  OMG yes but then I realise  I can’t because George needs them invisible or he will refuse  to eat all before him and become hideously pasty with dark hollows under his eyes before simply wasting away. It will  of course be all my fault and the police will be back at my door, only they’ll be  in a Minivan this time. We recently went on holiday with our great friends whose eight year old son tucked heartily in to snails almost every night for a fortnight. It was a truly amazing sight, he simply did not have a care in the world as he skilfully and cheerfully plucked the little suckers from their shells before wolfing them down. On the nights he abstained from the snails he chose a Caesar Salad for the love of God! The Child should be on MasterChef! He was incredible. My friend will not mind me saying that she is not an adventurous cook and is much happier with a Cheese and Onion Pastie than a Ham and Gruyere Croissant (aren’t we all  luv) so where her son has picked up his palate from is a mystery. Is it just one of those things that you’re born with or should I be serving  my child the leftovers for two weeks until he finishes his carrots?  Does it really matter or will it just happen with age? Should we accept their preferences and just try to lead by example?  I suppose we don’t know the consequences of our parenting choices until it’s too late and that’s the guilt fest isn’t it? Someones at the door.

However I do acquiesce completely when we go out to eat and let him choose his own food with no nagging/screaming about the broccoli and when it comes round to pudding he is like an ecstatic pig in s..t , such is his pure delight in his sweet tooth. I cannot help but smile.But I do tend to find that when you’re eating out in the chain restaurants a lot of the desserts are rubbish, imitations of the real deal but falling way short. Sticky Toffee is usually different, its the Terminator of puddings, it can get away with being nuked in the microwave in a plastic pot and still be delish. So when I saw this recipe for a cake I just knew it would be a success. I thought this was perfect for Xmas as it has a bit of Cinnamon included in its ingredients so another Brucie Bonus for this time of the year. I can plunge my  Cake decs in for Yuletide loveliness and claim this cake for Xmas and for George.

The recipe is adapted  from The Great British Chef website (Victoria Glass). I made my own toffee sauce  and doubled the quantity.I adjusted quite a few of other points too to suit me sir. In fact I realise I’ve changed most of it as I write this out!

  • 300g stoned dates
  • 300g light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 200g melted butter
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp  caramel  extract
  • 350g self raising flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Icing

  • 200g soft unsalted butter
  • 400g icing sugar

Toffee Sauce

  • 300g of light brown sugar
  • 60g of butter
  • 1 tbsp black treacle
  • 300 ml of double cream
  • 1 pinch of salt

Method

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180 C. Soak the dates in a saucepan with 400 ml of water and bring to the boil.
  2. Simmer for five mins.
  3. Blend mixture briefly in a food processor to a semi smooth paste.
  4. Whisk the eggs,sugar and syrup until pale and mousse like.
  5. Fold in the dates and the caramel extract.
  6. Fold in the flour,salt,cinnamon and bicarb with a big metal spoon.
  7. Divide mixture between 2  9″ sandwich tins.(I didn’t have 9″ so used 8 ” and just got away with it!)
  8. Bake for 35/40 mins until a cake skewer comes out clean.
  9. Put icing sugar and butter in a food processor and whizz until mixed.Leave in food processor.
  10. Put butter and sugar for  the toffee sauce in a saucepan and melt over a low heat.
  11. Add the black treacle and then the double cream and simmer until thickened.Once cool add half to the buttercream and whizz to mix.(you can do all the icing in a food mixer or use a hand held whisker,its just not half as easy).
  12. Leave the cakes to cool in their tin but once out of the oven pierce all over with a skewer and pour half the remaining toffee sauce over both cakes.
  13. Finally sandwich the cakes together with the buttercream and drizzle the remaining toffee sauce over the top of the cake.
  14. Apply to George’s face.

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Marvellous Make Ahead Canapes for Maximum Mingling.

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The party season is upon us and it’s time for those glorious velvet and sequined numbers to hit the Xmas dance floor once more. Every year young ladies who really shouldn’t ,squeeze themselves into seriously  short sparkly numbers and older ladies who should definitely know better, go out without sleeves. Granted you need to simulate overhead clapping or writing on an imaginary blackboard furiously to fully gauge the extent of the flapping bingo wing but an older girl still knows. The bingo wings of the over Forties are the equivalent of the chubby Twenty something’s knees and always make me stare. I  do have both unfortunate conditions but  would never expose them in the flesh, Xmas or not. My Xmas body definitely should be well wrapped  up through all festive activities (preferably with duct tape), but I do admire the devil may care attitude of the scantily clad podgy partygoer,they probably have way more fun than me even if they are bl…y freezing. But whether you’re a Last Christmas or Fairy Tale of New York kind of person it matters not, tis the season of gorging and guzzling for all on the party circuit and in that I feel no shame. In fact I revel in it, it’s like being pregnant all over again, obviously not the drinking part but  most definitely the eating part. I find that I simply cannot pass a Vol au Vent or Sausage Roll without reaching out a chubby  hand to gather more,  no matter how much I  have piled high on my party plate. To make matters worse, the more I have to drink the more I don’t care what I look like when I’m eating and you know how tricky some of those finger foods can be. Wouldn’t it be good to have a little hold up screen on a stick to hide one’s Canape eating modesty. I could probably shove twice as much in…. Perhaps I shall make one of my own, I could put a moustache on it ….but i digress… Hosts seem more generous, more committed to ensuring that everyone eats and drinks more than their fill at Xmas and I have always been very easily led, so when it is my turn to welcome people into my home and spread the Xmas spirit wide and deep I do all in my power to ensure that my table is  groaning with Festive Fayre, Crisps, Dips, Canapes and the odd pickled Reindeer. Indeed I am on the look out constantly throughout the year for ingenious recipes for easy catering for the masses. I like to apply my prepare ahead motto as much as possible as I am now useless at multitasking and anxiety is like a rat up a drainpipe. I also, most selfishly I know, want to  mingle whilst filling my face with Food and Wine free of anxious thoughts of juggling timings and so forth. So I make simple, easy to assemble but tasty food that can be put on plates half an hour before the door bell goes and the chubby  naked knees and swinging upper arms arrive. These mini Yorkies are perfect, they can be made ahead and filled with any tasty combo. I’ve made Roast Beef and Smoked Salmon here as it has enabled me to double up on the Horseradish Cream Cheese, just call me Shortcut Sue. They can be made ahead and kept in the fridge until needed-a brilliant way to get ahead.

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I have purchased a mini muffin roasting tin (Sainsburys) which has been perfect for these bite sized Yorkies.The following quantity makes about 30.

  • 4 eggs
  • 200 ml milk
  • 150g of plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

I just put all ingredients in the food processor and whizz till smooth but usual recipes say that you should whisk eggs and flour together before adding the milk and whisking again. Put a small amount of sunflower oil in each muffin space and heat for at least 15 mins at 220 C. If the tray is not hot enough the Yorkshires will not rise. After the 15 mins be quick and fill the muffin tray, each one about half way up. Bake for 15 mins ish-keep a close eye on them but don’t open the oven door until baked. Cool on a wire tray. Fill with toppings.

Fillings-Quality Roast Beef- Quality Smoked Salmon

Cream cheese mixed to taste with Horseradish Sauce. I used about 150g of Cream Cheese and a teaspoon of Horseradish but it completely depends on how strong your Horseradish is. I put about 1/2 a teaspoon of the mix in each pudding.

Cheese Muffins.

I make these also in the mini muffin tray.

  • 250g self raising flour
  • 150g mature cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 50g butter melted
  • 1 egg
  • 250 ml of milk

Mix the wet and dry ingredients together separately first and then stir together to combine.Do not over mix.Fill each muffin space about 3/4 full.Bake in pre heated oven at 200 C for about 15 mins.Cool on a wire tray.

Sticky Sausages.

  • mini chipolata sausages (30)
  • 2 tbsp cranberry Sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey.
  1. Bake sausages at 190 C until starting to brown.
  2. Mix together honey and cranberry sauce.
  3. Pour over and coat sausages well.
  4. Bake until brown.
  5. Push cocktail sticks into each sausage for an easy application to party face,no screen required.

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Biscoff Xmas Cake

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I have to confess that I’m not the worlds greatest Xmas Fruit Cake fan. Some can be quite nice but most have Glace Cherries and Candied Peel in, which is a “No Way Jose” all the way to the shops and back for me, thank you. But I do usually feel the pull of Xmas tradition and buckle with a boiled Fruit Cake or a Nigella Bake but last  year I found a  Cinnamony Cake after some trials ( lots of trials!) and iced it with Cinnamon Icing and it was Xmasy with no knobbly preserved bits… a personal Yuletide triumph. It went down a Santa Storm and I made an excited Xmas pledge to henceforth always include it in my Festive Bakes. However this Summer I was introduced to the most gorgeous stuff I have ever eaten from a spoon in a jar (thank you very much Tamara Parmar)…Biscoff Spread (you know the little rectangular biscuit that comes in its own wrapper on the side of your  saucer when you’re given a cup of tea or coffee in random places)…sweet mother of all things joyous, it is divine, and she made the same cake with Biscoff icing and it was Gorg. …… simples yet b….y clever. I have since discovered when returning to the recipe for this Cake that it suggested Biscoff Icing anyway….I can be such a thicky. So this year I fully intended to make said cake with said icing but being the Smart Arse that I am, I attempted a different cake and it was pants compared to this one.I hate a s..t cake..what a waste of opportunities.

I love people calling in at Xmas but I feel rubbish if I am bereft of  festive baked goods so throughout all of December I endeavour to always have something Xmasy at arms length. This fits the bill  very nicely indeed. Its a large cake too so depending on how popular you are it can see you out a large part of the Xmas period.I am still having a problem with my gluttony so it may only last a couple of days at my house, I’ve already finished the chocolates…..I forget that Santa is  watching……..

  • 150ml full-fat milk
  • 3 tbsp black treacle
  • 225 ml of vegetable oil
  • 375g of plain flour
  • 3 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 375g of light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 300ml of buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

 

  1. Put the milk and treacle into a saucepan and warm to combine and set aside to cool.
  2. Grease the 8″ tins with a little oil and line with baking parchment.
  3. Measure all the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl and stir/whisk to combine.Make sure there are no lumps of sugar by breaking them up with your fingers.
  4. Measure all the wet ingredients into a jug and whisk before adding the treacle mixture and adding to the dry ingredients.
  5. Whisk it all together into a batter.
  6. Distribute evenly between the tins and bake in a preheated oven 180 C for 30/35 mins.
  7. Leave for ten mins in their tins before placing the cakes on a wire rack to cool.

I found this recipe on BBC Good Food website and it is by Cassie Best.I have adjusted it a bit as I said I’m a Smart Arse.The recipe suggests 3 layers but I haven’t got 3 tins so my version is with just 2.

  • 300g full fat Cream Cheese
  • 300g Biscoff spread
  • 300g Icing Sugar

Mix together in a food processor and apply to Cake.

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Prodigious Pav.

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This is a Dessert of Joy, Love and Calm. Crispy, chewy, soft, Chocolatey Meringue studded with dark chocolate chunks and topped with a thick blanket of cream and raspberries. It has been a success every time I have made it, such is it’s reliability. It can be dressed up or down to suit you Sir but effortlessly brings a sense of serious style to any Soiree. I feel it is the Audrey Hepburn of the dessert world, dark, sophisticated and drop dead gorgeous.  I have come to think of this as a perfect Sunday Lunch Pudding when I am Entertaining a small crowd. It is super easy and quick to put together allowing you more time for other prep and panic. I try to pick all my recipes for their ability to be almost completed before people arrive. I am a  panicker and as anxiety plays more and more a part in my hormonal journey of  dehydration and general loosening, I need things to be more or less just about keeping warm and plating up, otherwise I find myself sweating like a very large person in a sauna wearing a duffel coat. I find it almost impossible at that point to enjoy the experience  as my panic rises and I become certain of complete disaster and personal uselessness. It was  just the same with driving at night. Someone for the love of God pass me the Wine as well as the H.R.T. I anxiously have to have the table laid with all accompaniments and sides in place with serving spoons to the ready, glasses out standing to attention and nibbles naked and exposed for  immediate nibbling. That way I can genuinely chat and listen to guests as they arrive. My brain can no longer cope with more than one job as I struggle to remember why I’ve gone upstairs most days, nevermind what your name is whilst hunting for the last remaining teaspoon for the bl…y  horseradish.

So this Prodigous Pav talks me down every time. I can make it the previous day  and decorate an hour before people arrive. It requires no jostling of space with Roast Potatoes or Cauliflower Cheese. It merely sits reassuringly regal and composed, sending me proverbial hand squeezes and all will be well vibes and many a time I have found myself heavily in her debt.

This recipe is mostly borrowed from Nigella Lawson.As always I find her recipes outstanding in all the ways that matter to me, no fuss with great style and taste and I can’t help but love her muchly for it.

  • 6 egg whites
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp quality cocoa powder
  • 50g of quality dark chocolate
  • 500 ml of double cream
  • 500 g of raspberries
  • grated dark choc to decorate
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C-350 F and line tray with baking parchment.
  2. Beat the egg whites until fluffed up and stiff.Beat in the sugar until stiff and satiny.
  3. Sprinkle over the cocoa and chocolate and then fold it all in.I sometimes whisk the cocoa in before folding in the chocolate and it does not seem to matter at all.
  4. Shape into a disc shape  about 9 inches in diameter whilst drawing up the sides a little so as to contain all the cream and raspberries later.
  5. Place into the oven and then immediately drop the temp down to 150 C and bake for 1 to 1 hour fifteen minutes.I sometimes do it in my Aga simmer oven for about 2 hours.
  6. Let the pav cool completely before whisking the cream to soft peaks and tumbling on the raspberries (love a tumble)
  7. You could also decorate with dark chocolate gratings for a bit of razzle.
  8. Apply to fabulously unflushed face.

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I have linked with I should Cocoa and Tin and Thyme 

Bad Boy Brioche

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Look at that bad boy!!! It emerged from the oven glorious and magnificently beating it’s chest for all to see. A Henry the VIII of a Brioche. Unfortunately there was only my friend Kate and I, but both of us were suitably impressed and exclaimed loudly for five minutes which I know made me feel very accomplished and must have made the Brioche very proud. What a wonderful thing to set before a crowd of friends or family, perfect for an occasion like Xmas which was the motivation behind baking this handsome beauty. I have recently discovered Pinterest which for someone  who loves looking for recipes and ideas is like finding someone to do all the housework for you just because it gives them joy.Just acres and acres of recipes of all descriptions, bl..dy genius. I am obsessed. I was looking for, as always, easy, prepare ahead, gorgeous food for a crowd, one of my most favourite things to do and it helps me stay off the wine which starts calling endlessly at about 5pm. It’s either this or craft so don’t judge too harshly. Anyway I found this,  I have never baked Brioche  before and I usually always go wrong the first time with everything  but this was EASY. You make the dough the night before in your food mixer with a dough hook, leave overnight in fridge and mould to shape the next day before leaving to puff up and bake…… and OMG they were as delicious as you can possibly imagine. So light, eggy, sweet and rich and quite frankly one of the best things I have ever baked. Not only can you more than half prepare it the night before, but it is incredibly yummy in a remember this for ever kind of way, just what you want your party to be full of.

Now I do feel obliged to mention that as I dwell in the waiting room of Perimenopause and notice amongst many other hideous and deeply alarming changes (Mother Nature can be such a cow ), my metabolic rate slowing down to the speed of a snail with an under active thyroid. I am also aware that this bake has the calories to keep me going for two years, three months and ten days. Long gone are the days of a Prawn Cocktail, Steak and Chips followed by a Chocolate Nut Sundae not venturing anywhere near my hips. Nowadays just a mere sniff of chip fat oil is enough to seriously plump up a  dimpled and mottled thigh and half a teaspoon of ice cream the other. It seems so cruel that when sleep evades once again and the night sweats are at their most sweaty, the fridge that offers so much solace is also the harbinger  of the dreaded middle aged spread. I’m sure to keep myself even just marginally plump I would have to jog daily and continuously for five hours wearing a sweat suit (and that would be a shocking look believe me), such is the nature of my metabolic rate. I  can’t even drown my middle aged sorrows and have a  let my hair seriously down drink with my girlfriends and dance like a t.at until dawn night, like the good old  days, as exhaustion, bloating and cankles set in by 8.30 pm and truly hideous m…..f…. hangovers , not to mention all those calories…….But this time and for this Brioche………. I say F..k it, it’s Xmas…..

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I adapted this from a recipe of Kimberley Wilson’s that I found on BBC Good Food website.

I put a fantastic Camembert in the middle as she did and would serve it with Cranberry Sauce.It would also be incredible with Pate and chutneys-ooooohhhh  yes indeedy………….

  • 4 large eggs
  • 20 ml of milk
  • 350g of strong white bread flour
  • 7g sachet of fast yeast
  • 30g of caster sugar
  • 200g of unsalted butter,cubed and softened
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 250g Camembert
  • 5g salt
  • sprigs of rosemary to push into cheese before baking
  1. Whisk eggs and milk into a jug.Put all the dry ingredients into the bowl of your food mixer and combine with a dough hook.
  2. On a medium setting pour in the egg and milk mix until combined.
  3. Add the butter and mix for about ten mins until the dough clings around the dough hook.It is very wet in the beginning but eventually becomes a dough.
  4. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Take the dough out of the fridge and divide the dough into 5 pieces and each of those into five.I weighed mine roughly out.Roll into balls between your hands.
  6. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper and put the wooden cheese box in the middle and arrange around it-10 in the inner ring and 15 on the outer.Leave about 1/2 a cm between each roll to allow them to double in size.Brush with the eggwash.
  7. Put the cheese in the middle and bake in a preheated 180 C oven for 15/20 mins.
  8. Apply to incredibly lucky face.

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