The inclusion of muscovado sugar gives these classic cakes a delicious caramel flavour
A quick and easy healthy midweek lunch recipe. Parsnip and leek go really well together, and the addition of the lemon thyme and lemongrass give a subtle freshness to the soup without overpowering the flavours.
2 large parsnips
Tbsp lemon thyme
Half a stick of lemongrass
500ml hot vegetable stock
Tbsp of olive oil
2 tbsp of diced chorizo (optional)
A few years back, I designed a strawberry tea cosy and held a private Strawberry Tea Party in aid of Breast Cancer UK. Last year, I learnt about Prostate Cancer UK's Tea for Victory campaign, which is a similar fundraising idea, with a 1940s theme. I decided to design some tea cosies to help raise money for the event, and have been selling them in kit form for the last year, as well as the patterns, so people can make their own. This year, I thought it was time I got around to holding my own event to raise even more funds, and having found a great central venue in Stamford that was offered to us for free, I decided to make it a public event.
Today, after much preparation, baking, and hard work, not just from me but from my wonderful friends and family, the event finally happened! The event was run like a cafe, and we discovered that running a cafe is harder than it looks! You have to be totally on the ball the whole time, notice who has arrived, and who hasn't been served, make sure you write down the order correctly, then remember to leave them the 'bill' so they can pay! I kept leaving the bill in the kitchen and then dashing back for it only to find it had gone missing and have to write another one! The other thing I kept forgetting was the tea spoon! I even forgot to give one gentleman's a mug for his coffee! He very politely pointed this out when I returned with his bill - that I had left in the kitchen....Thankfully it wasn't all down to me, or chaos would have ensued.
Thanks to all the help we had in marketing the event, we had a steady flow of people all morning. At several points, every seat was taken, and some people couldn't even get in the door. This was a shame, and with the benefit of hindsight, I would have put the 'cake and kits' table at the front of the room, which might have encouraged a few more cake only or kit only sales.
I was particularly touched by the contribution of a member of the public who brought in two orchid plants that she had grown herself, to donate. It was such a lovely idea, and we sold them both.
I am delighted that together the people of Stamford and beyond have raised the grand total of £400 for Prostate Cancer UK! The actual amount in the cash box came to £395, but I thought I would top it up to £400 to make it a round number!
Thanks to everyone who came along and who donated so generously. I would also like to thank my Mum, my Dad, my husband, Liz, Jennie and Claire, the lady who donated the orchids and Emily from 'Cake That', who donated a box of beautiful cupcakes. Thank you to the local media who publicised the event, and to Rachel at Ewe Wool Shop, who told all her customers about it. I hope that everyone who came thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and will be as thrilled as I am to hear just how much we raised for Prostate Cancer UK today.
Yesterday was an eventful day. Someone drove into me while I was stationary. I had to drive my daughter to the orthodontist 20 miles away, only to be told there was an 18 month waiting list for braces. I had a ton of work to do on my Autumn Collection, and some personal stuff to see to.
Despite this, I managed to make ice cream. I try and get at least one nice thing into every day, however stressful, and yesterday this was making something with the strawberries I had picked from my Mum's allotment the day before. When you have picked the fruit yourself, and your Mum has grown it, you feel much more motivated to make the most of it, and I therefore wanted to make something special. I had posted a photo on my facebook page the day before asking for suggestions, and someone had suggested ice cream. This idea appealed and I set about finding a recipe that didn't require a trip to the shops (something I definitely didn't have time for). I couldn't find one, so I made this up with what I happened to have in the house.
I started making it at about 2.30pm, which turns out not to have been soon enough to have lovely frozen ice cream for pudding at 7pm! Instead, we had semi-freddo. To get a good photo of the ice cream in its actual frozen state, however, I had ice cream for breakfast today for probably the first time in my life. It was good! Why is ice cream not on the menu for breakfast ordinarily, I now ask myself?!
525g strawberries, hulled
125g double cream
125g icing sugar
Makes approx 1 litre of ice cream
Apple and Cinnamon Muffins
175g (6oz) self raising flour
25g (1oz) cornmeal or polenta
225g (8oz) golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
150g pack of Sainsbury's 'Baking Additions: apple cinnamon and sultana' OR 150g mix of dried apple and sultanas, rolled in cinnamon
225ml (8flo oz) buttermilk
40g (1.5 oz) salted butter, melted
zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
12 hole muffin tin and cases
Halloumi and Pepper Couscous Salad
My daughter breaks up from school today and is having a friend over to celebrate. She put in a request for her favourite pudding, chocolate surprise pudding, earlier in the week. So really I have no excuse for discovering at 5pm, when I already have the butter sugar and flour measured out, that I haven't got any cocoa powder - the essential ingredient which creates the surprise.
There follows a moment of panic in which I flick through pudding cookbooks in search of a similar pudding recipe that doesn't use cocoa powder. This moment is followed by the realisation that all decent chocolate pudding recipes contain cocoa powder OR ridiculously large amount of chocolate, which I also don't have. Whilst weighing up the choice of jumping in the car and driving to the supermarket, ten minutes away, which would be, let's face it, a 30 minute round trip at least, for 2 tbsp of cocoa powder, or facing the disappointed faces, I suddenly had a brain wave. What is the closest thing to cocoa powder that I have in the house? Green and Black's Organic Hot Chocolate Drink. I decided to take a risk and substitute this for the cocoa powder - and face the consequences if it didn't work!
Well, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, of course. The verdict? This version was given 8/10 whereas the normal version always has 10/10, so if you have cocoa powder, use it! However, if not, then Green and Black's is a good alternative.
This recipe is one my Mum used to make all the time when we were kids, and I believe it came from her mother, so the actual origin is unknown. I am giving away a very special family secret by sharing this one with you. I hope you enjoy it!
Chocolate Surprise Pudding
1. Place all the Cake Ingredients, except for the milk, in a food processor or whisk together with an electric whisk. You will need to stop and scrape everything into the centre with a spatula half way through. When thoroughly combined, add the milk and whisk again until mixed in.
2. Tip the mixture into the prepared dish and smooth over with a spatula.
3. Sprinkle the dry sauce ingredients over the pudding to cover.
4. Pour over the boiled water. In preparation for placing in the oven, put a baking sheet on the bottom shelf of the oven (this catches any drips).
5. Place the pudding on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake for approx 30 mins. Check after 20 mins. If the sauce is bubbling up the sides and the top is browning too quickly turn the oven down for the last 10 minutes.
The pudding is ready when the sponge is firm all the way through. You can test this with your finger in the centre of the pudding and it should spring back. It should also start to split to reveal the sponge beneath. If you are not sure, carefully insert a skewer into the centre. It should come out without liquid sponge mix on it. (it may have sauce on it though).
Spicy and Fruity Couscous Salad
Half way through the week the contents of my fridge tend to be a bit random. Lunch today was therefore an improvised effort made with leftovers and bits and pieces found in the cupboards and the fridge, but it was so good I have to share it. I ate it first to check it really was as good as it looks.
The basis of the recipe is the spicy dressing and the couscous. You can vary the other ingredients combinations depending on what you've got available, but try and pick a combination of fruit, seeds and salad veg.
I'm crazy about yarn, Scotland, food, my husband and my three girls, and I live in a perpetual state of organised chaos. Some just call it creativity.