Tales from kitchen and cellar

Posts Tagged ‘treat’

Hurry Up It’s Sloe Time!

In drink, Food and Drink on September 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm











Sloe Gin

Yes it’s sloe time and a sure sign that autumn is upon us and what better way to treasure the season than to lay down the foundations for a truly delicious drink to be enjoyed over the festive period….sloe gin.

It’s deep garnet colour when fully developed is about as rich and inviting as a drink can get when the evenings turn cold and the fire (or in our case, the central heating is on).

Take a look in the hedgerows for these deep purple hard berries with small green leaves (check before you pick!), be quick as these unassuming little fellas won’t be around for long.

There is something very satisfying about making sloe gin, although the results cannot be enjoyed for a number of months to come this is a quick recipe that really does help to mark the seasons.

So here’s how to make your own lusciously lethal liquor!


750 ml gin

450g sloes

350g caster sugar


Wash your sloes and place in the freezer over night, this will save you the hassle of pricking each little berry. The freezing process breaks the skin a little which will release the colours into the gin over time.

Split your sloes into two different bottles or jars (I used one gin bottle and one kilner) sprinkle over the sugar, add half the gin to each and shake to help dissolve the sugar.

Place in a dark room turning occasionally to redispurse the sugar. Be patient this will be good come Christmas but even better in the spring.



Taste the tropics…in a muffin!

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on July 10, 2012 at 10:58 am

Marvelous Muffins

Mango and coconut muffins

In this miserable summer weather a bit of baking always lifts my spirits and as I thought of hotter climes the idea of a totally tropical mango and coconut muffin recipe came to mind. We might not have the caribbean sunshine but we can certainly taste the tropics!

This recipe is a great basic guideline swap around the mango for any fruit you like, peach also works well. Buttermilk for me makes a muffin great and I am supremely confident that this is one of the best muffin recipes around.


Makes around 20-24 muffins

4 cups of plain flour

8 tsp BP

1 cup caster sugar

200 g melted butter

400 ml buttermilk

2 eggs

2 cups of  chopped fruit (I used mango)

1/2 cup dessicated coconut

2 muffin trays and cases


Pre-heat oven to 160 C, Gas Mark 4

Line 2 muffin trays with muffin cases.

Sift the flour together with the baking powder sugar and pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. In  a seperate bowl mix the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter. Fold them all together. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for Approx 20-25 min until risen and golden brown. Test with a skewer that comes out clean from the mixture.

Leave to cool a little on a wire rack, but try whilst still warm for the best taste. Enjoy!

I also have a new little friend keeping me company in the kitchen, I would like to introduce Maisie…


Marvelous Meringues

In Baking, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on May 22, 2012 at 11:48 am







Mini Meringue Mountains

Ahh meringues, the simple sweet pleasure of this crispy dessert is not to be underestimated. Crunchy and chewy clouds of joy which work as a great vehicle for other flavours such as fresh fruit, cream, ice cream or just enjoyed on their own.

I am a huge fan of the meringue and over the years I would consider it my “go to” dessert if all else fails. In short, I would like to think that after many years of searching for the perfect recipe it was right under my nose all along!

Delia Smith or should I say Saint Delia’s recipe is simple, foolproof and works time after time. These mini meringue mountains were made using her method and provide the perfect crunch to chew ratio. I have changed only one ingredient, I used golden caster sugar to give a creamy glow to the final result. Here it is:


3 large fresh egg whites

175g golden caster sugar


Preheat oven to 140C

Using a baking sheet lightly oil and line with silicone paper (this is to ease the meringues off at the end)

Using a spotlessly clean bowl, place the egg whites in the bowl and whisk until you form medium to soft peaks (turn the bowl on top of your head and the egg whites should stay put).

At this stage add one tablespoon of sugar to the mixture, and re whisk to bring it to medium to stiff peak again, keep adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time, twice more. Then add the remaining sugar to the mixture.

Using two big spoons scoop the meringue mixture into rustic dollops onto the baking sheet.

Place in the oven for one hour then turn the oven off. Leave the meringue in the oven until cold. This is best left overnight if you can.

Enjoy with whipped cream and some fruit rippled through it like strawberries or raspberries. Or if you made my perfect peaches yesterday and had a little of them left the jus will make this sweet treat sublime!


Going Bananas Over Banana Bread

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on May 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm








Moist Banana Loaf

This great tea time treat took  its inspiration from the four sad and black looking bananas lurking at the bottom of my fruit bowl. As I wavered whether it would be less cruel to just put them out of their misery and into the bin a wave of inspiration hit me. A second life was awaiting these sad looking fruit souls in the form of a delicious and moist banana bread.

Below is a recipe I have taken from the BBC website. It’s quick and easy and will fill your kitchen with the sweet aromas of baking and warm bananas. Although it’s very tempting to eat whilst warm from the tin this cake benefits from a days relax. The true fruity banana flavour develops more and the moist cake just tastes better all round…A really great reincarnation for the humble banana.


  • 285g/10oz plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 110g/4oz butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 85ml/3fl oz buttermilk (or normal milk mixed with 1½ tsp lemon juice or vinegar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


Grease and line with baking parchment a large loaf tin

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  • Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk and vanilla extract to the butter and sugar mixture and mix well. Fold in the flour mixture.
  • Grease a 20cm x 12.5cm/8in x 5in loaf tin and pour the cake mixture into the tin.
  • Transfer to the oven and bake for about an hour, or until well-risen and golden-brown.
  • Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Dizzy Viennese Whirls

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on April 27, 2012 at 10:54 am

Viennese Whirls

These light as air, crumbly biscuits are a great weekend treat. If you have a piping bag and nozzle the method is pretty easy and once made they will last up to a week in an airtight container. However, if you have friends over I doubt they’d last that long!

Once baked they’re texture is like a whipped shortbread and are delicious enjoyed at the end of a meal instead of a dessert with a small glass of sweet madeira (Malmsey works best) or a glass of late harvest sauvignon blanc.

For extra decadence melt some dark chocolate and dip half the whirl into it and leave to set, this makes the biscuit a little more substantial and adds extra density.

I prefer them as little light whirls all on their own!


  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 55g icing sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 75g corn flour
  • 300g dark chocolate optional for dipping


Preheat the oven to 170C,  Gas Mark 3

Place all the ingredients (except the chocolate) into a mixing bowl, make sure the butter is softened first.

Using a wooden spoon or electric mixer mix the ingredients to a paste and then stop being careful not to add too much air.

For the classic look of the biscuit place the paste into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe the mixture out onto non stick baking paper in little swirls. Starting at the centre and working your way outwards. You will soon get the knack after a couple of biscuits. Be careful to space wide apart as they grow in the oven.

Bake for around 15 minutes then leave on a wire rack to cool.Then place them onto a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

If you want a chocolatey edge, melt some dark chocolate in a bowl on top of a pan of boiling water then dip half the biscuit in, or just enjoy unadulterated.

Celebration Cup Cakes with Vanilla Buttercream mmmmm…

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on April 26, 2012 at 10:43 am

Fabulous Fairy Cakes or Cup Cakes

Today I have showcased the very popular cup cake or if you’re English and feeling nostalgic the fairy cake. It’s to celebrate a lovely honour that a fellow blogger has bestowed on this site. With many thanks to We Eat Things who have named Tales from Kitchen and Cellar Blog of the Month. I’m thrilled by the feedback and so to say thank you one of my cup cakes is winging its way virtualy to We Eat Things as a thank you! Check out their site, beautiful and full of great information I particularly liked their pithy take on the pros and cons of coffee. So, with that said let’s get down to some cup cake business!

These cakes are easy to prepare just make sure your butter is softened fully before you start. The humble cup cake is a great home baked treat and so much better than those bought in a supermarket and what’s more they are cheap and pretty too…


  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 2  eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)
  • 75g butter
  • 175g icing sugar, sifted


Makes 12 cupcakes

Preheat the oven to  180c Gas Mark 4. Place cup cake cases into a muffin tray

Using an electric whisk or food processor or wooden beat the butter and sugar until very light, pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating each one in well before adding the next. Add the vanilla essence. Carefully fold in the flour and if using the baking powder.

Using two spoons dollop the mixture into the pre prepared muffin tray and place in the oven for 10 – 20 minutes. Check after 10 minutes with a skewer try not to overcook the cakes or they will be very dry.

When baked leave to cool on a wire rack.

Make the vanilla butter icing

Using an electric whisk or food processor beat the butter until very soft.

Gradually add the sifted icing sugar and a few drops of vanilla essence and beat into the butter until you have a smooth paste. When the cakes are cool, using a palette knife place the buttercream on top of the cake  swipe into a swirl. Decorate with whatever sugary treats you like.


Decadent Chocolate Brownies

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on April 19, 2012 at 12:04 pm



Chocolate Brownie Heaven

These tasty fudgy rectangles make a great any time treat and are so versatile. Have as an afternoon snack or slightly warmed as a delectable dessert. The crispy shell and gooey centre is a sure fire hit with kids and adults alike. There’s nearly always a fight for the gooey slice at the centre. They are quick and easy to make and if kept in a sealed box will last upto a week, although I would be surprised if they’ll survive uneaten for that long!

Dust with icing sugar if serving as a dessert and with a good quality vanilla ice cream. If pudding wines are your thing then a very chilled glass of sauternes or the more unusual banyuls will go down a treat.  Yum!


22cm square brownie tin

oil, for greasing, greaseproof paper

350 g dark chocolate, broken in small pieces

50g white chocolate button

50g milk chocolate buttons

250 g unsalted butter

3 eggs

250 g dark brown sugar, preferably muscovado

100 g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder


Heat the oven to 170°C/gas 3. Lightly grease a 22cm square cake tin and line with greaseproof paper for easy removal laerMelt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, being careful that the water doesn’t get into the chocolate.Whisk the eggs and sugar together for 2-3 minutes until smooth, creamy and fluffy. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.Sieve the flour and baking powder into the mixture and stir to mix. Fold in the chocolate drops Pour the mixture into the cake tin.Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 35 minutes until the surface is set. It is cooked when it just starts to crack on the top. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool completely in the tin.
Slice the cake into squares and store in a tin or in a container in the fridge.

Milk and Cookies

In Baking, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on April 17, 2012 at 11:14 am

Milk and Cookies

Tuesdays are a strange day, not quite the beginning of the week and far from the end. So what delicious treats can be conjured up to make Tuesdays tasty! Look no further than the picture above…

This is such a simple recipe that brings back great childhood memories, served with fresh organic milk makes this tea time treat  a hit with adults and kids alike. The tricky thing is to wait until tea time to eat them, especially when still warm from the oven and the chocolate is still gooey and glossy, begging to be eaten!

Let me know your favourite cookie combinations, as I’m looking for new ideas and would love to know any unusual thoughts!


    • 350g flour
    • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 225g butter
    • 175g caster sugar
    • 175g brown sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 eggs
    • 350g dark chocolate drops or chopped dark chocolate


Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5

In a bowl mix the flour, baking soda and salt.In a separate bowl, beat the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until light and creamy. Add the eggs. Slowly add in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate drops or chopped dark chocolate if using.

Bring together to forma a dough and roll into a sausage shape approximately 2 inches in diameter (cut into two sausages if easier to manage). Wrap them in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to bake the cookies, cut the dough into 2 cm thickness and place on a greased baking sheet widely spaced.

Bake for 9 to 12 minutes depending on your oven until just golden. They will continue to bake once out of the oven.

Finally serve with a glass of chilled milk or a hot coffee if preferred!