Tales from kitchen and cellar

Posts Tagged ‘yummy’

Christmas Day Lunch

In drink, food, Food and Drink on December 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Check out my last post for The Wine Place…

Lots of great tips for the best roast potatoes and wine too match your turkey feast!

Read my blog here





Christmas Breakfast with Bubbles

In Cooking, drink, food, Food and Drink on December 7, 2012 at 11:51 am

This week The Wine Place asked me to take a look at a wonderful English fizz,Brightwell Sparkling Chardonnay, and very delicious it was too.

I decided to pair it up with a scrumptious breakfast treat, classic Eggs Benedict.

Check out the combination hereeggsb

Figs Glorious Figs

In Cooking, food, Food and Drink on September 6, 2012 at 10:03 am









Fabulous fig season is upon us, and these sensual little bulbs of deep crimson deliciousness are one of my favourite indulgences.

For this recipe I used green figs which were in season in Italy at the time but the dark emperor style purple of our native figs would work just as well.


Serves 4

6 ripe figs firm to the touch but not overly mushy inside

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1 cup caster sugar

A little honey for drizzling


Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan until the skin rubs off and they are a little golden in colour. Place to cool on one side

Next make the caramel, place the sugar in a heavy based frying pan and melt over a medium to high heat, as the sugar starts to melt and change colour swirl the pan gently to even out the colour. Once a medium caramel colour is achieved remove from the heat and throw in the hazelnuts.

Toss them in the caramel using a fork, don’t be tempted to put your fingers in, this is extremely hot!

Pour onto grease proof paper and leave to harden.

Heat up the grill and cut the top of the figs into a cross shape and squeeze to reveal their sumptuous insides.

Drizzle with a little honey and grill until they start to bubble and blister a little.

Break up the hazelnut caramel and sprinkle like a spiky golden crown in the centre.

Enjoy unadulterated or with a little creme fraiche for added mositure or serve alongside a plate of anti pasti meats.

Whatever the excuse get stuck into the figs while you can!

Blackberry and Pear Perfection

In Cooking, food, Food and Drink on August 28, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Blackberry and Pear Compote

It’s blackberry time! A little early you might think but cast your eyes in any nearby hedgerow and if you’re lucky you will indeed see little dark jewels waiting to be picked!

So if you do happen to come across some of these dark little beauties, (I found mine at the bottom of the garden) here’s what to do with them.

This simple dessert can also be added to your morning bowl of muesli or on its own with a little yoghurt, quick and simple it showcases the humble blackberry and all it’s rich flavouring and colour.


Serves 2

A generous handful or 2 of blackberries (careful not to pick them to close to a busy road for contamination purposes)

1 pear (I used conference)

1/2 cup of sugar

a little water

A dollop of greek yoghurt (optional)


Wash the fruit and peel the pear, core and slice in to bite sized slithers.

Make a light caramel by adding 1/2 cup of sugar to a heavy based frying pan add a little water to cover the sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved over a medium heat.

Once the sugar has dissolved increase the heat and leave until the sugar turns a pale golden colour.

Remove from the heat and add the pear and stir gently to soften through, then add the blackberries, heat again and add a little more water (careful not to splash).

Let the fruit sit in the juices which should have turned a deep red now. Leave until just warm before serving with a dollop of greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of broken biscuit like a ginger nut.

Serve and enjoy!

Dotty About Cake

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on June 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm


Celebration Cake

Cakes are a firm favourite of mine whether they’re to eat, bake, decorate or share. This cake is no exception. When a friend asked me to bake a cake to celebrate her ten year wedding anniversary I was, of course thrilled. With little direction except “fresh flowers please!” I was excited but nervous about creating the right cake.

Thankfully this one went down a treat. The lemon drizzle and lemon curd buttercream was rich, sharp, sweet and tangy and was enjoyed by all.

I covered the cake in two layers of buttercream chilling between each layer before I covered it in ivory sugar fondant. I left to set overnight before spraying with gold food spray a number of times to ensure a golden, glittery sheen.

I picked roses from the garden mixed with some shop bought and they were kept moist in a little soaked oasis planted in a jam jar lid.

The spots on the cake were made from three different pastel fondants which I thought would complement both the cake and the flowers. I cut them out in three different sizes and stuck on with a little vodka.

I was tempted to spray again with a little gold but I liked the juxtaposition of the matt spots against the sheen of the cake.

I rested the flowers on top and added an ivory ribbon at the base secured with a pin, and that was it!

Ready to eat….


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!


Perfect Peaches

In Baking, Cooking, drink, food, Food and Drink on May 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm











Perfect Poached Peaches

I know it’s a little early but I did spy some lovely looking peaches which although a little hard are perfect for this recipe. This photo was taken a couple of summers ago during a catering holiday I undertook in Italy. The peaches then, like now were a little under ripe but once they were poached as you can see they were good enough…well, to eat. Truly delicious!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

6 Peaches

1 fresh vanilla pod

2-3 Tablespoons clear honey

1 bottle of rosé wine


Halve the peaches and stone them. Place in a shallow pan with all of the ingredients above including the split vanilla pod and seeds. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook the peaches until tender which will take around 15 minutes. Leave to cool a little then remove the peaches from the poaching liquor and skin them if you prefer.

Reduce the liquor until syrupy in consistency, add more honey if you prefer.

Add the peaches back into the liquor then serve warm or at room temperature. A generous dollop of créme fraiche, greek yoghurt or creamy ice cream will be delicious with this dessert and the whitish colour looks great against the rosé jus. Roll on the summer!

Fabulous Focaccia

In Baking, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on May 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm




Fantasticly Flavoursome Focaccia

This recipe was inspired by some goodies I had left in the fridge. That is not to say I used any old floppy spring onion or squashy tomato that happened to be hiding out in my veg tray, no far from it! They were in their prime and I wanted their destinies to be more than some garnish to the same old salad. So in a focaccia…sorry flash! I thought hmmm, they would be pretty tasty in some freshly baked bread. Together with some salty black olives the colours give the impression you’re well on your way to your five a day in just one chunk! Well nearly…

The recipe below is a basic focaccia recipe, I’ve added a handful of spring onions, a few halved cherry tomatoes and a peppering of olives. It is more of a visual delight so put in as many or as little as you like. How you paint your bread with colour and ingredients is up to you.

The recipe below is a BBC one which is great. I have tweaked it to include the vege garnishes…



  • 300ml/½ pint tepid water
  • 1½ tsp dried yeast or 2 heaped tsp fresh yeast
  • 500g/1lb 2oz ’00’ flour or strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • medium coarse sea salt
  • A handful of spring onions (whole)
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • A handful of kalamata olives (careful of the stones)


Preparation method

  1. Pour a little of the tepid water into a small bowl. Add the yeast and blend using your fingers. Leave the yeast for five minutes to soften and dissolve.
  2. Mix the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. You may like to transfer your mixture to a pastry board or other flat work surface at this stage and prepare the dough there, in traditional Tuscan style. Otherwise, mix the dough in the bowl.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the flour and salt mixture. Pour the blended yeast and water into the well along with the olive oil. Mix thoroughly. Gradually add the rest of the tepid water until a sticky dough is formed.
  4. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface. Gather any stray pieces. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding a little extra flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic and the dough no longer sticks to your hand. To see if it is ready, you can carry out the stretch test: pull off a piece of dough, it should be elastic enough not to break quickly when stretched out.
  5. Next accumulate any stray ends and rough sections by ‘chafing’ your ball of dough. Hold it and curve your hands around it, use your palms to pull at its sides gently while you slowly rotate it, letting your little fingers meet underneath. Do this for five minutes. You should be left with a neat, smooth ball.
  6. Oil a bowl and place the dough inside and cover with either oiled cling film or a damp tea towel. Leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size – about 1½ hours depending on the room temperature.
  7. Use your fist to knock it back, then knead it again for a further two minutes.
  8. Leave to rest again, but only for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Shape by placing into a shallow baking tray, using your hands to spread it out to a depth of about 1.5cm/¾in, then allow to rise again, covered with a tea towel, until doubled in size – this will take about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  10. Create a dimpled effect by repeatedly pushing your fingertips gently into the surface of the dough. Drizzle a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil evenly over the dough. Sprinkle over the sea salt and push the veges into the dough.
  11. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the top is crusty and cooked through to the base. Serve.


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.