29 November 2012

It's beginning to look a bit like...

...Christmas. It has turned bitterly cold and last night I had a hot mulled cider spiced with strong with rum, standing outside with lovely company.

Every Wednesday in December the shops on Columbia Road are open in the evening, there is live music and mulled wine and altogether a really cosy Christmas shopping atmosphere - certainly beats rushing down Oxford Street in a mad panic together with a million other people.

27 November 2012

Montgomery's Cauliflower Cheese

On a day after the night before recently my husband treated me to this amazing hangover curing comfort lunch. Cauliflower Cheese is always really yummy, but making it with Montgomery's Cheddar took this humble dish to new gourmet heights. Montgomery's is a wonderful very mature, slightly chalky, nutty cheese that added some extra tang to the mellow cauliflower and bechamel combo. One for the Christmas dinner maybe?

26 November 2012

A Welcome Sight

Sunrise on Sunday morning - a lovely sight after rain for days on end.

25 November 2012

Apple, Raisin and Cinnamon Cake

The wind is blowing and the rain is hitting the windows hard. Inside we have the fire going and the smell of a lovely cake working it's way through the house. Staying indoors really seems like the right thing to do.

This cake is moist and gorgeous and just hints at some Christmassy flavours. A bit like a warm up - next weekend it is the first of December and then we can all go for it with cinnamon and cloves, mulled wine and Bing Crosby and everything else. Although I still think it will be too early to get a tree - there is an ongoing debate about this in our house and I haven't quite made up my mind yet...

To make the cake you need:

3 Medium Sized Apples
180 gms Sugar
130 gms Butter
3 Eggs
230 gms Plain Flour
100 ml Milk
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tbsp Ground Cinnamon
2 Good Handfuls of Raisins

Start by preparing the apples. Wash them then cut them in half and carefully remove the cores. Slice the apples very thinly, ideally you want slices that are 1-2 mm thick. Keep one apple half behind and chop it up roughly together with any leftover apple bits or slices that are too thick or thin, these bits will go into the batter and add moisture to the cake.

Melt the butter and allow it to cool. Beat the butter and sugar together until it is pale and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Pour in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and milk and stir until the batter is smooth and lump free. Stir in the chopped up apple bits and one handful of raisins. Pour the batter into a greased and breaded cake tin.

To decorate, start sticking the apple slices into the batter at an angle. Work your way from the outside towards the centre. As you get closer to the middle of the tin, you can bend the slices slightly as you push them down to give them that petal look. Scatter the rest of the raisins over the top and bake for 50 minutes at 200 degrees.

Perfect served on its own, but some custard on the side would take it to another level. Dig in!

24 November 2012

Chai Latte Cravings

Recently I have had massive cravings for Chai Lattes and was keen to try making them at home, thinking it must be nicer using proper tea than the powder they have in coffee shops. The other day my husband came home from the shop with some very authentic looking Chai teabags so I decided to have a go. I made some very strong tea, two teabags with only about half a cup of water, and let it brew quite well. Then I added a healthy table spoon of honey and topped it with lots of hot milk and plenty of froth. It was so good! Beats Starbucks by miles. The next step will be making the actual tea mix myself, looking forward to that too - will report back soon!

20 November 2012

Pork and Cabbage Gyoza

How fun it is to try something new once in a while! The other day we went to the Vietnamese food shop down the road to get some sesame oil, and as they conveniently stock plenty of other Asian ingredients it is hard to leave without picking up a few extra things. In the frozen section I found these Gyoza wrappers and got very excited by the prospect of making these gorgeous little things in my own kitchen.

I decided on a pork and cabbage filling. Here is what I put in it:

Minced Pork
Savoy Cabbage
Spring Onions
Dried Red Chillies
Soy Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Sesame Oil

Just chop all the veg finely and mix it all together in a bowl. Then it is time to get folding which is a lot easier than you would think. Put a spoonful of filling at the centre, then dab the edges with water and fold it over, creating five little pleats along the top edge as you go.

To cook them, put a small amount of sesame oil in a hot pan and add the gyoza flat side down. Let them sizzle for a short while, then pour over boiling water so the are almost covered. Wait for the water to evaporate completely, then add a bit more sesame oil and fry for a couple of minutes until the gyoza are crispy underneath. Done!

To serve I made an udon noodle soup with pak choi and oyster mushrooms. Not bad for a Monday night. They are also really good on their own with a soy dipping sauce.

11 November 2012

Bonfire Night

This year we didn't go to see any fireworks, but as I returned from work on Bonfire Night I stopped to watch the display on the Green by our house. It was a cold and crisp evening with that distinctive gunpowdery smell in the air. As I stood watching I could feel the cold air biting my fingertips and I realized it is time to dig out some gloves and hats.

8 November 2012


This is the evidence of a gorgeous Vongole dinner we enjoyed at the weekend. It was eaten way too quickly to get a picture of the food itself, but the empty shells look quite beautiful too. 

4 November 2012

Weekend Breakfast

After a few hectic weeks it feels like I have finally caught up. The weekend got off to a good start with scones straight out of the oven for breakfast, enjoyed in front of a roaring fire. The lemon curd came from the shop but one day soon I will make a spiced one with a hint of cinnamon and cloves.