I wasn’t familiar with Crofton until I saw a post on Instagram – I do find, once you’ve filled up your followers lists with people who have the same interests and obsessions as you, Instagram is a great way of discovering things! Somebody posted a photo of some lovely enamelware – a weakness of mine! I assumed it was Orla Kiely, from the design, but it turned out to be Aldi’s new range of homeware, which was apparently introduced this week.
Well, call me shallow, but after I’d given Baby his toast and first taste of scrambled egg this morning (we are all loving the weaning!) I knew what my mission for the day was.
We headed to our nearest Aldi and gave the range the once over. I was very restrained and only bought the oven dish – I know I’ll use that, whereas the casserole dish – though lovely – will rarely get any use as I don’t often cook casseroles and if I do, with only two of us to eat them, they aren’t that large! It was tough to walk away with only one piece though: those green decals do appeal to something deep inside my soul!
I looked at some of the other bits in the range, and quite liked this storage jar and the pastel pans too. If you’re a fan of the vintage mid century designs and pastel colours it’s definitely worth checking out as a budget alternative. You may need to be quick though, I’ve a feeling it’ll be popular!
I had some friends coming over and thought I’d use it as an excuse to take on a #neverbakeditbeforechallenge! I had been meaning to have a go at Whoopie Pies for ages and when I found this simple but tasty sounding recipe (http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/chocolate_whoopies_67418 ) on BBC Good Food I knew today was the day…
150g/5½oz chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids, plus extra for melting (optional)
3 free-range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
30g/1¼oz cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. (Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water.)
Whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla together in a separate bowl then fold in the chocolate mixture.
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder together, then fold into the chocolate and egg mixture.
Place tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the baking tray (the mixture should make 36 biscuits) and bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes.
Remove from the oven and set aside half of the biscuits on a cooling rack. Turn the remaining biscuits over and place a marshmallow on top of each. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes, or until the marshmallows have softened.
Remove from the oven and set aside on a cooling rack to cool slightly. Press the cooled biscuits on top.
Optional: Melt 100g/3½oz extra chocolate and pour this over the cookies, then set aside to cool.
I did use a really good 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate and the cake came out tasting nice and rich. The marshmallow filling was very messy – I was covered in marshmallow and so was my kitchen! I think I need to let it cool a little more before sandwiching next time! The reviews were unanimously good – the Dr (my husband) isn’t a big fan of chocolate cake but he nabbed the last one and declared them delicious!
Whoopie pies have a long history in the USA, with several places claiming to be the birthplace of the treat. They’re widely acknowledged to have been created by the Amish community and show up in cookery books from the early 20s onwards. The most intriguing thing about them though is surely the name – originally they were made from leftover cake batter and on finding them in their lunch bags Amish children would cry ‘Whoopie!”.
Well, I’m sold and I’ll definitely be using that recipe again. I may also have a trawl for other kinds of Whoopie Pie. I hear chocolate chip is good, red velvet looks great or maybe something gingery? The sky is the limit!
I know it’s not glamorous, or trendy or even expensive but I find there to be something incredibly comforting in a simple bowl of bubble and squeak.
For the uninitiated – maybe you were raised by wolves? – bubble and squeak is basically leftover potatoes and vegetables, mashed up and gently fried until crispy and golden. It is often served after a roast dinner – using up remaining vegetables, and is a staple at Christmas time in the days following Christmas, when it is delicious served alongside all those cold meats that hang around for weeks!
It was served a lot during World War Two when rationing meant families had to work hard to make small amount of food last across several meals and very little went in the bin. I find that kind of thinking very appealing and hate to throw any foodstuffs away – I’m always looking for recipes that used the leftover, the dogeared and the slightly stale.
I love my bubble and squeak with a big dollop of brown sauce and veggie sausages. How do you take yours?
The notion of a Penpal is a very old fashioned one, but it has been given a new lease of life with this idea from Carol at ThisisRocksalt ( http://thisisrocksalt.com/foodie-penpals/). The idea of foodie pen pals us that you sign up, get given two names – someone to send to and someone who will send to you – and you send a parcel while you wait for yours to arrive!
I received these lovely goodies from Alice. I had lots of nice teabags, some cherry milk chocolate, some healthy crisps and I’m Particularly looking forward to making up the hot chocolate! She also shared some ingredients for making a chicken tagine, so that will be fab next time we have some carnivorous guests over. I’ve just eaten fish and chips but I’m already eyeing up the chocolate…
I loved doing the swap and enjoyed choosing the foods that I sent off to my other pen pal – can’t wait to see her blog all about it! Maybe head over and check it out.
When I was a little girl I learned to cook alongside my Mum. Our favourite basic recipes generally came from a small, slim, unprepossessing cook book called the Be-Ro book.
The Be-Ro company was founded in the 1880s and was originally ‘Bell’s Royal’, a grocery company specialising in flour and raising agents. After the death of Edawrd VII it became illegal to use the ‘royal’ name so the company became the snappily title ‘Be-Ro’ company. In the 1920s the company introduced self-raising flour and did a series of demonstrations using new recipes to demonstrate it.
Customers asked for the recipes and the Be-Ro book was born. It has produced over 40 editions of its cookbook to date and one made its way into my stocking not long after I left home, so I could keep making our favourite dishes. I’m proud to say it already has several pages stuck together where a careless cook has spilt ingredients on to its pages during many uses, and before long I shall have to send for an updated copy from the website (www.be-or.co.uk).
I know it’s something I’ll use throughout my life and hopefully pass on to future generations. Thomas Bell and your Be-Ro books – we salute you!
Following a discussion during The Great british Bake Off I decided it was time I give Bakewell Tarts a go as my never-baked-it-before challenge. The Dr (my fiancé) is not a big fan of nuts in cake but he agreed it’d be ok if they were ground nuts, plus it’s a Northern cake so I had the go ahead!
Whilst looking for recipes on the BBC Good Food website (often my go-to when looking for recipes) I found this recipe:
It looked tasty and it looked easy and it had over 300 good reviews so that was enough for me!
It was super easy to make and just involved whizzing ingredients up to make the cake batter, then layering it into the tin with some fresh raspberries in-between. The Dr ate two slices and didn’t complain about the nuts so I’m calling that a success.
It seemed like a good excuse to use my new Beryl china too so I did enjoy a pot of tea with my cake. All in all a very nice experience! Of course, I still have to make the traditional Bakewell Tarts with pastry case and a layer of jam. Next weekend perhaps…
Take one rainy afternoon, with a tiny break in the clouds. Two twitchy adults, experiencing cabin fever after a few days of such weather. One nearby Common and an expanse of brambles.
Unleash adults on unsuspecting brambles in slight lull in the rain. Male adult in supervisory role only – pointing out where the best fruit are. The female of the species (as usual) has to do all the hard work, i.e. wading in to the undergrowth to collect the garnet-hued berries, resulting in purple staining to fingers.
The rest of the story has echoes of The Little Red Hen. ‘Who’ll help me collect the fruit?’. ‘Not I’ said the Dr. ‘Who’ll help me make the crumble?’. ‘Not I’ said the Dr. ‘Who’ll help me eat the blackberry and apple crumble with an extra crunchy oaty crust and doused in a good few tablespoons of cream?’ ‘I will!’ said the Dr.
Blackberry and Apple Crumble
12oz Fruit, layered in a dish – I used blackberries and apples, but anything seasonal will be fine.
3oz SR flour
Rub the margarine into the flour. Stir in the oats and sugar. Pour this over your fruit of choice and bake in a 180degree oven for about 30 minutes.
The only thing is – it’s made me feel rather Autumnal. And we’re not quite out of August yet.
It is with a yearning for bonfires and frosts I say:
I wonder how many of you grew up with some thing like this in your kitchen cupboards? Could you name the brand? Of course you could – it’s Pyrex!
My Mum had a few glass dishes used for serving but my Grandparents were obviously even bigger fans of Pyrex, having a whole dinner service form the popular Opalware range.
This set had enormous oval plates with this very kitsch design around the outside. Thick, strong and durable – pretty trendy at the time I imagine.
This year marks 100 years since Pyrex began selling their wares and their origins are actually quite fascinating. The glass was originally developed as tough glass used for lanterns on the new American railroad. One of the scientists developing it bought the bottom of some jars home and his wife used them for baking. She marvelled at the evenness of the bake and how she could see what was happening in the dish because of the transparent nature of the glass. Pyrex was born!
It’s pretty iconic and the range of Pyrex sold over the years is vast. How many casseroles, stews and fish pies have been served up over the years in these dishes? I have a few pieces myself although I must admit I prefer the plain glass to the opalware – I find some of that a bit kitsch, although if you search on instagram some people’s collections of American Pyrex do make me stop and get a bit jealous.
The pieces I own are the more functional ones – such as the measuring jugs. I love these, they don’t stain or get pitted like the cheap plastic ones, they are strong and durable and last years.
I also love the basins and these are in and out of my cupboard a million times a week because they’re just so useful. I pop them in the microwave to heat things up, whisk eggs in them and use them for weighing ingredients out.
So from humble beginnings and the experimentation of a keen baker came a range of cookware that’s become a staple in homes all over the world. I’m becoming more and more fond of the milky glassware and I do keep an eye out for some of the folksy patterns I see online. Maybe one day I’ll take the plunge! Until then I can guarantee there will always be some well used Pyrex in my kitchen cupboards – Happy Birthday Pyrex!
Apparently it’s traditional to eat fish on Good Friday. I don’t know how I got to be 30-something and not know this but the Dr has put me straight and I intend to uphold it from now on.
It gives me an opportunity to make this amazing Jamie Oliver tray bake. It’s one of his 30 minute meals, so you can find the video online, but the basic recipe is here: http://www.mummyknows.com.au/2012/01/jamie-oliver-fish-tray-bake/
As is usual with Mr Oliver it’s a very easy ‘bish bash bosh’ recipe – throw it all in a tray and whack it in the oven. The flavours are incredible and the colours are pretty good too.
But the best part is the salsa verde. This sauce is so amazing. Really intense flavours. Seriously. You must make it.
It was all served up with a dish of new potatoes. Simple and perfect.
I had been looking forward to this meal for 2 weeks and it didn’t disappoint. Such good, tasty food to put into my body.