Friday, 22 April 2011

Cakepops with some famous ladies!


Make the best use of your time - if you are going to make cake, make a spare. They freeze. It makes sense, especially when you can make cake pops with the 2nd cake, and they are really fast to make. If you are wondering what cakepops are they are a cross between a lollypop and a cake. Vanilla sticks makes some fabulous ones you can buy!

Well this is exactly what we decided to do after testing out the Kenwood Vs Kitchen aid live radio the Kitchen Garden show a couple of weeks ago. The extra cakes we made were turned into cakepops. I was joined by the lovely Helen of FussFreeFlavour, superbly talented Sarah of Maison Cupcake and award winning Julie Elliot of Angelina cupcake. What a fabulous combination! - it was always going to be delicious ! To find out what flavours they were listen to us developing the cake pop recipe here.

( Interestingly as I was browsing from one link to another today I came across this post by Working London Mummy. She takes part in Masoncupcake's Forever Nigella monthly and has also written a super cakepops post worth reading here. )

Note - Many of the sprinkles was Julie's own, but I also used the Watirose essentials range for making the cakes and several of the sprinkles.

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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Time short foodies fast picnic recipes


The bluebells are out in the woods, it's Easter and the sun is shining. and with a bank holiday to look forward to it’s about laughter, funshine, sunshine and enjoying yourself because life should be delicious. It’s going to be a glorious weekend and we’ll be taking full advantage of the good weather and getting outdoors for a picnic.

What it's not about is slogging away in the kitchen for hours on end - so these dishes dish are easy, fast, and delicious whilst nutritionally it gets some omega 6 in your diet. It also happens to work with several other oily fish including trout, tuna, and mackerel. If you serve it hot honey glazed chili salmon makes a great supper party dish so it’s perfect for unexpected guests. It’s certainly worth keeping a packs of frozen fish that you can cook straight from frozen. The whole meal can be made and packed into the picnic basket in less than 30 minutes. Prepare the couscous straight into the bowl you will take on the picnic and bake the salmon on enough foil to wrap it up in then you also save time on any extra washing up too.

Both the salmon and the couscous make super barbeque additions, and can be prepped a good few hours before it needs to be cooked.

Serves 4

Preparation 5 minutes

Cooking time 18 minutes

For the Salmon

800g salmon as 4 steaks

2 chillies chopped

2 tbs honey

2 table spoons of olive oil

pinch of salt

4 stems fresh basil or 2 fresh dill stalks

juice of 1 lime

1 Preheat the oven to 200c gas mark 5 Place the salmon onto piece of silver foil. Mix the chillies and honey together and spread over the steaks. Drizzle the olive oil over and scatter the salt

2 Bake for about 15 -18 minutes depending on the exact weight of the trout. Once during the cooking spoon over the juices over the top of the salmon. Personally I always slightly over cook mine. I think Ii is nicer if it is slightly crispy.

4. Squeeze over the limejuice and sprinkle with chopped herbs. Serve on a bed of couscous.

For the Couscous

Preparation 5 minutes

200g dried couscous

300ml boiling water

25g butter

60g sultana’s

40g sunflower seeds or pine nuts

30ml Elderflower cordial (optional)

juice of 1 lemon

chopped parsley to garnish

1 Place the couscous into a large portable bowl. Pour the boiling water over and stir in the butter and sultana’s.

2 Wait 5 minutes for the water to absorb then add the sunflower seeds, elderflower cordial (optional) and lemon juice. Scatter with parsley. You’re good to go.

Tip Don’t stir the couscous with a spoon – use a fork – this will keep It fluffy.

Monday, 11 April 2011



Crisp clean powdery smelling white cotton flapping in the wind under the apple blossom. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and the children are helping to water in the newly transplanted raspberry bushes. Spring is here. I've been hanging my washing out thinking all the while who should I dedicate my book to? My mum.. for teaching me to cook ? My wonderful children? The love of my life .. my husband and best friend ?

Finishing writing a book is a fabulous feeling indeed, but that is not where the story ends. The testing and editing have gone back and forth between my publishers, Ian, my book designer and Jamie my editor. Last week I wrote the acknowledgement pages. I had so many people to thank for their help! Now I've written my dedication. My dilemma solved. The final words of Prepped have been written today and my editor emailed those magical words - You're done.

That's it. I've done it! The year is almost up ..

I can't wait to see it as a book!

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Friday, 8 April 2011

Not quite the first ever Pop Up Restaurant in Northamptonshire


When I write the initial post for this meal .. I asked everyone if there had ever been a pop up in Northampton so as far as I knew there had never been a pop up restaurant in Northamptonshire. However I was wrong .. and I stand happily corrected by James Ramsden. Whilst he was having lunch with William Sitwell editor of Waitrose Magazine yesterday it was pointed out that this is not the first ever. My apologies !

When I got chatting to Philip Dundas about pop ups on BBC radio Northampton and he offered to come an cook for one I jumped at the chance. Coincidently the weekend Philip was free happened to be the same weekend that James Ramsden is booked as my guest on the Kitchen Garden show, so being the weaver that I am, I asked James if he would consider making the puddings for us and talking about his forthcoming book after the radio show. To my delight he agreed and so I shall be interviewing James and hopefully he will stay and talk about his work with the guests.

So the venue (which is to be kept secret until the day before ) has been booked for Sunday May 8th. It is a NN6 postcode and I will say just that it is a very pretty village venue.

This Five course Menu plan is as follows:

  • Fresh water crayfish From Pitsford Fishery ( You can see Philip checking this out in the photo above)
  • Pigeon from the fields with in a mile of the venue
  • Trout from Pitsford reservoir & spring vegetables
  • Puddings a la Ramsden
  • Local cheeses supplied by St Giles Cheese.
  • … and of course wine from Fleurfields Vineyard.

My lovely sister Fleur has offered to waitress, and there are plans to have talks and entertainment between the 5 courses.

We would ask of a donation of £30 a head and expect to be seated by 2pm.

There will be a raffle and or an Auction depending on the prizes that I round up, the proceeds of which are to be donated to a local charity the Northampton Bach choir.

Places are rather limited so I really do advise you book early to avoid disappointment!

Please let me know if you’d like to come via email

or phone me to book a place on the pop up hotline 07794 067507



Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Feeling Better


Today has been perfect. There is nothing left to do from my end for Prepped . The Acknowledgements are written up and so I’ve spent a day kicking about with the children in the sunshine. The virus I had last week has gone. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Ulcers are pure evil, and I had about 40 of them.Feeling well again feels terrific, and I’d like to thank everyone who wished me well, as well as my lovely parents for taking the children to school and my best friend Cathinka for bringing them home and feeding them and getting them into their pajamas’ whilst I lay in the sofa in pure agony.

So to reassure you I am recovered I thought I’d share this photo below of cooking cupcakes by committee. I let the children make and decorate their own cupcakes as a reward for cleaning my car!

Spring is here, my car is clean and Prepped is well on its way to the printers!

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Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mothers day Sourdough loaf


It’s mother’s day today and Thank goodness I am feeling in somewhat better health. So I for one shall be making my mothers day gift. It’s not a cake, nor is it chocolates or flowers. It’s much more down to earth. I’m making her a loaf of bread, but it’s not just any loaf. I’ve been inspired by a visit to Hambleton bakery ( more on this later in the week ) to make my own sourdough made with wild yeast and to find out more Jeremy Medley of Oundle Mill offered to share his recipe below and demonstrate his techniques with me.


About 1kg of flour ( or so )

2 tps Sea salt

2 tsps Sugar

Tepid water.

To start with you need a cure.

The starter cure “pet”

Use a glass jar or a suitable vessel with a lid if possible.

Blend I cup of warm water and I cup of unbleached strong flour

Place in jar and keep at between 28 and 32 degrees. Do not exceed 38 degrees.

This is the pet! So every 24 hours or so for up to seven days half the mix, throw away one half and add half a cup of flour and half a cup of water again, repeat for at least three days, it will start to cake and bubble. This is normal.

The longer you feed it for the better, but look after the pet! You can store it after the first there days in the fridge, keep feeding though and make sure there is a whole for air to vent, if a brown liquid appears either pour off or stir in, stirring in will increase the sourness. This is the fermented beer smelling liquid. (Don’t drink it!)

Then that’s it - you have the sponge.

To make the bread add one cup of starter and 3 cups of unbleached flour that has 2 teaspoons of salt and two teaspoons of sugar mixed in well. Mix this and knead to a smooth dough, adding a drop of tepid water as needed. This will make two medium sized ball loafs. It’s that simple.

The retained half of the sponge becomes your cure and you must re feed it again for your next batch and keep dividing. Remember you must feed with half water and flour as before. Clean and sterilise your container often. You only want the Pet growing - and nothing else. Leave your bread on the baking tray to prove in a warm environment covered in lightly oiled Clingfilm for about 8 hours. Remove the Clingfilm and pop your two loves into a preheated oven 190 gas mark 5 for about 30 minutes. Check the bread is cooked by tapping the base. It should sound hollow.

(Any cup is fine as long as you use the same cup each time. However I use an American cup, which hold 336 ml.)

You can listen to Making this sourdough recipe on or listen to BBC radio Northampton 104.2 FM 103.6 FM at 10am this Sunday Morning