Sunday, 29 January 2012

Cream Crackers !

Every wonder why a cream cracker is a "cream" cracker, well its because it contains cream, real diary cream. Hubby likes experimenting so he located a recipe, which is very easy and produces some tasty little crackers which would be great for serving with cheese, dips or a drinks nibble. You can sprinkle with extra sea salt, herbs or parmesan cheese, its up to you.


  • 1/2 cup double cream
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • Sieve flour and salt into a bowl, mix.
  • Add the cream and mix with your hand until you have a sort of dough.
  • Now tip onto a floured surface and knead until you have a smooth dough.
  • Wrap your ball of dough in cling wrap and let it rest at room temperature for about an hour.
  • Now roll out very thinly , ideally between two pieces of baking paper, cut into your desired shape
  • Bake at 170C for approx 15 mins maybe a little longer until lightly golden and the crackers are crispy.
Store in an airtight tin, if you can resist the temptation to eat them all at once.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Callooh! Callay! - Funky tea shop Clitheroe

Callooh Callay is funky little tea shop in the lovely Lancashire market town of Clitheroe, for those in the know its smack bang in the centre of all things foodie, the area is well blessed with fabulous growers, farmers, producers and talented chefs and cooks who make use of all this great grub to produce some of the best food in the country.

Callooh Callay sits on the charming traditional high street, so is very handy to bob into for a drink or a light meal whilst you are enjoying the delights of Clitheroe. Based on the theme of the mad hatters tea party, this quirky little tea shop draws you in. the decor is great, all chintzy retro, with lots of recycled and reused crockery, fabrics and furniture. The flooring however is amazing and its worth paying a visit for this alone, its an old map blown up of  Clitheroe and then made in vinyl, amazing !

The menu is relatively short, but thats not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion and is a range of soup, sandwiches, toasties and  homemade cakes. The tea menu however is longer after all this is an ode to all things "Jabberwocky" after all, lots of custom blends specially made for the tea shop. They also serve "Hot Vimto", a classic winter warmer. 

Service was attentive and our food arrived in a reasonably time, so it was freshly prepared, both the sandwich and toastie that we ordered were well flavoured and accompanied by vegetable crips and homemade coleslaw and some dressed salad. So all in all a great little tea room.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Valentine Treats - Hotel Chocolat

Its that time of year when everyone's thoughts turn to LOVE, if like me you find it difficult to know what to buy as a treat for your loved one or even just a treat for yourself, then Hotel Chocolat can give you a helping hand without breaking the bank. 

Hotel Chocolat have a great selection of gifts which can be delivered direct to the door of your loved one, this modern funky artisan cocoa grower and chocolatier has a gift for all budgets. I found it really easy to search for my selection by using the search function on their website. 

My choice The Sleekster LOVE selection, a large mixed selection of  luscious truffles,silky pralines and hand finished hearts comes packaged in a glossy long  funkily decorated box of 260 grammes. Inside carefully packaged, smooth, seductive and utterly devoted to love chocolates nestle.

The box contained 2 of each chocolate, Cherry Bombe, Bison Grass Vodka, Praline Oyster, Caramel Sweetheart, Chilli Sweetheart, Champagne truffle, Blackcurrant truffle, Vanilla truffle, Raspberry Rupture, Strawberry & black pepper, Bucks Fizz, Soft Chilli Caramel and Sweet Lips.

The chocolate was delicious in all its forms, especially the praline oyster, champagne truffle and Blackcurrant truffle.

So go on take all the stress out of Valentines day and order your gift now from Hotel Chocolat

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Have Your Cake and Eat it too ! Sally Bee's new book !

As regular readers of my blog will know I really admire the work and personal courage of Sally Bee. I have been really lucky to be given the opportunity to review her latest book "Have your cake and eat it too !", her ethos being that life is too short to miss out on cake and puddings just because you are trying to eat healthy. Along side her common sense advice of positive thinking and living an active life, she has re worked all your favourite cake and dessert  recipes to be more heart healthy.

The book is presented with a sensible wipe clean cover for the busy cook and is well illustrated, the recipes are laid out in different sections to cover all the options for a sweet treat, Large cakes, small cakes, cookies, puddings, ices, etc. Each recipe is easy to follow and the instruction are comprehensive and feature healthy ingredients which should be easily sourced at your local supermarket, recipes are also provided for healthy toppings and frostings for your delicious creations.

This book makes a great addition to any cooks bookshelf, whether a beginner or a more experienced baker, and is available from Amazon or your local book shop. I can  so recommend the Blueberry Muffins !! 

Lancashire Nuts

Intrigued by a class on the schedule for the county WI show for "Lancashire Nuts", I set about finding out what they were ? Now I consider myself to be pretty well informed when it comes to all things foodie but this is one local delicacy I wasn't aware of and had never baked. I located two recipes on the internet and one in a recipe booklet I have in my archive, all slightly different. I haven't been able to find any history as to why they are called Nuts even though they don't contain nuts or anything about them looks like a nut, so if anyone can let me know their origins I would be grateful.

One of my fellow baking enthusiasts @Janemorecakepls, also a fellow WI member thinks they are a bit like a Lancashire version of a whoopie pie, and given the results when I baked the recipe I would tend to agree. You can apparently fill them with jam, lemon curd or butter-cream and they are a nice cross between a cake and a biscuit. 

  • 4oz Quality Margarine
  • 4 oz sugar
  • 4oz cornflour
  • 4 oz self raising flour
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt

  • Cream your margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy
  • Add all the ingredients and mix well, your mix will be firmer than a normal cake mix
  • Spoon onto a greased baking tray using a teaspoon
  • Flatten your dollops with the back of your teaspoon slightly
  • Bake in a pre heated oven at 150-160c for approx 20 minutes until firm and lightly golden
  • Cool on a wire tray and sandwich two together with your desired filling

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Homemade butter and Spelt Soda Bread

I fondly recall making butter when I was about 7 at school with Mrs Bolan, if I remember rightly it involved a yoghurt pot and lots of jiggling as we passed the carton round the class, at the end we did get butter. This week Tom and Henry Herbert ( The Fabulous Baker Bros) refreshed my memory on how easy it is to make butter at home. 

Double Cream and my trusty Kitchen aid mixer were all it took to produce so delicious butter and buttermilk for use in the Soda bread. You just mix until the butter forms on the spiral whisk and buttermilk is left in the bowl, you then rinse the butter in clean cold water to remove any buttermilk left in the butter.

Soda bread is equally as simple, I just followed the recipe in this Saturday's Times -Weekend from those fabulous baking bros again, the recipe uses spelt flour. 


  • 300g spelt flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 230ml buttermilk, if you haven't got enough from your buttermaking top up with milk
Preheat your oven to 230c and put your tray into to pre heat

  • Mix all your dry ingredients in a bowl and then add the buttermilk
  • Mix with your hands until you have a sticky dough
  • Turn out onto a floured surface and shape to a round
  • Place on your tray and quickly slash deeply into the classic four
  • Bake for 15 - 20 mins 

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Cinnamon Spelt Cake

Spelt , is a species of the wheat family and has been in use since the Bronze age. The grain is grown in Britain and is reputed to be easier to digest that other strains of wheat, I have been using the flour in some of my baking for a while. Its pretty easy to get hold of in a quality supermarket and most health food stores will stock Spelt in various forms.
This recipe was one of the first I made using Spelt flour and you will find that the flour gives a pleasant nutty yeasty twang to the cake, recipes in most cases need to be adapted slightly to spelt flour. The topping is also a little unusual but go with it as it works to provide a nice crunchy top to the cake.

  • 100g softened butter or quality vegetable margarine
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 3 eggs - free range 
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • 150g spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g ground almonds

  • Cream the margarine / butter with the soft brown sugar, then beat in 2 of your eggs
  • Add the spelt flour,baking powder and 1tsp of cinnamon
  • Mix well and then turn into an oiled cake tin, either a loose bottomed or springform works best.
  • Mix together your demerara sugar, ground almonds and the remaining tsp of cinnamon and the egg to a grainy paste, spread this over the top of the cake mix in the tin.
  • Bake in a pre heated oven @ 180c for approx 30 minutes until well risen and cooked through.
  • Cool in the tin

Saturday, 7 January 2012

White Allium Soup

I was kindly sent a sample recently of some veal stock powder from Essential Cuisine, a company that specialising in stock both for the food service industry and the home chef. I needed a recipe that showcased the stock yet didn't actually need veal, as veal meat is very hard to get hold of in my area without pre-ordering. I have fond memories of onion soup as a child, a white onion soup as apposed to a dark french onion style one. So here is the recipe I came up with.

  • 2 large white onions, peeled and very finely sliced
  • 1 large leek, finely sliced, white part only
  • 1 clove garlic - very finely chopped
  • Essential cuisine veal stock, you could also use chicken stock
  • Thyme
  • Cream (optional)
  • Slaked cornflour
  • chives - optional garnish
  • Butter
  • Melt your butter in a large saucepan
  • Add your finely sliced onions, leeks and garlic and cooked without colouring over a low heat 
  • Add a sprinkle of finely chopped thyme
  • Add your stock and simmer until the onion mixture is very soft
  • Add your slaked cornflour and stir whilst over the heat to  thicken your soup
  • Season and add cream and chives if using
  • Serve

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Roast Roots and mushroom stew with parsley dumplings

What's better than a stew or casserole on a cold winter evening, nothing, well may be a  hot chocolate by a roaring  log fire comes close. Mildly inspired by the recent series "River Cottage" Veg a vegetable only stew was in order. This has all the flavour of a roast dinner but none of the meat , intensely satisfying and comforting. The recipe serves 3 -4 persons when accompanied with a green vegetable such as cabbage, use whatever root vegetables you have to hand , swede and turnips are just as suitable.


  • Olive oil
  • Onion - large , peeled, chopped in to large segments
  • 3 carrots - peeled and chunky chopped
  • 3 parsnips - peeled and chopped into chunky pieces
  • 1 large sweet potato - peeled and chopped in to chunks
  • 1/2 a medium celeriac - peeled and chunky chopped or swede or similar
  • 4 cloves of garlic - whole and unpeeled
  • Cornflour - 1tbsp
  • 4 large mushrooms - chopped
  • Vegetable stock - about 400ml
  • Dried porcini - soaked 
You could also use butternut squash or pumpkin as some of your vegetables if you wish.

  • Preheat your oven to 200c
  • Place your vegetables (except the mushrooms) on a baking tray, drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • Roast for approx 30 mins until tender and golden
  • Transfer to a large casserole dish and cover with your stock, reduce the oven to 180c and bake covered for 30 mins.
  • Fry the mushrooms (drain the porcini and chop if large) in a little olive, now add the cornflour and some of the porcini soaking stock, stir and then add the whole pan to the casserole dish, stir and return to oven. 
  • Prepare your dumplings (check out my earlier recipe) and bake the stew with the added dumplings for a further 15 mins until your dumplings are cooked and fluffy and your stock has thicken.
  • Serve sprinkled with fresh herbs.

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