Archive for the ‘cookery’ Category

Mushroom pâté

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

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Home made mushroom pâté being decanted into jars

A few weeks ago on Instagram, I was singing the praises of a delicious porcini mushroom pâté that I’d discovered in Lidl. We had a punnet of mushrooms that needed to be used up so I thought I might try my hand at making my own pâté.

I flipped through a few of our cookbooks for a recipe and soon found one in a little booklet supplement that came with the Guardian weekend newspaper, many moons ago. It was a taster from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Mushrooms: River Cottage Handbook No.1.

I altered the recipe slightly, substituting the butter and garlic for 50 grams of wild garlic butter that I whipped up the previous week. A very simple and easy to make recipe. You can use foraged wild mushrooms (so long as you’re absolutely sure they’re not a poisonous variety); dried mushrooms such as porcini, chanterelle, morel or a mixture; chestnut or just plain ol’ closed cup white mushrooms.

Mushroom pâté

Yield: makes 350g/12oz

Mushroom pâté


  • 250g/9oz mushrooms
  • 30g/1oz butter
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
  • 250g/9oz cream cheese
  • sea salt & cracked black pepper to season


  1. Clean and trim the mushrooms before slicing thinly
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat
  3. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until softened stirring to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan
  4. Cook until the liquid released by the mushrooms all but evaporates (10-15 minutes)
  5. Allow to cool before spooning into a mini-food processor and blitzing for 20-30 seconds
  6. Add the cream cheese to the food processor and blitz again until well combined
  7. Season with sea salt & cracked black pepper to taste
  8. Decant into sterilised jars and refrigerate. Once opened, consume within 7 days


Delicious slathered over freshly-baked ciabatta!

Fudge two ways

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

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squares of plain fudge and rum & raisin fudge | H is for Home

The first & last time I made fudge I was about 12 years old. The only way I could get it to set was to stick it in the freezer for a few hours. It wasn’t exactly inedible, but it was bad enough to put me off attempting it again until now.

Just like our taste in ice cream, Justin & I differ in our taste in fudge. He likes it plain, I like mine stuffed full of fruit, nuts, chocolate and alcohol! To please us both, I made a normal portion of basic mix, divided it into two and made one half into rum & raisin fudge.

I used the basic recipe I found on the Carnation website. I’m already thinking of folding some of this fudge into some of my home-made vanilla ice cream – what do you think?

Fudge two ways

Yield: 24 squares

Fudge two ways


  • 115g/4oz raisins
  • 2 tbs dark rum
  • 397g/14oz can condensed milk
  • 150ml/5¼ fl oz milk
  • 450g/16oz Demerara sugar
  • 115g/4oz butter


  1. Soak the raisins in the dark rum for at least an hour
  2. Line the base & sides of two 18cm/7inch square cake tins with baking/parchment paper
  3. Put all the remaining ingredients into a large non-stick, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon until all the sugar dissolves
  4. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring continuously and scraping the base of the pan
  5. Using a food thermometer, make sure the mixture reaches 118°C/240ºF
  6. Remove from the heat and beat with the wooden spoon until it thickens & begins to set ( this should take about 10 minutes )
  7. Put half of the mixture into one of the lined tins, using the back of a metal tablespoon to get it into the corners and levelled out
  8. Add the rum and raisins to the other half of the mixture and put back over a medium heat for another 5 minutes or until it begins to thicken up again
  9. Put the mixture into the other lined tin, again using the back of a metal tablespoon
  10. Allow to cool completely before turning out on to a chopping board and cutting into squares
  11. You can store the fudge for up to a week in (separate) airtight containers

A short break for shortbread!

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

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plate of shortbread tails with mug of tea and vintage shortbread tin

You only need a short break to make this shortbread as it takes about 15 minutes preparation and a mere twenty minutes or so in the oven – delicious, homemade buttery biscuits in less than an hour. It also gives us the opportunity to use some of our favourite household objects.

vintage wooden shortbread mould

 The first is this lovely vintage wooden biscuit mould. It makes the perfect-sized shortbread to last a couple of days with just a nice touch of decoration around the edge.

homemade shortbread round

The second object is this gorgeous vintage 1960s Jacob’s biscuit tin. We really love the stylised thistle decoration made up of various Scottish tartans – and the biscuit round fits perfectly inside.

vintage shortbread tin

And last but not least, a favourite spotty mug – filled with strong afternoon tea of course – the perfect accompaniment!

plate of shortbread tails with mug of tea and vintage shortbread tin

Here’s the Scottish shortbread recipe we published last year.

Go wild for ramsons!

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

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handful of ramson leaves in a aluminium colander

The bright green, spear-shaped leaves of ramsons start poking through the earth in early spring. They’re often found in ancient woodland, thickly carpeting the floor and exuding a pungent garlicky odour into the air.

ramson butter in a mini food processor and small glass bowl

There’s a small patch near our house from where we occasionally pick a handful leaves. After a quick rinse under a cold tap and a pat on some kitchen roll, a couple of thinly sliced leaves add an extra zing to a plain omelette or a warm, grilled cheese croissant.

slices of crusty bread grilled with ramson butter

Try whizzing half a pack of softened butter (125gms) with about a dozen or so leaves in a mini food processor. It’s really quick and is perfect for adding to sauces, pan fried mushrooms or spreading on slices of a crusty loaf to make an alternative version of garlic bread!

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Real Bread

Monday, April 8th, 2013

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loaf of home-baked real bread on a cooling rack

Regular readers will know that we’re a little bit obsessed with real bread – making it, baking it and eating it. I made a few attempts at getting a starter going – sadly, none managed to survive for long. Our friends over at Snygg sent us a portion of their rye starter in the post and, (touch wood) nearly two months on, it’s still going great guns! After using & feeding it a few times I divided it and developed one half into a white starter so we have a bit of variety. We’ve been enjoying a regular supply of home-made bread – baguettes, rye loaves, ciabatta, seeded boules…

stack of breadmaking books with bannetons, bag of flour and jug of daffodils

We have an ever-growing collection of artisan bread-baking books to give us inspiration & ideas. Some of the recipes are used again & again – these are some favourites:

Bread – Christine Ingram & Jennie Shapter

Nancy Silverton’s Breads from the La Brea Bakery

Crust and Crumb: Master Formulas for Serious Bread Bakers – Peter Reinhart

How to Make Bread – Emmanuel Hadjiandreou

The Best of Baking – Annette Wolter & Teubner Christian

Country Bread – Linda Collister & Anthony Blake

A couple of these books are by American bakers so measurements are in cups. To get over this you can either use an online conversion tool, get a lovely conversion poster for your kitchen wall or, do what I did, invest in some measuring cups that measure… cups!