Price Points: Pressure cookers

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Three pressure cookers | H is for Home

If you read yesterday’s post, you’ll know I’ve just got my hands on a pressure cooker. It’s a Prestige – who are almost the ‘Hoover’ or ‘Google’ of pressure cookers… Although I don’t think ‘to Prestige’ will be becoming a verb any time soon. 🙂 It’s a good, robust, basic model that’s already on its way to becoming a kitchen stalwart. I’m already hooked – it cooks food in about a ⅓ of the time of a conventional saucepan on the stove-top.

If you fancy something more fancy (and more pricey) Heston Blumenthal has developed one in collaboration with Sage which is a pressure cooker AND a slow cooker and has all the bells & whistles any kitchen scientist could wish for. The Swiss-made Kuhn Rikon example comes with two separate pans which is handy if you don’t always cook in the same quantities.

  1. Prestige 6 litre high dome pressure cooker: £35.99, Argos
  2. Sage™ The Fast Slow Pro™: £199.99, Lakeland
  3. Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Supreme pressure cooker set, 2-piece, (4 L / 6 L): £362, Amazon

Cakes & Bakes: Tear & share smoked garlic bread

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Home made tear & share smoked garlic bread | H is for Home

We’ve got a delicious tear and share smoked garlic bread for this week’s Cakes & Bakes post.

oven pans wiped with smoked garlic butter and sprinkled with breadcrumbs

The majority of the recipe comes courtesy of Jamie Oliver with a few additions, omissions and twists. I can almost hear him say that, so it’s very apt.

Dough balls being made into tear & share smoked garlic bread

Jamie’s recipe uses plain, fresh cloves of garlic. I used the smoked garlic bulb that we had in our veg rack. I omitted the chopped parsley when making the garlic butter – I can’t stand it – despite the fact that the breath freshening properties would come in handy! Finally, he adds a teaspoonful of cayenne pepper which I swapped for smoked paprika – double smoky loveliness!

smoked garlic butter made in a mini-food frocessor

It has lots of air, yet it’s substantial too. The breadcrumbs are a revelation, adding a great crispy crunch. The garlic butter is punchy & intense. We used the word delicious at the start, but we’ll also throw in flavoursome, comforting and generally stupendous!

Tear & share smoked garlic bread in a pan | H is for Home

It’s the perfect bread to have on the side of a saucy pasta dish or bowl of salad.

Tear & share smoked garlic bread
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For the bread
  1. 800g/28oz strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  2. 7g/¼oz dried yeast
  3. 1tsp salt
  4. 550ml/19 fl oz tepid water
  5. 100g/3½oz stale breadcrumbs
For the garlic butter
  1. ½ bulb smoked garlic
  2. 250g/9oz butter, softened
  3. 1tsp smoked paprika
  4. pinch of sea salt
  6. Home-made tear & share smoked garlic bread ingredients
  1. Put the flour, yeast and 1 teaspoon of sea salt into a large bowl and make a well in the middle
  2. Gradually pour in the water, continuously stirring and bringing in the flour from the outside as you go to form a rough dough
  3. Transfer to a flour-dusted surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth and springy
  4. Place in a bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and prove in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size
  5. Use this time to make the butter. Use a garlic crusher or mini-food processor to crush the garlic into the softened butter
  6. Add the smoked paprika and a pinch of salt, then mix it all together
  7. Remove half to use in this recipe, then spoon the rest onto a sheet of greaseproof paper, roll it up into a log and twist the ends like a Christmas cracker, then pop into the freezer for up to 6 months for future use
  8. Using a pastry brush, spread ⅓ of your soft butter portion all around the base and sides of a large metal tray (25cm x 35cm), then scatter in the breadcrumbs and shake around into an even layer so they stick to the butter
  9. Divide up the dough into 35 pieces, then, one-by-one, roll each one into a ball and place into the tray in rows – 5 balls across and 7 balls long is perfect
  10. Brush over another ⅓ of the soft butter, in and around the balls
  11. Leave to prove for another hour and a half or until doubled in size again
  12. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5
  13. Sprinkle the balls with a little sea salt before baking on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes, or until lovely and golden
  14. Brush over that final ⅓ of butter spreading it around to give the bread a beautiful shine
  15. Serve straight away
Adapted from Jamie's Comfort Food
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Carrot muffins

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Home-made carrot muffins | H is for Home

Earlier this week, Justin bought a big bag of special offer carrots… and then, couple of days later, his mum gave us half a bag of her bulk buy special offer carrots. We had a sudden glut!

grated carrot, sultanas and chopped walnuts

So this week’s cake baking had to utilise some!

Adding pineapple to egg white, milk and vegetable oil mixture

Fortunately we do love a good carrot cake, but decided on a little twist by making some carrot muffins with spiced Quark topping.

Spooning carrot muffin batter into cases

Cinnamon and pineapple are the dominant flavours – there’s a hint of ginger in there too.

Carrot muffins cooling on a wire rack

Quark a fairly unusual ingredient with a taste and consistency somewhere between crème fraîche and cream cheese. We think it worked really well.

Quark, sugar and cinnamon for muffin topping

The resulting muffins are moist and full of flavour – and just a little bit different.

Adding Quark topping to the carrot muffins

It’s an easy recipe, so a batch can be knocked up quickly.

Home-made carrot muffins | H is for Home

They’re a great partner for that afternoon cup of tea we talked about recently.

Carrot muffins
Yields 12
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Cook Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
For the muffins
  1. 2tbs vegetable oil
  2. 100g/3½oz plain flour
  3. 100g/3½oz wholemeal flour
  4. 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  5. ¼tsp salt
  6. 1tsp ground cinnamon
  7. ½tsp ground ginger
  8. 2tbsp caster sugar
  9. 2 egg whites
  10. 5tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  11. 225g/8oz canned pineapple chunks in juice, drained & chopped
  12. 250g/9oz carrots, grated
  13. 40g/1½oz sultanas
  14. 40g/1½oz walnuts, chopped
For the topping
  1. 250g/9oz Quark (or any low-fat soft cream cheese)
  2. 1½tbsp caster sugar
  3. 1½tsp vanilla essence
  4. 1½tsp ground cinnamon
  6. Home-made carrot muffin ingredients
  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 5. Oil a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable or line it with muffin paper cases
  2. Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger into a mixing bowl. Add the caster sugar and mix together
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg whites then pour the milk and the oil and mix together
  4. Mash the pineapple chunks, then add to the egg mixture
  5. Add the carrots, sultanas and walnuts and stir together gently
  6. Add the fruit mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir together until just combined. Do not over-stir the mixture - it is fine for it to be a little lumpy
  7. Divide the mixture evenly between the 12 cups in the muffin tin or paper cases (they should be about ⅔s full)
  8. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until risen and golden
  9. While the muffins are in the oven, make the topping. Put the Quark into a mixing bowl with the caster sugar, vanilla essence and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Mix together well, then cover with clingfilm and transfer to the fridge until ready to use
  10. When the muffins are cooked, remove them from the oven, put them on a wire rack and leave to cool. When they have cooled to room temperature, remove the topping from the fridge and spread some evenly over the top of each muffin
  11. Lightly sprinkle over the remaining cinnamon and serve
Adapted from Muffins
Adapted from Muffins
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Marzipan refrigerator cookies

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Home-made marzipan refrigerator cookies and mug of tea | via @hisforhome

I had a large lump of marzipan and some chocolate ganache left over from making last week’s petit fours. I HATE throwing food away so I decided to make a batch of marzipan refrigerator cookies.

Marzipan refrigerator cookie dough

It was a quick and easy recipe.

Slicing marzipan refrigerator cookie dough

They can be cooked off in small or larger batches – the dough can live happily in the fridge for a week or so – or freezer more indefinitely.

Cooked marzipan refrigerator cookies cooling on a wire rack

Nothing beats a homemade biscuit – and we loved the sweet, almond flavour of these. If you prefer your cookies to be soft & gooey rather than crisp, lower the heat of the oven to about 150ºC.

Marzipan refrigerator cookies
Yields 35
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Cook Time
12 min
Cook Time
12 min
  1. 225g/8oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  2. 1tsp baking powder
  3. 110g/4oz butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
  4. 175g/6oz caster sugar
  5. 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  6. 100g/3½oz marzipan
  8. Home-made chocolate caramel chestnut cake ingredients
  1. Sift the flour & baking powder into a large bowl
  2. Add the butter and rub it with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
  3. Stir the sugar, add the eggs and combine to form a soft, loose dough
  4. Cut the marzipan into small cubes
  5. Turn the mixture out on to a lightly floured work surface, roll in the cubed marzipan and shape the dough into a log shape about 3cm/1¼inches in diameter
  6. Wrap the log in parchment paper or cling film and then in foil and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or until required (I put one of the logs in the freezer to use at a later date)
  7. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 5
  8. Grease a large baking sheet (or a few if you're making a big batch)
  9. Slice the dough into as many 8mm/⅜-inch slices as required
  10. Place the slices on the greased baking sheet, spaced well apart
  11. Return any remaining dough to the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to 6 months
  12. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown
  13. Leave on the baking sheet to cool slightly for 2-3 minutes before transferring to cool completely
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Chocolate caramel chestnut cake

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Home-made chocolate caramel chestnut cake | H is for Home

When we did our Christmas shop, we picked up a bag of chestnuts – something you’d only really see in the shops around that time of year.

stack of orange cake tins and handful of chestnuts

We had thoughts of a lovely Christmas lunch, followed by a walk in the snowy countryside and then coming home to roast the chestnuts in our wood-burner. Chance would be a fine thing! Three weeks on, the bag of chestnuts was still in our vegetable rack waiting for its big day.

making caramel sauce

I had a look through my cookbooks and online and came across a recipe for a chocolate caramel chestnut cake. The original recipe has a brandy syrup which I substituted with rum. It also calls for edible gold dust to brush on the chestnut garnish – not something I had to hand! It looks so pretty that I’d definitely plan ahead and order some if I was making the cake for Christmas or another special occasion.

brushing rum syrup on a layer of chocolate caramel chestnut cake

This recipe looks like a big, time-consuming job but as its author, Dorie Greenspan, says:

Because every element of the cake can be made ahead, you can work on it in stages. The filled and glazed cake can be kept in the refrigerator for a day, but add the chestnut garnish right before serving.”

The ganache is best if refrigerated overnight. The glaze needs a 4-hour rest and the cake, if it’s been seriously chilled, needs some serious time on the counter to come to room temperature – serve it cold, and you won’t get the full measure of pleasure from the ganache so plan ahead.”

Pouring chocolate glaze on to the chocolate caramel chestnut cake

To roast the chestnuts (in an oven, if you don’t have the quintessential ‘open fire’), preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6. Mark a small cross on the flat side of each using a small sharp kitchen knife making sure you pierce the skin but not cut the nut inside. You could also pierce a few times with the fork. Put the nuts on a baking sheet, cut side up, and cook for about 10-20 minutes, turning a couple of times until the skins open. Peel while still warm.

Home-made chocolate caramel chestnut cake, sliced | H is for Home

The completed cake looks very impressive with it’s height, multiple layers and glossy finish. Tasty too – well worth the time and effort!

Chocolate caramel chestnut cake
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For the caramel ganache
  1. 250g/9oz milk chocolate
  2. 85g/3oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
  3. 6 tbs golden granulated sugar
  4. 2 tbs water
  5. 1 cinnamon stick
  6. 275ml/10fl oz tablespoons whipping cream
  7. ¼ teaspoon salt
  8. 250g/9oz butter, softened
For the cake
  1. 265g/9oz plain flour
  2. 35g/1oz cornflour
  3. 2 tsp baking powder
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 225g/8oz butter, softened
  6. 250g/9oz golden granulated sugar, divided
  7. 4 large eggs, separated
  8. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  9. 250g/9oz sweetened chestnut spread with vanilla (not something in my store cupboard, but similar can be made with several cooked chestnuts puréed in a processor with 1tsp vanilla essence and 2tbs of caster sugar)
  10. 60ml/2fl oz milk
For the syrup
  1. 60ml/2fl oz rum
  2. 2 tbs golden caster sugar
  3. 12 roasted chestnuts, coarsely chopped
For the glaze
  1. 240ml/8½fl oz whipping cream
  2. 35g/1oz sugar
  3. 60ml/2fl oz water
  4. 225g/8oz dark chocolate, chopped
For the garnish
  1. 8 roasted chestnuts, whole
  2. edible gold dust (optional)
  4. Home-made chocolate caramel chestnut cake ingredients
For the ganache
  1. Combine milk chocolate and dark chocolate in medium-sized bowl
  2. Stir sugar, 2 tbs water, and cinnamon stick in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 6 minutes (time will vary depending on size of pan). Add cream and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously). Bring caramel to boil, whisking until smooth and caramel bits dissolve, about 1 minute. Discard cinnamon stick
  3. Pour the hot caramel over chocolate; stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth
  4. Let stand until completely cool, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy
  6. Beat in the chocolate mixture in 4 additions
  7. Cover and refrigerate the ganache overnight
For the cake
  1. Preheat oven to 175ºC/350°F/gas mark 4
  2. Grease 4 rectangular 18cm x 9cm 450g/1lb loaf tins before lining the bottoms with parchment paper. (If you don't have this number of tins, you can cook the cakes one by one)
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cornflower, baking powder and salt
  4. In another bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the butter until pale & fluffy
  5. Add 200g/7oz of the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla extract and combine well
  6. Add the chestnut spread, then the milk and combine well
  7. Sift the dry ingredients over and carefully mix together
  8. In another large bowl, and using clean beaters, beat the egg whites into soft peaks
  9. Add the remaining 50g/1¾oz sugar and beat until stiff but not dry
  10. Fold the egg whites into the batter in 3 additions
  11. Transfer batter equally across the prepared cake tin(s) (kitchen scales can be useful for this - I made it about 325g per tin)
  12. Bake the cakes until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean (about 25-30 minutes)
  13. Allow to cool completely in the pan(s) on a wire rack
For the syrup
  1. Stir the rum and brown sugar in small bowl until the sugar completely dissolves
To complete
  1. Turn cakes out onto work surface and peel off the parchment
  2. Place one of the cakes, bottom side up, on a clean piece of parchment
  3. Brush the cake layer with ¼ of the rum syrup
  4. Spread with ¼ of the ganache and sprinkle with ¼ of the chopped chestnuts
  5. Top with second cake layer, bottom side up
  6. Repeat this twice - ¼ rum syrup, ¼ ganache, and ¼ chopped chestnuts
  7. Top with the fourth, final cake layer, bottom side up
  8. Spread the remaining ¼ of the ganache over the top and sides of the cake
  9. Place cake rack on sheet of foil; place assembled cake on rack
  10. Chill while you prepare glaze
For the glaze
  1. Bring cream, sugar, and 60ml/2fl oz water to boil in heavy medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves
  2. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted and the glaze is smooth. Allow to cool until thick but still pourable
  3. Pour glaze over the top of the cake, spreading evenly over the sides
  4. Chill until the glaze sets
For the garnish
  1. Brush the top of the whole chestnuts with the edible gold dust (optional)
  2. Arrange the chestnuts across top of cake
  3. Serve at room temperature
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours
H is for Home Harbinger

Cakes & Bakes: Coconut shortbread

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Home-made coconut shortbread | H is for Home

Shortbread is my favourite biscuit. Sweet, crumbly, buttery and great with a cup of tea. What could be better? This coconut shortbread gives an old classic a bit of a twist.

Just take the basic shortbread recipe – butter, flour and sugar – and add an egg, dessicated coconut and a little cold water.

Coconut shortbread being mouldde | H is for Home

A great effort to reward ratio. Sweet, crumbly, buttery and now coconutty… and still great with a cup of tea!!

Coconut shortbread
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Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
  1. 225g/8oz butter
  2. 200g/7oz caster sugar
  3. 350g/12oz plain flour
  4. 70g/2½oz dessicated coconut
  5. 1 egg
  6. pinch of salt
  7. 3tbs cold water
  9. coconut shortbread ingredients
  1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/gas mark 2
  2. Grease a 33 x 22cm/13 x 9-inch baking/brownie tin (or baking sheet if using a mould)
  3. Cream the butter
  4. Add the sugar, flour, dessicated coconut, egg and salt and pulse the food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (less than a minute)
  5. Add cold water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture just begins to come together
  6. Tip the mixture on to the baking tin and press down firmly and evenly especially at the corners & edges (if using a mould, bring the mixture together to form a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes before moulding)
  7. Sprinkle the top with a tablespoonful or so of caster sugar
  8. Cook for 45-50 minutes or until the shortbread just begins to turn golden brown
  9. Slice into fingers/petticoat tails while still warm before allowing to cool on a wire rack
Adapted from The multi-cultural cuisine of Trinidad & Tobago and the Caribbean
H is for Home Harbinger