Honey Madeleines

I’ve always wanted to have a go at  making Madeleines so on a recent trip to Lakeland I bought the specialist tin you need.

madeleine tin

I used a recipe from Hannah Miles The Gluten-Free Baker and they were much easier than I thought. The recipe includes honey, hazelnuts, cinnamon and orange and they where lovely with summer fruit and ice cream.

madalines 2


Keith the goat

This is Keith, don’t ask. He come from Sweden  last January, spent the summer in Norwich and then moved to Edinburgh in the Autumn. He finally arrived in Leicester in time for Christmas having had lots of adventures. We have our version of a  traditional Swedish Christmas Eve with baked ham, Jansson’s temptation (potatoes) and beetroot and new this year spiced tangerines.



Click here to read about the origins of the Swedish  yule goat.  This is what they do to the goat in Gavle Sweden. 

We’re not going to burn Keith, he’s part of the family now.

New chairs and cake

I’ve needed new dining chairs for a long time now, but having decided that I was only going to buy real wood, it’s taken me sometime to save. I fell in love with Ercol furniture  when I was a child and my Aunt and Uncle had a few pieces. I thought long and hard and finally went for a  simple retro kitchen  style.  Then I realised that what they needed where seat pads, and  I felt the fabric needed to be vintage from roughly the same era.

I found this fabric in a vintage/junk shop on Byres Road in Glasgow. There are 2 panels and I think they were probably caravan curtains and there is just enough for 4 seat pads. Just got to make them now.

Fiona made this cake for her birthday a couple of weeks ago and very nice it was too.

If you’ve followed some of my other posts you’ll know I don’t eat wheat so it was lovely to get these little jems as a present from our friends Deirdre and Dave from a local food fair.

I’m usually anti the nasty cup cakes on sale at food fairs and markets that taste of nothing but sugar and food colouring, but these were great. All have a different flavoured topping, including ginger, mint and my favourite lavender, which was a revelation.

Visual Clock App and Butterfly Cake

All over the world parents of school leavers and graduates are in a state of  anxiety  as their offspring search for work with little or no success. In Spain the unemployment rate for under 25s is running at 53%.  After 3/4 years of study  they are told they have no experience. So I thought I’d give mine a bit of a hand and spread the word on their wonderful creativity.

Adam has spend months working with his friend Alex Hawes on the development of a visual clock app , that you can download onto your smart phone and is a snip at 50p. He needs to sell thousands to make any money so give it a go and make a mother very happy.

Fiona has spend a lot of her time this summer making cakes and after the success of her owl cake she  made a retirement cake for one of my colleagues. Not bad considering she only had a a few hours. It looked good and tasted good too and went down really well.

Trip to Norwich

Two weeks ago we went to Norwich for our sons graduation. Adam has been studying textiles and we spent the first afternoon touring the Degree show  looking at his and his friends work, in fact I ended up buying two pieces of art by, Grace Johnson  and Rupert Smissen who both studied illustration.

Adam surrounded by girls as usual

Adam with his sister Fiona

I thought you might like to see the graduation owl cake Fiona made which when down very well.

This brings me to the other reason we love visiting Norwich, the abundance of good places to eat and drink.  One of our favourite cafes is  Mustard which is located  in the original  Colmans mustard shop and is well, very mustard.

They sells a wide range of artwork  and ceramics by art students from the local uni  including their own  mugs designed by Grace Johnson. They are very proud of  their own  brand of coffee, Mustard Art Coffee which is roasted in house and you can buy to  take home. Try the Huevos rancheros or baked chilli eggs for breakfast and don’t miss the chocolate meringues, which are too die for.

We found a  great new place for a celebratory meal called The Reindeer,  just 2 minutes walk from Adam’s house on Dereham Road.It’s a great place if you like real ale and cider which we do, but also serves wonderful British food. We had a selection of bar snacks to start including Hot buttered asparagus and chicken lollipops. For the main course I had Lamb Shanks with beetroot and elderflower which was the best lamb shank I’d  ever had and the other 3 had Beer battered fish which was unlike any fish and chips we’d ever had before. Only Fiona could manage a desert and she went for Chocolate brownie with ice cream, but she needed some help to finish it. The staff were great, very helpful and low key,  just as we like it

Summer fruit

It’s that time of year again, the first of the summer fruit are ripening, and despite the weather my thoughts are turning to jam making. In between the showers I ran out to the garden to pick gooseberries. I love them,  maybe because they are one of the first fruits to ripen and you can’t eat them raw so you have to think about what to do with them. One of the first things I make is a simple sponge cake with gooseberries dropped on top of the raw cake mix with a sprinkling of dried rosemary, bake for 25 minutes then sandwiched together with crème frache and  top with some brown sugar, delicious!

The second thing I did this year was to  turn them into jam with some elderflowers. It’s a lovely recipe I found in a National Trust preserve cookbook. The elderflowers gives the jam a lovely pinky tinge and wonderful flavor.

1.35 kg green gooseberries

1.35 kg  preserving sugar

500ml water

6 to 8 elderflower heads

Add the water to the top and tailed gooseberries in a large pan or jam kettle. Simmer for 30 minutes or until very soft. Stir in the warmed sugar until completely dissolved, then bring to the boil. Tie the elderflowers in a muslin bag and add to the pan and boil until setting point is reached. Remove the muslin bag ad pour jam into warm jars. Makes about 6 jars

Raspberry crisp cake  is another early summer favourite, and is great for picnics. My daughter made it last weekend  for Fathers day.  I can’t remember where the recipe came from originally and  I’ve had to change it since I gave up eating wheat, but wheat or no wheat it still tastes good.

350g  self raising flour (for wheat free version, 175 g wheat free flour, 100 g ground almonds and 75 g polenta 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp zantham gum)

225 g butter

I medium egg

125g brown sugar

125 g  frozen or freash raspberries

grated rind of a lemon

icing sugar

  • Put the flour or wheat free substitutes and baking powder into a food processor with the butter and blitz, add the sugar  and lemon rind and blitz again.
  • Add the egg and blitz until the dough comes together.
  • At this stage you can chill the dough for 30 minutes, but if I’m in a hurry I just divide the dough and press half into a well greased      20 cm tin put  the raspberries on top, break up the remaining dough and crumble over the raspberries.
  • Bake at 180 or 160 Fan oven for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown.
  • Cool in tin and cover with icing sugar.

Slice of cake

Puerco Pibil

A few months ago my son introduced me to Puerco pibil/Cochinita pibil, Mexican slow roasted pork. The dish plays a key role in the Johnny Depp film Once upon a time in Mexico. My son  had tried it out with some friends after finding the essential ingredient,  Annato seeds in his local market in Norwich. We scoured Leicester for the seeds but no joy, so we made do with smoked paprika. It was good, but I felt something was missing.

Then recently on a trip to Bristol we stumbled on a little shop selling Mexican chillies products and furniture, here I managed to pick up some of the seeds made into a paste which cuts out lots of hard work as the seeds are very hard and you need a spice or coffee mill to grind.

Over the Bank Holiday I cooked  it for some friends and it was brilliant. I followed the instructions in the video featuring the director of the film, Robert Rodriguez  (just to warn you this video is aimed at the young  and so the language is a bit colourful, but funny) I couldn’t find banana leaves so wrapped the pork in baking parchment and foil. I also cooked it at a lower temperature  as my oven is quite fierce. It sits happy waiting until you’re ready to eat.

This is the  Puerco Pibil Recipe I found on the internet mixed with instructions from the video and some changes of my own, but I don’t think it matters if you make it with substitutes as it still tastes good.  Remember don’t  make it too perfect you’ll see from  the video what happens to the chefs who do.

I served it with rice, new potatoes roasted in olive oil, green beans and courgette and carrot salad.

We finished  with a summer fruit pavlova.

Fiona’s camera cake

My daughter is a talented baker and cake maker. She specialises in wheat free recipes.  Last year she collaborated on a project with  my son, this is the result. I think they were bored!

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