Recently, a very nice lady called Laura sent me an email and asked me why my blog post in which I explain how to make Bourbon biscuits at home had disappeared. Did you know that I’ve been writing English Mum for nearly TEN YEARS? I know! It’s testament to the fact that I’ve got an awful lot to say for myself that I’ve never once run out of things to write about. You’ll be pleased to know that I’m exactly the same in real life and can never shut up there either. One of the problems with this terrible affliction is the strain on poor Andy the web designer’s servers. Ten year’s worth of waffle and pictures takes up a lot of room, so recently we took the tough decision to archive the first five years.
Are you doing something lovely for your Mama this weekend (or indeed hoping to have something lovely done for you?). We’re taking my mum out to lunch at a local pub (very unusual – and difficult – to get all of us together, so it will be very special). The lovelies at Tesco asked me to pick a special bake to share with you all for Mother’s Day. If you fancy it, might I suggest something with blood oranges? They’re in season at the moment and I just think they’re the most gorgeous fruit imaginable. One of nature’s wonders.
I make brownies all the time. At least once a week, if not more. This means a) that I know the recipe off by heart, and b) that I was extra annoyed when Bournville recently changed their bar weight from 200g to 180g which now means I have to open a second pack. First world problems, I know, but it’s my favourite dark chocolate to cook with – just enough fruity tang that dark chocolate imparts, without the bitterness of some of the extra dark, 70%+ chocolate bars.
Last week I was lucky enough to attend Three UK’s Christmas party. It was excellent fun, full of wonderful cocktails and balloons, and a quite incredible smartie filled cake, created by Edd Kimber. Following research that discovered 76% of those born in December wish they were born in a different month (and who can blame them? All those ‘joint presents’ and everyone so focused on Christmas your birthday barely gets a mention?) Three asked the Great British Bake Off winner to create the Merry Birthday Pudding… a Christmas pud but with a wonderful surprise birthday filling!
While walking the dog today (she has an ouchy so we had to walk very slowly), we were talking about how we could update the mince pie recipe of 2014 with a new twist. Mr E was saying how much he likes Bakewell tarts, so I decided to create frangipane mince pies with a soft layer of delicious almond cream and a mincemeat topping. Don’t feel that you have to make the pastry. There are no rules to this homemade lark – it’s the thought that counts so if you use shop bought pastry (just look out for an all butter one), nobody’s going to judge you!
If you’re using shop bought mincemeat, it’s worth adding a squeeze of fresh orange or a splash of sherry or port to perk it up too.
You’ll probably remember that back in the summer, The Organic Trade Board challenged us to take the #thriftyorganic challenge and switch our usual weekly shop for a 100% organic one, all for £83, the average grocery shopping budget for a UK family of four. We ate really well AND stayed on budget, and it made me really think about what we eat, and made me plan our meals properly as well. Eating organic on a budget really is possible!
As part of our #thriftyorganic challenge, I whipped this up for a quick dessert and served it hot with double cream. While it’s cooking, it makes the whole kitchen smell like Terry’s Chocolate Orange (our Christmas chocolate of choice) and could just as easily be made with clementines or tangerines too. I think it would make a lovely, Christmassy alternative for the Christmas pud haters on Christmas day too!
This is basically the same recipe as my heirloom personalised Christmas cake recipe, but without all the waffle. If you want to know more about ingredients or if you have any questions about lining tins or what booze to use, etc, do check it out. If, however, you want a nice, easy step by step recipe to follow, then read on.
So you know the drill by now: the birthday person gets to choose their birthday cake of choice and I promise to make it (or have a pretty good go – I have been known to fail). This birthday, Mr E requested, and I quote ‘a lemon drizzle cake – like the muffin in Costa that has the lovely lemony bit in the middle’. Hmmm. I’m okay with the lemon drizzle, but the lemon curd gooey centre? Still I love a challenge. Here’s how I got on.
My lovely mum was really disappointed last year at Halloween. She got loads of trick or treat sweets ready and then nobody knocked at her door. It took a neighbour to point out to her that unless she decorates the house a bit, people will think she’s not joining in and won’t want to disturb her, which is actually quite sweet of them. Anyway, she’s all ready this year with a candle and some decorations. I have a running battle with the boys, trying to stop them eating all the sweets before anyone from the neighbourhood actually knocks on the door. I’ve hidden a load this year.
I’m always experimenting with different recipes for granola-type bars. The boys are often in a rush first thing in the morning (and Charlie takes packed lunches three days a week), and while they’re not babies, so they can make their own decisions about the amount of crap they eat, I still like to think I can encourage them in the right direction.
One of my favourite things to do at Walt Disney World Resort Florida is to take a sunny walk around World Showcase at Epcot. The best smelling part, bar none, is the amazing Karamell-Küche in the Germany pavilion, the home of Werther’s Original, where you can sample all sorts of yummy treats made with the famous caramel: cookies, fudge, and – my favourite – salted caramel brownies.
I’ve been promising Charlie for ages that I’ll make him some marshmallow fluff (basically meringue icing). Yesterday, because it was our 21st wedding anniversary (I KNOW!) seemed like a good excuse to make a ridiculously fattening cake (the same day that I signed Jamie Oliver’s Sugar Rush petition – oh, the irony), and some of the fluff too.
I’m so excited to share this with you as I’ve been keeping it to myself for AGES! I’ve recently been lucky enough to team up with the lovely chaps at Galbani to produce a video where I get to cook with creative culinary genius and all-round nice guy, Joe Hurd. I’m sure you’ve all heard of Galbani, which is the #1 cheese brand in Italy and makers of top quality, soft mozzarella, and Mr English’s favourite: creamy blue dolcelatte.
While I’m never going to be one of those people that shuns sugar altogether (moderation in all things), I am trying to eat less. I’ve had several attempts at this recipe now and finally think I’ve got the it just right – a healthy, nutritious, sugar free, low GI granola bar. I’ve also upped the quantities of nuts and seed. Don’t discount butter when you’re trying to eat a healthy diet – proper butter (organic if possible – not the spreadable stuff) is full of vitamin A, D and K (great for your bones), and rich in short- and medium-chain fatty acids too. Also, divide the 150g by 12 portions and that’s less than a tablespoon of butter per slice – probably about the same as you’d spread on a couple of slices of toast.
My lovely mum, English Grandma, has got a bit of a thing for lemon curd, so when I invited her over for a Mothers’ Day cuppa, I thought I’d treat her to some lovely lemon curd and strawberry fairy cakes. I use a standard ‘pound cake’ recipe for fairy cakes, weighing the eggs, then adding the same amount of the other ingredients. This one had a few squished up strawberries added too, and a lemon curd filling, topped off with a strawberry buttercream. Here’s how I did it.
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