Apple Square with Toffee Sauce

Gosh its been a long old summer! Its still 24 degrees here in the South of France but soon I will be returning to the UK where it is damp, chilly and a little foggy apparently! (Hahaha 😉 )

On my return I will be starting a new venture, a little company called Free Range Kitchen. Through this, you lovely people can actually have me come to your house (!) and cook you dinner. Or help you cook something you’ve been wanting to learn, or even just fill up your fridge or freezer with yummy delightful dinners!

Autumn in a cake

Autumn in a cake

On that note, I have been testing out lots of new recipes for my sample menus and this is just one of the many puddings that will be on offer during the Autumn.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Honey Sloe Down

As some of you may know I am the eldest of five kids, and the youngest three are still young enough that they are on Santa’s high priority stocking list. This calls for mince pies and sloe gin, with a carrot for Rudolf (who we all now know is a GIRL!!!). We have diverted from the norm of whiskey in my father’s household as he is of a mind that after several billion tots of whiskey, Santa is going to be a bit fed up of it would welcome a change.

My father is also one of the lucky few that normally gets a bottle of my Honey Sloe Down gin, before  Christmas. However, seeing as I have been out of the country for the last year it has been awhile since I made any. For those of you lucky enough to be living somewhere that Blackthorn Trees are, its the perfect time to go looking for sloes. I love a days foraging, especially when its a blue sky, freezy sort of day that ends in the pub by a lovely, toasty fire with a pint of ale. I really miss England right now!

Careful, sloe berries!

Careful, sloe berries!

Traditionally, sloes should be picked after the first frosts and fallen as it helps them get all mushy and flavour-some in the gin. I tend to start picking sloes in late October right the way through though and the ones that haven’t seen a frost go in the freezer until I’m ready to use them.

Honey Sloe Down (Sloe Gin)

75cl gin (the best you can afford but one without too many botanicals i.e. Gordons), 4 hand fulls of sloes, 50g light brown sugar, 3 tbsp honey, vanilla pod, 1L kilner jar.

Wash the sloes well and remove any stalks or bruised fruit. Some recipes say to prick the fruit with a needle/fork/skewer but I never have and get great results. Put them in the kilner jar and then pour over gin. Stir in the sugar and honey, add the vanilla pod and then make sure the lid is on tight. Give it a good shake everyday for a few weeks, then leave it for a few months to mature. Some people strain it then bottle it, I tend to pour it into pretty bottles and then add a few of the fruit for presentation. You could make some now and give it as gifts that need to be matured, or you could make it now, mature it yourself and give it as gifts NEXT Christmas (if that isn’t too forward thinking for you…)

Sloe-ly does it

Sloe-ly does it

Don’t discard the berries, there is a killer drink called Slider which you can make with them. Retain them in the kilner jar and top with some flat cider. Leave for a few weeks and enjoy in small quantities. I warn you now, its lethal!!

I like to drink my sloe gin neat from a hip flask or mixed with cloudy apple juice for a long party drink. How do you like yours?

Gnocchi Dokey

I have been thinking about gnocchi a lot lately. And pumpkin. And the result is, unsurprisingly, pumpkin gnocchi.

I love pumpkin and squashes, they are so wonderfully autumnull with their orangey, yellow skins and rooty sweet flavours, OMG I love them! They are versatile; useful in sweet and savoury dishes, mains and sides and puddings, even as festive lanterns or as a substitute for crockery to save on washing up (I loathe washing up).

Super Bowl

Super Bowl

And damn they can be cute!

It is SMALLER than my HAND!!!

It is SMALLER than my HAND!!!

Continue reading

For The Love of Blog

My laptop is still broken. I am currently borrowing one; its like my fix of methadone while waiting for my dealer to get back off holidays…or not, really. But I have realised I am a total computer/internet addict. I thought I could be with out it but I have found myself pining for writing my blog and other projects in a way I feel just a little bit ashamed about. But also good about because it means I really LOVE doing it.

For most of the time it wasn’t too heartbreaking as I was distracting myself valiantly with a trip to Kenya where I fell in love with samosas and Swahili sauce. And so actually I haven’t done a huge amount of cooking in the time I have been bereft of laptop. I did however spend a great deal of time hanging about in airports looking at my favourite food blogs and so I am going to direct you to some of the recipes I will soon be trying because I can’t get the thought of their potential deliciousness out of my head…

Continue reading

Spanish Style Bean and Chorizo Stew

I am trying so hard to get into the swing of Autumn. It is my absolute favourite season and my enjoyment of it is being scuppered by the 25 C heat we are still experiencing most days here in the South of France. I want crisp, cold mornings and wild, rainy nights where the wind is howling through the trees. But we don’t always get everything we want so instead I will settle for this. It was a little bit of what I wanted, and although its warming stewy goodness is not necessarily needed here, I thought it might be needed elsewhere and so share it I will.

This evening I cooked a Spanish style stew for dinner…as I haven’t been to the shops today and yet I somehow have enough of the ingredients to make this deliciously simple supper. I am currently slightly obsessive about smoked paprika; I am in love…and this dish is made into pure heaven by the smokey, sweet flavour of the paprika in a good chorizo sausage.

Bean and Chorizo Stew

How cool are these beans!!

How many cows would these fetch I wonder?

How many cows would these fetch I wonder?

White beans, chorizo, onion, garlic, red pepper, tin tomatoes, large glass of red wine (and one for the chef…), seasoning, smoked paprika.

Fry the chorizo until the lovely picante oil is starting to leak out. Add the chopped onion, garlic and red pepper, cooking until they are soft. Stir in the wine, allowing it to simmer for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes and some seasoning. Cook for about twenty minutes, or until the sauce is nice and thick. Add the beans, cooking for another twenty minutes so they are cooked through, soft but with a little bite still. Serve with thick crusty bread, maybe a little rice and a large glass of oomphy, Spanish red wine.

Super Stuffed Squash

Super, scrummy, seasonal, sensational squash. There are a huge variety of this wonderful vegetable around at the moment, and they look so damn weird! They come in all shapes and sizes and can be multi-coloured too. Many make the perfect bowl in which to serve stews, soups and other autumn warmers. The first time I came across the squash bowl was at an autumn party, the weather was still clear enough to sit outside but it was definitely getting chilly. So with hats and coats and gloves, and a hot bowl of soup, we sat outside in the garden being gently warmed from the inside out!

Weird and wonderful

Weird and wonderful

Continue reading

Heaven at Eleven

I love cupcakes. A whole cake is great for company, when you know everyone is going to have a slice. But for an elevenses treat, nothing beats a cupcake. No-one is going to notice if one cupcake is missing – where as a slice out of the perfect Victoria sponge is definitely going to raise eyebrows at tea.

Heaven at Eleven

Heaven at Eleven

And they are so versatile! You can literally put anything in a cupcake. Even bacon. Aaand, the recipe is super simple. Have I convinced you yet? There’s even a celebration of cupcakes, its this week. So you really have no excuse not to make them this weekend.

Continue reading