Category Archives: Recipes

How To: Make Cranberry Jam

How to make cranberry jam recipe

If you have NEVER made jam before this is child’s play.

I normally buy my cranberries in the New Year, when they are half price, freeze them and store them all year, making jam as I go….eat, make jam, rave, repeat…if you will…

Cranberries are high in pectin (the stuff that makes jam set) so this jam doesn’t need special jam sugar. Don’t let folk tell you otherwise….and scare you with their ‘special jam sugar’ talk.

You will need an amount of cranberries….then weigh out the same amount of sugar, regular ‘pop in your tea’ sugar is fine. Then combine in a large pan, stirring constantly over a low heat until all the cranberries pop, it boils and then thickens.

How to make cranberry jam recipe

Pour into sterilised jars (ones JUST out of the hot dishwasher cycle or that have been popped in a 100C oven for 15 minutes) and screw the lids on whilst warm.

THAT IS IT.

Jam is honestly that easy to make.

Some recipes will call for a splash of lemon juice to ‘allow the scum to rise to the surface’…I personally don’t do this…mainly because I wash my fruit beforehand and have never found cranberries particularly scummy…and mine has always turned out ok!

I use cranberry jam (and cranberry sauce for that matter) in Victoria Sponges, as I find the sharp tang of the cranberries override the super sickly sweet taste of buttercream icing.

Have you made jam before? Why not?!

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REVISIT: Autumn Fairy Cakes

 

Hi guys! I am back on Monday with some ‘live’ posts post wedding…yaaaay…here is a little cake based post that I will be making this week!

I love cake almost as much as I love books. FACT

My Autumn Fairy Cakes (or my AFC’s as I like to call them) are perfect for when the nights are drawing in and you need something a little heartier than a summer treat.

Give them a spin yourself!

ShinyP’s AFC’s

Ingredients (easily doubled or in my case TRIPLED!)

  • 6 oz Self Raising Flour
  • 4 oz Butter
  • 4 oz Sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp of milk
  • 2 tbsp of cinnamon
  • A large handful of raisins

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 190ºC.
  2. Cream your butter and sugar together
  3. Add your eggs and beat furiously
  4. Mix in your flour and cinnamon, and then add the milk.
  5. Beat well and then chuck in the raisins.
  6. Stir and spoon into cake cases.
  7. Bake for 15/20 minutes till golden brown and risen.
  8. Devour alongside a mug of hot cider.

Puff Pizza Pie

puff pastry pizza

This is honestly one of my favourite meals to make. It takes no time, as long as you remember to defrost your puff pastry! This is such a good combination of pie (the puff pastry) and pizza (the toppings) that it makes me drool just writing about it.

If you can…save some for the day after…it is the BEST lunch ever…. true story.

Ingredients

500g block of Puff Pastry – don’t make pastry…life is too short.

3 tbsps of Tomato Puree mixed with 3 tbsps of tinned tomatoes.

A whole heap of cheese (my favourite measurement of cheese)

A choice of toppings (we use salami, olives, chillies, capers and mushrooms)

puff pastry pizza

Firstly roll out your pastry so it will almost cover your baking tray. You don’t need to grease it or anything, as long as it isn’t one you have been using out in the garden…  but you will need to preheat your oven to 220°C (200°C for fan ovens).

Spread your tomato mixture across the rolled out pastry using the back of a spoon, leaving a 1 cm gap round the edge.

Pop in the oven for 10 minutes

Now chop and prep your favourite toppings and grate a whole heap of cheese. I can’t honestly give you a measurement for the cheese as we would quite happily use over 200g….we have a slight cheese problem.

Pull the Pizza Pie out of the oven, pop on your toppings and then your cheese and then whack it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes….then job is a good’un.

Puff pastry Pizza

Excuse me whilst I wipe up the drool on my keyboard….

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How To: Make Easy peasy chocolate fudge

We all have that moment when we want to swear loudly because we thought our Christmas shopping was done….and then you realise you forgot someone.
But never fear! I am here to help sort you out.
Here is a super simple recipe for whipping up some very yummy chocolate fudge.

How to make easy chocolate fudge

Pop them in a little bag or box and give them to someone who deserves scrumptious goodies.

Ingredients

  • 400g dark or milk chocolate (about 50% cocoa solids)
  • 397g can Condensed Milk
  • 25g butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • Nuts/sprinkles etc for topping

You will also need…

20cm square tin, lined with baking parchment (I used my silicone tin because it was soooo easy to pop out after)

Method

  1. Break into small bits and place in a pan with the condensed milk and butter. Melt the ingredients gently over a low heat, stirring occasionally until smooth and lovely.
  2. Put in the icing sugar and mix thoroughly. I don’t sieve my icing sugar because by missing this time-consuming step, the sugar leaves lovely little spots throughout, like a sprinkle of snow.
  3. Press the fudge into the tin, smooth over the top with the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle decorations into the surface, if using, pressing nuts down so they stay stuck.
  4. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour until set, cut into squares. It will stay nice in airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks….if it lasts that long.

ENJOY!Signature

REVISIT:- Chocolate Chip Cookies – The Pigeon Way

Hi guys, I have previously given out this recipe, but since I have been off work for the summer holidays I have been making trays upon trays of these, because they are P’s favourites and I felt they needed resharing.
We call them ‘Cakies’ (cay-keys) in our house because they should have a cake like texture in a cookie shape.
 

If you make the choc chips too small they sink to the bottom, ensure you make ‘em big!

Ingredients

(Makes 16 oversized cookies)

125g of butter (soft)
185g of soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 lightly beaten egg
1 tablespoon of milk
215g of plain flour, mixed with 1 teaspoon of baking powder
250g of chocolate (pre-broken into squares or smaller if you wish)

Method

1 – Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas mark 4). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.

2- Cream the butter and sugar together.

3- Stir in the vanilla extract, and then gradually add the egg, giving it a good beating.

4 – Stir in the milk, and then add the flour and baking powder, till it becomes a wet dough.

5 – Add the chocolate chips/chunks (I don’t skinny chip…I chunky dunk!)

6 – Roll the cookie dough between your hands in large walnut sized globes. Pop them on the baking tray trying to leave a good 4cm around each cookie as they will spread….as I found out!

7 – Bake for around 15 mins or until lightly golden.

8 – Leave to cool for a little while on a wire rack if you can before you munch away,  else you’ll burn your mouth on lava-like chocolate!

My cookies become speckled with chocolate on top and hold the gooey choccy goodness in the centre and bottom, as in the piccie above, because I tend to whack everything through my mixer, so don’t worry if you get larger pieces of chocolate breaking through the top of the cookies. (I’m sure you’ll survive somehow!)

Enjoy!

Bourbon Truffles

Last year for my hampers – I made these very yummy Oreo Truffles pictured above.

This year, I have found that my budget for Christmas has tightened (whose hasn’t?) can’t stretch to buying Oreos (come on.. a £1 per stupidly small packet?!) so I decided to experiment using that trusty biscuit barrel staple, the bourbon biscuit.

Ok, ok, I know it doesn’t look as exotic to us Brits as the Oreo, but it works just as well, and produces some pretty tasty results.

Ingredients

250g of Philadelphia or equivalent (I used Sainsbury’s own brand)

500g Bourbon Biscuits

400g of Milk Chocolate

Method

  1. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor till they are a fine crumbly mix. (You can just put them in a plastic bag and attack them with a rolling pin if you are without a food processor)
  2. Mix the biscuits & Philly together.
  3. Roll small amounts of the mixture into little balls onto greaseproof paper or a silicone tray. (I wear CSI gloves for this because it stops them sticking to my hands which I HATE!)
  4. Chill for 30 minutes (minimum…I try to leave mine overnight)
  5. Melt the chocolate till molten (either do this on the hob or do it in small sections in the microwave)
  6. Cover the Philly/Biscuits balls with chocolate.
  7. Fridge till set.

They can be quite fiddley to put the chocolate on, but once you get into the rhythm of it, it’s quite therapeutic. I use two spoons, one table and one tea, I put the ball on the teaspoon and then I dunk the tablespoon in the chocolate. I then move the ball between the two spoons until it is completely covered before putting it back on the teaspoon (which should have less chocolate on it than the tablespoon) before placing it on a silicone tray/greaseproof paper.

Can take a while but the taste is TOTALLY worth it!

Enjoy!

How I Spend My Christmas Vacation

Today was the last day of term (I’m in tomorrow to do a care shift…but lets glaze over that shall we?), so work for me is finished! HUZZAH!

So from finishing one job, to starting another. Time to crack on with my christmas hampers.

My jams are already done, and my relishes are relishing. What I wait for ages to do are my sweet things as I’m always afraid my biscuits will go soggy and my truffles will get….well…. scoffed.

The first thing I’ll start making are my homemade chocolates. These are possibly the easiest of all my goodies to make, but this year I’m adding a little flavouring to make mint and orange delights.

Brrrrrrrilliant

 Last year, P had bought a penguin shaped ice cube silicone mould for making…you guessed it…penguin shaped ice cubes.

Due to being totally amazeballs and full of great ideas (check out MY SELF-ESTEEM!) I pinched it to make Choccy Penguins for my friends children and my younger brothers as seen last christmas here. Since last year, we have bought LOADS of different silicone moulds (IKEA you legend!) for my christmas chocolates and I’m most excited about using the heart shapes.

1: Take 200g of chocolate (any flavour, how about chilli chocolate for the menfolk? – I’ve done plain white & milk shapes as they are for children) – 200g does one ice cube tray. Keep the empty ice cube tray in the freezer till you are just ready to put the chocolate in it.

2: Break it up into squares and nuke in the microwave until completley melted. You can do it the traditional way over a pan of hot water, but I feel it takes too long when I’m in this festive rush! (At this point, stir in a few drops to taste, of peppermint or orange essence, if you fancy some flavoured chocs)

3: Using a teaspoon, scoop and dribble molten chocolate – it has to be runny or it will make silly blobs too quickly, into the mould…halfway you can add a nut, or a sweetie if you wish, dependent if you want them to have a centre. You could also do half white and half milk…etc etc, just stopping halfway through before adding the different layer.

4: Ensure you are as neat as possible as this will save you neatening them up after they come out the freezer. Clean up the edges with a flat butter knife. Give the mould a little wibble to make all the chocolate fall into the cracks.

5: Whack in the freezer for about an hour.

6: Pop out of the mould (you may have to be a bit rougher than you think) and place in bought or homemade bags or boxes lined with greaseproof paper.

Do try not to scoff them before you finish….mine get stored in our drinks fridge (that doubles as an end table) ready to go in their cute cellophane bags. I have to wrap them pretty quick else P thinks they are fair game and scoffs them all!

Midweek Munchies: Slow Cooker Veggie Chilli

Until this weekend, I thought I was an odd 25-year-old for asking for a slow cooker for my birthday from Papa Pigeon. That is until some of us went to visit our gorgeous best friend last weekend in Manchester, and she whipped hers out with glee! What followed was an epic hour-long conversation between 4 women about food and the amazingness of slow cookers….. we obviously need to get a life right?

Slow cookers are honestly an amazing invention. Whack it on before you go to work (or an epic shop-a-thon like we did last Saturday), come home to amazing yumminess with minimal effort.

Slow Cooker Veggie Chilli

Ingredients

This recipe is only what I used THIS TIME. You can chuck ANYTHING in here! Change the quantities of veggies to suit you and your household!

  • A medium courgette – chopped into chunks
  • 2 medium Green Peppers
  • Half a large Onion (chopped)
  • x2 tins of Sweetcorn
  • 2 cloves of Garlic (crushed)
  • 2 tsps of chopped chilli (I use the Lazy kind)
  • 4 leaves of Basil (Chopped)
  • x2 400g tins/cartons of chopped Tomatoes
  • x1 tin of Kidney Beans or Mixed Bean Salad

Method

  1. Whack it all in the slow cooker.
  2. Stir
  3. Cook on low for 9-10 hours or high for 4-5
  4. To serve, ladle into bowls, and cover with grated cheese!

This recipe fed us for one LARGE bowl of chilli each, and I froze two portions for quick meals-for-one for Him Indoors when I’m working late.

I do plan to use one of these portions next week by frying off some beef mince and mixing it with the veggie chilli. Quick and easy meat chilli or Spaghetti Bolognese! BAM!

 

Buried in a book about food in books…

Sometimes I am highly aware that I am on another planet, and that my friends, family and P are all looking at me and shaking their heads.

I find this happens a lot when I read cookbooks like ACTUAL books.

I snuggle up on the sofa, cup of chamomile tea in hand, blanket wrapped around me and a big fat hardback with Nigella’s face plastered all over it. To me that sounds like bloomin’ heaven.

Imagine then, teamed with the knowledge of how much I LOVE children’s literature (Yes Ms Blyton and Mr C.S. Lewis, I am gawping at you AGAIN), that there is a cookbook all about the delicious foods in children’s books. I KNOW RIGHT?!

Who wouldn’t want to run around solving mysteries and then scoff macaroons like Fatty in Five Finder Outers? NOBODY. That’s who.

This amazing book is not imaginary. I was given it, earlier this month, as a birthday present by one of my wonderful best friends, Louise, and I had to try so hard not to sit and pour over the pages before I opened anything else!

Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer: A Golden Treasury of Classic Treats is written by Jane Brocket, and it is a must Christmas buy for those you know, who like me, can’t say no to Elevenses.

Midweek Munchies: Jam Tarts

There is something truly wonderful about Jam Tarts. I don’t know if it is the simple wonder of having a small open pie that you can fit in your mouth in one fail swoop, or the fact that it bellows nostaliga and they are the perfect elevenses treat.

I whack together a batch of these on days when life is getting a little bit too serious and jam is the only way to cure grown-up behaviour.

Ingredients

  • 180g plain flour
  • 60g icing sugar
  • 120g butter
  • 2 egg yolks (or 1 egg yolk + 2 tsps of water)
  • A jar of jam (I always use my surplus amounts of homemade jam, but I won’t tell if you use shop bought)

Method

  1. You need to make the pastry early as it needs a good hour and a half of chilling.
  2. Sift flour and sugar into a bowl and then quickly rub in the butter. Make sure you only use your fingers for this, as your palms make it all too hot. You can ensure this by lifting your hands up out of the bowl as you rub in the butter. This could get messy so be careful.
  3. Add enough of your yolk mixture to make the pastry come together.
  4. Flatten out into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for an hour to chill.
  5. Roll out your pastry onto a floured surface and cut your circles out using a cutter (or the top of a pint glass works quite well as I found out at Uni!). Make as many rounds as you can and place them into bun trays.
  6. Put back in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 200ºC or Gas Mark 6.
  8. Remove Bun trays from fridge and dollop in a small amount of jam into each round. DON’T PUT TOO MUCH IN. You may think it looks meager and sad, but trust a girl who has on more than one occasion, had to hack her jam tarts out of their tins due to jam-like cement that has overflowed.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes. You may need a little longer or a little less dependant on your oven. Don’t let the tarts get too brown, just golden.
  10. Take bun tins out of the oven and let the tarts cool in the tins.
  11. Fish the tarts out of the tins when completely cool and serve.

YUM! You could make these a little more festive by using Cranberry Jam!