19 Jul 2011


Jamie's recipe for pork belly is my favourite and one I have cooked since his book, Cook With Jamie, was released in 2006.

This is an easy, no fail recipe, and only requires the best pork you can afford. The pork in Jamie's recipe is cooked on a bed of fennel but if you don't want to use the fresh fennel then the pork will still taste fabulous.

This is the tastiest belly pork ever, it is coated in a mixture of bashed up fennel seeds and salt and after an hour or so a bottle of white wine is added to the roasting tin. Long slow cooking is also the secret to perfect belly pork and not one to be rushed, as with all good things!

I always score the pork myself because invariably the meat has never been scored very well, even though I always buy it from the butcher. We have a huge meat knife hidden away in the cupboard, which is a bit scary, but it makes easy work of scoring meat.

You will fall in love with this recipe, just as I have, and your kitchen will be full of the most beautiful aroma's. I know once tried there will be no turning back.....

Here is the original recipe, for the two of us I mostly buy a 1.5kg joint because I like to have some leftovers.

Serves: 6-8

2kg pork belly on the bone, 2 tablespoons fennel seeds, sea salt and black pepper. 4 fennel bulbs, each cut into sixths, herby tops removed and reserved, small bunch fresh thyme leaves picked, 5 unpeeled cloves of garlic, olive oil, bottle of white wine

1. Preheat the oven to its maximum temperature. Score the skin of the pork.
2. In a pestle and mortar bash up the fennel seeds with a tablespoon of salt until you have a powder, then massage into the scores of the skin.
3. In a roasting tin toss the fresh fennel with the thyme, garlic, a good splash of oil and some salt and pepper. Place the pork belly into the preheated oven. After 10 minutes turn the oven down to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3 and roast the pork for a further hour.
4. When the hour is up, take the tray out of the oven, pour away any excess fat, add the white wine and pop back in the oven for another hour.
5. Remove the fennel and keep warm whilst you put the pork back in for a final hour until the skin is golden and crisp and the meat is melt in the mouth tender. If the wine evaporates during the cooking time, add a splash more wine or water to loosen and make a light gravy.
6. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes. Carve into large chunks and serve with gravy and the fennel.


16 Jul 2011

Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans Cupcakes

It seems that once I get a theme going, I just don't know when to stop. Not so long ago, it was cupcakes and flowers and now it is cupcakes and chocolate.

Mr W and I went on a shopping spree for cake toppings and to make the cupcakes even more calorific, I have a box overflowing with wonderful chocolate cake toppings. The great thing about this theme is, I/we get to eat any decorations that are left over.

I made a vanilla cake base, piped with buttercream and simply topped them with these fabulous chocolate covered coffee beans from Waitrose.

You will need: A muffin tin lined with 12 cupcake cases

115g softened butter, 115g caster sugar, 115g self raising flour, 2 eggs, 1-2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1. Beat together the butter and caster sugar until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs slowly to the mixture, together with the vanilla extract and milk. Fold in the flour.
2. Divide the batter between 12 cupcake cases and cook in a preheated oven 180°C for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Buttercream Icing

250g unsalted butter, 500g icing sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon hot water

Simply mix all the ingredients together until light and fluffy.

14 Jul 2011

Peach and Raspberry Slice

Another Bill Granger recipe taken from his book, Bill Granger Every Day, there are so many great recipes you are spoilt for choice.

It's always good to cook with fruits that are in season, the raspberries were freshly picked from my garden, unfortunately the same can't be said about the peaches.

This is an unusual recipe and I kept my fingers crossed it would work out. Fortunately, it never let me down - the base is sticky with a cake layer on top. This is quite sweet and I would recommend cutting down on the sugar. The slice kept well in the fridge.

You will need: 20 x 30 cm greased and lined tin but a smaller tin will give you a thicker cake layer.

185g plain flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder, plus ½ teaspoon extra, 125g chilled and cubed butter, 115g soft brown sugar, 115g caster sugar, 3 peeled and sliced peaches, 90g raspberries, 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract, 1 lightly beaten egg, 185ml milk

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the tin.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in both of the sugars. Press half the mixture over the base of the tin. Lay the peaches over the top and sprinkle over the raspberries.
3. Add the vanilla extract, the extra baking powder, egg and milk to the rest of the base mixture and stir well. Pour evenly over the top of the peaches and raspberries and bake for 1 hour. Cool in the tray, then cut into squares.

To peel peaches: score a cross in the skin with a sharp knife, then blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, refresh in cold water and peel the skin away from the cross.

13 Jul 2011

Review: Wahl James Martin Spice Grinder

The first thing you notice about the Wahl James Martin Spice Grinder is how sleek and well designed the grinder is, it has a useful pull down cord storage, which is then pushed back into the main body of the grinder.

This is an interesting spice grinder because unlike other grinders it has a unique attachment, which means you can grind small amounts of spices effectively. For larger quantities this can be carried out without the attachment.

I always dry roast and grind my spices when I make a recipe, this way more flavour is released than if you buy ground spices. All you have to do with this spice grinder is to let the roasted spices cool down before grinding. The grinder has a pulse on/off button which makes it possible to grind from coarse to fine.

The grinder is extremely efficient and only takes a couple or so pulses for a coarse grind and then a few more pulses for a fine grind. To grind coffee beans and peppercorns the pulse button can be used on continuous.

I made a Curry Mint Paste from 15 fresh mint leaves, 2 tsp coriander seeds, 2 tsp curry powder, 2 curry leaves, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp sea salt. I simply placed all of the ingredients into the grinder and gave a few pulses until a paste like consistency and then used to marinate the meat for the Mint Lamb Curry, which is also a recipe in the booklet to accompany the Spice Grinder.

A brief summary of the grinder:
Stainless Steel Blade
40g capacity
Removable and easy clean grinding bowl
Currently priced £24.99

10 Jul 2011

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

I couldn't resist buying a box of White Chocolate Raspberries dusted with freeze dried raspberries, from Marks & Spencer, this beautifully designed box sold them to me immediately.

I could have just eaten the lot, but I decided to top some cupcakes with them and share the remainder with my husband, I would have felt guilty forever if I hadn't saved him any chocolates.

Makes: 12

You will need:

115g butter at room temperature, 115g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 115g self-raising flour, 2 tablespoons milk, grated zest of 1 lemon.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
3. Sift over the flour and fold in by hand. Stir in the milk and lemon zest.
4. Spoon heaped tablespoons of batter into each paper case and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
5. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before decorating.

Buttercream Icing

This recipe isn't as rich as a normal buttercream icing because my husband finds the topping a bit much.

You will need: 167g softened butter, 500g sifted icing sugar, two tablespoons hot boiled water.

Simply whisk all the ingredients together until light and fluffy.

7 Jul 2011

Review: Renshaw Home Baking Products

Renshaw have brought out a new range of creative baking products. The new range has been developed with the homebaker in mind and features six ranges to effortlessly transform edible treats into masterpieces.

Renshaw's Snip and Swirl: Cupcakes can be topped perfectly and effortlessly with this ready-filled piping bag of rich icing which comes in strawberry, chocolate or vanilla. There is enough icing to decorate 12 cupcakes.

Ready to Roll Coloured Icings: My favourite for children's birthday cakes, cupcakes and cookies. These are available in black, red, green, pink, blue and yellow.

Renshaw Edible Icing Ribbon: A new way to transform the sides of a cake. Simply roll the ribbon around the cake and join the edges with boiled water.

Renshaw Simplymelt: All you have to do is pop the pouch of Simplymelt chocolate chips in the microwave for three minutes and pour over crispy cakes, flapjacks and shortbread. These come in a variety of flavours: white chocolate, milk chocolate, toffee, strawberry and yogurt.

Renshaw Juniors - Magic Melting Icing: the icing has been designed with children in mind and all you have to do is warm in the microwave and pour over cakes, cupcakes and slices or blend with butter to make your own raspberry, blackcurrant and tropical buttercream.

Renshaw Juniors - Cool Coloured and Funky Flavoured Sugardough: Edible packs of icing to mould into shapes, characters and figures. Cool Coloured Sugar Dough is in a pack of red, blue, green and yellow. Funky Flavoured Sugardough comes in strawberry, orange, lemon and chocolate.

For all your baking news visit Renshaw's

Thank you Hannah.

5 Jul 2011

Review: Tefal Preference Non-Stick Frying Pan With Lid

The frying pan is from the Preference - Tefal's induction compatible cookware range. The 26cm pan has a glass lid and the knob on the lid has a very useful steam vent which can be turned either on or off.

Tefal's renowned Thermospot is a very useful way of ensuring the pan is at the right temperature, to ensure food is cooked perfectly. This is a built in heat indicator which tells you when the pan is at the perfect cooking temperature. Cold: The Thermo-Spot pattern is visible in the dark red spot. The spot turns solid red when the pan is perfectly preheated and ready to cook. Now the heat can be reduced to maintain the temperature which then prevents overheating of the pan.

Tefal's Preference range offers even heat distribution without hotspots. Also, this range has a new Pro-metal Pro non-stick coating with a lifetime guarantee and metal utensils can be used.

In the pan I cooked: Penne with Spinach, Creme Fraiche, Smoked Salmon and Tomatoes and a Pesto Pan Chicken. Both of the recipes cooked superbly, neither stuck to the pan and only a minimum of oil needs to be used. The pan is also deep enough to comfortably hold enough Bolognese Sauce to feed a family of four.

A hard wearing enamel exterior, Bakelite Stay Cool Handle and the pan can be put in the oven up to 180c. It's always useful to start dishes off on the hob and then use the same pan for oven cooking to save using even more pans.

Thank you Tefal and Catherine.

2 Jul 2011

Apple and Cherry Tart

This recipe is from Bill Granger Every Day. On my bookshelf there is a gap just waiting to be filled with his latest book, Bill's Basics. I have all of his other books and started buying them before he was a recognised name in this country. It was his love of breakfast and brunch that attracted me to him, and also the fact that he has the ability to even make scrambled eggs seem glamorous.

I chose to make one large tart in my tarte tatin tin, it needs to be made in a metal pie dish of some sort otherwise the underneath pastry won't cook, soggy pastry bottoms are horrid. The individual tarts are a bit fiddly because you have to line the muffin tin holes with strips of baking parchment, to lift the tarts out after they are cooked, but they are worth every minute of your time. A more cost effective way is to put the filling in a tart tin and just top with the pastry which is something I have done in the past, so one recipe and lots of different ways to make the tart.

The sweet pastry is fabulous, although I think it would be a good idea to use less sugar, the pastry rolls out easily which is always something to be grateful for. I'm not a fan of sweet pastry because it can be sugar overload especially when the filling has already had sugar added to it.

According to my husband this tart is one of the best I have ever made and everyone should like it - I think I'll make this one again because I think it did the trick, he bought me some new furniture today!

The recipe can be found here on the Good Food Channel website. A couple of things regarding this link, the photograph doesn't look like cherry pies and also the mixed spice isn't in the original recipe.