Monday, 28 December 2015

Healing Drinks

Lemon and honey is a great drink for sore throats. Just add lemon juice and honey to boiling water and sip slowly, savour the flavour and breathe in the steam to clear the airways.
Go a step further by grating fresh ginger and putting it in boiling water for ten minutes then straining through a sieve. Add lemon juice and honey to taste. Go easy on the ginger though as it can irritate the bladder if taken in excess.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Angie's Chocolate Log for St.Stephen's Day

Everyone has their own favourite recipe for chocolate log. Unlike traditional Christmas cake which is made a month in advance and keeps well into the New Year, Chocolate log has to be made and eaten in a day or two.
My sister-in-law buys a French version every year which is made with chestnut cream and is delicious but here is my recipe which is more child-friendly.

A Chocolate Log for Boxing day

For the sponge
100g icing sugar, sifted
3 eggs
4 teaspoons of rum60g self raising flour

icing sugar for dusting
butter for greasing

Grease and line a 35 x 25 cms baking tin
Set the oven to 220

Warm a mixing bowl with hot water and then dry.
Sift in the icing sugar and eggs, stir to blend and then whisk for about 5 - 10 minutes until the mixture looks like meringue. Add the rum while whisking.
Fold in the flour very gently but thoroughly.
Pour into the tin and bake for about 7 - 10 minutes until risen, test it is cooked through and then remove from the oven.
Carefully loosen the sides and peel off the greaseproof paper used for cooking and then turn onto a clean piece of greaseproof paper dusted with icing sugar.
Roll the log up tightly and leave to one side to cool completely before filling and coating with the chocolate butter cream icing.

For the filling

100g butter at room temperature.
125g cocoa powder
2 tbps fresh cream

Beat together all the ingredients until very light and fluffy.
Unroll the log and cover one side with a thin layer of the butter cream, or if preferred with whipped cream. Roll up again and cover the top and sides with the chocolate icing. using a fork make a pattern to resemble the bark of a log. Put in the fridge until ready to serve.

Happy St Stephen's Day.

All set

Whisk away

Roll up tightly and let it cool

Dust with icing sugar when the butter cream is set

Taking its' place with the Christmas cake

The Easiest Salmon Mousse in the World

This is a marvellous year round recipe that comes into its' own at Christmas. Easily made with store cupboard ingredients and can be varied to taste so you can make it your own personal party recipe. Decorate with flair and present it with love, even people who don't care for fish will enjoy it spread on crusty bread and with a glass of fizz.

Store Cupboard Salmon Mousse

2 tins of salmon, drained and flaked
half a jar of good quality mayonnaise
fresh cream
tomato ketchup, to give a nice pink colour
lemon juice, Worcester sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

Puree the tinned salmon in a blender and add the mayonnaise and a few tablespoons of cream.
Add a squeeze of lemon, a dash of Worcester sauce and enough ketchup to give a nice pink colour without spoiling the flavour.
When you are happy with the flavour add the dissolved and prepared gelatine and mix thoroughly.
Pour into a jelly mould and leave to set.
keep in the fridge or freeze.
When ready to serve turn out onto an attractive serving dish and decorate with salad, tomatoes, olives, capers, lemon halves.

Hope you like it and it becomes one of your favourite party recipes too.
Everything ready

Add the gelatine to the salmon mixture

Check the seasoning

Decorate as you please

Taking its' place on the buffet table

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Spirit

Now where's my Christmas spirit gone?
I saw it somewhere here,
In the crate of red mulled wine
With all the festive beer,

I thought I'd sit and raise a glass
To friends scattered far and wide
Just think about them for awhile
And feel so good inside.

To all the people that I love
They brighten up my days
They fill my heart with endless joy
With all their caring ways.

Who'd like a Nice Cup of Herbal Tea?

It's funny how in Britain we often ask 'Who'd like a nice cup of tea?', not just a cup of tea, a nice cup of tea, because a cup of tea to be nice has to meet certain requirements;
not too dark, not too pale, not too hot and not too cold. When it is just perfect then it is ' a nice cup of tea', otherwise it is just a cup of tea. If the cup of tea isn't up to scratch the someone might describe it ' as wet and warm' which means it isn't a nice cup of tea at all, but is better than nothing.

 We all have a favourite way of making tea. Some like the milk in first, some like a slice of lemon, some like three sugars and some like no sugar at all. It's always nice when someone remembers how you like your tea, it is a sign of caring.
Some people like tea in a mug and some insist on a porcelain cup.

It's the same with coffee.  In Italian coffee bars they like to joke that once people just asked for coffee and that was that. Now you can have cappuccino, caffè macchiato, caffè ristretto, caffè lungo, caffè macchiato caldo, macchiatone, caffè in tazza grande,
caffè decaffeinato, orzo, caffè latte and on and on.

For me, coffee belongs in the morning and tea in the afternoon. Health advisers say you can have up to three cups of coffee a day, so that's one at breakfast to wake you up, one after lunch to aid digestion and one extra in case you meet a friend who utters those welcoming words, ' Shall we have a coffee together.
Tea and coffee and hot chocolate are all a great excuse to sit down with a friend and have a catch up.

My cupboard contains quite a lot of very attractive packets of herbal teas with labels that promise a whole range of things, happiness tea, adventure tea, female tea, exotic tea, peppermint tea, fennel tea and at the back from last year, Christmas tea.

So here it is my new mug with last year's herbal tea.

One thing is sure you don't need to ask 'who would like a nice cup of herbal tea because not much can go wrong with it!!

A nice cup of herbal tea

Friday, 18 December 2015

Comfort food for a Winter evening

Here we are approaching the shortest day of the year and in need of sustenance to ward off the bugs of the season. How uncomfortable to you feel when the person sitting next to you at work or on the bus coughs and sneezes and then looks at you with a defiant expression telling you they have a fever but are bravely carrying on' Do you back away or nod and agree? Way back in the 18thc century doctors were advising the three Bs for anyone who was below par, Bed, Broth and Belly dancing, no that's not right whatever is the other B?

Here's a great recipe for this time of year. Double the quantities if you like and freeze some. You can serve it as it is the first day and then the next day add a jar of  tomato passata and whizz in a blender and decorate with whipped cream, add a teaspoon of curry powder or paprika to ring the changes and serve with crusty bread or the cheese bites from yesterday.
A great recipe for vegetarians and diabetics.

Lentil Soup

olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, washed and chopped finely
250g red lentils,
1 litre of stock
salt and pepper to taste

Gently cook the carrots, onions, celery in a little olive oil until soft.
Add the lentils and the stock and season to taste.
Bring to the boil and then simmer gently until the lentils are cooked, stirring occasionally.

You can serve the soup as it is straight away and then freeze the rest. If liked you can puree the soup and add the tomato passata to give it a better colour and vary the flavour, decorate with a swirl of cream.

Delicious with crusty bread.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Cheese Bites

This post was going to be titled, 'Kids in the kitchen making Krispy Krinkles for Christmas, but it sounded silly.
Small children love making things,stirring, squashing and whisking things together, it's good for them. Some say that using your hands to do things like gardening, making sandcastles, cooking, is good for your very soul. So what nicer way to spend a winter afternoon than making something with small children.
These cheesy bites or Christmas krinkles or whatever name your children want to give them are perfect. You only have to help them by melting the butter and putting the tray of bites into the oven. Then make them to wait until they get cold and they can offer them round, much nicer than opening a packet of crisps, the house is filled with an inviting aroma, the children feel special, so put on some happy music and mix and stir together.

Cheese Bites

115g grated cheese
115g flour
115g melted butter
60g Rice Krispies.

Stir the ingredients together with a wooden spoon in a large bowl. Squash the mixture together and using a teaspoon place on greaseproof paper. Bake in the oven at 160 for about 15 minutes. If you would like to make them more grown-up then you can sprinkle them with paprika and serve with Worcester sauce.

Ready for the oven

Monday, 14 December 2015

Poem for the day about the new moon in December

My heart always gives a leap when I catch a glimpse of the new moon, a sliver that appears shyly near the evening star. At this time of year the moon joins the decorations in the town, but the lights strung across the streets of the town only give pleasure to the people walking along. The moon is there for everyone.

My poem for the day is by Walter de la Mare, about the moon


Slowly, silently now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon,
this way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep,
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

I see the moon and the moon sees me...

Happy Food with Sunshine Colours

Here's a recipe from a Polish friend of mine. You might say well it's only apples and carrots, but they are served in a Polish way and brighten up any meal or snack.

Apple and Carrot salad

Serves 2 -4

3 carrots
2 Granny Smith apples
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
mustard, optional

Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and put in a large salad bowl. Add olive oil, salt and pepper and a pinch of mustard to taste, mix gently.
Add the grated carrot and apple and mix  carefully.
Serve with walnuts and an extra sprinkling of black pepper.

Lemons are a great ally in the kitchen. they stop things like apples from going brown and anything that goes brown is bad for you. So by putting in the lemon juice before you grate the apple your salad you stop it from going brown.

Buon appetite or Smacznego as they say in Poland
Three lovely colours

Simple but special

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Easy Peasy Festive desserts

My niece is a psychologist and did a course on Mindfulness. She told us to pop a frozen raspberry in our mouths and concentrate on all the sensations this brought about. Mindfulness is all about living in the moment, appreciating what is happening to you in the here and now, being aware of every sensation.
My dessert recipe for today is great for this. It's all about hot and cold and the magical effects of pouring hot chocolate on frozen berries.
I bet you can't wait to try it now so here goes.

Festive Frozen Berries

one packet of frozen berries, no need to defrost, in fact you mustn't.
one full glass of double cream
one bar of white chocolate

Spoon some of the frozen berries into a pretty glass dish
Heat the cream and chocolate very gently together in a saucepan. Don't let it boil.
Pour the chocolate cream into a jug and let everyone help themselves. Pouring the warm cream mixture over the frozen berries will make it turn into a fudge sauce.
If liked sprinkle with toasted oatmeal or almonds or some fresh raspberries, and don't forget to pop a frozen raspberry into your mouth while you are preparing the sauce and try a little mindfulness.

This dessert is excellent after a simple meal of salad or potatoes in their jackets and cold meat. Whip it up quickly just as everyone is looking around for something else with a sort of disappointed expression. Guaranteed some instant festive cheer.
Pop a frozen raspberry in your mouth and think about it

Just three ingredients to make a delicious dessert

A simple dessert full of goodwill

Everyday Magic for Ordinary people

The first time that I thought of myself as ordinary I was about nine years old. No big blue eyes or curly blond hair for me. Brown hair, brown eyes, no outstanding features, an ordinary face, average height and weight. I clearly remember looking in the mirror and thinking, 'Well that's it, that's what you've got, can't do anything about it so no point in thinking about it.'  I didn't mind at all, just got on with the business of playing with my brother and my cousins and happily growing up. I didn't look at myself in a mirror for another ten years and that was to put in my contact lenses, that was when I saw my face properly, it still looked ordinary and I still didn't mind at all.

The only remarkable thing about me as I was growing up was when we did an experiment in Chemistry at school and I was chosen to spit in a test tube then add a few chemicals and see what happened. My spit combined with the chemicals turned a beautiful ruby red and the teacher held it aloft for all to see and told them this was the most extraordinary result he had ever seen. I had something extraordinary after all, my spit.

Ordinary people though still want to look for the extraordinary in life, still want to put some magic into their everyday existence and that is what this blog is trying to achieve.