Category Archives: Cook from scratch

Christmas Recipes…Winter Warmers…

Christmas Recipes Winter Warmers

On a cold Winters Day or just because…..These recipes will warm you right down to your toes.

Hot Chocolate.

hot-chocolate-1 

To serve 2 people:

  • 2 cups of milk.
  • 3 oz of best quality chocolate..either bittersweet or semi-sweet.
  • 1 cinnamon stick.
  • 2-star anise.
  • 2 tsp of honey or Tate and Lyle’s Golden syrup.
  • 1 tsp brown sugar.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • 2 tbsp or as you like it of spiced rum or dark rum.

Let’s Cook!

Put the milk in a saucepan with the chocolate broken into pieces, cinnamon stick, honey and sugar and heat very gently until the chocolate has melted.

Add the vanilla extract and using a small hand whisk start whisking, add 1 tbsp of the rum( still whisking) stop long enough to TASTE and add more rum as required for your taste.

Still whisking, add some more sugar if required.

Take out the cinnamon stick and star anise, pour hot chocolate into 2 cappuccino cups or caffè latte cups.

If you are making this for someone who is tee-total or a kiddie omit the rum and add some marshmallows or add marshmallows anyway…Why not? Spoil yourself.

Enjoy!

In the run-up to Christmas, we all want something which is quick and easy to do and when it is cold which warms us up…

Fish Pie can be pastry topped or topped with mashed potato…or just sprinkled with some fresh breadcrumbs for a lighter pie.

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My mum always used to make it topped with potatoes sometimes she sliced them and others she boiled them… I think the slices potatoes look very pretty if you are having someone to dinner but when I am making especially if I am busy then mashed potato fits the bill nicely.

I top with mashed potatoes either sweet potatoes ( which) I love but everyone one else likes the normal mashed potato as they call it…

Ingredients:

For the filling

  • 400 ml whole milk
  • 1 small onion finely sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500 gm thick white fish fillets, skinned…although if I can I get a pack of mixed fish pieces which includes salmon, smoked fish and other fish and it is very nice.
  • 40 gm butter
  • 40 gm plain flour
  • 150 gm frozen peas/sweetcorn
  • 200 gm large raw prawns, peeled
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping

  • 800 gm medium  potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 40 gm  butter, cubed
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 100 gm mature cheddar cheese, grated/ or breadcrumbs and parmesan makes for a nice topping.

Let’s Cook

Preheat the oven to 200C /400F/ Gas 6.

To make the filling, pour the milk into a large pan and add the sliced onion and bay leaves. Season with salt and black pepper.

Place the fish fillets in the pan and bring to a very gentle simmer, cover and cook for two minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand and infuse for 20 minutes. Remove the fish and transfer to a colander over a bowl, then pour the milk into a jug.

Half fill a large saucepan with cold water. Add the potatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Drain the potatoes and cover with a clean tea towel which absorbs the steam. Mash with the butter, milk and three-quarters of the grated cheese. If I have cream in the fridge and feel a bit decadent then I omit the butter and milk and mash with cream.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

To finish the filling, melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for a few seconds, then gradually add the infused milk, stirring constantly, and simmer over a medium heat for 3–4 minutes until the sauce is smooth and thick. Stir in the peas and season with salt and black pepper.

Spread one-third of the sauce into the base of a 1.5 litre/2¾ pint ovenproof dish. Scatter half the fish fillets over the sauce, breaking them into chunky pieces as you go and discarding the onion and bay leaves.

Arrange half the prawns on top of the fish and pour over another third of the sauce. Repeat this with the remaining fish and prawns and finish with the final third of sauce on top.

Spoon the mash over the fish mixture, spreading to the edges with a palette knife. With a fork just take it across the surface and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

Sometimes I also slice some tomatoes and arrange them around the side of the dish.

Place the dish on a baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden-brown and the filling is bubbling.

Fish Pie Potato topped

Serve with some lemon slices.

Some steamed vegetables can be served if a more substantial meal is required.

N.B This is also a nice recipe and can be made in individual servings just divide the mix between 4 bowls and brown the top for about 15 minutes.

Curries are also a nice warming dish and most can be kept warm so as someone arrives home cold and chilled or just worn out it can be served almost immediately.

One of my all-time favourites is a Duck Curry, not one I make often and when I do I vow to make it more often but generally I make it when I want something a little more special.

I had Duck curry for the first time on a little island just off Phuket, Thailand it is a fiery curry offset by pineapple and tomatoes. Some add lychee as well as pineapple but we found it a little sweet for us but experiment, everyone’s taste is different….I also add some vegetables, mange tout or sugar snap peas maybe a few florets of broccoli..really whatever I have in the fridge.

Let’s Cook!

Duck Curry

Firstly cook your duck breasts, we like ours medium-rare.

Put the duck skin side down in a cold pan, turn the heat to medium and cook the duck breasts for 6-8 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy, turn the breasts over and just sear the other side for 1 minute. Turn over so they are breast side up and put in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for 7-9 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 10 minutes before slicing the breasts thinly.

  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup fresh pineapple cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • 10 cherry tomatoes.
  • 6-10 mange tout..or other vegetables of your choice.
  • 100 gm Thai eggplant cut into quarters. ( Pictured below)

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  • 1-2 tbsp red curry paste.
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves torn
  • Bunch Thai basil washed and leaves picked..
  • 2 tsp lime juice.
  • 100gm pea eggplants( Pictured to the right above)

To make sauce put a very tiny drop of oil in the pan over medium heat add your curry paste and stir to cook for 1 min, add fish sauce. Gradually add coconut milk whilst still stirring.

Bring to a slow boil and add torn lime leaves and eggplants cook for 5/6 mins and add tomatoes and pineapple, cook for a further 10 minutes then add mange tout and stir in some Thai basil leaves and lime juice.

Now taste and adjust curry paste if you want more heat. If anything else needs adjusting you can also do that now. Thai flavours are very pronounced and if you get it balanced ..very nice if not…I have had some disasters and I don’t mind admitting that…which is why I always say TASTE and Taste again.

When you are ready to serve then add sliced duck to the sauce and just warm through and serve with some Thai basil over the top and a sliced red chilli if you like.

Serve with steamed rice.

Enjoy!

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I hope you have enjoyed these easy to make Winter Warmers…

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great week xx

 

 

Smorgasbord Health – Christmas Cook From Scratch Rewind – Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – #Turkey – Perfectly Roasted

Why is turkey so good for you?

Turkey is first and foremost a lean source of protein – 4 oz. gives you 65% of your daily protein requirement and has about half the amount of saturated fat that red meat does.

A golden brown Turkey

We are made of protein and we need it to repair ourselves – a bit like the bionic man – we take animal and vegetable protein, add some amino acids and rearrange the nitrogen from the mix to repair or make parts of our body. Don’t forget we are meat – and still a savoury delicacy in certain parts of the world.

To read the original post please click the link below #recommended read.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2021/12/15/smorgasbord-health-christmas-cook-from-scratch-rewind-sally-and-carol-taylor-turkey-perfectly-roasted/

Smorgasbord Health – Christmas Cook From Scratch Rewind – Sally Cronin and Carol Taylor – Brussel Sprouts spicy and fried, Risotto Cakes and Au Gratin

Here is a rewind of the seasonal posts where I share the nutritional benefits of an ingredient and Carol Taylor incorporates it in a delicious recipe.

The Brussell sprout is one vegetable I can get here..Parsnips are the elusive one…But there are so many ways you can cook the sprout and bacon make anything so much better…Plus this little cabbage also has so many health benefits …Please head over to Smorgasbord to read about the full benefits the Brussel Sprout can provide to our bodies plus there are some recipes that will highlight just how good the Brussel Sprout can taste…

My thanks to Sally once again for sharing my recipes alongside her excellent post highlighting the benefits of including Brussel Sprouts on our menu…#recommended read.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2021/12/08/smorgasbord-health-christmas-cook-from-scratch-sally-cronin-and-carol-taylor-brussel-sprouts-spicy-and-fried-risotto-cakes-and-au-gratin/

Christmas Recipes…Naga Vodka Bloody Mary…Cocktails anyone?

 


Christmas is coming only 33 sleeps…Chrismas Pudding(tick), Christmas Cake(tick)…Christmas Cocktails and drinks …they need to be tested and triple-tested (Hic)

Guess who got a bottle of Naga Vodka? A few of them might bring the New Year in with a

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In the meantime, I will give you some lovely recipes which don’t pack quite so much of a punch…As this might…

So come on own up has anyone been brave enough to try this??

Next one of my Favourites…

Limoncello:

limoncello

Ingredients:

  • I litre bottle of your favourite vodka
  • 10 Lemons
  • 5 cups of water
  • 4 cups of granulated sugar

Let’s Brew!

Well, lets cook wasn’t really appropriate …Was it???

First, wash and peel those lemons and put the peels in a glass container ( big) enough to also hold the litre of vodka.

Leave to soak for at least 10 days. then drain off the liquid and dispose of the peels.

Make a syrup by dissolving the sugar in the water, cool and add to the lemon/vodka mixture. using a clean coffee filter strain the liquid…Voila!

You now have your own homemade Limoncello…Enjoy!

This one is a lovely non-alcoholic apple-based drink.

  • 200 ml apple juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 mace blade
  • 2 whole cloves
  • small strip fresh ginger
  • 1 clementine with the peel very finely zested.
  •  100 gm golden castor sugar

Let’s Cook!

Heat the apple juice with the whole spices, ginger, clementine zest and sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then strain the syrup into small bottles.

Refrigerate until required and serve in a glass with some apple slices and ice or warm with a stick of cinnamon it is also lovely drizzled over ice cream.

My favourite Tanqueray Gin no less and a tonic recipe ..you will never ever pull that metal ring and pour it over your gin again…This is sublime, the ultimate in a mixer and just what gin deserves and no I am not including the recipe for you…you will have to pop over to Chez’s blog and find it…haha…….Now you can all guess what I will be making this weekend 😉 If I can get Cinchona bark which gives the quinine flavour of tonic…..but Chez has it covered if you can’t she has given us the link to a man who can!

Who doesn’t love a glass of Irish Cream over ice??

Irish Cream:

Ingredients: Makes about 1 litre.

  • 1 2/3 cup(400 ml) Irish Whiskey
  • 1 cup double(heavy) cream
  • 1  14oz can sweetened condensed milk…
  • 3 tbsp Chocolate syrup or chocolate topping..
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract.

Cooks Tips: Irish Cream or Baileys is now sold in many flavours which means you can be inventive…Below are a few ideas…You can also make a dairy-free version which is equally as good…

  1. Replace the coffee and chocolate syrup with Kahlua.
  2. Add orange extract and extra chocolate.
  3. For a dairy-free version use coconut milk to make sweetened condensed milk and then use coconut milk instead of cream.
  4. Use Drambuie instead of coffee and add some Cointreau and a spot more chocolate sauce.
  5. if you don’t have chocolate syrup, use 1/2 teaspoon of cocoa powder instead. I suggest whisking the cocoa powder with a tbsp of cream until smooth.
  6. Your alcohol…your choice how about Southern Comfort and Amaretto. Brandy… it was awesome! or Bourbon.

Let’s Brew!

Blend all ingredients(except) for the alcohol) together lightly as you don’t want to curdle your cream add your alcohol and then refrigerate.

Serve cold and or over Ice…or buy some pretty glass bottles add a bow and a message…Now, who wouldn’t love to receive that as a Christmas Gift?

How easy is that? plus …you can get about 4 batches from one bottle of  Irish Whiskey so by my reckoning that’s a real saving and lots of Irish Cream which we tested alongside Bailey’s and it was very close…yay……

Bloody Mary’s… just saying! One of my favourite cocktails and this Naga Vodka which my son bought me apparently the best way to drink it is in a Bloody Mary.. Shots are not advised! I am waiting until New Year’s Eve until I sample it ….Have any of you been that brave and tried Naga Vodka yet ????

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 ¼ cups of tomato juice
  • 1 ¼ cups of vodka ( or thereabouts) Hic
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp horseradish
  • 2 tsp Tabasco sauce or peri  peri sauce
  • 2 tsp Lea & Perrins sauce ( Worcestershire sauce)
  • ½ tsp celery salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 6 stalks of celery with leaves.

Let’s Brew!

Combine everything together in a jug or cocktail shaker and TASTE… this is where I adjust and give it a tweak or two…I make my own tomato juice and as tomatoes vary so does the TASTE….It is a fine art and needs much testing to get this just right …Hic
Chill in the fridge until required… this recipe makes about 6 glasses.

To serve.

Add some ice to a chilled glass and fill with the Bloody Mary mix…pop in your celery stick and a slice of lime and or some olives and if you are feeling really….well… If you have some bacon to use up then crisp it up and stick a slice in with the celery… Anything goes when I am making cocktails.

I love the taste of Chai Tea so when I saw this recipe for a Chai Tea Egg Nog I thought…Yes, please!

 

How about a Winter Sangria?

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) of red wine, like a Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 cup (237 ml) brandy
  • 1 cup (237 ml) pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup (237 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 pomegranate, arils removed
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick

In a large jug or serving bowl, stir together the wine, brandy, pomegranate juice, and orange juice. Add orange slices, pomegranate arils, cranberries and cinnamon stick. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

Serve with ice cubes.

Enjoy!

On a cold winter’s day a mug or three of mulled wine will warm the cockles of your heart…I have many fond memories and the mug of my trip to the German Christmas Markets and my mugs of Gluewein…Just in case you missed it the recipe can be found on my Christmas Treats and Traditions post.

https://carolcooks2.com/2018/12/14/christmas-traditions-treats-and-a-little-trivia/

All of these could be given as a lovely Christmas present and everyone loves a gift which is made by your own fair hands much nicer isn’t it????

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great week xx

Christmas…Traditions, Treats and a touch of Trivia…Part 3.

Christmas stockings gingerbread houses

Welcome to week 3 of Christmas Traditions, Treats and of course some Trivia. 

Traditions…

There are many Christmas traditions practised around the world and I will be bringing you some of those and anyone who wishes to contribute with a guest post of their own on a special Thanksgiving dish or tradition would be very welcome to showcase them here  I know my friends across the pond and my relatives celebrate Thanksgiving on the 25th November with turkey and lots of other goodies … So please share your thanksgiving recipes and I will link back to your post…

Christmas if you are like me then I am still thinking I have lots of time but the reality is we don’t as the time just flies past and then, after all, that panic, last-minute shopping and preparation it will be over!

We are then left wondering why all the panic, last-minute present buying, cleaning and cooking. Was it worth it?

All the queues for the sales start Boxing Day and a lot of the presents we have lovingly bought and some of you will have scrimped and saved to buy are now being virtually given away….Why do we do it?

Along the way and through the years the true meaning of Christmas has been lost.

I remember getting a sock with a tangerine in the toe, little packets of sweeties, sugar mice a couple of little presents and being so excited. Tangerines were a real treat at Christmas. My dad would come home on Christmas Eve with the Turkey or Capon, Fruit and Chocolates… We would be so excited as we only had those goodies at Christmas and would be eagerly awaiting to be asked if we wanted one.

victorian-christmas

The dustman, milkman and coalman would get their Christmas tip and a mince-pie. Christmas was a special time and now it is so commercialised it has taken away the magic…

I would always get a Rupert the Bear Annual, new slippers and a dressing gown. But we were happy…what happened…commercialisation happened…are children as happy with what they get now….I don’t think so…certainly not in the western world….

Yes, you can get the latest iPhone etc and the young teenagers probably hanker after one but also just to have a cheap Nokia is ok too.

Christmas Jumper Corner…

Did any of you see the latest in Christmas Jumpers on FB this week…??

It takes Christmas jumpers to a whole new level…Apparently, it is quite easy to make your own from an old jumper… I don’t think I will be wearing one quite like that…Sorry, I didn’t want to copy the picture but it looks like there are plenty of DIY ones on Instagram for those who want to do a search?…

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But please send in Christmas jumper pics… Let’s have a bit of fun…They are ugly but cute at the same time…Christmas Kitch at it’s best…

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Gingerbread Houses…I have seen pictures of the most elaborate ones and marvel at the talent of some of the bakers …The intricate icing they do is just exquisite…

Me… I am not a baker…Maybe bread, Christmas pies and puddings… I just don’t have the patience anymore to spend hours… Icing cakes…although covid has changed that somewhat I do a little more cake baking than before…

gingerbread house christmas

These little ones look pretty and I know Lily is after me to make one I think something like this will be my limit…Do you make a gingerbread house every year? If so please share …Any hints and tips will be gratefully received and credited to you…

Where did all of this start?

Well despite the quaint tradition of building festive gingerbread houses, gingerbread was once pretty serious business…….

Spices……. particularly ginger and cinnamon, have preservative properties, and it is thought that gingerbread was first professionally baked in Europe around the 11th century when exotic spices were brought back from the Middle East……..

It is said that Armenian monk, Gregory of Nicopolis, introduced gingerbread to France, where highly skilled gingerbread bakers were chosen to form professional gingerbread baker guilds that were highly regarded in the bakery profession.

In certain areas of Europe, only invited members of the gingerbread baker’s guild were permitted to bake and sell gingerbread commercially, with the restrictions only lifted by the Guild at Christmas and Easter – when any old cook or baker could give it a try.

Now, of course, cooks all over the world bake gingerbread at Christmas, some more ambitious than others……….

Did you know?

The largest gingerbread house ever created was made by a group of bakers in Texas, the US – they built a 2,520-square-foot gingerbread house to raise funds for a local hospital, containing over 7,200 eggs, 3,000 kg of flour, and an estimated 35.8 million calories…Wow, some baking… What a marathon.

This gingerbread house recipe won’t bake you a mansion but will show you how to create some pretty gingerbread houses….. So have fun and get making those houses. This recipe is a Paul Hollywood recipe of Great British Bake-off fame so I think it should be pretty good and one I will be trying…it does look pretty simple for a novice like me…

https://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/food/recipes/christmas/paul-hollywood-gingerbread-house

Did you know?

Every Christmas elf has a bell on the tip of their shoes…

Did you know?

How  Santa gets back up the chimney??? He touches the side of his nose with his finger, smiles and nods and in a trice, he is back in his sleigh…Magic 

♦♦♦♦♦♦

There comes a time in our lives when we are faced with the prospect of cooing our own Christmas Turkey …it can strike the fear of bejesus in your heart but never fear as long as you don’t follow the guidance of Mr Bean you will be fine…

I would say that a smaller turkey would suffice…

Now for the serious stuff…Where to Start…

First of all, relax and all will be well…

I stuff the neck cavity and just put onion or lemon with some cloves and butter in the main body cavity. You could use fresh herbs and butter in all honesty mine does vary from year to year.

A tip is to include a small handful of rice in the stuffing as it absorbs all the raw juices from the turkey creating the most delicious stuffing.

I also cook my turkey breast down as then the juices fall into the breast which keeps it moist and succulent…

The turkey must then be turned over 30 minutes before it is done to brown the top….delicious.

Some chefs also push the butter under the skin of the turkey…..

It really is a personal choice and I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to prepare your turkey as we all have our own way of cooking this bird and all delicious there is no right or wrong way it’s a personal preference so I am just going to give you a few different options…

Cooking Times:

Take the turkey from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature while the oven is heating up.

Here is the link to a handy website if you need to calculate your cooking timehttp://www.csgnetwork.com/turkeycookingtimecalc.html

This recipe is the one I am going to use this year because I don’t trust my oven temperature and I think adding the hot water into the cavity of the turkey will help not only keep it moist but will ensure it cooks properly

The night before roasting, soften some butter and season with salt and pepper mixing well.

I used about 6 oz of butter.

Remove the giblets from the bird and wipe them out inside and out with kitchen paper. Remove any feathers… if there are a lot of them you can singe them over a gas flame.

I remember my dad doing that but most of the turkeys now are fully plucked and dressed..ours may not be as it is fresh from the farm so I am guessing it will have a few feathers left to pluck out…

Open the cavity of the bird and season the inside with the remaining salt and pepper. Rub the seasoned butter over the turkey. Take a piece of greaseproof paper twice the size of the breast and fold to give a double layer. Lay this over the breasts (it will protect them during the cooking) and return the turkey to the fridge until morning.

Calculate your cooking times and preheat your oven… A 5kg bird should take 3 hrs 10 minutes at 180C(fan) 375F/Gas mark 5 approx as it will depend on your oven and how hot it runs…

Stuff the turkey neck with your desired stuffing.

Set the turkey on a trivet inside the tin. Bring a kettle of water to a boil and carefully pour around 250ml of the hot water into the cavity of the bird. Seal with a skewer.

Pour another 500ml of hot water into the roasting tray with some onions and carrots and a few fresh herbs Thyme and Rosemary plus some garlic cloves.

Then cover the whole thing with foil (I use two layers) and make sure that it is well sealed around the edges.

Put the lot in the oven and cook for 20 minutes at 250 C, then reduce the temperature to 180°C/Gas 5 for the remaining cooking time. After 2½ hours, remove the foil and the greaseproof paper and close the door. Don’t open it again until the cooking time is up.

To test whether the turkey is cooked, insert a skewer or knife blade into the point where the thigh joins the breast. The juice should run clear. If it is pink, then roast the turkey for another 20 minutes and test again.

If you are using a meat thermometer, it should read 180F in thigh and 165F in breast or stuffing.

Take the bird from the oven and leave it to rest in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.

Strain the juice from the bottom of the roasting tin into a large jug to settle. The fat will rise to the top, leaving the aromatic turkey and onion juice beneath. Skim off the fat and thicken the juices if you wish, or serve as it is…..

 

Enjoy!

After all that I think a “Pat on the back” and a cocktail is called for…Don’t you?

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a great weekend xx

Halloween Recipes….Will you dare to try a black bean burger and black bun??

Halloween...not something I have ever really celebrated but I know my American family celebrate Halloween big time…..So I have put on my researcher’s cap and found an interesting recipe for black burger buns and black burgers which are made from black beans so this one is for all my veggie friends…

Not forgetting that in the US it’s National Pumpkin Month I have a lovely pumpkin soup with which no Halloween table should be without and not forgetting the kiddie winks some lovely little ghost cakes…all in all, something for everyone from the wacky ( I will try ) anything to my little fairy friends who love a cake or two…

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Ingredients:

Makes 12 cakes.

8 oz butter plus extra for greasing
8 oz castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 large eggs
8 oz self-raising flour
Icing sugar for dusting
12 cake cases for baking and a muffin tin

1 x 24 oz box white rolled fondant icing
1 tube of black Writing Icing

Orange and green gel colouring if doing the pumpkin cakes.

Beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time adding a tbsp of flour with each egg. Beat well and fold in the remaining flour gently. If your mix is a little thick add some milk.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spoon the batter into the cake cases and fill each cake case until just over half full. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

Dust your work surface with the icing sugar and roll out the fondant icing. Cut out circles to drape over the cakes. You can use a saucer as a guide. Drape these over the sponge cakes to form ghosts. From the trimmings either use a mini cutter to cut out some tiny white oval shapes or roll out some tiny balls of white icing into oval shapes. Dampen them with a little water and stick them onto the front of the ghost. Use a blob of black writing icing for the pupils of the eyes.

To make the little pumpkin ones just add a little gel food colouring to the white fondant icing and mark and decorate as per the picture.

Even the kids would love to help decorate these as they are so easy to make and it would be such fun for them.

My recipe for Squash/pumpkin soup.

Ingredients:
1 small squash/pumpkin, peeled and deseeded. Cut into pieces.
1 brown onion, peeled and cut up
1 carrot washed and cut
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
Piece fresh ginger finely chopped
2/3 Broccoli stalks, peeled and cubed (I always save the broccoli stalks) for when I make soup. Waste not, want not and I think it is ideal for soups for flavour.
1-1½ litres fresh chicken stock or stock cubes.

Let’s Cook!
Heat a glug of olive oil and gently cook garlic ginger and onion to just soften and not colour.
Add other vegetables gradually and cook while stirring for about 5 minutes, then add stock and seasoning.
Simmer gently for about an hour or until vegetables are lovely and soft and remove from heat. I let it cool down a little before I blend.
This makes a lovely vegetable soup but I also use it as a base and freeze it in portions.
When I reheat the soup I add little-dried chilli flakes and 1 or 2 tbsp of coconut milk.
It just gives it a creamy flavour.
Sometimes I add crushed lemongrass stalk and a little fish sauce, it depends on how I feel, it is a versatile soup base so play with it, have fun.
Add some curry powder, a squeeze or 2 of lime juice or coriander, whatever you fancy.

For Halloween, this soup would also look very nice served in a hollowed-out pumpkin.

To serve you can add some lovely crouton and some basil..maybe a few roasted pumpkin seeds whatever you fancy even some crispy bacon bits or crispy fried shallots…

Enjoy!

Halloween Black Squid ink sauce.

A  dark, spooky-looking little sauce to whip up to add to your burgers on Halloween if you dare!

Ingredients:

Squid Ink…some places sell just the ink or if you want to get down and messy you can extract your own ink from the squid. I haven’t given quantities as it will vary from person to person as to the taste… Have fun and experiment!

Tomato Ketchup, Balsamic Vinegar and Salt n Pepper to season.

Really easy add all the ingredients together and whisk to combine adjust to taste as necessary…Simples…

Now for the piece de resistance.

Charcoal burger with a black bean burger patty.

black bean burger

Full instructions are given here..yes I chickened out making it myself..The recipe comes complete with warnings about charcoal and the best one to use …It is actually a very good post with some awesome comments and tips as well…I will hand you over to the very capable Purgatory Burger maker

If you do make one please let me know how it turned out… But wouldn’t they look awesome at your Halloween party and they have no nasty colourings or anything…

Although I haven’t made this myself Lily and me when shopping the other day…Popped into…shock horror…Burger King…we sampled their Halloween Burger…A black charcoal bun, onion rings, bacon, cheese and a burger plus some ketchup…it was ok…I didn’t like rings (not)very flavoursome but I have tried a charcoal burger..maybe I will make my own but only if I get a request and the kiddos keep on…

So that’s my processed food for the foreseeable a treat or not(it)wasn’t the best is ok now and again…

I hope you enjoy these slightly unusual recipes.  stay safe and laugh a lot as it’s Free and not much in this life is now…xx