– Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a small bowl.
– Cream together the butter, sugars and vanilla.
– Add a spoonful of the dry mix to the butter mix and beat well to combine.
– Gradually add the remaining flour mix, beating well between additions until a smooth, dark dough is formed.
– Add the chocolate chips and mix in.
– Divide the dough in two, press down into rounds on a baking tray and sprinkle with the salt flakes.
– Bake for 12 minutes. The cookies are ready when the tops have cracked. If the tops aren’t cracked, they’re not done.
– Remove from the oven and leave on the tray for at least 5 minutes. This is very important! The cookies will be soft when they come out but will solidify in those 5 minutes. Leave them a further 10 minutes before eating for best results.
– Melt the butter in a medium sized pan. Add a small splash of olive oil to stop it catching.
– Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until soft and browned.
– Add the white wine and vegetable stock.
– Blend with a stick blender until your desired level of smooth. (I like bits in my soup but if you want a totally smooth soup you’ll need to decant into a liquidiser and blend in that then resume cooking.)
– Bring the soup to a boil then turn down to a simmer.
– Add the cream and heat gently until the edges are bubbling.
For a dish that bears my name this took me an embarrassingly long time to get right. I would have potatoes swimming in butter or too crisp to eat without worrying about your fillings. These little stacked Pommes Anna finally hit that sweet spot between buttery and crispy and look fab for what is actually minimal effort. You can do a lot of the prep beforehand in assembling the stacks in the muffin tin if you want to prepare these in advance and then just pop them in the oven when ready so good for dinner parties!
6-8 new potatoes (waxy)
125g unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6.
– Use a mandolin or very sharp knife to slice the potatoes into 1/8” slices. Put in a small mixing bowl.
– Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
– Brush the insides of six muffin tins with melted butter.
– Place a small sprig of thyme in the bottom of each muffin cup.
– Add the garlic to the melted butter and remove the leaves from the remaining thyme sprigs and add those too.
– Gently heat until fragrant.
– Pour the butter over the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to season and toss gently.
– Place the sliced potatoes carefully in the muffin tins. You want to arrange them so that they will look good when turned out. Press down firmly in the centre.
– Pour the remaining butter over the potatoes.
– Cover the muffin tray with foil and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
– Place a large oven dish over the muffin tin and carefully flip over so that the potato stacks come out intact. If any fall apart you can push them back into shape.
– Place the oven dish back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until the stacks look nice and crispy on the edges.
From time to time I find myself craving the food I had in Japan. Sometimes it’s the simplest of things, like this Japanese egg salad sandwich. Because even though you’d think there isn’t much wiggle room in how to make egg salad you’d be amazed what a difference a few little tweaks make. I think the biggest difference is that the egg is mashed, not chopped and the mayonnaise must by kewpie for a truly authentic taste. The pinch of salt adds that little je ne sais quoi that makes this run of the mill sandwich spectacularly moreish!
For one sandwich:
2 hard boiled eggs
2tbsp kewpie Japanese mayonnaise
Pinch of salt
Soft salted butter
Two slices white bread
– Put the eggs, mayonnaise and salt in a bowl and mash with a fork until there are no large chunks. You could even use a food processor to get it even smoother (some conbini do) but I prefer a little texture.
– Spread the bread with butter and add the egg mix. This should be a well filled sandwich! (Though factors such as egg size and bread size will affect it, you may find this makes two less well filed sandwiches if using smaller bread.)
A lovely simple biscuit, quick and easy to work with and it gives a delightfully crisp buttery biscuit. Nothing fancy at all, as simple and wholesome as a biscuit can get! These biscuits remind me of some I had as a child at a farmhouse on the way to the lake district. There were no such things as hygiene certificates then, this was literally the farmer’s wife selling tea and biscuits in her kitchen and they were some of the best I’ve ever had!
Makes 18 biscuits
125g butter, softened
70g golden caster sugar (Plus a few tsp extra for sprinkling)
1 egg yolk
160g plain flour
small pinch of salt
Heat the oven to gas mark 5 and prepare two baking trays with baking paper.
Cream together the butter and the sugar in a small mixing bowl.
Add the egg yolk and beat well to combine.
Add the flour and the salt (if your flour is at all lumpy do sift it in as it will mix easier).
Bring all the ingredients together into a soft dough. It can help to use your hand to get it all together in the last bit.
Pinch off small walnut sized balls of dough and roll them in your palms to shape into rounds.
Place on the baking tray and use the heel of your palm to squish them flat.
Sprinkle the tops with the extra sugar.
Bake for 10 minutes until the edges are just starting to colour.
Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the tray for 5 minutes before trying to move them as they will break otherwise.
Shortbread is a wonderful thing! It’s so beautifully, buttery, crumbly and delicious! A good shortbread should have a nice crisp snap to it and then just melt away in your mouth. I’m half Scottish so I have strong opinions about what constitutes a good shortbread and, my friends? THIS is a good shortbread!
I think that the size here helps them too. A good shortbread should be indulgently buttery, rich and flavoursome. These little shortbreads are two bites of heaven and go perfectly with a cup of tea!
I tried two different techniques for shaping them this time, one batch pressed with a fork, the other with the moulded bottom of a cut glass. I like both looks, the cut glass ones are a little more delicate, the fork ones a little more robust looking, either way they’re scrumptious!
Makes 60 bite sized shortbreads
250g unsalted butter, softened (Use a really good one!)
100g golden caster sugar
250g plain flour
175g corn flour
– Heat the oven to gas mark 3 /170C and line two baking trays (4 if you have them to spare)
– In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugar until fluffy.
– Sift the flours into the bowl.
– Carefully mix the flour into the butter and sugar. After most of the flour is combined I like to get in there with my hand to bring the dough together, you want to get everything combined as quickly as possible, not workign the dough too much.
– Pinch off small balls (cherry tomato sized) of the dough and roll into rounds.
– Place the balls evenly spaced on a baking tray, they don’t spread much at all but make sure they’re not too crowded.
– Press down with a fork, cut glass, or just use the heel of your hand for flat ones.
– Bake for 15 minutes. They will still be very pale but do not fear!
– Leave on the tray to cool for 5 minutes before moving to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
– Store in an air tight tin and enjoy!
Making up a large part of my mother’s collection of, I would guess, over a hundred cook books is the St Michael range. She has almost every volume, in fact, she may actually have every volume but I’ve never asked. If you need a cook book for any type of cookery, this range will have the title just for you. They are retro in the extreme. I love just browsing through the pictures to have a giggle, one of the things I love is that there is always a photo. I never trust a cookbook I can’t see pictures in! They also happen to contain basically fool proof recipes. I’ve never met one that didn’t work. The Last Minute Christmas Cake recipe came from one, the family Chilli Con Carne recipe did too. They are basically culinary gold!
Possibly the most useful one is the Microwave Cooking volume. You wouldn’t think that a book on microwave cooking witten in 1983 would be anything other than horrendous. Microwave cooking, for goodness sake! Nowadays the microwave seems to be the province of ready meals and reheating leftovers. You might, god forbid, boil your water in it (if you do I want you to go away now, I’m afraid we may not be able to remain friends after all). It doesn’t exactly speak of haute cuisine. All the things that these days are “bad” are the essence of the microwave: fast, convenient, easy, fuss free. If you’re a “real cook” cooking “good” food then you should be standing there in the kitchen, pots and pans steaming, wooden spoon in hand. Bunging your ingredients in on high for 4 1/2 minutes is, at best, cheating, surely! Not so, I say! The microwave may have a bit of a bad rep. but it can produce some culinary gold! We make a mean steamed pudding in ours and my Chicken Liver Pate is another, or this recipe for Mushrooms in Garlic Butter. Ready in 10 minutes and utterly delicious!
450g button mushrooms (whole if small, cut into quarters if especially large)
1 tsp herbes de provence
2 cloves garlic, crushed or very finely diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp double cream
– Place the mushrooms, herbes, garlic and lemon juice in a heatproof bowl.
– Cover with a plate or clingfilm and cook in the microwave on high for 6 minutes.
– Uncover and drain off any excess liquid.
– Stir in the butter, chopped into pieces, and cream and season to taste. (Mushrooms need a reasonable amount of salt and I think a good dash of pepper works wonders too.)
– Cook uncovered for 2 1/2 minutes.
– Take out and give a good stir.
– Serve in ramekins (or rice bowls like I did here) with some nice crusty bread.
I love making a gingerbread house at Christmas time. However, I’m never any good at eating it. When you’ve worked so hard to assemble this work of edible art it’s heartbreaking to have to destroy it. Therefore I thought what about a gingerbread village? Little houses so you could eat them one at a time and not feel bad for destroying your entire creation! So that’s what I did.
These have been a labour of love I tell you! I actually made the gingerbread weeks ago but never quite had the time to sit down and get on with putting them together. As a result I ate a bunch of the sweets I had been going to use and there were more than a few breakages and someone, I’m looking at you dad, ate a roof tile. In theory this recipe makes 6 little gingerbread cottages. I got 3. But such is life.
This gingerbread dough isn’t perhaps the ideal one you’re looking for to make houses but it does make an excellent biscuit. It spreads a little inconsistently while baking so I got some wonky bits and the dough is easiest to work with while still warm, after that it starts to crack a little while you’re handling it. For that reason I haven’t given you the pattern I used for my houses, but they were about 3″x4″. Next year I’ll be trying a different recipe for my houses but for biscuits to eat or hang on the tree I think this could be a winner.
Makes 6 3″x4″ houses or, in theory, 1 large house. Make 1/2 if for biscuits unless you need dozens.
250g unsalted butter
200g dark muscovado sugar
7 tbsp golden syrup
600g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp ground ginger
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6 and find every baking tray in the house.
– Melt together the butter, sugar and syrup in a large pan.
– Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger in a large mixing bowl and mix them together.
– Pour the melted butter mixture into the flour and mix well with a spoon until a dough is formed.
– Roll out the dough to a thickness of 5mm. (You will have to do this in batches unless you’re very good and have a large work surface.)
– Cut out your shapes and place on lined baking trays.
– Bake for 10-12 minutes watching carefully because it is very easy to burn these. Try to get the houses each on one tray so they’re a consistent colour.
– Allow to cool on the trays for 5 minutes until hard then cool completely on a wire rack.
– Repeat for the rest of the batches.
To assemble the houses I use a ‘glue’ made from 200g icing sugar and 2-3 tbsp boiling water. You can use royal icing if you want it to be stronger but this tastes much better. I pipe strips of icing down the edges of the ‘sides’ then carefully press all 4 walls together, you may need an extra pair of hands for this part. Then I allow that stage to dry. Once dried I put on the roof tiles again by piping strips of icing all around the top of the house then very gently pressing down the tiles. Then I pipe a line along the apex. The chimneys, if making, are done in almost exactly the same way. I leave the houses to dry, preferably for an hour, then get on with decorating with sweets using the same kind of ‘glue’ to stick everything on.
Hi, I'm Anna and this is what's going on in my kitchen and growing in my garden.
Everything you see here is how it looked as I cooked and ate it. I don't like to make things too fussy. I want you to know that if you try one of my recipes what you see is what you'll get.
Don't forget to leave a comment, I love to know what you're thinking and if you do try out a recipe then let me know how it worked for you. Happy cooking!