I hope you'll join me in creating memories and sharing the passion of experimentation.

Anything goes, but food, sewing, hosting and DIY are my favourites, what are yours?

Monday, 25 March 2013

Sunday Roast is over... Lets make soup!

Everyone loves a good roast - but we don't all make the most of everything it has to offer. After all, a roast takes some (albeit enjoyable) time to prepare and cook. So why not get more from your next Sunday Roast....and make some soup!?!

All you'll need are the left over bones, some vegetables and spices/herbs. I'm going to talk you through a couple of chicken based recipes, but there's no stopping you using any other kind of meat as a base.

Serving: One medium chicken carcass will give you around 5 servings

1) First step is to make some stock - place the bones in a large saucepan and add 3 pints of boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 40mins with a lid on the saucepan

TIP: Try and remove most of the fatty parts left on the bones, as otherwise you'll end up with a fat layer that you'll have to remove at the end - which can be tricky.

2) Well that was easy, you've just got some fresh and immenslely tasty stock. Next take your choice of vegetables (around 2 medium bowls full, roughly chopped) and place them in the boiling stock.

3) Season and then add herbs/spices if your chosen soup requires them

4) Simmer for another 25mins, until vegetables are soft

5) Take off the heat and blend - make it as lumpy or as smooth as you like. If you prefer thick soup, add some cornflour (remember to mix it with cold water before adding it to the soup) or thickening granules

6) And you're done - so simple and so much cheaper/healthier than soups you buy in shops!

I love making the most of our Sunday Roast - I find it so satisfying to take all the chicken off the bones, saving that for another meal and then making stock/soup from the left overs as well! You can use the fresh tasty stock just as stock with other recipes if you don't fancy making soup out of it.

So there's your very basic soup recipe. Below are a couple of my favourite vegetable/herbs/spices combinations using a chicken base. But don't forget - experiment! Try adding lentils for a thicker more warming result (great for a wintery day), cream, or even noodles.

Spicy Butternut Squash - Try adding cayenne pepper, cumin, a small amount of chilli powder and of course butternut squash (1 whole butternut squash would do around 4 servings)

Roasted Pepper & Sweet Potato - This is great if you roast the peppers and sweet potatoes before adding them to the stock (if you do this, you'll only need to simmer the veg for 5-10mins). Add lots of fresh herbs - I like thyme and a little rosemary.

Stock Tip: If you have some leftover stock or don't fancy soup - try freezing it in ice-cube trays so you'll always have fresh 'stock cubes' to use at a moments notice

Experiment and find your favourite soup :)

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Pinny of the Month

Here's March's Pinny of the Month....(it's SO cute)
Cute Kitsch Retro Apron - CreativeChics
I stumbled upon CreativeChics on Etsy a few weeks ago, and instantly I was hooked. It's full of handmade vintage inspired aprons (just up my street), and by full, I mean FULL. It was so difficult to choose just one - but here it is!

I think the gathered neckline is really unusual and pretty, plus the wide waist is flattering too! And everyone knows it's important to look and feel good when you're about to stuff your face full of homecooked treats! Plus the strawberries...who doesn't love strawberries!

I hope you enjoy browsing CreativeChics's Etsy page - I certainly have :)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Delightful Jam Doughnuts

Now, don't blame me if this recipe results in some serious weight gain... but, if you do have a special occasion coming up, these will be your shining moment of domesticity and your friends/family will be over every Saturday begging for more.

I'd always wondered how difficult doughnuts were to make, and assumed that all of that heavenly taste came from umpteen chemicals and preservatives. I was wrong, very very wrong.

Give this recipe a go, and you won't be sorry! I prefer the sugar coated ones, but if you prefer glazed I've added a suggestion for that too.

190g Strong White Flour
15g Caster Sugar
20g Unsalted Butter left at room temperature
1 Packet Fast Acting Dried Yeast (7g)
Pinch of Salt
65ml slightly warmed Milk, I use semi skimmed but whole milk would be richer if that's what you prefer
45ml Warm Water
1 Egg, free-range please :)
1 litre Oil to deep fry - vegetable oil or something similar
3 tbsp Jam

TIP: Why not try different fillings, apple sauce (heat up some apples and blend with some sugar and cinnamon), custard or even a toffee sauce.

15g Caster Sugar, or as much as you like for dusting
20g Unsalted Butter
85g Icing Sugar
20ml Warm Water
1/2tsp Vanilla Paste

Serving: 6 large doughnuts or 8 guilt-free (almost) doughnuts

1) Combine all of the dry ingredients in to a large bowl or bread maker
2) In a small bowl, pour the warmed milk and water over the butter. Stir until the butter melts
3) Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture along with the egg. Stir to combine. A dough should form; firm, but not stiff. If it's still a litte sticky add a bit more flour, or if it's too stiff add a little more milk
4) Now for the fun part.... kneading. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Or, if you're pressed for time, pop in the bread maker on the dough setting and let it do it's thing for 10-15 minutes whilst you get on with something else
5) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place, an airing cupboard is great for this, or on top of a boiler, for about an hour, until dough has doubled

Get on with some house chores and get excited for some evening indulgence

6) Divide dough in to 6 large or 8 smaller balls
7) Secret Tip: Take one side of a ball and pull the edge into the middle, do this all the way round the ball, so that it looks a bit like when you make a fist with your hand. Place the ball on a lightly floured tray smooth side up, making sure all the edges are tucked up underneath. Repeat with all the balls
8) Cover with a damp tea towel again and leave for another hourish (if you're desperate then you could just wait 40mins)

More chores... nearly ready! Here's a pic to keep you going...

9) Heat the oil in a high-sided saucepan. And, if you're like me, get out every fire blanket and extinguisher you have in the house
10) Wait until the oil is at 160degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, take a tiny piece of dough and drop it in the oil - it's the right temperature when the dough fizzes and floats straight back to the top
11) Carefully lower balls into the oil with a slotted spoon. It's best to only have 3 balls in the oil at one time. Leave for 2-3 minutes and then turn over. TIP: Use a chopstick to turn them over by pressing down firmly on one side of the ball
12) Whilst the doughnuts are cooking, get your coating ready:
12a) If you fancy plain sugar, just pop the 15g in a bowl
12b) If you're more of an american at heart and want to try the glazed option, melt the butter and mix with all of the other ingredients. Set aside to cool

13) Once your doughnuts are golden both sides, carefully remove them from the oil and place them straight into your coating of choice, turn over the doughnut until it's well covered and place on a cooling rack
14) Cook up the next batch of doughnuts, 3 at a time, until they're all done
15) Now for the filling... mmmmm YUM. Get a piping bag and place your jam inside TIP: Or, if you don't want to wash up, make a cone from some greaseproof paper and pop the jam in there, remembering to snip off the end of the cone
16) With a skewer, make a hole in one side of the doughnut and push through to the middle
17) Put your piping bag into the hole and squeeze a little jam inside

You're DONE!

They'll probably all be gone by the morning, but just to let you know, doughnuts don't keep amazingly well, so it's best to get some friends over to eat them all at once. Saying that, i've been known to have a cheeky one for breakfast.

Enjoy everyone, and let me know how you get on. Oh, and be safe with the oil guys!