Thursday, 31 May 2012

# 219 Cheesecake

I love recipes that are easy and quick to make, don't require a long list of ingredients and are tasty; this cheesecake ticks all those boxes.

This is a no-bake cheesecake, preparation time is very short but then it needs a few hours of fridge time to set. If you'd like to try this cheesecake yourself you can find the recipe here. The only thing I did differently was I used rich tea biscuits instead of the Nice biscuits mentioned in the recipe and I made a thicker biscuit base as A. loves it that way.



Wednesday, 30 May 2012

# 218 Admiring nature

All it took for the surrounding countryside to bloom and blossom were a few very wet days followed by a few very warm and sunhine filled days and then all of a sudden the country lanes and roads where I usually walk have become narrower due to how much the vegetation on the side of the road has grown! It's just amazing, there's so much colour and variety everywhere it's a shame I can't bottle some of it for when the seasons change again and we're back in the cold, dark days of Winter.

Does anyone know the names of the flowers below, or maybe they're weeds but they're pretty. I think the last ones are buttercups but for the rest I'm clueless.


Sunday, 27 May 2012

# 217 Weekend outing: Upton House and Gardens

I hope you've enjoyed your weekend and if you're in the UK I hope you made the most of the sunshine, don't forget your sun cream though as it seems we'll still have a couple of days of sun and blue skies.

Early this morning we prepared a picnic and then went to Upton House in Warwickshire, Shakespeare's County.

Upton House was bought by Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted, as a weekend cottage and to house his art collection. He inherited his huge fortune from his father Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted, who together with his brother founded the Shell company in 1897.

The company name comes from the fact that Walter Samuel's grandfather imported shells from the Far East, shells were in great demand at the time as they were used in interior design. Samuel's grandfather himself used to decorate boxes with shells and when Marcus and his brother were looking for a name for the company they decided on Shell.

Upton House, view from the lawn at the back of the house.
The origin of the company name Shell.

If you want to see a few more pictures of Upton House, please find my Flickr page here.


Friday, 25 May 2012

# 216 Bread with chorizo

The other day while preparing to bake some baps I remembered I had a few slices of chorizo in the fridge and decided to make bread with chorizo.

This is a type of bread very much appreciated in Portugal, in fact if you've been to Portugal in the Summer and especially if you've travelled anywhere in this part of the country there's a chance you might've seen people selling bread with chorizo on the side of the road. The ones I've seen usually had a van equipped with a small wood fired oven where batches of bread with chorizo are baked throughout the day. Some bakeries also sell this type of bread on certain days.

The chorizo I use is the sliced one like this, I buy mine from ASDA in packets of continental meats or tapas selection. Alternatively you can buy a chorizo sausage and slice it yourself at home. I like the slices to be as thin as possible to make it easier to roll the bread.

But enough talk, let's move on to how you make it.

Bread with chorizo

Start by making a bread dough in the bread machine or by hand, I use this recipe for baps.

When the dough cycle is finished, remove the dough from the bread pan and on to a lightly floured surface. Divide into portions, about 10 for smaller loaves or less for bigger ones.

Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out each piece of dough into a rectangle, place 3 or 4 slices of chorizo along the middle and roll the dough lenghtwise into a sort of sausage shape.

Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment, cover with a clean tea towel and prove in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC, gas mark 5 and bake the bread for about 20 to 30 minutes or until risen and golden brown.

These can be eaten hot or at room temperature, they're also perfect to take on a picnic or to serve at barbecues sliced and arranged on a platter.



Wednesday, 23 May 2012

# 215 Tomato sauce

On pizzas, with pasta or in pasta bakes, with meatballs, mixed with canned tuna... there's so many ways you can use tomato sauce and a good one can make all the difference to your dish especially when it's homemade, and the best of all is that it's so easy to make your own.

This is how I make mine.

Tomato sauce

 1 can plum or chopped tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (I use mild chilli flakes)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 or 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Pinch of salt

Pour a little olive oil in a pan and soften the garlic and the onion. Add the tomatoes and the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil and then simmer over a low heat for about 10 or 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Check the seasoning and then blend. Cook for a few minutes more if necessary to get rid of the water; the sauce should be nice and thick.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool before transfering to a food container with lid. This will keep in the fridge for at least 1 week or you can freeze it using an ice cube tray.

Enjoy with the dish of your choice!


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

# 214 Photo Friday: Walk

The theme for this week's challenge on Photo Friday is Walk, something I love and try to do as much as possible.

I'm taking part in this challenge with a photo I've shown before on this blog when I wrote about public footpaths back in March last year. If you'd like to participate or just see what others have come up with for this or past challenges just click here.

Public footpath with Berkeley Castle on the background.


Sunday, 20 May 2012

# 213 Weekend outing: Croome Landscape Park

My legs are so tired I can hardly feel them!  Today we revisited Croome, we were there back in 2010 only a few months after it opened to the public. The restoration work continues both in the house and in the park, this means that in the house only a few rooms are open and these are almost empty but they have some very interesting exhibits.

Surrounding the house there's a huge park landscaped by Capability Brown with many paths to explore hence the tiredness but it's a good one :-)

Unfortunately there was not a hint of sunshine or blue skies but at least it stayed dry.

St Mary Magdalene Church
The house
The Rotunda
Ceiling in the Rotunda


Friday, 18 May 2012

# 212 Chocolate cake

Chocolate cakes don't need much of an introduction do they? Everyone likes a chocolate cake. I baked this one last week, it was delicious and didn't last very long. Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it.

Chocolate cake

4 eggs, separated
200gr sugar
150gr butter, melted
200gr flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
200gr instant hot chocolate mix
1 tablespoon milk
Dark Belgian chocolate dessert sauce

Line a tray with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 180º, gas mark 5.

Beat the egg whites to soft peaks and reserve.

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar, add the melted butter. Mix in the flour, the baking powder and the chocolate, add the milk and then gently fold in the egg whites.

Pour in the tray and bake for 25 minutes or until done. While the cake is still warm and with the help of a tablespoon spread some dark belgian chocolate dessert sauce over the top of the cake making sure you go into the corners too.

Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack and then remove it from the tray, peel away the baking parchment.



Tuesday, 15 May 2012

# 211 Gammon pie with prawns

Back in April I cooked a 3kg gammon joint and as there's only 3 of us there was a lot of gammon leftover! Obviously I was not going to waste all that meat so I sliced it really thin and we had them for meals and sandwiches over the following days.

One of those meals was this delicious gammon pie with prawns which we really liked.

Gammon pie with prawns

Gammon leftovers, chopped
1 block shortcrust pastry
100g approx. precooked and peeled king prawns
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 eggs
150ml double cream + 2 tablespoons

Cook the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until the onion is tender. Add the prawns and 2 tablespoons of double cream, bring to the boil and simmer for only a couple of minutes to thicken. Add the gammon and mix well then remove from the heat and reserve.

Roll out the pastry following instructions on the packet and line a pie dish with it. Prick the base with a fork, line with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Blind bake in a preheated oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, you want it to be puffy and golden. Remove the baking beans and bake for 5 minutes more.

Meanwhile, whisk together the double cream and the eggs. Spread the gammon and prawns mix over the baked pastry and then pour the egg and cream mixture over it. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until set and puffy.

Serve with a lettuce salad or steamed vegetables.



Sunday, 13 May 2012

# 210 Weekend outing: Charlecote Park

Charlecote Park is a National Trust property on the banks of the River Avon and only a few miles from Stratford-Upon-Avon. The present house was begun by Sir Thomas Lucy in the mid 16th century. It's said that Shakespeare was caught poaching here and taken before Sir Thomas Lucy and Queen Elizabeth I spent 2 nights here in 1572.

This is where we went today to make the most of the good weather, it's been horrible with lots of rain and wind, etc. but yesterday and today were sunny and warm just perfect for a day out which included a picnic.

The gatehouse.
The house.
Bridge leading on to the deer park, unfortunately this part of the park was not yet open to the public.
In the mid 18th century the course of the River Hele (now the Dene) was altered so that it cascaded into the Avon within sight of the house.
Swinger I, by sculptor Stephen Charlton.
Swinger II, by sculptor Stephen Charlton.
Rapeseed field on the way home.


Saturday, 12 May 2012

# 209 Photo Friday: Detailed

Photo Friday is a weekly photo assignment which I've recently joined, each Friday there's a new theme for participants to interpret.

The theme for this week is Detailed and this my entry. I took this photo last Summer while on holiday in Portugal.


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

# 208 Baps

This very minute I have 2 trays of baps baking in the oven. The ones on the top tray have a lovely golden colour already, just a few more minutes and they're done and the smell is just mouth watering, I wish you could smell it too.

We're having homemade burgers for dinner tonight and I'm making an extra one for A. to take to school tomorrow in a homemade bap, you can't ask for better than that I think.

The dough for the baps was kneaded in the bread machine and the recipe is below if you'd like to try making them yourself.


1 teaspoon fast action yeast
450g strong white flour
25g butter
Pinch of salt
1 egg
250ml water (for a slightly denser bap you can try 125ml water and 125ml milk)

Place the ingredients in the bread pan in the order specified in the manual for your bread machine.

Select the basic dough cycle (2h 20min in mine).

When the cycle finishes grease your hands with a little olive oil, cut portions of dough and roll into balls, then flatten slightly with a floured rolling pin and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.

Prove in a warm place for about 30 minutes and then bake in a pre-heated oven until golden brown.



Thursday, 3 May 2012

# 207 April photo scavenger hunt

Thanks once again to Kathy for hosting this challenge on her blog. Why don't you grab yourself a hot drink, sit back and have a look at what others have come up with.

For one reason or another we haven't been out much (or not at all to be more precise) so photo opportunites have been scarce. Fortunately when we do go out I always take lots of photos so there's bound to be a few that fit Kathy's list. The only photo taken on purpose for this challenge is the kitchen timer one.

Here is my selection of photos.

Delicious cinnamon rock cakes, it's been a while since I baked these. I think I need to go and look for the recipe.

Chipping Campden Market Hall
Beautiful blossom
Rapeseed field. I love it when the countryside around us turns this vibrant yellow.
Exploring new public footpaths.
Cake is one of my favourite things.
Stained glass windows in the church at Tyntesfield.
On the move in Wales. Beautiful, beautiful scenery, I'd love to go again.
A. taking a picture of me taking a picture of him at the Courts Garden.
Sticky mud after a short walk on a nearby wood.
Tangle of tree branches.
My 4-in-1 timer. I use it everyday to remind me of things I need to do.