To Illustrate: to clarify, explain or describe, through the use of pictures, diagrams or words, a concept or problem.

The concept is food: an amateur's illustration.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Raspberry and White Chocoloate Muffins


Basic muffin recipe
2 ripe bananas
1 egg
100 g muscavado sugar
300 g wholemeal flour
75 g butter
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
275 ml Buttermilk
1 tsp demarara sugar.

Additional ingredients:

200 g raspberries
100 g white chocolate, broken into small chunks.


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, and line a muffin tin with cases. I followed the same method/recipe from a previous post, 'blueberry muffins' so follow that recipe up to the point where you add the blueberries and instead add the raspberries and white chocolate. Cook for 20-25 minutes.


I used some baking cases which SEMI EXPAT had given me all the way from Australia. They taste perfect.

Monday, 22 November 2010

The Baked Bean

A little history of the baked bean.
Baked beans have become synonymous with the brand Heinz, who first introduced the beans to the English market in 1901 in Fortnum and Masons, Piccadilly, London.

Since then, they have made their way into supermarkets and corner shops all over the UK. A staggering 1,000,000 cans of Heinz Beanz are consumed everyday in the UK which is approximately 485 million cans per year, therefore they must be doing something right. I am not going to knock the Baked Bean, particularly the Heinz Baked Bean because they are instantly satisfying and healthy. However I want to be able to make these beans for myself, and for them to be as flavoursome if not more.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 medium onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 heaped tbsp tomato ketchup 
125 ml passata
150 ml water
1 cans haricot beans, rinsed and drained  
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce


Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan. Add the onions and garlic and fry until soft and golden. Sprinkle over the paprika and ground cloves and cook for 1 minute then stir through the ketchup.

Add the passata and water and bring to the boil. 

Simmer for about 10 minutes before liquidizing until smooth. Add the drained beans and Worcestershire sauce to the pureed tomato sauce. Season with salt. Stir well and bring back to the boil.

Put a lid on the pan and transfer to the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes. Stir in some boiling water before serving if the beans are a bit dry. 


Store in the fridge and consume within 2-3 days.  

For different variations try adding chopped bacon or chilli flakes to the beans once they have been baked. Fry chopped up pieces of bacon and stir them into the beans before serving.

Obviously they take longer to prepare and cook compared to tinned beans however they are packed full of flavours, more wholesome and definitely worth the effort. They are a different and much better alternative and they don't contain any sugar unlike Heinz beans, the sweetness comes from the tomatoes in the passata and I thought it was unnecessary to add more. I am converted and will now cross beans off my supermarket list.  

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Blog Project

I am going to embark on a project on my blog and it is going to be, to make the things that I always buy from a supermarket from scratch, like mayonnaise, beans, ketchup, hummus, bread, pesto, that kind of thing, peanut butter, jam, everything that I buy in jars and tins. This is of course the aim of every cook, but as we all now, sometimes due to convenience and lack of time, it is not always possible to do this. It is much easy to buy a jar of Branston pickle rather than, buying the pickles, dicing them, pickling them and preserving them in vinegar. However, I am becoming, like a lot of people, more and more aware about what goes into the food that I buy and therefore eat. Whenever you give yourself time to make things at home, it ALWAYS tastes so much better, so why should we continue to jeopardise taste and nutrition for convenience?

I am going to see if I can find, and create recipes, that are easy, cheap, nutritional, and fresh without a 2015 sell by date and compare them to the big brands, and shop brought products that I constantly buy. From now on, I bid farewell to the tin, the packet and the pre-made sauce and say hello to the Tuppawear box, the foil and the self filled jar.

So, I shall begin. 

And I begin, with the all time favourite, THE BAKED BEAN. 

Monday, 15 November 2010

Birthday Cupcakes

Makes 12.


For the cakes:
3 eggs
180 grams butter
180 grams caster sugar
180 grams self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder

Butter Icing:
250g icing sugar sifted
80g unsalted butter at room temperature
25ml milk
A couple of drops of vanilla extract


Line a muffin tray with paper cases and preheat the oven to 180C. Cream the butter and the sugar in a bowl until it is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs to the butter and sugar one at a time

Sift the flour into the mixture and fold.Add the baking powder.

Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases.

Bake them in the oven for 15-20 minutes until they have risen and are golden on the top.

Once the cupcakes have complete cooled, frost with butter-cream icing.

Cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and gradually sift in the icing sugar. If you have an electric mixer - this will be easier. I don't and it works fine with a wooden spoon it just takes a bit more time and effort to get the icing light and fluffy but it is worth it in the end.

Cover the iced cupcakes in hundreds and thousands. I'm sorry I don't have a picture of the final cakes. I was in a rush in the morning as I was late for a rehearsal so had to get the cakes and run. I will make sure I get a good photo of the next cup cakes I make.

Homemade Croissants

I have wanted to make croissants for ages, so when I stumbled across  an amazing recipe from: . I thought I would give them a go.  

500 grams Flour
10 grams salt
60 grams sugar
30 grams butter
30 grams yeast
2 eggs
200 ml whole milk

250 grams butter (for the second day)

Day One
Prepare the dough. In a large bowl mix the flour, salt, sugar, butter, yeast, eggs and milk. Knead the mixture until a smooth, even dough is formed, making sure that is is not sticky.

Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic film and refrigerate in overnight.

Day two
Place the butter in between two sheets of cling film and flatten using a rolling pin, until it is one centimetre in height and roughly the shape of a rectangle.

Take the dough out of the fridge and on a flat, floured surface roll the dough out until it is double the size of the rolled butter. 

Place the butter in the middle of the flattened dough, and fold the edges of the dough into the middle, covering the butter. Roll the dough into a long rectangle, until it is one centimeter high.

The First Turn
You now need to start turning the dough. In your head, split the dough into three sections, then fold two of the sections into the third. One from the left into the middle, and the other from the right into the middle.

The dough now has 3 layers. Turn the dough 90 degrees and flatten the dough again to a long rectangle until it is once again one centimetre high.

The Second Turn
Fold the dough again from both sides to the middle - this makes 6 layers of butter, flatten. Fold the dough again into the middle - this makes 12 layers of butter. 
Keep turning the dough as many times as you like as the more the turns, the more light and buttery the croissants will be. You have got to keep the dough cold, so after you have turned it, it must go in the fridge for at least 4 hours. I kept my dough in the fridge over night.

Shaping the dough
The next day roll the dough out until it is 5 millimeters thick and rectangular in shape and cut out right angled triangles from the dough. This is your croissant. Now you need to roll the croissants, beginning with the widest side of the triangle, finishing with the peak underneath the rolled croissant. 

Place them on parchment paper on a baking tray and wash with an egg wash (one egg yolk and a splash of milk to give it a glossy shine). 

Bake them in an oven at 180 degrees C for 18-22 minutes until they are golden brown. 

Serve with even more butter and lots of jam. 

The croissants went well. Not as well as I had hoped, as they ended up much smaller and more bread like. I think I turned the dough to many times, or didn't let them rise long enough before I put them in the oven. They tasted like croissants though and were delicious when they came hot out of the oven. I will defiantly make them again. I think it will just take practice.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Spicy sausage spaghetti


6 pork and mint Chipolatas, skinned
400 grams chopped tomatoes (tinned)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 Red pepper, sliced
6 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 Sundried tomatoes
1 Red chilli, finely chopped
2 tsp Harissa paste
2 tsp 'Lazy Chilli' paste
1 tsp Sweet paprika
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper
Wholewheat Pasta

Firstly skin the sausages, and roll the meat into good sized balls

Pour 2 tbps of olive oil into a large frying pan and add the chopped onions, garlic and chilli. Fry for 2-3 minutes then add the peppers, sausage and 'lazy chilli' paste.

Make sure the sausage meat is browned before adding the mushrooms and tinned chopped tomatoes. Season.

Next add 2 tsp of Harrisa paste along with 1 tsp of sweet paprika and the sundried tomatoes. Season again and add a few pinches of sugar if necessary. Add the oregano. Let the sauce simmer and reduce whilst you cook the pasta.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the pasta sauce. Heat through.

And serve.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A Russian Starter



6 medium beetroots, pre-cooked in thier own juices
2 tbsp olive oil
5 spring onions
1.5 litres vegetable or chicken stock
55 ml vodka
1/2 lemon, juice only
1-2 tbsp creme fraiche
salt and pepper
fresh dill


Heat the oil, over a low heat in a large saucepan and gently fry the spring onions for 4-5 minutes. Until they are translucent.

Pour in the stock and continue to cook on a low heat to warm through.

 Cut the beetroot into rough pieces.

Blend the beetroot, spring onions and stock in a food processor until smooth.

Add the vodka, lemon juice, creme fraiche and seasoning. Blend again.

Serve the soup hot or cold, stirring in a spoon of creme friache and a sprinkling of dill.

Taken from Sophie Dahl's,  Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights.