How to cheat……. and get away with it


Roast Beef

With some friends, who are acknowledged “foodies” coming for Sunday lunch, I decided to stay safe and cook my signature Sunday lunch dish – roast beef with Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings. My butcher carefully selected a lovely piece of beef for me, a large piece as I think that the larger the joint, the better it cooks and tastes. He also put some fat on top “makes the gravy taste better”. He always does this and I always throw it away, thinking heart attack, cholesterol levels etc., see, I do pay attention to medical information.

Having completed my shopping the previous day or so I thought, straight after breakfast I started to prepare the vegetables. I got the beef ready for the oven, nicely sprinkled with freshly ground black pepper, in it went. I then had a coffee and a quick scan of the Sunday papers, before deciding it was time to make the Yorkshire pudding batter. In my store cupboard are quite a few types of flour, but horror of horrors, there was no plain flour in sight.

Now, I have been foolish enough to attempt to make Yorkshire puddings with self raising flour in the past, the results have been something entirely inedible and could be used for Frisbee practice! So I asked my son if he would be my saviour, pop down to the village shop and get me some plain flour so I could make the Yorkshires.

I was out in the garden when he got back, he shouted that Mrs Williams hadn’t any plain flour in the shop, but had given him some of Aunt Bessie’s. With that he was off to his rugby match, I heard the front door slam as I rushed into the kitchen.

What I feared was there, on the kitchen table, two packets of frozen Yorkshire puddings courtesy of Aunt Bessie, whoever she may be! There was no time to go anywhere for plain flour, indeed, there wasn’t anywhere to go to, well not and be back in time for lunch. With the smell of roast beef wafting through the kitchen, I stared at the frozen offerings. I couldn’t serve these to the foodies, could I?

 I opened one packet and took out the frozen puddings. Hmm they seemed the same diameter as my small bun tins. I carefully took one pudding out of its’ tinfoil, there was a small amount of grease in the bottom but not much. So I took some fat from the roasting tin, put a very small amount in the bottom of each of the twelve spaces of the bun tin and put the tin in the oven. When the fat was hot, I placed a frozen pudding in each one. Then, with fingers crossed, into the hot oven they went.

They were perfect; the foodies showered me with compliments on the lunch and asked how on earth I managed to make such tasty Yorkshire puddings? As my son had not yet got back from his rugby match, I just smiled and said nothing.

Aunt Bessie's Yorkshire Puddings


Pink Friday

I was busy baking cakes last night for our “Pink Friday”.  Everyone has joined in and I arrived this morning to a kitchen filled with all kinds of goodies.  We have pink fairy cakes, pink muffins, pink and white marshmallow flumps, little battenburg cakes, even flapjacks with pink icing, lots of chocolates because there is never a good enough reason not to have them!

The guys are joining in too and although none of them have baked anything, they are wearing various items of pink clothing and paying for the privilege! Any vistors today, expecting to be met by our usual attractive receptionist, will instead be greeted by someone resembling the wicked witch from Snow White.  Except this “witch” is wearing a pink hat atop a mound of pink hair and has a nose that would do justice to some film company’s prosthetics department – I can honestly say I have never seen anything like it!  I think she decided to have her own Pink Halloween!

A pink witch

The day has gone well and all the cakes are sold.  Word went round the business park and people just called in and bought cakes and raffle tickets – just amazed at the generosity of strangers.  Everyone it seems is willing to support this worthy cause which is just brilliant, it restores your faith in human nature it really does!   So a big thank you to everyone for today, I am now going to have a glass of wine and relax. 

A few of the goodies from today

More cakes...A few cakes         

Halloween or Hallowe’en

Well the clocks have gone back one hour, so I guess that summer has offically ended and that is where, according to history, Halloween has its’ origins. It is from the old celtic festival know as “Samhain” which is derived from Old Irish and means roughly “summers end”

All sorts of celebrations have taken place down the ages at this time of year. The ancient Celts for instance, belived that the borders between this world and the Other World were particularly “thin” at this time of year and the spirits, both harmless and harmful, could pass back through. The family ancestors were honoured and welcome, but harmful spririts were warded off, it is thought, by wearing masks and strange costumes. It was also a time to take stock of food supplies for the coming winter and celebrate the harvest.

The name Halloween or Hallowe’en is shortened from All Hallows Eve which is the night before All Saints Day on 1 November. All sorts of traditions have been handed down through the ages, but nowadays most involve dressing up in scary costumes and masks, carrying lanterns made out of pumkins with faces carved on them and enjoying time eating and drinking with family and friends. Orange and black seem to be the colours associated with Halloween and you see lots of different shaped cookies and cakes iced in this way

A lot of sweetstuff and candy are eaten at  Halloween and I have a couple of family recipes to share – mainly for the children:

Toffe (Candy) Apples

12 ripe eating apples

400g granulated sugar

100g butter

30ml water

oil for greasing

12 wooden skewers

Wash and dry the apples and push a large wooden skewer through the centre of each one. Put the sugar, butter and water into a heavy based saucepan and dissolve the sugar very slowly over a low heat. Once dissolved, bring to a fast boil and continue to boil until the small crack stage (140 degC)  Dip apples one at a time into the toffee and place on a greased plate and leave to set.  Red apples look wonderful coated with shiny toffee, you can also sprinkle them with coconut or crushed nuts before the toffee sets

Treacle Toffee (Bonfire toffee)

Oil for greasing

100g butter

100 black treacle

150g soft brown sugar

30ml water

Pinch of Cream of Tartar

Grease a 15cm square tin, Put the butter, treacle, sugar and water into a heavy based saucepan and let the sugar dissolve over a low hest. Add cream of tartar, bring to the boil and boil to hard ball stage (120degC).  Pour the toffee into the prepared tin and, when beginning to set, score the surface deeply making squares.  When set, break up, wrap in waxed paper and store in an airtight tin. (Cooking time approx 20 minutes)

Hope you all have a great time celebrating with friends and family!