Baking, Cookery Classes, Cooking, entertaining, radio, Recipes

Trick or Treat


We can’t do Trick or Treat as normal this year so let’s try and make Halloween at Home special . I know I promised on Midlands 103 this morning that I would post the recipes that we discussed so here’s a rather quick post to give you some inspiration

You’ll also find recipes for a Graveyard Cake and Sammy the Spider on my blog.

halloween treats selection

Halloween Toffee Apples

Makes   4

What you need:

  • 4 apples
  • 4 lollipop sticks or skewers
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • Black food colouring

What to do:

  • Put the sticks into the stalk end of the apples. Put the apples on a baking tray or plate lined with baking parchment
  • Put the sugar into a large saucepan with the lemon juice and 50 ml water. Bring to a simmer and let the sugar dissolve – don’t stir it!
  • Carefully add the golden syrup and let the mixture bubble until it looks like toffee. To test if it’s done take out a little on a spoon and drop it into a cup of cold water – it should harden straight away. If it doesn’t continue to boil for another few minutes and test it again.
  • Add a few drops of food colouring and take the pan off the heat.
  • Dip the apple into the toffee, you may have to tip the pan to cover all the skin. (BE CAREFUL) Let any excess toffee drip off and put on the baking parchment to harden
  • Repeat with the other apples.

Spooky Forest

What you need:

  • For the mousse:
    • 150g marshmallows
    • 50g butter
    • 250g dark chocolate
    • 60ml boiled water
    • 250 ml cream
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • Good splash Cointreau (adults only!)
    • Zest of 1 orange
  • Trees:
    • White chocolate, melted
    • Googly eyes
  • Soil:
    • Blitzed Oreo cookies

What to do:

  • To make the mousse:
    • Put marshmallows, butter and chocolate and water in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted. Add in orange zest.
    • Whip the cream and add vanilla extract and Cointreau
    • Take chocolate mix off heat. Fold cream into chocolate until smooth.
    • Pour into glasses
    • Leave to set in fridge
  • For the trees:
    • Trace some scary trees onto baking parchment (you’ll find lots of templates online). Then melt some white chocolate and pipe/brush onto the shape
    • Attach eyes and leave to set
  • To Assemble
    • Top the mousse with the crushed cookies
    • Then carefully peel the trees of the parchment and stick into the mousse
    • Decorate with mini pumpkins etc.

Marshmallow Zombies

What you need:

  • Marshmallows
  • White chocolate, melted
  • Lollipop sticks
  • Icing pens
  • Googly eyes

What you do:

  • Put each marshmallow on a lollipop stick and dip into white chocolate
  • Allow chocolate to set – standing in a glass is the easiest
  • Then decorate the marshmallow with eyes and drawing on a mouth

Happy Cooking & A Very Spooky Halloween!

Yvonne xx

If you’d like to attend one of my cookery classes online then please click here  for details. 

Chef, Cookery Classes, Cooking, entertaining, family meals, Food, Recipes, slow cooking, Wine

Every goal deserves a (crispy) reward, right?

I love figures. I know you might think it strange , but I see a spreadsheet as a thing of beauty. Neat , organized columns of figures, with built in checks to make sure there are no errors.
So why then does the thought of doing my accounts fill me with fear and dread? Every October it’s the same routine – panic and chaos to get the previous years receipts and invoices in order to give to my accountant.

You’d imagine with all the enforced spare time this year that I would have done it months ago, but no, it took a reminder letter to galvanize me into action. Even the Chief Taster knows better than to ask how the codeword A is progressing !
But in the spirit of Organized October, and building on Grainne’s foundation folder – yes even friends try to help me over this fear – I delivered the files (well the bulk of) to my accountant’s office on Thursday.

Cause for celebration right? Cue Crispy Roast Duck for dinner…

Crispy duck is big favourite in this house but last few times I cooked it I only did the legs and served the meat with pancakes and plum sauce. Last week I spotted full ducks in the freezer section in Lidl so I thought I’d experiment with cooking it in my slow cooker .

So once the duck was defrosted (overnight in the fridge) and the giblets removed, I stuffed the cavity with lemon, garlic, dried limes and star anise

Duck Cavity stuffed with lemon and garlic

I didn’t want the duck to be sitting in it’s own fat as it cooked so I put some vegetables in the base of the slow cooker to act as a trivet

vegetable trivet in slow cooker

To add more flavour, I rubbed a mix of cumin, coriander and seasalt into the skin.

spice rub on duck skin

Then I put the lid on the pot and left the cooker on high for 4 hours and then turned it down low for another 3 hours.

The Chief Taster arrived in to the most tantalizing, delicious cooking smells and suggested we walk down to find a suitable wine. I delivered my files to the accountant on the way and then a Beaujolais Villages was chosen (Yes I know, I should really have insisted on bubbles to mark my achievement!!) 😉

duck cooking in slow cooker

Post walk I transferred the duck to a very hot oven (220 C) for about 30 minutes to crisp up the skin. Plus remember the vegetable trivet – the vegetables had cooked beautifully in the duck fat – so I put them in the oven too!

Duck coming out of oven

In the meantime I made a quick plum sauce, by simmering the following together over a low heat, for 30 minutes :

  • 1 punnet of plums, quartered and stones removed.
  • 1 star anise
  • Good glug of Chinese cooking wine
plum sauce simmering

Dinner was almost ready – all it needed was a big bowl of delicious vegetable egg fried rice flavoured with some oyster sauce and finished with sesame oil.

dinner is served - rice, sauce and duck

Result? It’s made it to the favourite recipe folder and I’m in the running for girlfriend of the year!!!

Just in case you think we’re total gluttons there was lots of meat left on the duck and it’s gone into the freezer to be used at a later date.

Just a thought, in these strange times when we don’t know what will happen over the next few months – this dish would be perfect for a Christmas dinner for 2-3 people 🤶

STAY SAFE AND HAPPY COOKING!

PS I don’t like to brag but I also put all my summer clothes away in the attic this week – neatly sorted of course! Now onto my next organizing project…..

PS 2 Grainne, if you’re reading this, can you please come back and sort my accounts for 2020?

Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Kitchen Organization, Recipes

More Organizing and a Veggie Pie

One week into my ‘Organized Plan’ and already I need to up my game! I’m still armed with my label maker but the pantry is only half organized.

I have to stop getting distracted …oh look what’s that shiny thing over there 🤣

Another of my winter projects is to file and write up recipes that I have tried and open another file with recipes I want to try – and cookbooks I need to read – so when I do get back to work I’ll have lots of new ideas (and yes I am still working on online classes…)
I’ve been revisiting some old recipes for my Friday Facebook Cookalong and last night I cooked one of my favourite vegetarian dishes – Sweet Potato & Spinach Pie. It’s a delicious warming dish flavoured with Moroccan spices (from my beautifully organised spicce cupboard!). Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Sweet Potato & Spinach Pie

Oven: 200 C

What you need:

  • Rapeseed oil
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, washed
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ras el hanout
  • Bag of baby spinach leaves, rinsed
  • Good pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 packet feta cheese
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained
  • Black pepper and nutmeg
  • 1 packet filo pastry
  • Butter, melted  
  • Nigella seeds

What you do:

  • Bake the sweet potato for approx. 45 mins until cooked. Set aside to cool.  Then scoop out the flesh.
  • Heat a glug of oil in a pan and sauté the onion until soft. Add in the ras el hanout and cook for another minute until the onion is coated with the spices.
  • Add the cooked onion to the sweet potato in a large bowl.
  • Using the same pan, wilt the spinach leaves and season with nutmeg
  • Stir in the wilted spinach leaves into the bowl with sweet potato. Then crumble in the feta. Season with pepper (the feta will add salt to the mix). Stir in chickpeas. Check for seasoning
  • Line the base of your 20cm springform tin with baking parchment and rub the sides with butter.
  • Unfold your filo pastry and place under a damp tea towel to prevent it from drying out. Line your tin with 3 or 4 sheets, making sure to brush each sheet with melted butter. Allow the extra filo to hang over the sides.
  • Spoon your potato filling into the centre of the tin and then fold in the side pieces of pastry to form the top of your pie. Brush with butter and sprinkle with nigella seeds.
  • Bake your pie in a hot oven for 20-25 mins until golden and crispy.
sweet potato pie on serving dish

Cutting into the crispy pastry you’ll see the layers of goodness inside 🤗

cut potato pie

And I even made a baby pie – these are very handy to have in your freezer for the days when you don’t feel like cooking.

Mini sweet potato pie

Stay Safe and Happy Cooking!

PS if anyone has any hints or tips on how to stay focused and get organized please let me know 😉