Hazelnut harvest

Hazelnut biscotti from bbc.co.uk/food – Paul Hollywood’s recipe, my photo!

How to use the hazelnuts that the French squirrels didn’t beat us to… a small harvest so I want to use them carefully. These biscotti will stretch and keep well so seem to fit the bill.

It is a recipe from the great British bake-off apparently but so easy that I would recommend it to anyone with a reliable kitchen timer. Half one batch shown here. Not as dry as the ones I have bought.

Their picture, can you tell the difference?

Flavoured salts

Flavoured salts lift simple recipes, they avoid waste by preserving herbs and fruit, they look great and are easy to make. Why not? Here are two ‘no weigh, use what you have’ versions.

For the rosemary and orange version the rosemary leaves were stripped from 5 long stalks ( I am keeping the stalks as kebab sticks). I peeled an ancient mandarin/satsuma that was lurking in the bottom of the fruit bowl, squeezed the juice over the rosemary, scraped the pith from the peel then chopped the peel into slices. The rosemary and orange peel was blitzed with about three tablespoons of coarse salt using the chopping attachment on my stick blender (I usually use it for making breadcrumbs).

Just a few seconds of blitzing produced a kaleidoscope of coloured salt. The mix was spread on a silicone baking sheet and dried in a low oven for about 30 minutes before storing in recycled herb jars.

The basil version was even easier. Once the basil leaves were blitzed into 3 tablespoons of salt I spread the lovely green mix on a silicone sheet and dried it in a low temp oven for about 30 minutes. I sprinkled dried chili flakes in before storing in glass jars. So pretty.

Try rubbing into chicken before you roast it, over boiled new potatoes or other plain veg, over sliced tomatoes …

Washable Bowl cover

Easy project, use lightweight cotton.

Cut a circle around the intended bowl two inches away from the rim. I use pinking shears to avoid fraying

Press over a hem of about an inch (lots of tucks and folds).

Sew around the hem. This creates a channel for the elastic. Leave a gap of a couple of inches.

Cut elastic an inch longer than a snug fit length around the bowl. Stick a safety pin through the elastic and thread it around the channel. Fix the safety pin through the other end of the elastic to check the fit. If ok, Zig zag over the overlapped elastic and finally stitch up the gap in the channel.

Easiest dinner menu …

Must remember how very easy this was to prepare so am posting …

Starter: Asparagus Spears wrapped in streaky bacon and oven baked, serve yourself butter and parmesan on the table

Main: Chicken and chorizo bake (thighs, chorizo slices, halved new potatoes, oregano, lemon and onion), green beans or salad on the table

Dessert: Affogato (expresso coffee shot over vanilla ice cream), ratafia biscuits optional

(pictures cobbled together as were the actual recipes I followed)

Grown up snowball

Screenshot 2018-12-23 at 12.24.42  yummy but dangerously strong …



6 egg yolks, 1 can condensed milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 350 ml vodka (or brandy), lemonade

whisk the milk, then the essence then the vodka into the egg yolks – decant into small bottles and chill until ready to tipple


(this quantity made some little gifts but bear in  mind that without preservatives this has a limited life)

then pour a measure into a champagne glass and dilute with lemonade

Screenshot 2018-12-23 at 12.24.07snowballs from my childhood (we drank them made with Warninks which is 17.2% alcohol, really!? well it was only once a year…) were topped with a glace cherry on stick but a little grated nutmeg looks good

for a wicked version replace the lemonade with sparkling wine (don’t waste good stuff on this)




Food covers


Originally conceived to cover the dog bowl but now I have realised these food protectors are as efficient as the umbrella type food domes I have been using and much more space efficient.

Cut a circle of paper or card slightly larger than the intended bowl, laminate and trim the excess plastic to fit the circle ( both cuts can be done on a cutting machine or by hand). If you re laminate the trimmed circle the heat softens any rough edges you may have left.

I used some of my stash of letters to decorate the circle before laminating but these function without decoration.

The laminate may warp if used on hot bowls or over steaming hot foods but otherwise these easy wipe covers do a useful job.

The next batch will have new wording, after all – there are no flies on me!


A plum bonanza! Found this recipe by Jane Hornby on Good Food Magazine and it worked well (eventually after hours – literally – of boiling down). Below is my recipe adapted, based on comments on her recipe and my experience.

Screen Shot 2018-08-03 at 13.43.26.png

How to;

Weigh and then halve the plums (no need to remove stones) and cover with water in a robust deep pan. Simmer for about 45 minutes until pulpy and deep red in colour.

Remove the stones and then whizz the pulp with a stick blender. Stir in half the weight of jam (preserving) sugar ie if 2 kilo of plums, add 1 kilo of sugar. Once dissolved heat on high for about 25 minutes  – be prepared for much longer if your plums are watery, it needs to be so thick that as you stir the spoon leaves a thick trail.  Take care not to let the mixture catch on the bottom of the pan so keep stirring as it thickens.

Decant into silicone moulds or ramekins and keep chilled until you next have a posh cheeseboard.

This was soooo much easier than membrillo made with quinces.