There is beer in my cake.

The other day, I got a request: -”A beer cake, would be nice”. Were my ears deceiving me, beer and cake, my brain was not making the connection, beer and cake who would have thought it but why not? Don’t you find it strange that wine is top of the list, followed by spirits when evoking food but beer is seldom talked about? Fruit cakes are not exactly my type of cooking, therefore, I needed a reliable recipe and moreover, I would have to pay attention if the result was going to be an ale cake and not a hell cake.

However, the next part of the sentence, which came “a little lot” later was: “there is one on “Woman’s hour” website”.
Aah aah, this had been thought through, planned and premeditated, as unless I am very mistaken, I don’t think that "he" is a listener or reader of this particular BBC radio programme. Julie Duff of Church Farmhouse Cakes’ recipe happens to have all the qualities required and the result I am told was delicious. So I will reproduce it (the recipe) faithfully for you here:

Julie Duff's beer Fruit Cake
Ingredients:225g raisins/225g sultanas/350g currants/75g citrus peel/250ml strong English ale/225g butter/225g dark brown muscovado sugar/1 tablespoon black treacle/4 large eggs, lightly beaten/225g plain flour/1 teaspoon mixed spice

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4
In a large bowl, steep the fruits and the citrus peel in the ale, leaving it for at least 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, beat in the treacle and then slowly add the eggs, flour and spice, a little at a time until thoroughly mixed together.
Stir in the steeped fruits and pile the mixture into a greased and lined 20cm round cake tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for one hour, reducing the temperature to 120C/250F/Gas Mark 1/2 for a further 2 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out cleanly. Because of the quantity of liquid used in making this cake, it may take a little longer to cook, but don’t worry, this is perfectly normal.
Cover with a cloth and leave the cake in the tin to become cold, then turn it out and peel the greaseproof paper away.
It freezes well.

I am in love with with "Country kitchen" magazine

I was not looking for a new magazine, I was only browsing, honest!. Then I spotted it. Unassuming cover, neat, the kind that send you a subliminal message: " I am, what it says on the cover". OK, then, juuust a little peek. That was it....
Love at the first sight, everything a food magazine should be: crammed with recipes lots and lots of them, unpretentious, relying on flavours rather than good-looking chefs, though in my issue Gary Rhodes talks about "the beauty of the apples", sorry Gary, I did not mean to say that you were ugly, far from that, I was only trying to convey my point across, this magazine is real. Everything in season, moreover everything in the month, snippets of history are dotted here and there, events calendars too, with regular features such as "from my kitchen garden", for which I am afraid I will need a garden magazine since I have not had much "growing luck", but it is nice to think that you could mix baby salad leaves with herbs and Autumn raspberries.

So we have established that it is full of qualities, one might be a tat detrimental though, when reviewed on the WWW, it constantly encourage people to buy local produce, so it is quiet British orientated but as the editor, Elaine Larkins, points out : "it is not always possible...take lemons for example" and so the October issue does with 5 pages of lemon recipes.
Therefore and without further ado let me leave you with the recipe for Lemon yoghurt cupcakes as read in the October issue of "country kitchen" before my fickle nature takes me browsing again.

Lemon yoghurt cup cakesMakes 12 cup cakes

100g (4oz) self-raising flour / 100g (4oz) caster sugar/ 2 tbsp cornflour/ 2egg yolks/ 1x150g(5oz) pot natural un-set yoghurt/ finely grated zest of 2 lemons/ 25g(1oz) butter
icing: 2 tbsp good lemon curd, little lemon rind cut into thin strips to garnish
Measure the flour, sugar and cornflour into a mixing bowl. Stir in the egg yolk, yoghurt, lemon rind and melted butter. Mix until smooth.
Spoon into paper cases in a bun tin to within about 1/2 cm (1/4 in) of the top of the case
Bake in pre-heated oven at 180C (160C for fan, 350F, gas 4) for about 18 minutes until golden brown, and well risen. Set aside to cool.
Spoon the lemon curd on the top of the cold cakes and level the top. Decorate with a cross of lemon rind if liked.
To cook in the Aga: bake on the grid shelf on the floor of the roasting oven with the cold sheet on the second set of runners. for about 10-12 minutes until well risen and golden brow.
Lucy's tip: it is best to use un-set yoghurt for this recipe, as the set yoghurt can be a little grainy when mixed.

Herb soup

soup, herbs
I get really excited when soup time comes round again. There is nothing like a good soup recipe, flavours you would never try to mix in any other dish, can shamelessly be blended in a pot and then there is the feeling of cosiness, steamy windows, and the smell all telling you it is time to relax, shoo the stress away: contentment.
He and I went walking in a gorgeous small valley, my dad tells me that I had been skiing there when I was 6, needless to say that I have no recollection of that time, and I better hurry up telling you about this time before I forget. Hunched against the Italian border is "la Clarée". It is said to be the most beautiful valley in France, and you know what I think it is.

Once a year the inhabitants organise a party in memory of Emilie Carles: school-teacher, political activist, writer she attracted the attention of the rest of France to the plight of her beautiful valley and the disappearance of the rural world. The power of passionate words worked and the valley seems alive today and moreover preserved. The name of the party : Fête de la Soupe aux herbes sauvages, people pick herbs, make a delicious soup.
In September the herbs would have been different of that of the party in June, I did not dare pocking too much as I was told in no uncertain term: this soup is made out of "seasonal herbs", so instead I made up my own picking ideas from here and there.

Herb Soup
chives 1 tbs
parsley 50 gm
coriander 50 gm
dill 50 gm
spinach leaves 100 gm
5 spring onions
1 small lettuce
½ tub of cream cheese
1 potato peeled
1 pint of water
bouillon such as Marigold


Melt the butter in a saucepan,
add the spring onions, and the potato cook for 10 minutes
add the herbs and sweat them for a minute, too long and they might “disintegrate”
Add the stock, bring to boil and cook for 10 minutes
Liquidise adding the stock as you do so, to get the right level of thickness,
pour in the saucepan again and add creamed cheese or cream

And to finish can somebody tell me; "What is the difference between an herb and a spice?"

photo from

A revolution

Every now and then, designers come up with an idea which is worth celebrating. When my friend Pat gave me her own "this", after conscientiously having run it under the tap and wrapped it in green paper I new it had some value.
Let it known and behold this is a little gem, it is slick, effective and cleans like a dream and when one talks garlic this is what you want. Away with trying to stick knifes and other sharp objects into the little holes, here what you do is get the detachable cup out, run it under the water and "Bob is your uncle".
Marvellous and at that price next time you are going round and round in that shop which just think at the end of your long trek is the reward: a new revolutionary garlic crusher

Blowing my own

I am basking in sunshine, beside this very enjoyable to write blog, I have been ask to contribute to the, I get to bake more and review all sorts food related, so if you have spotted an interesting article anywhere, let me know. In the meantime I wanted to share with you a delicious soup recipe which I found last week as I was in the Alps but it will have to wait
for my next post. I don't want to tempt faith today is lovely, bright and sunny

Fancy a cuppa? : Green tea ice cream

I don't know about you but a recce in the food of the world and I am on cloud 9. I loved it when Yumiko used to put on my desk various Japanese snacks, like little offering to my taste buds which got teased with unknown flavours, a real pleasure. So when I got to go to the new Japanese restaurant which opened around the corner I did not delay. A fun evening, we got compared to the actresses of "Sex and the city" by a waitress in traditional kimono that on its own was weird but it is only at the end of the meal that the tinkle of excitement happened. Green tea ice cream, never seen it or I would have remembered, the unexpected shade of green and the subtle taste.
Green ice cream tea
makes a tub preparation 30 minutes
200ml double cream
200ml milk
2 egg yolks
2 tbs of sugar
2 tbs of powdered green tea
  • Method:
  • start by making a kind of custard, whisking egg yolks, milk and sugar in a pan
  • heat on very low heat whisking constantly until it thicken
  • remove and leave to cool
  • mix the powdered green tea to water according to instructions.
  • Add tea to mixture , freeze in ice-cream maker or alternatively freeze for an hour, remove whisk and freeze again


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