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Summer Pea, New Potato and Pesto Tart

We've sure been enjoying our garden so far this summer. We've dug up half of our early potatoes now . . . and this week we've been harvesting sweet English Peas!

I just love fresh peas. They are so sweet, raw or lightly cooked. Delicious with a butter and chive sauce . . . or some dill.

Great blanched and tossed into salads! So colourful and they add a beautiful flavour and texture. Try them with some baby spinach leaves and pesto for a quick and easy salad.

You can use the pods and peas to make a delicious early summer pea soup that is to die for! There is an excellent recipe for that here.

Today I decided to bake Todd a delicious tart with them. I used basil from our garden to make a tasty fresh Pesto, spread over puff pastry . . . and then I combined some more pesto with some of our new potatoes ( boiled and chunked), some lightly blanched peas, and some grated strong cheddar cheese.

Oh my, but it turned out very pretty to look at, and moreishly tasty too!!

We sat down and feasted on this with a lovely garden salad on the side. I just love summer, don't you? (The black currents are ripe now and I am going to be using some of them soon!!)

*Summer Pea, New Potato and Pesto Tart*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

This is an easy tart that makes good use of ingredients from the summer garden . . . fresh English Peas, new potatoes, basil for the pesto. Delicious!

1 sheet of ready roll puff pastry
400g of new potatoes, boiled, peeled and chopped (about 1 pound)
1 mug of fresh garden peas, blanched (can use the equivalent amount of frozen peas, thawed)
3 to 4 TBS fresh pesto
8 ounces of grated strong cheddar cheese
(2 cups)
1 beaten egg
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Roll the pastry out onto the tray. Draw a 1 inch border around the pastry with a sharp knife, cutting through slightly, but not all the way through to the bottom. Spread 2 to 3 TBS of the pesto within the confines of this border.

Mix the potatoes, cheese, peas and remaining TBS of pesto together in a bowl. Spread over the pesto on the pastry, spreading it out equally. Brush the edges of the tart with some beaten egg. Grind some black pepper over top of the tart.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Serve warm or at room temperature, and cut into squares.

Marie Rayner
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Avocado and Baby Gem Salad with a Warm Pancetta and Mustard Dressing

We've had some lovely salad weather these past few days, albeit not as horribly warm and humid as the South East has had. I'm not complaining . . . I hate hot and humid together. I don't find that pleasant at all.

I will take sunny and warm over that any day of the week!!

Today for our lunch I made us a delicious salad, using Baby Gem Lettuce from our garden . . . with some fresh yellow and red cherry tomatoes and a fantastic hot bacon and mustard dressing.

Add to that some creamy sliced ripe avocado and a few chives and we had a fabulous salad that was tasty, colourful and quite filling!

Of course the Toddster wasn't overly happy about the idea of having salad for lunch. Meh! You can please em all!
It didn't stop him from scarfing it all down though.

The bacony mustardy dressing was delicious sopped up with some crusty bread. The tomatoes get a bit squidgy too, but still firm. Don't overheat them . . . you don't want them to cook, just release a bit of their juices. Oh so scrummy!!

Quick, healthy, colourful and very, very tasty!

*Avocado and Baby Gem Salad with a Warm Pancetta and Mustard Dressing*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Quick to make and very summery! We had this with some crusty bread. Perfect!

4 TBS olive oil
8 rashers of good quality back bacon, cut into small cubes, or the equivalent
in Pancetta lardons
16 cherry tomatoes, halved (I used a mix of yellow and red)
2 TBS red wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
2 ripe avocados, halved, stoned and sliced
1 TBS coarsely chopped chives
2 baby gem lettuces, washed, dried and leaves separated
4 TBS toasted pinenuts

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon or lardons and cook, stirring occasionally until crisp. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil and mustards. Allow to simmer for several minutes. Arrange the lettuce and sliced avocado on a large platter. Stir the pinenuts and chives into the warm bacon and tomato dressing and pour over top of the salad. Serve immediately!
Marie Rayner
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Gum Drop Biscuits (aka Cookies)

Sometimes I just fancy a good biscuit . . . or cookie as they are known in North America. I do love me a custard cream . . . or a jam filled biscuit . . . sometimes only a chocolate chip will do.

It goes without saying that homemade are infinitely better than store bought, as I am sure you will agree.

Today I fancied something that was wholesome and yet moreishly decadent at the same time . . . but not chocolate.

These great biscuits fit the bill on all counts! They are at once chewy and crunchy. Crumbly and moreish. You get a yummy crunch from the cornflakes . . . a hint of chewyness from the coconut . . . some wholesomeness from the oats . . . don't get me started on the gumdrops . . .

Oh my . . . the gumdrops . . . they are sweet and chewy and fruitily addictive. Of course you can't buy the right gumdrops over here in the UK, so I bring back bags of them whenever I go over to Canada for a visit. That way I can always make these cookies and my favourite gumdrop cake . . .

But . . . the other day I discovered that lemon and orange slices work perfectly! You can get these over here and as they are my favourite flavours of gumdrops, I'm a happy camper as my gumdrop supply is rapidly dwindling and there is no trip to Canada on the cards in my near future at all . . . sigh . . .

You can get packs of orange and lemon slices in the cake decorating section of Morrisons over here. They are little mini ones and are just the perfect size for these cookies. Oh so scrummy!

Of course if you live in North America, you can just use gumdrops. Just don't use the black ones. They have a tendancy to bleed into the cookies and turn an awful colour. Just eat those while you are putting the cookies together. That's what works for me!

*Gum Drop Biscuits*
Makes about 3 dozen
Printable Recipe

Colourful, chewy and yet crisp at the same time. Very Moreish!

4 ounces white vegetable fat (Trex or Crisco) (1/2 cup)
3.5 ounces soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup packed)
4 ounces granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
1 large free range egg
3 ounces rolled oats (1 cup)
1.5 ounces of cornflakes (1 cup)
5.2 ounces plain flour (1 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 ounces flaked coconut (1/2 cup)
4 ounces cut up gumdrops (no Black) (1/2 cup)
(I have found over here in the UK that those lemon and orange slices work
really well. You can get mini ones in the Cake decoration section at Morrisons.
One packet is just about the right size for what you need.)

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper and then butter the paper. Set aside.

Cream together the shortening and the sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Sift together the flour, soda, baking powder and salt. Stir this into the creamed mixture until well mixed together. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Drop by heaped spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottoms. Remove from the oven. Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container.
Marie Rayner
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Sunday Sarnies

Quite often by the time we get home from church on Sunday we are both famished. We may have been gone from the house anywheres from 4 to 5 hours depending on our responsabilities of the day.

If I have been smart . . . I will have put something into the slow cooker and all I will have to do is dish up!

If I have not, we will end up having something like Beans on Toast, or Scrambled Eggs on Toast or Spaghetti on Toast, canned chili on toaste . . . or . . . well you get the picture I am sure!!

Other times I might make us a nice toasted sandwich which we will have with a bowl of soup, or just on it's own with some salad. A lot depends on our mood.

Today we went the sandwich route. I have any number of ways that I make these. They are always delicious, and made even more so because we are starving I suppose!

Today Todd chose a simple bacon and cheddar cheese with some Branston Pickle, which he thoroughly enjoyed along with a piece of leftover oatmeal cake.

Myself . . . I chose to have Basil Mayo, along with some bacon, cheddar cheese and sliced ripe tomatoes.

We were both happy. 'Nuff said. It goes without saying that you don't have to eat these on a Sunday. They are actually good any time of the week or day!

*Sunday Sarnies*
Makes 1
Printable Recipe

I have given ingredients for one sandwich, but you can easily multiply up or down. This is a sandwich that you can customize to your own tastes and desires and moods!

2 slices of your favourite type of bread
(white, whole wheat, etc.)
softened butter
your choice of relish (pick one) mayo (garlic, lemon, lemon pepper, Basil etc.) Pickle (Branstons, piccalilli, chutney, etc.) mustard (honey, Dijon, Honey Dijon, English, etc.) marmalade (orange, onion, lime, 3 fruit, etc.) horseradish sauce, cranberry sauce
Your choice of meat ( Pick one: thinly sliced roast beef, turkey, ham etc. Or cooked bacon or sausage) as much as you think will taste good.
(I will use approximately one ounce of sandwich meat, thinly sliced, or 4 slices of crisp streaky bacon, or two sausages, split down the middle)
Your choice os cheese (approximately 1 ounce of cheddar, swiss, gruyere, mozarella, fontina, etc. thinly sliced)
Optionals: fresh rocket leaves, sliced ripe tomatoes, shredded chicory

Take your two slices of bread and butter each on the outsides. Have a skillet heating over medium low heat. Place one slice of bread into the pan, buttered side down. Top with your chosen relish. Top with your chosen meat. Top with your chosen cheese and any optionals as desired. Top with the other slice of bread, buttered side up.

Cook over medium low heat until the sandwich is nicely browned on the bottom side, then carefully flip over and brown slowly on the other side, until the insides are heated and the cheese is melted. Cut in half to serve. Serve warm.
Marie Rayner
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Cranberry and Oatmeal Breakfast Custards

Baked custards are something that most people love for dessert, but have you ever thought of treating yourself to a custard for breakfast???

You really should, they are wholesome, soft, spoonable and wonderfully moist.
Gentle and yet filling, a complete breakfast in a bowl. It seems like dessert, but it's . . . breakfast!

Smooth and silky, breakfast custards are quite easy to make and really quite fast. This one here today is one of our favourites. You don't need to use cranberries if you don't want, try some dried cherries and a bit of almond extract . . . or some dried blueberries and a bit of lemon zest . . . or even sultanas!

It's a rather tasty way to get the kids to eat their oats. Fried rashers of bacon go really well with these . . . not to take away from the healthy aspect of them or anything . . . just sayin is all!

*Cranberry and Oatmeal Breakfast Custards*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

A soft egg custard with all the wholesomeness of oats and the sweetness of cranberries. Makes a delicious breakfast. Serve with some bacon if you want!

125ml of whole milk (1/2 cup)
125ml of cream (1/2 cup)
4 large free range eggs
1.5 ounces of quick oat (1/2 cup)
3 TBS dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
4 tsp of soft light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/gas mark 5, Butter 4 custard cups and set in a roasting tin. Have the kettle boiled and ready.

Whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, oats, cranberries, nutmeg and salt. Mix well. Divide this mixture equally amongst the custard cups. Sprinkle 1 tsp of brown sugar on the top of each. Add boiling water to the roasting tin to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the custard is barely set. Remove from the oven. Serve in the custard cups, or run a knife around the edges and turn out to serve. Delicous!
Marie Rayner
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Oatmeal Cake

The missionaries popped over yesterday to do some work for us in the garden. You know how much I love the missionaries and how much I like to spoil them and so I thought I would bake them a cake so that they could have a piece and a nice glass of milk after they were finished.

I thought they would enjoy a good old fashioned oatmeal cake. It was always a favourite of my boys. Put a dish of oatmeal down in front of them and they turned up their noses . . . turn that oatmeal into a tasty cake and they couldn't get enough of it!!

This is an incredibly moreishly moist and delicious cake! Brown sugar and oats make it so . . . and it has a lovely spicy flavour from warm spices . . . cinnamon and nutmeg. Oh so homey and comforting.

The topping is oh so scrummy . . . all nutty and coconutty and sweet . . . kinda like toffee and nuts and coconut in one incredibly delicious combination.

Altogether you get one unbelievably yummy cake that will have them coming back for seconds! I've never had anyone turn down the offer of a second piece yet!

*Oatmeal Cake*
Makes one 9 by 13 inch cake
Printable Recipe

A moist and deliciously old fashioned cake with a scrummy broiled toffee and coconut topping!

375ml of boiling water (1 1/2 cup)
3 1/2 ounces rolled oats (1 cup)
4 ounces white shortening such as Trex or Crisco (1/2 cup)
7 1/2 ounces soft light brown sugar (1 cup)
7 ounces of granulated sugar (1 cup)
2 large free range eggs, well beaten
6 1/2 ounces of plain flour (1 1/2 cups)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

For the topping:
4 ounces butter (1/2 cup)
7 1/2 ounces soft light brown sugar (1 cup packed)
100ml of cream (1/3 cup)
3 ounces sweetened flaked coconut (1 cup)
4 ounces chopped nuts (1 cup)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 5. Grease and flour a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Set aside.

Pour the boiling water over the oats and let stand until cool. Cream the shortening together with the sugars and eggs until fluffy. Add oats and water mixture. Sift the flour, spices and soda together. Blend into the creamed mixture. Pour this batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the cake tests done. The top should spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean.

While the cake is baking, make the topping. Melt the butter. Blend in the sugar and add the remaining ingredients. Preheat the grill to high.

Spread the topping onto the baked hot cake. Place under the heated grill for 1 to 2 minutes until bubbling. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Cut into squares to serve. Store any leftovers covered tightly.
Marie Rayner
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Tomato and Cucumber Salad

I have been making this delicious salad for years. I am sure I must make it at least two or three times a week during the summertime, it's that popular with us!

I first tasted it at my sister's inlaws at their cottage on the banks of Lake Erie back in the 1970's. I had never ever had sour cream before, and my sister's mother in law made it only with cucumbers.

Oh, my . . . it was the most delicious thing I had ever tasted! I remember we had it along with fried bologna sandwiches, eaten out on their deck overlooking the water.

A simple supper, yes, but that simple supper goes down in my memories as being one of the most favourite suppers I have ever had! Just goes to show you that I am a woman of simple tastes!

The tomato and dill are my own additions. It just seemed natural to me that these things would go together spectacularly, and you know what???

I was right. Enjoy!

*Tomato and Cucumber Salad*
Serves 4 to 6
Printable Recipe

Cool, and refreshing on a hot day. We love this.

2 English cucumbers, peeled, halved and sliced into moons
1 small red onion, slivered
2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges

For the dressing:
200ml of sour cream (3/4 cup)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp dillweed
freshly ground black pepper

Place the cucumber into a bowl. Sprinkle it with some salt and slosh it around a bit, so that the salt is well distributed. Put onion into a bowl and sprinkle it with some salt, slosh it around too. Let sit for about 15 minutes, then drain well, discarding any liquid and squeezing the onions. Stir them together in a bowl and add the sliced tomatoes. COmbine the sour cream, sugar, dillweed and vinegar along with a nice grinding of black pepper. Stir this into the vegetables and serve. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
Marie Rayner
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Creamy Dilled Potato Salad

Dill is something people either love or loathe. I am in the love group. I love dill pickles and I often add dill to my vinaigrette salad dressings. I find it adds an underlying sweetness, and a bit of a tang that I just adore.

We've been enjoying our first crop of early potatoes this week. They're just beautiful. We've had them boiled, roasted, steamed and made into some wonderful salads.

Delicious salads such as this Creamy Dilled Potato Salad.

I created a deliciously creamy low fat mayo dressing with the added tang and heat of a honey Dijon mustard, and of course a touch of dill, just enough to add a wonderful flavour without being overpowering.

I come from the school of thought that likes to add my dressing to my potatoes when they are warm. I find they absorb much more of the flavours then and I like that!

I am also at the room temperature school of thought when it comes to potato salad. I could eat a ton of this.

I added some chopped radish for crunch and colour, but you can leave them out, or substitute them with some other vegetables, such as crispy tender green beans, or carrots, or celery, or if you are really feeling wild . . . all three!

*Creamy Dilled Potato Salad*
Serves 6 to 8
Printable Recipe

A delicious potato salad with a punchy low fat Honey Dijon mayo dressing. The radishes add a bit of crunch and colour.

1 pound of small new potatoes
2 TBS Cider Vinegar
4 TBS low fat mayonnaise
2 TBS honey Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 to 4 spring onions, chopped
(white and green parts)
a handful of radishes, trimmed and chunked
1 TBS Dill Weed (or a handful of fresh dill, finely chopped)

Place the potatoes in a pot of lightly salted water to cover. Bring to the boil and then simmer on medium heat until tender, about 15 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking whisk together the vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, and cayenne pepper along with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Drain the potatoes once they are tender. Leave in the colander and place the colander over the hot pot. Alow to cool until you can easily handle. Cut them into halves or quarters. Place the warm potatoes into a bowl. Pour the dressing over top of them warm potatoes. Add the onion, radishes and dill weed and gently toss together.

Serve at room temperature.
Marie Rayner
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