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Dutch Baby Pancake

We have had guests here at our home for the past week.  It has been a whirlwind week really.  We've been taking them places and showing them what we can of the "England Wales North West." The weather has been dry but very cold, so we were a bit limited, but we tried our best.  We live in such a beautiful part of the country here, and there was ever so much more I wanted to share with them, but the time just seemed to evaporate!

On one of the mornings that they were here I made us a delicious Dutch Baby Pancake for breakfast.  It went down a real treat!

A Dutch Baby Pancake is kind of like a huge sweet batter or Yorkshire pudding!  It puffs up in the oven like magic, leaving a huge hollow centre, ripe for filling with whatever your heart desires!

We like fresh berries with ours and I had picked up some lovely looking raspberries and blueberries, so they went perfectly with it.

*Dutch Baby Pancake*
Makes 2 - 4 servings
(depending on appetites)

This is like a magic pancake.  It puffs up in the oven like a cloud and then settles when you remove it from the oven.  Make sure your pan is well heated to begin with and you will be well rewarded by a beautiful light as a cloud delight.  I serve it with fruit and syrup!

70g plain flour (1/2 cup)
120ml whole milk (1/2 cup)
2 large free range eggs
2 TBS granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 TBS butter 

To serve:
icing sugar to dust
maple syrup
fresh fruit/berries 

Place the flour, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt into a blender or food processor. Blitz to combine for about 20 seconds, scraping down the sides after 10 seconds.  Let stand on the counter top or about 20 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 225*C/425*F/ gas mark 7.  Place a heavy oven proof skillet into the oven. (I use my iron skillet)  Once it is hot, remove carefully and add the butter to the pan.  Swirl it to melt the butter and coat the pan.   Pour in the batter and swirl the batter around to coat the bottom of the pan.Immediately return the pan to the hot oven.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until well puffed and golden brown.  Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly.  Dust with Icing sugar and serve, cut into wedges with syrup to drizzle and fruit to spoon over top.


This is a simple and easy recipe, which makes it perfect for entertaining.  The fact that it is also delicious and very pretty is quite simply the icing on a very delicious cake!

It puffs up huge in the hot air of the oven!  You are almost afraid that it is going to overflow, but no worries.  It is supposed to do that.  Its all a part of the magic of the experience.  Be prepared for plenty of Oooohs and Aaaaahs when you bring this delightful breakfast to the table!

Bon Appetit!

Marie Rayner
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Lemon Stuffed French Toast

Whenever I have stale bread I want to make one of two things . . .  either I want to make a bread pudding, or I want to make French Toast.  Today the French Toast won out, but it's not just any French Toast  . . .  its Lemon Stuffed French Toast!

Lemon Curd is something I always have in my larder.  It is considered a store cupboard essential!  I also make my own quite often, especially in the winter months when lemons are in season!  Oh to have my own lemon tree . . .  sigh . . . 

Yes, I am a Lemon lover of the utmost extreme!  If it is lemon.  I am on it!

This is so simple to make.  You just make your traditional French Toast egg batter . . .  you cut a pocket into thick slices of stale bread, fill the pockets with lemon curd, soak the slices in the egg batter and then cook it as per normal.

It goes very well with berries  . . .  strawberries, blackberries, raspberries . . .  frozen or fresh.  You decide!

 *Lemon Stuffed French Toast*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

A wonderful way to use up stale bread, with a tangy lemon curd filling.  Serve with some golden syrup and fresh berries for a delightful breakfast treat!

One (16 ounce) loaf of french bread, unsliced
295ml of milk (1 1/4 cup)
3 large free range eggs
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
a jar of lemon curd
unsalted butter and vegetable oil for cooking

To finish:
Icing sugar to dust
an assortment of fresh berries
golden syrup (optional)

Preheat the oven to 150*C/300*F/ gas mark 2.  Butter a baking sheet.  Set aside. 

Cut the bread into  8 equal slized, each about 1 inch thick.  Cut a pocket into each  piece of bread, using a serrated knife, carefully slicing into, but not all the way through.  Spoon about 1 dessertspoon full of lemon curd into the pocket created in each piece of bread. 

Whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt.  Dunk the stuffed slices of bread into the egg mixture, allowing them to soak it up for several minutes, turning to coat it evenly on both sides.  You want it saturated, but not falling apart.

Warm 1 TBS of butter and 1 TBS of oil together in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.  Cook the slices of stuffed bread in the heated fat until golden brown and lightly crisp on one side, flip over carefully and brown and crisp the other side.  Place them onto the prepared baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remainder, using more butter and oil as necessary. 

When all the toast is ready, place it onto heated plates and dust lightly with icing sugar.  Serve immediately with some fresh berries and  golden syrup (if desired.) 

Happy weekend and Bon Appetit!

Marie Rayner
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Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes and Capers

 There are normally only two of us eating in this house and so I normally try to cut recipes in half for us, or create dishes which are simple and make just enough for two.  It's not that hard to do really.   And you can normally multiply up with no problems at all.

I found myself with an abundance of cherry tomatoes on Saturday last and so I decided that I would incorporate them somehow into our supper.   I also had chicken breasts.  Chicken and tomatoes go really well together.   One only need to look at delicious recipes such as Chicken Cacciatore or Chicken Parmesan to see that this is true.

This recipe goes together very quickly so I would suggest you have all of the ingredients ready and hand before you start.  The chicken breasts are cut into two escallopes horizontally which makes for quick cooking . . .

The cherry tomatoes are cut in half as well, for quick cooking.  I saw a really interesting and helpful little video on how to that really quickly the other day.  You can see it here.  It's a slap on the forehead, why didn't I think of that kind of a thing!  (It really does work!)

The tomatoes are quickly frizzed in some olive oil along with some garlic.  You dust the chicken pieces with some flour and salt and pepper and then brown them in the same pan, along with some sage.    It doesn't take very long at all as they are only half as thick as they normally are.

A splash of white wine, a few capers . . . .  bubble bubble bubble, a handful of chopped parsley and presto chango, you have tender moist chicken with a delicious sauce of cherry tomatoes and capers, that will please any meat loving man.  The Toddster loves this.  I always serve it with some boiled new potatoes.  It goes down a real treat, and goes together lickety split.  If you are looking for a quick, easy and delicious supper and are feeling a tad bit lazy, this is your perfect meal!  Looks like you slaved all day, but took literally minutes.

*Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes and Capers*
Serves 2
Quite simply delicious.  Quick to make. 

olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
150g of cherry tomatoes, halved (Approximately 1 cup)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, each sliced horizontally
through the middle into two escallopes (4 pieces in total)
plain flour for dusting
salt and black pepper
2 tsp freeze dried crumbled sage leaves (NOT powdered)
3 TBS white wine
2 TBS capers, drained and rinsed (the ones in vinegar)
1 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley   

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large non stick frying pan.   Add the garlic and tomatoes, season lightly and fry over high heat until they are just beginning to pucker a bit.   Scoop the tomatoes out onto a plate and set aside.  Leave in the garlic. 

Season the slices of chicken breast to taste and dredge lightly with flour, patting it into the meat and shaking off any excess.  Heat another splash of olive oil in the pan.   Add the sage and cook for about a minute and then add the chicken slices, presentation side down.   Fry over medium high heat until they are golden and then flip them over and brown the other sides.  Add the wine and return the tomatoes to the pan along with the capers and parsley.  Let it bubble up a bit and evaporate somewhat.   Cover with a lid and set aside off the heat for several minutes before serving.   The juices of the chicken should run clear.   Divide between two heated dinner plates.  I like to serve with boiled and buttered new potatoes. Simple and delicious.

I guarantee you will love this.  You may even want to double it anyways!  Bon Appetit!

Marie Rayner
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Victoria Sponge Cake

 The Victoria Sponge is one of my absolute favourite of all the cakes.  There is nothing fancy about it.  It is just a plain simple sponge, which when mixed and baked properly, results in a fine cake that everyone loves.  If I had to choose between this and a chocolate cake, I would choose this every time.  I know  . . .  I'm not normal, lol.

 Two buttery layers put together with jam and vanilla buttercream, and then dusted on top with confectioners or caster sugar, this is the quintessential "Tea Party Cake."

It's popularity was achieved during the reign of Queen Victoria, which is probably why it is called a Victoria Sponge Cake! The ingredients in a traditional Victoria Sponge, sometimes called a Victoria Sandwich cake, are eggs, flour, sugar, and butter, and should be of equal weight; the eggs are weighed in their shell.

Truth be told however, it began as a "Nursery" cake during the reign of Queen Victoria when it was believed that children would perhaps choke on the dried fruit of a traditional fruit cake which would have been served for tea.  An inventive baker came up with the Victoria Sponge for a children's teatime treat, and eventually the cake made its way to the adult tea table and the rest is history.

*Victoria Sponge Cake*
 Makes one 7 inch cake
Printable Recipe 

Popular during the reign of Queen Victoria, this cake remains popular to this day, which is a huge testament to it's taste and ease of baking! 

170g butter (12 TBS)
170g caster sugar (1 cup)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 large free range eggs, beaten
170g self raising flour (a scant 1 1/2 cups)

To finish:
3 TBS raspberry jam
buttercream to fill (optional)
icing sugar or caster sugar to dust the top

Butter and base line two 7 inch sandwich tins.  Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light in colour and fluffy.  Gradually beat in the eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition.  If the mixture begins to curdle, add a spoonful of the flour.

Fold in the flour with a metal spoon, taking care to use a cutting motion so as not to knock out too much of the air that you have beaten into the batter.  Divide the batter evenly between the two cake tins, leveling off the surface.  Make a slight dip in the centre of each.

 Bake on a centre rack of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the sponges have risen well, are golden brown, and spring back when lightly touched.  Allow to cool in the pan for five minutes before running a knife carefully around the edges and turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled, place one layer on a cake plate. Spread with raspberry jam and buttercream (if using).  Place the other cake on top, pressing down lightly.  Dust with icing or caster sugar and serve.

Alternately you can bake the batter in a mini cake tin.  I have a tin that allows you to make six individual cakes.  Just butter, line the bottoms and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Split and fill the finished cakes as above.


 For an easy way to cut small cakes, or large cakes for that matter, perfectly in half horizontally . . . cut yourself a nice long piece of dental floss (preferably not flavoured) that fits around the cake with enough over hang to grip decently.  Place it around the centre of the cake, crossing the floss ends over each other  in front.

Gently pull the ends of the floss and it will slide through the cake, giving you perfectly cut layers.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Bon Appetit!

Marie Rayner
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BLT Salad

We had a lovely weekend weatherwise last weekend.  Salad weather.  Well, I thought it was salad weather anyways.  Todd was not so sure!  It was nice to have drier, sunnier days however, and to me that spells Salad weather!  I do love my comfort food in the Winter, but long about this time of year I start to craving salads!

This simple and easy to make salad encompasses all of the things you love about the classic BLT Sandwich.

With lovely chunks of ripe tomato, bits of crisp bacon, and crunchy romaine lettuce, chopped red onion, all mixed with some cooked pasta and a fabulous  punchy lemon mayo dressing.  Some crunchy croutons (I used bacon flavoured ones this time) are it's crowning touch!

*BLT Salad*
Serves 8

A delicious pasta salad that encompasses all of the elements of a delicious BLT.  Simple.  Quick. 

110g of good quality mayonnaise
the juice and zest of 1/2 unwaxed lemon
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp  chicken boullion powder
black pepper to taste
100g of dry pasta shapes (3/4 cup)
( I like to use fusilli)
4 slices of streaky bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 a small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 Romaine Lettuce heart, thinly sliced
1 (20g) pack of crisp bread croutons ( about 1/2 cup)

Whisk the mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, sugar and chicken boullion powder together in a large bowl.  Bring a lightly salted pot of water to the boil and then cook the pasta to al dente, according to the package directions.  Drain well and then dump the pasta right into the mayonnaise mixture in the bowl.  Give it a good grinding of black pepper.    Allow to cool completely.
Toss the cooled pasta mix together with the bacon, tomato, red onion and lettuce.  Sprinkle with the croutons and serve immediately.

Note - If you wish to make this ahead, leave out the lettuce and the croutons until just prior to serving.   Bon Appetit!
Marie Rayner
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Macaroni Roma

If you are like me, you will hate waste.  I hate throwing away food.   My mother was the same.  I learned my food thriftiness from her I guess.  In any case, there are people who won't eat leftovers, but they don't live in this house and never have!  I have a way of making leftovers taste even better than the original meal!

 This is a simple casserole that really is tasty and so very simple to make.  If you can boil water and have been thrifty enough to save some meat and some of that fabulous gravy, you can make this!

It is an adaptation of a recipe I found in a very old cookery book of mine entitled "Twice is Nice" by Edna K Damerall.  I adapted it to use the leftovers I had with most delicious results!

Cooked elbow macaroni is seasoned with some herbs and then layered in a casserole dish  along with chopped leftover roast beef, sliced onions, leftover gravy, cream and cheese. 

You bake it for a little while and then you lay some sliced tomatoes on top and sprinkle on some herby buttered crumbs and bake it for a little while longer, with the end result being something which is very tasty, not to mention visually appealing and quite economical. 

*Macaroni Roma*
Serves 6
I hate waste.  This is a most delicious way to use up some of the leftovers from your Sunday Roast! 

230g of uncooked macaroni (2 cups)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp garlic powder
2 cups of diced leftover cooked beef
1 medium red onion, peeled, sliced and separated into rings
120g of finely diced cheddar cheese (1 cup)
60g of grated Parmesan Cheese (1/3 cup)
225ml of leftover gravy (1 cup)
225ml single cream (1 cup)
1 tomato sliced
2 TBS fine dry bread crumbs
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1 TBS butter

 Cook the macaroni according to the package directions.  Drain well.   Return to the pot and toss together with the pepper, salt, garlic powder,  oregano and basil.  

Mix the gravy and the cream together.

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.  Butter a 1 litre casserole dish.  (1 quart)

Layer in the dish as follows:  1/2 macaroni, 1/2 the beef, 1/2 the onion, 1/2 of both cheeses, 1/2 the gravy/cream mixture.   Repeat the layers.  Loosen the mixture gently with a knife so that the sauce filters down through the layers.  Bake for half an hour in the preheated oven.  Remove from the oven and lay the sliced tomato on top.  Melt the butter and mix together with the bread crumbs and the thyme.   Sprinkle this mixture over top of the casserole and bake for 10 minutes longer, until golden brown.

I hope that you will give this a go.  I imagine you could also make it with cooked ground beef and gravy mix and it would also be quite good.  Bon Appetit!
Marie Rayner
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Vanilla Yogurt Loaf

 Don't you just love vanilla?  I do.  Just the smell of vanilla can get my tastebuds tingling and never more so than when it is being baked into a lovely, dense and moist cake such as this one!

This lovely loaf cake gives you a triple vanilla whammy!  First, there is vanilla in the batter.  I like to use Vanilla paste because of the lovely flecks of vanilla seed that it scatters throughout the loaf, but feel free to use regular vanilla extract if you wish.  Just make sure it is pure.

Once the cake is baked, you get a second dose of vanilla by basting the still warm cake with a vanilla syrup, which gets soaked into the cake . . .  kind of like a lemon drizzle, but its vanilla not lemon . . . 

The third layer of Vanilla comes from the epic vanilla glaze icing which gets spooned over top of the vanilla soaked and cooled loaf  . . . making for triple Vanilla yuminess!

It goes lovely with a cup of tea, herbal or otherwise.  You can enjoy this beautiful loaf any time of day.  I've even been known to have it for breakfast with some fresh fruit on the side.  Great for elevensies, or coffee break, in lunches, or just because.   You are going to love this . . . . whenever. Its quite simply gorgeous!

*Vanilla Yogurt Cake*
8 to 10 slices
 Deliciously dense, moist, and fabulous with a triple Vanilla whammy! If you like vanilla cakes, this one's for you!

210g plain flour (1 1/2 cups)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
225g of vanilla yogurt (1 cup)
191g of sugar (1 cup)
3 large free range eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla paste
120 ml of vegetable oil (1/2 cup)

For the first glazing:
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
63g of sugar (1/3 cup)
60ml of water (1/4 cup)

For the final glaze:
130g of icing sugar, sifted (1 cup)
1 1/2 TBS milk
1 tsp vanilla paste

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.   Butter an 8 1/2 inch by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan.  Line with baking paper.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into one bowl.  Whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs and vanilla in another bowl.  Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until incorporated.  Fold in the vegetable oil until it is well combined.  Pour into the prepared baking tin and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
While the cake is cooking, whisk together the first glazing ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the mixture is completely clean.  Set aside.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.   Tip out onto a wire rack and while the cake is still warm, pour the glazing mixture over top allowing it to soak in.  Cool completely. (You may want to have a piece of paper underneat the rack to catch any drips and make clean up easier.)
Combine the icing sugar, milk and vanilla paste for the final icing glaze and pour over the cooled cake.  Allow to set before cutting into slices to serve.

I like to use the loaf tin liners that you can buy at the bake shop.  They make things a lot easier. Kind of like muffin tin liners, except they are large enough to line a loaf tin.  Bon Appetit!
Marie Rayner
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