Oxfordshire Puddings with Smoked Trout Pate and Fennel Tzatziki

I’m a Yorkshire girl at heart. Well, my Mum is so that’s good enough for me. And being a Yorkshire girl, I like to think that I’m pretty good at making Yorkshire puddings. I make them quite a bit – small ones are my favourite – and 9 times out of 10 they emerge from the oven a perfectly puffed up success.

After a few days of Christmas indulgence I fancied something light and tasty and so decided to make Smoked Trout with Yorkshire Puddings inspired by Jamie Oliver, naturally. The trout bit was easy and completely delicious. I used creme fraiche instead of cream cheese but pretty much followed the recipe to the letter. Clever Jamie. I also made another concoction of fennel, cucumber, yoghurt and dill which made a rather lovely addition. Recipes for both at the end of the post.

So then it was time for the puddings. I did what I was told but in the absence of a suitable fat, I had to use olive oil…and I shall lay the blame right there. They rose but not in the manner a Yorkshire pudding should rise. They were more like puffs and although light and fluffy, there was no hole in the middle which is quite frankly the main reason to make them. I’ve renamed them Oxfordshire Puddings. They were perfectly nice but I’m hoping they’ll just be a one off happy mistake.

And here they are in all their glory.


Oxfordshire Puddings


The meal itself was really delicious and definitely a welcome change from the mountains of chestnut stuffing which is now safely boxed and frozen.

The recipes :

Baby Yorkshire Puddings with Creamy Smoked Trout Pate

from Jamie’s Great Britain

For the creamy smoked trout
• 125g cream cheese
• 2-3 heaped teaspoons
jarred horseradish
• 1 lemon
• a small bunch of fresh
chives, finely chopped
• sea salt and ground pepper
• 125g hot-smoked trout,
skin removed
• rapeseed oil

For the Yorkies
(makes 16 baby Yorkies)
• vegetable oil
• 2 large free-range eggs
• 100g plain flour
• 100ml milk
• lemon wedges, to serve

Put the cream cheese into a mixing bowl with the horseradish, the zest of 1 lemon and the juice from half, and mix together. Mix in most of the chopped chives, then have a taste and add a pinch of salt and pepper. It’s very important that this mixture has a bolshie attitude – it should be hot, smoky, salty, so add more horseradish or lemon juice if needed. Flake in the trout, removing any skin and bones, then use a spatula to fold the mixture together gently so you have smaller bits and nice chunks. Decant into a single nice serving dish or several little bowls or cups, then drizzle over a little rapeseed oil and sprinkle over a few more chopped chives. Cover with clingfilm and put into the fridge to get nice and cold.

When you’re nearly ready to eat, preheat the oven to full whack (about 240°C/475°F/gas 9) while you make your Yorkshire pudding batter. Get yourself a mini muffin tin (you can buy these easily online or in cooks’ shops) and pour a little thimble of vegetable oil into the 16 compartments of the tin, so you have a thin layer covering the bottom of each. Pop the tray on to the top shelf in the hot oven for around 10 to 15 minutes, so the oil get so hot that it smokes. While you’re doing that, aggressively beat the eggs, flour, milk and a pinch of salt and pepper together, either by hand or in a food processor, until light and smooth. Transfer the mixture into a jug.

Carefully take the tray out of the oven and quickly and confidently pour the batter into the hot tin so it nearly fills each well. Return the tray to the top shelf of the oven to cook for around 10 to 12 minutes, or until the Yorkies are puffed up and golden. Whatever you do, don’t open the oven door! Get your cold cups and bowls of potted fish out of the fridge and serve on a board with those sizzling hot little Yorkies and some lemon wedges.


Fennel Tzatziki

by Me

1 bulb fennel

half a cucumber


zest of 1 lemon

olive oil

250ml plain yoghurt

salt and pepper

Grate the fennel and the cucumber and put in a bowl. Add the yoghurt and mix together. Add a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Chop up the dill and add the lemon zest, mix. Serve in a nice bowl. And that’s it.


Oxfordshire Puddings with Smoked Trout Pate and Fennel and Cucumber Splodge


Photos taken on Hipstamatic using the very brilliant Loftus Lens.

Absolutely Nothing To Chew On : Crunchie Bars

If you are English you will no doubt have grown up with Crunchie Bars. This is because they have been around since 1929. Light as a feather, they give a very satisfying snap when pressure is applied with the teeth, so that the piece of “sponged” toffee coated with milk chocolate that breaks off into your warm, wet mouth immediately starts fizzing as it dissolves. As your saliva breaks down the sugar walls of each bubble, it releases the gas that got there when bicarbonate of soda was added to rolling hot liquid caramel and jet-puffed it up to several times its volume.

Crunchies used to be made in England, but now they’re made in Poland.

Crunchie is a good name for it, but you won’t find it called that in recipe books. There, you’ll find it under sponge candy, or sponge toffee, or cinder toffee, or honeycomb, or  any variant thereof. It’s easier than pie to make. If you live in a country where Crunchies aren’t sold, this will be a lifesaver. If you do happen to live where Crunchies are sold, you should still make them by hand because they have a gorgeous mellow smoky flavor, and will impress the living daylights out of children.

Liberally butter a largish cake pan.

Into a medium to large saucepan melt ¾ cup of sugar with 4 tablespoons of light corn syrup. (You can substitute the corn syrup for maple syrup if you want to go the extra mile.)

Let it come to a golden bubble.

Take off the heat, and quickly whisk in a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda.

It will immediately puff up – pour it into the greased pan, but do not attempt to smooth it out.

Let cool.

When it’s cold, you can turn it out, and crack it into lovely wedges. I find the best way to do this is to give each bit a sharp jab with the tip of a butter knife; it will split nicely right where you want it to.

If you can wait before eating it all, dip into melted chocolate and let set for the proper Crunchie Bar experience.


The most delicious Crunchies


ANTW Advent Calendar, Day 16 : Mince Pies

The perfect treat to end the Christmas shopping or a bit of fuel to get you through the last weekend, there’s nothing better than a mince pie. They are ridiculously easy to make and even better when made with all butter puff pastry.

Christmas Tree Mince Pies

So here’s how I do mine :

Pack of Jus Roll All Butter Puff Pastry

Ready made mince meat – there are all kinds out there and they pretty much taste as good as the next one.

Beaten egg for brushing

Little bit of golden caster sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 180

Roll out your puff pastry – half a block will make about 12 mince pies depending on how thinly you roll.

Cut 12 circles and 12 christmas trees – or you can have stars or whatever you fancy.

Fit the circles in to the cup cake baking tray and spoon in about half a teaspoon of mince meat. This bit is up to how much you like mince meat, I don’t like too much in one mouthful. Put the tree shape on top and tuck in the corners. Brush each one with a bit of egg and sprinkle with a very little sugar.

Put in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

The tops puff up all over the place but will settle down a bit when you take them out of the oven

Serve with whatever you like, whenever you like.

Happy Christmas

ANTW Advent Calendar, Day 5 : Butternut Squash Muffins – a list of ingredients might help

I blame Toys R Us.

Here are the ingredients you need :

• 400g butternut squash, skin on, deseeded and roughly chopped
• 350g light soft brown sugar
• 4 large free-range or organic eggs
sea salt
300g plain flour, unsifted
• 2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
• a handful of walnuts
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 175ml extra virgin olive oil

For the frosted cream topping:

• zest of 1 clementine
• zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ a lemon
• 140ml soured cream
• 2 heaped tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
optional: lavender flowers or rose petals
• 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out

ANTW Advent Calendar, Day 5 : Emergency Butternut Squash Muffins

Having spent all morning in the clutches of Halfords and Toys R Us, I was looking forward to an afternoon writing Christmas cards whilst shouting at the cats to stop destroying the tree. Sadly it’s not to be as I’ve just been told, in my 3 year old’s rather cryptic way, that he needs 15 “deeeelicious treats” to take to his nursery Christmas party, tomorrow. So now I’m baking and I thought perhaps there were others out there who might find themselves in a similar situation or just fancied something tasty  to ease the cold.

Last year I sent a tin of charred cup cakes so was tempted to send him off with some Mr Kipling slices this year but my husband talked me in to these Butternut Squash Muffins, courtesy of Jamie Oliver. Not only are they super easy to make but hopefully the children won’t have a clue that they’re actually healthy, which all leaves me feeling quietly smug.

Butternut Squash Muffins with a Frosty Top

by Jamie Oliver

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line your muffin tins with paper cases.

Whiz the squash in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the sugar, and crack in the eggs. Add a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts, cinnamon and olive oil and whiz together until well beaten. You may need to pause the machine at some point to scrape the mix down the sides with a rubber spatula. Try not to overdo it with the mixing – you want to just combine everything and no more.

Fill the paper cases with the cake mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see whether they are cooked properly by sticking a wooden skewer or a knife right into one of the cakes – if it comes out clean, they’re done. If it’s a bit sticky, pop them back into the oven for a little longer. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack.

As soon as the muffins are in the oven, make your runny frosted topping. Place most of the clementine zest, all the lemon zest and the lemon juice in a bowl. Add the soured cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds and mix well. Taste and have a think about it – adjust the amount of lemon juice or icing sugar to balance the sweet and sour. Put into the fridge until your cakes have cooled down, then spoon the topping on to the cakes.

Here are mine :

Butternut Squash Muffins

And here are Jamie’s :


He obviously just used a different lens.

Absolutely Nothing To Cook : Toad In The Hole by Micki Myers

Can there by anything more evocative of an English autumn than pulling a red hot and steaming tray of toad-in-the-hole (toads-in-the-hole? toads-in-their-holes?) from the oven, and serving them with glossy green peas and a rich onion gravy?

The answer is no. If you said yes, you are wrong and must come to the front of the class and write “toad-in-the-hole is glorious” 100 times on the blackboard.

Toad-in-the-hole was invented in the golden age of British cooking when a harried mother of many children and a hungry husband found nothing much in her pantry except a nice fat fist of sausages and an onion. Some of the screaming bints wanted pancakes; others wanted the sausage. The husband just sat there poking at a hole in his trousers and blowing raspberries at the baby. So she decided to please everyone and combine the two: sausages baked in batter.

At least, that’s how I like to think of it. There has been much speculation over the years as to why this dish bears such a strange name, and I think I have discovered why. When I served it to my own hungry family the other day, I had just pulled the tray from the oven and set it on the stove in order to reach for a butter knife with which to pop each one out of its tin. I turned back to see the sausages bobbing up and down as if they were puppets — yet no-one was touching them. The steam trapped in the batter kept forcing them up and down, so that they popped their heads in and out of their big puffy Yorkshire pudding cases. They looked just exactly like toads appearing and disappearing from their holes! I’ve never actually seen toads doing this, but I’m fairly certain that if they did, it would look just like it.

If you’ve never made Toad-in-the-hole, you must: it’s dead easy. All you have to do is make sure the oven and fat is really piping hot before you pour the batter in.

Toads In Their Holes

(makes 12)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare batter: sift 1.25 cups flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl and crack into it 3 eggs. Pour over this 1 cup of milk and whisk until smooth like heavy cream. Stir in a generous tablespoon of grainy mustard, pepper, and a big handful of snipped chives. Set aside.

Cut four big fat sausages into thirds.

Into each cup of a 12-cup muffin tin pour a scant teaspoon of vegetable oil and let this heat up in the oven. When the oil is hot, stand a piece of sausage on its end in each one, and return to the oven for 4 minutes.

Working quickly, spoon batter into the cups around each sausage and return to the oven for half an hour or so until each one is a huge golden puff. Be sure to leave them while they cook — DO NOT open the oven or they will not rise. Turn on the oven light to appreciate how fabulous they look while they cook.

Onion Gravy

In a heavy-based saucepan, gently sauté a finely diced red onion in a tablespoon of olive oil along with a teaspoon each of dark brown sugar and balsamic vinegar until the onions are a deep brown. Remove onions. melt a big pat of butter in the pan, add 1 tablespoon of flour and cook a bit. Add to this 1.25 cups of beef stock and a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and stir until thickened. Return the onions to the pan and gently simmer until ready to use. A nice shot of Madeira towards the end can’t hurt.


Absolutely Nothing To Make : Chocolate Brownies and a Pumpkin

I hardly dare admit it but I’d never made chocolate brownies until this weekend so I decided that Halloween was as good as excuse as any to have a go. These are delicious. They contain more chocolate than can possibly be good for anyone but we’re not complaining. And we made them suitably scary with the addition of these ghoulish sticks of decorating joy.

Double Chocolate Brownies from The River Cottage Family Cookbook

by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr

250g good dark chocolate
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
3 free-range eggs
125g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
100g broken walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Put 3-4cm water into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Break chocolate up, cut up the butter, and place both in a mixing bowl. Put it over the pan of simmering water and turn the heat off. Stir until melted together and smooth.

In another bowl whisk the sugar with the eggs, using the balloon whisk, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add chocolate mixture to the eggs; mix thoroughly with wooden spoon.

Sift flour and cocoa powder and mix thoroughly. Stir in walnuts if you have decided to use them. Line the baking tin with a piece of foil and pour in the mixture. Oven gloves on. Place the tin on a shelf in the middle of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Oven gloves back on. Take the tin out of the oven and stand on wire rack. Leave until cool enough to cut into squares.


Halloween Brownies


And to accompany my baking we of course had to have a pumpkin who, carved by my husband, looks like he might have overindulged with one too many brownies.


Poorly Pumpkin

Cafe Salvation : Pimp Up Your Pies

We’re very excited to have the deliciously clever Helen Creese from Cafe Salvation contributing to ANTW. She will be sharing some of her most popular recipes from their wonderful menu and to start we have everyone’s favourite Winter warmer…..PIES!

“I may well regret saying this but at last, it’s cold enough to get some winter warmers on the menu!  The woodburners arrival in the café is imminent, so to keep us toastie in the run up to its installation, last week we cooked up our tasty Punjabi Pie.

This dish reminds me of my childhood.  My Dad is a fantastic cook and I spent most evenings as a kid whiling away an evening in the kitchen,  chatting to my Pops whilst subconsciously absorbing everything he was doing.  Pops is a fan of spice and loves to experiment with food, adapting recipes to better suit his tastes, and this dish is a prime example of that.

Based on our British Classic, Cottage Pie, the secret to Punjabi Pie lies in the spice mix added to the onion and garlic during the first stages of cooking.  For 500g of beef, start by frying one red onion and 2-3 cloves of garlic (depending on size of cloves and how much you enjoy the flavour).  Add one stick of chopped celery and one diced carrot.  When the onion and veg are soft, add a healthy palm-full (sorry, I don’t use measured devices, but if you cup your fingers to create a well in your palm, you’ll have the right amount) of ground cumin, coriander and half a palm-full of turmeric.  Stir until aromatic, then add your beef to the onion and spice mix.  Season well, add some tomato puree and fresh red chilli (quantity dependent on how hot you like it), and once the beef is browned, add a tin of chopped tomatoes.  Half-fill your tin with water and add this to your mixture.  Taste and alter your seasoning to suit.  Wack in the oven for 30-40 minutes and crack on with your mash topping.

Pops would use a mixture of potatoes and swede; I opted for pots and sweet potato (mainly because I like the colour and I eat with my eyes).  Boil both veg – about 3 good sized potatoes and one sweet potato for 500g beef – in salted water until soft, drain and mash with plenty of salt and pepper and a generous knob of butter.  We like to throw in some grated cheddar (again, it gives the mash a glorious golden colour as well as tasting yummy).  Take the beef mixture out of the oven and pop in to your serving dish, spread the mash over the top (make it nice and thick, there’s nothing worse than an anorexic pie topping), and sprinkle on a bit more grated cheddar.  Pop the dish back in the oven for about 25-30 mins (depending on your oven:  I use an Aga, so in a conventional oven I’d have it on 190 for 25-30 mins).  Once your topping is golden and smelling amazing, your pie is ready!

Why not Pimp Up your Pies?!  You can add a twist to most run-of-the-mill recipes, turning wet, weekday suppers in to dramatic delights, just with the addition of a few spices, fresh herbs, lemon or lime juice….it really can be that simple.  I’m looking forward to taking the Punjabi Pie in to another realm:  Sherpa’s Pie will involve lamb, fresh ginger, chilli, toasted cumin and coriander seeds, maybe some lentils and spinach…I’m undecided on my mash topping – any suggestions?

 Our lovely customers enjoyed their slices of Punjabi with some Glorious Green Beans (Granny Smith’s runners always have been, and always will be, the sweetest runner beans I’ve ever tasted) and a delicious dollop of spicy red lentils.  Hungry, anyone?”


Find Salvation here……
Our opening hours are:
Thursday: 0930 – 1500
Friday: 0930 – 1700
Saturday: 1000 – 1700
Lower Mitchell Barn, Nr Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 1EG
T: 01531 636380

Absolutely Nothing To Bake : Banana Bread

It’s pretty fair to say that Banana Bread – or “cake” depending on what you want to call it – is baked very frequently in this house. It comes down to fickle children and parents desperate to feed them their 5 a day. Most weeks we end up with a few sorry looking bananas and the only sensible thing to do is to put them in a cake.

I have my one fool proof and favourite recipe passed to me by my Mum. It’s easier than easy and the best bit is it all goes in one bowl and can be stirred with one wooden spoon.

So here it is. The recipe is from Katie Stewart, The Times Cookery Book and it’s accompanied by a rather bright photo of this afternoon’s banana baking – courtesy of me.

Ps. I don’t put the cherries in but that’s just because I don’t much like glace cherries.

The Times Cookery Book by Katie Stewart

Banana Bread

225 g     self raising flour
Pinch of cinnamon
100g     butter
150g     castor sugar
100g     sultanas & raisins
25g    chopped walnuts
100g    glace cherries, rinsed
2 lge    eggs
450g    ripe bananas

Sift flour with cinnamon into large mixing basin. Add the cold butter cut into pieces and rub in until crumbly. Add sugar, sultanas, raisons, walnuts and glace cherries. Mix together and hollow out the centre of ingredients.
Beat eggs and mix with mashed bananas then fold in gently but thoroughly to the mixture.
Line a buttered 23 x 13 x 5cm loaf tine with a strip of greaseproof paper cut to cover the base and opposite ends. Pour in the mixture and spread evenly. Place in centre of moderate oven 180c and bake for approx 90mins. (I think that cooking time could be a bit long, so check after 75 mins and put tin foil over cake if getting too brown)
Cool before removing from the tin.


Banana Cake

Absolutely Nothing Going On : When The Other Choux Drops, by Micki Myers

I know profiteroles are dreadfully 1985, but I rather like them — a toothsomely flaky crunch of pastry holding some creamy concoction, all drizzled with spun sugar or chocolate syrup or flaked almonds. I’ve never had a problem with them; the directions are simple enough. I even made them for my Home Economics GCSE, which was otherwise sabotaged by the teacher’s provision of a block of frozen spinach over fresh (I had stupidly forgotten to specify — but I didn’t know at the time you could even get it frozen, so naïve was I).

So I decided to make éclairs for my future in-laws when visiting them the other weekend. I am on a programme of trying to win them over with the regular application of home-cooking, either at their house or sent in parcels back with my beloved. They liked the lemon curd, the jams, the madelines, the two flavors of gelato, the blueberry pancakes, the acorn squash soup and the coq-au-vin. In the oven they went, all nicely piped out in 4-inch tubes of smooth paste on a moistened baking sheet.

And out they came: exactly the same, only flatter and more solid and ever so slightly more golden. I only averted disaster by inventing a dessert called “whipped ganache sandwiches” whose architecture you can imagine for yourselves. Especially as I didn’t honor them with a snapshot.

I do not take failure well, especially in the kitchen, so this weekend I was determined to salvage my reputation by making a big batch of profiteroles for some houseguests. The lovely golfball-sized nuts of glossy dough went into the oven……and out they came, just as they went in, only as leaden versions of what youthful promise they had going in. I didn’t even try to rescue them, so in the bin they went.

Have I fallen afoul of some pastry gods somewhere? Have I not made the right sacrifices with the right things at the right time? Is there a hush-hush choux curse known among patissiers of which I am unaware? Are the atmospheric and astrological conditions not right? (Note how ready I am to blame the cosmos) — or is it just me? Have I lost my touch? I am at a loss, waiting for the next choux to drop.

My pâte brisée remains, thankfully, unscathed by demonic influence, so it’s quiche tonight. Go on, ‘gis a quiche. Come to think of it, maybe it’s the puns.