Happy Wednesday guys! After yesterday’s Great British Bake-Off excitement I have a bonus post with a gorgeous giveaway for you today.
I love lots of the stuff they sell at Dotcomgiftshop – we got some pretty lace bunting from there for our wedding which looked so pretty!
Today they’ve kindly given me one of these pretty cake stands to give away! Isn’t it lovely? I think if I were the type of person who could have a cake stand full of cake (that I didn’t just stand in the kitchen and eat) I would probably feel like a real grown up.
To be in with a chance to win, simply follow @kerrycooksblog on Twitter and leave me a comment letting me know you’ve followed and your @name. If you’re already following me, just let me know your @name! So sorry, but the giveaway is only open to people living in the UK.
I’ve been keeping a little secret from you all! One of my lovely friends Jordan is a contestant on the new series of The Great British Bake-Off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!notenoughexclaimationpointsintheworld!
I’ve known Jordan the past few years from the Cake Club I attend in Nottingham (this one – and unlike a lot of the other cake clubs – we raise money for charity!). He’s a really great, fun guy and I was always interested to see what he’d bring each month (delicious Chocolate Teacake Spiders for one halloween cake club!) as it was always creative and fun – you could tell how passionate he is about baking and a massive fan of the Bake-Off!
In March this year, Jordan revealed that he had applied to be on the Bake-Off and gotten down to the final rounds of selection! He asked me and a few other cake club ladies if we could be filmed for a segment in the Bake-Off, (it wasn’t practical to film it at an actual Cake Club). So we strung up bunting in a corner of The Malt Cross in Nottingham, baked our best cakes, put on our finest frocks and brushed our hair, and got ready to burst with excitement!
At that point Jordan wasn’t sure if he would definitely be a contestant on the show, but he got the news a little later that he would – hurrah!
I baked a Rainbow Cake (squee!) and signed a release form (ooh), and then we slightly awkwardly ate cake and chatted while the crew from Love Productions filmed us. After a while, I kind of just was eating cake and chatting, and it was all really fun!
So I made a Rainbow Cake, Liana made a giant cinnamon bun (ridiculous), Helen made her chocolate brownies, Sarah made cookies, and Erin made passion fruit cupcakes. Sadly I don’t like passion fruit because those cupcakes looked so delicious! I was on a cake high for days afterwards. Jordan made salted caramel marshmallows which were ridiculously good. I NEED to try making marshmallows at home soon because the ones in the shops just don’t compare to homemade ones – the flavour is amazing!
The footage will hopefully be shown on the show, or it may be cut completely, who knows! But either way, this is your call to join TEAM JORDAN now! He’s the baking hero that Nottingham needs!
I’ll be liveblogging each episode as in previous years, so join me every Wednesday night right after the episode to read my recap and share what you think in the comments!
Yours ever so excitedly!
PS – You can learn about all the other contestants here!
While having lunch with my friend Edward last week, we were pondering the humble choc ice and considering just how good they are on a hot summers day (such as the ones we’re blessed with right now in the UK!). I realised that no one had yet ‘gourmet-ised’ (I just invented that word) the choc ice, and I decided to have a go!
I was dreaming of great quality vanilla ice cream, a thick layer of delicious chocolate, and a crunchy topping of toasted pecan nuts… fairly simple, but delicious! I used Green & Blacks Milk Chocolate with Sea Salt, mixed with plain chocolate, for a good not too sweet flavour.
These would be super fun to make with kids or as a delicious weekend treat with your other half. I can’t deny that they are on the messy side (to make and to eat!) but when you’re talking about melty chocolate and melty ice cream, that’s a little inevitable! Embrace the mess and have fun!
- 500g good very good quality vanilla ice cream (or the ice cream of your choice)
- 650g chocolate - I used a mixture of Green & Blacks Milk Chocolate with Sea Salt, and Tesco Plain Chocolate
- Toasted nuts, marshmallows, and sprinkles - to decorate your ice creams
- Firstly, soften your ice cream until it's easily spoonable, and spoon it from it's container into a rectangular tupperware tub. Pop it back into the freezer to re-freeze.
- Once the ice cream is again hard, remove the tub from the freezer, and go around the edges of the tupperware tub with a knife run under the hot tap. Remove the rectangle of ice cream from the tub and place it on a cutting board, and use the same hot sharp knife to cut it into five equal rectangles of ice cream. Push a lolly stick into each one and then pop them all onto a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and pop back into the freezer until again very hard.
- Once the ice cream is well frozen, melt your chocolate in preperation. You'll be dunking your ice creams into the chocolate, so melt it in a wide shallow bowl that your ice creams will fit in. You'll also need to have your toppings ready at this point, so get them to hand and good to go.
- Remove the ice creams from the freezer and immediately dunk one side, then the other in the chocolate until completely coated - I used a tablespoon to help with this. Replace immediately on the parchment paper, working quickly. Scatter on toppings and then pop the ice creams back into the freezer for around 30 minutes, at which point they should be completely hard and ready to enjoy in the sunshine!
Do you think I can get away with just freezing a stick of cookie dough and covering it in chocolate next? I vote yes!
Hellloo! Happy Friday, friends!
This past Friday was soo hot! The temperature got up to about 30 degrees in Nottingham. So after some cooling cocktails, we headed to a new spot in town, Bill’s restaurant. It’s a popular chain from that London, which my lovely friend Emma is a big fan of!
The decor, though not massively to my taste, is nice and it’s a cool place to hang out. I had the veggie burger (which is friend halloumi rather than a veggie patty) which normally comes with hummus but they kindly changed it to guacamole for me. The dessert menu also looks amazing, with the Eton Mess, Chocolate Brownie and Pecan Pie all massively tempting!
I was really looking forward to Bill’s food, so it pains me to say that my meal was just average… ! The fries were pretty poor (I still ate them, because fries!) and the chocolate brownie was the twin of the ones you get for dessert in nine out of ten high street restaurants. They don’t taste like homemade brownies (and they’re always triangular!). Were they made at Bill’s? My strong suspicion would be no. The big test of any meal out is whether you could make something superior at home, and my experience at Bill’s definitely failed on this test! But the service was very good and the drinks are good value too.
We’re giving Bill’s another go in a few weeks, this time for brunch – fingers crossed for a better experience!
Last weekend was chock full of rain and thunderstorms – I LOVE THUNDERSTORMS – and we managed to go to the supermarket and back without getting drenched (narrowly!).
This week I tried my hand at a bit of interval training at Attenborough nature reserve. It went PRETTY poorly in that I can only run at full pelt for about 10 seconds before collapsing in a heap!
Yesterday I tried my hand at Levain Bakery style Chocolate Chip Cookies… they turned out SO good! They are serious BEASTS of a cookie – each one is about 200 grams of cookie dough (don’t judge me!). It’s a meal of a cookie! I shared them with some of my lovely lady friends as we went over to see my friend Helen’s beautiful new house. (This week I also made some gourmet choc ices!).
(And here’s Milo relaxing and staring intently at a cat game on our tablet!)
A few more pictures from this week – various meals, plus a trip to the Beach in Nottingham! We’re so far from the seaside in Nottingham that it’s nice to have a little taste of the beach!
Today I have the day off from work, hurrah! I do really appreciate that my job allows me to take flexi leave (so you record the hours you work and can then take surplus hours as a day off) – it really helps me to manage my holiday allowance and make some time for me!
What are you up to this weekend? Have you baked anything delicious lately?
I had to dedicate an entire post to our weekend in Mystic because 1) I took SO many photos, and 2) it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been in my life.
Mystic is just one of those places that seems to run at a slower pace than the rest of the world. It’s a small harbour town with a history of shipbuilding that featured in a slightly random 80s film, Mystic Pizza, based on a real life pizza place in the pretty town.
We stayed in an amazing bed and breakfast – the Mermaid Inn – a really small b and b with just a few rooms. The owner was a lovely lady and there were home baked pecan and chocolate oaty cookies and fresh fruit every afternoon. And the porch… swoon! There was an amazing porch swing where you could sit and watch the world go by. Basically I need a porch, now! In fact, an entire American house transported into Nottingham, would be great.
Oh, and the food? Was amazing!
We also had one of the best meals I had on holiday there, at the Engine Room. CORNBREAD IS JUST THE BEST THING EVER. But when it’s topped with maple butter? Om yes! Oh, and homemade snickers bar for dessert?
We also visited Mystic Seaport, which is a kind of living museum exploring the history of shipbuilding in Mystic, and sea travel generally. It’s full of historic houses like churches, schoolhouses and grocery stores, as well as lots and lots of boats!
I loved how authentic it felt, despite not having a particular interest in the history of shipbuilding. The volunteers were really passionate and I loved seeing all the old buildings.
The town of Mystic is incredibly beautiful too, and the pizza is even very tasty!
I would go back there in a heartbeat, which is quite unusual for me. I’m sure there are a hundred towns like it in New England, but it is just a such a lovely laid-back, peaceful place!
Happy Monday! This weekend we had lots of thunderstorms and torrential rainstorms in the UK – not great weather for gardening (which I really shouldn’t have continually put off!) but great for getting stuff done around the house! Plus me and Lee managed to get to the supermarket and back in between downpours… success!
Rice Krispie Treats are one of my undying dessert loves. They are just so much more than the sum of their parts! I love the chocolatey ones, but I have a special soft spot for gooey marshmallow treats, even the Kelloggs ones! I have to remind myself that they’re not really a healthy snack option for work!
These Jumbo Brown Butter Rice Krispie Marshmallow Treats are like regular Rice Krispie Treats, taken up a few notch’s! They’re made with melted browned butter (and plenty of it, ahem), rice krispies, marshmallows, and just a pinch of sea salt on the top.
Oh, and then they’re topped with a drizzle of white chocolate and some colourful sprinkles!
All in all, they’re the tastiest, gooeyiest, tastiest Rice Krispie Treats I’ve ever had. And I’ve sampled quite a few!
Browning the butter takes just three or four minutes, and this no-bake recipe is still extremely easy even with the added step. Here’s a great post that tells you exactly how to brown butter – don’t worry, it’s practically impossible to get wrong!
- 120g unsalted butter, browned
- 300g mini marshmallows (all white)
- 175g rice krispies
- sea salt
- 25g white chocolate
- Firstly, prepare your tin - you'll need a 9x9 inch square pan lined with clingfilm.
- Once your butter is browned, pour the butter straight over the marshmallows in a large bowl. The heat of the butter should melt the marshmallows, but if they're not fully melted, pop the bowl into the microwave for ten seconds until they are.
- Pour your rice krispies into the bowl, and stir, working quickly to get them all coated with the mixture before it cools and sets. Stir vigorously, and quickly tip into your pan. Use the back of a spatula to push the rice krispies into the corners, pushing down evenly and firmly. If the mixture is sticking, pop your hand inside a plastic sandwich bag and use that to push the mixture down.
- Melt your white chocolate in the microwave (I usually use a small mug) and then drizzle it over your pan of treats. Decorate with lots of sprinkles!
Happy Friday, everyone! Thank the LAWD it’s here – this week has been my first working week back at work and I am tired!
Last weekend I stocked up on lot’s of healthy foods (thank goodness summer and berries and other yummy stuff is in abundance right now!) and enjoyed a summer picnic in Wollaton Park with some friends. The weather was beautiful – really warm and sunny with a breeze. Naturally I had to make something for the occasion so I did some simple S’mores Fudge. I didn’t manage to try any S’mores while I was in the US (sob!) so I thought I’d rectify that asap! I’ll share it with you soon!
Milo also started eating healthier when a bag the size of him of Iams arrived! We’ve always given him whiskas but I’ve become increasingly concerned about the quality of the food (just 4% protein compared to Iams 40%). Hopefully he thrives on the new stuff!
On Monday after work I went to see Caitlin Moran at Nottingham Playhouse with some friends – great fun! We went to Sobar beforehand for some food and drinks, it’s a new cafe in Nottingham which doesn’t serve alcohol and provides a safe environment for people recovering from alcohol addiction or other issues. Obviously it’s just great if you’re not too, with really reasonably priced food and drinks and a lovely setting, plus board games! We played a game of Rummikub (that is a complicated game!) which I resoundingly lost!
This week has been super warm in the UK, although it’s lovely and sunny for cycling home. I can really feel the effects of 3/4 weeks of hardly any exercise though (bar walking around), my legs are not used to cycling again yet! I’m also making sure I slather on lots of sun cream – despite putting on lots of sun cream while on holiday I’ve still come back with lots of extra freckles – its so easy to underestimate the power of the sun!
I feel like I really need to mix up my workout routine to challenge myself more, so I started doing Jillian Michael’s Killer Buns and Thighs (well, I’ve done it twice!). Ohmigosh, that shit is for real folks! Let me know if you have any short, ass kicking workouts that you love!
This evening we’re heading to Bill’s Restaurant for dinner with some friends – I’m really looking forward to trying the veggie burger which is apparently amazing… and I’m definitely going to be trying one of those amazing sounding desserts!
Enough about me, how has your week been?
PS I’m looking for new delicious salad type recipes like this one or this one. Do you have any that you make and love? Please share!
I wanted to share all of my honeymoon memories and recommendations with you so I’m bringing you a few less Stop what you’re doing and look at this posts over the next couple of weeks so we can fit them all in!
We arrived in Boston on Monday night about 7pm – we stayed in a beautiful AirBnb apartment in the heart of Charlestown, just 2 streets from the Bunker Hill Monument. It was such a quaint, gorgeous neighbourhood (and so close to Whole Foods!) and it was brilliant to be surrounded by real Bostonians rather than other tourists!
We spent a lot of time exploring the gorgeous, quaint Charlestown and climbed up the Bunker Hill Monument (almost 300 steps!). Phew – that thing is not for the faint-hearted! But the view from the top is breathtaking. Look at all of the roof decks – amazing! It was soo hot when we were there (30 degrees) and a hot tub would have been a great way to cool off!
I wasn’t prepared for just how old Boston feels – it reminds me at times of a British, French or German city. Of course, it’s one of the oldest in America and with it’s meandering non-grid streets, doesn’t feel at all like a typical American city! It’s very quaint and pretty indeed.
Our biggest impression of Boston was what a friendly, helpful, great city it is. Motorists routinely stop to let you cross the road, there are parks everywhere full of benches (including plugs and wifi!) and splash areas to help kids (and some adults!) cool down. And everyone is just so nice!
We loved exploring the North End with it’s Italian restaurants and ice cream parlours. We spent about fifteen minutes just watching dogs and pups play in a park near the harbour – they were having the time of their lives! Everyone else around us was eating, drinking, jogging or yoga-ing too and it seemed that Bostonians have very much got their work life balance down.
We also headed to Salem and visited the witch museum (okay but not amazing – I’d recommend trying one of the others if you visit!) and Salem Beer Works (great craft beers brewed on site!). It’s a quaint town but there’s not loads to do. I did however, discover english chocolates (Crunchies and Hob Nobs! on sale in a shop in Salem which was funny). Later that day we also headed to Cambridge to check out Harvard university.
It’s strange to think that these students are going to university in a place that’s inundated by tourists, but it’s a beautiful campus.
But let’s talk about food! Lee became addicted to iced coffee, the pizza at Whole Food was the best we had in our whole time in America (despite trying some of the ‘best’ pizza places in New York!) and the number of Ben & Jerrys flavours available there are ridiculous (Cinnamon Buns, S’mores, Vermonster!). Chubby Hubby is SO GOOD!
Next we headed on the Amtrak to Providence, a large college town in Rhode Island that’s home to Brown University as well as a couple of smaller schools. We had a lovely relaxing time reading (and eating ice creams the size of my head!).
And the best chaser to Ice cream? Pizza of course! We headed to Providence Coal-Fired Pizza and ordered up two massive (and very tasty) pizzas – which we managed to finish! I will never know how, but Lee seemed to take it on as a personal challenge. When we paid, the waitress actually came over and expressed disbelief that we’d (ahem, mainly Lee!) eaten it all!
Have you ever been to Boston/New England?
Happy Monday folks! Did you have a nice weekend? Would you believe I’m still jet-lagged? I didn’t realise how long it would take to recover! Apparently it’s way worse when you fly west rather than east.
Today I’m bringing you a very British, very summery dessert – Lemon Meringue Pie! Yummy shortcrust pastry is the base for lip puckeringly tangy lemon curd, and it’s all topped with fluffy cloud-like meringue! I always kid myself that I don’t like lemon curd, but the leftover curd that I had when making this pie mysteriously disappeared from my fridge…
This Lemon Meringue Pie is super lemony as I made it for my mum who loves lemon to the max (like these Lemon Curd Shortbread bars)! If you’re a bit less keen on a strong lemon flavour, just use less lemon juice in the curd and replace it with the same amount of water.
If you’re worried about making lemon curd yourself – don’t be! I’ve made it twice now, and each time I’ve realised later that I did something wrong (remind me to re-read the recipe next time before I start!), but it turned out perfectly anyway. Even though it seems to have a reputation of being difficult to make, I’ve found it to be very forgiving!
This dessert is totally easy, but incredibly impressive. None of the three elements are particularly difficult or contain more than a few ingredients, but the combined effect of all three is that you must have been slaving away in the kitchen all day! No need to englighten anyone that you were really lounging on the sofa eating lemon curd from the jar…
- 225g plain flour
- 110g unsalted butter
- 80g golden caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp milk
- 250ml water
- 250g golden caster sugar
- pinch salt
- 80g cornflour
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- juice and zest of 6 lemons
- 4 egg whites
- 200g golden caster sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Measure your flour into a large heatproof bowl and then add your butter, cut into chunks. Pop into the microwave for 10-15 seconds until the butter is softened, and then rub the butter into the flour into only small lumps of butter remain. Stir in the sugar, and then add the egg and a little milk, enough until the dough starts to come together. Tip the crumbly dough out onto some clingfilm, and pat into a round. Pop into the fridge to chill for at least 20 minutes.
- When you're ready to blind-bake your pie base, preheat an oven to 220C, gas mark 7 or 425F and roll out your dough on a well floured surface, using plenty of flour on the rolling pin as well. You should be able to guesstimate when it's big enough for your pie tin, or you could hold it over the dough to get an idea.
- Roll your dough over the rolling pin and gently lower onto your pie tin. Very gently push the dough into the edges and bottom of the pan - don't worry if any tearing happens, we can just patch that up! Next, cover the whole thing with parchment paper, and use some bread crusts, a little pasta or some baking beans to weigh the paper down. This will ensure the pie dough doesn't puff up in the oven.
- Bake for ten minutes in the middle of the oven until the edges are starting to brown, and then remove the parchement paper and bake for another 4-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- I did this while my pie base was baking! Have your egg yolks seperated, beaten and ready to go in a separate bowl before you start.
- Simply combine the water, sugar, salt, lemon juice and cornflour in a non stick saucepan over a high heat. Whisk well as the mixture comes to the boil. Stir constantly, until the mixture is very thick, the consistency of a stiff gel. Once it's there, remove from the heat and whisk that mixture into the other bowl on the counter containing the egg yolks - be sure to whisk constantly! Now pour the whole lot back into the saucepan and return to the heat, whisking again while it cooks - I found this took 2-3 minutes for me. You're looking for a thick consistency and a bright, lump free yellow mixture as you'd expect from lemon curd, although it will harden when it cools. Once you're happy it's done, remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the beat and lemon zest. Continue whisking for a few minutes until the mixture is no longer piping hot (just warm) and pour into your pie shell. (Note, I made quite a small pie so had lemon curd leftover - I just poured it into a small glass jar and stored it in the fridge, until a mysterious assailant broke in one night and ate it all.).
- Pop your pie into the fridge to chill.
- Once your pie is completely chilled and cold, make the meringue topping! Simply combine the egg whites and sugar with the salt and vanilla in a large stand mixer, and whip until you reach mediumly firm peaks and the meringue can hold itself up on your spoon.
- Spread out the meringue over the pie - I used a palette knife to add some decorative twirls by simply pulling the knife away from the meringue - you could also use the back of a spoon! Then pop your pie under the grill until the top is golden brown. You're ready to serve! Store in the fridge.
Happy Friday, friends! A few weekends ago, I got married (oh, did I mention?!). It was the funnest day ever, and we were so so lucky with the amazing sunny weather and the ridiculous amounts of love and kindness from our awesome family and friends.
Please note, some of these photos (the better taken ones!) are by Lucy of Lucy Stendall Photography, who rocked as my photographer and bridesmaid!
Thank you for letting me share my wedding snaps with you! I can’t wait to show you my pictures from our honeymoon too, so I’ll post those over the next couple of wednesdays (there are A LOT!) so that our snapshots Friday’s can get back to real time.
Life has been pretty magical over the last few weeks! But enough about me, how are you?
- Cake Stand Giveaway!
- The BEST British Bake-Off!
- Gourmet Choc Ices
- Snapshots from my week (and a little review of Bill’s Restaurant)
- Honeymoon snapshots: Mystic, Connecticut
- Jumbo Brown Butter Rice Krispie Marshmallow Treats
- Snapshots from my week
- Honeymoon snapshots: Boston and Providence
- Lemon Meringue Pie
- Snapshots from my wedding
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