Monthly Archives: July 2013


Originally I made this granola when the Princess was visiting. She criticised me for making an excessive amount and then we finished it in like a week. The same happened when I made it again recently. It’s ridiculously addictive and is filling breakfast food. I don’t feel the need for lunch til at least 3pm… It’s also super easy to make and the only requirement is that you don’t forget it is in the oven (yes I did that) because the fruit gets a tad dry (in a will-break-your-teeth kind of way). Feel free to put what you like into it – I made apricot, cranberry and walnut this time but really, the choice is yours.

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Adapted from Alice Hart’s Vegetarian

300g oats

100g walnuts

100g apricots

100g cranberries

100g sunflower seeds

30g poppyseeds

100g honey

100ml sunflower oil

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Toss everything together in a large bowl. If you’re worried about the fruit burning, leave it out of the initial mix and add it onto the baking trays when you’ve got 10 minutes left. Spread the granola out over two lined baking trays and bake at 180C for 30 minutes, stirring everything and tossing it around every 10 minutes. Allow it to cool before storing in an airtight container. Eat with milk/yoghurt/as a snack.

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Chocolate Bundt Cake

So a while back the Princess and I went day tripping to Lincoln. It was a bright sunny day quite early on this summer (which has been bright and sunny a lot, much to my delight) and whilst we were there we stumbled across the quaintest kitchen shop where I found a bundt tin (again much to my delight). The Princess made fun of me for buying kitchen equipment on a historical day out but whatever. I needed a bundt tin and they’re just far to heavy to cart overseas. (Although I will confess to doing just that when we were in New York together and I had a moment in Zabar’s and bought two. I then had to persuade my Dad to put one in his luggage because each tin must weigh at least three kilos. Sadly neither of those tins made it into my PhD suitcase hence the need for a new one.) Anyway, as well as finally buying a bundt tin I noticed that I recently passed my 200th post and decided cake would obviously be the way to celebrate. That and the fact that I promised an American friend cake for moving our stuff out of the way of the rising tide on the beach in Wales on Sunday. (Yes! I went to the beach! In Wales! And I got into the Irish Sea! Which, I might add, is freezing.)

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So this bundt is adapted from a recipe in the Donna Hay magazine which arrived last week. It’s the black and white issue and is lovely. Is that magazine ever not lovely? The cake is dark and moist (sorry but it is), and the glaze is slightly bitter. It’s an almost-one-bowl cake, which suits me just fine as it means less washing up. We ate it warm after dinner – such is my scheduling that I was late to dinner because I was waiting for the cake to bake. I’m told this is an acceptable excuse.

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I used gluten-free self-raising flour because that was the self-raising flour I had. As such, I added in xanthan gum for texture. I also didn’t have liquid glucose which is called for in the glaze so I used golden syrup. I suspect this made the glaze thicker than it was meant to be but I liked it so consider it a winning substitute.

Chocolate Bundt Cake

Adapted from Donna Hay August/September 2013

For the Cake:

1 1/3 cups milk

1 cup golden caster sugar

1 cup demerara sugar

1 tsp vanilla

250g unsalted butter

200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

2 eggs

265g gluten-free self-raising flour

1 tsp xanthan gum

35g cocoa powder

For the Glaze:

200g dark chocolate (I used 170g 70% and 30g 85%)

100g unsalted butter

3 tbsp golden syrup

1 tsp sunflower oil

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease a bundt tin with butter.

Mix together the milk, sugars and vanilla in a large bowl.

Melt the butter and chocolate over a low heat, stirring almost constantly once things start to melt so that the chocolate doesn’t seize.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the milk one and whisk until smooth. Then whisk in the eggs. Sift in the flour, xanthan gum and cocoa powder. (This is one of the few times I actually bother with sifting, mostly because cocoa powder has a tendency to clump when added into large liquid batters and then you spend a ridiculous amount of time chasing the lumps around the bowl. Who needs that?)

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Pour the batter into the bundt tin and bake for about an hour. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out and cooling before glazing.

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Make the glaze whilst the cake is cooking – melt the butter, chocolate and syrup together in a saucepan, stirring until smooth. Off the heat add in the sunflower oil. Spoon over the cooled cake and allow to set before slicing.

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Clumber Park Kitchen Garden

Okay so I realise that this is the third garden post in a row but this is just such a stunning kitchen garden that I had to share it with you. Clumber Park is a National Trust property in North Nottinghamshire. It’s a fantastical place to go spend a sunny day, there are ample opportunities for picnicking, walking, cycling (you can hire bikes there), general lounging or dog watching. There’s also this 19th century kitchen garden with it’s massive greenhouse that has been restored. It’s truly inspirational.

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Best of Summer Crumble

I really, really like baked fruit. I possibly like baked fruit even more than I like fresh fruit. Which is saying something. (Possibly about traumatic raw food experiences as a child, I don’t know.) But my preferred way to eat fruit is to have it baked, with an oat topping. I’m predictable and slightly boring, I am aware. This crumble highlights the best of the summer fruits current available at my local fruit and vegetable shop, Fred Hallam in Beeston if you’re wondering, which happen to be peaches, cherries (from Kent) and blueberries.

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I was invited over to cook (that sounds strange when I write it) for American friends yesterday – they do a Sunday dinner thing – and we ate outside in the garden. There was a vegetarian amongst us so I decided the easiest (and cheapest) was to do an all-vegetarian menu. I made tomato cobbler with blue cheese biscuits (from Joy the Baker, which I will post about separately), a squash and rocket salad and this crumble.

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There is no recipe for this crumble. I apologise, I just wasn’t organised enough to weigh everything out and I make crumble by sight (I was also ridiculously hungover from a hen night and couldn’t be bothered to stand upright longer than was strictly necessary). But I thought you’d enjoy the photos anyhow. I used four peaches, about 500g cherries and a handful of blueberries. The crumble was made with oats, plain flour, some demerara sugar, a generous handful of chopped pistachios and some butter (about 50g worth). I served it with crème fraîche but you could do cream/ice cream/yoghurt. I had the left-overs today after dinner but it works equally well as breakfast.

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WJ Beal Botanical Garden, MSU

Another feature of the MSU campus is their botanical garden. This was begun in 1872 when Professor Beal established a nursery on campus. It is situated just along the river, slightly hidden, beneath some rather epic trees. The plants are arranged in themed beds and the idea, the one guide told me, is to create an encyclopedia of plants – an idea which I just love. I got excited at all the different wheat varieties they were growing, as well as the unusual looking herbs. And I took some time out from the heat to sit awhile by the pond…

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WJ Beal Garden

Just rows of different plants!

Ginger in WJ Beal Garden

I love the leaves on this ginger

WJ Beal Garden

Looking back towards the garden

Pond at WJ  Beal Garden

The pond, where it’s nice to sit awhile.

Children’s Garden at MSU

On my last day at MSU I had a long walk around campus. It’s very beautiful, the Red Cedar river runs through campus and there’s a botanical garden (more about that soon), as well as the horticultural demonstration gardens and this children’s garden. (There are of course, many other features like actual buildings and the Spartan stadium…)

Growing Roof in the Learning Garden

The children’s garden is one of the best designs I’ve seen in ages. There are themed beds, my favourite was the Peter Rabbit garden which included his blue jacket, but there was also a pizza garden, and an A-Z plant garden. Everything was child height and size, including the maze of conifers. There were clever water fountains, where you could get you feet wet but not fall in, water-lily’s with stone frogs nearby, a section growing wheat and oats and barley with a sheep. There were bird boxes and train tracks. There was also a school-yard garden, which is used for teaching school groups. It was just brilliant, and ever so inspiring.

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Peter Rabbit's Garden

All the different things Peter was eating

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Pizza Garden

Different herbs and plants to put onto pizza

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There were lots of signs saying ‘please touch’ for beds of lavender and there were many different vegetables growing as well as fruit trees. There was even a resident chipmunk…

Resident Chipmunk

Peach Cobbler

Last Thursday was July 4th and an American friend of mine had a gathering to celebrate. I made this peach cobbler – I found a recipe in the July issue of Delicious – as I figured a dish from the deep south was as good as any to take to a 4th event. I was also arriving late so dessert was the logical thing to take and it had to be peach based, because, you know, I’m currently obsessed with peaches. It’s a beautiful summer dessert, perfect eaten late in the evening, as the sun is finally setting and it’s cooling off. We ate it late, after hot dogs and smores, in plastic cups…

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Apparently cobblers came about with early British settlers. Some of what I read said cobblers emerged because settlers didn’t have ingredients for desserts like steamed puddings and cobbler was a compromise, but others write that cobblers were a variation on pie, which the British had been able to make in brick ovens and which they adjusted to cooking over open flame in America. A pot was filled with fruit and then a dough was placed on top, the lid was put on and it was cooked over a fire. Cobblers became popular in the South, where peaches were abundant. It doesn’t really matter does it? Although food history is fascinating. Cobblers are different from crumbles or crisps, the latter are made with oats and cobblers have batters that are more like scone mix (the Americans would say biscuits).

As I said before, my recipe is adapted from the July Delicious magazine, which had a whole special on American food. I used lime in my peaches and sour cream in the batter as well as half gluten-free self-raising flour.

Peach Cobbler

Adapted from Delicious Magazine

10 peaches

100g golden caster sugar

2 tbsp cornflour

zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime

100ml sour cream

80ml whole milk

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

150g plain flour

150g gluten-free self-raising flour

60g golden caster sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 tsp salt

90g unsalted butter, cold

The peaches need to be blanched in boiling water and then refreshed in ice cold water. This will allow you to peel them easily. I put them into the boiling water for about a minute and then put them into the ice water. They then need to be stoned and sliced. (No one wants peach skin or stones in a cobbler.)

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Preheat the oven to 180C. You can lightly grease a deep ovenproof dish – I used a glass pie dish (24cm) and didn’t grease it.

In a bowl, toss the peach slices together with the 100g golden caster sugar, cornflour, and lime and lemon zest’s. Place them in the pie dish and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Skinned, sliced peaches

Peaches in pie dish

Whisk the egg, cream, milk and vanilla together in a bowl.

In another bowl, mix together the 60g golden caster sugar, flours, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Rub the butter into this mixture, until it resembles crumbs and becomes golden in colour. Add the liquid mixture to this and form a dough. Take the peaches out of the oven and dot balls of dough over.

Dough mixture

Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden and the peach juices bubble up around the edges. Serve with ice cream or cream.