Friday, October 31, 2008

Soy and sesame salmon with vegetable noodles

Brrrr. All of a sudden there is a serious nip in the air - I occasionally work from home and have been trying to do so without resorting to the heating... Unfortunately I've had to cave in - there are only so many layers a girl can wear!

Before it got so chilly, I cooked up this tasty noodley salmon dish based on
this recipe from BBC Good Food. Rather than serve the salmon with a warm noodle salad, as per the recipe, I stir-fried strips and ribbons of vegetables with the noodles to create a tasty side dish. I made this for a friend who came over for dinner and I enjoyed it so much that I made it again the following night for another friend. Testament to its success, I think!

You could use any combination of vegetables, but I liked the colourful combination of courgettes and carrots along with mange tout, spring onions and red pepper. This is an easy dish to whip up after work as it takes very little time yet is packed with flavour.

Soy and sesame salmon with vegetable noodles
Serves 2


2 skinless salmon fillets
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
juice of 1 lime, plus two lime wedges for serving
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
small pinch dried chilli flakes (to taste)
1cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
100g egg noodles
1 courgette
2 carrots
handful mange tout
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely sliced
4 spring onions, finely sliced

1. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, brown sugar, ginger and chilli flakes. Use a small whisk or fork to mix until the sugar has dissolved. Take a freezer bag, place the salmon fillets inside and pour over half the mixture. Set to one side to marinate for at least ten minutes.

2. Meanwhile, take a potato peeler and cut thick ribbons from the courgette and carrots. Set to one side with the other vegetables. Put a pan of water on to boil and pre-heat the grill to high.

3. Boil the noodles, as per the packet instructions (you could even use 'straight to wok' noodles to save time and washing up. Pop the salmon under the grill for 5 minutes, or until just cooked through.

4. Whilst the salmon is cooking, heat a little oil in a wok and lightly stir-fry the vegetables. Add the noodles once cooked, along with the remaining marinade. Stir well to ensure that everything is combined and coated with the soy and sesame glaze.

5. Serve the salmon with the noodles on the side, perhaps with a wedge of lime on the side to squirt over the top.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Blogging by Mail!

I was up pretty early this morning seeing as the clocks have gone back an hour. As I was padding round the flat in my dressing gown, the doorbell rang. Not a usual occurrence at 7am! When I opened it I was greeted by the postman who (slightly alarmed at my state of undress) handed me my blogging by mail parcel from
Greg in New York!

Blogging by Mail is a terrific event organised by Stephanie over at Dispensing Happiness.

As you can imagine, I almost snatched the parcel from the postman's hands, so eager was I to get a look inside. I LOVE receiving parcels and Greg from
Oatmeal Cookie Guy had selected a fantastic assortment of goodies for me. Thank you so much!

Upon opening the box, I saw a tempting packet of garlic bagel chips poking out from beneath the packaging. These will be a great pre-dinner snack next time I have people over (...then again, maybe I won't be able to wait until then). There was also a letter from Greg explaining his choices and how he'd gone for a New York City theme within the box.

It is clear that Greg is, in fact, a mind-reader. Despite having never met me, he seems to know instinctively that I have a trip to NYC planned for early next year. His box of treats could therefore not have been more appropriate!

Want to see what was inside?

Here we go....

Just look at all that great stuff. First up, and what you can't really see, is a nice little T-shirt from
The Doughnut Plant. I'm already in love with this place and simply HAVE to visit when I go. Those people at The Doughnut Plant are clever people too - the T-shirt is size small. I am far from size small (too much Food, Glorious Food, don't you know)but the T-shirt is plenty big enough. Those doughnut tree folk have realised that their doughnut-loving clients may not be that 'small' either but if they can get into a 'small'-sized shirt then they'll feel good about themselves and feel they can get away with eating more doughnuts. Cunning hey?

To help me seek out this heavenly-sounding doughnut emporium, Greg has handily included a map of NYC. This will come in super handy for my visit. He's also sent a Zagat guide of the city's restaurants. I use this guide for London restaurants too so am familiar with the format and am sure it will be indispensable next year. I also love the inclusion of New York magazine - like Greg, I think you can learn a lot about a place from reading the local press. The property pages caught my eye - seeing how prices compare to London is interesting.

Next we have a great-looking cookie. I've heard about New York black and white cookies but haven't tried one before. Normally I would have dived straight in, but it is still early... I'll wait until after breakfast I think!

Talking of typical New York foods (and breakfast, for that matter), I also got an authentic bagel! I absolutely adore bagels, especially filled with smoked salmon and cream cheese. I plan to eat literally hundreds of bagels during my trip.

I also got some violet candies which smell just like the violet creams we used to have at Christmas when I was little.

Greg also sent me his favourite CD. I haven't heard of the band
Hem but I've been listening to the CD since the parcel arrived and it is lovely. Their music has a melodic, almost lullaby-like quality with hints of a folky-country sound. That makes no sense - a music journalist I am not! You'll just have to get the CD and have a listen. Great to be introduced to a new band though - thanks, Greg.

Finally, Greg sent me a scratch card with a chance to win $1000 a week for life. This was under the condition that if I won, I'd split the winnings with him.

So, did I win?

Let's see....

I'm afraid not! Never mind, maybe next time...

Thank you so much, Greg, for a fantastic NYC parcel full of fun goodies. And thank you to Stephanie for all the work that goes into organising this terrific event!

What about my parcel, you may ask... Well, it hit the post office this weekend (late, I'm sorry) and it is heading across the pond to San Francisco.
Bonnie, hope you'll enjoy the contents as much as I'm enjoying mine...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vanilla ice-cream with 3 sauces

If you are ever feeling low and in need of a good laugh then can I heartily recommend a trip to the
Party Superstore at Clapham Junction on a Friday evening or Saturday morning?

This extraordinary shop is the setting of much hilarity. Above all, the shop is a fancy dress emporium selling and hiring literally thousands of different disguises. Upstairs you'll find every accessory you could possibly ever wish for including masks of the Queen, cowboy hats, fairy wings, feather boas and witches' broomsticks. But downstairs is where the real fun begins. The basement is home to a staggering array of costumes available for hire. You want to be superman for the night? No problem. A pirate? Well shiver me timbers if there aren't eight or nine suitable costumes to choose from. Cleopatra? Certainly.

I was there to pick up a 1920's flapper costume for a Great Gatsby themed birthday party I'm attending this weekend and I left with a huge grin on my face. The basement was packed with people selecting costumes for parties taking place over the weekend - three Irish men were dressed up as cowboys, one woman was trying to look virtuous as a nun and one (extremely attractive) man was dressed up as batman. He asked me what I thought of his outfit and I rather blushed as I gave it the seal of approval. What is it about superheros that makes us woman come over all funny??

After all that excitement I felt the need to cool off with a bowl of the supremely good ice cream I made last weekend. For some reason I've never made vanilla ice cream before. Other flavours, yes, but never plain old vanilla. I've always thought it to be rather dull. But now I've made my own, there is no looking back. The texture of homemade ice-cream is just so wonderful and really, I do think an ice-cream maker is worth every penny.

This recipe doesn't make a huge amount but it is exceedingly good. It is worth splashing out on really good quality vanilla pods. I spent a bit more than usual and bought
Ndali vanilla from Uganda. Apparently if is more concentrated than ordinary premium beans with notes of spice and caramel. Who knows, but I have to say that the flavour was exceptionally good.

But I'm afraid that good as it was 'au natural', I couldn't help but add a few good things to it when it came to serving. I give here three different options. First up is Mars bar sauce; a favourite from my childhood that I'm sure I'll never grow out of. Second is another favourite; Pedro Ximenez Sherry. This thick, treacley, unctuous Sherry is almost more of a food than a drink. Although I occasionally like to drink it on its own in place of pudding, my favourite way is to pour a little over vanilla ice cream. Just heavenly. If you have the time, soak a few raisins in the Sherry overnight and add the lot to the ice-cream. You won't be disappointed.

Finally, a sort of recipe for caramel apples. Divine with the ice cream too. Sadly no picture of this one - I greedily devoured the lot before getting the camera out!

Really good vanilla ice-cream


1/2 pint whole, full fat milk (seriously, there is no place for semi-skimmed in this recipe)
1/2 pint double cream
4 egg yolks
4oz golden caster sugar
1 vanilla pod

1. Pour milk into saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. As soon as it starts to bubble, take off the heat. Meanwhile split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. Once the milk is off the heat, add the seeds to the pan along with the scraped pods. Leave to infuse for around half an hour.

2. Using an electric whisk or mixer, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until fairly thick.

3. Remove vanilla pods from milk then pour the vanilla-infused milk into the egg mixture, stirring all the time. If using an electric mixer, just turn it to the slowest setting and pour slowly.

4. Once combined, pour the lot back into the saucepan and heat gently, stirring all the time until the custard has thickened. Caution is the word here - you don't want it to curdle which is what will happen if the mixture boils. If you are worried, you could do this in bowl set above a pan of simmering water. But you don't need to. Just be patient and keep stirring - once it coats the back of the spoon nicely, it is ready.

5. Leave mixture to cool (you could place bowl into a larger bowl of iced water to speed this up) and then chill in the fridge until cold.

6. When cold, mix in the double cream and then pour into your ice-cream maker according to the instructions. Usually, this will result in a very soft ice cream so I'd pop it in the freezer for a few hours to firm up before serving.

N.B. You don't have to have an ice-cream maker to make homemade ice-cream.
Click here for instructions on how to make it without a machine (plus some info on the benefits of using a machine if you possibly can..

Mars Bar Sauce

Please note: this may not be health-enhancing but it certainly is mood-enhancing!


1 Mars bar per person
Milk (I'll let you use semi-skimmed here, if you wish!)

1. Chop the Mars bars up into small pieces. Take a small, non-stick milk pan and add the Mars bars along with a reasonable splash of milk - the photo gives an idea of ratios!

2. Turn the heat on low and melt, stirring with a wooden spoon as you go until you have a lovely smooth sauce. Pour over ice-cream.

3. Be sure to leave a little in the pan - come back to it 20 minutes later when it has started to solidify a little. Be sure to gorge yourself on the remnants straight from the wooden spoon. Please do this. It will make me feel better!

Caramel apples

1 eating apple per person, sliced
equal amounts of butter and brown sugar (I used 50g of each for 3 people)
a little cinnamon

1. Melt butter in a frying pan and add the apple slices. Fry a little until starting to soften. Shake over the sugar and cinnamon and continue to cook and bubble, stirring all the time until the sauce has combined and taken on a caramelly colour. Serve alongside the ice-cream!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pan-fried duck breasts with bramble sauce

Another busy week. Working in the wine trade means we are just coming into our busiest time of year... Most regular readers will know that I work in the wine business but may well not know of the other distinctly foodie arrow to my bow. I am also the food buyer for the company and my major responsibility is putting together our Christmas food and wine gifts: luxury hampers, cases of traditional Christmas foods to send to relatives abroad, Port and Stilton... You name it.

I've been 'testing' mince pies, Christmas puddings and cakes since February. I've become extremely popular in the office after box after box of samples have arrived for me to taste my way through prior to making my selections.

The gifts brochure has now been sent out to the public and I'll just have to wait to see whether or not I chose wisely...

One of the upshots of all this work is that my cupboards fill with delicious and often unusual chutneys, jams, relishes and sauces. Perfect hamper-fillers. The bramble jelly above is pretty divine on hot buttered toast or crumpets but I wanted to use if for something more interesting.

Duck is right in season currently and is one of my favourite birds. I love the combination of the rich, slightly gamey meat when paired with sweet autumnal fruit. Blackberries go particularly well and I added some fresh berries to prevent the sauce being too sweet - the acidic bite of the brambles cut through the rich meat perfectly.

I served the duck on a parsnip and potato rosti - very simple to make though I probably wouldn't want to make them for huge numbers. All that grating takes a bit of effort. Mind you, you could use a food processor.

To top this rather delicious (but extremely un-photogenic) dish off, I steamed some Savoy cabbage with some peas.

Pan-fried duck breasts with bramble sauce


2 duck breasts
4-6 shallots
1 glass Port
1 heaped tablespoon bramble jelly
handful of fresh blackberries
knob or two of butter

1. Peel the shallots and prize apart into two halves. Easiest way to do this fiddly task is to place them in a bowl, cover them with boiling water and leave for a minute or two. When you remove them, the skin should peel off far easier. Melt butter in a large frying pan and gently fry the shallots until they start to soften.

2. Meanwhile, score the fat on the duck breasts and season with salt and pepper.

3. Once the shallots have started to soften, push them to the sides of the pan. Increase the heat a little and add the duck breasts, skin side down. Fry for approx four minutes, turn and do the same on the other side. Timing is obviously variable depending on size of duck breast. I like my duck quite pink in the middle (though not super-rare as I do beef). Four minutes each side would have been about right for me (I slightly overdid mine). Once cooked to your liking, remove duck from pan, cover with foil and leave to rest while you make the sauce.

4. If there is a lot of fat in the pan, pour some of this off (great for roasting potatoes at a later date). With the heat still reasonably high, pour in the Port. It should sizzle and spit a little. With a wooden spoon, scrape up all the lovely shallotty, ducky goodness.

5. Add bramble jelly and half the blackberries. Squidge the blackberries into the sauce as they heat through. Bubble and reduce until on the brink of syrupy. Taste and season. At the last minute, throw in the remaining blackberries and warm through before serving with the duck breasts.

Parsnip and potato rosti

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C. On a coarse setting, grate equal quantities of potato and parsnip. Place the grated veg on in the centre of a clean tea-towel. Take the corners of the towel to the centre to create a bundle and squeeze as hard as you can to get rid of as much water as possible.

2. Mould into round patties (I used a large biscuit butter for shape as you can see in the above photo). Fry in melted butter for a few minutes on each side. Finish off on a baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes.

Wine match: I'd often choose pinot noir with duck, but here with the rich brambly sauce, Syrah/Shiraz would be my grape of choice whether it be from France, Australia or elsewhere.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A very clever (and speedy) chocolate mousse

Nigel to Nigella.

And from Nigella to chocolate heaven.

Last week I had a few friends round for supper and was (as usual) running a short on time. I was in the mood for something chocolatey but most of my usual chocolate puds take more time than I had to spare. My mother was staying at the time and told me that she'd seen a repeat of Nigella's 'Express' programme the other day and had seen her make an impressively speedy chocolate mousse using marshmallows.

I got out the book and reached for
the recipe and decided to give it a go. It really is ludicrously speedy and, most importantly, absolutely delicious. I had imagined that the addition of marshmallows would make a sweet, frivolous sort of mousse. The sort of thing that children love. Actually, who am I kidding? I love that kind of mousse too. However, this was not the case at all. These wicked little mousses are deeply serious. Richly indulgent and devilishly dark, you'll only need a small amount. Really. The recipe serves 4-6, but I think that I'd happily divide this between eight. And this is a serious chocoholic speaking.

The way this works is that the marshmallow replaces both the sugar and egg that you might ordinarily use in a mousse of this sort. When I poured the mixture into the serving cups, I worried that it was too runny but it soon firmed up in the fridge. I chose to decorate the top with bashed up bits of crunchie bar, a touch that I learnt from a certain Mr Ramsay. Incidentally, I much prefer these mousses to
the ones I made back in February. Just pop any chocolate-covered honeycomb in the freezer for ten minutes or so and then bash it up with a rolling pin.

Alternatively, you might like to decorate the top with grated white chocolate for an attractive contrast. Alternatively, you might just like to enjoy these unadorned. Who am I to interfere?

Anyway, I won't repeat the recipe here because you can find it in all its wondrous glory
over here. But I will tell you that no one would ever guess the secret ingredient in these mousses - they really do taste most sophisticated.

Would you care for a mouthful?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lemon, almond and demerara cake

Sometimes people ask me to name my favourite season.

Actually, they don't. I just imagine that they do.

Problem is, that if they did, I'd have trouble with the answer. Summer is an obvious choice - the long sunny days invite a cheery disposition and promise everything from picnics to holidays. I don't think I'd pick it as favourite though. Summer can also bring disappointment (i.e. no sun and no picnics). Winter is good too - it includes Christmas and I just love Christmas. Bring on the holly, bring on the mistletoe and (...most importantly...) bring on the mince pies. I love nothing more than a bright crisp winter's day.

Then again, Spring can be good too. It is a hopeful sort of season. It promises much. Nothing lifts the spirits more than a spring day. Only downside? The April showers... I'm not a fan of rain, no matter how good it is for the garden.

So, onto Autumn. The hardest month to spell. Even though I'm nearly thirty years old. Should I admit to that? Probably not...

Anyway, I'm pretty partial to a spot of autumn. I've heard people say that it depresses them. The end of the long, light nights and the feeling that they need to go into hibernation. I can understand this. I like the light as much as the next person. But autumn is a spectacularly beautiful season, is it not?

Also, the weather is rather more reliable than summer. Yet everyone seems terribly surprised by it. I'm not really sure why as for the past few years, we have enjoyed fabulous autumns with mild temperatures and lots of bright sunshine. Sure, there is a nip in the air come morning and night. But many of the days have been glorious. Really glorious.

I love enjoying the sunshine during the day and then coming home, lighting the fire and treating myself to some warming, hearty dishes. I also feel more like baking at this time of the year - a slice of cake with a cup of tea after an afternoon's autumnal walk is just what is called for. I hope you'll agree.

spoken before of my love affair with Nigel. He truly is a god. Some things are meant to be and Nigel and I are one of them. Take this gorgeous lemon and demerara cake, for instance. I have a tried-and-tested lemon drizzle cake recipe that I love. But I fancied something slightly different. I was hankering after a lemon and almond combination and recalled having seen something similar in Nigel's fabulous tome; The Kitchen Diaries. I'm sure you know how it is when you want to try a new recipe. You check off all the ingredients only to discover that you are missing one vital ingredient. Always the way.

Clearly, however, this recipe and I were meant to be. Just like Nigel and I... (not really, but you know what I mean). I reached for the demerara sugar jar and was nervous. The jar was pretty empty. I weighed it out and blow me down if I didn't have exactly the right amount. Not a gram out. Not even one little crystal of sugar out. Amazing. Destiny, I say.

The recipe works a dream. Pure lemony perfection. Best of all, it keeps well (if you can resist). In fact, better than that, it actually improves after a day of two wrapped in foil. The only bit I'd improve on next time is the length of time I simmered the lemon slices with sugar and water. Mine were a touch on the tart side.

Lemon, almond and demerara cake

From Nigel Slater's
Kitchen Diaries. If you don't have it, I insist you buy it.


For the cake itself:

200g butter
200g demerara sugar
90g plain flour
90g ground almonds
half teaspoon baking powder
1 large lemon
4 large eggs

For the pretty topping:

1 lemon
2 tbsp demerara sugar
4 tbsp water

For the gorgeous syrup that you pour over the top:

2 tbsp demerara sugar
the juice of 1 large lemon

1. Pre-heat oven to 160C. Line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. I just used one piece to line the two long sides and bottom and buttered the short ends.

2. Make the topping: slice the lemon thinly and put into a saucepan with the 2 tbsp sugar and water. Bring to boil and simmer for around 5 minutes until most of water have evaporated and the lemons are lovely and sticky. Pop to one side.

3. Make the cake: cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Mix flour with almonds, baking powder and zest of the lemon. Set aside.

4. Beat eggs lightly and add to creamed butter and sugar. It will curdle a little but fear not - it comes good in the end! Gently fold in the flour and almonds by hand with a large metal spoon.

5. Pour and scrape cake mixture into the prepared tin and lay the lemon slices on top, overlapping. Bake for approx 45 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

6. Whilst cake is baking, prepare the syrup: stir sugar into lemon juice and stir until partially dissolved. Spike top of warm cake and spoon over lemon and sugar. Leave to cool in tin and then wrap in foil.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

An autumnal vegetable curry

Whilst I'm all for making things from scratch, I do have a few convenience foods lurking in my fridge and cupboards. Sometimes, when I'm late back from work, these can be lifesavers and are what stands between me and a takeaway pizza. Pesto is one such item - it tastes wonderful when made fresh to order, but hey, I don't always have fresh basil to hand. A pot of the stuff in the fridge can perk up not just pasta, but salmon, chicken or vegetables too.

Curry paste is another. I always have green Thai curry paste to hand as it is a real favourite. I should probably make up a batch of my own one day, but for now I'm pretty content with the pot in the back of my fridge.

A couple of nights ago, I returned home with no particular plans for supper. The house was full of vegetables and I fancied something with a little kick. In the back of my cupboard, I found a jar of mild curry paste and a tin of coconut milk - perfect! My vegetable rack was heavy to autumnal root vegetables (squash and sweet potato mainly) and so I cooked up a hearty and warming dish of spicy vegetables simmered in coconut milk. Only trouble is that I have been unable to rid my flat of the smell! It has been almost five days and each time I open the door, I am greeted by the smell of cumin, turmeric and other exotic spices. Whilst I enjoyed the smell whilst I was cooking, I'm now somewhat sick of it. I've tried burning
cooks candles, throwing open all the doors and windows and even cooking other strong-smelling dishes (smoked mackerel fishcakes, yesterday), but still the place smells of the vegetable curry... If anyone has any suggestions, I'd be most grateful...

Anyway, without further ado, here is the recipe for this rather good curry. Next time I think I would reduce the amount of sweet potato and replace with more potato and squash - with the coconut milk, it was just a little too rich. The recipe is very... fluid. I would just chuck in whatever veg I had lying around: spinach, cauliflower and peppers would all be good additions.

An autumnal vegetable curry
Serves 2


1 large sweet potato, cubed
Roughly same quantity of regular potato, cubed
Similar quantity of cubed squash - I used a small, rounded green-skinned squash
1 large onion, sliced
handful of broccoli florets

one small courgette, cubed
a mug of frozen peas
half tin of coconut milk
2 tablespoons mild curry paste of your choosing (mine was heavy to cumin)
300 ml vegetable stock
fresh coriander

1. Heat the curry paste in a large pan (I used my wok) and then add the sliced onions. Cook until they are beginning to soften.

2. Add both types of potato and the squash and stir well to coat. Heat for a few minutes and then add the coconut milk and stock. Give everything a good stir and bring gently to the boil. Simmer the curry for around 10 minutes before adding the broccoli and courgette. Continue to simmer for a further 10 minutes, until the potatoes are just cooked through and the sauce has reduced somewhat. Stir occasionally - you may find you need to add a touch more stock and/or coconut milk if the sauce is reducing too rapidly.

3. Once the potatoes are cooked through (but still holding their shape), add the peas and cook for a couple of minutes. Before serving, stir through a handful of chopped fresh coriander.

4. Serve with rice and perhaps a touch of natural yoghurt if needed.

Monday, October 06, 2008

And the winner is...

This morning I placed all the names of the entrants to the British Food Fortnight Challenge in a bowl, mixed them around and then pulled one out at random (no cheating, I promise).

I am happy to announce that the winning entrant is... (drum roll please)...

The lovely Val from More than Burnt Toast!

Val lives in Canada but her family came originally from Scotland (I think) so this prize is just what is needed to explore her British roots somewhat further.

Val, do email me with your address so that I can send the book on its way to you.
My email address is...
abitofafoodie [AT] gmail [dot] com


Sunday, October 05, 2008

British Food Fortnight Challenge: the round-up

When I announced that I was to host my first ever food blogging event, it was with some trepidation. To be honest, I wasn't sure that anyone would enter. Even when fellow bloggers left encouraging comments and vowed they'd enter, I wasn't convinced. People get busy, life gets in the way.

So I was absolutely over-the-moon when the first entry arrived just days after I'd posted the announcement. And then, one-by-one, plenty of others appeared in my inbox. And what great entries they were. The round-up includes some of my very favourite British dishes and I've been drooling over all the lovely photos of your dishes. Thank you so much!

Without further ado, here are the dishes that put the 'Great' into Great Britain!

I thought I'd start with breakfast and this
Victoria plum jam, made by Wendy from A Wee Bit of Cooking. She made this sticky sweet jam with fruit from her own tree - I'm so envious! This would be delicious on toast for breakfast but I reckon it might go well in some of those lovely scones you'll find further down the page...

Another great breakfast dish next - tattie scones. Made by Val from More than Burnt Toast who takes a trip down memory lane as she reminisces about her British roots. As Val points out, these are not only good as part of a traditional Scottish breakfast, but also great to snack on at any time of day. I love them and Val, your version looks far better than the M&S ones!

Next up, we have two soups.

Firstly we have a spectacular
Purple Festival Soup made by Charlotte from The Great Big Vegetable Challenge. This stunning soup was made from purple cauliflower that she picked up at the Abergavenny Food Festival. Charlotte accounts for all the thoroughly British ingredients in the soup and I'll certainly let her off for the one intruder - long live the entente cordiale!


Next up, the first of two entries from Ulrike at Kuchenlatein. This cock-a-leekie soup looks fantastically hearty and wholesome. I didn't know that prunes were a traditional ingredient in this dish - that is what I love about food blogging; you are always learning something new!

Over now to the lovely Rosie from
Rosie Bakes a Peace of Cake for a gorgeous beef and vegetable pie. Rosie, this is just the sort of dish I am craving now that the nights are cooler. And you even decorated it with stars - my favourite! How did you guess?!

And another wonderful pie, this time an
ale and oxtail pie made by Lizzie over at Hollow Legs. I'll admit that I've never cooked with oxtail, but this pie may just persuade me to do so. It looks wonderful and I'd love to dive straight in through that pastry, wouldn't you?

I made the mistake of opening this next entry when I was hungry. Once I saw Sam's wonderful
bangers and mash, I couldn't think of anything else. I've been craving these ever since and was relieved to finally make it to the butcher yesterday to pick up some really good bangers for supper tonight! The apple cider gravy sounds like a great accompaniment too. Bangers and mash is probably my all-time favourite comfort food. Especially at this time of year. Luckily Sam likes to cycle so he can really earn those sausages - I have no such excuse!

Sticking with the sausage theme, Holler from
Tinned Tomatoes sent me her vegetarian take on sausage rolls. I'm always so impressed with how inventive some vegetarians can be with dishes that are usually meat-based. I'm ashamed to say how frequently I am stumped when I find my fridge to be meat or fish-less! These rolls are filled with all sort of delicious things - mushrooms, peanuts and sun-dried tomatoes. I think they may well be better than the 'real thing'. Thanks, Holler!

And we have another vegetarian take on a British classic next. This
Shepherdess Pie is made by Sweatha from Tasty Curry Leaf. Sweatha has added TVP in place of the lamb and made a very-delicious-sounding topping of potatoes and cauliflower. It is always interesting to see how classic dishes evolve over time and to discover new twists on old favourites.

We now have the only fish-based entry of the challenge - a surprise when we are surrounded by water. It is true though that most the classic British dishes I can think of are either meat-based or dessert/tea-time treats. Anyway,
this tasty kedgeree comes from... me, actually! I'd not made it before and it is now sure to become a regular fixture. It looks alarmingly yellow in the picture - I blame the failing light. My pictures always look terrible at this time of year!

Next we have one of my favourites from the challenge. Sorry - did I say favourite? I didn't mean that, of course. All the entries are favourites. But this one bought a smile to my face. I'd not heard of a
Bedfordshire Clanger before. Luckily Joshua from Cooking the Books was on hand to enlighten me. This traditional suet pastry is an entire meal in one easy package. One end is packed with a meaty bacon filling and the other with cooked fruit, for pudding. Not sure about the middle, where you might get a bit of each by accident, but full marks to Joshua for re-creating this fascinating dish.

Onto some of Britain's most treasured puddings now...

Firstly, a real favourite for this time of year when cooking apples are at their very best. Elizabeth from
Real Food Lover gives us these scrumptious baked apples. Hers are stuffed with dates, prunes and sunflower seeds and look fantastic. Elizabeth is also hosting her first ever blogging event, so do visit her blog to take a look.

I think that crumbles are probably my favourite British pudding full stop. Is there anything more comforting than a big bowl of steaming apple crumble with lots of custard? Maria from
The Goddess's Kitchen has baked this super apple and oat crumble and it looks absolutely perfect. If only she could have send me a large helping by post!

I don't know why I started talking about favourites - I just have too many when it comes to traditional British puds. This
bread and butter pudding has been baked by Marie from A Year from Oak Cottage. With lashings of British butter, organic eggs, sultanas and bread, this is heavenly. As Marie points out, it is also a very thrifty dish. A resurgence of these traditional puds could be the one upside to the credit crunch!

Oh my word. Just take a look at that. Trifle. Oh yum. And not just any trifle but one made with the best of the season's blackberries, handpicked by the highly entertaining Indigo of
Happy Love Strawberry. She even made the sponge to line the bottom of this scrumptious blackberry trifle. Great entry, Indigo, thank you!

Apples are currently right in season and Lynn from Lynn's Cooking Blog has been eyeing up her neighbour's apple tree for a while now. Imagine her delight when she returned home to find a bag full of them on her doorstep. She set to work baking this wonderful-looking apple pie. I almost think I can smell its deliciousness through the computer screen (...I know, the men in white coats are coming for me....).

Margaret from Kitchen Delights shares my love of proper British puds and cooked up these heavenly individual Sussex pond puddings, made from a host of carefully sourced British ingredients. That pool of buttery lemony sauce looks just divine - I'd like to dive straight in right away...

Jules from

Domestic Goddess in Training won me over instantly with this fabulous Bakewell tart. I'm a sucker for the combination of almonds and raspberry and the pastry looks spot on. The frangipane looks so wonderfully moist. I think I may be borrowing this recipe, Jules.

It is tea-time. Hooray!

No celebration of British food would be complete without a traditional cream tea and Nicisme over at

had me drooling at the sight of these scones smothered in clotted cream and with strawberry cream slowly oozing over the sides. I'm with you, Nic, the jam should definitely go on top!

We have more scones, too. This time, enhanced with figs and nuts - doesn't that sound wonderful? These are bought to you by Isa from Isa's Cooking. Isa lives in Chile and once had to do a presentation in school about Britain. Isa wisely chose 'Afternoon Tea' as the basis for her presentation and baked scones for her whole class to share. Great idea! Take a look at her fig and nut scones (and her amusing shot of her family in London) on her blog.

I love this picture that Sylvie from A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit took of her Yorkshire Parkin. See those fireworks in the background? That is because this lovely gingery cake is traditionally eaten on bonfire night. Like Sylvie, I think it would be a shame to limit it to the 5th November. I've never made parkin but think that this is another recipe I may need to try out.

This is Ulrike of Kuchenleiten's second entry. Her shortbread fingers look delicious and would make a tasty addition to the cup of tea I have sitting here by my desk. I love shortbread - at first it seems so plain but once you take a bite and discover the great texture and gorgeous buttery flavour, you're hooked.

Next up we have this divine Battenburg cake. Elra from Elra's Baking has a gorgeous baking blog that really was a joy to discover. This pink-and-yellow cake wrapped in lovely marzipan is (yet another) favourite of mine and Elra's version looks so perfect in her photograph that I am in awe. You certainly get the prize for the prettiest entry!

Last, but most certainly not least, we have another delicious-looking parkin. This one is made by Caroline from Cake, Crumbs and Cooking. I just love this treacley cake and so am more than happy to have it two times. Caroline's recipe is different to Sylvie's, so perhaps I'll have to give both versions a try!

Talking of prizes, you may be wondering who has won the challenge... Check back tomorrow when I shall be revealing all following the highly scientific prize draw!