Saturday, 25 June 2011

Giant Couscous - A Healthy Snack Bowl Lunch

Oh - I love this stuff. Giant couscous - or pearl couscous as it's otherwise known.

I searched long and hard for well over a year and could not find it anywhere. Eventually, I found it was made by Merchant Gourmet and is stocked in most branches of Waitrose.

It's much much larger than normal couscous and once cooked, swells to a similar size as tiny pearls. It's a totally different texture and not "gritty". My husband quite likes this and he hates normal couscous.

It is easy to cook, but rather different in preparation to ordinary couscous. Boil for approx 8 minutes until tender in either water or vegetable / chicken stock and then drain. I like to refresh it as you would noodles in cold water to remove excess starch and then drain again.


This picture shows giant couscous (left), normal couscous (centre) and mograbiah (mega giant Lebanese cous cous).

I managed to get hold of some Mograbiah from and found at the same time that these guys also stock pearl couscous.

So far, I've had little luck cooking the Mograbiah. I found when cooking it that it was either mushy, or soft on the outside and hard on the inside. I'm going to try cooking it on the next attempt by steaming it on the rack in my pressure cooker rather than boiling in a pot like the pearl couscous.

I dressed my couscous simply in a beautiful fresh coriander and chilli oil pesto I also bought in Waitrose made by a company called STARK NAKED FOODS. The name did make me giggle ! But seriously - crunchy pine nuts, a good amount of parmesan, some fresh fragrant coriander and chilli oil. You can't get a much more healthy lunch. It's wonderful to toss a spoonful into some boiled new potatoes too.

Normally, I'd make my own pesto. However, I adore coriander and my husband cannot stand the stuff. Most of it goes to waste when I buy a bunch of the stuff. The little pack from Stark Naked has two dinky pots - individually sealed and perfect for yours truly.

I tossed this through my cooked giant couscous, added some crumbled feta and a few halves cherry tomatoes. I'll admit I added a little extra chilli oil (as I adore the stuff). It packs neatly into one of Oliver's little plastic bowls and is ideal for me to wrap with some cling film and take to work for lunch.

As I was making this on Wednesday; just before going to work; Oliver was sat watching tv (just out the bath).

Oliver : "I REALLY need a Mc'Donalds Mummy."
Oliver : " I REALLY REALLY do ....!"

Me : "How about an apple"

Oliver : "That's a good idea. Make it a big green one with a hole in the middle and the skin off please."
Oliver : "But I'll need you to make a chocolate cake later....."

He later forgot about the chocolate cake. We'll keep that for another day !

He might have the blonde hair and blue eyes of an angel, but a cheeky monkey lies within.... He knows how to make his mummy smile :-)

Sarah-Jane Nash - - June 2011

Homemade Lemon Curd and Cupcakes - FOODBUZZ #5 on 28/6/11

The tang of lovely, sharp lemon curd. Thickly spread on fresh bread, in a swiss roll or as a filling for cake. Mmmm. DELICIOUS.

Lemon curd is one of my Dad's very favourite things. I made him some and sent it to Scotland with a great big jar of homemade pickled eggs in time for Fathers Day. With the rest of the lemon curd, I made some lovely lemon curd filled cupcakes, with a lemon buttercream and topped them with some pretty patterned white chocolate discs.

The lemon curd came first. It's simple to make.

LEMON CURD RECIPE (makes two jars)

200g sugar
3 eggs + 2 yolks
100g melted butter
250ml lemon juice (or 150ml lemon and 100ml lime)
zest 3 lemons

The lemons I bought looked sublime, but infact were very disappointing.... Loads of peel and very little juice.I used 5 lemons and still had to top up with 100ml of lime juice on this occasion as I ran out of lemons !

First of all, melt the butter and them add the lemon juice and lemon zest.

Whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar in a pan, then whisk in the butter and lemon mix.

Stir continuously over a low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Put into sterilised jars and seal. 

This lemon curd recipe does not need a double boiler. Keep a sink full of cold water nearby. If it looks like it might split, plunge the pan bottom into the water and then whisk like fury. I've never had it split yet...(though I've water dunked it once or twice before).

I used the same vanilla cupcake recipe as I did here in February (see Valentines Cupcakes - February)

Once cooled. I cut out a circle from the centre and filled the hole in the cake with some of the lemon curd. I kept the top of the piece removed and placed it back on top as a plug.

For the lemon buttercream, I used 4 cups of icing sugar (sifted), 155g salted butter (softtened). Instead of adding the normal 1/4 cup of milk - I put 2 x tablespoons of lemon curd into the 1/4 cup measure and topped it up with lemon juice.  Whip it up by hand or in a stand mixer until pale coloured, light and fluffy. I normally make buttercream in my mixer and beat for about 5 minutes.

This made a really nice, fresh tasting lemony buttercream.

I'd been desperate to play with chocolate transfers for some time - and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. The transfer sheets had been sitting in my kitchen waiting around for quite long enough !

Basically, what you do is take your transfer sheets and cut them up as required. I cut mine into strips.

Place them with the rough side up (plastic face down) on to a chopping board or similar. An over turned baking tray would work fine too.

Melt the chocolate in a melting pot or in a double boiler (glass bowl over a pot of simmering water) until just melted. Allow to cool and stir in some more solid chocolate until no more will melt to temper it. After doing so, spread it over your chocolate transfer sheets.

I used a WEDGE HEAD SPATULA for spreading. I love that thing. It makes spreading chocolate, ganache and icings on the top of cakes and flat surfaces sooo easy !

Leave until semi set and then mark your shapes with a cookie cutter. Leave to fully harden (I shoved them in the fridge) before removing the backing paper.

Note - I find it much easier to temper bitter (plain) chocolate or milk chocolate. Get your chocolate too hot and you get white marks where the cocoa separates or  not hot enough and it crystallises. I wrecked my first lot due to crystallisation !

The cakes would not have survived transit to Scotland - but they were polished off by work colleagues and the next door neighbours in no time at all. I can honestly say these were some of the best cupcakes I've ever eaten.

The last one got eaten by the postman who collects our big wire crates of mail at night. It was the eve of his retirement. We were sad to see him go and wish him lots of luck and happiness.

Not forgetting Oliver - he does love licking the beaters from the icing bowl !

This picture was from a day trip to Bressingham Steam Museum that Oliver and I took a couple of weeks ago  (day or two after I made the cakes). It was a dismal and wet day, but Oliver enjoyed riding the rails on the narrow-gauge steam trains and the Gallopers carousel. That's my handbag behind him (after I got off) - he was sat on a double horse as he's too little to ride it on his own yet.

Hope you all enjoy the weekend x

Sarah-Jane Nash - - silicone bakeware specialist cook shop

Thursday, 16 June 2011

English Madeleines (and some photos from June)

These are coconut English madeleines. They are made in a cake mould or tin called a DARIOLE. It's originally a French design and a dariole was used to make an old fashioned type of cream horn. Nowadays, they are far more commonly used for English Madeleines such as these, set custards, castle puddings and many other sweet desserts and savoury starters.

French madeleines are made in a scalloped edge shell shaped mould or tin, and are typically a plain, golden sponge. English madeleines are sponge cakes covered in lurid red jam and rolled in coconut.

They are actually really easy to make and taste yummy too !


175g caster sugar
175g  butter (soft)
175g self raising flour
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

seedless jam, or jam with a lower fruit content so no big lumps in it
dessicated coconut

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add sifted flour and beat in until mix is smooth and combined..

Lightly grease (I like to use butter) the inside of an 8 cell large dariole silicone cake mould. Give it a good dusting with flour and tap out any excess over the sink before filling with the cake mix. You will need to put the mould on top of a baking tray for support before filling with mix.

 Each cell wants to be approx 3/4 full. This recipe is enough to fill approx 10 cells.

Bake at around 160deg C Fan oven for 18 mins until a cake tester comes out clean

Allow your cakes to cool when they come out the oven until they are hand hot. Carefully release from the moulds one at a time. Releasing when still a bit warm but not too hot generally is easiest. I then like to pop these back in the moulds until properly cooled so they don't dry out.

Once cooled, cut the tops of the cakes off level with the top of the mould and then turn out again.

Melt the jam in a pan over a low heat. You may wish to add some red food colouring (seriously !) to enhance the colour of the jam. We do want a really bright red..... 

I used my finger spatula to spread the hot jam on to my sponge towers. To allow me to coat them properly in jam, I put a fork in the bottom and used the finger spatula in the other hand to coat with the jam.

After coating with jam, immediately roll your english madeleine in dessicated coconut and then place a cherry on top.

These store nicely for about 3 days in a tupperware box.


I know - I promised you guys some more photos and it's taken me a while to get them sorted.

After the show, I took a few days off with my husband and Oliver. It's been at least 5 years since we even had a couple of days away. I needed the break. No cell phone, no laptop. Lots of sleep !

I'll admit now that I missed out on a lot. We had a holiday cottage in the Yorkshire Moors for a few days. I saw little of the scenery whilst we travelled around the surrounding areas as most of the time I was asleep. Unfortunately, I was a really rubbish co-driver. No point in asking me to look at a map. I simply couldn't keep my eyes open. It was only then that I realised sheer exhaustion had taken over.....

However, I did have a few days of rest and took a few photos when I was awake :-P

I love this one of Oliver running through Ravenscar. Ravenscar was a town built during Victorian times - meant to rival local seaside towns Whitby and Scarborough. Roads and drains were laid. Some plots were sold (I believe they were very expensive) but only ONE house was ever built. It simply never took off. There are loads of cliffs but no beaches and tourists had no interest in the area.

It's odd to see the overgrown kirb stones and drain covers. You can see where the road lies underneath, though now all grown over with grass. Very strange place !

This is a picture of some of the Yorkshire Moors. Vast expanses of fields with drystone dyke walls (stone walls constructed by placing stones without mortar). The walls weave their way through the countryside.

Where the walls stop, the wilderness of the moors begins. Bracken and heather covered moors as far as your eye can see and beyond. Such a beautiful and peaceful area of the UK.

We took a trip to the seaside town of Whitby. Known for fresh crabs, seafood and sandy shores. I longed to try out some of the tearooms / coffee shops or eat fresh crab by the beach... This was not to be so. We all have a lovely wander around the town, but Oliver is not one for sitting still for more than two minutes and Steve (my husband) would really rather not be in an environment busy with people.

The town was FULL of pretty little tearooms and coffee shops... The picture above is the little teashop at the bottom of the 199 steps leading up to Whitby Abbey. That's one way to tire Oliver out !

A lovely looking laid back kind of place where time just drifts away...

Fortune's is one of the most well known places in Whitby. Renowned for it's smoked kippers and fish, smoked on the premises for almost 140years in the same location.

Unfortunately, they were shut when we walked by, but they had fish smoking and you could smell it all the way up the street ! Do have a look at their website

Whitby has two lighthouses and two piers. We took a walk down the old pier to the old lighthouse.

Yes - guess who had to climb the steps and knock the door. Honestly Oliver - there is no one there...

Oliver, on the pier with Daddy....

We were really lucky - the weather was good almost all the time.

This picture is from the old city of York. York is a lovely place. Somewhere else I could happily waste an afternoon window shopping or browsing around. Unfortunately, this is the only photo I have from York as my camera battery went flat. Sorry !

We had a picnic with some sandwiches from a local deli in the shade of a big oak tree in the museum park after walking all round the top of the wall that surrounds the city

Oliver "met" this poodle called Abbey when we called in at a pub in the moors (middle of nowhere) and fell totally in love. He wanted to bring her home with us, but I don't think the lady who owned her would have liked that !

Oliver looking at bugs in the grass with Daddy....

Coming home. Before driving over it, we took a walk under The Humber Bridge. The Humber Bridge is the fifth longest single span suspension bridge in the world.

It was lovely to have a few days away - but it's nice to be home too !

Sarah-Jane Nash, June 2011 - silicone bakeware cook shop.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Fresh Summer Fruit and Wine Jellies

These beautiful summer fruit and wine jellies are very easy to make.

I made some as a display piece for the second day of the Ideal Home Show in Glasgow at the SECC. They attracted loads of attention !

I think they look even prettier when sliced so you can see a cross section of all the fruits.

 I made lots and lots of them the following day so we could actually slice some up to let people try.. Thankfully, I remembered to take some photos before the jellies went to the show and promised I would put the recipe on the blog on my return.

They were made in this mould - our 6 pink hearts silicone bakeware mould.

This makes a really light and refreshing dessert - perfect on a hot summer day or to cleanse the palate. They are sharp and not very sweet. It tastes like eating wine, but is offset with the sweetness from the fruit.

Better still, they are very very quick and simple to make.


600ml of white wine -choose your favourite to compliment fruit
I think the one we used was a chardonnay ..
4 sachets of unflavoured gelatine 
Juice of 1/2 a lime
75g of caster sugar
Selection of summer fruits

Take your 6 pink hearts mould and lightly oil the inside of each cell and then place it on top of a baking tray
I used groundnut oil as it is flavourless. If you do not have groundnut, use sunflower or vegetable. The baking tray makes it easy to get your jellies in and out of the fridge later !

Pour the gelatine granules into a bowl and cover with 1/2 the wine. Leave these for approx 10 minutes. This is  called "sponging".

Whilst the gelatine is sponging, prepare your fruit. You want small strawberries. If yours are large, they will need slicing. I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.

Pour the rest of the wine, lime juice and sugar into a pan. Bring these to a simmer and then add the sponged gelatine mix. Stir these over a low heat until the gelatine and sugar has all dissolved and the liquid is clear.

Spoon off any scum / bubbles from the top of the liquid. Put a couple of teaspoons of this liquid into each cell.

Arrange some berries into the bottom of each cell. Remember that the bottom will become the top, so put the pretties whole berries on the bottom. After you have done that, fill the rest of each cell to about 2mm from the top with fresh berries.

When the remaining gelatine and wine liquid has cooled down, pour this into the moulds. It will fill up all the space between the jellies. Try to cover all the fruit. If any fruit is sticking up, give it a poke to below the surface.

Refrigerate for at least SIX hours - preferably TWELVE

The jellies should have set in much less time than this. However, they need much longer for the full flavour to develop. I released my first jellies from the moulds about 3 hours later but they tasted very astringent - almost mouth puckering ! Left a good while longer, they mature as the juices from the berries infuse with the wine.

To release from the moulds, simply put a finger on top of the jelly and it will simply peel away from the sides. 

Do this right round the top of each cell and then simply turn them out on to a plate.

Sarah-Jane Nash, 13th June 11.  - silicone bakeware & cookware online shop.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Smore'd Giant Chocolate (and Beetroot) Muffins

I got the inspiration for these Smores type cakes from Indigo Sugar Spectrum and a blog follower - Jaqui Hayes. Jennifurla made some lovely looking Smores with her gorgeous little girl, Indigo.

The cake recipe is a Chocolate and Beetroot cake and came from Jaqui. I did make it the day she sent it to me - but I'm afraid I've been rather tied up prior to the show (and afterwards) so am a bit behind in blogging.

I'd made chocolate and beetroot cake once before - a few years back now. It's was so chocolatey and lovely and seriously moist. You don't really taste the beetroot but it does add a dark earthiness and enhances the chocolate. These photos were actually from 22/5/11. The same day as Oliver got his big present...


What I decided to do with these was make the chocolate and beetroot cake in my crown (American Jumbo) muffin mould. Then I SMORED IT !

Yeah - you'll struggle to find anything so icky sticky as this. I promise. The second you touch it, it welds itself to your skin. Tasted great, hysterically funny to try and eat. Take a bite. Whole cake literally superglues itself to your face....

Getting the paper cake cases off was fun too. :rollseyes:

Once peeled from the cake, try putting the paper it in the bin ! It sticks to your fingers so you pull it off with the other hand. Then it sticks to that hand.

It's handy having a toddler. There are always babywipes around. This time - you'll need them too !

If you prefer something more traditional, they will always be a big hit with some chocolate buttercream on top instead. These are some candy ducks and bunny rabbits that I made as toppers with our new Ducks N Bunnies Chocolate silicone chocolate mold. 

These seriously chocolatey ones were a huge hit with Oliver.


Chocolate and Beetroot Cake

75g Cocoa Powder
180g Plain Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
250g Caster Sugar
300g Fresh Cooked Beetroot
3 Eggs
200ml Corn Oil / Sunflower oil
1tsp Vanilla Extract

Bake in an oven at 180deg / Gas mark 4. I used 170deg Fan oven.

This recipe is meant to suit a 7" round tin - but I made 4 x Crown (American Jumbo) muffins and 6 regular sized cupcakes. They took about 20 mins to cook the normal sized ones and approx 25mins for the crown

There were no method instructions given, but I treated like muffins. I put the cooked beetroot and all wet ingredients together and blitzed them together until they resembled a summer fruit smoothie !

After that. I mixed in the dry ingredients until just combined and then spooned into paper cases. For the ones in the crown muffin mould. I lightly greased and floured the top inner rims.

 As the intention was to shove a whole heap of marshmallows on top and then flash under the grill, I just filled up to the top of the paper cases and not right into the recessed area.


Ok, so now you know NOT to do this at home, you can see I did....


Silicone WILL burn under the grill. Then again, so will marshmallows !

These were only under the grill for a few seconds. You will need to keep a VERY close and watchful eye over them or you could easily burn your cakes or your mould !

I had to leave them for about 15mins or so until the marshmallow started to set a bit again before removing them from the moulds.

Oh what fun :-)

Oliver had been asking for a trampoline for a while, so I cut him a deal (see the 19th May blog entry)

"When you wear big boy pants all the time and keep them dry, you can have a trampoline."

He had to save up stickers every time he kept pants / nappy dry to get a trampoline. We started on the Monday, he was dry and in pant (knickers) by the Thursday. I was expecting it to take weeks !

"Mummy - can we go and buy my trampoline now ?"

We went and bought the trampoline on the Saturday and put it up on the Sunday....

Que one VERY happy and proud little boy.. (and mummy !)

Bribery and corruption even works with two year olds.....

We are still bouncing along daily

Sarah-Jane Nash, - the silicone cook shop for all your bakeware and cookware

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Some Photos from the Ideal Home Show... (I'm Back !)

Sorry for the late post. The show finished a week ago, but I then took 4 days off on the way home and had a little break with my husband and Oliver in the Yorkshire Moors. My mobile and laptop had been banned. I was burnt out after the long hours I have been working the last few months and really needed some time off. This was the first holiday we have ever had as a family and the first time my husband and I have had a break together in at least 5 years !

Anyway, here are some photos as promised. The photo above shows (from left to right) Martin - (he works here as part of the staff), Simon (my younger brother, who was also helping out), Jean Christophe Novelli - (French Mitchelin star chef - I got a hug and a kiss !), myself, Carole (my cousin who was also helping at the show), my Dad (he got roped in too - bless him.... - we kept him busy !!)

Jean Christophe Novelli doing what he does best in the Celebrity Chef Theatre

This is a snap of our stand on the first day of the show, just before the halls opened and as we completed setting up.

All calm, all organised.

You may recognise my candy fudge bouquet. It was so pretty first time round that I decided to make another as a display piece for the stand.

Once the masses were let into the exhibition, it quickly got swamped. A couple of times our section had to be closed off for a short time as so many people were coming in at once it was becoming dangerous due to the volume of people !

In the foreground of this photo (if you look closely) - you will see some summer fruit and wine jellies I made too. These busy photos were from the second day. The heart shaped jellies were very popular and loads of people commented on how pretty they were. I'll blog the recipe and photos for those just shortly.....

The show was really really busy. Very hard work, but good fun. The chocolate moulds were very popular, along with the SAY IT WITH CAKE letter moulds and new push-up ice lolly moulds.

The work didn't finish when the show finished in the evening. I had baking to do for display items and we also had the stand to restock. Bed was never before 4am and time to get up again at 7am. No wonder I get tired..

I didn't get my presentation finished unfortunately. Just too much work and not enough time. I dad have a massive photo slideshow with almost 1,500 photos of our products and things made in them. Thank you to all who sent me photos and made this possible. It was lovely to be able to show specific things made in our moulds to customers that showed an interest in a specific product and wanted to know more.


One evening just before we finished, I escaped to take you some photos from the food section of the show. I know that's what you really want to see !

The Arran Cheese Shop - - posing nicely with a range of their cheeses. Unfortunately, I was in a huge rush. Didn't get a chance to sample anyone's products. Sorry !

Chrystal's Shortbread. - Really pretty packaging selling Scottish shortbread shame their website is practically non existent...

Prize winning pedigree fold of highland cattle producing pure premium highland beef (hangs for min. 4 weeks). Free range pigs producing our best selling sausages, also pork and Ayrshire bacon. Free range poultry.

These guys do a mean sausage. Can't find a website for them - only a facebook page with very little activity...

Erin Croft Bakery - yummy scones and baked goods. Couldn't find a website for them.

The young lad (son?) of the owner was really cute - but couldn't stand still.... or stop laughing when I was trying to take a photo. Ok - so I was winding him up rather a lot.

Here is a better photo of their scones - since the young lad was rather a blur.

Caurnie - - Handmade soap producers.

They use loads of natural oils in their handmade soaps. Smelt lovely. Things like Bog Myrtle which keeps the dreaded Scottish midges at bay.

Home Ground Coffee Ltd -

An artisan coffee roaster and merchant based in Cardross, near Helensburgh, Scotland

 Catchpole and Frogitt - Private Wine Merchants
This kind man gave me 1/2 a bottle of his lovely wine at the end of the first day. I turned it into some beautiful summer fruit and wine jellies which loads of people admired. I'll post photos and recipe for the jellies in the next day or so.....

Dream Cakes - Glasgow -

This lady was selling pretty cupcakes in a vast range of flavours and colours. Her kids helped out loads on her stand too. She was busy as a bee - making fresh cakes every night ready for the following day.

Babu Bombay Street Kitchen -

Their own recipe vegetable curry served with a toasted Scottish morning roll. They had some great big vats of the stuff on the go at all times. Smelt really good.

I don't have a company name or any info for this couple - but they were lovely. They had a large selection of homemade pastries including a really nice apple strudel and vast amounts of olives and anti pasti selections

Chris from Absolutely Cupcakes does the largest range of cupcake decorations I've EVER seen ! His stand was very near to ours, and I brough a load of pretty things home. He and his wife also run baking / sugarcraft classes and have a shop and tearoom in Dorset. 

Really nice guy. Do drop in and visit his online shop and tell him you heard about him here :-)

Hope you enjoy all the photos. Apologies if this blog post takes forever to load !

Sarah-Jane Nash - - the silicone bakeware specialists