Friday, 30 March 2012

Half-term boredom buster - crunchy peanut butter cookies

I have been making these little cookies for years and I still go back to them time and time again.

I came across the recipe when I was living at home with my parents.
When I first started taking an interest in baking I would flick through my mum's cookery books and look for something easy to try.

The book which this recipe came from has been my bible ever since.
It was written my Rosemary Wadey and published in 1979 (five years before I was even born) and it literally includes everything you need to know about baking and cake decorating.

My mum probably thinks she’s lost this book – sorry mum, I’ve had it all this time.

The peanut butter cookies have always been an easy option because I pretty much always have a jar of peanut butter in the cupboard, crunchy of course.
I just love the stuff. But the taste of peanut butter isn’t overwhelming in these biscuits, it is light and very subtle.

If you’re a parent with young children and are looking for something to keep them entertained over the Easter holidays, this recipe is a great one to try with the kids.

They’ll love rolling the dough into little balls (your hands do get quite greasy), and they will love the sweet and crunchy taste.

If you’re not a parent, try this recipe anyway for yourself. The cookies are really quick and easy and they go nicely with a cuppa.

50g/2oz crunchy peanut butter
50g/20z margarine
Grated rind of half an orange
50g/2oz caster sugar
40g/1.5oz light soft brown sugar
½ beaten egg
40g raisins or sultanas, chopped
100g self-raising flour, sifted

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and put a sheet of greaseproof paper onto a baking tray.
Put the peanut butter, margarine, orange rind and sugars into a mixing bowl and beat together with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.
Beat in the egg then add the dried fruit and flour, and mix to make a fairly firm dough. (You can do this part in a food processor or mixer if you wish.)
Roll into balls about the size of a large walnut and place well apart on the baking tray. Slightly flatten using a fork in a criss-cross pattern, or use a blunt knife.
Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes or until risen and light golden brown.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Pie master Tom Bridge celebrates British Pie Week

To mark British Pie Week which ends today, Bolton chef and author Tom Bridge has shared one his favourite recipes and written a guest blog about his passion for cooking and his love of the Great British pie…
I started cooking at a very young age, holding on to my mother’s apron.
I was born in the pub trade, for 20 years my mother made pies for the customers at the Gypsy’s Tent pub in Bolton town centre.
Since then I have worked all over the world, cooking for numerous celebs including Charlton Heston, Jane Seymour, David Niven and Frank Sinatra to name a few.
To date I have had 23 cookery books published – the best seller at the moment being Pie Society.
Here is one of my favourite recipes – a Lancashire Tart. It is so tasty and you can make it your own by using your local bacon and cheese.
The tart is made with layers of traditional British pork or Cumberland sausage meat, black pudding, smoked bacon and scallop potatoes topped with Lancashire cheese accompanied by a herb salad and a spicy tomato dressing.
350g shortcrust pastry
200g Lancashire black pudding, skin removed
200g pork or Cumberland sausage meat
150g slices of naturally cured smoked bacon, trimmed
2 large potatoes peeled and thinly sliced to 3mm
250ml full fat milk
150ml double cream
5 free range eggs
500g grated Lancashire cheese
Chopped parsley
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 or 180 degrees
Line a tart case with shortcrust pastry and blind bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
Seal the cooked pastry with egg wash and bake for a further minute.
Make the black pudding into a round paté and cover with cling film and flatten out to fit the tart case, repeat this process with the sausage meat.
Trim any fat from the bacon then grill until crisp. Chop into fine pieces and leave to cool.
Slice the potatoes to approximately 3mm in depth and steam until just el dente (if steamer is not available simply boil).
Blend together the milk, cream and egg, and seasoning slightly.
To assemble the tart as seen in the photograph, start by placing black pudding and a layer of potato in the bottom of the tart then a ladle of cream mix, a sprinkle of Lancashire cheese and a pinch of parsley.
This process is repeated with the sausage next, then bacon, then sliced potato and finally by sprinkling chopped parsley and cheese on top.
This is then baked for 40 minutes at 140 degrees until the liquid is set. When cooling place a weight on top of the tart to compress the layers.
Portion as you like but this will provide 14 portions as a starter size.
For more recipes and pie-related news from Tom Bridge, visit his websites or