image of Hot cross buns

Hot Cross Buns

Figgy Bars

Raspberry Bars

Mushroom Risotto

Parasol Mushroom Fritters

Spiced Lamb

Demerara Fruit Cake

Tomato & Orange soup

Chilli Jelly

Pan-Roasted Italian Onions with San Daniele Ham and Shaved Pecorino

Homemade Christmas Mincemeat

Banoffi Pie

Walnut Coffee Cake

Black Cherry Delight

Leek and Asparagus soup

Dot's recipes


Traditional English Hot Cross Buns

If it is coming up to Easter the time has come once again to brush the dust off the annual recipe for Hot Cross Buns. This one is taken from an old recipe book called "Radiation Cookery Book for use with the Regulo, New World Gas Cookers." My mum always used this recipe from her own book. I bought this book a few years ago in a charity shop and is the 39th edition printed in February 1951. I always make up three times the amount as I give some to our neighbours here in France - the French enjoy them (but have never heard of them) and the English always like the taste of home. (NB - see notes below.) The buns freeze well too.

Hot Cross Bun recipe:

450g / 1lb strong plain flour (bread flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice
50g / 2oz butter or margarine
50g / 2oz currants
25g / 1oz fresh yeast or equivalent dried yeast
35g / 1½oz sugar
250ml / ½ pint warm milk (approx)

Sift flour salt and spice into large bowl and leave in a warm place.
Cream the fresh yeast and sugar together and add the warm milk. (For dried yeast follow the instructions given.)
Leave the mixture to sponge for about 10 minutes.
Mix the dried ingredients with the warm yeast and milk to form a light dough.
Beat well and leave in a warm place to rise until the dough has doubled its bulk.
Turn onto a floured board, knead well for 5 to 10 minutes and divide into 12 portions.
Make up into buns then flatten and mark deeply with a cross.
Stand on a floured baking tray in a warm place to prove for about 20 minutes or until the buns have doubled in size.
Brush with milk or beaten egg and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 200°C / 400°F / Gas 6 until golden brown.
Remove from oven and brush straight away with a glaze made by dissolving about a tablespoon of sugar in a tablespoon each of milk and water.

Remember that if you are thinking of doubling or trebling the recipe that 25g / 1oz of yeast will still be enough for up to 3 times the recipe.

Over the years I have adapted the recipe to suit us.
Dave and I prefer to have a spicier bun so I usually add more mixed spice and/or ground cinnamon - at least another teaspoon.
You can also add some chopped mixed peel if you like it - about 25g / 1oz will do.
Different types of flour absorb different amounts of fluid so you may also need to add some extra flour or use a little less milk to give you a mix that will knead well.
You can either mark a cross on the bun by cutting a cross with a sharp knife before leaving them to rise or do what I do by making a flour and water paste and piping a cross on just before you pop them in the oven.
When I first came to France I found it difficult to find strong bread flour so I used a packet of brioche mix and added spices and currants. You could use an ordinary bread mix but you would need to add butter, spices and currants to get the right flavour.
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Figgy Bars

This recipe is for Emma - taken from Family Circle magazine years ago. A food processer is used but you can adapt the recipe if you prefer.

250g / 9oz dried figs
1 orange - zest only
200 ml / 7 fl oz orange juice
25g / 1oz butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

225g / 8oz plain flour
4 tbsp cornflour
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
125g / 4½oz caster sugar
150g / 5oz unsalted butter, softened and diced
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Pre-heat oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 4

Make the filling.
Put figs, zest, butter, cinnamon and orange juice in a pan and bring to the boil.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then pulse in a food processer until it becomes a thick paste.

Make the shortbread.
Put the flour, cornflour, baking powder,salt and sugar and pulse. Add the butter and vanilla essence. Combine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Tip out of processer and bring together with your hands, then divide the dough into two (one slightly more than the other).

Press the larger portion of shortbread mixture into a 23x33cm rectangular tin, using the back of a spoon.
Spread with fig mixture and scatter remaining shortbread on top.
Bake for 25-30 mins.
Cool in tin, slice into bars.
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Raspberry Bars

This recipe is for Emma - can't remember where I got it from but it was probably Good Food magazine....

200g / 8oz plain flour
200g / 8oz porridge oats
250g pack butter at room temperature
175g / 6oz light muscovado sugar
finely grated zest 1 lemon
100g pack pine nuts
2 punnets raspberries (total weight 250g / 9oz)

Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas 5 and butter a shallow 23cm square tin.

Tip the flour oats and butter into a mixing bowl and use your fingers to work the mixture together to make coarse crumbs.

Mix in the sugar, lemon zest and three quarters of the pine nuts using your hands, then press the mixture well together so it forms large sticky clumps.

Drop about two thirds of the oat mixture into the base of the tin, spread it out and press down very lightly - don't pack it too firmly.

Scatter the raspberries on top, sprinkle over the remaining oat mixture and remaining pine nuts, then press everything down lightly.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until pale golden on top.

Take out of oven, cut into 12 bars with a sharp knife while still warm, then leave to cool in the tin before removing.

Will keep for 2-3 days. Alternatively these bars will freeze well.

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Spotted some huge mushrooms growing on a bank and recognised them at once as parasol mushrooms. Picked them along with a horse mushroom I found further along and made an amazing supper of mushroom risotto garnished with mushroom fritters.

* WARNING: Please be careful when you pick wild mushrooms and if you are in any doubt don’t eat them.

Mushroom Risotto

600g mushrooms, (wild or cultivated) cleaned and cut into pieces if large
4 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
50g unsalted butter
100g onion, finely chopped
350g Arborio rice
50ml dry white wine
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
100g grated fresh Parmesan cheese
chopped fresh parsley

Stir fry the mushrooms in 3 tbsp of olive oil for 1 to 2 minutes then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Heat the remaining oil and 25g butter in large pan. Add the onion and cook gently for about 2 minutes until softened but do not brown.
Add the rice and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring all the time.
Meanwhile, bring the stock to a simmer.
Add the wine and when it is almost all absorbed add about 200 ml of the simmering stock and cook again until the stock is absorbed. Continue to add stock 200ml at a time until stock is all gone.
Stir in the mushrooms, season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining butter Parmesan and parsley.
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Parasol Mushroom Fritters
I found this recipe in a book called “Wild Food” written by Roger Phillips (ISBN 0-330-28069-4)

4 large parasols (you could use any large flat mushroom)
50g flour
1 egg
150ml milk
25g melted butter
half teaspoon of mixed herbs
salt and black pepper

Beat egg, milk, melted butter, herbs and 25g of the flour together with the seasoning.
Wash mushrooms, remove the stems and cut into quarters and coat lightly in flour.
Dip into batter and deep fry until crisp and golden.

This is so quick and easy to put together and makes a delicious supper dish served with rice or potatoes and green salad.
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Spiced Lamb

1kg lamb cut into cubes
2 onions, chopped
8 tablespoons red wine
1 large tin tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
half teaspoon ground ginger
half teaspoon chilli powder
100g raisins

Brown meat in small batches and remove from pan.
Fry onions until golden brown then add meat and the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer for one and a half hours or until tender.
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Demerara Fruit Cake

This cake always goes down very well especially with our French friends and I made one for François’s birthday.
Demerara Fruit Cake
225g / 8oz self raising flour
1 x 2.5ml spoon / ½ teaspoon salt
50g / 2oz glacé cherries
175g / 6oz butter softened
175g / 6oz brown sugar 2 eggs
225g / 8oz raisins
175g / 6oz sultanas
1 x 15ml spoon / 1 tablespoon golden syrup
25g / 1oz Demerara sugar for sprinkling
Pre-heat oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas 2
Line a 1kg / 2lb loaf tin with greased greaseproof paper or non-stick parchment. Cream butter and sugar together. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Turn into prepared tin and sprinkle the top with the Demerara sugar. Bake for at least 2 hours until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. It depends on the oven; sometimes it takes about 2½ hours. Cool in tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto wire rack to cool. The flavour of the cake improves if kept wrapped in greaseproof paper for a few days and it will keep well for up to a month or longer if kept wrapped in a tin.
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Tomato & Orange soup

35g / 1½ oz butter or margarine
1 onion – chopped
2 sticks of celery – chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
750g / 1lb 8oz tomatoes – chopped
900ml / 1½ pints chicken stock
1 orange – grated rind and juice
1 bouquet garni
3 cloves
1 tsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons cream (optional)
snipped chives to garnish

Melt butter and add all the vegetables. Sweat gently for 5 minutes.
Stir in the stock, orange juice and half the orange rind.
Add the bouquet garni, sugar and pepper to taste.
Bring to a boil then simmer gently for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked.
Blitz the soup and then pass through a sieve.
Serve with a swirl of cream (optional) and chopped chives.

This is a good way to use up soft tomatoes.
I have made this with tinned tomatoes and orange juice from a carton too.
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My daughters gave me a subscription to Prima for Mothers day – thanks girls! I found this recipe in the November 2006 edition.

Chilli Jelly

3lb /1.4kg cooking apples roughly chopped including skin and pips.
few sprigs of rosemary
about 3lb / 1.4kg sugar
good pinch of chilli flakes – about 2-3 teaspoons or to your preferred heat

In a large pan, add chopped apples, rosemary and 3 pints /1.7 litres of cold water.
Cook for about 30 minutes until apples are soft, remove rosemary and mash gently with a potato masher.
Strain the juice through a jelly bag. Leave to stand for at least a couple of hours or overnight – do not squeeze bag or jelly will be cloudy. Discard the apple.
Measure the juice into a pan and add 1lb / 450g sugar for each 1 pint / 560 ml of juice and stir until dissolved.
Tip in chilli flakes and stir.
Cook on a fairly high heat for about 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid reduces and it reaches setting point.
A scum will form – remove it carefully with a slotted spoon taking care not to remove too many chilli flakes.
Test if jelly has reached setting point by putting a spoonful of jelly onto a plate and, after a few minutes, push with your finger. If it wrinkles it is ready.
Carefully pour into sterilised jars and leave to set overnight.
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I found this recipe in “Delia Smith’s Winter Collection” published by BBC Books.
ISBN 0 563 36477 7 (hardback)

Pan-Roasted Italian Onions with San Daniele Ham and Shaved Pecorino

12 oz / 250g flat Italian onions or shallots, peeled
6-8oz / 175-225g San Daniele ham, thinly sliced
4oz / 110g mature Pecorino Romano
2 fl oz / 55ml extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 fl oz / 55ml balsamic vinegar
salt and coarsely crushed peppercorns

Heat the olive oil in a thick based pan, stir in the onions or shallots and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add the brown sugar, thyme leaves, salt and pepper and 2 tablespoons of water.
Cover and cook slowly over a low heat for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the liquid caramelises slightly and the onions are soft with a little colour. Stir the onions from time to time to prevent them sticking to the base of the pan.
Add the vinegar, stir well then remove from the heat and allow the onions to cool. You can prepare to this stage in advance if you wish. Keep the onions in an airtight container in the fridge.
Just before you are ready to serve, pre-heat the oven to Gas 4, 350°F, 180°C and place the onions in a shallow, lidded casserole for 15 minutes.
Arrange them on a plate with a little of the balsamic dressing spooned over.
Lay the ham over the onions and use a potato peeler to shave the Pecorino over it.
Sprinkle a little more dressing around the plate and sprinkle some crushed black pepper over the cheese.
Serve with ciabatta and some good butter.

I used Parma ham and Parmesan cheese and served with fresh baguette and butter.
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I used Delia Smith’s recipe for mincemeat. You can find it in her book “Delia Smith’s Christmas” published by BBC Books.
ISBN 0 563 37064 5 (paperback)
ISBN 0 563 36048 8 (hardback)

Homemade Christmas Mincemeat

1lb / 450g Bramley apples, cored and chopped small – no need to peel them
8oz / 225g shredded suet
12oz / 350g raisins
8oz / 225g sultanas
8oz / 225g currants
8oz / 225g whole mixed candied peel – finely chopped
12oz / 350g soft dark brown sugar
the grated zest and juice of 2 oranges
the grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
2oz / 50g slivered almonds
4 teaspoons mixed ground spice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
grated nutmeg
6 tablespoons brandy

Combine all the ingredients except the brandy in a large bowl. Stir and mix them well together.
Cover the bowl and leave for at least 12 hours or overnight in a cool place.
Pre-heat the oven to Gas ¼, 225°F, or 120°C.
Cover the bowl loosely with foil and place in oven for three hours.
Remove the bowl from the oven - it should be swimming in fat, as the suet will have melted.
Leave to cool and stir from time to time - the fat will coagulate and encase all the other ingredients.
When the mincemeat is quite cold stir in the brandy.
Pack into clean dry jars, cover with wax discs and seal.
It will keep in a cool dark cupboard indefinitely, but is best eaten within a year.

Vegetarians can make this mincemeat using vegetarian suet.
I added some glace cherries to the recipe and used a little extra brandy too!
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Banoffi Pie

This recipe is so easy and is always popular. Got this recipe years ago when it was demonstrated at a WI meeting. Can’t remember who demonstrated but thanks anyway.

5oz / 125g chocolate digestive biscuits - crushed
2oz / 50g butter - melted
1 tin condensed milk
2 bananas
½ pint double cream

Put unopened tin of condensed milk in saucepan and cover completely with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 to 3 hours making sure the water is always covering the tin. Remove and allow the tin to cool before opening. Combine the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and press into a 9″ (23cm) flan dish. Leave to set. Chill in fridge. Spread the cooked condensed milk evenly on top of the biscuit base. Slice and lightly crush the bananas. Spread on top of the caramelised milk. Whip cream and cover the bananas. Allow 2 to 3 hours for the flavours to combine. This recipe is so good and well worth making often. Use a larger saucepan and boil more than one can at time so you will have one ready for next time.
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Walnut Coffee Cake

Have had this recipe for ages. It is in the instruction book (edition No.12) for the Kenwood Chef. The booklet must be at least 20 years old.

6oz / 150g self raising flour plus ½ teaspoon of baking powder or
plain flour plus 1 teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
5oz / 125g sugar
4oz / 100g soft butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 tablespoon powdered coffee mixed with 3 tablespoons milk
2oz / 50g walnuts finely chopped

Pre-heat oven – Gas 5, 375°F, or 190°C. Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Beat well together for 2 or 3 minutes until the mixture lightens in colour. Turn into a well-greased baking tin (20cm square or 23cm round) Bake for 40 minutes until firm and springy to the touch. Cool on rack and when cold, ice with coffee butter icing and sprinkle with a few walnuts. I have changed the recipe slightly. I split the cake in half and spread vanilla flavoured butter icing between the layers. I spread white glacé icing on the top, feather it with coffee flavoured icing and sprinkle with walnut pieces.
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Black Cherry Delight

I got this recipe years ago when I was a waitress at Tasters Wine Bar in London Road, Gloucester – thanks Graham. Again this is an easy recipe and is a favourite with my two daughters. This recipe will serve four to six people depending on the size of the tin of black cherries and whether you use metric or imperial measurements (the metric is slightly more).

½ pint/300ml double cream
½ pint/300ml black cherry yoghurt
1 tin black cherries – pitted
Dark brown sugar

Whip cream until thick and fold in the black cherry yoghurt. Drain and dry the cherries and double-check that there are no stones. Fold into the cream and yoghurt. Divide mixture between four to six individual dishes or wineglasses. Sprinkle the top with a thick layer of brown sugar and leave for several hours (preferably overnight) in the fridge. If the sugar looks a little wet, sprinkle on a little more sugar. It should set hard as if it has been grilled but its just as nice if the sugar doesn’t set. You can vary the recipe by using different fruit with its matching yoghurt.
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Leek and Asparagus soup

You can't beat a good homemade soup can you? Bought some asparagus this week to make a quiche. Made a delicious soup from the bits of stalk usually discarded along with some old leeks from the garden and some french beans lurking in the bottom of the salad drawer in the fridge. Not sure of exact amounts I used but have made an educated guess!!

5 to 6 leeks (old and a bit woody will do)
trimmings from a bunch of asparagus
about 150g / 6oz french beans
3 large cloves of garlic peeled
chicken stock
25g / 1oz butter
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped mint
seasoning to taste

Wash leeks, asparagus and beans then slice thinly. Melt butter in large saucepan, add vegetables and garlic and sweat them gently for about 10 minutes. Add chicken stock - about 500ml / 1 pint and bring to boil. Simmer gently until vegetables are soft. Blend soup and pass through a sieve to remove any woody bits from the old leeks and asparagus stalks. To serve - Re heat over a gentle heat, adjust seasoning and stir in the parsley and mint.

Like any home made soup you can change the proportions of ingredients to suit what you have. To make the soup extra tasty I added some extra veg after blending and sieving - a few stalks of decent asparagus and leeks (that had not gone woody) sweated gently in butter. If the soup is a little thick then add some more stock or a little cream if you wish.


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