Thursday, 8 December 2011


Ok, I'm really getting into christmas now and I love love love this recipe!  It's got it all - quick and easy to make, tastes delish and looks fabulous.  Apart from the final bake, there's no cooking, just assembling and all the ingredients you can just have in, brilliant if great aunt Beryl drops by unexpectedly.

2 Pkts Croissant Dough
1 Apple thinly sliced
1/2 Jar Mincemeat
200g Full Fat Cream Cheese
60g Icing Sugar

Icing Sugar & Cinnamon to dust

Mix together the cream cheese and icing sugar.

Arrange the dough on your baking sheet in a ring with the short sides joining together and the long sides pointing out like a sun.  Press the joining edges together slightly. 

Spread half the mincemeat on the dough topped with the sliced apple then the cream cheese mixture.  Finish it off with the remaining mincemeat.  Don't worry too much if you use a little more than half the jar, it will just be a little richer.

Now bring the points of your dough over the top of the filling into the centre tucking the ends under to form a wreath.  It sounds more complicated than it actually is.

Cook for 25 minutes at 180C.  Remove from the oven and dust with icing sugar and cinnamon.  

As it's christmas I also added a bit of edible glitter and some snowflake sprinkles.  You could also try it with some icing sugar mixed with a little lemon juice drizzled over the top.

Monday, 5 December 2011


I've just had a lovely start to Christmas at the Ashton Park Christmas Fair and shall be doing it all again this weekend at Hoylake Chapel Christmas Market    

Dec 10th 11.00am to 5.00pm Christmas Market
Arts & Crafts, Food Stalls, Charity Stalls & a Winter Barbecue

I shall have Pies Scones Cakes & Samosas
and if anyone still wants me to sign their 'Bake Off' books in time for christmas, I'm happy to do so

See you all there x

Saturday, 3 December 2011


I always find making pie's a rather satisfying.  It's such a homely comforting thing to do and I get a real sense of achievement from doing it. This recipe is not a particularly christmassy one but it's good to have in reserve over the festive season.  You can make it ahead and have it in the freezer for those days when you've been too busy because you're out christmas shopping or hung over from the works doo and can't face having to think about what to cook.  It's great hot or cold so you could also have it as part of your boxing day splatter or in the summer on a picnic.

I've made one giant one here, in fact, I doubled up the recipe and made two so I'd have another in reserve.  You could of course make the more traditional individual pasties if you wanted.

Heat  the oven to 160c fan.  Make your pastry with 300g Plain Flour.  Rub in 100g Butter/Margarine and 50g white fat like Cookeen.  This gives you a shorter more crisp pastry.  When you have the bread crumb finish, add enough cold water to bring it together to a dough.  Tip in onto a floured surface and knead slightly till it's smooth.

Now line am 8/9" cake tin with the pastry leaving a bit of an over hanging edge.  When you add your filling the pastry will draw in slightly so leaving an overhang ensures you have enough for your crimping.  

Next prepare your filling.  Thinly slice 3 medium potatoes and 200g swede.  Slicing them thinly means they will cook with ease.   Season 500g steak mince with 1 tbsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp mace 1/2 tsp salt and add 1 large onion finely chopped.  Now layer your filling into the lined tin starting with 1/3 of the potato and swede then 1/3 of the meat.  Repeat the layers till all your filling is in.  To finish your pie, trim the overhanging edge and brush it with a little water.  Top the pie with a pastry lid,  pressing the edges together.  Give it a lovely crimp and any other embellishments you like, personally I can't resist a bit of lettering, then brush with beaten egg and make a couple of steam holes with a knife.

The pie should take about 1hr 30 mins to bake, individual pasties will be around 45mins.

Thursday, 1 December 2011


OK, it is officially the start of the count down to Christmas, we have opened No.1 on the advent calendar and I am panicking even more about the lack of christmas shopping I have done.  

What better way to kick off the festivities that a giveaway.  To help you with your shopping I have the perfect gift CHOCOLATE!

Thanks to the extremely generous Bala Croman from The Chocolate Cellar in Liverpool I have a very chocolatey give away for you all.

I have 1Kg of 70% Belgian Chocolate and if that's not enough there is also a bottle of Rubis Chocolate Velvet Ruby wine.  This wine has the most sumptuous and decadent taste, rather like a dessert wine with a touch of caramel and rich chocolate.

I was very excited to get my hands on the chocolate wine and thought long and hard about a suitably luxurious recipe that would do justice to such an extravagant ingredient.  In the end I decided it would have to be poached pears.  Pears lend themselves brilliantly to chocolate and poaching them in red wine  
 is a classic.  I've also added a bit more christmas with some star anise and it worked big time.

First peel 6 Pears but keep them whole with the stalk intact.  I used fat juicy ripe ready to eat pears.  Using hard pears means they will need to cook for longer.  If you can be bothered you could core them too but it's not crucial. Put the whole bottle of chocolate wine (minus that sip you had) in a saucepan with 230g Sugar and 2 Whole Star Anise.  Warm this through till the sugar has melted then gently lower in the pears ensuring they are covered in the wine.  Cover the pan with a lid and poach for 30 minutes. Once the pears are tender and cooked through, remove them from the pan and simmer the wine till it has reduced by half.  Leave it to cool and it will become thick and syrupy.

Serve the pears with a little syrup poured over them and whipped cream or ice-cream.

To Enter this giveaway simply take a photograph of yourself covered in chocolate....oh no, that's not right, sorry!

You need to do one or more of the following:

  a) Follow this Blog and leave a comment telling me what you would make with the chocolate and or wine.

  b) For another chance of winning,  LIKE my Facebook page - Yasmin Limbert - Pieces of Rainbow and let me know you are entering this giveaway.
c) And just incase you want to enter 3 times, Follow Yasmin Limbert on Twitter and leave me a tweet letting me know you've entered.  

Good luck to you all.

I shall be drawing the winner at random on Friday 9th December.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


I've been having a great time the last couple of months teaching things that I love.  I was asked to teach a four week course in beginners cake decorating at Neston Youth & Community Centre.   I met 12 great people who by the end of the course new the basics in using fondant, frosting, icing and sugar.  We piped, flooded, feathered, crystalised, coloured, and stamped.  They went away with some new ideas, hints and tips and  enough confidence to do it all again at home.

That was followed with four weeks of cooking for Christmas where I was joined by some ladies from the cake decorating and some new faces.  We had a week of canapes & nibbles, then christmas dinner for meat eaters and veggies.  Next was puddings and we finished off with edible gifts.  It was a great way to kick off the up coming festivities and I now have most of my christmas dinner prepared and in the freezer so it's done me a huge favour 

I really loved spending time with people that have the same interest and enthusiasm for home cooking, baking, and eating - there was a lot of sampling!  We all swapped ideas and learned new things, including me.  Now I can't wait to carry on next year with more classes. 

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

W.K.F.C - West Kirby Fried Chicken

Oh my word, who can resist a bit of southern fried chicken or North West fried chicken as it would have to be in my house.  No! not deep frying I hear you call but there's nothing wrong with it every now and then or on special occasions like it's Tuesday perhaps.

To make it as authentic as the popular take away I also made coleslaw and added barbecue sauce to baked beans.  All that was missing was the cardboard bucket.

Just to help reduce the possible high calorific values of this meal, I removed the skin and the chicken was pre-cooked to reduce frying time, this also ensures it's cooked all the way through.  It was poached in milk which help it keep it's moisture and makes the meat more tender.

4 Chicken Portions - Thighs and Drumsticks
1 Litre Milk
1 tsp Salt

150g Flour
1 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Pinch Smoked Paprika
1 Egg Beaten
Oil For Deep Frying

Put the chicken in a large pan and cover with the milk and salt.  Bring the milk to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer till the chicken is cooked through.  This will take about 20 minutes.  The milk and pan will look quite disgusting and become a skummy mess but this will all be discarded so don't worry.  Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the milk and let it cool so you can handle it.

Next mix the flour with the seasoning.  It you prefer, you could add a ready made chicken seasoning and select your own flavour.  Once the chicken is cool, coat all the chicken pieces in the flour mix.  Now dip each piece in egg and then back in the flour.  this double dip gives it a lovely thick crispy coating.

Once all the chicken has been double dipped, Deep fry in hot oil till beautifully golden.  It should just take a minute or so.  Then serve with your barbecue beans, coleslaw and a handy wipe.

The coleslaw could not be easier.  In a large bowl mix 5 large tbsp mayonnaise with 5 tbsp greek yoghurt, 2 tsp honey and 1 tsp wholegrain mustard.  To this add 1/2 small white cabbage, 1 small red onion thinly sliced and 2 large grated carrots combine everything well.

I'm sure it's not crucial but watching I'm a celebrity seemed to go rather well with this.  Other forms of junk tv are available x

Saturday, 19 November 2011


I've been wanting to learn to crochet for a couple of years now, I even started buying one of those fortnightly magazines that teaches you step-by-step.  Unfortunately all I was left with was a pile of magazines, several binders and a big whole in my bank balance.

Finally my sister went to a set of classes at her local wool shop then spent a weekend with me passing on her newly found knowledge.  It made all the difference being shown what to do and even more being shown what not to do.

I recently went to the same wool shop The Crochet Chain in Waltham Abbey, along with my sister (an early birthday present) to learn to make a 'Scrumble'.  You use 'Freeform Crochet' or as I re-named it - 'Jazz Crochet'.  which is a random collection of different pieces in different textures, colours and stitches which results in an abstract design. They can be made into items just like any crochet or you can use small pieces as an embellishment.

This is perfect for me as there is no pattern - I can't read a pattern yet! and you just keep adding whatever and wherever you like, there are no restrictions.  It means every scrumble is unique, a piece of art like no other.  I think it looks really organic like a beautiful coral.

I don't know what I'm going to do with my scrumble yet but you'll be the first to know when I do x

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


A couple of summers ago I managed to retrieve an old deck chair from the dump which I re-covered with rather more vibrant fabric.  I still liked the stripy canvas that came with it though and made a satchel style bag with it.  Unfortunately, as the fabric was old to start with, it has become a little worn and I'm now loosing small items from it on a regular basis - there's only so much patching you can do.

Luckily my dear friend Emma bought me the Cath Kidston 'Sew' book for a birthday present and I've finally got around to making the bag that comes with it.  It's such a great book that comes with loads of projects to do along with all the patterns and templates you might need.

Now I just need to get some new stripy fabric, adapt the pattern slightly and I'll be away.  I can see a few people getting these as christmas presents this year!


It's not always easy to come up with a good meat free dinner that all the family will enjoy, especially when you have three children with varying views on vegetables.

I remember on pie week of GBBO Holly made a vegetarian pie which she said always went down well with her meat loving husband.  So I decided on her version of a cheese and potato pie.

It uses 3 different cheeses and is topped with puff pastry - which I have to admit I bought from the supermarket.  I still maintain life is too short to make puff pastry when you can get perfectly good stuff ready made. (It's important to know when to cheat!)

It was a dream to put together, just adding layers of the various ingredients it was assembled in a jiffy then in the oven for 30 minutes.  It went very well with baked beans and no-one missed the meat.  Cheers Holly.

The recipe calls for weights of ingredients that would leave me with oddments of stuff left over so I just made a little extra to use everything up and made a small one for another day.  I didn't have any of the onion left for this one though so used Branston Pickle as a substitute making it a sort of Ploughmans Pie.

You can find the full recipe in the pie section of The Great British Bake Off  How to Bake Book.

Monday, 7 November 2011


This week I'm running a competition giveaway in conjunction with the fabulous Betty Bee Vintage.  I love this blog, Betty writes about her love of everything 40's and 50's.  It's full of recipes, craft ideas, beauty tips and inspirational chat so well worth a visit.  Betty also writes for  Guardian Life and Style and for Vintage Life Magazine.

This unique retro cake stand, hand crafted by Betty herself and a must have for displaying your french fancies,  bettenburg or scones could be yours.


Betty is also running a competition.  You could win a copy of 'The Great British Bake Off Book' which I can highly recommend!  It's full of all the best recipes from the series and step by step master classes for the technical challenges featured on the programme.  It has also been signed by yours truly so pop over to her blog and take a look , I'll see you there x

If you fancy making the Christmas inspired Scones on the cake stand, here's the recipe.

Rub 100g Sunflower Margarine into 400g Self Raising Flour.  Stir in 50g Sugar, 1 tsp Mixed Spice, Zest of 1 Orange and 100g Dried Cranberries.  Now measure Juice of half an Orange and make it up to 200ml with milk.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently to form a smooth dough.  Roll out your dough to about 1" thick and cut out rounds.  Brush with an egg wash.  Bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes.

Saturday, 29 October 2011


Now then, I know I'm not the only one out there who is enjoying the current TV scheduling.  In fact, there's so much good tv at the moment I'm having problems with things clashing.  Added to this dilemma of what to watch is the what to eat issue.

They say it is better for you if you eat earlier in the day rather than late at night so I do this but truth be told it's so I can have a little smakeral of something whilst settling infront of Downton, Spooks, XFactor, Strictly......the list goes on.  I'm at the point now that I'm planning my snacks for next weeks episode at the end of this weeks!

The chosen treat for Downton this week was something I'm sure Mrs Patmore would have approved of. Mini BLT's.  It's pretty obvious really, it's just what it say's on the tin - Bread brushed with olive oil and griddled, pinned together with Parma Ham, L & T  There was also some mayo going on in there or even - a real guilty pleasure salad cream but ssh, don't tell anyone x

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


I'm loving Halloween and Autumn and crunchy leaves and orange and gold and soup and snuggling in my dressing gown.  Autumn was always my mothers favourite time of year and I never really got it, but it was the colours she loved and the low sun you get now makes them look spectacular.

Soon we shall have the aroma of bonfires, I love that smell, like incense filling the air but first we have halloween and all the excitement that comes with it.  

We all enjoy carving pumpkins in our house so with 5 of us we end up with a lot of pumpkin to eat.  There is the usual pie and soup, then we have it fried with shrimps and spices and now we have bread.  

I have to admit that the flavour wasn't particularly strong but it does give it a warm yellow ochre colour.

Pumpkin has a very high water content so you need to avoid adding anymore to it.  I steam mine to cook
it before I puree it in the blender.

Wash the seeds, dry them and use them on your bread or stick them on a baking tray sprinkled with a little peri peri seasoning and roast at 180 C for 20 minutes.  Once they are cool they will be crisp and a good snack.

600g Strong Bread Flour
30g Butter
10g Salt
15g Yeast
200g Pumpkin Puree
100g Water
100g Milk

Add the Butter to the flour and rub it in as you would with pastry, once it has disappeared into the flour stir in the salt and yeast.

Next add the wet ingredients.  You can do this by hand or in a mixer.  I tend to start it off in the mixer and once it's all combined I knead it by hand.  You should have a fairly wet but manageable dough.  To help it stop sticking when kneading, drizzle a little oil onto the surface.  Try not to add flour as this will give you a tougher dough.  The softer your dough, the softer your bread will be.

Dust your hands with flour and knead, stretching the dough, for a good ten minutes.  You will feel it become more elastic as you work.

Leave your dough to prove in a large bowl covered with a  t-towel for 1-1 1/2 hours somewhere warm and draft free.  It will double in size, I always get so excited when I go back to it and it has grown to fill the bowl.

Now knock the dough back by punching the air out or kneading it back to it's original size.  Form the dough into the shape you want your loaf on a baking sheet or stone.  I made a small loaf with half and 10 rolls in a brioche tin.  Leave it to rise again for another hour.  Use a sharp knife to score a pattern on your loaf then bake at 200 C for 30-40 minutes.

To check if it's cooked, you can tap the underneath of your bread, if it sounds hollow it is done.


Tuesday, 25 October 2011


This baking malarky has taken over my life somewhat of late so with HALLOWEEEEEN just around the corner it's been nice to get back to being a bit crafty.

Here is my Pumpkin Pinata made using an extra large balloon and good old papier mache.  I've stuck on 5 layers of news paper using a flour and water paste.  The paste should be the consistency of thick double cream (can't get away from food here). Leave the knot of the balloon poking out and once the pumpkin has dried - over night, and is hard, pop the balloon and remove it from the middle.

Fill your pumpkin with lots of goodies then seal the hole with more papier mache.  Add fringed strips of tissue paper on the outside.  Finish it off with a classic pumpkin face and Jack's your uncle!

Monday, 24 October 2011


I made these slices for Aubergine Cafe - West Kirby this week.  I've used a recipe with oil rather than butter or margarine and it gives it a soft light sponge.  But it's the feathered chocolate top that makes it something I'd choose to have with my milk shake. 


We love sausages in our house but sometimes I want something more than just bangers and mash but just as simple to make.

This tart always goes down well and can be eaten hot or cold.  It's good for lunch or supper and is easy to transport for picnics.  It freezes well too.  I have used cumberland sausages because that's what I like but you could use which ever you prefer.  Fancy it up a bit if you want and use toulouse or wild boar sausages.  I do suggest that you use good quality sausages though as others can be very fatty and although the bread crumbs soak up some fat, you could end up with an oil slick on top.

You don't have to make your own pastry but you really should.  It's not hard and much cheaper than the bought stuff.

200g Plain Flour
75g Sunflower Margarine
25g White Fat (Cookeen)
Cold Water to Combine

1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Large Leek
8 Fresh Sage Leaves
454g Cumberland Sausages (1 Pack of 8)
100g Fresh White Bread Crumbs
1 Egg
Honey to Drizzle
Sesame Seeds

First make your pastry by rubbing the 2 fats into the flour.  You can do this by hand or in a food processor.  I use a little white fat in my pastry because I find it gives a crisper bake.  Once you have the 'bread crumb' finish, add your cold water slowly while mixing till you have a soft slightly wet dough.  If it's still a little wet it's easier to not overwork when adding flour to the surface and rolling out.

Roll your pastry and line a 8/9" flan tin.  Trim the edges and pop in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill.  This helps stop it shrinking when baking.  When it's chilled, line with parchment and fill with baking beans (dried pulses, rice, whatever you have to hand).  Bake for 15 minutes at 160C Fan.  Next remove the beans and parchment and return to the oven for another 5 minutes to cook the centre.  Because of the fat in the sausages it's important that the pastry is cooked to avoid the dreaded  'Soggy Bottom'.

While the pastry is cooking, slice your leeks thinly.  I slice it into quarters horizontally then slice the four sections, you don't want big chunks of leek.  Put the leeks in a pan with the oil and cook till soft and translucent.  Now snip in the sage and cook for 2 minutes more.

Let the leeks cool slightly while you remove the skins from your sausages.  Now add the leeks, breadcrumbs and egg and combine well.  You could use your hands for this but if you're a bit squeamish, use a mixer.  When it's all mixed, fill your pastry shell and Bake for 20 minutes at 160C Fan.

Drizzle over some honey and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake for a further 10 minutes to get a nice sticky golden finish.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


Last week I was very lucky to be the recipient of a bag of quince.  The donor was Mary-Ann Time To Cook, one of the 3 finalists from The Great British Bake Off GBBO.  We had lunch together and when I arrived Mary-Ann handed me my bounty and I left it in the boot of my car while we ate.  On returning to the car I was met with the most glorious perfume.  Quince has a sweet honey like scent like nothing else, it is neither apple nor pear but something in between and when made into a jelly is the colour of rose tinted amber.

My recipe is not very precise for this.  I did not weigh the fruit but measured the liquid it produced.  You need 500g of sugar for every 600ml of liquid.  Quince has a high pectin content so should set easily but if you have the fear of not setting you could use a jam sugar which has pectin added to be on the safe side.

Fill your largest pan with the fruit cut into chunks and add a lemon cut in half.  Next add enough water to just cover the fruit and bring it to the boil.  Once it's boiling, leave it to simmer until the fruit is soft and mushy.  This should take about an hour but don't worry if it takes longer.  Give it a stir from time to time to stop it sticking and burning on the bottom.

Now you need to strain the liquid from the mush.  If you have a jelly bag - lucky you.  I have no such thing so used a pillow case hooked on an upturned stool with the cleaned pan underneath.  Leave it to strain over night to ensure you get every last drop.

My carrier bag gave me just under 1200 ml so I used 1kg of sugar.  Add the sugar to the pan and boil till you reach setting point.  You can use either a jam thermometer for this or test a teaspoon of the jelly on a chilled saucer.  I usually put one in the freezer before I start boiling.  Leave it on the saucer for a minute then run your finger through it, if it forms a skin which then wrinkles, it's ready.

Pour your jelly into sterilised jars and feel very smug that you have just made something very tasty indeed while you listen for the pop pop popping of your lids.

I sterilise my jars by washing them in warm soapy water then put them into an oven at 100C till they're dry.  Use them straight away once they're out of the oven.  I put the lids in a pan and boil them in water for 5 minutes.

Thanks Mary-Ann Time To Cook   Now, where's the cheese?

Monday, 10 October 2011


 I've been making these gluten free coffee cakes and coconut cakes for Dafna's Cheescake Factory in Liverpool for a while now and they've proved to be a hit.  Gluten free cakes can be a little dry I think but I've used potato and sweet potato along with rice flour and ground almonds.  Adding vegetables to the mixture makes them soft and light.  Both are topped with buttercream to finish.

Everyone knows I like to save money where I can and these mini cakes were baked in sponge pudding tins, the ones you get in the supermarket and boil in the can.  They're a 4" tin and perfect for a gift size cake.

Friday, 7 October 2011


Mo's not keen on cake so I made this flower pot of pink meringue roses instead.

Hope you had a lovely day Mo x

Thursday, 6 October 2011


I don't know where to start with thanking all of you for your amazing support throughout this extraordinary chapter in my life. I've been overwhelmed with the love and encouragement that's been sent my way and it means the world to me, you have no idea.

 I never imaged when I started on this road how much it would change my life, I think I was a little naive really. Getting on the show was a huge confidence boost but you have all tipped that over the edge.

I've had the most exciting, exhilarating and exhausting time that I would not have missed for the world. It has given me so much and I'm a far better cook now because of it and my enthusiasm for cooking, baking and sharing that has increased by having this blog, something I would not have done were it not for the show and my fellow contestants encouraging me to do so.

I have so many highlights; acquiring new friends in the other bakers - a diverse group of people who under different circumstances would never have met. Being crowned Star Baker for my bread and giving as good as I got from Paul over my basket. Laughing hysterically on the train with Janet, a more adorable and hilarious person you'll never meet. Being invited to go on BBC Radio Merseyside and being talked about, in a positive light by Chris Evans on his breakfast show. Mary Portas tweeting about me, having my recipes published and being on the BBC Food website and finding old friends that I should never have lost contact with. But best of all has been the warmth people have shown, friends, family and strangers.

So, if you have sent me a text, messaged me on Face Book, the blog or Twitter, stopped me in the street, emailed me or mentioned me on the radio, I THANK YOU, You have no idea how much it means Xx