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Baking Hubby’s Birthday Chocolate Cake

By 28 January 2014 Food, Home Cooking, Life
Mary Berry's Baking Bible

Thursday is hubby’s birthday. He’s finally catching up with me. I’m only three months older but he does like to joke about how he’s my toy boy!

To help celebrate the occasion I’m baking him a cake. This year I’m making him a chocolate cake, his favourite. It’s got to be better than last year’s attempt. I must have used the wrong recipe because the cake ended up about 2cm thick and then I tried decorating it with ‘writing icing’ that was too runny so it looked like a child did it!

I’m using Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, which I got for my birthday. I’m hoping the recipe will be pretty foolproof. It was definitely really easy to follow. All the dry ingredients into the bowl, make a well, and then add all the wet ingredients before beating it all together. The batter tasted amazing. One of the best parts of baking is licking the spoon!

I’ve just got the two cakes out of the oven (it’s going to have four layers sandwiched with chocolate butter icing!) and they smell divine! The whole living area smells all warm and chocolatey. Icing and layering the cake is my job for tomorrow. I’ve also ordered a printed icing topper to finish the cake off. Hubby is 28 going on 8, so of course he wanted a Superman chocolate cake! If he had his way, the cake would be shaped like the logo. The estimated delivery date for the topper is his birthday so I’m hoping it does arrive in time so I can actually put it on the cake. Otherwise, it’ll be going on a half eaten cake!

Mary Berry's Death by Chocolate Cake recipe

prepared cake tins

Licking the spoon

Freshly baked cakes

Once the cake’s finished I’ll post a pic. I can’t wait to try it. ūüôā


So here’s the finished cake! Unfortunately, the printed Superman icing to go on top hasn’t arrived. Luckily hubby was pleased with the cake anyway.

Finished Death by Chocolate Cake

What do you think?

Rachel x

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Tonight’s Dinner – Pork with Fennel, Rice and Spinach, Topped with Caramelised Onions

By 17 January 2014 Food, Home Cooking
Pork with fennel rice and spinach topped with caramelised onions WeightWatchers recipe

Check out this tasty little number! Would you believe this is a healthy, low fat dinner from a WeightWatcher’s recipe book?

Simply fry a bulb of fennel, add a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of raisins, 120g of long grain rice (preferably brown but I’ve got white to use up) and 600ml of chicken stock (I cheated and used a Knorr Stock Pot). Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.

While this is cooking, slow cook a chopped onion in a frying pan. After 15 minutes or so, add four pork loin steaks to the frying pan with the onions.

Before serving the rice, stir in 150g of baby spinach until wilted.

Dish up the rice, then the pork with the caramelised onions on top. A squeeze of lemon juice finishes off the dish.

Serves 2.

This was the first time I’d tried this recipe and it was delish! I felt the pork was a little over cooked but I find it so hard to get it just right. It went from still raw in the middle to over cooked in about a minute! Does anyone have any advice on cooking pork loin steaks?

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Gorgeous Fresh Vegetables from Kent Veg Box

By 28 November 2013 Food, Fresh produce
Kent Veg Box

Yummy vegetables from farms in Kent

Last week I was lucky enough to be sent a free box of gorgeous Kentish veg from the lovely people at Kent Veg Box. ¬†This is the medium veg box that would normally cost ¬£12. The box was delivered to my work and was bursting with vegetables, which were covered in mud, as if to prove that they were farm fresh! Inside the box I had potatoes, parsnips, red onions, a red cabbage, carrots, greens, brussel sprouts and a swede. I also got a box of six free range eggs but they’re not normally included in the box.

The challenge was to work out how to use up all the veggies because I already had all my meals planned out. With a family gathering coming up, I decided to make carrot cupcakes using the scrummy little carrots and some of the fresh eggs. I had to buy another carrot from the supermarket to make up the recipe but this was no hardship.

Carrot cupcake

I found the recipe on HonieMummy Blog

It made 13 large muffins but could definitely have made more, it’s just that I had 13 people to feed! I used the cup measurements (except for the carrot, which I measured out in grams).

Carrot Cupcake Recipe

175g / 6 oz / 1 cup soft brown sugar
175ml / 6 fl oz sunflower oil
3 free range eggs
150g / 5 oz / 1 1/4 cups of plain flour
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg – I used mixed spice
240g / 8 1/2 oz / 1 3/4 cups grated carrot
1 tsp of orange essence / 1 tbsp of orange juice – I used freshly squeezed satsuma juice as that’s all I had in the house!

Cream Cheese Frosting

200g soft cheese
500g icing sugar

I decorated the cupcakes with chocolate carrots from Sainsbury’s baking aisle.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C / 350 deg F / Gas Mark 4.
  2. Mix the sugar and the oil.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well.
  4. Sift the dry ingredients and add to the mix and beat together until combined.
  5. Add the grated carrots to the batter and mix well.
  6. Add 1 scoop (45ml / 3 tbsp) of mix to each of the muffin cases and bake in the oven for 20 mins.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before adding the frosting and decoration.

I then took the veg box to my mother-in-law’s so that she and my father-in-law could use what they wanted for our roast dinner. And what a roast dinner it was! We had a delicious roast chicken with roast potatoes (not actually from the veg box but bought from a farm in Sellinge), honey roast parsnips, brussel sprouts with bacon, mashed swede and carrots. Fresh vegetables taste so much better than frozen ones and it was great to know that these are grown here in the Garden of England.

We’ve still got the red cabbage and some spuds and onions left! Please feel free to suggest what I can use them for! I’m thinking of doing a trial run of braised cabbage for Christmas. If it’s nice I think it’s freezable so I could just pop it in the freezer and take it with me to my Mum’s on Christmas day. And for the spuds and onions – rostis? Think I might have a recipe for potato rostis and poached egg somewhere….

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Canterbury Food and Drink Festival 2013

By 6 October 2013 Food Festivals, Kent

Phew this week has flown past!  How can it be a week since the Canterbury Food and Drink Festival?  Shame on me for not getting this blog written sooner.

The last time I went to the Canterbury Food Festival it was called the Euro Fair and it was 2004! ¬†So I thought it was time I went back. ¬†As well as just wanting to have a mooch around, I was on the hunt for a birthday present for my Granma. ¬†The Canterbury traffic seemed to be double as busy as normal and I was very pleased to have gotten the bus. ¬†I hate driving when it’s chockablock.

Canterbury Food and Drink Festival 2013 Walking into the Dane John Gardens, I could immediately smell the alluring aroma of food cooking. ¬†Who decided to put the hot food stands at the entrance to the festival? ¬†Obviously someone who wanted to draw in the crowds! ¬†Unfortunately I’d had a massive fry up for brunch in an attempt to put an end to my hangover so I didn’t need any more to eat. ¬†But I have to say, wandering around a food festival hungover is probably the best way to save your pennies!

crumbly, mouldy cheeseThe gardens were really busy and there were long queues for all the food stands. ¬†Once past the hot food, I came across the long marquees lined with stalls manned by local food and drink producers, as well as crafters. ¬†I really could have spent a fortune on all the yummy goodies on offer but I managed to restrain myself and picked up a little piece of cheese that was “¬£1 per nibble” and some ice cream. ¬†The cheese was was very strong. ¬†It had a cheddar like consistency but the rind was mouldy. ¬†I didn’t eat that bit!

I’ve been wanting to try Simply Ice Cream for a while now, ever since I read about their delicious flavours, so I was excited to spot their trailer. ¬†Simply Ice Cream chocolate and hazelnut flavourI spent nearly 5 minutes agonising over which flavour to choose, finally settling for maple and pecan. ¬†The guy spent a while rummaging in his freezer and finally found what he was looking for. ¬†It was only after I’d walked away that I realised he’d given me chocolate and hazelnut instead! ¬†But it didn’t matter as I’d happily have eaten any of the flavours on offer. The ice cream was very chocolatey with crushed hazelnuts in; it tasted like praline. It thawed really slowly so I was able to savour it for quite a while.

With all these distractions it would have been easy to forget Granma’s present! Luckily I didn’t and I picked up a couple of jars of jam for her. The first was raspberry curd (I tried a sample and it was scrummy and buttery!) and the second gooseberry and elderflower. Once home, I placed them in a cellophane gift bag and secured it with a ribbon so it looked like a neat gift. She was pleased so that’s the most important thing!

This year, the Canterbury Food and Drink Festival was organised by the people behind Lounge of the Farm, and they wanted to achieve more of a “festival” vibe. ¬†By the hot food stands there was a busking corner surrounded by hay bales, and by the beer tent, in the bandstand, local bands performed, one of which was local bluegrass four-piece Gentlemen of Few, who I’ve heard on Radio 2, I think they’ve been nominated for the BBC Young Folk Awards. ¬†They are bloody brilliant! ¬†This is them on YouTube:

I’ll definitely be going again next year, but this time I’ll take my husband along and make a day of it.

By Rachel Birchley

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Saturday Brunch – Loaf Cafe in Sandgate, Kent

By 2 September 2013 Cafe

After a bit of a heavy night Friday, my friends and I were going to traipse down to McDonald’s for a greasy McMuffin but luckily one of my friends suggested we come down to a cafe in Sandgate, which turned out to be Loaf. ¬†I’d heard of Loaf’s cakes and was very happy to give it a try. ¬†It was a bit early for cake so I had a coffee and posh bacon roll instead!

I loved the decor inside Loaf.  The wall colour almost matched my kitchen/diner!  They are definitely rocking the shabby chic look, but the food is definitely not shabby!

Crispy bacon, tomato, greens and tomato chutney on a ciabatta at Loaf Sandgate

Crispy bacon, tomato, greens and tomato chutney on a ciabatta

Pretty coffee art of my flat white at Loaf Sandgate

Pretty coffee art of my flat white

After polishing off my bacon roll, I also scoffed down the rest of my friend’s avocado and haricot beans on toast that she couldn’t finish. ¬†It was so tasty. ¬†The truffle olive oil was delicious!

On the way out I had a little peek at the cakes. ¬†Wow they looked fab. ¬†Next time I’ll definitely be having of those!

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