GORGEOUS BOOKS AS GORGEOUS CHRISTMAS GIFTS…

It’s that time of year again where we see lots of books and new releases up for sale and you are spoilt for choice as to which one to buy for yourself or as a gift. Well, I thought I would put my pennies worth in and have three of my favourite not entirely cooking books but books about cooking, the history of the biscuit and stuff every cook should know about.

My first choice is The Biscuit; The History of a Very British Indulgence by Lizzie Collingham£12.99

Did you know that British people eat more biscuits than any other nation; they are as embedded in our culture as fish and chips or the Sunday roast. But biscuits are not only tasty treats to go with a cup of tea, the sustenance they afford is often emotional, evoking nostalgic memories of childhood.

Lizzie Collingham begins in Roman times when biscuits – literally, ‘twice-baked’ bread – became the staple of the poor; she takes us to the Middle East, where the addition of sugar to the dough created the art of confectionery. Yet it was in Britain that bakers experimented to create the huge variety of biscuits which populate our world today. And when the Industrial Revolution led to their mass production, biscuits became integral to the British diet.

We follow the humble biscuit’s transformation from durable staple for sailors, explorers and colonists to sweet luxury for the middling classes to comfort food for an entire nation. Like an assorted tin of biscuits, this charming and beautifully illustrated book has something to offer for everyone, combining recipes for hardtack and macaroons, Shrewsbury biscuits and Garibaldis, with entertaining and eye-opening vignettes of social history.

I love reading about life in times gone by and this book is full of fascinating social insights and delicious recipes. If you are someone who is fascinated by the history of food, then this book is definitely worth having. As a blog writer on all things Hygge it was interesting to read that The Dutch word “koek” means cake / biscuit / wafer and the diminutive is koekje, another word which I am sure will soon become popular.

This book is one for the coffee table to pick up and learn something else you didn’t know about tea and biscuits.

Stuff Every Cook Should Know by Joy Manning £7.99

Stuff Every Cook Should Know is as indispensable to cooks as a good sturdy knife and just as sharp. Compact enough to fit on the smallest shelf or countertop, this sous-chef-in-a-book tells how to make a meal plan, how to use common ingredient substitutions, how to throw a dinner party, how to organize your kitchen, and much more. It s a pocket-sized problem solver that makes a great gift for seasoned culinary artists, novice chefs, and anyone who loves to cook.

I’ve still got my first cookery book which I was given at school and love to read through it with my pencil notes fading by the day, but this gives you a hint at everything you might want to know about in your kitchen and full of helpful tips and reminders.

It really is a book about stuff every cook should know. While it won’t make one a master cook, it is definitely most helpful for someone starting out. A great little stocking filler for the novice student about to embark on their first cooking venture.

My final one for the time being is a bit different as it has stories as well recipes and one I plan to keep this one for my granddaughter.

Fairytale Baking Recipes And Stories, by Christin Gewekes £14.23

Once upon a time, many moons ago, there was a little girl who discovered her love for baking … Thus begins author Christin Geweke’s culinary journey through magical bakes that make you dream of fairytale forests and are guaranteed to be liked by the fussiest of cake eaters, just like the princess of the Princess and the Pea fame. Here are recipes and exquisite photographs of forest berry ice cream cake, mini gingerbread kuglofs, marzipan chocolate rolls, dreamy peach rose cups.

Like old family recipes, fairytales and stories are also handed down from one generation to the next. And delicious baking can delight the senses and bring back memories just like a good story, for both old and young alike. Lose yourself in fairytales to while away the time until your goodies are ready to take out of the oven and devour.

I love this book and the beautiful images inside it. I can’t wait for my granddaughter who is only one to be old enough to enjoy baking with me with this book. It’s definitely one for the coffee table and a real conversation starter. The recipes are clear and very easy to follow with a choice of some unusual ones (for me anyway), and it makes a nice change.

COVID INSPIRED AFTERNOON TEAS…

Everyone is trying to do their bit to help people out at the moment including a North-East church who are delivering hundreds of afternoon teas in a bid to combat loneliness.

According to the Evening Express Skene Parish Church teamed up with several Aberdeenshire-based organisations to form the Westhill Community Resilience Support Group. They provided 190 teas to people who were shielding or at risk of loneliness over lockdown.

The Resilience Support Group has also been involved with delivering shortbread to sheltered accommodation alongside a card made by a local primary school pupil. The group also plans to deliver an afternoon tea to a care home. To find out more about Skene Parish Church, or to donate. go to the Skene Parish Church website.

From tapas to afternoon tea : 18 Sunderland cafes and restaurants doing delivery in local lockdown. The Sunderland Echo write that with restrictions changing regularly as part of the local lockdown, Sunderland businesses have had to adapt to survive. While some cafes and restaurants have had to close their doors to sit in custom temporarily due to the difficulties caused by social distancing, they are still offering a takeout and delivery service.

The Sunderland Echo has rounded up some of the ways locals can still support local businesses from the comfort of their home. The ”Crumb On In’, Holmeside is a tearoom that kept everyone’s spirits up with their afternoon tea and treat boxes- and they continued their delivery options with plenty of sweet treat choices such as Biscoff cheesecake.

Other tea shops happy to delivery delicious afternoon teas include –

Once Upon A Time Tea Room in Cheltenham – local delivery area covers a radius of 10 miles from their Cheltenham based Tea Room.

Afternoon Tea for One-A Selection of three finger sandwiches, a scone with jam and clotted cream, a selection of two miniature cakes, a macaron, your choice of soft drink & our hot drink home kit (contains Tea & Coffee). £14.95

TURMERIC WITH ORANGE & STAR ANISE TEA LOAF RECIPE…

I don’t know about you but once the temperature has dropped I start craving for more filling loaf cakes especially fruit ones and with all the different types of tea infusions available today it can change the taste easily.

I used Twinning’s Turmeric with Orange & Star Anise for this recipe as it has such a strong taste and I thought it would really compliment the fruit. I wasn’t wrong it was really tasty.

In the recipe I had put 300g of caster sugar but over the years I have made lots of fruit cakes for my Dad who was a diabetic and I just cut out the caster sugar and added a couple of tablespoons of Canderel or similar. It tastes just as nice.

Ingredients – Serves 12

4 Twinning’s Turmeric with Orange & Star Anise teabags, 400g dried fruit, 1 Orange, 1 Large Egg, 300g Caster Sugar (or 2 Tables Canderel), 400g self-raising flour, 2 tablespoons Orange Marmalade (Diabetic Sugar Free if preferred).

Method

Put your four teabags into a measuring jug and add 300ml of boiling water. Leave to brew for a few minutes then remove the tea bags. Put the dried fruit into a large mixing bowl and grate over the zest of the orange. Stir well. Pour over the dried fruit and leave to infuse for about four hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Line a litre loaf tin with loaf tin liner. Whisk the egg and add the bowl of fruit and the sugar. Add the flour and squeeze in the juice of the orange.

Mix until you have a dough like consistency then spoon the mixture into your tin and bake for around 1 hour 10 minutes until cooked through after testing with a skewer to see if it comes out clean.

Pop two tablespoons of the orange marmalade into a bowl and pop into your microwave for 20 seconds then brush over the top of the cake.

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