Raspberry Roulade

Lesley Holdship - Home Economist, Food Stylist & Recipe Writer

chocolate lovers!

Sun, Nov 21 2010
Chocolate is a bit of a niggle for me!. When I speak with people about it I am always in shock about the kind they like. I am sorry to say I am just a chocolate snob. I only like cocoa from South America, I only like milk with no less than 34% solids and I don't like chocolate that says it's chocolate when it clearly is not! It's like Macdonalds saying they are a restaurant when they are clearly not!
I did a workshop with some kids yesterday and the recipe was chocolate based so whilst the pudding was in the oven I decided to do a chocolate tasting. The young girl I was working with went out to get some from the shop floor and came back with Lindt 90%, Green and Blacks Butterscotch - could this be my favourite! - and a Cadbury with a name I can't recall. Bliss or something? We broke up the bars into bowls and had the children taste them. The 90% was received quite well considering they children were only 6! The feeling in your mouth is so dry from such a high cocoa content but it is fabulous to cook with, so rich, with good quality cocoa beans which have obviously been fermented properly and made with care. Some of te faces were classic though! The Cadbury was just horrid. It tasted of sweetness. No hint of cocoa and the nuts in this one were the only saving grace. The Green and Blacks, delectable but sadly as it is now owned by Cadbury it does not hold the same feeling for me any more, but that crunchy butterscotch and deep flavour......mmm, well anyway! The children just loved the Cadbury. We did not tell them what it was and still they loved it. I felt saddened as I wondered how unrefined tastebuds seem. Or have they always been that way? I kind of thought that many are brainwashed by Cadbury, or coke or sweets but actually, I now am pondering that perhaps as a nation our taste buds are receding as so many of us are used to eating rubbish. I think this could be a theory, but then again it may not!

edible gifts

Thu, Nov 11 2010
I really can't have been more lucky this year. Whilst our country trickles along in a recession I have been so busy with work I don't know what to do with myself! But as we move on towards Christmas I really want to get more organised and keep a little time for myself as one of my favourite gifts to give to the people i love is, of course, food. Not only does making the gift make you feel good if you love cooking but packaging it and then giving it is terrific too. You can package loads of things up. I recently went to a fantastic new market stall in Par MArket, Cornwall and bought some cornish sea salt with flower petals in it. A pretty jar, some raffia and a homemade label and away we go! Even a jar of jam that you made earlier on in the year with a little pretty fabric. Keep any interesting bottles and one of the easiest edible gifts is flavoured oil. Buy a good olive oil. Sterilise a bottle by placing in a warm oven for ten minutes. Warm the oil until just about body temperature, adding some thick slivers of lemon zest or lush sprigs of rosemary, thyme and peppercorns. Pour into the bottle, gubbins and all then seal with a cork.
Then give with love.

heavenly chocolate

Tue, Oct 12 2010

It’s most certainly coming up to the time of year when our thoughts are turned towards chocolate. The shops are stocking up for Christmas! And I don’t care what men say about not eating it as I know this to be an untruth! Amongst many I know anyway! The nights are turning cold and dark now and a good piece of chocolate suits the mood. But for me, I need a bar of chocolate that does actually taste of more than sweetness. The cheap brands like Cadbury just taste of sugar with not a hint of cocoa. It’s interesting to do a little taste test. A bar with around 26% cocoa solids compared to a bar with 34% solids. The difference is immense. A good bar of dark chocolate should really contain at least 60% cocoa solids. So it’s quite a funny thing when you look at Bournville - which used to be the only dark chocolate available - as it only contains 39%, so hardly more than a quality bar of milk. Use high cocoa solids for cooking and the flavour of your chocolate creation will be astounding. And along the same tracks, a good cocoa makes somewhat of a difference too. These sorts of chocolates are often on offer. Why not spread your wings and go for change! Fairtrade too, if you can. But interestingly, my favourite chocolate, Green and Blacks, is now owned by chocolate giants, Cadbury. This upset me immensely. And I had said I would not buy it, but my taste buds got the better of me. Green and Blacks selling out…….. shame. But the cocoa's flavour overcomes me. the rich intricate flavour of the south american cocoa bean is so different to one grown in Africa, say. compare Divine against G and B's. A real difference.

Try this, melt 200g dark chocolate with 125g butter and 175g sugar. Whisk in 3 large eggs and 2tbsp ground almonds then pour into a 18cm tin that is greased and dusted with almonds. Bake at 180°C/gas mark 4 for 25 minutes. Cool then serve on its own or with cream. serves about 8. Make sure you have a good coffee to offset the sweetness or a well chilled glass of Muscat. Enjoy!


a morning of film

Thu, Oct 7 2010
Ages ago, John said we should be shooting some basic skills videos to go on my website. As is usual with us, it took us an age to get it together and then now we have, we have seen other websites doing the same. An idea is rarely original, is it? Or perhaps we were being bugged!
We had a fun day shooting 5 little videos. Basic skills seem easy to someone like myself who cooks for a living but simple things like chopping an onion are only easy when you know how. My house is relatively small, just a Victorian terrace affair, but the dining room really lends itself to the purpose of film. The day was glorious which helps, too, as John only uses natural light for all of his photography. Sometimes we do a shoot in seriously dull conditions and I find it a constant source of amazement how the picture turns out. To my eyes impossible and to the camera's and operator, easy! We have gone for the homely look, nothing too clinical, but hopefully easy to understand and informative.
So, 5 little videos in the morning and hopefully we can get it together to do some more soon. Look out on my website as we will be posting these up in the very near future!


cooking with kids

Fri, Aug 20 2010

Getting busy in the kitchen with your children can earn them more than just some delicious biscuits. To many though, it is only a rainy day past-time to keep curious fingers out of mischief with edible delights to show for it. But the art of cooking forms the very heart of our fundamental understanding of food. And the many facets of it weave off in all sorts of directions.

So, to begin with, a simple cake or biscuit holds four or five everyday ingredients, all with different tastes and textures, too. Flour from the wheat fields, butter from a cow, eggs from a chicken. No tigers or zebras in sight! And when a child is able to experience a key skill like rubbing in, all manor of emotions are let out. It’s soft, squidgy, silky, sticky. Warm, cold, oh no! it’s yuk. They don’t want to put their hands in, some love it, others are plain scared. But we all need to start somewhere! Sadly mud pies seem to have had their day, hence the consternation when some children are asked to touch the ingredients. They are often taught it is dirty. But the feeling of kneading a batch of warm bread dough is brilliant and one of the most enjoyable workshops with a group of excited children. It doesn’t really matter if it is not kneaded to 8 minutes. It’s the experience that counts.

The alchemy of the recipe starts to become apparent as soon as the first ingredients are introduced to the bowl. Rub the butter in and achieve golden flour with the rich smell of butter. Add the egg and find the mixture may curdle and look like porridge. The addition of self-raising flour will almost instantly produce air bubbles giving the children a chance to see it all happening.

A child’s senses are being bombarded and made to work hard! Not only senses, but they are on a huge learning curve. Following a recipe – with some help maybe! - which will help improve reading and maths and fractions play an enormous part too. Weighing out and measuring are hugely important and used in plenty of activities aside from cooking. Food provenance and sustainability - real buzz words of our time – along with seasonal produce and eating locally are all topical too. And quite apart from all of that, the children will develop motor neurone skills and be disciplined to listen and concentrate. Social skills, too, are an integral part of cooking and eating. Sitting around a table with some great food and your family brings on a sense of interest and develops conversation! Many cultures do business at the table and the heart of many home is the kitchen with smells of baking bringing on feelings of nostalgia, security and comfort. How many times have you heard to bake a loaf of bread if you have someone coming to view your for sale house.

So teaching your children to bake a biscuit could be more far-reaching than you think. We need cooks for the next generation. Ones with old-fashioned, essential skills with a modern take. These skills which can then be applied to baking, making and concocting.

But with all of these things comes an acceptance from us as adults. The ones who have to clear up the mess! Children need to be guided sometimes but need to do it themselves. How can they possibly learn if you take over. It doesn’t matter what shape the biscuit it or how the cake is iced. They will love it and love you for it! The sense of achievement for ones so small is obvious on their little faces. And then the realization that food tastes better when you make it yourself!

Freedom is the kitchen is ace!



Wed, Aug 18 2010
It's a funny thing how technology goes. I can't keep up with it myself. Good job I have my husband John to keep me in line with it all! Something I am not so keen on is a social networking site like Facebook but I have decided to take the plunge and have joined linked in and twitter. Why not follow me, so I am not left out and get bored with it! I will try and tweet interesting stuff, not just when I am hanging out my washing. It most definitely will be food related!

Jamaican Bananas

Sun, Aug 15 2010
Forget your street cred! We turned all a little food retro today.
we were at a friend's house lately, and we had, o ice-cream I think it was. So on the table, we had a tub of ice-cream, some fruit like strawberries and blueberries, a bit of choccy sauce and a can of Anchor squirty cream. I don't think I have had this since my Dad used to make me Jamaican bananas when I was about ten ( a long time ago!)
I did not want to admit it but it was lovely! So Harley and I bought a can - on his insistence of course!- for us to have on, well, anything or even nothing. So tonight, he had a hot chocolate with copious amounts of squirty cream. I am not saying that it is any comparison to Roddas clotted cream. It has it's own unique taste!
Try it, you wont regret it.
Jamaican Bananas
serves 2
50g butter
50g soft brown sugar
2 large bananas
a good glug of rum

Melt the butter and sugar in a large frying pan. Slice the bananas add to the pan and stir gently to coat in the toffee mixture. Cook for around 4-5 minutes to soften the banana. Throw in the rum, flambee then serve with cream. One of the best instant puddings alive!


Come rain or shine

Wed, Aug 11 2010

There is nothing like a barbecue really, and I know I have harped on a few times about them but they are always different, easy and sociable. We have spent the last week in Cornwall staying with my Dad. The weather has been rubbish and I have not been too much on the healthy side, but we did manage to get to the beach for a barbecue. And a swim!
Homemade burgers, good sausages, big beef tomatoes that have been seasoned well and a glass of cold white is certainly delicious. Even Harley partook in some Freixenet. It was fortuitous that my step-mum had forgotten the wine. This meant a little jaunt to to Veryan and found a fab little village shop with quaffable chilled wine.
We certainly were keeping a British stiff upper lip as it was not warm August weather but the chocolate brownie we ate afterwards made up for it!
Melt 2 bars of Green and Blacks 70% chocolate with 150g butter. Whisk in 2 eggs along with 250g demerera sugar. Next mix in 125g self raising flour until everything is well combined then pour into a greased 22cm square tin. Experiment with scatterings of white chocolate chunks, pecan nuts or marshmallows. Leaving plain is good too, then bake at 180C for 15 minutes.

in the arctic

Wed, Jul 14 2010

We had a fantastic barbecue on Saturday with some of our closest friends. Simple food, well cooked by John and enjoyed by all of us. Needless to say that we had a mammoth amount of food left over!
So changing the subject a little, I am not a big fan of bread. I adore making it but don't so much enjoy eating it. It's mostly too wodgy and actually, I shouldn't eat it as I am annoyingly intollerant to wheat. But we went to Ikea recently and I bought some arctic bread from there. I had used it before when I worked for my good friend Jem in Bristol. It is a soft, flat bread. Just about 1cm thick and really soft.
So back to the barbecue - but lets fuse the two subjects together. We had some little chicken and chorizo skewers left over from the party so we cooked them until sizzling then filled one of these
fabulous little breads with crispy lettuce, chicken, roasted tomatoes, rocket picked from the garden and a scratch of mayonnaise. All of this made a truly delicious supper, in the garden, with my family. Priceless.

glow baby, glow!

Fri, Jul 9 2010

We know a family that have a farm up on the Ridgeway. They have two boys with whom Harley gets on really well and a pretty fab living space. They invited us up there last week as it is glow worm season. I didn't even know what a glow worm was until I saw one on Springwatch this year, so I was really excited to go and see them - perhaps! I thought it was a fantastic opportunity for Harley too. Even though I try to expose him to as much of the natural world as possible there are some things that, unless you are in the know, you wont ever see.
So we arrived at Sally Anne's house to be greeted by a big group of junior young farmers having an interactive talk with insects. Preying mantis, locusts, giant land snails, you name it, Sally Anne has it. However, what caught my eye was what was hanging over the sink. A fresh honeycomb, still in the frame, straight from the hive. I have never tasted honey like it. Even with the wax, the taste was pure ambrosia. The texture even will never be experienced from a shop bought one.
Not only has Sally Anne got all these insects - and her family! - but she has a barn owl. So we saw him being fed too with a chick from the freezer. Defrosted of course! As well as chicks Sally Anne produced a snake from these chilly climes. Beautiful in it's frozen form. You couldn't make it up could you?!
What a fantastic evening that could probably never be recreated.
Oh! and the glow worms! We saw 2 only. But I would probably have never have had the opportunity to see 1 so I think we are all pretty privileged. Especially when Harley held one too. And who cares that we were home at 1am!
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