Tag Archives: Comfort Food

The Gentle Week That Was

Bringing Autumn In,Rocking Dog

Bringing Autumn In

I hope you have had a good weekend, that there were good places to go, lovely things to eat and the enjoyment of the new season. A week has passed and a gentle week “that was” is now gathering pace.

Too boring to discuss Rocking Dog has not been feeling chipper and now after super charged doses of anti-inflammatories i’m wagging my tail again and ready to play ball! I haven’t been able to let the week pass in a completely nothing’y fug. I have managed to bake and sew, but everything has taken sooooo much longer! There were 70’s zoo print stockings lovingly sewn (and now awaiting whizzy embellishments), a pie for rockstars, and cakes to deliver to neighbours from the cake fairy.

There was even a Sunday roast yesterday and it was lovely to cook for friends and family. I just gently did it. The table looked autumnal with cones, nuts and antique jug filled with rose-hips, seed heads, leaves and twigs. I love a good table!

As ever Real Live Rocking Dog always needs a walk, but last week everything was done at a slower pace. On Friday the autumnal colours were truly beautiful and I revelled in spotting the flash of a Kingfisher and a little further up river a Heron doing some early morning fishing.

There has been planning too for the trip later this week to the cemeteries in Belgium and France for the Rocking Dog “Remember Me” Project. Cemetery plans have been studied and details of grave & memorials plotted. Worryingly for me an understanding of Roman numerals has been required. Route planning, accommodation, shuttle, etc… Andyman and I have finally had to buckle down! Thank you to the lovely Eddie Jones of the British Legion at Frampton Cotterell who boxed up forty little wooden crosses for me. The contents of that box made me feel really sad, the representation of so many young lives cut short.

Today there is the small matter of packing and rather like the well publicised shopping list that was circulating last week our car will have a rather eclectic haul. 1 wood-burning stove, 2 sections of flue pipe, various stove bits, a high chair, a chain saw, a child’s circus tent, umbrellas, insect repellant etc..etc..

After stops in France and Switzerland we will be in place to start the olive harvest.

Have a great week. Love Rocking Dog x

Condiments,Rocking Dog


Dishing Up, Rocking Dog

Dishing Up

Red Cabbage & More,Rocking Dog

Red Cabbage & More

Ready To Embellish,Rocking Dog

Ready To Embellish

Cake Fairy Packages,Rocking Dog

Cake Fairy Packages

Pie For Rockstars!,Rocking Dog

Pie For Rockstars!

"Remember Me" Trip Planning,Rocking Dog

“Remember Me” Trip Planning

Autumn Leaves &...,Rocking Dog

Autumn Leaves &…

....Autumn Fruits,Rocking Dog

….Autumn Fruits

Talking Food With Lovely Young Carer’s

Neat Apple Piles,Rocking Dog

Neat Apple Piles

What could be more lovely than talking food with lovely Young Carer’s. I love my time volunteering, this time I was asked to facilitate two healthy eating sessions for 18-26 year olds. I was delighted to be asked. The sessions are part of a Wellbeing course being run over the next six weeks. I quite fancy the Yoga, mindfulness and guided walk weeks!

We had a lovely time talking nutrition, how the group shopped, and top tips for cooking on a budget. The two hours flew! Obviously every good event deserves a goody bag. Dear neighbour Jenny asked me if I would like some apples on a recent visit. Starting to plan my Young Carer’s session I rather cheekily asked if I could indeed have apples for thirteen crumbles! Jenny so kindly obliged and we had a lovely time yesterday picking apples in glorious sunshine. Oats, brown sugar, wholemeal flour and margarine were weighed rather hurriedly and put into sewn paper pockets with the recipe attached. Voila! a DIY crumble pack.

Next week we will have fun in the kitchen cooking some nutritious wintry comfort food. Sorry to the chap who suggested steak, I don’t think the budget can quite stretch to that! I do so love my time with Young Carer’s and it’s a great organisation to be involved with.

On arriving back at the kennel I cleared the somewhat chaotic kitchen. Everywhere had a generous dusting of flour, oats and sugar! I rather disconcertingly came upon one solitary bag of Flour/oats. Oops! I rather hope everyone has got a bag of crumble mix. Apple puree anyone?!

Apple Harvest,Rocking Dog

Apple Harvest

Pick Me!,Rocking Dog

Pick Me!

Tea Towel Recipe,Rocking Dog

Tea Towel Recipe

DIY Crumble Pack,Rocking Dog

DIY Crumble Pack

Crumble In A Teacup,Rocking Dog

Crumble In A Teacup

Apples To Decorate,Rocking Dog

Apples To Decorate

Rocking Dog’s Lost Week

It Snowed!,Rocking Dog

It Snowed!

I am the bear that hibernated for a week, no posts, no words, no thoughts for posts. Unlike a growly wintry soporific bear I was not sleeping in a cosy den, but I was feeling quiet. I let myself forget about words and painted. Ceiling, walls & skirting boards felt dashes of Wevet, bog standard white and Charleston Gray. The changes are insignificant, yet constructive.

I sewed for me and with my lovely brave friend. Sewing is so therapeutic, I can truly recommend it, I just wish it burnt of calories like a dose of Zumba! I cooked for friends, dishes included Delia’s golden rosti capped Fish Pie and Rick Stein’s Almond Tart. Comfort food to warm the cockles! I also allowed myself time to transcribe a few more recipes from my beloved 1846 handwritten cook book. There were recipes for potting shrimps, stewing cheese, making gooseberry vinegar and a recipe for making potato yeast when common yeast was scarce. How I love my little book, I should set myself the challenge of cooking all the recipes a la Julia & Julia!

Plans on how to do the final touches to our little place in Umbria occupied me as did planning for Christmas! No not THAT Christmas, the one that is happening on Saturday to mark Burn’s Night. Yes I know its late…. but.. This year I wanted a ski chalet theme so we are paying homage to Wham’s “Last Christmas”. So .. there is turkey and all the trimmings, Christmas pud’, mince pies (groan!), trifle and retro cocktails. I suppose as it’s belated Burn’s there ought to be haggis too. The tree is going up… again, there’ll be crackers, “Rockpipes” and mistletoe… yes, I am totally mad! However… on a serious front any cash donations will be put to providing “Christmas in a Box” for Young Carer’s families in particular need when the real Christmas comes around again. It will come around sooner than we know it.

It was so lovely to see snow last week, alas only a small dusting. It never seems to snow like it did when we were children. Depressing that it’s probably all to do with global warming… and YES Mr dumb arse Trump there really is such a thing! Pretty please can I order some snow for Saturday it would make my “Last Christmas” dreams come true!

No snow today, but a wonderful restorative walk close to the Severn with one of the Rocking Dog Huddlers. Lambs, winter sunshine, good conversation (thank you Karen) and six miles of mud later I was ready to stop hibernating and to get back to some words.

Thank you for your patience. Love Rocking Dog x

PS You may just ask where Andyman was during my brief hibernation… skiing in the same resort as the Geordie Shore lot were being filmed! Hmmmm, classy!

Snowy Dessert,Rocking Dog

Snowy Dessert

Snow Sprinkled Tart,Rocking Dog

Snow Sprinkled Tart

Promise Of Warmth,Rocking Dog

Promise Of Warmth

Paint Job,Rocking Dog

Paint Job

Therapeutic Sewing,Rocking Dog

Therapeutic Sewing

Ongoing Transcribing,Rocking Dog

Ongoing Transcribing

Planning For Italy,Rocking Dog

Planning For Italy

....Ditto!,Rocking Dog


& Planning Christmas!,Rocking Dog

& Planning Christmas!

Restorative Walk,Rocking Dog

Restorative Walk

Aahhh! Baby Lambs,Rocking Dog

Aahhh! Baby Lambs

...& God Damned Tired Real Live Rocking Dog!,Rocking Dog

…& God Damned Tired Real Live Rocking Dog!

Cheery Projects To Cast Off Winter Gloom

Winter Mood Board,Rocking Dog

Winter Mood Board

Rocking Dog has been doing cheery projects to cast off winter gloom. No frosts, no snow, no cold but lots of grey, damp and mud!

In between all the usual domestic dross I have been striving to complete some more constructive and pleasurable tasks. Yesterday morning I made Christmas cakes, “Oh no you didn’t, Oh yes I did!” An 80’s Christmas themed charity Burn’s Night is on the cards next month. I am going to hone my spiky snow scene icing and have plastic robin , snowman and cake frill at the ready! Incidentally there’ll be turkey and all the trimmings together with Christmas pud’s and retro’ cocktails. I’m nursing our Christmas tree carefully in the hope I can put it back up. Sad but true!

Christmas cakes baked, I moved to Beloved Berlina to creatively sew. Sewing makes me happy, especially with two or three omnibus editions of “The Archers” in the bag!

Despite the mud and greyness Real Live Rocking Dog is always up for a walk. No matter the weather it always feels great to be out. The change of seasons brings a myriad of different foliage, wildlife, noise and smells. Mossy twigs and ferns placed in a large majolica jug beautifully brings the outside in.

Very cheerily Seville oranges have started to trickle into the shops. I feel a therapeutic marmalade making session coming on!

Winter Walk,Rocking Dog

Winter Walk

Winter Vase,Rocking Dog

Winter Vase

Winter Fuel,Rocking Dog

Winter Fuel

Sugar & Spice,Rocking Dog

Sugar & Spice

Eggs To Crack,Rocking Dog

Eggs To Crack

Happy Bake,Rocking Dog

Happy Bake

Comfort Food,Rocking Dog

Comfort Food

Time To Sew,Rocking Dog

Time To Sew

The Sevilles' Are In Town!,Rocking Dog

The Sevilles’ Are In Town!

Harvesting Apples For A Crumbly Gift

Apple Harvest, Rocking Dog

Apple Harvest

Rocking Dog has been harvesting apples for a crumbly gift. A tea towel with a printed recipe for apple crumble provided the inspiration for a foodie gift. A rustic ovenproof dish was filled with all the ingredients to concoct the seasonal pud’. I wrapped the dish in the tea towel and tied the bundle with some chequerboard woven ribbon. A large oak spoon completed the gift together with an accompanying hessian sack of rosy apples.

Of course the gift could be tweaked for a reluctant cook. The crumble could be lovingly made, bundled and gifted. An indulgent carton of clotted cream could be handed to the recipient, and would undoubtedly be the cherry on the cake!

The apple harvest offers the opportunity to make a plethora of divine cakes, puddings, salads and preserves this sunny autumn.

Happy gathering!

Tea Towel TK Maxx

Main picture backdrop-“Mark Hearld’s Workbook,” and bird and rabbit cards also by Mark Hearld

Rosy Bowl, Rocking Dog

Rosy Bowl

Recipe Tea Towel, Rocking Dog

Recipe Tea Towel

Gift Wrapped, Rocking Dog

Gift Wrapped

Vintage Apple Mugs, Rocking Dog

Vintage Apple Mugs

Umbrian Harvest, Rocking Dog

Umbrian Harvest

Rocking Dog Cake, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Cake

Hambrook Harvest,Rocking Dog

Hambrook Harvest

The Crumble, Rocking Dog

The Crumble

Another Apple Delight, Rocking Dog

Another Apple Delight

Food For Friends -Persian Style

Middle Eastern Tiramisu, Rocking Dog

Middle Eastern Tiramisu

Rocking Dog whizzed up an easy to prepare supper for a house guest yesterday evening. Tried and tested, I cooked Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roasted Chicken with Clementines and Arak, serving it with Jewelled Rice. Dessert was an untried recipe so Kelvin was a guinea pig! I chose to make Middle Eastern Tiramisu because it included Persian ingredients, so complemented the main course. Pomegranates, pomegranate molasses, rose water and sumac all featured.

Ideally the chicken, fennel slices and clementine slices should be marinated for a few hours, or indeed overnight. The marinade is made up of wholegrain mustard, olive oil, orange & lemon juices and fennel seeds. It also includes Arak which is an aniseed flavoured drink served throughout the middle east. Arak I did not have, so I used French Pastis, alternatively you could use Pernod or Sambuca. Once the chicken has enjoyed its alcoholic acid bath, all the ingredients are popped onto a baking tray and roasted. Voila the main course is sorted! I served the chicken dish with basmati and wild rice with dill, tarragon, parsley pomegranate seeds and pistachios folded through.

Unlike Italian Tiramisu’s my Middle East version had absolutely no coffee in its make up. A recipe from the Food section of the Saturday Guardian I wanted an excuse to try it out. I did alter my recipe by using Ricciarelli (Lidl) instead of sponge fingers, and replaced creme fraiche with Turkish yogurt. It was delicious.

Interesting food without the labouriousness!

I’m volunteering in a kitchen with a group of Young Carers this evening. There really isn’t a dull moment in their presence!

Marinading, Rocking Dog


The Recipe, Rocking Dog

The Recipe

Ready To Serve, Rocking Dog

Ready To Serve

Jewelled Rice, Rocking Dog

Jewelled Rice

Recipe For Success, Rocking Dog

Recipe For Success

Sweet Ingredients, Rocking Dog

Sweet Ingredients

Time To Cook The Haggis- It’s Burns’ Night!

Wee Tam' Waiting For His Haggis Supper!, Rocking Dog

Wee Tam’ Waiting For His Haggis Supper!

There is no hope for me and a minimalist lifestyle! Another Toby jug has appeared on the mantlepiece. So old Toby and Mrs Mack (the present from Fleetwood) have been joined by Wee Tam. Poor old Toby with his gout and ale supping ailments cannot compete with the handsome Tam! A fine figure of a kilted man, resplendent in his gilded sporran, tartan sash and Tam’o Shanter, he is ready to nimbly sword dance with the blushing Mrs Mack!

Enough of this nonsense, indeed it is Burns’ Night when folk across the world celebrate the Scottish poet Robert Burns. A good excuse then to cook some haggis, neeps (swede) and tatties and wash it all down with a wee dram of whisky. Even better to be eating and drinking to the sound of Andyman and his pipes.

The decision needs to be made as to whether Wee Tam will be filled with whisky or Gravy. Let me see now what makes less mess when he’s doing his nocturnal Highland Reels with Mrs Mack!

Happy Burn’s Night to one and all.

PS. If you haven’t ever tried Haggis before it really is delicious. If you find the thought of the meat version a little stomach churning try the vegetarian haggis which is also very tasty and doesn’t involve any offal!

Rivalry For Mrs Macks Attention!!, Rocking Dog

Rivalry For Mrs Macks Attention!

Yorkshire Puddings – Plain & Simple!

Still On The Rise, Rocking Dog

Still On The Rise

I cooked a roast for relatives last night and managed to cook but not eat some puffy golden Yorkshire puddings. I know many people reserve making and serving this very British culinary speciality for beef… but I think they gorgeously pimp any roast meat!

So here is a recipe for Yorkshire Puddings, plain and simple. It is roughly based on my Mums recipe, but I love the addition of some fresh herbs. Try finely chopped Rosemary or Sage. Use this batter together with good quality sausages for Toad in the Hole, comfort food heaven!
The same recipe can be used for pancake making, so get that pan ready for Shrove Tuesday on 9th February.

100g Plain Flour
1/2 Teasp Salt
2 Eggs
450 ml Semi Skimmed Milk
Sunflower oil, Lard or Goose Fat

Set oven to 225 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin (or a roasting tin) by pouring in a little oil to each pan. When desired temperature has been reached place your oiled tin (without the batter) in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

1. Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl.
2. In a jug beat together eggs and milk.
3. Pour in half the liquid to flour (I added in some chopped fresh sage and teaspoon of mustard powder at this stage)
4. Beat the mixture well. Using a mixer will take all the hard work out of this process.
5. Just before baking your Yorkshire Puddings add the remaining milk mixture. Stir in quickly.
6. Take your prepared tin out of the oven VERY carefully and pour batter into each of the little patty tins. Watch out for spitting fat!
7. Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes until puffed up and golden brown. Try to avoid the temptation of checking your pud’s regularly as this will affect the rise.
8. Serve up and enjoy all the adoration, homemade Yorkshire Puddings are SO much better than Aunt Bessies!

Happy Baking!

Batter For Beating, Rocking Dog

Batter For Beating

Sage For Picking, Rocking Dog

Sage For Picking

Into The Oven, Rocking Dog

Into The Oven

Yay! Comfort Food For The Cold Snap

Anyone For Luscious Sticky Toffee Pudding?, Rocking Dog

Anyone For Luscious Sticky Toffee Pudding?

Yay! The cold weather is on its way with the hope that the Noah’s Ark style rain and grey flooding misery will subside. Celebrate a crisp white frost this weekend with warming comfort food.

Simon Hopkinson’s Sticky Toffee Pudding is seriously good and SERIOUSLY calorific! I love the puddings baked in empty syrup tins (the small ones!) Meanwhile crumbles are an easy pudding to throw together and a myriad of fruits can be used. Rhubarb and stem ginger is a gorgeous combination. Chop your rhubarb into 3-4 cm sticks and create a thick layer of fruit in an oven proof dish. Roughly chop two or three balls of stem ginger and sprinkle over the rhubarb together with some of the stem ginger syrup. Sprinkle over some caster sugar before topping with your favourite crumble mixture. Porridge oats or a handful of museli give added texture to the crumble. Apple crumble is always a favourite in our household and the boy loves it particularly if it has a dollop of Dulce Leche under its crumble blanket! Tut,tut! Large white coffee cups make great individual crumble bakers.

All this talk of hot comfort puddings and I have a handful of fresh raspberries ready to be picked in the garden together with some rhubarb. What a mad season! British asparagus is going to be cropping very early and the growers are expecting two harvests despite the cold blowing on in.

Whatever you are doing this weekend I hope it’s happy, you stay cosy and you allow yourself to indulge in hot luscious yumminess!

Apples For........, Rocking Dog

Apples For……..

...Crumble!, Rocking Dog


Heart Warming Soup, Rocking Dog

Heart Warming Soup

January Raspberries And...,Rocking Dog

January Raspberries And…

...Rhubarb!, Rocking Dog


Gushing Water Everywhere, Rocking Dog

Gushing Water Everywhere

Iced Fabulous Flamingo’s Strutting Their Stuff

Iced Birdlife, Rocking Dog

Iced Birdlife

Another cake cooked up, baked, frou’d and about to be delivered. I don’t think the images convey the size of this confection, 15 inches/ 40 cm diameter. I bought the tins whilst on a trip to New York, so not your average tourist buying spree! These monster tins barely fit in my oven, so how I managed to fit them into my hand luggage is pretty bewildering. Needless to say it certainly wasn’t an Easyjet or Ryanair flight!

I used Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Cherry Cupcake recipe from my well loved and splattered copy of The Domestic Goddess. When dealing with such a large cake this recipe works really well. It’s made in a large pan rather than doing batches in a mixer or beating a cake mixture by hand. Cakes into the oven, it was time to deal with preparing the decoration.

I had already thought up a cunning plan for the decoration and accordingly had bought a stash of frouing goodies. So how I tackled this cake….
1. Cut a piece of baking paper the same shape and size as the cake. This will give you a lay out sheet of how you want your cake to look.
2. I drew out my flamingo onto a piece of A4 paper of the required size (I Googled a flamingo image to help me)
3. Trace the flamingo onto the baking paper circle (as I wanted two flamingo’s on my cake I repeated my tracing)
4. Use the tracings as a template to model the fondant.
5. I made tutu’s out of pink net. Using running stitch close to one edge I then pulled the thread to create gathers. Stitch to close.

After cooling the baked cakes and then sandwiching the two layers with chocolate ganache, brush the cakes with warmed sieved apricot jam. Roll out fondant icing and lay on cake. Smooth and trim.

Carefully lay prepared fondant shapes onto cake and pipe detail and wording using royal icing. Decorate with sweets, ribbon, tiara’s etc.. Voila!

One slightly worrying prospect is a matter of interpretation. Andyman walked through the door and thought the cake read “flaming going” rather than my play on words “flamingoing”. Oops! As this cake is going into a school I might be kept behind and given a remedial English grammar lesson or…… blacklisted from ever doing a cake for them again (Yippee!)

To the lovely sixth formers at Colston’s Girls School use your study leave wisely, good luck with your exams, and enjoy your ball. The world is your oyster!

Have a really lovely weekend and I hope the sun shines wherever you are.

Oops! I Am Messy., Rocking Dog

Oops! I Am Messy.

Schoolgirl Sketch, Rocking Dog

Schoolgirl Sketch

Flamingo Evolution, Rocking Dog

Flamingo Evolution

Decorative Stash, Rocking Dog

Decorative Stash

Tiara Detail, Rocking Dog

Tiara Detail

Flamingo Frolics, Rocking Dog

Flamingo Frolics