Thursday, 21 May 2015

Cheese Biscuits

Whenever we have friends over for dinner, I usually whip up a dip or two to have with pre dinner drinks. But just lately I have noticed that everyone else is doing the same.  Time to try something different I thought and I have been racking my brain to find an alternative.

I remember a few years back, before bringing out dips was the fashion, we always had something cheesy with a glass of champagne or a cocktail.  Eating cheese before a meal can totally destroy your appetite and your waistline. But a small savoury cheesy snack will heighten your taste buds ready for the main meal.

While I was scanning through cookbooks the other day I came across these beautiful cheesy biscuits in The Really Useful Cookbook by David Herbert . Delicately thin, decidedly good and very, very easy to make. Most of all, they are simply delicious. 

The book contains some fabulous recipes and I use it fairly often, see if you can get your hands on a copy.

Try these with your friends and see their reaction. If the plate is empty before you can say cheese, then you know they have loved them too. This recipe makes quite a lot of biscuits, so you can squirrel away a few for yourself to eat later.

Cheddar Biscuits


200g plain flour sifted
50g parmesan cheese, grated
150, tasty cheddar cheese
salt and pepper
175g butter, chilled and diced
1 tbls lemon juice
1 tbls chopped chives

Place flour, salt, butter, cheeses, lemon juice, chives, salt and pepper into a food processor and process until the mixture comes together in a ball.

Take a large sheet of baking paper and mould the mixture into a sausage shape approximately 30 cms long with a 5 cm diameter.
Using the paper to assist, roll the mixture up into a long sausage, twist the ends of the paper to and place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180ยบ fan forced/350. Prepare a baking tray with baking paper.

Take the biscuit mixture and unwrap. With a sharp knife, slice the biscuits very thinly and place on the prepared baking tray. Bake for around 8 - 10 minutes until the biscuits are golden around the edges.

Leave on the tray to cool for a few minutes the transfer to a wire rack and leave until cold before storing in an air tight container.

This recipe made approximately 60 biscuits (I think a few more but as they were cooling I noticed a few disappearing)

Monday, 11 May 2015

Orange, Pumpkin, Coconut Soup with Chilli

When winter comes, so do oranges and mandarins and I get excited all over again to discover more ways to use these beautiful fruits.

My healthy eating plan kicks in this week,  so don't expect cake recipes or delicious desserts for a little while. As I watch the temperature plummet and winter creep up faster than expected I hear my friends calling out for food that's quick and easy to prepare, will warm you from head to toe and has a flavour that will see you all yelling 'give me more'

I'm giving you a fast soup - Orange, Pumpkin, Coconut Soup with Chilli  and with a lot of flavour.

Get cracking in the kitchen, there is no time to sit on the couch wrapped in a furry blanket. Because winter is also a time to take some beautiful walks in the fog, prepare your vegetable patch ready for spring, plant some striking bulbs that will surprise you in spring and make a start on that new hobby you have been promising yourself.

Winter - savour it!



1 onion chopped
2 medium potatoes peeled and diced
600g peeled and diced pumpkin 
400ml coconut milk
1/2 cup stock or water
1 tbls olive oil
1 knob of butter
1 small red chilli seeded but left whole
salt and pepper
juice of 1 - 2  oranges
fresh chives

In a large pot add olive oil, know of butter and sweat the onions until soft. 

Add pumpkin and potato and cook for 5 minutes.

Add coconut milk, stock, salt, pepper and the whole chilli.

Cook partly covered on a very low heat until pumpkin and potato is cooked.

Add juice of one orange. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. Remove the chilli and discard.

Blend soup using a hand held or bench blender until smooth and silky. Taste and add extra orange juice if required.

Serve with a sprinkling of fresh chives.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Walking Wounded

Walking distances has had a big impact on my life and I find the more I walk the  more I want to walk and I am constantly considering where, when and how to walk over the next few years.

But at the moment I am walking wounded. After a recent arthroscopy on my left knee, I am unable to walk even short distances. My surgeon's appraisal of 6 - 8 weeks recovery time computed to 6 -8 days in my head and I started with 3 kms, 3 days after surgery! Bad move. Since then I have been holed up waiting for the swelling to go down, which means I really should stop being an idiot and wait for a few weeks before I try again. My latest check up has given me an all systems go, but SLOWLY.

I keep checking the calendar and realise I only have 4 months left to get my fitness right for walking a lot of kilometres. If you take into consideration that I have to wait another 6 weeks or so before I can actually start to pick up the pace again, we are then only 3 months away. My walking schedule is going to have to be pretty rigorous from the end of May.

Let's talk about the walk  along the Thames Path so you get an idea of where we are headed in September.

The Thames is a very long river that runs through the capital London. It starts at a small village called Keswick in the Cotswolds. That is in the SW part of England. The path follows the river and all its bends and ends up at the other side of London. It passes through Cirencester, the City of Oxford, the Chilterns and into London. With places like Fiddler's Island, Neigh Bridge, Henley, Windsor and the Great Tower of London. Amazing countryside, thatched cottages and to die for gardens. 

At the source, the river can only be seen as a small puddle when it rains. I think you need to either be dead drunk or have a great imagination to see it. But the closer you get to London, the wider the river gets and by Gravesend it's 732 meters wide. The walk is about 185 miles long, that's 297 kilometres, if you just walk along the path. I think we should clock up closer to 350 kms by the end and I am hoping to feel pretty fit by the time we get to London. I have no doubt that we will complete the journey unless there are widespread floods, famines or pestilence.

Walking the Thames path guides you through some pretty spectacular countryside and in spring the wildflowers will be unbelievable. There will be lots of small village, pubs, cafes and I hope a little wildlife.

So onwards and upwards. Time to slowly get back to the gym and build up a few more muscles before that seed of doubt starts to creep into my psyche. Team this with a little diet tweeking and I might start to feel pretty happy about where I am heading.