What I've been cooking #2: Mary Berry's Baking Bible

So this cookbook series didn't really go very well did it? I only reviewed one book and it was another Mary Berry one - who said I'm a creature of habit? I just find her recipes so simple and effective. I'm going to try and start this series up again as my cookbook collection has gotten out of control and soon I will have my own kitchen! I find spending a Sunday in the kitchen really relaxing and have been trying to keep that day aside each week to try and chill out after a hectic week. So without further ado, here is what I baked from Mary Berry's Baking Bible...


Madeira Cake
This is such a classic and one I can't believe that I have never baked before. The beautifully dense cake is one of my favourite afternoon treats. Loaf cakes are one of my favourite things to bake as they're just so simple. This was no exception to the rule. Just keep an eye on it as I feel like 30 minutes is a little too long to be in the oven. It cooks very quickly and I popped some tinfoil over it after 10 minutes. I'll definitely be rustling up a Madeira again.


Blueberry Muffins
Yet another classic. This American muffins are a great sweet treat for breakfast.Make sure you fill the cases up the top as they don't seem to rise as much as I think they should. It will help you get the 'muffin' look. The finished muffin is gorgeously light and perfectly tart, making it impossible to stop at just one. Another recipe I'll be making again. Can Mary Berry do any wrong?


Date and chocolate loaf
I had high expectations for this and mixed thoughts when I finally tasted it. The chocolate was a little bit non-existent but the date flavour was lovely. It tastes very similar to malt loaf and is made much better with a slick of salted butter. Everyone else raved about it so maybe it was just my fussy ways. I'm not sure I'll make this one again...


Maple syrup cake
I loved the maple syrup and orange combination of this cake. It had the perfect amount of sweetness. But I wasn't too keen on the American style frosting which was basically whipped double cream. Give me buttercream icing any day. Whilst I'm glad I tried this cake, it's not one I'm going to be adding to my regular list any time soon.


Irish soda bread
I'd never made any type of bread before having been easily intimidated. But I decided to try my hand at some soda bread as a treat for my Irish boyfriend. Despite forgetting to add the salt, I KNOW!, I added some salted butter and it actually tasted really nice. I imagine it'll taste even better when I remember to put in one of the most important ingredients. It was so, so simple to make and came out with such a gorgeous crust. I'll definitely be rustling up one of these on a regular basis.


Fruit scones
How can you go wrong with some scones? I've always made my scones from Mary Berry and they've always came out great. I alternative the type of fruit I use every time and each variation is tasty. The recipe never usually makes as many as she says it will so always double up. You can never have too many!

So my thoughts on Mary's baking bible? Like all the other Mary books I've tried, this is flawless. She just has a knack of producing really simple, traditional recipes that always come out trumps. I've yet to have a real disaster and another I haven't liked is just due to personal taste. She is always my go-to when it comes to a good classic cake. It's a great cookbook for a lazy Sunday afternoon of baking as you never have to concentrate too hard on a recipe. Another success from the Bezza! 
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What I've been cooking #1 - Mary Berry Absolute Favourites


As I mentioned in this post, I've been making a conscious effort to use my cookbooks and where better to document my progress than here! This time I worked my way through Mary Berry's Absolute Favourites. I'm a massive fan of Mary's bakes but I'd never tried her cooking recipe - turns out they're just as good! Full of hearty, traditional classics, the cookbook is perfect to run to when you have guests who aren't really to experimental - parents! Each dish was so simple to make and the instructions were easy to follow. Nothing was too overwhelming to try. There's still so many recipes I want to try.  I wouldn't necessarily say they were mid-week dishes because they're not quick but I'm sure over time you can speed them up again. So, what did I end up making?


Cottage pie with crush potato topping
A classic in my family, cottage pie is always a crowd pleaser. But this time Mary added crushed potatoes instead of mash which made a welcome changed to a traditional British meal. I didn't follow the recipe exactly as I cooked my mince meat first in a pan with all the ingredients before popping it in the oven with the topping. The recipe says to cook it in the oven for 90 minutes but I've just never made it like it. It still came out perfectly tender the way I did it. The red wine gave the meat such a wonderful, addictive flavour. Served with steamed veg and cabbage, it was a great winter warmer when the cold weather hit. I'll definitely be pulling this one out the bag again over the next few months.


Sticky chicken
Out of everything I cooked, this was my least favourite. But it went down well with everyone else! I should have left the sticky sauce to caramelise for longer so it wasn't as runny but I was too scared about burning the pan. I paired it with rocket drizzled in olive oil and a bowl of potato wedges because what's a dinner without any carbs? I don't think I'd make this again.


Meatballs in tomato and basil sauce
I'm still dreaming about this sauce. So simple yet so blooming delicious. I'd make the sauce on its own and keep it in the fridge for other dishes. Admittedly this was a major faff as I attempted it on a Monday night after I got home from work late and we didn't eat until after 9pm. So don't attempt it on a week night. But once I bit into that first meatball, it was well worth the effort. The meatballs wasn't the most flavoursome I've had but it was all about that sauce. So skip the meatballs and just cook ALL the sauce.


Roasted sausage and potato supper
My household is a massive fan of sausages so I knew this was going to be a winner before I event tried the recipe. The recipe only called for peppers and onions but it didn't seem enough for me so I pumped for a whole host of different things to help make it more substantial. Aubergines, courgette and tomatoes all made the cut. The great thing about this is when you've chopped everything up, you literally leave it in the oven and forget about it. It only takes about 30 minutes to cook. Definitely one to add to my list of things to make again!


Pork stroganoff
Not the most photogenic of dishes but one of my favourites. I have such a soft spot for stroganoff, it's always so simple to make and tastes great too. This recipe was no different. I loved the addition of paprika - although I would personally have added more. Next time I'm going to serve this alongside mash for the ultimate comfort meal.
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5 of my favourite cookbooks


Cookbooks are my jam. I don't even want to count how many I have. I absolutely love buying them, settling down in bed flicking through the pages and rustling something up that looks vaguely like the picture. I am addicted. But these five are my current favourites.

1. Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Cookbook
Caribbean food is up there with one of my favourite cuisines and this cookbook is perfect for beginners. The recipes are so simple to make, ingredients aren't too tricky and everything tastes utterly delicious. I love the fact the book tells you all about Levi Roots and the journey he's made to get to where he is today. The Jamaican Ginger Cake recipe is perfection. Next on my list is the coconut cake and sweet potato pudding. Best start baking!

2. Lola's Forever
Every single recipe in this book looks mouth-watering. I've had a Lola's cupcake before in London so was over the moon when I was kindly treated to this book from the mother. It has every different type of cupcake, tray bake and loaf you can imagine. And then some more. Some recipes are quite time-consuming so it's best to set aside a lot of time for the kitchen. But they always come out perfectly and taste great. The rocky road cupcakes are bookmarked for my next baking session.

3. Mary Berry's Baking Bible
How could I not include the Queen of baking eh? The recipes always use simple, wholesome ingredients - nothing worse then wondering where the hell to get certain bits and pieces - and Mary always break down exactly what you need to do perfectly so there's not room for error on your part. She has everything covered. The cakes aren't anything too fancy but they're old favourites and always hit the spot. The Frosted Walnut Layer Cake has been calling my name for a while!


4. Jamie's Ministry of Food
I have a soft spot for Jamie Oliver but sometimes he gets a bit too fussy and includes recipes that take forever. That's ok on a lazy Sunday but who has time for that midweek when you feel like your stomach is about it eat itself? This is an oldie but a goodie. It's got some great British classics and lots of hints and tips to help you get to know your way around a kitchen. It's a fantastic option for those who are just starting to experiment. I still can't believe I haven't made the Baked Camembert Pasta. I'm slacking.

5. The Hairy Bikers' family Cookbook Mums Know Best
I wish I could employ the Hairy Bikers to be my full time cooks. These men are my heroes! They always create such hearty dishes with a slight twist to help keep them feeling fresh. After all, how many times can you have Shepherd's Pie eh? This one features all different types of cuisines but they all have a slight British twist to them which means they'll suit even the fussiest of eaters. Nothing to too intense. The cheesy cottage pie is such a crowd pleaser and always gets a nod of approval from guests. I think the curried salmon will be my next dish I tackle!


What are your favourite cookbooks? I'm always after suggestions! 
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A few favourites #2



Mary Berry Baking Bible
I was very kindly given this by my sister-in-law for Christmas. I just adore Mary Berry - she's such a babe and whenever I follow her recipes I always have such incredibly tasting cakes. Admittedly I haven't made anything out of this yet as I've just not had time to think since the festive period. But things should calm down soon and I have the cheese straws and Swiss Roll at the top of list of things to bake.

Matalan Pink Initial Scarf
My mum bought my dad his own version of this scarf just before Christmas and kindly treated me too when I expressed an interest. I love things with my initial/name and I kind of feel a little like High School Musical in it. It's very warm and the £10 goes straight to Alder Hey charity. Not only do you look good but you do a good deed at the same time!

Topshop Forest Green Tunic
I've been on the hunt for suitable tops for jeans for what feels like my whole life. Okay slight exaggeration there... But in an era of crop tops, they're like a needle in a haystack. I'm quite fussy and like tops to cover my bum and to be long and flowing.  Thankfully Topshop have come up trumps with this tunic. I love the colour and it skims perfectly past my rather large booty - winner all round! I might have to get it in the oxblood colour too.

No7 Pop and Glow Cream Blush Stick
I bought this with a No7 voucher, used it once and then popped it in my make up drawer and promptly forgot all about it. Fast forward to a day where I was determined to finally get a hold on my mountain of stuff - never did - and I came across it. Since then it's barely left my cheeks. Although the colour looks a touch scary, it's the perfect shade to build to your tastes and has great staying power. I'd love to try other shades in the range.

Rimmel Apocalips Lip Laquer Big Bang
Over the last few months I can seem to get enough of a red lip and this is one of the top contenders that I reach for. It can be a little tricky to apply as it's so easy to be heavy handed with it. A lip liner might help to keep it under control. But it really does pack a punch.

Enrapture Totem Styler 
I asked for this a few birthday's ago when it reached the dizzy heights of the blogger hype. Everyone and their dog seems to have one. Again it had been pushed to one side for a good few months - sense a theme? I need to detox my room. But I picked it up before Christmas and instantly remembered how much I loved it. I adore the fact you can adjust the curl depending on your mood and it really does lasts on my dreaded heavy hair. Perfect!

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