Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Homemade Bread

I think you would agree with me that, as consumers, we always like to be offered free items from companies that shows us to be valued and appreciated.
At The Old Red Lion, Litchborough Ben and Vicky think its a lovely gesture to offer homemade bread with an oil and balsamic dip to their customers whilst they peruse the menu.
Having never made bread before this came as a new challenge for me, but was not as difficult as I imagined and, it seems, truely welcomed by customers so far.
Look below for the recipe that I use and give it a go yourself!

1 Egg
1 Egg Yolk
150-200/5-7floz luke warm water
500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp easy-blend dried yeast
25g/1oz Butter
sunflour oil

1. Place the egg and egg yolk in a jug and beat lightly to mix. Add enough luke warm water to make up to 300ml/10floz. Stir well
2. Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the butter, and rub it in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.Make a well in the centre, add the egg mixture and work to a smooth dough.
3. Turn out on to a lightly oiled surface and knead well for about 10 minutes or until smooth. Brush a bowl with oil . Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
4. Brush a 900g/2lb loaf tin with oil. Turn out the dough and knead again for 1 minute or until smooth. Shape the dough to the size of the tin and place in it. Cover again with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes or until it has risen above the tin. Place in a pre heated oven 220C/425F/Gas 7 for approx 30mins until firm and golden brown.Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Below is a batch I made last night.

And here is how we serve it!

If you don't fancy making the bread yourself why not pop along to The Old Red Lion and try some for yourself!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Rocky Road Biscuit Bar

What makes you happy?
For me, when I am having a down day, this little girl in the picture below cheers me up no end. She was my christmas present from my son and though, at the time, I was not impressed at receiving her, she has been my saviour these past few weeks whilst being out of work.
Holly The Kitten
Apart from my cat the other thing I reach for when feeling down is CHOCOLATE!!! There's just something about that soft, velvety taste that makes the world look just that little bit better.
Since being off work I've done more baking at home than I would usually do and Rocky Road has become a firm favourite in my house just recently.
It's such an easy recipe to make and a brilliant thing to make with the kids.

250g Milk Chocolate
125g Butter
2 Tbsp Golden Syrup
50g Cocoa Powder
Mini Marshmallows (Find them in the baking aisle)
400g Digestive Biscuits
First melt the chocolate.
You can use the microwave but be careful of burning the chocolate as it's easily done! I use a small saucepan of boiling water and rest a bowl in the top, but try not to have the water touching the bowl.

While the chocolate melts put the biscuits in a bowl and, with the end of a rolling pin, bash them until they resemble crumbs.
Add the butter,golden syrup and cocoa powder to the chocolate and let it all melt and combine. Add this mix to the crushed biscuits and combine together with the Marshmellows. For an added treat you could also add some maltesers to the mixture!
Now spread the mixture into a baking tray. Pack it tight so when cooled it doesnt crumble. I use this great tray I bought from Lakeland with individual compartments.
Put in the fridge to set. Usually about an hour is enough but if you have more time to spare the longer the better I find.
When set, cut into squares and enjoy!
 For an added treat I sometimes melt some white chocolate and drizzle over the top and sprinkle icing sugar for effect.
rocky road biscuit bar

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Chorizo & Cheese Pancakes

After such a hard year year at Skylark Farm I already feel really settled at The Red Lion where I started working on February 4th. Just been working part time for the past 3 weeks but already have had the chance to put a lot of imput in which is lovely.
This weeks challenge for me was to create a 'Spicy Dish Of The Day' for the specials board.
Not being a big fan of spicy food I didnt have any recipes in my head. I guess it would be all to easy to just make curries every week but I wanted to make something different.
I searched through all my cook books until I came across a recipe for 'Chorizo & Cheese Pancakes in Spicy Tomato Sauce' and knew I'd found a winner.
Spanish Chorizo is a seasoned, smoked pork sausage flavored with garlic, chili powder and other spices and is widely used in  Spanish cooking.  It's usually sold whole,  cut lengths or in rounds and being dry-cured, can be just sliced and eaten or added to dishes
Food at The Red Lion is still in it's infancy and reputation growing so I didnt make too many portions of the dish and was therefore delighted when our first order of the evening was for 'Spicy Dish'!!
It's an extremely easy dish to make and can be made in advance and just reheated in the oven.
Our customers loved it, so give it a go yourself!

4oz/110g plain Flour
2 Eggs
5 floz/1/4pt Milk
5tbsp Water
Pinch Salt                                                  

2 Tbsp Oil
1 Small Onion (Chopped)
1 Clove Garlic
2 Lg Tomatoes, Skinned and Chopped
3 Tbsp Tomato Puree
1 Bay Leaf
Salt & Pepper
1 Green Chilli
2 1/2 floz/65ml Sour Cream
1 Tbsp Chopped Coriander

Chopped Chorizo
Grated Cheese

1. Put all the pancake ingredients in a bowl and use an electric hand whisk to blend together.
Heat a small amount of oil or butter in a non stick frying pan and make 6 pancakes from the mixture. Leave to one side.
2. Make sauce by heating the oil and frying onion and garlic for 5 mins.
 Add tomatoes, puree, bayleaf, salt & pepper and simmer for 15 mins. Add a little water if you feel it's too thick.
3. Take out the bayleaf and put the mixture in a blender with chilli and sour cream. Mix in the coriander.
4. Pour half the sauce in a dish.
Roll sausage and some cheese in each pancake and lay in sauce. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top and top with grated cheese.
Bake in the oven 15-20 mins at 180C/160C fan/gas 4.


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Malteser Tree

malteser tree by CottonsAndDreams
malteser tree, a photo by CottonsAndDreams on Flickr.

Having changed my blog name from Chef At Skylark Farmhouse Cafe to Styles of Cooking it seems that my popular post The Malteser Tree has an invalid link on google so please follow this link
 to see how my son and I made this lovely gift for his teacher.


So I have a new job but where does that leave my Chef at Skylark Farmhouse Cafe blog?
 It had been a record of my journey at the farm so ideally I should close that chapter. But not wanting to keep starting new blogs I made the decision to remain with the blog and change the name.
All seemed so easy at the time but didnt realise that by changing my name would affect all my other posts on google that link back to Chef At Skylark Farmhouse Cafe.
So I guess it really is a new start with everything.
So WELCOME one and all to my new look blog
"Styles Of Cooking" and, this time, long may it go on!!

Sunday, 10 February 2013


I suppose it was a rather arrogant and naive move handing in my notice at the farm before finding another job to go to, but at the time I thought I would just find something straight away. I had enough money to get me through the first month so I wasnt too worried.
I soon found out though that the task at hand was not going to be an easy one! Being fussy was initially my main problem. As much as there seemed to be several "branded" pub kitchen jobs I had no intention to do "that" kind of cooking. Processed and microwaved food really isn't my thing!
I had a very positive interview as a cafe manager with a recruitment company but when I had a 2nd interview with the owner I changed my mind about working there.
Then I was very excited to have an interview with a vegetarian restaurant in Rugby. I showed as much enthusiasum as I could at the interview but unfortunately didnt have enough experience  for the role. (Between you and me my initial impression of the owners wasn't a very good one anyway!)
As January marched on a sense of panic grew in me that a job wasnt going to come along. Several companies I applied to didnt even respond back and the "branded" pubs looked like my only option.
Then on January 31st a miracle happened. I casually applied for a job as a chef in a pub. My phone rang the same day with an invitation to go for an interview. During the interview I found out that the owners not only had the pub but were part of a family farming business, and had a farm shop. It felt like fate. I had found a job doing exactly the kind of food I like making.
And so on Monday 4th February I began working at The Old Red Lion in Litchborough with a very friendly group of staff and owners.
Here begins the next stage of my life!

Friday, 8 February 2013


It seeems like forever since I have ventured into blogland. Months of hard work at Skylark Farm unfortunately took their toll on my mental health and in late November I made the decision to hand in 8 weeks notice to my employers.
I have never experienced such unhappiness in my workplace (and I have had several jobs over the years) and when such a high percentage of your week is spent at work it is important to be happy I believe.
According to certain people in my life it was a rash decision to make, with no job to go to and a household to solely support, but I didn't care, all I knew was that I had to get out.
So on January 6th 2013 I worked my final shift and left, head held high, into a new unknown world!
Stay tuned!!!