My Love Affair with Paul Hollywood In the Southwest of England (Chapter One)

My Love Affair with Paul Hollywood In the Southwest of England (Chapter One)

I have been taking a break from my full menus lately because I got swept up in my new love affair with Paul Hollywood–OK, just his book titled British Baking, but seriously, I am in love.  You might want to stop reading right now if you were hoping for something more torrid than flour, fats, and sugar.  I purchased Paul Hollywood’s British Baking book because my 17 year old daughter is a huge fan of the The Great British Bake Off.  This book has been a revolution for me and my baking/cooking skills, but also her skills as well.  I will briefly explain, and then enjoy my photos of my cooking tour of England with our tour guide, my new love, Paul Hollywood.

This book has elevated my cooking skills because Mr. Hollywood has made me more aware of my measurements, ingredients, and what to look for in each stage of the cooking process.  His instructions are brief, yet clear.  The result is a product that is far superior to anything I have baked in the past, but my results from this book are also better than what I can get from most bakeries in my area.  Everything is just delicious and the texture is superb.

My daughter who loves to bake has some special needs that have made cooking and many other things challenging for her in her daily life.  Using standard American measurements of scooping out cups has been one of these challenges for her.  She just does not have the coordination to level off a proper cup of flour, sugar, etc.  It seems like she invariably under or over scoops and I always need to step in to help her make corrections.  Using a scale, however, is much easier for her.  We just put a bowl on top of the scale and she pours the flour in until it reaches the proper weight.  Once it hits the correct number, 500 grams, for example, she stops.  If she over poured than she just takes a little spoon and spoons out very carefully until the number is exactly 500 grams.  This method is so easy for her I can’t believe we haven’t used a kitchen scale a long time ago!  If you have a special needs person in your life who has occupational challenges such as that, I highly recommend switching to weights for cooking rather than American volume cup measurements.

The format of Paul Hollywood’s British Baking book is like a baking tour of the British Isles.  A history of England through the eyes of a baker.  The chapters are divided into geographic and cultural areas of the British Isles.  The recipes include both the savory and sweet,  and yeasted breads to scones.  The array of baked goods in this book is wonderful, and as a student of baking (which you will be if you are cooking from this book) it will keep your interest in both challenges with technique and variety in taste and texture.  Take a look at the pictures of the items we baked from the first chapter and you will can see this variety.

I would love to hear about your cooking revolutions and discoveries and any challenges you may have regarding cooking like those of my daughters.  Please enjoy the pictures and kitchen notes.

I have a feeling once you start baking with Paul Hollywood you will fall in love with him too and start a long and delicious affair with British Baking!


Pictures from Chapter One:  The Southwest

The following pictures are all items from his first Chapter titled, “The Southwest.”  There are two recipes from this chapter I have not made and those are the Baked Somerset Brie and the Oldbury Gooseberry Pies.  I plan to make these, but I can’t find gooseberries right now and the baked brie calls for cranberries which are in season in November.  So, I might add those once I make them at a later date.

Cornish Pasties

These were huge and delicious.  The recipe calls for lard and I think this is the first time I have had lard in my house and thus in my cooking.


Priddy Oggies

Not much to say other than, AMAZING.


Wholemeal Seeded Loaf

Excellent.  I forgot to make the snips along the top of the loaf, but it did not detract from how good this loaf tastes.


Sally Lunn

Another superb baked good.  Have with a cup of tea and some strawberries.

Saffron Cake

The British like their currents and this loaf is stuffed FULL of them.  I was skeptical but the currents are so fruity and delicious and paired with the saffron and lemon peel it was scrumptious.

Devonshire Splits

Best to serve these as soon as you make them.

Dorset Wiggs

As Mr. Hollywood explains in his book, these were originally made close to a brewery using the yeast from the beer making process which is why they were spiced.  The spice attempted to hide the strong flavor of the beer yeast.  I made these with regular bread yeast, but I make beer and I wonder if I should try someday to make these as they originally were made.  That might be a fun cooking experiment.


Mothering Buns

These might be one of my favorite recipes, but they are best served the moment after you frost them.  Don’t attempt to keep them in plastic wrap as the frosting will just drip off.  They taste like a raised doughnut, but so much better and so pretty too!

Strawberry and Pistachio Shortcakes

Stunning presentation and surprisingly easy.

Dorset Apple Cake

Seed Cake

A strong nutmeg flavor.  Great texture.  I used poppy seeds rather than the more traditional caraway.


Hevva Cake

More of those wonderful little fruity jewels called currents.  This cake you have to make to understand.  The picture didn’t make the cake look that appealing to me, but the flavor and texture of this cake is fantastic.  Almost like shortbread, but not.  We Americans just don’t have anything comparable to this cake.

Cornish Fairings

Drink a nice strong Assam Tea with these little cookies.  And you can find the perfect Assam here.



Beverage Quarterly Report: Tea, Beer, and Spirits

Beer tasters

No meal is complete without your favorite beverages.  Not only have I been trying to make a menu a month from the Gourmet compendiums, but these books are chuck full of great beverage recipes too!  So, I also decided to find one beverage recipe a month.  As I explored the beverages it made me realize how important beverages are around our house, specifically tea and beer.  Therefore, I am also including in this quarterly report a review of some of our favorite beverages from the past three months.  Take a moment to let me know what you have been drinking in your household too!

Beverage Recipes


Not only do we love tea in our house, but my younger daughter is very interested with Morocco right now.  So, when I came across the Moroccan Mint Tea recipe in The Best of Gourmet:  1995, I thought we had to give it a try.  I am so glad we did, it is fantastic!  This recipe is so good it is now a standard around our house.  I have made it many times.  Sometimes I use fresh mint, as the original recipe calls for, and sometimes I used dried mint.  When I use dried mint I use equal parts dried 100% mint tea and gunpowder green tea and it came out just as well.  I use Twinings Gunpowder Green tea for this recipe which is widely available in many major retail stores.

The Moroccan Mint Tea recipe is from the menu called “A Moroccan Feast,” which is also found in the 1995 Gourmet compendium.  I would love to make this full menu some day as it looks amazing and like there is enough food for a week long feast!!  If you are interested in the design elements of this menu I created an Ebay collection to go with this menu.  I love the cobalt blue colors that contrast with the orange, and the Moroccan doors in this collection are amazing!  Here is the recipe:

Moroccan Mint Tea

  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons gunpowder green tea
  • 6 cups boiling water

Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

In a teapot combine mint, sugar, and tea and add boiling water.  Let steep 5 to 10 minutes.  Strain tea through a fine sieve into teacups and garnish with mint.  Makes 6 cups.  Enjoy!


Not only did I do a nice candle lit dinner for our Valentines treat, but I also made fun Valentines drinks that month too!  I again used The Best of Gourmet:  1995 for the recipe which was the Banana Rum Fizzes.  This recipe combines ice cream, banana, chocolate liqueur, rum and club soda, so go easy on these not only because of the alcohol, but also the calories too!!  Of course I had to embellish with a pink and white sugaring around the rim and a skewered Valentine Lindt chocolate ball in our drinks, which did not help with the caloric intake of this beverage!  However, it might help to know that we all thought these were actually better made with 1/2 and 1/2 or whole milk and a frozen banana in place of the ice cream.  Just add a pinch of sugar when blending everything together.

These drinks were fun and quite festive, but they are strong in alcohol so sip slowly which might be hard to do because they taste like dessert!  I used Marie Brizard Chocolate Royal and Kraken Rum .


I was all ready to pick out a fun beverage recipe in a Gourmet compendium for March, but then I got excited about the Ebay collection that I created.  This collection was inspired by The Best of Gourmet: Volume VI’s menu titled, “Dinner Irish Style.”  While putting that collection together I also added a few books on Irish design and Irish cooking.  This is how I came to discover the cookbook by Rachel Allen titled, “Favorite Food at Home:  Delicious Comfort Food from Ireland’s Most Famous Chef.”  As I am a fan of Irish home cooking, this was a must have for my cookbook collection!  Once I received the book in the mail from the Ebay seller, I discovered my March beverage recipe!

“Little Hot After-Dinner Shots” rose from the pages like a gift from St. Patrick himself!  I used the excuse that my husband is Irish American and of course needs a St. Patrick’s Day present, to run out and buy an expensive and premium bottle of Irish Whiskey.  I made my simple syrup and lightly whipped some whipping cream.  I put this all together and presented the drink is little cordial glasses and the end product was . . . . well, we decided we are not Irish Whiskey fans.  This, however leads me to the review of the Irish Whiskey I used for this recipe:


Please DO NOT report me to the Redbreast company!!  They state on their Facebook page that their whiskey is, “NOT FOR MIXING.”  Ooops.  Well, in all fairness we did drink it straight too because we needed to know what it tasted like before we mixed the whiskey.  It tastes like whiskey.  It is smooth and really has no burn, but like I said, I simply do not have adequately developed taste buds to fully appreciate the subtle flavors in whiskey.  Mixed however, it was a cute little drink and I would happily serve this on any St. Patrick’s Day event!

I used 1 1/2 ounces whiskey, 1 1/2 ounces simple syrup, 1 Tablespoon cream.  The cream should stay on the top.  Enjoy (or not)!

Tea and Beer


We consume a LOT of tea in my house.  My younger daughter has become a tea historian and connoisseur.  I could tell you all about tea, but for now I will tell you just what we have been drinking in the first three months of 2016.

I made two major orders from tea merchants.  The first from Ghograjan Tea Estate.  I discovered Ghograjan when we attended the past two San Francisco International Tea Festivals.  Ghograjan’s teas stand out among some excellent tea merchants at the festival.  Thus, when I received an email from them letting me know their teas were now available for the retail consumer, I wasted no time and went right to my computer.  We purchased pretty much all they offered earlier in the year which included the Vintage Earl Gray, the Assam Golden Tips, and the Royal Masala Chai teas.  All are amazing!  You will not be disappointed if you order from Ghograjan.  Their teas are exceptional!  You simply can’t order too much of their Masala Chai tea, that was gone instantly in our house!

For our Easter Dinner we served the Ghograjan Vintage Earl Gray along with our meal.  It was an excellent complement to the very English inspired flavors of the Easter Dinner Menu and the tea was enjoyed by everyone.

Here is a picture of their Chai in the cup that came as a gift with purchase from them:

chai tea

I like to spread my retail dollars out, so our next purchase was from Adagio Teas.  I signed up for their “Tea of the Month Club,” specifically their six month Black tea subscription.  The first box arrived very quickly and was nicely packaged.  This box included their Irish Breakfast and the Assam Medley.  I love Assam tea with its malty, biscuity aromas and flavors, but although Adagio’s Assam was good it couldn’t hold a candle to Ghograjan’s.  The Adagio Irish Breakfast is blended with Ceylon tea which had a nice distinctive almost dusty flavor.  I am really looking forward to seeing what comes next from Adagio.


Beer is the other important beverage in our household.  Last year my husband and I started making our own beer.  My husband and I decided we needed a team building project other than doing chores and raising kids.  We started off easy using kits, but our results have been fantastic.  Our sixth batch of beer is just finishing up and we plan to make more.  The eventual goal is to go “all grain” brewing, but for now we have no plans as of yet to change from the kits.  All-grain brewing is a goal down the road when our time becomes just a little more plentiful.

We have been ordering from Northern Brewer.  For our last order we wanted to get ready for St. Patrick’s Day, so we ordered three of their Irish style kits:  the Dry Irish Stout, the Irish Draught Ale, and the Irish Blonde.  The Blonde is still in the fermenter, so I cannot comment on that style, however the Irish Stout and Ale were excellent!  The Stout was so smooth and it had a slight bitterness which was pleasant.  The Draught Ale was a good flavorful all around beer.  Both of those styles are on our “make again” list!  We do not have a fancy or expensive set up, just a big stainless steel kettle, a plastic primary fermenter, a carboy, and a bottle capper.  I feel like since we have been making our own beer, there is always something to look forward to in my fridge!

Here is a picture of one of our delicious batches:


In between our homebrew we like to explore the plentiful local and micro-brew beers in the stores these days.  Around where we live there is no shortage of micro-brew style beers.  A couple of stand outs that keep reappearing in our fridge are:

Both of these French styled beers would be a nice addition to the Informal Dinner Menu from January 2016.  The Lost Abby saison is my personal favorite, but my husband’s vote goes to Boulevard’s saison.  Both are excellent.  Needless to say, our next order from Northern Brewer will be their saison style beer kits!  I can hardly wait!

Check back in three months for my next quarterly beverage report!  In the mean time look for my upcoming blog posts which will include a March cooking addendum, and my April menu!

Thanks for visiting!