Traditional English Farl Loaf


I am not well known for my succes in the bread world ! Cakes are a doddle, pastry is fiddly but bread is my nemesis … !! So believe me when I say there was no one more surprised than me when I jumped up on a Tuesday afternoon , headed into my kitchen and made a loaf of bread !! Just like that …

I decided on a Farl loaf , which is a quintessentially English loaf of bread traditionally baked on the bottom of the oven ! Mine however was baked on a tray on the bottom shelf of the oven !! Bringing it into the 21st century … and I achieved success ! I was so impressed with the loaf .. even the boys loved it .. and as we all know .. that never happens (or very rarely) !! So why not have a go yourselves ..

500g Strong white bread flour
10g salt
20g yeast (I used the dried yeast )
60g butter , softened
300 ml water

Place everything in a bowl and using your dough hooks mix all the ingredients together for 4 minutes.
Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth & pliable. Pop the dough back into the bowl and leave to rise for 1 hour . I usually cover the bowl with a tea towel but you really don’t have to !

Now line a baking tray ( I use a silicone mat) . Tip the dough out of the bowl ( it shuld have at least doubled in size) onto a floured surface and shape it into a ball . Flatten the ball into a circle thats about 2″ thick. Place the disc onto the baking tray and leave again to rise for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees . Cover the top of the dough with flour and then with a sharp knife starting from the middle make vertical slashes down the dough all the way round the loaf ( See pic above ). Bake for 30 minutes then cool on a wire rack !! Then eat it mothered in butter … YUM !

And there you have it … The perfect Farl !! Be proud .. I am !!


Casa Costello

Surf’s Up for Sport Relief : Great Bloggers Bake Off #Team Honk

Mummy Mishaps

Sport Relief may have come and gone but the spirit still lives on > I was part of an amazing team of bloggers who raised over £30, 000 for Sport Relief by holding a Lands End to John O’Groats baton relay … I was part of Team Derby ( who though small ie/ me …. with a helping hand from Nottinghams Penny & Jaime ) and we saw the baton travel from Derby up to Chatsworth where it then went on a monumental trek over the border to Sheffield !! You can read all about that here :

Here at The Great Bloggers bake Off we decided to keep the Team Honk spirit alive and immortalised in cake …. Here’s my offering ! A Surfers Paradise … I made this cake for a friends husbands 40th birthday to encompass his love of the sea and all things Surfy !!


The cake is a 12″ squared vanilla madeira decorated in both buttercream and sugarpaste … all the decorations were hand made by my own fair hands … including the surfers rip curl wave …. although I’m pleased to announce they didn’t get eaten ( due to them being buttercream smothered plastic cups !! ) !


The VW campervan was a joy to make … and the cobbled area though a labour of love just sets off the beachy scene … well I think it does !! Shane loved his cake … and you know what ? That’s good enough for me ….


Madeira Cake :
350g butter , softened
350g caster sugar
350g Plain flour
175g SR flour
6 Med free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Grease & line an 8″ tin .
Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy and pale . Add the eggs one at a time with a spoonful of flour each time to prevent curdling. Now fold in the rest of the flour and mix in the vanilla & milk. Pour this into your prepared tin . Bake for 1 hr 30 mins . remove from the oven ( check its cooked by inserting a sharp knife into the cake .. if it comes out clean .. it’s ready !! ) Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully !!

This recipe is perfect for celebration cakes as it keeps moist for a good while !! And is sturdy enough to withhold heavy decoration !! A good fail safe all rounder !!

Surf’s Up Dude …..

If you fancy joining in why not hop on over to Mummy Mishaps and link up your sporty bake ….

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Review: Peanut Hottie

 peanut hottie
As someone who loves peanuts.. chocolate peanuts , peanut butter , chocolate bars , salted peanuts… I jumped at the chance to try out a new concept in hot drinks .. the Peanut Hottie !! I was not disappointed … a big mug of smooth , sweet peanutty deliciousness .. perfect for an evenings bedtime slurp !
This drink is made up just as you would an instant hot chocolate so no faffing about just simply boil a kettle and pour !! I can’t speak highly enough of the Peanut Hottie … it smells of peanuts , it tastes of smooth peanuts and it really is a taste sensation !!
I will be buying this again as a store cupboard staple … I might even try it in a cake mixture ( as I would cocoa !! ) … Peanut Hottie Cake … oooh now you’re talking ….. watch this space !!!
This sample of Peanut Hottie was sent to me free of charge for the purpose of review.Many Thanks .

Brioche Bread & Butter Pudding



I had hoped to get this out to you in time for Mothers Day last week so that  you could all amaze & astound your lovely Mum’s with an amazing pudding to round off the Sunday dinner I’m sure you all lovingly prepared ….!! My Mum however was away babysitting my niece & nephew  so my hopes for decent grub lay soley at the feet of my 3 boys … so yes .. you’re right .. I managed to snaffle a diet coke whilst school shoe shopping and a Chinese takeaway when they had all eventually gone to bed !!!

Luckily for me the week previously my lovely Mum had invited us to dinner so I suggested I make this Mothers Day treat a week early …. and so I did !!


A delicious combination of real butter , delightful orange marmalade , decadent dark chocolate and that sweet brioche bread … This is a pudding to die for ….

(Click the link below for the full recipe & method : )

Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding



Not just for Mothers Day ! This is the perfect end to a family meal …. Unforgettable !!

Many thanks to Marks & Spencer who supplied the recipe & ingredients  complimentary for the purpose of this blog post .


Midweek Meals : Thai pork chops & Roasted Balsamic Veg with Gourmet Garden

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It’s Wednesday and quite frankly I cannot be bothered to cook … but if I’m to wheeze my way around the Great North Run in September  and look even part way like a runner ( as opposed to the middle aged russian shotputter I resemble at present ) then cook I must and cook well thereafter …

I peered dubiously into my fridge and surveyed the mass destruction before me .. and then hidden in the recesses I came across my collection of Gourmet Garden Herbs … fantastic squeezy little tubes full of flavours just waiting to be mixed , added and eaten ….!! I did have to foresight yesterday to take some pork chops out of the fridge ( that’s my inner housewife showing its ugly head)  .. and so tonights Thai Pork Chops were born ….

2 Large Pork chops

2tbsp soy sauce (reduced salt )

1 tbsp Gourmet Garden Garlic

1/2 tbsp Gourmet Garden Ginger

1 tsp Gourmet Garden Lemongrass

1 tsp Gourmet Garden Chilli

Mix the Soy sauce & garlic , ginger , chilli & lemongrass together  to make a marinade. Pour this lovingly over the pork chops and place back in the fridge for a few hours to let the meat take on the flavours . When you are ready to cook … put your grill onto a medium heat and grill the meat to your own liking !!!  I served this with roasted balsamic vegetables … Red onion , peppers , courgettes and cherry tomatoes with 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar sprinkled over the top roasted in the oven at 200 degrees for 25 minutes  … add to the crushed new potatoes … and  there is a quick and easy midweek supper ! Healthy , tummy happy & satisfying.

The Gourmet Garden products can be found in all good supermarkets and are perfect for adding to all your dishes for that extra zing !!! Also brilliant if you hate the faff of all the chopping , crushing and slicing !!! Making your time in the kitchen a pleasure !! Fresh … made easy !!!!

I was sent the Gourmet Garden products free of charge for the purpose of review. Many thanks .

M & S : Count On Us

We are well into February now and most New Year diet plans are well and truly forgotten … if indeed they made it past the post hangover Bacon buttie !! I too am guilty of this wanton display of nonchalant gluttony .. and I too am desperately looking to try and jump back on the healthy eating bandwagon in a humble yet triumphant style !! In order to help me do this I am no stranger to the ready meal … sometimes to keep within your calorie quotient for the day and to uphold your virtuous lifestyle you just have to give in to the lure of the microwave … and with Marks & Spencer’s new Count on Us range .. you can absolutely do that GUILT FREE !!!

You don’t have to miss out on all your favourite treats just because you are “on a diet” or following a healthy eating regime …No Way ! The Count on Us range at M & S brings us Pies, Curries, Moussaka , Brisket of beef in an ale gravy, tagines , jerk chicken , venison meatballs …. Now I don’t know about you , but that all sounds fantastic to me !!

I was lucky enough to be able to try out a couple of these dishes and I can honestly say I will be back for more . the portion sizes were adequate ( for the larger appetite just add more steamed vegetables) , the cooking times were quick enough to satisfy those ” must eat now” hunger pangs and the meals kept us full and not wanting to snack all evening !

I tried out the Roasted Butternut & Mushroom parpadelle in a creamy sauce with roasted mushrooms ! It was quite honestly delicious … the vegetables were cooked to perfection and the pasta portion was perfect for me . A whole bowl full of creamy delightfulness . A perfect weekday supper ! (342 cals)

The husband tried the Chicken & slow cooked mushrooms with baby onons in a rich red wine sauce with a healthy portion of vegetables.


He loved the rich sauce and was glad of the chicken not being breast but the more flavoursome thigh , the vegetables ( a mix of cabbage , carrots & swede) were beautifully steamed and complimented the chicken perfectly. Yet again a fantastic weekday supper at just 252 calories !!!! I kid you not !

I will definitely be stocking up with the Count on Us ready meal range for those .. “I really can’t be bothered to cook ” days .. it’ll save me money and save my waistline ( when it reappears again ! )

Good Stuff M & S !! I’m converted !

These ready meals were given to us FOC for the purpose of review. All thoughts & opinions on the meals are my own .

Cauliflower Cheese Soup #GreatBritishBudget

Sometimes when faced with a load of veggies that are reaching their natural end you need to think outside the box , delve into the abyss that is your fridge and see just what you can do to avoid throwing anything away !! In this month of budgeting and saving money I did just that …


As I gazed around my kitchen I happened upon a sad looking cauliflower that just begged to be cooked .. well after only recently making cauliflower cheese I decided to try something a bit different with it .. and as soup season is upon us , what better way to use the unhappy vegetable , delight the stomachs of all recipients and use up the last dregs of whatever I had in … Cauliflower Cheese Soup was born !

1 med cauliflower cut into florets
1 apple cored and chopped
800 ml vegetable stock
1 mug of milk
salt & pepper
3 laughing cow blue cheese triangles

Boil the cauli & apple in the stock & milk until the veg is tender enough to blitz !
Blitz it up with a hand blender ( or in my case a smoothie maker !! )
Stir in the blue cheese triangles until they are melted.
Season with the S & P to taste !!

Easy as you like !!! Perfect winter warmer .. .

This makes around 4/5 large bowls of soup …. !! Now that’s how you save a few pennies !! Much better than a shop bought soup !!! You can freeze portions of this soup and defrost at your leisure !! Or stick in warmed up in a flask & take to work for your lunch ! Your options are endless … But mostly I just hope you enjoyed !!!!


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