Homemade Nut Butter

I’m constantly buying lovely crunchy peanut butter to spread on my morning toast so lord knows why it has only just dawned on me that I could make my own for a fraction of the price and none of the nasties that tend to sneak in to the shop bought stuff

Homemade peanut butter

This might also just be the easiest recipe (if I can even call it that) I’ve so far attempted.  Plus you can pimp it up however you like with other nuts (cashew, macadamia and almond all grind up well) and even chocolate for your very own homemade nutella.  These quantities will fill a 350g tub…

Homemade peanut butter

  • Tip around 300g of roasted salted peanuts into a food processor (I made a mixture of two thirds peanut to one third almond).  If you’re using unsalted nuts add a good few pinches of salt and 2-3 tbsp of brown sugar
  • Grind thoroughly using the metal blade until the ground nuts crumbs start to form a paste. If it’s looking a little dry, add some sunflower oil (a tablespoon at a time) until it’s come together to form a thick and almost glossy paste
  • Spoon in to a scrupulously clean container and store in the fridge and start spreading on toast, crumpets, carrots and pretty much anything else you can lay your hands on (it’s also particularly moreish with Tiptree raspberry seeded jam)

Homemade peanut butterHomemade peanut butter

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Meet Margot

As I mentioned in my last post, I haven’t been blogging much and this is why.  Meet Margot.  She’s two and a half months old, extremely soft, a little bit nippy and thoroughly intrepid.  From here on her adventures will be documented in detail alongside my own. She’s already been to some great restaurants, hung out at parties, been thrown out of Tesco and our local brunch spot (shame on them) and spent her first morning at the office. I should mention we don’t have any revolving doors at Sauce for those of you who heard the sad news about Tatler Alan this week (may his paws rest in peace).  She’s growing fast but she still fits perfectly in my dressing gown pocket (see photo).  Suffice to say, you are going to be hearing a lot more from her…

Miniature dachshund
Margot the wirehaired dachshund

 

 

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A blanket for my Goddaughter – Part Two

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while but what with moving house, finally learning to drive at the ripe old age of 30 and holding down the day job, I’ve been a bit lax. But I am pleased to say that  after many MANY days of knitting (often before the sun was even up) to get it finished, I finally knitted the last stitches of my baby Goddaughter’s cashmere blanket just before Christmas. It’s super soft and cosy (just like her) and if you can ignore the slightly wobbly stitching at the beginning looks rather lovely with its moss stitch pattern. Here it is just before it was wrapped up and given to her on her Christening day…

Cream and beige cashmere baby blanket

 

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Breakfast chutney

I am something of a chilli fiend and lately this lust for fire in my food has gone into overdrive.   I have countless chilli sauces in my cupboard, evidence of my on going search for the Holy Grail of sauces: one that has bite and heat but isn’t sickly sweet and shiny smooth like many shop bought bottles.

Homemade tomato, garlic and chilli chutney

So today, when faced with three quarters of a tin of leftover chopped tomatoes I set about making my own tomato, chilli and garlic relish and it worked out rather well.

I’ve called it Breakfast Chutney because that’s how we ate it this morning – dolloped on a plate of poached eggs, buttered brown toast and a little bit of chopped coriander.  It’s also pretty excellent with a creamy strong hard cheese.  The best bit though is how stupendously easy it is to make…

  • In a large heavy bottomed pan, pour a good glug of olive oil and gently heat a large tablespoon of minced garlic and 1 heaped teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (more if you are a fiery fiend like me).  Stir and allow to cook gently on a low heat until just starting to colour slightly (about 5 minutes).
  • Then tip in a tin of good quality chopped tomatoes, a  good teaspoon of salt and another of caster sugar, lots of freshly ground black pepper then leave to gently simmer and reduce on the hob stirring intermittently.  This will take about 45 mins to 1 hour
  • Then tip the lovely red sauce in to a sterilised Kilner jar or bottle and pop in the fridge to tuck into as you please

Homemade tomato, chilli and garlic chutney

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A Wedding Sampler for my Sister

Some months ago my darling sister became engaged and I obviously immediately started plotting about what would make the perfect wedding present.  I’ve always loved antique cross stitch samplers  so decided to make a more modern piece of needlework which I could adapt using bright almost clashing coloured thread and their names and the date of their wedding.

embroidered sampler

Years ago, the sampler was a way to highlight a young woman’s feminine artistry but having not attempted a sampler since I was about 12 I had totally forgotten all the rules.  Fortunately you’ll be pleased to know it’s not that hard, it just requires plenty of patience and good eyesight. By the way, I wouldn’t recommend making this sampler whilst simultaneously tackling two box sets of The Killing. Subtitles and cross stitch do not go together.   But after quite a few months of painstaking work, it’s finally finished, framed and ready to go to its new home.  I’m actually going to quite miss it…

Cross stitch wedding samplerCross stitch wedding samplerembroidered wedding samplerHandmade  wedding sampler

For sampler patterns like this one which you can adapt try The Historical Sampler Company

 

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Paint dipped spoons

If your wooden spoons are looking a little forlorn, this is an easy way to make them shiny and happy again. Plus they make really pretty presents or you could just customise them for your own kitchen.  HOURS of fun…

Coloured painted wooden spoons
A little bit like pick up sticks but more fun…
Wooden painted spoons
Can you handle this?
Enamel paint dipped spoons
Too hot to handle. Oh yes.
  • First choose your wooden spoons or utensils.   If they are slightly shiny/varnished then scuff them with a bit of sandpaper until they feel slightly rough as this will help to hold the paint
  • Then wrap some masking tape around the handle, this is where your paint will finish (see photo below)
  • Coat with non toxic craft paint one side at a time: I opted for little pots of enamel paint and when dry finish with a layer of high gloss food safe shellac to give them extra shiny enameled look
  • It’s probably worth mentioning that to keep the spoons pretty, they are best hand washed as you don’t want them to chip in the dishwasher
Unpainted wooden spoons
Naked spoons

And here is some more paint dipped spoony inspiration…

Paint dipper wooden spoons

Pastel paint dipped spoons
Pastel paint dipped spoons (styled by Rebecca Newport for Decor8)
Paint dipped antique flatware
Antique dipped flatware
White paint dipped wooden spoons from Anthropologie
White dipped spoons from Anthropologie
Paint dipped coloured wooden spoons from Wind and Willow Home
Dipped spoons from Etsy’s Wind and Willow Home
Paint dipped wooden spoons
Wooden spoons painted by yours truly
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Queen of Tarts

Jam tarts platter

I was chatting to the lovely ladies from Waitrose Kitchen earlier this week and conversation turned to the hot topic that is jam tarts… whether they are better with thin pastry and a decent dollop of sweet sticky jam or whether it’s about more pastry and less jam. There was even talk of chilling your jam before topping the pastry rounds to prevent the jam heating and spilling over the edges in the oven.  Radical stuff. Continue reading

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So much to covet, so little time…

I’m pretty excited about Christmas which is rather surprising given, like most people working in PR, I’ve been working on Christmas stories since about June – sending off mince pies to monthly magazines and talking turkey timings with our chefs.  I should be sick of it by now but thankfully it’s not lost its lustre just yet.  Nevertheless having just bought a very expensive but massively exciting pile of bricks and mortar in the shape of our first flat Christmas is going to be a rather frugal affair. However if money were no object these are some of the things I would be buying my nearest and dearest (and really wouldn’t be too sad to discover under my Christmas tree this year either).

 
 
Liberty print crackers from Liberty’s Christmas shop
Harriet embellished pom pom jacket £120 from Monsoon
Penelope Chilvers velvet personalised slippers £350; penelopechilvers.com
Tom Dixon etched copper and nickel candles £55 from Tom Dixon
Astier de Villatte Marble pattern teapot from Liberty
Faviken cookbook by Magnus Nilsson published by Phaidon priced £35
Personalised notecards and tissue lined envelopes from £45 from Paper Plain 
Wooden rimmed sunglasses £144 Finlay and Co.
Princess Coat £299 by Jaeger Boutique
Miniature wirehaired dachshund called Lady Marmite / Nutmeg not sure which yet (James I hope you’re reading this)
Fair Isle knit by £42 Laura Ashley
Manolo Blahnik Black Mary Jane shoes £456 Saks Fifth Avenue
Pink Frolics Hat £68 by Anthropologie
 
 
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How to make a rubber stamp…

Handmade dachshund dog print wrapping paper
Dachshunds as far as the eye can see…
Dog shaped rubber stamp
Time to get stamp happy
Look at these bad boys

So last night I experimented with rubber. Ok not that kind of rubber, this was the school eraser variety, which it turns out you can fashion into rather cool personalised stamps. Perfect for making your own cards, fabric printing, gifts etc

  1. First you’ll need a rubber (for once WHSmith actually serves a purpose), I bought a few different ones to experiment, they’re about 50p each so hardly a financial stretch
  2. Place the rubber on a piece of paper and draw round it, this is the maximum size your image can be.  Next draw the image you want to make a stamp out of inside these lines
  3. Using a piece of tracing paper, make a copy of it with clear bold pencil lines. To transfer the image on to a rubber, flip the piece of tracing paper over and place it face down on to the rubber, rub the back of the paper by scribbling hard over it to leave an imprint of the design on the rubber
  4. If you want to experiment with a more modern technique, try making a photocopy of your image. Place it face down on your rubber, and either: 1. wet it with acetone (nail polish remover), or 2. cover it with a cloth, and then go over it a few times with a low heat clothes iron
  5. Once you can see the image clearly on the rubber trace over it with a pen so it’s nice and clear. Then using a scalpel / craft knife start cutting! Remember to cut away the areas which have not been inked! Always cut away from the inked areas at an angle so that they become the peaks of little ridges
  6. When you have finished the carving, press it onto an inked pad and try it out on a piece of paper.
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Homecoming Chicken Pie

I can make a good pie. It was one of the first things I cooked when I was trying to woo my husband (it must have worked) so when deciding what the poor exhausted man might appreciate most for his first supper back at home after three pretty hideous weeks of filming in Columbia, it had to be my chicken, leek and bacon number.  A good pie always needs a suitably deserving dish in which to be served in and amongst my favourites are Falcon’s lovely bright white and blue rimmed enamelware.  Enamelware is glass fused onto heavy-gauge steel which makes a very smooth, durable and chemically-resistant surface so whilst they may chip a little with time, no matter how many times you heat them or run them through the dishwasher they’re pretty hard to destroy.  You can buy them here. Scroll down for my homecoming chicken pie recipe x

Falcon Enamelware dishes perfect enamel pie dish for cooking pies

Blue and white enamel pie tins perfect baking dish

White and blue enamel bowls and tins perfect pie dishes

Blue and white enamel cooking tins and bowls

For the pie:

1 medium sized free range chicken
2 carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 large leek, sliced
2 cloves of garlic
3 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped
1 cup of chicken stock
A handful of fresh herbs: a mixture of thyme, flat leaf parsley and tarragon usually works well
1 tbsp of wholegrain mustard
1/2 tub of cream cheese
1 glass of white wine
1 roll of puff pastry (or you can opt for the non-lazy approach and make proper pastry from scratch)
Beaten egg

  • Rub some olive oil over the chicken, season and roast in the oven. Once cooled, shred the chicken and set the meat aside
  • In a large saucepan heat some oil and gently cook the onion, carrot, leek and garlic.  Once everything is softened and smelling gooood, tip the mixture on to a plate
  • Using the same pan fry the bacon pieces until they start to turn crispy
  • Tip the onion and carrot mixture back into the saucepan, add the chicken stock, herbs, mustard, cream cheese and wine. Mix well
  • Next add the cooled shredded chicken, season with plenty of black pepper (you won’t need much salt due to the bacon)
  • Tip the mixture into the pie dish and lay the pastry over the top, brush with beaten egg and bake in the oven until golden and crispy and the mixture is happily bubbling inside (around 30 minutes).  I usually like a bit of shredded Savoy cabbage or buttered peas with my pie.  Happy happy days…

 

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