Boathouse Buns

So my good friend of more than 20 years decides to open a restaurant / cafe nestled in a long established and highly frequented public park populated by the exacting, affluent and ordinary people of Glasgow’s southern Burbs; although I suspect the ordinary may travel a bit further. The Boathouse is a well appointed and ideally located destination eatery / coffee house that serves excellently prepared simple food. Good portions, great prices and even better coffee and service. Have a look at their Facebook page to get a flavour. The first weeks have been very busy and have required effort from all to get a rhythm going. (The Boathouse – Rouken Glen Park)

I am very pleased to report however that I have been able to offer my support to him in more than one way. It transpires that he has presented me with the ultimate accolade of having one of my recipes on his menu; JK’s malted shake. I have also bussed tables, washed dishes, served meals, flattered guests and trained staff. In and amongst all of this I also introduced them to my (now refined) Chelsea Buns. Here is the recipe that a local charitable organisation asked to get as they said “that was the best Chelsea Bun I have ever had!”

Boathouse (Chelsea) Buns (makes 15-20):

  • 1kg plain flour
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 125g soft margarine
  • 25g salt
  • 15g dried yeast
  • 6g cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 250ml milk
  • 250mlml warm water
  •  Additional sultanas, margarine, sugar and cinnamon to use after the dough has mixed and proofed.
  1. Start yeast off in water with a spoon of sugar (5 mins)
  2. Add all ingredients and mix for 10 mins on speed 1 with dough hook.
  3. Mix should be smooth, tacky and elastic to touch
  4. Proof until doubled
  5. Roll it into a rectangle about 3/4 cm thick and then tack down the edge closest to you
  6. Sprinkle rectangle generously with sultanas, cinnamon and light muscovado sugar
  7. Roll up towards yourself and cut into 5cm (2 inch) rounds
  8. Space evenly into generously buttered (marg) and sugared (muscovado) tins. Cover and proof until doubled
  9. Bake at 180 deg c for 12 mins
  10. Glaze with sugar syrup

10 Bean Pork Fillet

My better half ordered these from a reputable supermarket along with 450g of choice lean pork fillet and said “I fancy a bean casserole, can you make it for us?”Beans

The contents consisted of: A mix of black eyed beans, black turtle beans, butter beans, haricot beans, lima beans, pinto beans, red kidney beans, rose cocoa beans, alubia beans and mung beans.

I guess you could use any dried bean/pulse combination or even a can of cannellini. Here is what else I included in the final recipe.

  • 450g pork fillet
  • 250g dried beans
  • 2 carrots
  • Mixed peppers
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 large onion
  • 2/4 bay leaves, 3/4 sprigs of parsley, 5/6 garlic cloves, 4/8 sprigs thyme
  • Chilli flakes to taste,  2tsp paprika
  • 2 Chicken/pork stock, tblsp tomato puree, tsp cider vinegar

Dried beans need soaking overnight then boiled in fresh water with a couple of bay leaves, garlic and thyme (do not add salt yet as it toughens the beans). Follow the packet instructions for boiling as some beans can be toxic if not handled correctly. (40 mins approx)

Slice pork into medallions and season with olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika – set to one side. Soften onion, celery, carrots and peppers in a large lidded pan with a couple of sprigs of thyme, a few bay leaves and some garlic. Season with salt, pepper and chilli and cover for 10-15 mins on low heat.

Add softened beans and liquid to sweated veg. Mix in tomato puree, vinegar and crumbled stock cubes allow to simmer for another 30 mins. Brown pork in separate pan for 2 minutes then add to bean mixture and deglaze pan with a splash of liquid (water, wine, cider…). Simmer for a further 20 – 30 minutes.


Serve with salad or rice or on its own. Bon apetit. Nom nom

Gilbert Grape Alive?

Having remodelled a corner of my garden last summer I was keen to see how my  various plants survived their move after quite a harsh winter. We had snow on the ground for so long that when it did eventually thaw the grass was yellowing due to a lack of sunlight. Below is a shot of my grape vine in its new position having previously been established for 10 years by the fence. Before then I had uprooted him (Gilbert) after two years in he ground at our old house.

Snow Jan 2013 - 01Spring finally arrived and I would inspect the rehoused plants to check for new growth. The roses were coming along nicely however the Bamboo looked like (and still does) it needed extra care and attention. The one plant that I cared about the most however was Gilbert. He was a gift from a good friend who had been on holiday in France and returned with him as a sapling for me. I started by scraping away the surface of the outer twigs looking for any sign of green life. No joy. I went down to the base of the plant, almost at soil level, and repeated the test. Again no joy; Gilbert had died. :0(

This is what greeted me on a daily basis.

Dead as a Dodo

Dead as a Dodo

Gilber Grape - 6Spring is now fully underway and my son and I decide that we would spruce up the flower pots, plant some strawberries and buy a new grape vine (I had mounted a wall trellis for Gilbert which would have been wasted). Having potted all the petunias, lobelias and dug over the beds, in which we planted strawberries, carrots, peas, courgettes and sweet peas, my son begged to plant the new vine.

I told him to get started by digging Gilbert out. He didn’t seem too sure how to approach the task so I went over and reached down to just yank him out. Well he was dead so pulling out cleanly would be easy. As I gripped the thick stem my brain registered a feeling that did not match with a dried up spent plant. In fact it was quite the opposite.

Imagine my delight at seeing the slightest glimpse of life grasping its way out of the gnarled and cracking bark.

He lives!

He lives!

I was ecstatic! If I could have done a back flip I would have. Instead my son and I settled for a high five chest bump kind of hurrah! Gilbert has astounded me with his will to survive and continues to grow more inches.

Gilber Grape - 9I shall now go and build a security fence around him to safeguard against the probable boisterous behaviour brewing between my boys. Who knows? Perhaps one day I will be blogging about some of my Gilbert wine. Salut!


Easter Buns (Hot Cross)

I think I will take out shares in Paul Hollywood as once again I have used his recipe to create these wonderful Easter treats. My sons are becoming more involved with the kitchen and were responsible for the final shape and form of the buns. You will need:

For the buns
  • 300ml/10fl oz whole milk
  • 500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour
  • 75g/2½oz caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 7g sachet fast-action yeast
  • 50g/1¾oz butter
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • 75g/2½oz sultanas
  • 50g/1¾oz mixed peel
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 orange, zest only
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • sunflower oil, for greasing the bowl
For the cross
  • 75g/2½oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
For the glaze
    • 3 tbsp apricot jam

    Preparation method

    • Bring the milk to the boil and then remove from the heat and leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature.
    • Mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter and egg together in a bowl, then slowly add the warmed milk until it forms a soft, sticky dough.
    • Add the sultanas, mixed peel, chopped apple and orange zest, then tip out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for five minutes, or until smooth and elastic.


    • Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for approximately one hour, or until doubled in size.

    Hot Cross Buns - 2

    • Divide the dough into 12 even pieces, and roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface. Arrange the buns on a baking tray lined with parchment, leaving enough space so that the buns just touch when they rise and expand. Set aside to prove for another hour.

    Hot Cross Buns - 3

    • Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
    • For the cross, mix the flour with about five tablespoons of water in small bowl, adding the water one tablespoon at a time, so that you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.

    Hot Cross Buns - 4

    • Bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, or until golden-brown.

    Hot Cross Buns - 7

    • Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool. Gently rip the buns apart to serve, revealing temptingly soft edges.

    Hot Cross Buns - 9

Bloomin’ marvellous

A very short post to celebrate the wonderful achievement that is my youngest’s first loaf of bread. He followed a simple bloomer recipe (Paul Hollywood) using:

  • 500g bread flour
  • 7g dried yeast
  • 10ml oil
  • 5g salt
  • 300ml water

He shunned the use of my mixer and went old school by kneading by hand. Well done son. Very tasty and didn’t last long.


Bread Rolls (Hardough – Jamaican)

Going on a trip to see some good friends and decided to take some rolls so that we could break bread with them. This is a recipe from the internet which is very simple.

  • 500g Bread flour
  • 14g dried yeast (2 sachets)
  • 4 Tblsp sugar
  • 1 Tblsp salt
  • 30g Butter/marg (melted & cooled)
  • 20ml veg oil
  • Water to bind (300ml approx)

I like to get the yeast going by dissolving the sugar in the water then add the yeast. I then put the flour, salt, and oil into my mixer and then pour in the yeasty broth. Mix for about 10 minutes until you have a moist/sticky dough. I add more flour if needed, but not too much as it needs to be moist.

Then it is important to oil the dough ball before leaving it to rise in a warm spot for about an hour (double in size). Then shape to your preferred style. We went for 6 regular and 6 Kaiser rolls.Bread rolls - 02 Bread rolls - 04 Leave to rise again for about an hour (double sized)Bread rolls - 05 Bread rolls - 06 Bake at 200 deg C for 15-20 mins until golden and hollow to tapBread rolls - 08 Bread rolls - 09 Bread rolls - 10 Serve with friends. Nom nom…Bread rolls - 11

Chelsea Buns

Having been pestered by my son to make these (he asked me once!) I succumbed to his plea and rustled these together. I used the same recipe that I used for my Christmas buns but added 50g more sugar as it was a sweet bread. I also sprinkled 4 tsp of ground cinnamon into the flour before adding the wet stuff.

Another small twist (just because it was there) that I added was the apple sauce – from a jar (100g).

Chelsea Buns - 01

Proofing for about 2 hours – if you use cold water.
Chelsea Buns - 04 Roll out to about 1cm thick rectangleChelsea Buns - 06 Then the improvised apple (helped to keep them moist)Chelsea Buns - 07 Raisins / sultanas and more cinnamon (you could add a sprinkle of caster sugar as well if you wanted extra sweet.Chelsea Buns - 08Lift, gently tug and roll towards youChelsea Buns - 09 Ready to be cut into 5cm roundsChelsea Buns - 10 Put into greased deep dish tinsChelsea Buns - 11 Allow to rise for another hour or so (double in size)Chelsea Buns - 13 Bake at 190 deg C for 15 minutes or until golden and ready.

Then brush with honey, syrup or sugar & water glaze. I think I used maple syrup on these as I had some left over from pancake day.Chelsea Buns - 16 They didn’t last long…Chelsea Buns - 18