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Tag Archives: homemade
  • Posted on October 10, 2017

    5 Reclaimed Wood Projects for a DIY Home

    Using reclaimed wood in your DIY projects is a great way to add character to your home and keep the cost down. We've picked some of our favourite projects from Hester Van Overbeek's newest book, Made with Salvaged Wood, to give you some DIY upcycling inspiration.


    1. DISPLAY - Plants stands

    Made with Salvaged Wood

    Every house needs indoor plants—not only are they good for the air quality, but they also add a welcoming touch to your living room. These two plant stands are great for grouping plants together. You could fill your stands with pots of pussy willow, aloe vera, succulents, and sansevieria, but you can fill the stands with flower vases or magazines as well. Made from a wooden box and a broom handle, this is such a simple project and very quick to complete.


    2. STORAGE - Mug Storage

    Made with Salvaged Wood

    This mug storage used to be an old cupboard door, but by giving it some picture hangers and hammering in some large nails, it is transformed into very handy kitchen storage. It’s the ideal place to hang your mugs, spoons, and pans, and super easy to make. You can also make one for your craft room or workshop and hang your paintbrushes or tools from the nails.


    3. FURNITURE - Slab Coffee Table

    Made with Salvaged Wood

    This side table is so easy to make and will introduce some rustic charm to your living space. All you need is a thick tree slice and four legs. The hairpin legs used here are 8 inches (20cm) high—the perfect height next to a comfy chair. These legs are an untreated metal, but you can buy these legs spray painted in a range of colors if you prefer a bright color pop. The tree slice that makes the top of the table needs to be dried correctly and treated against bugs. You can buy these slabs from a garden center or farm store.


    4. DECORATION - Decorative Houses

    Made with Salvaged Wood

    Sometimes you have scrap pieces of wood that are too small to reuse in other projects, but also too big to throw away. Why not turn them into these decorative houses? Painted in a range of toning colors, they will look great on your windowsill, mantelpiece, or bookshelf. Keep making these houses with leftovers from other building jobs and you can create a whole city! Make the houses even more versatile and turn them into candlesticks by adding a small piece of copper pipe to the roof.


    5. OUTDOORS - Outdoor Bookcase

    Made with Salvaged Wood

    This bookcase is super easy to build from a few old floorboards. If you have a patio garden, it’s nice to introduce a few pieces of furniture to turn your space into an outdoor room. This bookcase will not only hold pots of herbs but also drinks and snacks for your barbecue parties.


    For the full projects and more inspiration check out Made with Salvaged Wood by Hester Van Overbeek.




    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, News, Recipes, UK, US, What's new, What's new and was tagged with homemade, interiors, handmade, DIY, reclaimed wood

  • Posted on March 23, 2017

    Sweet ideas for Mother's Day gifts

    Don’t forget it’s Mother’s Day this weekend!  We know that she deserves something special, so for this week’s blog we’ve picked three fantastic recipes that will make the perfect homemade gifts…

    This peanut butter fudge recipe is so simple to make, it’s perfect if you’re running a bit short on time! Topped with chocolate chips and peanuts, it looks so tempting… just make sure you leave time for it to set!

    Peanut butter fudge from Miracle Mug Cakes

    Cheat's Peanut Butter Fudge

    500 g/2 ¼ cups smooth peanut butter (you want the least oily peanut butter that you can find)

    1 x 397-g/14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

    a pinch of salt

    100 g/2/3 cup icing/ confectioners’ sugar, sifted

    100 g/2/3 cup dark/bittersweet chocolate chips

    100 g/1 cup chopped peanuts

    a 28 x 18 x 4-cm /11 x 7 x 1.5-inch cake pan, lined with overhanging baking parchment


    In a large saucepan, melt together the peanut butter, condensed milk and salt over a medium heat.

    Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir to loosen the mixture.

    Carefully add in the sifted icing/confectioners’ sugar and stir until fully combined and very thick.

    Empty the mixture into the prepared cake pan, making sure it covers the whole of the base – the weight of the mixture will hold down the baking parchment. It will be quite oily and you will need to use the back of a spoon to smooth the fudge out.

    Sprinkle over the dark chocolate chips, making sure they are spread out and push them in to the fudge slightly. They may melt a little but this is okay.

    Sprinkle over the chopped peanuts, pushing them in to the fudge, too.

    Allow the fudge to cool, then pop it in to the fridge to set for at least 4 hours or overnight.

    Once set, use the overhanging baking parchment to lift the fudge out of the pan.

    Slice the fudge into small squares and enjoy.

    NOTE You can store this fudge for around 2 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge, but it is best eaten at room temperature.


    For something a little bit more grown up, why not try these Pina Colada Jellies? These heavenly cubes, flecked with cherry and pineapple are the best part of a cocktail in a mouthful.

    Pina Colada Jellies from Party-Perfect Bites

    Pina Colada Jellies

    700 ml/scant 3 cups pineapple juice (not from concentrate)

    34 sheets of gelatine, softened in cold water for 5–10 minutes

    350 ml/1 ½ cups cherry juice

    400 g /14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

    300 ml/1 ¼  cups Malibu or other coconut-flavoured white rum

    80 ml/ 1/3 cup coconut cream

    25 x 18-cm/10 x 7-inch and 12 x 9-cm/4 ½ x 3 ½ -inch containers, lined with clingfilm/ plastic wrap

    makes about 120 cubes

    Heat 120 ml/ ½ cup pineapple juice to a simmer in a saucepan. Take off the heat, squeeze the water out of 11 sheets of gelatine, add to the juice and whisk. Add this to the remaining pineapple juice and whisk. Pour into the large prepared container and set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

    Heat 60 ml/ ¼ cup of the cherry juice to a simmer in a saucepan. Take off the heat, squeeze the water out of 6 sheets of gelatine, add to the juice and whisk. Add this to the remaining cherry juice and whisk. Pour into the small prepared container and set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

    Once both jellies are set, heat 180 ml/ ¾ cup water to a simmer in a saucepan. Take off the heat. Squeeze the water out of 17 sheets of gelatine, add to the water and whisk. Add this to the condensed milk, along with the rum, 150 ml/generous ó cup water and the coconut cream. Mix, then let cool, but don’t allow it to set.

    Cut the pineapple and cherry jellies into 1.5-cm/ ¾ -inch cubes. Arrange the cubes in a container large enough to hold them all, then cover with the cooled coconut jelly to a depth of 2.5 cm/1 inch. Set in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, cut into 2.5-cm/1-inch cubes to serve.


    These mini chocolate cheesecakes are sure to go down a treat with any chocoholic! This recipe uses vanilla and orange flavours, but you could choose any flavour you like to make these the perfect gift.

    Mini chocolate cheesecakes from Cheesecake


    55 g/4 tablespoons butter

    55 g/4 ½ tablespoons caster/ white sugar

    1 egg

    55 g/scant 1⁄2 cup self-raising flour

    grated zest of 1 orange


    freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange

    1 tablespoon icing/confectioners’ sugar


    170 g/ ¾ cup mascarpone cheese

    170 ml/ ¾ cup crème fraîche

    1 tablespoon icing/confectioners’ sugar

    1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste


    400 g/14 oz. dark spiced chocolate (such as Green & Black’s Maya Gold)

    24 sugar flowers

    a 24-hole square mini brownie pan, greased

    a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle/tip (optional)

    24 paper petit fours cases

    MAKES 24

    Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF) Gas 4.

    To make the cake bases, whisk together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, until light and creamy. Beat in the egg and whisk again. Sift in the flour, add half of the orange zest and stir through again. Put a small spoonful of mixture into each of the holes of the prepared brownie pan. (This is easiest done with a piping bag.) You only want a little cake mixture in each hole as when the cakes are baked you still need room to add the cheesecake mixture on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 10–12 minutes until the sponges spring back when you press with a clean finger.

    Simmer the orange juice and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved, then drizzle a little of the syrup over each of the cakes. Leave the cakes to cool, then press the cakes down so that there is room for the filling on top.

    For the cheesecake filling, whisk together the mascarpone, crème fraîche, icing/confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and the remaining orange zest until smooth. Spoon the mixture over the cake bases, spreading in tightly using a pallet knife or spatula so that all the holes of the brownie pan are filled completely. Transfer the pan to the freezer and freeze until the cheesecake is solid, which will take about 30 minutes.

    When the cheesecakes are frozen, melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until the chocolate has melted. Remove the frozen cheesecakes from the freezer and, one at a time, dip them into the warm chocolate. Transfer to a wire rack to set, with a sheet of foil underneath to catch any chocolate drips. Before the chocolate sets, affix a sugar flower to the top of each cheesecake. The chocolate will set quickly given the frozen temperatures of the cheesecakes – if it sets too quickly you can simply attach the flowers using a little extra chocolate. Once set, place each chocolate in a petit fours case and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve, by which time the cheesecake will have defrosted.


    In order, these recipes have been taken from,

    Miracle Mug Cakes by Suzy Pelta, available here.

    Miracle Mug Cakes by Suzy Pelta

    Party-Perfect Bites by Milli Taylor, available here.

    Party-perfect bites by Milli Taylor

    Cheesecake by Hannah Miles, available here.

    Cheesecake by Hannah Miles




    This post was posted in Featured, Featured, News, Recipes, Recipes, UK, What's new, What's new and was tagged with homemade, baking, Mother's Day, gift, chocolate, quick, sweet, recipe, gift ideas, cheesecake, fudge

  • Posted on December 13, 2016

    5 Homemade Gifts To Make This Christmas

    Next up in our Christmas round-ups, we’re thinking about homemade gifts.  As we mentioned in this post, we’re doing a Homemade Secret Santa this year, but whether you’re after a little stocking filler, or something personal for a friend or loved one, we’ve got you covered.

    Grocery shopping will no longer be a chore, thanks to this gorgeous tote bag from our new book Hygge Knits (this book is published in January, but you can preorder it here). Find the pattern for the bag over on MAKEetc here.

    These home-infused oils make a lovely stocking-filler for your favourite foodie. Click here for the recipes.

    If you know someone celebrating their first Christmas this year, Laura Strutt’s Bunting Baby Blanket would make a lovely gift. Find the knitting pattern here.

    Make these notebooks to kickstart a year of writing for any budding author. You can find a printable PDF project here.

    These lavender bags make sweet little stocking fillers. The project is available here.

    And as a bonus, homemade cards and gift tags can add a personal twist to any gift. We’ve got a video tutorial for these stocking cards here, and the instructions for homemade gift tags on the blog here.

    We hope you’re feeling inspired, but don’t forget to check out our Top 10 Gifts for Crafters blog post on MAKEetc here.



    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with christmas, homemade, handmade, gift, photos, 2016

  • Posted on December 1, 2016

    Simple Infused Oils

    Now that it’s December we can officially think about Christmas. Of course, we’ve unofficially been thinking about Christmas since Halloween, but that’s because we’re big kids. But it’s allowed now. We love nothing more than finding the perfect gift for our friends and loved ones, and it’s even better if that gift is homemade. So, today we’re sharing a couple of recipes that will make the perfect gift for your favourite foodie. These simple home-infused oils are quick and easy to do, and will spruce up even the most boring salad!

    Smoked Garlic Oil

    Tea-smoking is a terrific way to flavour foods. It is often used to smoke salmon or duck, but works well here with the garlic. You will need to double line the wok with foil and open a window when you are smoking foods as the aroma is quite pungent.

    8 tablespoons soft brown sugar

    8 tablespoons long grain rice

    8 tablespoons tea leaves

    1 head garlic

    250 ml/1 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive

    freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

    salt and pepper

    Makes 300 ml/1¼ cups

    Line a wok with a double sheet of foil and combine the brown sugar, rice and tea leaves in the bottom. Place a small rack or griddle over the smoking mixture (making sure the two don’t touch) and lay the garlic on the rack.

    Place the wok over a high heat and, as soon as the mixture starts to smoke, top the wok with a tight-fitting lid. Lower the heat and cook gently for 15 minutes until the garlic turns a deep brown. Allow to cool.

    Place the unpeeled garlic in a bottle or jar, add the oil and allow to infuse for 1 week. Drain and use the oil to make a dressing, adding vinegar or lemon juice to taste. Great with a beef carpaccio or a charred lamb salad.

    Bay And Thyme Oil

    Bay and thyme give the oil a mellow flavour and, once strained, it is perfectly enhanced with a light vinegar, such as Chinese black vinegar or rice wine vinegar.

    6 bay leaves

    4 sprigs fresh thyme

    salt and pepper

    150 ml/⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil

    1–2 tablespoons vinegar of your choice

    Makes 200 ml/1 scant cup

    Place the bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper in a pestle and mortar and pound gently to bash up the herbs. Transfer to a jar, add the oil and marinate for 5 days.

    Strain the oil into a jar, add vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and serve.

    This dressing is great served over salad leaves or shaved courgettes/zucchini.

    Oils by Ursula Ferrigno is available here. For more Christmas gift ideas for Foodies, check out our Gift Guide pin board here.



    This post was posted in Featured, News, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with christmas, vegan, homemade, savoury, recipe for the weekend, vegetarian, quick, 2016

  • Posted on June 15, 2016

    Memory Jars for Fathers' Day

    Giving a homemade gift makes the experience extra special (not to mention a homemade card – try this one!) and with Fathers’ Day just around the corner, we’ve got a lovely project for children (of all ages!) to make for their dads. In Hester Van Overbeek’s latest book Crafting With Mason Jars she suggests this sweet way of displaying your favourite holiday snaps and memories, and we think it would be a lovely gift for Dad this weekend. Perhaps you have a little trinket that means something special to both of you? Or a memento of a trip you took together? Alternatively, find a lovely picture of you and your father, and fill the base of the jar with something that reminds you of him, such as the coffee beans Hester suggests. A super simple idea with endless possibilities!

    Memories In A Jar

    Instead of displaying your favorite snaps in photo frames, pop them in a jar! Did you go on a beach vacation? Take some sand, shells, or driftwood back home with you and place these in the bottom of the jar.

    Did you go on a city escape? Why not fill the base of the jar with coffee beans from your favorite espresso bar and pick up some small trinkets or save tickets to decorate the jar with.

    Crafting With Mason Jars by Hester van Overbeek is available here.



    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, handmade, gift, kids, quick, 2016, mason jars

  • Posted on April 20, 2016

    Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

    Author Fiona Bird was on BBC Radio 4 Midweek today talking to Libby Purves about her latest book Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside, life on South Uist and seaweed, and it was a fascinating chat; you can catch up here. Fiona is hugely knowledgeable about seaweed and the many things you can use it for (she even dropped off some seaweed shortbread at the office!) so we thought we’d share some of the seaweed-y wisdom to be found in this amazing book, along with a super easy craft project. Over to Fiona…

    Seaweed and its amazing uses

    Macroalgae is a really useful weed. You can pop seaweed in the bath, cook with it, or use it in craftwork. Plan a visit to a herbarium, where you will be able to see beautifully preserved plants and seaweeds—our ocean flowers—and find out the best ways to preserve a seaweed’s shape and color.

    Collecting, Drying, And Storing

    If you are not planning to use your seaweed fresh from the seashore, then it can easily be dried and stored for using in recipes or other projects later on.

    Collecting Seaweed

    There are a few rules to bear in mind when collecting seaweed from the seashore for use at home:

    Don’t pick storm-cast seaweed for cooking; only use seaweed that is growing.

    Do use a pair of scissors to cut seaweeds from their holdfasts at low tide on a clean beach. (Remember to take scissors with you when you visit the beach.)

    Don’t cook with floating seaweed or seaweed that grows at the top of the shore near drains. Sea lettuce and sea grass like growing here—instead, pick these seaweeds from rock pools at low tide.

    Do wash the seaweed in the sea so that any hidden “visitors” can find a new home locally. You should also rinse the seaweed in cold water when you get home.

    Do use a separate bag for each type collected, as this will make it easier to sort out your seaweeds when you get home.

    Drying Seaweed When you get home, wash the seaweed thoroughly. Rinse it in   cold water and squeeze out as much of the water as possible. A salad spinner is helpful here—spin the seaweed around, just as you would if preparing salad leaves.

    Next dry the seaweed. Lay the pieces of seaweed on a tray lined with newspaper or some paper towel—making sure that they aren’t touching—and leave to dry on a sunny windowsill. You could also pop the tray in a warm airing cupboard. On a sunny day, you can dry larger seaweeds such as sugar kelp by pegging them on a washing line. You can also dry seaweed on trays in a low oven or even in a food dehydrator if you have one. Some people dry seaweed in a hot oven, but you must be eagle-eyed if you do this and make sure that the seaweed does not burn.

    Storing Seaweed When you have dried the seaweed, cut it into manageable lengths or grind it in a food-blender. It is easier to grind a little at a time, pop it in an airtight container, and then repeat the process until you have used up all of the seaweed. Shake the containers when you remember and use the dried seaweed as a flavoring, just as you would herbs or spices.

    No-sew Seaweed Bath Sacks

    These easy-to-make bags make a lovely seaside vacation memory or gift. Younger children can practice knots as they tie the sacks. Soak the bath sack in your bath water for 5 minutes before you use it, unless, of course, you want to spend a long time in the bath. As the seaweed rehydrates, it releases a gel that has skin-softening properties.


    4 Dried seaweed, cut or broken by hand into short lengths

    4 Jelly bag, pop sock, or a leg of pantyhose (tights), cut below the knee

    4 Ribbon, for tying (optional)


    Stuff the dried seaweed into the jelly bag, pop sock, or section of pantyhose and then tie a knot (and a ribbon, if using) tightly at the top to make a sack. You can use colored or patterned pop socks or pantyhose if you wish to make your bath sacks look really pretty.

    Let Your Kids Go Wild Outside by Fiona Bird is available here.

    This post was posted in Book Reviews, Craft Projects, Featured, Interviews, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, school holidays, kids, photos, nature, activities for kids, 2016

  • Posted on April 14, 2016

    Get in the garden for National Gardening Week

    One of the things we love about gardening is how everyone can get involved, no matter how big or small; tiny fingers are very useful for planting seeds in our experience. So, in honour of the Royal Horticultural Society’s #NationalGardeningWeek we decided to share a project from our children’s book My First Gardening Book that’s perfect for any budding green-fingered enthusiast! Best of all, in the spirit of getting everyone gardening, you don’t even need a garden!

    Eggshell Gardens

    The next time your family has boiled eggs for breakfast, ask everyone to eat their egg very carefully so that they do not break the shells—then you can fill them with miniature flowers and moss to make a tiny garden.

    You will need




    Potting mix (compost)

    Garden sieve (optional)

    Egg cups or egg carton



    Moss (available from florists)

    Plants with small roots: Forget-me-nots, Krauss’ spikemoss, Violets ‘Moonlight’, Sweet violets

    You can either eat boiled eggs and keep the shells or ask an adult to help you cut the tops off raw eggs using a knife. Do this over a bowl so you can tip the raw egg out—you can use it to make an omelet later!

    Rinse the empty eggshells carefully in warm water.

    Check that your potting mix (compost) isn’t lumpy. If it is, you can push a little of the mix through a garden sieve, if you have one, or use your fingers to break up any lumps.

    Place the each eggshell upside down in an egg cup or carton and very carefully make a few small holes in the bottom of each egg with the pin. This is so that the water can drain away.

    Put the eggshells the right way round in the egg cups or carton. Spoon a little potting mix (compost) into each egg, making sure that there will be enough room for the plants.

    Put one plant in each egg and add a little more potting mix. Gently push a small piece of moss onto the top of the potting mix if you wish.

    Hints and tips

    • The potting mix will dry out quickly, so water the eggshells every day with just a little water.

    • Flowers like violets will carry on flowering for a few weeks so “deadhead” them by pinching off any faded flowers. This will encourage new ones to grow.

    My First Gardening Book is available here.

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, school holidays, my first series, nature, activities for kids, gardening, 2016

  • Posted on April 1, 2016

    National Sourdough Day

    April sees the publication of our new book by master baker Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, How To Make Sourdough, AND today is National Sourdough Day (who knew, right?!) So, in honour of this auspicious occasion, we decided we’d get baking this weekend with an unusual loaf from this beautiful book. As with all sourdoughs, you need a starter before you start baking. Emmanuel shares his recipe for making the starter in the book, but you can use your own, or perhaps you know someone who has one going already. Happy baking!

    Olive And Tomato Rye Sourdough

    Savoury rye bread is quite unusual, but the sourness of the rye, the sweetness of the tomato and the saltiness of the olives makes this a winning combination. For the best flavour and texture, eat this loaf the day after you bake it.


    Making the pre-ferment 8 hours

    Making and shaping the dough 15 minutes

    Final proofing 1–2 hours

    Resting in the fridge 30 minutes

    Baking 30–40 minutes

    Cooling 30 minutes


    100 g/¾ cup dark rye flour, plus extra for dusting and topping the loaf

    3 g/½ teaspoon salt

    50 g/scant ½ cup chopped olives (I’ve used olives stuffed with anchovies)

    100 g/1½ cups sundried tomatoes (reduce to 1 scant cup if they are packed in oil)

    100 g/100 ml/7 tablespoons hot water (just boiled)

    For the pre-ferment

    100 g/¾ cup dark rye flour

    75 g/2½ oz. rye sourdough starter

    100 g/100 ml/7 tablespoons cold water


    18-cm/7-inch round sandwich pan, greased with vegetable or sunflower oil

    Makes 1 x 18-cm/7-inch loaf

    To make the pre-ferment, add the dark rye flour, the rye sourdough starter and the cold water to a large mixing bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Leave to ferment for 8 hours or overnight, covered with a small mixing bowl acting as a lid.

    The next day (or after 8 hours), prepare the dough. In a small mixing bowl, mix the dark rye flour, salt, olives and sundried tomatoes together and set aside. This is the dry mixture.

    Add the dry mixture to the bubbling pre-ferment, add the hot water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.

    Transfer the dough to the prepared sandwich pan.

    Sprinkle some extra dark rye flour on top for decoration. Slash the loaf with a sharp serrated knife or a lamé with a design of your own choice.

    Allow to rise for 1–2 hours. Cover with a shower cap or a small mixing bowl if a skin starts to form. You will know when the dough is ready because cracks and little air holes will appear on the floured surface.

    Preheat the oven to 250°C (500°F) Gas 9. Place a deep roasting tray at the bottom of the oven.

    Place the loaf in the preheated oven. Pour a cup of water into the hot roasting tray and lower the temperature to 220°C (425°F) Gas 7.

    Bake for 30–40 minutes until golden brown.

    Turn the loaf out of the loaf pan and tap it on the bottom. If you hear a hollow sound, it is ready. If the loaf is still soft, return it to the oven for a further 10–15 minutes.

    Allow the loaf to cool on a wire rack.

    How To Make Sourdough by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou is available to preorder here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, bread, baking, savoury, recipe for the weekend, vegetarian, tomato, Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, 2016

  • Posted on February 5, 2016

    Modern Dim Sum for The Year of the Monkey

    Here at RPS Towers we are very fond of bite-size food. Canapés…tapas…appetizers, we love them all. So naturally, we were very excited when copies of our new book, Modern Dim Sum by Loretta Liu, landed recently. With Chinese New Year on Monday we thought it was time we shared one of Loretta’s delicious dumpling recipes. The book includes the recipes for making your own dough, and we’re sharing that too, but if you’re feeling lazy, you can buy dumpling skins from a good Asian supermarket. We won’t tell if you don’t!

    Pork and leek jiaozi

    Traditional jiaozi are extremely popular at holiday celebrations such as Chinese New Year. Often prepared in an assembly line by various family members, these tasty dumplings are enjoyed by children and adults alike. The folded, plump pleated shape is a nice easy one to start with.

    1 batch Wheat Dough (see below)

    100 g/3½ oz. firm tofu, drained and sliced into small cubes

    A pinch of salt

    100 g/3½ oz. minced/ground pork

    2 Chinese chive stalks, white parts removed, finely chopped

    A large handful of fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped

    1 teaspoon Sichuan pepper

    1 teaspoon black pepper

    2 tablespons dark soy sauce

    2 tablespoons sesame oil

    1 leek, finely chopped

    2 button mushrooms, finely chopped

    1 tablespoon sunflower oil

    black vinegar, for dipping

    MAKES 16

    Prepare the wheat dough following the instructions from the basic recipe below. While the dough is resting, begin the filling. Sprinkle the tofu slices with salt and set aside for 30 minutes before squeezing out the excess water.

    In a large bowl mix the minced/ground pork with the tofu and the rest of the ingredients apart from the sunflower oil and black vinegar.

    Roll out the skins, continuing to follow the instructions below. Place a small tablespoon of filling neatly into the centre of a skin. Dip your fingertips into a small dish of water and slightly moisten the edge of half the skin. Fold the skin in half over the filling. Pinch one end together and make small folds to form pleats. The end result should be a plump sealed pocket.

    Tap the dumplings base-down on your work surface to finish. As you are working, set aside the finished dumplings on a floured baking sheet under a damp cloth so they do not dry out.

    Heat the sunflower oil over a medium heat in a large frying pan/skillet. Lightly fry the dumplings until golden brown on the bottom. To finish off the cooking process, place the dumplings in a large pan of boiling water. Cover with a lid and poach until they float to the surface.

    Serve the dumplings hot with black vinegar for dipping.

    Wheat dough

    150 g/1 cup + 2 tablespooons Asian white wheat flour

    80 ml/scant ⅓ cup water


    Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and combine with the water to form a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 20–25 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Separate and roll into two equal cylinders about 2.5 cm/1 inch in diameter. Cover with a damp kitchen cloth and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.

    To prepare the skins, use a sharp knife to slice the dough cylinders into 16 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, flatten each piece with a rolling pin until it has a round shape and a diameter of around 7.5 cm/3 inches.

    Modern Dim Sum by Loretta Liu is available here. Happy Year of the Monkey!

    This post was posted in Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, chinese new year, savoury, recipe for the weekend, Asian, 2016, world food, pork, Loretta Liu

  • Posted on January 8, 2016

    Not so dull January...

    Who feels like it has been a long week? Go on. Be honest! But Friday is here, and with it the first Recipe for the Weekend of 2016! It’s a good one. We’re still feeling quite virtuous, even after a week at work; so today we’re sharing a recipe from our new book Power Grains. This delicious winter salad makes an ideal desk lunch or a light supper over the weekend.

    Winter salad of barley, mushrooms and walnuts

    A mix of seasonal mushrooms will give this salad a rich, earthy taste while the dried chilli/hot red pepper flakes adds a welcome touch of warming spice on a cold day.

    200 g/1 cup hulled barley

    400 ml/1¾ cups vegetable stock a handful of shelled walnut halves

    1 tablespoon walnut oil

    320 g/about 5 cups sliced mixed seasonal mushrooms

    2 garlic cloves, crushed

    ¼ teaspoon dried rosemary

    ¼ teaspoon dried chilli/hot red pepper flakes

    A handful of peppery salad leaves sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    Vinaigrette dressing

    4 spring onions/scallions, finely chopped

    2 tablespoons walnut oil

    2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

    A squeeze of lemon juice

    A handful of finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

    Serves 2-4

    Put the barley and stock in a saucepan set over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20–30 minutes until the barley is tender but retains its bite.

    Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan/skillet set over a medium heat for 2–3 minutes until golden.

    Heat the walnut oil in a separate frying pan/skillet and add the mushrooms and garlic. Fry until golden, then season with salt and pepper. Stir in the rosemary and dried chilli/hot red pepper flakes. Pour the mixture into a bowl and return the pan back to a low heat to make the dressing.

    To make the dressing, put the spring onions/scallions, walnut oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice in the pan and stir until well combined. Cook until the mixture bubbles. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley.

    To assemble the salad, put the salad leaves in a large bowl with the mushrooms and barley and stir in the dressing. Toss to combine, spoon into serving bowls and serve immediately.

    This recipe is taken from Power Grains, available here. If you’d like to receive exclusive recipes and more, including some other ideas to keep January’s meals healthy AND delicious, make sure you sign up to The Pantry here.

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with vegan, salad, homemade, mushrooms, recipe for the weekend, vegetarian, healthy, 2016

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