Monthly Archives: June 2017

School Sports Day Essentials

School Sports Day Essentials

Many of us parents and grandparents will soon be dashing off to see our beloved offspring attempting to race (with varying degrees of success!) in their school sports day.

None of my children have any competitive spirit whatsoever, so it’s a little like watching a comedy. Last year one of my twins even returned to help collect others’ beanbags before she decided to amble across the finish line!

It’s an enjoyable but lengthy afternoon
(often/hopefully in the sun), so it’s important
to take plenty of water to drink.

Many schools put on a bake sale as a fundraising initiative, so you may also want to take along something homemade. Avoid chocolatey cakes as they will melt in the heat. And don’t take anything containing nuts, which are often not permissible in school because of allergies. Perhaps opt for something moist, which will survive the afternoon.

One of my favourites is this bread pudding from the Dairy Diary Favourites cookbook.


Auntie Lou Breadpudding

Auntie Lou’s Bread Pudding

  • Servings: 16 squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 228 per portion
Fat 9.8g (5.6g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing


  • White bread, crust removed 225g (8oz), 2–3 days old, torn into small pieces
  • Milk 375ml (13fl oz)
  • Oranges 2, grated zest of both, juice of 1
  • Mixed spice 1 tbsp
  • Raisins 175g (6oz)
  • Sultanas 150g (5oz)
  • Chopped mixed peel 50g (2oz)
  • Ready-to-eat dried prunes 75g (3oz), chopped
  • Ready-to-eat dried apricots 75g (3oz), chopped
  • Glacé cherries 75g (3oz), quartered
  • Eggs 3, beaten
  • Butter 150g (5oz), melted
  • Black treacle 1–2 tbsp
  • Granulated sugar to sprinkle


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°fan/Gas 4. Grease a 23cm (9in) square shallow ovenproof dish.
  2. Soak the bread with the milk in a large bowl for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except the sugar and mix well.
  4. Transfer to the baking dish, spread evenly and bake for 45–50 minutes until the pudding is lightly browned and set in the centre.
  5. Sprinkle with sugar and serve hot. Or leave to cool, cover and chill. Serve cold, cut into squares.

Dairy Diary Favourites CookbookDairy Diary Favourites cookbook is an unmissable addition to your collection and is available to purchase from our online shop for just £8.25 (plus P&P).






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Recipe of the Week: Garlic Mushroom Tagliatelle

Garlic Mushroom Tagliatelle

For a really speedy but delicious dinner try this creamy pasta dish.

Garlic Mushroom Tagliatelle

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 706 per portion
Fat 47g (26g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians


  • Dried tagliatelle 300g (11oz)
  • Olive oil 2 tbsp
  • Red onion 1, peeled and chopped
  • Garlic 2 cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • Portabella mushrooms 250g (9oz), wiped and sliced
  • Oyster mushrooms 110g (4oz), wiped and sliced
  • Baby mushrooms 150g (5oz), wiped and halved
  • Double cream 300ml pot
  • Chopped parsley and grated cheese to serve, optional


  1. Cook tagliatelle according to packet’s instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan and cook onion and garlic gently for 5 minutes or until just soft.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Add cream and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2-5 minutes until slightly thickened. Season to taste.
  4. Drain tagliatelle and toss with mushroom and cream mixture. Divide between warm pasta bowls and scatter with chopped fresh parsley and grated cheese, if using.




A Fabulous Fern for Shady Corners

Seasonal Garden Ideas

Fabulous Fern

Here’s a show that’s strictly for the summer months – a magnificent bird’s-nest fern lighting up a shady corner with its huge, wavy-edged, apple-green fronds.

Warm, moist conditions in shade are a must – plus indoor shelter for the rest of the year.

Grow the fern as an indoor plant until summer temperatures outdoors are warm enough – 16°C (60°F) at the very least. Bring indoors again at the end of summer to a heated greenhouse, conservatory or living room.

Planting the fern should take about a hour or so – it’s quite big so will take some handling.



What you need

A specimen-sized bird’s-nest fern (Asplenium nidus).


  • Large terracotta, ceramic or plastic container with drainage holes.
  • Humus-rich compost with added grit or sharp sand for drainage.
  • Broken crocks for drainage.
  • Trowel.


1 Line the container with broken crocks for drainage. Half-fill with the compost. Check the level of the compost by placing the fern, in its original pot, inside the container – it should be planted at the same level as it was before. Adjust the level of compost as necessary.

2 Plant the fern into the compost, firming in well. Top up the compost to within 5cm (2in) of the rim of the pot. Water thoroughly.

3 Bring the fern outside when the weather is warm and position in a shady, sheltered spot. Keep it moist at all times and feed weekly with a liquid fertiliser during the growing season.


If the care, attention and exacting conditions required by bird’s-nest fern seem a little daunting, then try its smaller relative, the hart’s-tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium, also known as Phyllitis scolopendrium or Scolopendrium vulgare). This fern is frost hardy and reaches about 30cm (12in) tall, with a spread of 45cm (18in). It does well in damp, shady places and likes well-drained, alkaline soil. The variety ‘Marginatum’ has most attractive frilly edged fronds.


If conditions are right, bird’s-nest fern can produce fronds over 90cm (3ft) long and 20cm (8in) wide with their trademark thick black midrib. Bear this size in mind for when you need to move the plant around and when it comes to repotting into a larger container.


Remove old or damaged fronds as they appear.  Keep warm, moist and humid at all times, though you can lessen watering during the winter.



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How to make Embroidery Biscuits

How to make embroidery biscuits

Embroidery Biscuits

These exquisite biscuits, iced with pastel-coloured sugarpaste and decorated with delicate royal icing ‘embroidery’, will be the stars of any tea party.

They wouldn’t look out-of-place in an upmarket patisserie window and they are surprisingly simple to make.


  • For vanilla biscuits
  • Unsalted butter 175g (6oz), softened
  • Caster sugar 200g (7oz)
  • Eggs 2, at room temperature
  • Vanilla extract 1 tsp
  • Plain flour 400g (14oz)
  • Salt ½ tsp
  • For royal icing
  • Icing sugar 250g (9oz)
  • Egg white 1 large
  • Lemon juice ¼ tsp

To decorate

  • Sugarpaste in different pastel colours (about 15g/½oz for each biscuit)
  • Apricot jam warmed
  • Sugar pearls and tiny sugarpaste roses optional


  1. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy. Then gradually beat in eggs followed by vanilla extract.
  2. Sift in flour and salt and stir until evenly mixed. Bring the mixture together with your hands to make a soft dough, then flatten it into a disc and wrap in cling film. Chill for at least 1 hour until firm.
  3. Preheat oven to 180˚C/160˚fan/Gas 4 and line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm (¼in) thick and stamp out rounds using a 6.5cm (2½in) plain cutter, gathering up and re-rolling trimmings to make about 30 biscuits in total. Place onto baking sheets, leaving a little space between each, so they have room to spread.
  4. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until their edges are just turning gold – don’t worry if the biscuits are still soft in the middle, they will firm up as they cool. Transfer to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before decorating.


  1. Sieve icing sugar into a bowl, add egg white and whisk, using an electric mixer on a slow speed, for about 5 minutes until icing is standing in stiff peaks. Stir in lemon juice.
  2. To prevent a crust from forming, press a sheet of cling film over the surface and cover the bowl with a damp cloth.



  1. Working with one colour at a time, knead paste until smooth; on a non-stick surface using a non-stick rolling pin, roll out to 3mm (less than ¼in) thick.
  2. Stamp out rounds of sugarpaste using the same cutter as for the biscuits. Brush a thin layer of jam onto each biscuit and place sugarpaste on top. Gently rub the top and edges to smooth out any marks.
  3. Lightly press a large flower cutter into the paste to emboss it with the outline. Press a smaller flower cutter in the centre. Set aside for about 1 hour at room temperature to firm up.


  1. Spoon royal icing into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle; then pipe a squiggly line of icing over the imprint of the large flower. Pipe a small section at a time to avoid the icing starting to dry.
  2. Using a dampened, fine paintbrush, drag icing towards the centre in short strokes to achieve a feathered effect. Clean the paintbrush frequently.
  3. Once the larger flower is complete, repeat for the inner section. Set aside for at least 2 hours to allow the icing to dry. Then, with a dab of royal icing, attach a small sugarpaste rose in the centre. Use a dry brush to remove any icing that oozes out from under the rose.


  1. As well as roses, add sugar pearls for a more elaborate design; or use sugar pearls on their own if you like.
  2. If sugarpaste doesn’t entirely cover a biscuit, ice a border.


  • If biscuit dough is difficult to roll out, roll it between two sheets of cling film or baking parchment.
  • Unless the dough is really sticky, it’s best not to knead in more flour as this will make it dry, and your baked biscuits will be tough and chewy rather than crisp.

A Dairy Diary recipe.




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