Happy Birthday Fuss Free

Stained glass window decorations and amaretti biscuits

I can't believe that this time last year I was only just posting up my first blog and hoping a few people would be interested enough to read! In fact, over 17,000 of you did! It's been quite a 12 months with many highlights but the last 2 weeks have been the cherry on top!

My first two films of edible Christmas gift aired last week on The Hairy Bikers Home for Christmas series (Episode 1:24 mins Episode 2: 9 mins) The response from everyone has been so positive, and really well received. The best bit has been seeing some of the kids at school work out that I was on the telly! Sweet!! I know some of you were very keen to have a go at making the tree decorations, so remember to have a go and please share the recipe with your friends too!

There has been so much going on that in the new year I will send a newsletter about what's happening across all social media platforms to FFF subscribers. You will get each new blog post directly into your inbox, and you won't miss a thing! So remember to hit the sign up tab and pop in your email address.  

So, for now, I'm going to leave you to check out the new website! Let me know what you like best on the FB page, and please share it with your friends too! I'll be back shortly with an extra post with the last 2 recipes from the Hairy Bikers episodes. Plus I will tell you more about 2 more bits of filming and a new club I'm starting!

Lisa x

Amaretti biscuits

200g ground almonds
225g caster sugar
2 egg whites
1 tsp almond extract
Icing sugar for dusting

  1. Place the almonds and half of the caster sugar in a bowl, mix and set aside
  2. Put the egg whites into a clean bowl and whip with a whisk until they form soft peaks
  3. Add the remaining caster sugar to the egg whites and continue whisking to form stiff peaks
  4. Add a little of egg white mixture to the almonds/sugar and mix in. Then add the remaining mixture and almond extract and fold in carefully
  5. Put the mixture into a piping bag (or food bag with the corner cut off about 3/4 of a cm) and pipe little rounds the size of a walnut onto the tray and baking parchment
  6. Cook for 12-15 minutes at 180/gas 4
  7. After 12 minutes watch them like a hawk as you want them dark golden brown to get the crunch…but they could burn in a minute too long!
  8. Cool on a wire rack then place in an airtight tin or put into little bags for gifts

Stained Glass Window Biscuits

  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 tsp mixed spice or ginger
  • 100g cold butter, chopped
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp. whole milk
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Bag of fruit boiled sweets
  • Parchment
  • Cookie cutters (round, stars, holly)
  • Ribbon 1m
  • Blender
  • Rolling pin
  • Cocktail stick

Making the biscuit dough

  • Place the flour, mixed spice, cold butter, salt and zest into the blender
  • Put the flour in first so the butter doesn't stick to the bottom
  • Pulse for a minute until the butter is blended into the flour and it almost resembles breadcrumbs or rub in by hand
  • Add the sugar and milk, and pulse for 30 seconds until it has a more defined breadcrumb mixture
  • Tip out onto a lightly floured surface. Start pushing the mixture together to try and make a ball.  Knead briefly and roll into a flat disk, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
  • By making the dough into a flatter shape before chilling will make it easier to start rolling out

 Making the biscuit shape

  • Bring the dough mixture out of the fridge 10 minutes before you are due to roll it
  • Dust the surface with flour and place the dough in the middle
  • Roll out the dough to about £1 coin thickness. Choose a large cutter to make the outer shape and then choose a smaller shape to cut out a hole in the middle. Re roll any leftover dough to make more
  • Place on a baking sheet
  • Don't forget to bake the bits from the middle, these are great to give to the kids to eat and the others go on the tree!
  • Using a cocktail stick make a small hole at the top so you can thread a piece of ribbon through to hang the biscuit on the tree

Making the stained glass

  • Meanwhile, put about 10-15 boiled sweets in a bag and bash with the end of the rolling pin until they are smashed into small pieces
  • Using a teaspoon place a scant amount of the sweets into the cutout shape of the cookie. 
  • Fill to the edges but don't be tempted to overfill as it will boil over into the biscuit and have a less sharp look
  • Place into a preheated oven 180 deg c. For 12-15 minutes. Until golden but not dark brown. 
  • Leave to cool slightly on the tray and then lift carefully with a fish slice onto a cooling rack to cool

Threading through the ribbon

  • Cut a 10cm piece of ribbon. Thread it through the hole at the top of the biscuit and knot it.  You can now hang your biscuits!

With thanks to Blue Ochre Design

10 minute chocolate chip cookies

10-minute chocolate chip cookies

It seems that evolving never ends! Once we’ve learned something it doesn’t mean that we never have to work on it ever again!! In blogging about my life as it unfolds, it serves as a great reminder to myself the lessons I’m learning and somehow by writing it down, I hope it will lock it in even further.
I asked myself…. is this my self-discovery this week? I still work on things that I have worked on all my life, and it’s the same with my kids; I thought once I taught them manners that that would be it, but it seems I still have to remind them of their Ps and Qs! We all need to rinse and repeat on certain things!
So I thought; What did I get from this week? I went blank. Nothing. I learned nothing?! Did my creativity dry up? Is it time to just write recipes with no blurb? I decided I would sleep on it.
As I reflected on the week in bed, I acknowledged that this was a checklist heavy week.  Lots got done, and things progressed massively but little yoga was done and the emphasis was more on doing rather than being. And I think I found my learn.
In the past, I have been all about thinking about what I need to do, but most of my evolving has not been about logic, intellect, and thinking. It has been about feeling and hearing what is at the core of my heart, finding the answers that lie within and doing things that make my heart sing. I had slipped back into a comfortable old pattern of being overly productive and not focusing on what I need to do to feel good.
As I finish this I realise that I need to not clean my house but go do some body balance at the gym, less thinking in my head and more being in my body. So my goal for the weekend is to disconnect from the to-dos and connect with the people around me and to do things that make my heart sing. Isn’t that why we were put on the planet?! To enjoy life.
And what better way to do that but by having a batch of quick cookies by your side! Sending love Foodies for a beautiful weekend. Do you know someone who would love this recipe (or a batch of delicious fuss free cookies?!) then please remember to keep sharing the fuss free love bu sharing the link on Facebook or click the share button below  Lisa

10-minute choc chip cookies

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 75g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking  powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 100g dark chocolate chips or chocolate chopped into chunks (or milk if you prefer)
  1. Preheat the oven to 190℃/375℉/Gas Mark 5
  2. Gently melt the butter in a pan
  3. Put both the sugars into a bowl and add the melted butter and stir
  4. Beat in the egg and vanilla
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl, stir, then add the chocolate chips
  6. Spoon heaped dessert spoon sizes of mixture onto a lined baking sheet, leaving about 4cm in between each dollop as they spread!
  7. Bake for 8-10 mins until they are turning pale golden brown
  8. Leave on the tray for a few minutes to firm up, and then cool on a wire rack
Double chocolate chip and hazelnut cookies
  • Substitute 40g of the plain flour for cocoa powder instead
  • Add 75g chocolate chips and add 40g chopped hazelnuts
The original recipe is from River Cottage Everyday by Hugh F-W.

Folk House Cafe

Folk House Cafe

Have to recommend the Folk House Cafe for lunch if you’re near Park St. Bristol. (3/4 way down) Met an old colleague from Bordeaux Quay and talked all things food! Great mix of soups, salads, posh toasties, nibbles and filling plates and tremendous cakes and pukka tea and coffee. Loads of space and few outside tables too!! Now you know why the blog will be late today…..😁

Fuss Free Bahn Mi with leftover roast beef

Bahn Mi

I was duped into thinking spring had sprung.....I even started to clean the inside windows.....you only do these job when you think it's spring right? Or you get duped by your kids who convince you to do it (so they can get more pocket money) and then they get bored within 5 minutes....and the job is yours!!

Well at least the upstairs windows are clean, and I am waiting for another springlike flourish to finish them off downstairs. Somehow when the weather is drizzly, windy and a bit cold, my motivation for such jobs wain!

As with at the start of Autumn, I fight the weather with internal heat (See my smoothies with spice!) and this format is still working for me!! There is nothing like a chilli kick to wake the brain and that internal heat system started. That's probably why at a birthday breakfast this week I made us all share a Bloody Mary at Flour and Ash.....I know!

As with most folks, you have peak days when its super busy and you are back late, and dinner has to be convenient. Tuesday is ours, and we normally will have a pizza with a massive salad and homemade dressing. As nice as this is, it doesn't check the chilli box, and when I had some beautiful rare roast beef left over, this dish sprang to mind: Bahn Mi I thought.

This is a true hybrid sandwich, borne on street food markets, with influences from Vietnamese and French cookery. From France, a lovely fresh baguette and pâté, and Vietnam, the pickles and heat. It makes for a fuss-free meal, uses up leftovers in a new way and tastes...AMAZING! This is my take on the dish to use roast beef, but you could equally use roast pork or chicken. It's a great one to have all prepped and can be assembled in 5 mins! The best thing is that you can customise your sandwich, with less or more of your favourite things!

As always, using up what you have is a big criteria for me so feel free to use common sense and tweak quantities if you have too much or too little of something. Let me know what flourishes you add to yours in the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook group! Take a look at behind the scenes action and food reviews on the Fuss Free Foodie page, see my fuss-free life in pictures on Instagram or what I'm tweeting on Twitter. Don't forget to keep seeing FFF in your feed, keep giving a little like, comment or share! Lisa x

Bahn Mi
Feeds two adults for dinner

85g carrot, cut into matchsticks
85g cucumber, cut in half, core scooped out and chopped into matchsticks
85g red or white cabbage shredded finely
50g pâté
150g-200g leftover roast beef, sliced thinly
1 baguette
1 red chilli, sliced thinly
1 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
Sweet chilli sauce/Sriracha hot sauce
A handful of coriander leaves (approx 5g)

Preheat the oven to 150℃/300℉/Gas Mark 2

  1. Place the baguette in the oven for 5 mins to warm through and toast slightly on the outside.
  2. Put all of the chopped vegetables in a bowl, with the caster sugar and vinegar, add a twist of salt and scrunch together to mix well and set aside.
  3. When the bread is heated through, cut the size sandwich you would like and cut it in half horizontally. Spread around half the pâté onto the bottom half of the baguette.
  4. Layer up as little or as much beef on top of the pâté and then layer on some of the pickled vegetables, sliced chilli and coriander leaf.
  5. Drizzle the chilli sauce of your choosing onto the top or spread it onto the other half of the bread, before closing up this delicious treat!