Cooking With Charl

Amateur home cook, with a love for baking and all things garlic :)

The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight (my favourite place in the world!)


As today is national garlic day i thought it would be the perfect time for me to tell you about my favourite place in the world, The Garlic Farm, Isle of Wight.

The Isle of Wight is somewhere that me and my boyfriend have visited for the last 5-6 years and we love it there! The views, the beaches, the villages and most importantly the food!!

As we all know i love everything about food, cooking and eating! but a food that i have always loved in large amounts is Garlic! I could quite happily live on good quality freshly baked garlic bread for the rest of my life :). As you can imagine as soon as I found out about the Garlic Farm on our first visit to the Island I just had to go there and see what they had to offer. The first time we went there it was quite different to what it is now, it was a rather basic farm shop but I fell in love with it non the less, with the smell of garlic in the air, witty garlic related signs hanging everywhere and bulbs as far as the eye could see. Right at the back of the shop there was a tasting table full of their homemade chutneys and relishes much to my delight :). It was on this visit I was first introduced to elephant garlic which now is one of my favourite things to eat just simply roasted with some good toasted bread mmmmm amazing! I asked a lot of questions when i was there about the different varities of garlic and how to grow garlic and the shop assistants are always very friendly and full of knowledge, its so lovely to see staff really care about what they are selling.



fresh green garlic, solent wight bulbs, scapes and elephant garlic

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me with my oil of wight, isle of wight flour and garlic farm grinder refill 🙂

A brief history of The Garlic Farm

The Garlic man himself is Colin Boswell who moved to the island with his parents in the late 50’s. Mersley Farm (where the Garlic Farm is situated) was acquired by the Boswell family and was originally used for cash crops such as sweetcorn which took off in the 60’s and 70’s becoming the UK’s largest sweetcorn producers. As the farm got bigger they needed to expand their crops and decided to start growing garlic after Colins mom, Nora grew some lovely bulbs in their own garden. Colin began to study all aspects of garlic travelling to California and France to further his studies. By 1979 they managed to break into mainstream supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsburys and Marks and Spencer. Through the 80’s and 90’s Garlic became loved by many across the UK and demand for colins garlic grew. By 1999 they returned to where they started selling to farmers markets across the UK, getting back to their roots. After many Tv appearences by the Garlic farm their popularity grew and they are now the Uk’s largest specialist garlic growers.

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As I mentioned before, The Garlic Farm is quite different today, it has expanded dramatically since my first visit, they now have an even bigger farm shop, tasting centre, cooking demos, growing information, tractor tours and a fantastic restaurant.

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The farm shop now has an even bigger selection of goodies from garlic bulbs to garlic gadgets and fantastic selections of homemade garlicky products. It is most definitely the place to go if ever you visit the Isle of Wight, but to be honest id say The Garlic Farm is worth the ferry ride all by itself! And remember if ever you buy garlic with ‘wight’ in the title you can thank the Garlic Farm for your amazing garlic!

The Garlic Farm Website

The Garlic Farm Facebook

The Garlic Farm Twitter

Why not stay at The Garlic Farm on your visit to the island?

Mersley Farm Holidays

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My sourdough starter experiment

Last Sunday I decided to take the plunge and try and nurture a sourdough starter from scratch! After reading alot on the Internet I found out it is best for beginners to start off with an established starter and work from there.
I am rather inpatient though and could not wait to get a starter from elsewhere.

I followed a fantastic guide over at and so far things seem to be going on track to sour doms beginners guide.

I thought I would share my progress so far :).

Day 5



I fed the starter 50g strong white flour and 50ml filtered water everyday for the first 3 days, then discarded half and refreshed with 100g strong flour and 100ml filtered water for the last 2 days.
I could see activity after day 3 but only very slight, it’s now safe to say something is certainly happening in there!
Next step is to discard most and refresh again, then hopefully it will double in size overnight! (Fingers crossed)

I am a complete novice when it comes to sourdough so if there are any sourdough bakers out there feel free to advise me 🙂

day 7
Doubled in size very quickly (2-3hours) then shrunk back to original size so gave an early feed today as I think he was hungry! 🙂



my first sourdough loaf

Little bit of oven spring and good holey texture


Only problem I seemed to encounter was it losing its shape as soon as I tried to remove it from shaping bowl



Chocolate orange hot cross buns (with orange glaze)

Easter is the one time in the year when you can get away with having chocolate with everything! Why should hot cross buns be any different?

As an avid fan of the great British bake off, of course I was going to watch the Easter special to see if I could get some seasonal inspiration. All of the recipes were fantastic as always but Paul hollywood’s hot cross bun recipe really caught my eye as I have never worked with an enriched dough before, so I took on the challenge.

Only problem is, I’m not too keen on hot cross buns, and my boyfriend hates dried fruit, so I came up with the idea if switching fruit for the just as healthy chocolate!!! (Because what’s Easter without chocolate?)

As I still wanted my buns to have great flavour I used orange zest and made a glazing syrup with the fruit as traditionally they are glazed with an apricot jam.

I hope this recipe inspires you to get creative and tamper with recipes to your liking.

(Makes 12)


500g strong bread flour (+a little extra for the cross)
50g soft butter
75g caster sugar
1 egg
7g fast action yeast
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp salt
300ml warm milk
250g dark (or milk) chocolate
1 large orange
4 tbsp sugar


Warm milk in the microwave or in a pan and set aside. Place the chocolate in a bag and smash into small chunks with a rolling pin. Grate the zest from the orange with a fine grater.

Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the sugar, salt, egg, cinnamon and cubed softened butter to one side and add the yeast to the opposite side of the bowl, ensuring the salt and yeast do not come in contact with each other.

Roughly mix the ingredients together and slowly add the milk, you may not need to use all of the milk, just enough to make a sticky soft dough.

When well mixed add the orange zest and chocolate chunks to the mix, knead the dough in the bowl slightly just to combine the chocolate and orange. Add more milk if needed.


Tip the dough out on to a floured surface and knead the dough for around 10 mins, pulling and stretching the dough until it becomes smooth.



Dust the mixing bowl with flour and place the dough inside and cover tightly with cling film. Place the dough in a warm place to prove for 1-2 hours until doubled in size. ( this may take slightly longer as the chocolate weighs the dough down considerably)

Slice the white pith from the orange in a downwards motion on a board, then when all the flesh of the orange is exposed, slice the individual segments out into a pan catching all the juice. When all segments are removed squeeze the rest of the juice out of the orange into the pan. Add the sugar and rapidly boil for 3 mins. Leave to cool.

When the dough has doubled in size, tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knock the air out of it. Start to roll the dough into a large sausage shape, cut in half and half again until you have 12 pieces of dough.

Roll the individual pieces of dough between the work surface and your palm to create perfect balls of dough.

Cover a large baking tray with greaseproof paper and place the balls of dough fairly close to each other so as they rise again they touch each other.

Cover the tray with cling film and leave to prove for a 2nd time in a warm place until doubled in size again.

In a bowl mix flour and water until it becomes a thick batter and place in a piping bag. Snip the end off and pipe the crosses, I like to start from the work surface and pipe continuous lines over them all like a noughts and crosses board.


Bake in a preheated oven at 160c gm 5 for 20-25 mins

When baked and browned on top brush the buns with the sticky orange glaze and leave to cool on a wire rack.


I hope you all have a chocolatey Easter!! 🙂

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My craft projects…

I have recently took up a new hobby after wanting to replace some cushions in the home, it’s something I have wanted to do for a while but although I have a lot of adventurous craft ideas I’m not so good at making them happen. I was pleasantly surprised to find it not as difficult as I first thought! With a lot of help and insipration from my friend fee I managed to make some fab penguin cushions 🙂 after searching online I have found lots of ideas to be getting on with although it may take me some time to get through them all!

My friends blog is well worth a visit, she has some fab creations and a really cute dog! fee’s blog

Here are a few of my first creations 🙂





^gift for my friend Ali ^




Chocolate chip cookies


These chocolate chip cookies are really quick to make and are packed full of chocolate! They also double up as a great DIY cookie mix gift, by layering up the ingredients inside a lock tight jar tying with ribbon and placing the method on a tag. Fantastic as a last minute gift or to bake when friends come over, they don’t stick around for long!!!


115g butter
115g light brown sugar
1 egg
100g porridge oats
1 tbsp milk
125g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
170g plain chocolate
170g milk chocolate


– Preheat oven to 180c/ gm 4, line and grease 2 baking sheets

– Mix softened butter and sugar together until well combined and paler in colour.

– Add the egg, mix well and add the oats and milk.

– When mixed together add the flour and baking powder and mix until all the ingredients come together.

– Place chocolate into a bag and smash with a rolling pin until broken into pieces. I like to leave it fairly chunky.

– Stir in the chocolate and place tablespoon size dollops of the mixture onto baking sheets. Wet hands and gently press the down slightly.

– Bake in the oven for around 15-20 mins depending on how dark you want them. They will still be quite soft when cooked and will harden when cooled.

– Leave to cool for at least 5 mins as the melted chocolate will be molten!

This is the gift I made my friend with the addition of cocoa powder 🙂


Happy baking 🙂

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S’mores Brownies (chocolate marshmallow)


This recipe is not one for the faint hearted! Very calorific but very worth it! 🙂 it’s based on the American pop tart variety s’mores. Which is filled with melted chocolate and marshmallow. Enough said.
All it took was a mention of brownies from my friend and that was it, these s’mores brownies were born! They have a buttery biscuit base with gooey chocolate brownie with chocolate chunks and almond pieces topped with toasted marshmallow 🙂 enjoy 🙂


Biscuit Base

160g digestive biscuits
30g melted butter
2 tbsp caster sugar


150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
130g milk chocolate
280g unsalted butter
3 eggs
280g caster sugar
125g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
85g milk chocolate (broken into pieces)
85g white chocolate (broken into pieces)
50g dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
50g almonds (broken into pieces)
Almonds optional and other nuts can be used.

Toasted marshmallow top

100g white marshmallows


Line a 23cm square baking tin and grease well. Preheat oven to 180c/gm4.

Smash the biscuits until they resemble breadcrumbs, this can be done in a food processor but a great job for kids or friends that linger in the kitchen!

Combine the melted butter, sugar and biscuits in a bowl until well combined.


Place the biscuit mix into the baking tin and press down with a spatula, trying to make sure it’s even in the tin.

Bake in the oven for 20 mins until golden brown.

While the base is cooking, melt the dark and milk chocolate together with the butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure not to let the water touch the bottom of the bowl! Then leave to cool slightly.

(I had to improvise with a pirex baking dish as I didn’t have a glass bowl!)

In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and sugar until pale and frothy and add the cooled melted chocolate and gently mix together


Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and gently combine. When mixed add the broken mixed chocolate and almonds.


Pour the brownie mixture ontop of the cooled biscuit base, I decorated with white chocolate buttons but its not really needed as the marshmallow will cover the brownie.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 mins depending on how gooey you like your brownies!


Yoshi’s back in the kitchen with Kay unfortunately this is most definitely not doggy friendly!!!


When baked cover the top of the brownie with marshmallows and place under a medium low grill to melt and toast slightly, this does not take long so keep an eye on it!


This can be very difficult to cut so as tempting as it is leave to cool completely and gently cut with a serrated knife.


Although very sickly these are absolute heaven! Even better if slightly warmed in the microwave! But make sure you cut them small as you can always go back for more!

Happy baking 🙂

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Carrot Cake Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling (a mary berry adaptation)


I absolutley love carrot cake, but its something i rarely bake myself as i can never get my cream cheese frosting just right, but i came across these little lovelys in the new good food magazine. originally from a feature on Great British Bake Off for Comic Relief by Mary Berry.

Now im not one to ever tamper with any of Marys recipes but i struggled with the ingredient ‘shredded bran cereal’ that she uses, as this could be a number of things, and we are not ceareal eaters in the house, and i wanted to make these quickly so i subsituted for porridge oats which i love in muffins anyway, so really this was nothing more than an experiment, which thankfully worked in my favor 🙂


(makes 12)

For the filling

  • 150g cream cheese
  • grated zest of 1/2 orange
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

For the muffins,

  • 50g porridge oats
  • 225ml milk
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • 150g grated carrot
  • 125g light brown sugar
  • 200g self raising flour (if using plain flour add 2 tsps baking powder, 3 in total)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil


  • Preheat the oven to 220c/gm7, place 12 muffin cases in muffin tins and set aside.
  • Place porridge oats in a bowl, cover with the milk and add the zest of half an orange, leave to sit for 5 mins.
  • In a large bowl add the light brown sugar, carrots and the porridge mixture and give it a good mix.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger into the bowl but DO NOT MIX.
  • Break the eggs into a measuring jug with the oil and mix together until the eggs are properly broken up. Add this to the large mixing bowl and combine everything together.
  • Mix together the cream cheese, caster sugar and 1/2 orange zest in a small bowl and set aside.
  • With a tablespoon place a dollop of the batter in each muffin case, making sure to cover the bottom of the case, then add a teaspoon of the cream cheese filling in the centre of each muffin.
  • Use the rest of the batter to spoon over the filling making sure all cakes are evenly filled.
  • Bake in the over for 15-20 mins until the cakes spring back when touched and are golden brown in colour.
  • Leave to cool on a wire rack and eat within 1 day.



I was quite impressed with my experiment and I think the porridge gives the cakes a nice texture 🙂 and after having friends over there are only 2 left!

If you want the original recipe you can find it through the Great British Bake Off for Comic Relief’s website.

Happy baking 🙂


chipotle chicken stew :)

My recipe kindly stolen by my boyfriend 🙂



Paleo Mexican Chicken Stew

Per serving aim:
36.8g protein
21g carbs (8.4g of sugars max)
21g fat
6g fiber
420 cals

Per serving actual:
39g protein
18g carbs (14g of sugar)
12g fat
4g fiber
381 cals


4 Skinless Chicken Breast Fillets (480g)
2 Red Onions
3 Garlic Cloves, Finely Chopped
1 Tsp Chipotle Paste
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 cans (400g each) chopped tomatoes
Few coriander leaves

Serves: 3


Heat oil in medium pan, add chopped onion (say 2/3rds) and cook for 5 minutes until softened and starting to turn golden, adding garlic in the final minute. Stir in chipotle paste and tomatoes. Add the chiciken and spoon over the sauce, simmer gently for 20 minutes until chicken is cooked.
Remove the chicken and shred with 2 forks, then stir back into the sauce. Scatter with red onion and coriander. Serve with the remaining onion and tortillas or rice.

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more new recipes…

My boyfriend is currently on a weight loss mission and has been keeping track and posting what he is eating online, as most of what he eats i cook, i thought i may as well repost the recipes and reclaim them 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂

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Basic pasta recipe

So this is my basic pasta recipe, from this you can make all sorts such as lasagne sheets, tagliatelle, ravioli just to name a few! I will follow up with other recipes that use this as a starter. Pasta has become my favourite thing to make in the kitchen, I find it quite relaxing and very rewarding.

Although pasta is cheap to buy, I think it’s worth the effort to make it from scratch. If your like me, eggs, ’00’flour and olive oil are store cupboard ingredients and therefore pasta is always a dinner option 🙂

I love my pasta machine but it is possible to make pasta without one you just need to master rolling it out as thinly as possible. Although pasta machines you can now pick up for around £10 and are well worth the investment.


As a rule 100g ’00’flour to 1 medium egg.

100g ’00’flour per person
2 tablespoons olive oil


  • Place flour in a mixing bowl, and make a well in the centre.
  • Add the egg and oil and gradually start to mix together from the middle outwards with a fork.
  • When dough starts to bind together start to work with your hands.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed the dough for around 5-10 mins until the dough begins to look smooth.
  • Refrigerate for 20 mins.



  • Flatten the dough out with your hands and if making a large amount divide the dough into smaller portions as its easier to work with.
  • Set your pasta machine to its thickest setting and roll through once


  • Fold the dough 2/3 of the way over and again with the other side to create a rectangle (as shown)



  • Keep the machine on thickest setting and roll the dough through again and repeat the folding process 3 times.
  • When the dough has been rolled through 3x on thickest setting, gradually start to decrease the thickness setting rolling the dough through once on each notch.



  • Keep dough well floured to avoid sticking!


My pasta machine runs from 1-9 (1 being the thickest)

For lasagne sheets, tagliatelle, spaghetti, pappardelle – setting 7

For ravioli -9


I will follow up with more recipes that use this pasta technique soon 🙂


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