Monday, 31 August 2009
should you choose to accept it....(Mr B laughed at me when I came down the stairs in this outfit, stating I looked like I was on "Special Ops"! Well I am....in the kitchen!)
Glut of plums, some 'looks challenged' bramleys (scrumped by your F-i-L!! Brilliant!) and icecream tubs full of gorgeous blackberries... (my current obsession....just beating the lemon curd obsession of last month!). Sound familiar?!
Well here are a few yummy links to inspire you...(Bramley and Blackberry Tray Bake)and tomorrow in the B household the Christmas Chutney cottage industry will whir into production!
Blackberry Honey Creams
Bramley and Blackberry Tray Bake
Wonderfully Moist Plum Cake
Blackberry Galettes (gorgeous Nigella...this will be in my kitchen by the end of tomorrow!!)
Spicy Plum Chutney
Friday, 28 August 2009
So MRS CHRISTY (crazy mum of a school friend) used to make this cake and we'd all sit round her kitchen table and drink tea whilst eating large slabs of this delicious loaf.... Now, i mainly eat it on my own as no-one else round me likes cake!! How could i give birth to a child who doesn't "do" cake?
60z caster sugar
1/2 t'spoon the best vanilla essence
6oz self-raising flour
1/4pt single cream
40z chocolate chips - plain or milk, up to you.
Loaf tin is buttered and floured - ready. Oven is on at 180c.
I didn't have any choc chips in the cupboard (i must have eaten them on some lonely, desperate evening) so i bashed up a bar of quality chocolate. Pop the chunks in a bag and bash them ON A BOARD! till they are small pieces.
Cream together the butter and sugar - as with most cakes. then add the vanilla essence. I think it is worth spending a little more on good quality ingredients... it just increases the taste of your cookery efforts x
It should slip easily out of the loaf tin if you buttered and floured it!?... then cool on a wire rack for a while. Why on a wire rack?... so the bottom doesn't go soggy x (not everybody knows these things)
Monday, 24 August 2009
The Men in the family start talking about Butchers Grade Sausages, Steaks and how many small Chickens they can fit in the gas-fired beast of a bar-b-que.
The Women in my family start talking about "who is bringing which salad"....
I'm not a person who generalises about the sexes too much, but.... Men just don't 'do' salad. It is their prerogative and we need to allow them that independance. We need to nod a small approval when there is the tiniest something 'leafy' or 'green' on their plate. It is a sign they at least know the women are either a) watching or b) approving. SO... Cous-Cous Salad, for the ladies.
If you are a Cous-Cous Virgin, you need to know the following:
Cous-Cous tastes rubbish without a shed load of stuff putting into it.
Cous-Cous is high in Protein - essential for me, as i am a vegetarian (please don't recoil in horror) Cous-Cous is low in fat and high in fibre.
Cous-Cous is very cheap and very easy to prepare. It is a cupboard essential in my kitchen as it can be flavoured in a million different ways and goes with any meal.
STEP ONE: pour some Cous-Cous into a bowl / dish for which you have a LID. I always make up more Cous-Cous than i need as i can eat it again the next day. ONLY keep it for 24 hours once made (and keep in a fridge) it is like rice and can breed bacterias very quickly.
Pour over some stock made with just boiled water **200g Cous-Cous = 250ml stock** approx serves 4 people. Put the lid on and leave it to soak up all the liquid, till you are ready - 20 mins minimum.
p.s THIS is the stock i use in EVERYTHING. It is the worlds greatest stock and even my meat loving friends enjoy this stock.
Whilst the Cous-Cous is 'swelling' fry up half an onion and some courgettes in a saucepan with a knob of butter. Till they are soft and browned. At the last minute add a generous helping of peas from the freezer. Never cook peas - they are too nice to ruin by boiling in water for an age.
Pop this veg into the serving dish you'll use for the salad.
Add 3/4 block of crumbled Feta Cheese (it needs to be a hard, crumbly, salty cheese for this dish)
Add the Cous-Cous and 'fluff' the the little grains with a fork. It tends to clump whilst swelling so separate it with fork and mix it all very well.
THEN - it's up to you... but I added a good splash of soy sauce to mine and a drizzle of Olive Oil, plus a sprinkling of Celery Salt and some Black Pepper
Honestly - yum yum! and i ate the leftover portion for my lunch on the following day. So tasty x
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Friday, 14 August 2009
Seasonal eating, I like to think, is a similar process.
I think it is completely possible that the nature knows best and that asparagus*, broccoli*, purple sprouting broccoli*, radishes*, rhubarb*, rocket*, sorrel*, spinach*, spring onions*, watercress are just what we need in Spring, after a long winter. All little packages of iron, vitamin C and fibre. In the summer fruit and veg is plenty and we can eat little and often. Come Autumn, who doesn't crave butternut squash, courgettes, marrow and fruit crumbles, stewed apples. Stocking up on our resources for the winter ahead, Then through the cold, shorter days artichoke*, beetroot*, butternut squash*, celeriac | celery*, chicory*, jerusalem artichoke*, kale*, kohlrabi*, leeks*, parsnips*, potatoes (maincrop)*, pumpkin*, swede*, turnips*, watercress*, wild mushrooms* are at their best, filling carbohydrate rich foods to keep our energy up and our bodies warm.
It is not fashion or fad to take a seasonal approach to food, it is common sense. Food tastes much better, (it actually 'tastes'....out of season tomatoes, anyone?....urrrgggggh!) it is aplenty, it should cost less (say no to supermarkets racking up the prices of something that is in season....it's NOT 'finest' it is simply being eaten when it should be, from where it should be, with less murky, science-y jiggery-pokery!) and when, even better it is prepared by you, it is wholesome!
artichoke*, aubergine*, beetroot*, broad beans*, broccoli*, carrots*, courgettes*, cucumber*, fennel*, french beans*, garlic*, kohlrabi*, leeks*, mangetout*, marrow*, onions*, peas*, peppers*, potatoes (maincrop)*, radishes*, rocket*, runner beans*, sorrel*, sweetcorn*, watercress*
Here in the city, I usually have to rely on our greengrocers, supermarkets and the occasional Farmer's Markets. I have however been doing some cyber 'surfing' and as with all things crafty there is an amazing foodie vibe out there too! I have found more markets and farmer's shops in my area, something I didn't think possible without living somewhere posh and having a car, thanks to the following sites. And have become wholly inspired and convinced by the idea and practicality of seasonal eating!www.localfoodadvisor.com, www.eattheseasons.co.uk, www.farmersmarkets.net
Have a browse! If you find something gorgeous, don't keep it to your ownsome....let us play too!
Quick Blackberry Jam
1lb blackberries (surprisingly few, I managed to collect 2lbs, just pootling along with the mini B's)
175ml of water
juice of 1 lemon (I used a lime as that is all I had to hand...as far as I can tell the jam is no the worse for it!)
Stew your fruit, gently, in the water, which takes about 20-25 minutes, mashing the fruit to extract as much juice as possible. This is a gorgeous process, I was happily surprised at the sweet smell of blackberries...just like a fruit pastille! The colour was glorious. I would love a cord dress that colour!
After this add your lemon juice (or in my case lime, I think it is probably something sciency about acids rather than for the flavour anyway!) and sugar, keeping the temperature down mix for 10-15 minutes to ensure all the sugar granules are dissolved.
Then rack up the heat! Boil rapidly and unafraid, for 8 minutes! Then the mess can begin.
Take your sterilised jars (and this is where I stray from Delia's sensible, measured tone...), place a jam funnel on top, and using a sieve pour your jam through, pushing with a spoon, to get the juice through quickly. Now Delia would have you sieve this into a hot bowl then pour into the jar....but I didn't really 'get' the two fold process and since I was only making enough for me and a neighbour, I couldn't see the sense. So straight into warm jars it went, using my tiny sieve! No need for great speed, there was ample time and the jam set fine! I even tried the pulp left over because it looked so good and I thought maybe like raspberry jam, the seeds would be fine. Don't make that mistake! On that account Delia is quite right, they are gross, hard and may crack a tooth....and I don't want to be held accountable!
And there we have it!
There are not words enough, for the joy that is this jam! It is August in a jar! Brilliant on my current poppy seed scone obsession, with the cream cheese. The boy B's had it on toast this morning! And I tell you what, I bet it would make amazing homemade jammie dodgers!
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
But sometimes your not sure how to go about it, can't find a recipe for it, don't have the ingredients for it......
Inspired by the lovely MsFish I too made lemon curd! I am so proud! I have never eaten, let alone, made lemon curd! I am in love! It is a passionate affair!
I keep asking everyone I know, man woman and child....'do you love lemon curd'? It would seem that it provokes responses as passionate and opposing, as in the enduring Marmite debate!
What I really wanted was something wholesome, moreish, non sweet and chunky to spread it on. Not bread (although it is pretty fabulous on warm, thick, white toastie toast! Ooooooh can already sense the autumn mornings....me and my lemony pal and lots of toast and a fresh, hot pot of tea), not sweet muffins, not cake (for me, in this unusual case!) and although lovely on oatcakes I wanted something more substantial. I searched for a couple of days trying to find a recipe that would fit the bill. Then it dawned on me while washing the dishes (like it happens!), wholemeal scones!
They are wholesome, rich, chunky and when adapted to contain poppy seeds and no sugar or fruit they would be the perfect base for the sweet, custardy, luscious lemony lemon curd!
I had two 'goes', one where I used only wholemeal (self raising flour) and one where I followed good old Delia and used half white and half wholemeal....both with the additional 25g of poppy seeds and no spice or fruit. Of course, in the name of experimentation I had to sample one of each!
All wholemeal flour gives you something that tastes more bready, less of the doughy softness of a scone. The half and half, although not quite as wholesome, (to my mind....remember I was after something guiltless to pile my new vice on to!!) it has more of that warm, weightiness of a scone, just delicious, the poppy seeds providing a nutty flavour and texture....(which gets me thinking oooooooh wonder what walnuts would be like in these....are they still scones...etc etc!)
Break free....adapt, experiment, make something that is just right for you.....or make heinous mistakes and laugh (like my garlic, chickpea, lime juice fiasco)!
P.S. Satisfaction Achieved!
This is the most sublime snack with a cup of tea! Warm up your scone, slather a thick layer of cream cheese on and apply "lashings" of lemon curd (a la Famous Five!) Eat in a brief interlude of peace and quiet wherever you are and just savour the moment!
Adapted from Delia Smiths Wholemeal Scone recipe.
Saturday, 8 August 2009
Vanilla and Lemons. MMmmmm.
One is as soft and comforting as the other is sharp and ascerbic (Much like my personality me thinks!)
I alway have a huge bowl of lemons in the kitchen and they are the staple ingredient to so many things... Lemon Curd being one. I make this Lemon Jam / Lemon Cheese / Lemon Preserve for ME and my NANNA as we both love it. It really is quick and easy to make:
200g Caster Sugar
115g diced unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 large egg YOLKS
2 standard jam jars - this list makes 2 jars!
Get a pan of water on the gentle boil. A taller pan works well and you don't need too much water. On 'top' of the pan you're now going to place a heatproof bowl in which to heat the ingredients so you don't want water bubbling up over the edges.
(and i score extra points for giving 1 jar to me Nanna)
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
She's right, you know! What can I say... I can't resist! How could you?
The cupcake is a glorious thing! Miniature (I adore all things small!), the realms for creativity are boundless and even when plain they are perfect! So I have started you off with the recipes that I use! Ha ha, bring on National Cupcake Week (a whole week.....love it!!) So whip out your pinnie, grab your cupcake cases and get practising!
The Perfect Cupcake Recipe (Nigella's....naturally!)
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
You have plenty of time to blog share with everyone... think up your design/s, then blog the finished articles and share them any day 14th - 19th Sept. I have found links to some that just inspire me to tears... MrsB, you know you can't resist!? x
... Roll on September...
Sunday, 2 August 2009
200g Granulated Sugar ..... heated gently in a large pickling pan.
I added a little less Malt Vinegar and substituted with some Raspberry Vinegar and White Wine Vinegar so i had 400ml i think, all in.
350g/ 3 Raw Beetroot (from the Veg Box)
350g/3 Cooking Apples (scrumped from a neighbour if possible)
225g/ 3 Red Onions (Man sent to the shops to fetch)
Chop them all as small or big as is your preference. I like mine as small as i can, 1cm cubed on average. Add them to the liquid in the pan.
3 oranges - the rind and juice of (i just re-read the recipe and it says only 2, oop, i added 3)
1 garlic clove crushed
1tsp ground Allspice
... i added to the mix also: 1tsp Mustard seeds / 1tsp Corriander seeds / Celery Salt / 1tsp GROUND Peppercrons. Add whatever you like... oh and some fresh tiny cut Rosemary! (love that stuff)
Bring it the boil - just - then put it on a low setting and simmer away for 40mins. I put a lid on mine but you don't need to....
Give yourself a pat on the back and feel rather pleased with yourself :)
After 40mins - whack i gave mine a good mulch with a big potato masher as i don't like anything too chunky. Then whack the heat right up again and boil away the last of any liquids you dont want. I kept a bit of liquid in mine.