Thursday, 24 September 2009

Pear and Vanilla Butter (jam)

I can't believe i waited so long to talk about this!
As mentioned before: i love Lemons and i love Vanilla - 2 of my all time favourite flavours. Lemons i eat continually in many formats - but vanilla seemed relegated to 'dairy products'.... sloppy yogurts and custard style desserts... why? Joy when i saw THIS in my favourite recipe book....
2lb pears ** 3 lemons **1 vanilla pod split ** 650g sugar ** 300ml water....
Perfect for the smell and taste of vanilla without having a sanitised pudd.

Pears: peeled, chopped and put in a large pan with the water, juice of the lemons, a split vanilla pod. Bring to the boil - then reduce, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or so.
Uncover and cook for a further 20 mins.
Remove the pod - then scrape through all the seeds and pop them in the mixture. Discard the pod now.
Blend / puree / push through a sieve - back into the pan.
ADD 275g of sugar for every 600ml of liquid you have. You'll need to measure this in a jug really.
Dissolve the sugar slowly over a low heat - then boil for 15mins. Until it has really thickens. If you drop a small dollop onto a dish, it should 'hold its shape'.
pretty pretty light orange shade with those fantastic vanilla seeds in.
It is so delicate and great for vanilla fans.

Serve on: Toast, CROISSANTS!, scones, pancakes, bagels, waffles, home made bread rolls... it is probably too soft a flavour to use in a cake but it's worth a try?
Great recipe x

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

With Grape power comes Grape responsibility....

Not a cordial - but a straight up juice!
Inspired by a lady i saw over on the "Flickr" photo sharing site. She had made the most delicious looking Grape Juice so i was overcome with need to drink it. The SmallFish and i had the beginnings of the dreaded 'cold virus' so what better way to blitz those evil poorlies than by whizzing fruit?

We popped into our juicer:
a huge bag of the blackest grapes we could find.
one whole lime - sliced, peel left on.
100ml of organic apple juice
We then watered it down a touch as juice can be pretty powerful. We popped ice-cubes in too... extra delicious.

We do have a posh juicing machine - bought in the days when i had a *proper* job and there was no smallfish to play with. It is one of those items that i feel has been a great purchase (i love kitchen gadgets)
i use it sporadically but when i do, i am so happy with the results - it was well worth the pennies. It is also awful to get clean afterward! But i am the sort of person who loves to make life difficult.
p.s smallfish DID get the dreaded bugs - i managed to hop sideways and just get a sniffle.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Memories are Made of This...x

This isn't a recipe at is simply the sharing of a lovely thing and a bit of a nosey at what you all do?!

This, to my mind is simply the best way to eat an egg.
I haven't once made it for my children, without the other adults in the room wanting one too. 'It makes a boiled egg more of a meal, somehow' (M-i-L 2009)!
I started to make this, after years of not doing so, for my children. I got to thinking, it is one of those things you eat that is meaningful. It suddenly brings back a feeling, a warmth, a memory. It is a little bit of caring, nurture from the past, indeed it seems forever connected with the woman (in my case) who made it for you. And it would seem I am not the only one. Even the menfolk of the clan, go a little misty eyed over the idea....'oh I love an egg like that'!

So here is my little B enjoying her bit of cooking tradition, her little bit of love in a Nanna, my Mum made it for me, I make it for my children....will they make it for theirs?
Do you have a food like this? One you return to when in need of comfort, when poorly, or down to the last £10 with a week to go till payday! Tomato soup (from the can!) with crusty bread (you know who you are!), cheese on toast, roast chicken....? Who was the lovely person who made it for you?


Monday, 14 September 2009

Say Yay For Tray.....

Bakes! How have I not, as a mummy, as someone who always wants to feed folk cake, as a busy but scatty, very modern mim, NOT discovered tray bakes before?
They are fabulous, make loads of yummy cake, take no time and can be turned into absolutely anything that takes your fancy (satisfying the creative side too....with minimal fuss!)Sooooooooooooooo here it is!

Take one throw away roasting tray!
Take a basic recipe for sponge cake (this makes enough mix for a 23x30x3cm roasting tray....half/ double for your size of tray).

225g/8oz soft margarine
225g/8oz caster sugar
275g/10oz self-raising flour
2tsp baking powder
4 eggs
2 tbsp milk

And then the fun can begin! What do you want your tray bake to be? Choc chip? Throw some in. Lemon? Add some zest! When cooked, stab lots of little holes in and squeeze lemon juice over, followed by a generous scattering of caster sugar. Chocolate? Add cocoa! When serving drizzle with warm chocolate fudge sauce! Fruit? Scatter apple slices, blackberries or blueberries, or plums, or strawberries......or yum, raspberries and chunks of white chocolate! Boozy or not! The options are endless! This is very freeing cooking!


When you want to test if your cake is ready and like me you have no cocktail sticks or skewers, you can take a piece of humble spaghetti and insert this into the centre of the cake. Leave for five seconds, if when you pull the spaghetti out it is clean, with no sticky cake on it, your cake is ready!

And this is what I did with mine!

I sliced my tray bake up,
slathered on some August Bramble Jam and Vanilla Buttercream and dredged (I love that word!) with icing sugar! I think I broke every village WI rule regarding 'proper' Victoria Sandwich! But my, it was tasty with a good mug of hot tea and some knitting!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Bakewell Cupcakes & welcoming in Cupcake Week!

I am stupidly proud of these (the shame of pride) i made these the day i made the Jam of the previous post. I *think* i invented them!? At least i didn't follow any recipe and it felt like a flash of pure inspiration....
The Bakewell Tart - but in a cupcake! These tasted sooo good, i ate so many (the shame of gluttony) Ingredients / Basic cake:
4oz Caster Sugar - mixed into 4oz unsalted Butter.
4oz Plain flour plus 2 t'spoons baking powder.
75g Ground Almonds
Add one egg (with a spoonful of flour) then a second egg (also with flour)
A drop of Vanilla Essence AND a big dollop of full fat (homemade!) yogurt or a splash of milk to give the mixture a little more liquid.

This mixture made enough to fill 12 Muffin cases - the medium sized, not the huge American style ones. If i want these to all be perfect, if they are being put on sale at a craft fair cafe etc... i try and fill the cases evenly. Put a dollop in each and go round filling them each until they all have the same amount in.

When they are cooked and cooled.... use a sharp pointed knife to take out the top of each cake to form a small well. RESIST the temptation to EAT that bit you just cut out!! as it will go on top once you have filled the well with a t'spoon of blackberry / cherry jam.
I used the jam i had just made "Brambley Hedge Jam" as it was sharp and fruity.

The icing is basic Glace Icing. Icing Sugar with the juice of ONE LEMON and a generous splash of ALMOND ESSENCE - that is really 'to taste' but don't over-do it as Almond Essence can be quite powerful. You might need a tiny splash of water with this is there isn't enough liquid to form the gloopy paste.
With the cake tops back on, smother the top of each muffin with the icing.

And pop half a cherry on top to finish...
I also grated some chocolate over the top for a bit of authenticity and a nod to the Mr Kipling variety. I don't even like Glace Cherries! But they didn't look right without one on top.

Cake friends, they tasted luxurious x i will be making these for my 'Craft Cafe' in October and selling them at the Cafe. What a treat!
MrsB... queen of the tarts and the cupcake lover - tell us about cupcakes???
We want to know what you do x
Fish x x x

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Brambley Hedge Jam...

Forgive us for posting 2 jam recipes... it is a joint blog and we love to share :)
This is my own recipe for "Brambley Hedge Jam" and made with the minimum of cost. The amount i made here produced 5 jam jars, so make sure you have friends to share it with x

3 or 4 Apples (windfall or neighbours freebies - the friend i got mine from will receive a jar of jam as 'thankyou', of course)
Hedgerow Fruits: Blackberries, Elderberries and Blackcurrants from my freezer. Don't let your daughter (or Son) be in charge of the scrumping container - when you turn round you will find all fruits have been eaten (!)
Altogether i used about 800g fruit - just so you have an idea of quantities. You will need sugar also - but the quantity depends on the yield... i will explain as you read on!
I use Tate & Lyle JAM SUGAR with added pectin.
I use a lemon for this recipe too.

Wash all the fruits - peel / de-core / remove stalks and chop finely. Then all the fruits go into a large Jam Pan / Saucepan. Add the juice and pips and rind (if you want) of 1 lemon.
Once they are in the pan, cover the fruit with water. You want the water to cover all the fruits 'just'. Simmer this lot for 1 hour - enough time to wash up / clean up / play with children?

Then you have this amazing purple pulp. I have a large metal sieve and i bought a pack of muslins from LAKELAND. I have a recipe that tells me to "strain fruit overnight".... i found this totally un-necceassry. In a muslin and sieve it took no time at all (30 mins top?)
It is an idea to strain it all into a DEEP wide necked measuring jug, if you have one - as you will now need to know how much fruit liquid you have.
Unfortunatley - discard the pulp :( it ain't worth it (as MrsB says in her post)

The MATHS: 400g of Jam Sugar for every 600ml of liquid. I found i had 1,200ml from my 800g fruits so i used 800g Jam Sugar.
Simmer all the liquid with this sugar till it is all dissolved.
We are ready to BOIL! (gulp)
Now - i do use a Jam thermometer. ManFish purchased this for making toffee lat Christmas and it is really useful. I also use a purpose Jam spoon - see below>>> they both have 'hooks' on the back to prevent them from falling into the huge Jam Pan. You might want to invest in these if you preserve alot? Tis up to you x

Hubble Bubble Toil and Trouble!!
I literally boil away until the temperature hits the "JAM" line (over 100c)
Maybe 10-15mins.
Often, a 'scum' will appear on top. I like the relaxing process of standing over the jam and scraping off this scum layer. You don't have to but, it makes the jam more attractive.
The jam will become a stunning purple black colour... and the smell? Divine x
As said before: Jam Jars sterilized in a hot-ish oven. Lids popped into a bowl of boiling water.
I use a Jam funnel to pour into the jars to stop it spilling everywhere (this is sticky stuff!)
Pop the lids on tight once the Jam is totally cooled.
I think i am allowed to say it: this tasted sooo good. And i loved how cheap it was to make. I only paid for the Jam Sugar and got 5 full jars from this recipe.
Keep it for up to 3months.
Once opened - keep in the fridge, no longer than a few weeks. x
Man, i love Jam making!!