Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they weren't fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.
“She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head, and whispered to her neighbor . . . "Winter is dead.”
~A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Ploughman's Scones



A few days ago I didn't think it was possible to make a cheese scone taste any better then it did already.

And then . . .



I had a brainstorm.



What if you took a really good cheese scone recipe . . . one that produced light and flaky scones with really cheesy flavours . . .



and then filled them with some tasty chutney before baking??? Just so that the scones bake up light and fluffy, but with delicious chutney oooooozing out the sides . . .

No need to butter these. Just bring on the ham, thickly sliced . . .



and perhaps a pear or two,

Cheesy Scones with tangy chutney centres. I used a delicious Apple and Pear Windfall chutney that I got at Marks & Sparks.

Two words. Nom Nom! What a tasty way to end the month!



*Ploughman's Scones*
Makes about 9
Printable Recipe

Nom Nom!

8 1/2 ounces plain flour (2 cups)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 TBS chilled butter, cut into bits
4 ounces grated strong cheddar cheese (1 cup)
2 heaped Tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan Cheese
Cayenne pepper to taste
250 ml of whole milk (1 cup)
a smooth chutney (I used Marks and Spencers Windfall chutney, containing apples and pears)

Preheat the oven top 205*C/425*F/ gas mark 6. Lightly butter a baking tray. Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Add the butter and rub it in quickly with your fingertips until the mixture is mealy. Stir in the cheeses and the cayenne pepper. Add the milk and stir until the dough is soft, adding a touch more milk if necessary.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surgace and knead a couple of times before patting out 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter.

Take a sharp knife and make a hole in the side of each biscuit, widening it with your index finger. Spoon in a half teaspoon or so of chutney and then place onto the prepared baking sheet. Reroll scraps and repeat, until all the dough it used up.

Bake in the upper third of the oven until well risen and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. The chutney will leak out a bit, but that's ok. It only adds to their scrumminess! Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Michaelmas Dumplings



September 29th is a day in the Western Christian Calendar which celebrates the feast of St Michael the Archangel . . . you know who he is don't you? Why he is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night, and the administrator of cosmic intelligence.



He also smells like cookies . . . dances really well, and is umm . . . very sexy, well . . . at least to me anyways . . . I think it's the chin dimple. I have a thing for chin dimples.



In many areas it has been traditionally said that September 29th is your last chance to pick blackberries before the Devil can curse them, spit on them, or do something even worse!

The indigestible October crop of blackberries is spurned altogether and Michaelmas Dumplings make one final glorious feast of the plump purple beauties!!



No surprise that they are teamed with apple here, as apples and blackberries are a beautiful marriage of choice!



Here you get a lovely tart piece of apple that is wrapped in the heavenly fluff of a buttery dumpling and then simmered on a bed of sweet ripe blackberries . . .



Served warm, with lashings of cream or custard, or ice cream if you prefer, each spoonful is gorgeously delicious . . . the apple having melted into that fluffy dumpling interior and the blackberries forming a sweet purple sauce . . .



Oh my . . . this is one tradition that I quite happily uphold!

Happy Michaelmas!




*Michaelmas Dumplings*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Fluffy apple filled dumplings floating on a sea of thick purple blackberry goodness!

8 ounces of blackberries (half a pound)
1 medium sized apple, peeled, quartered and cored
healthy pinch of salt
100g of self raising flour (a generous cup)
25g of butter (1/8th cup)
granulated sugar
cold milk
300ml of water (1 1/4 cups)

Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl. Drop in the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar. Stir in about 4 TBS of milk and mix together to a soft dough. Divide the dough into four and press each quarter into a flat circle on a floured board. Mould the circle of dough around a piece of apple, bringing it up the sides and over the top to cover it completely and sealing it totally shut. Repeat four times. Place the water in a medium sized pan. Add a heaped dessertspoon of sugar. Stir to dissolve and then bring to the boil. Add the blackberries, place the dumplings on top, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, until the dumplings are nicely risen and fluffy. Serve warm with lashings of cream, custard or ice cream!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Malteaser Brownies



I get a big kick out of the Malteaser commercials on the telly. The idea is that eating Malteasers is really naughty, and so people keep inventing naughty ways and excuses to eat them . . .



Then there are the ones where eating them makes people do naughty things.





I think the funniest one is where these two girls take their sleeping boyfriends and wind their arms around each other so that it looks like they are snuggling together . . . of course it gets really funny when the two unsuspecting fellas wake up and see who they've been cuddling!!



Malteasers are the British Equivalent to North American Malted Milk Balls.



I just love them. I confess . . . when we get a pack of Revells, I weed through them to find all the malteasers so I can eat them all up before anyone else can . . . likewise the malteasers in the tin of Celebrations . . . and . . . yes, I do steal all the nutty ones in the Christmas box of chocolates too. I am a naughty greedy girl . . .



But I also do all the baking and cooking, so it's ok. From where I am sitting, the malteasers in a packet of revells are like the cook's treats, those choice little tender oysters of succulent meat situated on the bottom of a roast turkey or chicken! Us cooks deserve em! We earned em!!



This is what happens when you bake brownies with a bunch of malteasers layered in the centre.

You get Brownies . . . only better.



Fudgy brownies, all gooey and stickily chocolately . . . filled with these scrummy and crunchy little balls . . . malteasers balls,



Moreishly, Malteaserly, naughtily addictive! Seriously.



*Malteaser Brownies*
Makes 12
Printable Recipe

The naughty snack.

7 ounces unsalted butter ( a scant cup)
100g of dark chocolate, miminum 60% cocoa solids, broken
up into pieces (3 1/2 ounces)
12 ounces soft light brown sugar (1 3/4 cup packed)
4 large free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g of self raising flour (a scant 2 cups)
pinch of salt
10 1/4 ounce box of malteasers ( malted milk balls)

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Brush a 9 inch square tin with butter and line with some parchment paper, allowing it to overhang the sides so that you can easily lift the brownies out when done.

Melt the butter along with the chocolate over very low heat. Once melted remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Sift the flour together with the salt and stir into the chocolate mixture. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the malteasers evenly over top, then cover with the remaining batter, making sure the chocolates are totally covered.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the top of the brownies are glossy and set and the middle still a bit squidgy. Leave to cool in the pan before removing and cutting into squares..

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Apple and Plum Tart



As I write this, late on Saturday afternoon . . . the sun is shining in a perfectly blue sky. It is a bit chilly, but still a beautiful day all the same.



I have wash drying out on the line, all our bedding is blowing in the light breeze. It will smell some good tonight when we drag our tired bodies into bed



I have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir playing softly on the stereo and . . . a tired puppy lays sleeping next to me, having spent most of the day running around the garden in the sun. Oh she does love the sun . . . not so much the rain though, but then . . . who can blame her!




I also have this fabulous tart sitting on the counter!! ( ahem . . . minus one piece, I confess!)



I have been eye balling this tart recipe ever since I got the Popina Baking Book waaaay back last year. I've baked a few things from it and loved them, but the picture of this tart has been calling my name.



Finally today, all was in place and I was able to get it done. I had the ingredients . . . I had the time . . . and I was in the mood!



Oh my . . . it is some good. Of course, I have adapted it a bit . . . it is my curse you know . . . this never being able to leave well enough alone . . .



I'm rather a lazy sod really . . . and so I pressed the pastry into the tart tin instead of rolling it out. Know what? It worked perfectly and cut a lot of aggravation and time out of the recipe.



I didn't have the exact plums called for either, so used what I did have, which were big fat red plums . . .



The original recipe called for Bramley's and I did have them, but I thought two Bramleys was far too much apple, even one would have been too much as my bramleys are rather large, and so I used two granny smith's instead.



The result?

I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves . . .
This is one very, very good tart! The perfect tart for the perfect autumn day.

Lots of sunshine, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a tired and sleepy pup, breeze blown sheets and a delicious apple and plum tart. What more could you ask for?




*Apple and Plum Tart*
Makes one 12 inch tart
Printable Recipe

A beautiful tart filled with a sweet sponge and a fruity combination of sweet plums and tart apples.

for the sweet pastry:
250g of plain flour (2 cups)
125g of unsalted butter, chilled and cubed (1/2 cup)
85g of caster sugar (a scant 1/3 cup)
1 large free range egg

For the sponge:
45g of unsalted butter (1/3 cup)
90g caster sugar (1/3 cup)
1 large free range egg
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
90g of plain flour (a scant 7/8 cup)

For the fruit:
4 large sweet plums, pitted and cut into quarters
1 large granny smith apple, cored and cut into slices

3 TBS apricot jam to glaze

First make the pastry. Place the flour, butter and sugar into a food processor and blitz until all crumbly. Add the beaten egg and blitz again until well combined. Press evenly into a 12 inch tart tin with a loose bottom.

Preheat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3.

Cream together the butter and sugar for the sponge, until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and baking powder. Fold in the flour. Spread this batter evenly into the prepared pastry shell. Scatter the fruit over top.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes in the heated oven. The sponge will have risen up around the fruit and the fruit will have sunk a little and be juicy. Remove from the oven. Heat the apricot jam over low heat and brush over top of the warm tart.

Serve warm or at room temperature with cream or custard.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Parsnip, Apple and Thyme Soup



Oh boy! Brrrrrr!!!! I know it's autumn, but if feels like winter out there today! Summer is officially over! I'm now hoping on an Indian Summer, please pretty please! ummm . . . with sugar on it??



Oh well . . . if nothing else, at least this changeable British weather gives us something to talk about at the bus stop . . . common ground to meet on, if you like.



This is real soup weather, and with this also being British Food Fortnight, I thought there would be no better soup to celebrate the versatility and deliciousness of autumnal British food, than this delightful marriage of parsnips, Bramley apples and thyme!



These flavours are oh so delicious together. Parsnips have a very distinctive flavour that is totally enhanced by the sweetness of apples, and there is no better cooking apple in the world than beautiful Bramleys!



Add to that a touch of heat and spice from some curry powder, and the herby touch of thyme, and you've got a creamy soup fit for the Gods!



With some buttery, crunchy croutons on top, this is just the thing to chase away the autumn chill! Parsnips, apples and thyme in a warming bowl of soup . . . you just can't get more British than that!



*Parsnip, Apple and Thyme Soup*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Parsnip, apple and thyme, the holy trinity of soupdom! These three flavours marry quite happily!

1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp medium curry powder
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
3 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 large Bramley cooking apple, peeled and chopped
(If you can't get Bramley's use two large Granny Smith apples)
1 1/4 litre of chicken or vegetable stock (5 cups)
125ml of cream (1/2 cup)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olivecroutons and some fresh thyme leaves to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and curry powder. Cook and stir over medium low heat until the onion softens. Stir in the parsnips, apple and thyme sprig. Cook and stir to coat in the oil and spice. (You may need to add a bit more oil) Add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the apple and parsnip is quite soft. Puree until smooth with a stick blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the cream and heat through. Serve hot, ladled into heated bowls. Top each serving with a drizzle of olive oil, some croutons and some thyme leaves.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Raspberry Buns



At first glance these don't seem very remarkable . . . do they? Rather plain looking even . . .



One might even be tempted to quibble as to the fact that they be called buns . . . they don't look much like buns after all . . . except that they are somewhat round and perhaps a bit puffy . . .



They look more like a cookie actually, and rather an ordinary looking one at that!

Except for that light dusting of caster sugar scattered across their buttery looking tops . . .




I dare to suggest that they be a little nibble that would make a wonderfully elevenses snack served up with a nice cup of something hot to dunk them in . . . or an afterschool teatime treat, with a tall glass of cold milk . . . again . . . for dunking.



Dare to break one in half though, and you'll soon see that they are anything but ordinary! Oh what a sweet surprise lurks beneath that buttery crust!



Oh how scrummily delish! Crisp and buttery on the outside and sweet and fruity on the insides. Oh my . . . these are good . . . very . . . very . . . good! I'd even hazard to say that they are scrumdiddlyumptiously moreishly addictive!

I bet you can't eat just one!

Go on . . . have a bite. You know you want to!



*Rasberry Buns*
Makes 12
Printable Recipe

A deliciously buttery teatime treat, just stogged full of raspberry jam!

225g of self raising flour (a scant 2 cups)
1 tsp baking powder
75g of butter (a scant 1/3 cup)
75g of caster sugar (a scant 1/2 cup)
1 large free range egg, lightly beaten
a little milk
raspberry jam

To glaze:
a little extra milk
a little extra sugar

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a large baking tray. Set aside.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Drop in the butter and then rub it into the flour mixture with your fingertips, rubbing until the mixture resembles dry bread crumbs. Stir in the sugar. Beat the egg and stir it into the flour mixture with a fork, along with just enough milk to make a soft dough. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Flatten the ball and place a dab of jam in the middle of each. Bring the edges of the dough up around the jam to cover it completely enclosing it. Flatten slightly and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Brush each with a bit of milk and sprinkle with more sugar.

Bake in the heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Scoop off onto a wire rack to cool. Cool completely before tucking in as hot jam can really give you a nasty burn!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Macaroni Shepherd's Pie



Oh I am soooo glad that the cooler weather is here! I do so NOT like heat and humidity! It just saps all my energy.

With autumn comes the opportunity to really get stuck in the kitchen and cook to my hearts content . . .



Lovely casseroles and heartier meals . . . enough of that salad stuff! Todd is not a salad man and he is glad to see the end of it too, really. Bring on the meat and potatoes!



We had company for dinner the other night and I wanted to make something hearty, and yet deliciously scrummy.



Something that was comforting and just a tad bit out of the ordinary . . . special, yet in an ordinary way, if you know what I mean.



Something that would have them thinking about it and drooling at the thoughts later on in the evening after they had gone home!



This tasty casserole fits the bill on all counts. Easy to make, but just that little bit different enough as to make it very special. If you like Shepherd's Pie and you like Macaroni and Cheese, you will love this!

Even my pasta hating husband had two servings, and that says a lot!!




*Macaroni Shepherd's Pie*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

Shepherd's pie with the delicious twist of a layer of macaroni and cheese on top instead of the usual potatoes! Scrumdiddlyumptious!

For the meat layer:
2 TBS oil
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled, cut in half and then thinly sliced
into half moons
1 leek, washed well, trimmed, halved and then thinly sliced into half moons
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
750g (about 1 1/2 pounds) of minced lamb
150ml of red wine (a generous half cup)
2 TBS tomato ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 lamb bouillion cube, crumbled
sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the macaroni topping:
35g (about 3 TBS) unsalted butter
30g of plain flour (about 3 TBS)
750 ml whole milk (3 cups)
1 bay leaf
120g of extra mature cheddar cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
1 TBS Dijon mustard
150g of macaroni (1 1/2 cups)
sea salt and black pepper to taste

To Top:
1 slice of white bread, crusts removed and crumbed
2 TBS freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1 TBS butter, melted

Heat the oil for the meat layer in a large saucepan. Add the vegetables and thyme, and cook over about 8 minutes over low heat, stirring from time to time, until glossy and beginning to soften. Add the lamb mince and increase the heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the meat changes colour and separates. Add the wine, ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, crumbled bouillion cube and some salt pepper to taste. Simmer over a low heat for 15 to 20 miknutes. It should still be somewhat juicy. If it isn't add a bit of broth. Check the seasoning and adjust as needed. Spread into the bottom of a shallow oven proof lasagna dish. Set aside.

To make the cheese sauce for the macaroni topping, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about a minute before slowly adding the milk and bay leaf. Bring to the boil whisking constantly, until it thickens. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Stir in the cheese and mustard, stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Keep warm.

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 5. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni as per directions, leaving it very al dente, or slightly undercooked (it will cook more in the cheese sauce). Drain well and then stir it into the cheese sauce. Pour the whole mixture over top of the meat mixture in the baking dish.

Mix together the melted butter, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle evenly over top of the macaroni. Bake the pie for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and sizzling and the filling is bubbling. Let rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Delicious!