“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.”
~AA Milne, when we were very young
NOTE: I am away at the moment helping my mother with her treatment for lung cancer. I have set up a few posts to post whilst I am away as a special surprise. Some are new and some are reposts of old favourites that you may have forgotten, or if you are a new reader may not even have seen. I'll be back at the end of May, but in the meantime . . . Enjoy!
PS - I will only have sporadic internet use, so if you ask a question and I don't get back to you . . . it's not that I don't want to. It just may take me a while.
Wednesday, 31 August 2011
During the week I like to cook things that are quick and easy most of the time . . . unless we are having company. That leaves me more time to do things like paint, or sew . . . or just laze around. ahem . . .
Okay, I bake too. I love to bake. I often bake . . . cakes and cookies and other delectables. *blush*
I love dishes that use ingredients that I always have in my store cupboard. I always keep a package of fresh lasagne sheets in the freezer and pasta sauces on the shelves of my larder. I also usually have ham and olives and cheese in the fridge.
Just the right things to throw together this tasty Store Cupboard Lasagne Pie! Easy does it! It goes together lickety split and you can have it on the table in less than 45 minutes tops.
All you need is a salad to go along with it and perhaps some crusty bread and you have one happy family.
They'll think you slaved all day . . . but only you and I will know how very little effort it took. Delicious! (I think we all have a few lazy recipes up our sleeves, truth be told, and this is one of mine!)
*Store Cupboard Lasagne Pie*
Quick, easy and oh so delicious!
150g pack of fresh lasagne sheets (1/2 pound)
1 (350g) jar of tomato basil and garlic pasta sauce (about 2 cups)
(I like Napolina, it tastes most like the Prego sauce from home.)
1 (350g) jar of white sauce for lasagne (about 2 cups)
a good handful of marinated green olives, halved
8 slices of baked ham
2 ounces of grated cheddar cheese (1/2 cup)
2 ounces grated mozzarella cheese (1/2 cup)
2 heaped dessertspoons of finely grated parmesan cheese
freshly grated black pepper
Put the lasagne sheets in a large bowl and pour boiling water over top. Leave for five minutes and then drain. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.
Mix all the cheeses together in a bowl. Set aside.
Spoon a couple of spoonfuls of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan. Lay on three lasagna sheets crosswise to cover. Spread another dollop of sauce over top. Top with half of the ham. Spoon over a couple of dollops of the white sauce. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the cheese and the olives. Lay another three lasagna sheets over top and repeat with the tomato sauce, remaining ham,white sauce, and 1/3 of the cheese and olives. Top with a final 3 lasagne sheets and then spoon on a few more dollops of tomato sauce, the white sauce, the remaining cheese and olives. Give a good grind of black pepper.
Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and the whole thing is bubbling. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.
Cooking in The Cottage today, an Old Fashioned Escalloped Macaroni and Cheese!
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
One thing that I really missed when I moved over here to the UK was Hummingbirds. I always had a hummingbird feeder hanging by my window back home in Canada. I used to get quite a few of them too. They were so much fun to watch. Sometimes they would fight each other . . . their aerial dances were so beautiful to see, and quite amazing!
When we lived down south I was quite certain one day that we had a hummingbird in the garden. It flew from the honeysuckle at the side of our cottage over to the honeysuckle that was growing in the hedge at the back of our place. It flew just like a hummingbird and I was sure it was one . . . except it was a dull brown, but no matter . . . I thought perhaps it was a European variety or some such. I watched it for a good five minutes and was so excited to see it. I could hardly contain myself when I went into the house to tell the Toddster.
I was mistaken. It was not a hummingbird at all . . . it was a hummingbird moth, and I am not the first one to make that mistake . . . it is quite a common occurance over here in the UK. Moths in the daytime that act just like hummingbirds! In truth, I was every bit as excited to see a Hummingbird Moth as I would have been to see a Hummingbird! Funny how that goes!!
Of course that has nothing whatsoever to do with this lovely cake! When I told Todd it was a hummingbird cake, he looked at me like I was all doolally! I was quick to tell him it was not made from hummingbirds . . . no!
Just made of things that one might find in the countries where hummingbirds winter . . . things like bananas, and coconut . . . and sweet pineapple too.
It's very moist and oh-so-delicious. Each bite is quite quite lucious. The Toddster quite enjoyed.
Make sure you drain the pineapple very well for this, saving the juice of course . . . if the fruit is too wet the cake will be too heavy. Do use very ripe bananas too . . . if they aren't ripe enough, you won't get a good balance of flavours I topped mine with toasted coconut, but you don't have too. I just thought it would look prettier. Kinda like a hummingbird . . .
No Hummingbirds were harmed in the making of this cake.
Makes one 9 inch square cake
Moist and delicious. Moreishly scrummy!
450g tin of crushed pineapple in syrup (2 cups undrained)
150g plain flour (1 1/2 cup)
75g self raising flour (3/4 cup)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
200g soft light brown sugar (1 cup packed)
45g dessicated coconut (1/2 cup)
2 large overripe bananas, mashed
2 large free range eggs, beaten
180ml of vegetable oil (2/3 cup)
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*C/ gas mark 4. Butter a 9 inch square deep pan. Line the base with baking parchment. Set aside.
Drain the pineapple well, reserving the syrup. (Really press it to get out as much liquid as possible.)
Sift the flour, soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and brown sugar into a bowl, mixing well. Beat together the eggs, banana, vegetable oil and 60 ml (1/4 cup) of the reserved pineapple syrup. Stir this mixture into the flour along with the pineapple and mashed banana using a wooden spoon. Stir in the coconut. Spread into the prepared baking pan.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until well risen and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. When cooled spread with the cream cheese frosting.
*Cream Cheese Frosting*
30g butter softened (2 TBS)
60g full fat cream cheese, softened (4 TBS)
1 tsp vanilla
240g of sifted icing sugar (2 cups)
To make the frosting beat together all the frosting ingredients until light and fluffy.
This cake will store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. If you don't want to use cream cheese frosting you can make a simple glaze type of frosting using some of the pineapple syrup and some icing sugar, enough to make a drizzle. Just pour on top of the warm cake and leave to set until completely cold.
Over in The Cottage today, some delicious Pancakes! (made with sour cream!) These were always my eldest son's favourite ones when he was growing up!
Monday, 29 August 2011
This is a basic brunch casserole bake that I have had kicking around in my recipe folder for years and years. I originally adapted the recipe from one I found in the Calgary herald some 30 years ago. We have a tendancy to buy big bags of croissants when we go over to France, much more than we can possibly eat fresh and so it's a great way to make use of stale croissants as well.
It's a great basic recipe that you can double or triple, depending on how many people you have . . . or even cut in half, if there's only two of you. (which I do often with just Todd and myself!)
It's a great holiday brunch dish, or a great brunch dish for when you just want to cook something that little extra bit special. It also makes a great supper dish when served with a tasty salad on the side.
It's hearty, delicious and quite, quite adaptable. You can leave the ham totally out if you want to, or substitute it with something else, like cooked sausage, or chorizo.
You can add peppers or olives or both if you like. They are equally delicious.
Think of this basic recipe as a canvas that you can paint whatever strikes your fancy on. Trust me . . . it's delish, and always very well received.
*Croissant Brunch Bake*
Buttery croissants stuffed with ham cheese, mushrooms, spring onions and eggs. It needs to be made the night before so plan ahead. Fabulous!
4 plain butter croissants
1 TBS butter
250g punnet of closed cup mushrooms, sliced (2 cups)
one bunch of spring onions, washed, trimmed and sliced (about 6)
4 large free range eggs
250ml milk (1 cup)
8 thin slices of baked ham
4 ounces grated emmenthaler cheese (1 cup)
4 ounces grated mozzarella cheese (1 cup)
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (1/4 cup)
Butter a large rectangular glass casserole dish. Split the croissants in half horizontally and place the bottom halves into the bottom of the casserole dish, cut side up. Reserve the tops.
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Once it begins to foam add the mushrooms and cook, without disturbing, until they begin to brown. Add the spring onions and cook until both are tender, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
Beat together the eggs and the milk. Pour half of this mixture over the croissant halves in the baking dish. Top the croissants with the mushroom/onion mixture, ham and cheeses, dividing equally amongst the 4 croissants. Lay the top halves of the croissants on top, cut side down, and then pour the remainder of the egg mixture over all. Cover with cling film and place in the refrigerator overnight.
The next morning take out of the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the eggs are set and cooked through. (If it begins to brown too much, cover with foil.) Serve immediately. Delicious!
I'm cooking Calabacitas over in The Cottage this morning, another delicious way to use up some of that Courgette Glut in the garden!
Sunday, 28 August 2011
I've been slack and idle today. We had our end of summer Ward Picnic today and so I didn't really cook anything! (I know! What am I like!!) Anyways I thought you would enjoy a delicious roundup today of my all time favourite end of summer desserts. As you have probably begun to notice yourselves . . . Summer is definitely on the wane and these tasty morsels made with fresh local fruit won't be on the menu for much longer! Enjoy them while you still can!
Oh, yes there is a courgette loaf in there as well . . . but really how can you not end summer without a glut of those tasty little devils! A courgette loaf or two or three are definitely on the menu as well!!
There's also a sneaky dessert or two which use the early autumn fruits. Deliciously enjoyable anytime!
This delicious pudding is one of my favourite things about summer. Tart . . . sweet . . . this pudding contains all the goodness of summer in every mouthful. Plan ahead as it needs to sit overnight to set up.
750g/1lb 14oz mixed summer fruit
(such as raspberries, red, white and blackcurrants, tayberries, loganberries, blackberries, cherries and blueberries)
185g/6½oz caster sugar
1 medium loaf good-quality white bread, slightly stale
2 tbsp cassis or blackcurrant cordial
creme fraiche for serving
You will need a 2 pint pudding basin.
Place all the fruit in a pan, removing any stalks as necessary. Add the sugar and then heat and cook them over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, only until the sugar has dissolved and the fruit begins to give up some of it's juices. Please be careful not to over cook them. Stir in the cassis or blackcurrant cordial. Set aside while you get the bread ready.
Trim off all the crusts from the bread and cut the bread into thin slices. Cut one round slice out of the bread to fit the bottom of the basin and place it into the basin. Line the pudding basin with the slices of bread, overlapping them and sealing well by pressing any edges together. Fill in any gaps with small pieces of bread, so that no juice can get through when you add the fruit. spoon all of the fruit and its juices into the pudding basin. Trim the tips of bread from around the edge. Cover the top of the fruit with more wedges of bread. Place the pudding basin on a plate to collect any juices. Find a saucer that fits neatly inside the bowl, and place it on top to cover the upper layer of bread, then weigh the saucer down with weights - unopened tin cans come in very handy for this.. Let it cool, then place in the fridge overnight.
The next day, remove the weights and the saucer. Run a thin blade around the edges, then invert the basin onto a shallow serving plate. Serve, cut into slices or spooned out with plenty of Creme Fraiche.
*Crunchy Blueberry Tart*
Imagine a tasty oatmeal cookie crust, filled with tart blueberries and topped with an oat crumble. This is to die for and quite simply the most delicious blueberry tart I have ever eaten. Adapted from a recipe in the book, "A Piece Of Cake," by Leila Lindholm.
For the crust:
6 ounces unsalted butter, softened
6 1/4 ounces of plain flour
4 3/4 ounces of caster sugar
2 1/2 ounces rolled oats
For the Filling:
9 ounces fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup of blueberry jam
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 TBS cornflour
For the Topping:
3 ounces unsalted butter
4 ounces rolled oats
4 3/4 ounces caster sugar
Creme Fraiche for serving
Begin by making the crust. Pre-heat the oven to 180*C/350*F. Place the butter in a saucepan and melt. Whisk together the flour, sugar and oats. Stir this mixture into the melted butter, stirring well to completely combine. Press the dough into a 10 inch tart tin with a removable bottom. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
To make the topping, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Whisk in the oats and sugar. Mix together well, and then set aside while you make the filling.
To make the filling, gently stir together the blueberries, jam and balsamic vinegar, mixing well. Stir in the cornflour. Pour this mixture into the oat pastry case.
Sprinkle the topping evenly over top and then place the tart onto a baking tray. Bake in the heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.
Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool. Remove the side from the pan before serving. Serve cut into slices with some creme fraiche for spooning over if desired.
Makes 2 9X5 inch loaves
It just wouldn't be summer without having made at least a couple of courgette loaves. This is an extremely delicious way of using up some of that "glut" in the garden. The inclusion of demerara sugar makes for a very nice crust.
14 ounces plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
11 ounces caster sugar
3 1/2 ounces of demerara sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
7 fluid ounces sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
13 ounces of grated courgettes, with the skin left on
3 ounces chopped walnuts
Pre-heat the oven to 150*C/300*. Grease and flour two 9 X 5 inch loaf tins. (alternately you can grease them and then line them with baking paper, and grease again)
Sift the flour, salt, soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a large bowl. Whisk in both sugars.
Beat the eggs, sunflower oil and vanilla extract together.
Stir the egg mixture and grated courgettes into the dry mixture, mixing until well combined. Stir in the walnuts. Divide between the two prepared loaf tins.
Bake in the heated oven for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the loaves comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes or so before turning them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Delicious toasted and served warm with some cold butter.
*Rustic Plum Tart*
Makes one 7 by 11 inch tart
I love anything rustic and fuss free. That's why I love this tart so much. Using purchased pastry and a few additional ingredients, you can have a delicious plum tart cooling, ready to be eaten in less than an hour. I love the marzipan that lies like a tasty secret underneath the plums. This will have them coming back for more.
1 package of ready rolled short crust pastry, all butter, thawed if frozen
3 TBS golden marzipan, cut into pieces
1 TBS plain flour
half a dozen or so purple plums, pitted and cut into thin wedges
2 tsp golden caster sugar
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup plum or red currant jam
2 TBS water
Pre-heat the oven to 190*C/375*F. Unroll your pastry and use it to line a 7 by 11 inch baking tin, allowing the excess to overhang. Sprinkle the bits of marzipan evenly over the bottom of the crust. Sprinkle with the flour. Arrange the sliced plums over top of the flour and marzipan, in overlapping rows. Sprinkle with the 2 tsp of sugar. Fold the overhang over the plums, creating a 1 inch free form ragged edge. Sprinkle the edges with the granulated sugar. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the fruit bubbles, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool. In a small saucepan, combine the jam and water. Heat over medium heat until warm. Remove from the heat and pass through a sieve, discarding any solids. Brush the warm glaze over the plums in the tart. Allow to cool slightly, before cutting into slices to serve.
*Fresh Plum Crumble*
I think Plums are one of Todd's and my favourite fruits. Especially during plum season when the trees around here are just dripping with them like little purple jewels. This is one of my favourite ways to prepare them. You get the lovely sweetness of the plums, topped with the sweet and nutty crunch of a delicious streusal. It's just wonderful!
2 pounds pitted and quartered plums
3/4 cup of soft light brown sugar, packed
2 heaped TBS of plain flour
3 TBS of creme de cassis liqueur (If not available you can use fruit juice)
For the Streusal:
3/4 cup plain flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup soft light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
4 ounces cold butter, cut into cubes
Creme fraiche or clotted cream, for serving
Pre-heat the oven to 190*C/375*F. Combine the fruit, brown sugar, flour and cassis together in a large bowl. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish. Set aside.
Measure the flour, white sugar, brown sugar and salt together into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to combine. Add the oats and pultz again. Add the butter bits and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. You want the butter to be the size of peas. Add the walnuts and pulse a couple times just to combine. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over top of the plum mixture in the baking dish. Place on a baking tray to help prevent a nasty spill in your oven!
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the plums are bubbling and the streusal is nicely browned. Serve warm or at room temperature, spooned into bowls with a dollop of creme fraiche or clotted cream on top of each. (Or ice cream!)
*Frozen Lemon Souffle*
Makes 1 large, or 12 individual souffles
This is a fabulous dessert that is not only delicious but impressive. Perfectly light and tasty for after a heavy meal. This contains raw eggs so be careful not to serve it to the very elderly and the very young.
250g shortbread biscuits
50ml butter, melted
4 large eggs, separated
the juice from two large lemons
the finely grated zest from two large lemons
225ml of caster sugar, divided
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
375ml double cream
Lemon peel and black berries to garnish
Crush the shortbread biscuits in the food processor. Mix with the melted butter and blitz once more. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9 or 10 inch spring form pan, or in the bottom of 12 3-inch rings that you have laid out on a cookie sheet lined with foil.
Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and 50ml of the sugar. Blend together well.
In another, but very clean, bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Beat in the cream of tartar and the salt. Continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.
Whip the cream in another bowl until soft peaks form.
Fold the egg whites and whipped cream into the egg yolk mixture. Spoon into the prepared pan(s). Cover with foil and freeze for at least 8 hours. Allow to soften in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving if you have made a large one. If you made small ones, you can warm the sides of the rings with your hands and push them out carefully. Place on individual plates and garnish with some lemon peel and blackberries.
*Bramley Berry Slump*
Serves 6 to 8
This is so lovely with the sweet blueberries and the tart apples. The hidden surprise of creamy mascarpone cheese really makes it special, as does the crunchy biscuit topping!
2 large Bramley apples, peeled and thinly sliced (about 3 cups sliced apple)
1 knob of butter
2 small punnets of blueberries (about 2 cups)
3 ounces sugar
8 ounces of mascarpone cheese
For the topping:
3 ounces cold butter, cut into bits
8 ounces self raising flour
2 ounces sugar
the zest of one lemon
150ml of whole milk
2 TBS Demerara sugar
Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Butter a 1 1/2 litre baking dish. Set aside.
Melt the knob of butter in a nonstick skillet. Add the apples and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften. Add the sugar to the apples along with the blueberries. Mix well, and then tip the whole mixture into the prepared baking dish. Dot with the mascarpone cheese.
Rub the butter into the flour until it is quite crumbly. Rub the sugar and lemon zest together until quite fragrant. Stir into the crumb mixture. Add the milk all at once and stir to combine. Drop on top of the fruit and mascarpone in big blogs, making it look a bit craggy. Sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over all. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30- minutes, until crusty and golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before spooning into dessert dishes. Serve warm with custard* or vanilla ice cream* if desired.
*Really you won't need it with the mascarpone cheese, that is unless you are feeling totally hedonistic!
*Caramelized Pears with Mascarpone Cream*
This is one of my favourite desserts. I love the subtle flavour of the spices with the sweet creaminess of the pears. I like this much better than any alcohol based recipe. Mascarpone cheese goes with them so perfectly. If this doesn't become one of your favourites, I'll eat my hat!
4 forella pears
(can use larger ones, but they will take a bit longer to cook)
2 TBS butter
2 TBS runny Italian honey
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
1 star anise, broken in half
2 bruised cardamom pods
1/2 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 TBS brown sugar
the juice of one lemon
1/2 cup double cream
1/2 cup of full fat mascarpone cheese
the grated zest of one lemon
2 TBS caster sugar
Peel the pears and then cut them in half, leaving the stems on if possible. Scoop out the centre seeds with a melon baller.
Place the butter and the honey into a large deep and heavy skillet. Melt together and then add the vanilla bean, scraping out the seeds into the mixture. Add the star anise, cardamom pods, and the cinnamon stick. Grate the nutmeg over top. Bring to a boil and once the mixture starts to foam, add the pears, cut side down. Reduce the heat to medium low. Cook until the pears are golden brown on the underside and tender when tested with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove to a serving bowl. Stir the lemon juice and the brown sugar into the pan drippings. Bring to the boil and cook until the mixture is syrupy. Pour over the pears. You can remove the spices if you wish, but I think they look lovely. Just warn your guests not to eat them.
Whisk the mascarpone cheese and double cream together with the sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in the lemon zest.
Serve the pears warm with a drizzle of syrup over top and a dollop of the mascarpone cream.
Over in The Cottage today I'm sharing visions of my new Picnic Basket and How to Cook the Perfect Steak!
Saturday, 27 August 2011
I don't need to remind you about how very much I love blueberries do I??? Well . . . just in case I do . . . it's a lot, Lot, LOT!!
I love them in pies and in cakes.
I love them in sweet crumbles and buttery cobblers.
I love them in fluffy pancakes and . . . I simply ♥adore♥ them in muffins!!
Especially when the muffins are huge and buttery and so stogged full of the lovely delicious sweet little blue babies that you couldn't possibly stog any more of them in.
Oh . . . and a buttery . . . crispy . . . crumbly . . . sweet streusel topping doesn't hurt either!
*Blueberry Streusel Muffins*
Makes 8 medium/large muffins
Deliciously moist and buttery, with a crisp streusel topping.
210g plain flour (1 1/2 cups)
150g caster sugar (3/4 cup)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
75g butter, melted and cooled slightly (1/3 cup)
1 large free range egg, beaten
150ml of milk (2/3 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
150g punnet fresh blueberries (about 1 1/2 cups)
For the streusel topping:
100g granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
35g plain flour (1/4 cup)
4 TBS cold butter, cubed
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/gas mark 6. Line 8 medium to large muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.
To make the streusel topping mix together the sugar, flour butter and cinnamon with a fork until it looks like coarse sand. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl. In another small bowl, beat together the milk, butter, egg and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once. Stir just to combine. Gently stir in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling to the top and sprinkle with the streusel topping.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Baking over in The Cottage today, a delicious Moist Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.