“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.
Friday, 30 September 2011
What a lovely week we have had weatherwise. I have so enjoyed all the sunshine and warmth. A true Indian Summer week, the likes of which I have never experienced over here before. It's been a real treat! We've been out and about most days, which is also a real treat!
Almost as much of a treat as this tasty cake that I baked up yesterday afternoon! I had some berries in the fridge that I had bought the other day and wanted to use up . . . and decided a tasty cake was the best way to do it!
We love almonds and we love berries . . . the two together are heavenly. Especially when combined in a cake which is blissfully moist and buttery . . . and yet light at the same time . . . and absolutely stogged full of sweet/tart berries.
I chose to use blackberries and raspberries this time, but either one is lovely on their own, as are blueberries, or even all three together. Currants are also very nice. I love the crunch of the flaked almonds on top . . . it adds a wonderful texture.
You could have this with cream of course! We had it plain . . . but I may have another piece later on with some cream . . . and why not! Life is for living! (And I did rather do a lot of walking today!)
*Autumn Berry & Almond Cake*
Makes one 9 inch cake
A real family favourite. You can use any berries you have in any combination you like, alone or a mixture. I love to use raspberries and blackberries.
140g ground almonds (1 2/3 cups)
140g butter (2/3 cup)
140g caster sugar (3/4 cup)
140g self raising flour (1 1/4 cups)
2 large free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g of berries, fresh or frozen and defrosted (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 TBS flaked almonds
Sifted icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a 9 inch deep. loose bottomed cake tin and line the bottom with paper.
Cream together the butter, ground almonds, sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla in a mixing bowl until evenly mixed together. Spread half of the mixture into the prepared tin. Top with the berries. Dollop the remaining half of the batter over top and roughly spread it out as best as you can. (I wet my fingers and use them. This seems to work best) Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
Bake for 50 minutes, until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin. Dust with icing sugar and cut into wedges to serve.
Over in The Cottage today you will find some tasty Chili Chocolate Strawberries. Tres, tres . . . scrummy!
Thursday, 29 September 2011
I'm sure I would get no argument if I was to say that the price of food has been going up incredibly over the last six months or so. The same groceries that used to cost me £70 are now costing me closer to £100 . . . and I am having to really pick and choose very carefully what I purchase and cook.
This also means that I am relying on my store cupboard a lot more often. Living on a fixed income as we do, there is not a lot of spare cash around and most weeks we barely squeak by.
It's been nice having the garden this summer with all the fruit and veg, which has helped a lot and next year we plan on growing more and making less mistakes than we did this year with certain things.
The other night I threw together this really tasty meal with a piece of smoked sausage that I had in the fridge, the remains of a jar of tomato chutney, a packet of rice and a few other odds and sods and it was really, really tasty! So tasty in fact that I decided to share it with you all.
Don't you love it when you can throw together this and that and come up with something moreishly scrumptious?? I do. And . . . the leftovers the next day for lunch were even tastier than they had been the night before! Nom! Nom! It won't get any awards for looks, but I give it 10 out of 10 for flavour!
*Stir Up Spicy Rice Supper*
This is just something that I threw together one night and it ended up being really delicious!
1 (227g) packet of smoked sausage, chopped
(I used the low fat one, it works out to about 2 cups chopped sausage)
1 green pepper, trimmed and chopped
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
150g punnet of button mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 (250g) packet of Tilda plain basamati precooked rice (about 2 cups of cooked rice)
salt and black pepper to taste
3 dessert spoons of tomato chutney (in North America, can use Heinz Chili Sauce)
1 tsp mild chili powder
2 ounces of grated Parmesan Cheese, divided (1/2 cup)
Heat a non stick skillet over medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray or brush with a bit of oil. Add the chopped sausage, peppers, celery, onions and mushrooms. Cook and stir until the sausage is beginning to brown a bit and the onion, peppers, celery and mushrooms are crispy tender. Stir in the rice, tomato chutney, chili powder and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep stirring and heat through. Stir in half of the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the remainder over top and serve.
Note - If you wanted to be even more economical you could use leftover chicken or pork, and leftover cooked rice in this with equally as tasty results!
Over in The Cottage today, a delicious Applesauce Spice Cake!
Labels: Cheap and Cheerful Mains
Wednesday, 28 September 2011
We have a lot of potatoes in our cold room now . . . all homegrown, three different varieties, and all of them small. The Toddster learned an important lesson this year on how to plant and care for potatoes. Unfortunately it is a lesson he learned the hard way, as we are now stuck with tons of baby potatoes to use up. Not so good for mashing I'm afraid . . . but great for salads, boiled and roasted like this!
These get all crispy on the outsides . . . and stay moreishly fluffy on the insides.
That final breaking open, cracks the skin so that some of that tasty fluff pours out and crunches up a bit in the final baking . . . with the help of a bit of Olive Oil.
A few flakes of sea salt . . . a good grinding of black pepper . . . and some fresh rosemary leaves . . . and you have tasty little bits fit for a king.
These even make good appetizers especially when you use the really tiny ones and serve them with a moreish dip . . . adjust the times accordingly as smaller ones won't need to bake as long.
We love 'em just as they are. It's a good thing too . . . as I forsee a lot of these tasty little babies in our future. ☺
*Smashed Roasted New Potatoes*
This is a great way to cook baby new potatoes. Crisp on the outsides and soft and fluffy inside.
16 small new potatoes, unpeeled
2 TBS light olive oil
a few sprigs fresh rosemary
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 230*C/450*F/ gas mark 8. Place a baking tray into the oven to heat.
Toss the potatoes together with 1 TBS of the oil to coat. Spread them out onto the hot baking tray. Roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Flip the potatoes over and then gently squash them down with the back of a large metal spoon. Strip the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and sprinkle over top along with some sea salt and black pepper. Drizzle with the remainder of the oil.
Return to the oven and bake for a further 10 minutes, until the potatoes are crispy and golden brown.
I hope you all remember this little Giveaway I posted before I went away on Holidays, and I hope you'll all forgive me for having taken overly long in picking a winner! I've been spending lots of time coddling the Toddster, and thankfully he is now starting to feel a lot better. Your patience in waiting has been rewarded however, as I am adding a Bero Baking Book to the Prize!
It's a tasty little book, chock full of good basic home type of baking recipes. I am sure it will go great with the Cook's Measure.
I don't know how to post it here, but I used one of those online number pickers and it picked the number 22. Suze, you are the winner. Please send me your postal details at mariealicejoan at aol dot com and I'll pop it off to you asap!
(Post Script) Alas I counted wrong, Janet is indeed number 22, so Janet you will also be getting a Cook's Measure. Two lucky winners!)
Thanks so much to all of you good sports who played along, and take heart . . . knowing me I'll be giving something else away sometime soon!!
In The Cottage today, Beans and Weiners Under Cornbread.
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
We recently signed up to Abel & Cole again for a small veg and fruit box delivery each week and our first one arrived this morning. I was so thrilled to see a big bunch of rainbow Chard in it! We tried to grow chard this year, but the slugs never gave it a chance.
I know we could use slug pellets, but we just don't like to use them (bad for the birds) and the other stuff is largely in-effective. One night Todd went out into the garden and picked up no less than 40 slugs. We are going to have to do something about that before next year for sure.
Anyways there was this lovely big bunch of beautiful rainbow coloured Bright Lights Chard in it and of course I just had to cook it tonight for our supper. It was so very pretty with it's deep emerald green leaves riddled with beautiful veins and stems of raspberry pink, blood red, orange and yellow . . .
I just love chard . . . or silverbeet as it is also called. It has an almost earthy flavour . . . and is beautiful to eat when properly cooked. You don't to over cook either the leaves or the stems . . . it goes without saying that the slimmer stems are a bit more tender than the thicker ones, but no less tasty. They just need to be cooked that little bit longer.
I always separate the stems from the leaves and cook them separately, which seems to work very well for me. It's delicious simply steamed and then sprinkled with a dressing of lemon juice and olive oil, or vinegar as my mother used to use . . . but if you really want it to shine . . . prepare it as a gratin!
Oh so unctuously rich and creamy . . . with earthy undertones, and just a hint of sharpness from some grainy mustard, this is a real winner all round.
Me . . . I could eat just a plate of this and nothing else, but . . . we had it with some steamed and crushed pink firs from the garden and some lightly grilled Barnsley Chops (double lamb chops, English of course!)that I had simply sprinkled with a mixture of chopped rosemary, lemon zest and minced fresh garlic before grilling.
A most scrummy supper indeed! (The quantities given are for 4 as a side dish, but would make a very delicious light supper for two, served on it's own with some crusty bread for mopping up all those lucious juices.)
*A Delicious Gratin of Chard*
Earthy and moreishly delicious! This is quite simply the best.
450g of swiss chard (a scant pound)
400ml of double cream (about 1 2/3 cup)
2 TBS grainy mustard
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan Cheese (1/4 cup)
Preheat your oven to 190*C/375*F/gas mark 5. Butter a shallow baking dish and set aside. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil.
Wash your chard really well. Cut the stalks from the leaves. Cut the stalks into short to medium sized pieces. Plunge the stems into the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, then scoop out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the leaves and leave in the boiling water only until they are wilted. Toss the stems and leaves together (shake offy excess water) and then place them into the buttered dish. Whisk together the cream, mustard and salt and black pepper to taste. Pour this mixture over top of the chard. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.
Bake in the heated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, until bubbling and the top has lightly browned. Remove from the oven and serve.
And in The Cottage today, a delicous Blueberry Gingerbread.
Monday, 26 September 2011
You will probably find my first Meatfree Monday post rather boring . . . delicious, of course . . . but boring nonetheless. I haven't had a time to go to the shops yet for this week's shopping so it's something I have pulled together using ingredients I have on hand.
This recipe is as old as the hills, hailing from a day and time when every Monday was Wash Day and women needed something quick and easy and that could basically take care of itself in the oven whilst they did the week's washing for the family.
This may be simple and plain, but it is filled with flavour. It's economical and easy to put together. The hardest part is probably making the bechamel . . . and anyone can do that, just so long as they remember the two rules of bechamel.
- Don't be in a hurry and try to cook it over too high a heat. Medium-low heat and patience is the key
- Whisk, whisk, and whisk some more. Whisk it constantly until it thickens. Don't turn your back on it for an instant. It's a sureity it will catch the second you take your eyes off of it!
Cooking marcaroni is likewise very simple. Just follow the package directions and stir it occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick together. Also be sure to add it to the water, only after it comes to the boil and keep it at a slow boil the whole time it is cooking.
I always use good quality Italian chopped tomatoes in tomato juice for this. Lotsa, lotsa good tomato flavour.
Likewise you will want to use a good and flavourful cheese. Today I used a mixture of the cheeses I had leftover from our trip up to Cumbria, the Flakebridge and the Eden Chieftan, but any good and flavourful cheddar will do.
The rest is just cooking magic. Totally delicious this is. I could eat it every day, no kidding. (All you need is a tasty mixed salad on the side and some crusty bread to sop up all of that tasty sauce!)
*Wash Day Macaroni and Cheese*
Plain and simple needn't mean that something isn't tasty. This is absolutely delicious!
2 TBS butter
2 TBS plain flour
12 fluid ounces milk (1 1/2 cups)
salt and ground white pepper to taste
6 ounces dry macaroni (1 cup)
1 (415g) tin of chopped tomatoes in juice (15 ounce tin)
1 stalk celery chopped
4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
6 ounces cheddar cheese, cubed and divided (1 1/2 cups)
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Cook and stir for one minute. Slowly whisk in the milk. Cook and stir until thickened. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Set aside and keep warm.
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a shallow casserole dish. Set aside.
Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain well. Stir in the tomatoes, onion, celery and half the cheese. Add the sauce and toss to mix. Pour into the prrepared baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese and some crushed croutons.
Bake for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly and lightly browned on top. Delicious!
Just in time for all that entertaining we'll be doing over the next couple of months with Bonfire Night and then Christmas, the people at Branstons have come out with some tasty new snacks! Branston Peanuts and Crackers are a delightfully tasty mixture of Branston's smooth pickle flavoured oven baked peanuts mixture together with savoury cheese flavoured crackers. Perfect as a nibble with drinks, these would be a great entertaining nibble during the holiday season. I highly recommend keeping a few bags in the cupboard just to put out when unexpected company drop by as well. I really enjoyed them. They were just the right combination of tang, crunch and salty moreishness. Many thanks to the people at TurnKey and Branstons for sending me some to try out! (Branstons and Cheese the perfect combination!)
Over in The Cottage today there's a delicious Blackberry Pie with Streusel Topping.
Sunday, 25 September 2011
This is one of my favourite tea time loaf cakes. It's moist and delicious, even if . . . no matter how many times I make it I have not ever been able to keep the jam in the middle . . . and you know how much we like jam in this house!!
For some reason it always sinks to the bottom, but no mind . . . it's scrummy anyways!
The crumb is very moist and the jam sets it off just perfectly.
You don't have to use black currant jam either . . . you can use strawberry, or cherry, or blueberry. Heck, I've even used Lemon Curd, which is fantastic as well!!
If you want you can dust the top with some caster sugar instead of the icing sugar, or you can even leave it out all together.
Try cutting it into slices and placing them in a bowl, topping with some ice cream and then a bit of the same flavoured jam warmed up and spooned over top.
Absolutely splendiferously scrummy yummy!!! Nom! Nom!
*Lemon and Black Currant Swirl Cake*
makes one 2 pound loaf cake
I wish I could figure out how to keep the jam swirled into the cake, but nevermind, it tastes fabulous nonetheless!!
6 ounces butter, softened (3/4 cup)
6 ounces caster sugar (generous 3/4 cup)
3 large free range eggs
7 ounces self raising flour (1 3/4 cups)
1 ounce ground almonds (1/3 cup)
the grated zest of one unwaxed lemon
4 TBS black currant conserve
Icing sugar to serve
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*C/ gas mark 4. Line a 2 pound loaf tin with nonstick baking parchment. Set aside.
Place all of the cake ingredients, with the exception of the conserve, into a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for several minutes, until smooth. Spread into the prepared tin and smooth the top over. Place the conserve in a line down the centre of the cake and swirl it a bit with a round bladed knife.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar before serving.
Note: for some reason the jam always sinks to the bottom. I let the cake cool upside down so that it kinda moves back into the cake if you know what I mean. I wish I could figure out a way to stop this from happening!
Over in the Cottage today, a delicious Pineapple Slaw.
Oh, and I'm also talking about Elevenses in a guest post over on Picture Britain today! Hop on over for some more deliciousness!!