“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.
Monday, 31 October 2011
Happy Halloween! Tis the night when Goblins and Witches wander the streets looking for goodies! I love Halloween! It's not as big a deal over here as it is in North America, but it is beginning to catch on more and more with each year that passes. When we worked on the Manor Estate down South, we never got any trick or treaters . . . except for maybe the little lad from next door. Last year we didn't really get any here either, but . . . I live in hope each year that this just might be the year when we will be inundated!
It was always such an exciting night when I was growing up . . . the highlight of the Autumn season, really. We always had a party at school in the afternoon, when we would wear our costumes and parade them around to all the other classrooms. Prizes would be given for the best ones, but every one was appreciated really. We had treats and drinks and it was all so very exciting. Our anticipation would build all day until evening . . . once the dusk started to settle in . . . the children in the neighborhood would begin to go around door to door. Trick or Treat . . . childishly and excitedly chanted over and over again . . .
When I was a child we were not allowed to go out trick or treating until we had eaten our dinner. Grrrr . . . I used to always be so afraid that by the time we would be allowed to go out, nothing would be left!!!! Oh what a chore that was for my mum. We were always overly anxious and excited . . . and dinner was always so boring. We just didn't want it!
It might have been a far different story had she placed one of these scrumptious hotdogs down in front of us! Oh my but these are some delicious! I can't believe it's taken me a lifetime to discover them!
Imagine a tasty hotdog, swathed in a bun, stogged full of your favourite hotdog toppings, and then topped with chili and cheese, and crispy onions . . . and then baked until it all melds into the most scrumptious tasting dish ever invented!
Oh yes . . . kids will love these, both young and old! These are so temptingly delicious that they will be love, Love, LOVED! If you are wanting them to be a bit healther, do use chicken, turkey or veggie dogs and veggie chili of you wish. Half fat cheese and mayo also work really well. But really your kids are going to burn them off with all that running from door to door they are going to be doing . . .
And as for the big kids that won't be runnning around, well . . . a little taste of what you love once in a while never did anyone any harm, did it?
*Baked Hot Dogs*
for 4 servings (but easily multiplied up or down)
These are so simple and so very delicious. I'll never eat a normal hotdog again.
4 smoked hot dogs
(buy the fresh ones, not the tinned ones)
4 finger buns
mayonnaise (low fat works well)
1 tin of chili (I use stag chili, regular) heated
4 ounces grated strong cheddar cheese (1 cup)
4 TBS crispy onions (the kind used to top salads, in North America they are the Durkee's French
Fried onions that come in tins)
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Have ready a baking dish that is large enough to hold the hotdogs in the buns.
Slice each finger bun open. Spread the inside with some pickle relish, mustard and mayonnaise. Place a hot dog into each. Place each bun into the baking dish. Spoon the chili over top of the hotdogs inside the buns as much as possible. Scatter the cheese over top and then sprinkle on the crispy onions. Cover with foil, making sure that the foil does not touch the top of the hotdogs, but sealing the edges in well.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. Use a spatula to remove them to heated plates. These are knife and fork dogs and oh soooooo scrummy!
Cooking in The Cottage today, delicious Butterscotch Pudding!
Sunday, 30 October 2011
I got myself another baking book the other day. (Don't roll your eyes!) I know . . . I didn't really need one, but this one looked really yummy, the price was right and I am a sucker for any Australian Women's Weekly cookery book. They are that good! Seriously.
I was not disappointed with this one either. It arrived yesterday and then I went to bed with it last night. (Sorry Todd! I often go to bed with cookery books.) I devoured each and every page. The pictures are fabulous and the recipes all look really scrummy, but then it is called The Cake Stall. Scrumminess is to be expected!
I decided to bake these cookies today. They immediately grabbed my attention. We love jam in this house and if we can have it stogged into the middle of cakes or with cookies, we are in seventh heaven!
The original cookies look so pretty . . . with raspberry jam petals and apricot jam centres . . . but I wanted to use up the rest of my blueberry jam and some lemon curd that I had. Blueberries and lemon go very well together, and so that's what I did.
They may not be as pretty as the others . . . but what they lack in looks they more than make up for in flavour . . . buttery almondy short biscuits with the flavours of lemon curd and blueberry jam . . . ohhhh so luverly!!
Really! (I got my book from Amazon.uk. It has a hard cover like a real cookbook and was a lot cheaper than the cover price.)
Very pretty cookies, resembling flowers with jam petals! You can use whatever kind of jams you wish. I have even used lemon and lime curds with success.
125g of butter, softened (1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
110g of caster sugar (1/2 cup)
120g of ground almonds (1 cup)
1 large free range egg
150g plain flour (1 cup) sifted
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
110g of raspberry jam (1/2 cup) for petals
2 TBS apricot jam for centres
Preheat the oven to 180*C/.350*F/ gas mark 4. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Set aside.
Cream together the butter, vanilla, sugar and ground almonds until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and lemon zest. Stir in the flour to make a soft dough. Shape heaped TBS of the dough into round balls and place them onto the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches in between for spreading. Flatten them slightly with your hands. Using the end of a wooden spoon make six indentations into the biscuits. (One in the centre and five around the outside.) Fill each hole with a little jam using raspberry jam for the petals and apricot for the centres. (Don't be tempted to over fill them. It will run over when they are baking and create a mess.)
Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly golden brown on the bottoms and nicely set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on wire racks completely before eating. Store in an airtight container.
I love this book, there are tasty sections such as The Lemonade Stand, Gifts for Mum, Treats for the Kids, Tis the Season, Grandma's Kitchen and Jams and Preserves, as well as the usual glossary, conversion charts and index. Some other recipes includePassionfruit Buttermilk Cake, Chocolate Freckle Slices, Fig Mince Pies, Crunchy Bubble Bars, Apple Cinnamon Tea Loaves, Date and Walnut Rolls and many, many more, all triple tested Good old fashioned flavour that can never be replaced by a packet. £10.53 from Amazon.
Over in The Cottage Today some delicious Easy Peasy White Batter Rolls!
Saturday, 29 October 2011
There's one thing that I really miss over here . . . cake donuts. You know the kind I mean . . . all cakey, not a speck of yeast in sight, totally scrummy with the flavours of buttermilk and nutmeg. I can remember my Great Aunt Orabel standing at her wood range cooking donuts and how wonderful they tasted when they were done.
She would drop them . . . hot . . . into a brown paper bag and shake them together with cinnamon sugar, until they were well coated. Oh my but they were some good.
I have made muffins before that come very close to the flavour of these little gems . . . Jam Doughnut Muffins . . . if you were to close your eyes and take a bite you might be tempted to think you were eating a cake donut. Those ones are stogged full of jam though, which makes them quite, quite scrummy.
Today I wanted a cake donut . . . not jam filled, not yeast raised . . . a delicious cakey donut, tasting of butter and nutmeg . . . and sweetly glazed, not rolled in cinnamon sugar . . . but glazed . . . a sticky finger glaze coating the top, just like a buttermilk cake donut in a donut shop . . . except the recipe I found didn't call for buttermilk.
Meh! C'est la vie. I baked and enjoyed. So did Todd.
These are quite scrummy indeed, and yes . . . they do taste like donuts! And they're not fried, which can't be bad!
*Glazed Donut Muffins*
Tastes just like a cake type of donut, except it's not fried. Yummily glazed.
2 ounces butter, softened (1/4 cup)
60ml of vegetable oil (approximately 1/4 cup)
100g of caster sugar (1/2 cup)
60g soft light brown sugar (1/3 cup, packed)
2 large free range eggs
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
232g plain flour (1 2/3 cup)
250ml of milk (1 cup)
For the Glaze:
140g icing sugar, sifted (1 cup)
3/5 tsp vanilla
2 TBS hot water
Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7. Butter a 12 cup muffin tin or line with paper liners. Set aside.
Beat the butter, oil, white and brown sugars, and both eggs together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together. Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, until all are mixed. Don't overmix. Spoon into the prepared baking cups, dividing the batter equally amongst them.
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes until well risen and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
Whisk together the glaze ingredients until you get a smooth drizzle. Spoon this drizzle over the warm muffins. Allow to set before serving. Store in an airtight container.
Over in The Cottage today, Grammy Woodworth's Molasses Cookies. (Delicious!)
Friday, 28 October 2011
Gloomy evenings and chilly nights are fast approaching, but there are still plenty of opportunities to have fun with the family . . . beginning with Halloween and Bonfire Night.
With today’s hectic lifestyles it can be difficult to plan for special occasions, which is why Canned Food UK has created some quick and easy recipes that will help to bring your guests’ tastebuds to life. In preparation, it’s a good idea to stock up on store cupboard essentials. Whether you’re making some light snacks or hearty meals, canned food is nutritious and convenient to use.
After an evening of Halloween trick or treating or watching fireworks, warm up chilly bones with some fiery food. Canned Food UK’s American Style Beans with Cornmeal Dumplings provides a hearty, healthy meal that you can rustle up in a hurry. It is packed with canned tomatoes and red kidney beans – providing plenty of nutrients for your little monsters.
Apple bobbing might be the kids’ idea of fun, but adults will take more enjoyment from a scrumptious dessert. Try a delicious Apple Pancakes with Toffee and Custard to top off the evening.
For some winter warmers that can be enjoyed outdoors, Canned Food UK’s Filled Sweet Potatoes are easy to make and sweet potatoes count towards your 5-A-DAY. Bursting with flavour, these dishes are sure to bring excitement to Halloween and Bonfire Night.
Canned Food UK’s free u.can cook iPhone app has plenty of affordable and nutritional recipes that only need a few minutes’ preparation. Available through the iTunes App Store, it features more than 90 delicious recipes and a selection of step-by-step video demonstrations by celebrity chef James Martin. Canned Food UK’s website www.cannedfood.co.uk also features recipe demonstrations from James Martin, plus top tips from nutritionist Amanda Hamilton.
Toffee Apple Cake
Makes: 8-10 slices
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
385g can apple slices, drained, roughly chop half of the apple
397g can caramel (found at the supermarket in the canned milk section)
150g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten
175g self-raising flour, sieved
Crème fraîche to serve
Preheat oven to fan 160°C, conventional 180°C, gas 4.
Grease and line the base of a 22-23cm cake tin with baking parchment.
Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Gradually add the beaten eggs, with a little of the flour after each addition.
Gently fold in the remaining flour until all the ingredients are combined.Add chopped apple and gently swirl in ¾ can caramel – do not over-mix.
Pour the mixture into the tin; arrange the remaining apple slices over the top of the cake, cutting any thick slices lengthways.
Spoon the remaining caramel over the top of the cake, then bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until firm and golden brown.
Spicy Sausage Casserole
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 - 45 minutes
420g red kidney beans in chilli sauce
200g can chopped tomatoes
300g can sliced carrots, drained
6 (400g) sausages, chilli if available
100g chorizo, peeled and thickly sliced
1 red onion, chopped
150g butternut squash, cut into large cubes
1-2tsp smoked paprika, optional
1 Tbsp olive oil
Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
Add the sausages and fry for five minutes, browning evenly, then remove them from the pan and leave to cool slightly.
Add the onion to the pan and fry for five minutes or until just soft.
Add chorizo and squash, fry for two minutes, and add the paprika, carrots, kidney beans, chopped tomatoes and stock.
Cut each sausage into four or five pieces, return to the pan, bring to the simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until the squash is cooked.
Best served with mashed or baked potatoes. To make this dish even quicker to make, try adding canned onions instead of fresh – they are already prepared, ready for you to use.
Thursday, 27 October 2011
This is a recipe that has certainly been making it's rounds of the internet. I've seen it in more than one place lately. I have to admit I found it quite intriguing.
I don't normally use cake mixes and in truth there are not a lot of that sort of thing over here in the UK. You can get a Devil's Food one and a Carrot Cake one, both Betty Crocker brand. I've not seen any others, but that's not to say they can't be found.
I was a little bit skeptical . . . a cake with only two ingredients . . .one of which was a cake mix and the other a tin of pumpkin puree. Could this be any good??? Would this actually work???
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeell . . . it is and it does! I only had a carrot cake mix, which worked very well. The batter will be very thick, and you may think it will never turn out, but it turns out lovely . . . and very, very moist.
The glaze on top is delicious! Todd's eaten two pieces already. Who knew it would be so good???
*Two Ingredient Pumpkin Cake with a Cider Glaze*
Makes one 7 by 11 inch cake
Quick, easy and rather scrummy if I don't say so myself! It's a bit of a cheat, but what the heck, once in a while . . .
1 cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Carrot Cake Mix
as that is one of the few kinds we can get over here, but do feel free to use a
white or yellow cake mix if you wish, just so long as it makes a double layer cake)
1 425g tin of pumpkin puree (2 cups)
For the Glaze:
140g icing sugar, sifted (1 cup)
2 TBS apple juice or cider (non alcoholic)
1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice, or mixed spice
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a 7 by 11 inch baking tin and line with baking parchment. Set aside.
Beat the cake mix together with the tinned pumpkin for 2 minutes, using an electric whisk, until light and fluffy. Spread into the prepared baking pan. Bake for about 28 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool completely before proceeding. (I allowed it to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then turned it onto a wire rack to finish cooling.)
Whisk the glaze ingredients together and then spoon over top of the cake. Delicious!
Over in The Cottage today, a delicious Roasted Carrot and Ginger Soup.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
We got the cutest little pumpkin in our veggie box this week. Not one of the miniature kinds, but just a tiny pumpkin. A bit too small to do anything like make a pie or anything like that with . . . the perfect size for just two.
When I lived in North American I would never have thought of using pumpkin for anything savoury. It was always just used for pies, muffins, cakes etc. Oh, and for Jack O'Lanterns on Halloween. In fact the end of October for me is just not the same without the smell of burning pumpkins in the air!
Over here though, they do all sorts of interesting things with pumpkins . . . savoury things. Delicious things. And I'm not just talking soup . . . there's ravioli's and lasagne's . . . stews, and curries . . .
I looked at the pumpkin for a little while and then decided that I would make a delicious gratin with it, combining it with some of the chard that was also in my veggie box. I had fond memories of that delicious card gratin I made a few weeks back and was longing for something similar again.
It turned out fabulous! I used the basic same recipe that I did a few weeks back, but with a few changes. I steamed the pumpkin, chard stems and leaves. I also added a whole wheat and pumpkin seed topping instead of a cheese one. (although if you wanted to throw some cheese in there it certainly wouldn't go amiss!)
It was moreishly scrummy . . . the pumpkin all meltingly tender, and all pumpkinee . . . the chard all earthily nom nommy . . . that moreishly butter topping, all crunchy and a bit nutty.
All in all, I'd call this a success. I may grow some pumpkins next year just so I can have my fill of lovely dishes such as this. Nigel would be so proud.
*Pumpkin and Chard Gratin*
Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main
A deliciously different way to cook and serve pumpkin. Oh so scrummy!
1 small pumpkin, or butternut squash (about 1 pound in weight)
1 large bunch of swiss chard (about 1/2 pound in weight)
250ml of double cream (1 cup)
1 TBS grainy mustard
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 slice of whole wheat bread, made into coarse crumbs
1 dessertspoon of pumpkin seeds (the shelled ones you
can buy in the shops. They are green in colour)
1 TBS butter, melted
Peel your pumpkin, cut in half, deseed and then cut the halves into wedges about 1/2 inch thick. Wash your chard. Cut the stems from the leaves and then cut the stems into 1 inch lengths. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Place the pumpkin wedges into a colander and place the colander over the simmering water. Cover and steam until the pumpkin is almost fork tender. Add the chard stems and steam for a few minutes longer. Remove from the colander and place into a buttered gratin dish, mixing them together decoratively. Place the leaves of the chard in the colander and steam them for several minutes as you did the pumpkin. Remove and then tuck them in around the pumpkin wedges in the dish. Season with some sea salt and a grinding of black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.
Whisk together the cream, mustard, and garlic in a small saucepan. Heat gently. Remove from the heat and then pour this mixture over top of the pumpkin and chard leaves.
Stir together the bread crumbs, pumpkin seeds and melted butter. Sprinkle this mixture over top of the casserole.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until bubbling, golden brown and all is meltingly deliciously scrummily melded together.
Over in The Cottage today, a delicious Artichoke and Potato Salad.
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
I picked up a beautiful big cauliflower at the shops this afternoon and so I decided to make us a delicious cauliflower soup for our supper. We had rather a big lunch and so we didn't really want anything too heavy.
I sometimes make a Roasted Cauliflower Soup, which is excellent! Other times I do a fantastic one with a Garlicky Brioche Bread Crumb topping, which is also very good. Today though . . . we just wanted something simple.
This is a recipe that I adapted from the BBC GoodFood site, which has been attributed to Gordon Ramsay. Whilst he is not a man I like to watch on the telly, I do like his recipes . . . well the ones that aren't all faffy in any case. He can tend to run a bit pretentious with his food . . . and if you know me I am not a pretentious person!
He did try to faff this one up a bit, but I knocked him back into place. The original recipe called for the use of wild mushrooms, which I thought would be rather tasty, but a bit expensive . . . I used plain old chestnut mushrooms and they were great!
I also added some white pepper . . . coz I like white pepper. I blitzed mine with my handy dandy stick blender, but you can use a regular one if that's all you have . . . or if you are not all that bothered about the smoothness of it all and don't mind a few chunks, just mash it with a potato masher. A bit of texture is nice sometimes, I think!
In any case it was lovely. Simple. Delicious.
*Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Sauteed Mushrooms*
A deliciously rich and creamy soup topped with a beautiful garnish of sliced mushrooms sauteed until golden brown.
1 large cauliflower, about 3 pounds, trimmed and chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
fine seasalt and ground white pepper
2 TBS butter
4 TBS olive oil
1 1/4 litre of chicken stock (5 cups)
600ml of full fat milk (2 1/2 cups)
142ml carton of double cream (a very generous 1/2 cup)
250g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (about 1 pound)
freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 TBS chopped fresh chives
Heat the butter and half of the oil in a large saucepan. Add the cauliflower, potato and onions. Stir to coat then reduce the heat to low and cover. Allow to sweat for about 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes or so to prevent them from catching and colouring. Pour in the stock and bring it up to the boil. Add the milk and gently return to the boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for a firtjer 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are very soft. Add the cream. Blitz with a stick blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and ground white pepper. Keep warm.
Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet, until very hot. Add the mushrooms and flash fry until golden brown. Season with some salt and black pepper to taste.
Ladle the hot soup into heated soup bowls. Top each with some of the fried mushrooms and a sprinkle of chives. Delicious!
Cooking in The Cottage today, a delicious Crisp Autumn Tomato Tart!