“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.
Tuesday, 31 July 2012
I somehow found myself with an abundance of summer plums this week. I had been sent some in my veggie box three weeks in a row . . . and we just hadn't gotten many eaten, and so I decided that I wanted to use them up pronto, before they went off.
I didn't feel like making a cake or a crumble . . . although to be sure those are very tasty things indeed. We have had rather a lot of them lately though . . .
I decided instead to make a tasty plum chutney. I ran across this delicious looking one of Nigel Slater's in book two of his Tender series . . . the fruit volume and so I decided to make that one. You all know how I feel about Nigel Slater . . . I love his cooking style and ethos . . . he is my all time favourite chef/person!
His recipes are never frou frou . . . they always turn out . . . and most importantly they are always delicious! He cooks the way I like to cook and the way I love to eat. What more could you ask for???
Chutney is one of those things that tastes fabulous right after you cook it . . . and then . . . magically within a few days it starts to taste better and better . . . it becomes positively scrummy, much like a stew and soup tastes infinitely better when ripened so it is with a chutney.
He doesn't let us know exactly how much it will really make in his recipe, but I did get two half litre Kilner Jars of the stuff, and then about 3/4 of a Bon Maman jar. Of course I could not resist tucking into the open jar today . . . even though I know it will taste even better in a few days time. Today it tasted rather jammy, and quite delicious. It went down well with a buttered piece of a Polish rye bloomer . . . some thinly sliced roasted ham . . . and a few shorn slices of a good and strong British Cheddar.
Perfection. Now this is good eating. Simple ingredients. Not a lot of effort, but maximum flavour. I can't wait to see how good it is in a few days time!!
I do so love a simple lunch . . . don't you???
*Nigel's Hot and Sweet Plum Chutney*
Makes several jam jar's worth
This gets better tasting as days go by. If you can do it, let it ripen for a couple of weeks. You will be rewarded with a real taste treasure. Perfect to serve with cold meats and cheeses.
750g of plums (about 1 1/2 pounds)
350g of onions (about 3/4 pound)
125g of raisins (about 3/4 cup)
250g of light muscovado sugar (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 tsp of crushed dried chillies
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
150ml of apple cider vinegar (5 1/2 fluid ounces)
150ml of malt vinegar (5 1/2 fluid ounces)
a cinnamon stick broken in two
Halve the plums, discarding the stones. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Put the fruit and the onions into a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, for about an hour. (DO not forget to stir it occasionally as it may catch if you don't and you don't want that to happen!) Pour into hot and sterilized jam jars. Seal.
Monday, 30 July 2012
When I am wanting a hearty dessert using fresh fruit, this has become my go-to cookbook. It's filled with fabulous recipes for everything from warm berry buckles and crumbly crisps to beautifully fruited bread puddings. It's filled with fabulous ideas of using up your fruit bounty and there is nothing more wonderfully abundant than fruit at this time of year.
I would never have thought of pairing raspberries with pears until I saw this fabulous pan dowdy recipe . . . and then it made perfectly delicious sense!!
Imagine it . . . firm, ripe pears . . . combined with fresh sweet ripe Scottish raspberries . . . all nestled beneath a biscuity blanket, lightly flavoured with candied ginger.
Oh my . . . but this is fabulously good.
Especially when served warm along with some nice cold pouring cream. 'Nuff said.
*Gingered Pear and Raspberry Pandowdy*
There is something about this combination that is comforting and incredibly moreish. Pears and raspberries are a fabulous marriage . . . and the candied ginger in the topping is this dessert's crowning glory.
For the fruit filling:
96g granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
2 TBS plus 1 tsp corn flour (cornstarch)
pinch of fine seasalt
4 large pears, peeled, cored and sliced (2 pounds of prepared fruit)
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
a generous half pound of fresh raspberries (2 cups)
1 TBS butter, cut into bits
For the topping:
175g of plain flour (1 3/4 cups)
3 TBS (plus 1 TBS for sprinkling) of granulated sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine seasalt
10 TBS cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 ounces chopped candied ginger (1/3 cup)
156ml plus 1 TBS of cold buttermilk (2/3 cup plus 1 TBS)
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Butter a 9 inch deep dish pie pan. Set aside.
Rub the sugar, cornflour and salt together for the fruit filling, in a large bowl. Todd with the pears and lemon juice until well coated. Gently fold in the raspberries. Trasnfer the fruit to the prepared pan. Dot with the butter.
Sift the flour into a bowl. Whisk together with the granulated sugar, baking powder and sea salt. Drop in the butter. Rub the butter into the flour mixture using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Stir in the candied ginger. Stir in enough of the buttermilk to make a soft dough. Roll out onto a lightly floured surface to a round large enough to cover the fruit. Carefully place on top of the fruit. Brush with some of the remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with the remaining TBS of granulated sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes, in the lower third of the oven. Decrease the oven temperature to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, until the pastry it golden brown and the juices are bubbling and thick. Allow to cool for half an hour before serving.
This is fabulous when served with either ice cream, warm custard, or pouring cream. It will keep, covered loosely at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Sunday, 29 July 2012
You all know how much I love lemon . . . I've never made any secret of it! I could eat lemon anything til it comes out my ears! If I had to choose between chocolate and lemon . . . I could not make a choice, as I love them both equally . . .
I have made these cake tartlets before with raspberry jam in them . . . but today I wanted to try something a little bit different and do a lemon version using lemon curd instead of jam. (If you click on the word Lemon Curd, it will take you to my recipe for that, and it's a real nice one too, if I don't say so myself.)
I just adore lemon pie. I also adore lemon drizzle cake. These delicious little tarts combine all of my lemon loves into little irresistible tarts. Yummo!!
You have the crisp savoury pie crust on the bottom . . . that moreish lemon curd filling hall tucked up inside . . . a deliciously buttery lemon cake blanket over the curd . . . and finally . . . a scrummy lemon drizzle icing glazing the top.
What's not to like??? FABULOUSLY moreishly scrumdiddlyumptious!
*Lemon Drizzle Tarts*
Makes about 18
Moreishly lemony. Sooooo scrummy. Look impressive, but are very easy to make.
8 ounces of shortcrust pastry (half a pound)
(Ready rolled or your own)
about 15 tsp of lemon curd
(ready made or your own)
1 medium free range egg, beaten
65g of butter, softened (4 1/2 TBS)
65g of caster sugar (5 1/2 TBS)
65g of self raising flour (1/2 cup)
a few drops of lemon essence
For the glaze:
200gg of sifted icing sugar (1 1/2 cups)
the juice of a lemon
yellow sprinkles to decorate
Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5. Have ready a shallow bun tin, lightly buttered. (patty tin)
Roll out the pastry thinly and cut into 3 inch rounds using a sharp cutter. Place the rounds into the bun tin, pressing them to adhere. Place 1 tsp of lemon curd into the bottom of each.
Cream together the butter and sugar. whisk in the egg and lemon essence. Stir in the flour to give a smooth batter. Drop a spoonful of the batter onto the top of each lemon curd filled shell. Bake in the heated oven for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and the cake part risen and lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Carefully remove each cake tart from the pan to a wire rack to finish cooling completely before proceeding.
Whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice until you have a smooth drizzle icing. Spoon some of this over top of each tart. Sprinkle with some yellow sprinkles. Allow to set before serving. Store in an airtight container.
What you waiting for!!! Get baking!!
Saturday, 28 July 2012
What would you say if I told you that you could have a deliciously scrummy baked dessert, on the table and ready to serve to your family in about 15 minutes time?
Tis no lie. It's true. Completely and utterly true.
A delicious baked pudding, chock full of lovely berries and yummy white chocolate.
Rich and indulgent and quick, quick, quick!
Seriously! I know!!!! It does look like the type of dessert that might have you slaving over a hot stove for ages . . . but . . . only you need to know that you didn't do just that.
Let your family think you suffered to bring them this. Let them sprinkle you with accolades and praise! Sit back and take all the honour while they devour this tasty pudding, mmm-ing and ahhh-ing the whole time.
They don't need to know how easy it was. That can be our . . . little . . . secret!
Adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe. Delicious, easy and quick! The proof of this pudding, truly is in the eating . . .
*Berry and White Chocolate Pudding*
With a few ingredients, a microwave oven and 12 minutes in cook time, you can have a deliciously scrummy pudding on the table and wowing your guests!
4 ounces of butter, softened (1/2 cup)
100g of soft light brown sugar (1/2 cup packed)
100g self raising flour (2/3 cup)
2 large free range eggs
3 TBS milk
3 ounces white chocolate cut into small chunks (about 1 cup)
300g pack of frozen mixed berries (about 3 cups)
Butter a one litre round gratin dish. Place the butter, sugar, flour, eggs and milk into a bowl and beat together for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Fold in the chocolate bits and most of the frozen fruit, reserving some of the fruit for the end. Spread the batter into the prepared baking dish, leveling it out. Cook on high in the microwave for 10 to 12 minutes, or until completely set and dry on the top. Allow to stand for five minutes before serving.
To serve, dust the top with some icing sugar and garnish with the reserved berries. Spoon out into dessert bowls and pass the cream!
Friday, 27 July 2012
I was recently contacted by The York Coffee Emporium and asked if I would like to try out some teas and coffees. I said yes of course . . . I know, I am a Latter Day Saint . . . and we do not drink tea and coffee for health reasons, but that does not preclude me from using it to cook with . . . nor does it preclude me from drinking caffiene free options. I agreed try out some of their teas, but refused coffees.
About the company: (from their site)
The York Coffee Emporium are committed to providing you with the perfect cup. Their coffee is roasted daily in small batches at their artisan roastery in York and their speciality loose leaf teas are selected from the best estates from around the world to suit all manner of tastes.
Each of their distinctive coffees comes with a recommended brew guide and strength indicator, to help you choose the right coffee for your enjoyment. Their coffees are ethically sourced from green coffee buyers who are committed to excellent coffee, excellent standards and paying their farmers an excellent price. They source, roast, blend and pack the coffee ourselves, to ensure that the coffee makes as few journeys as possible once it has left the farm.
York Coffee Emporium is also a UK distributor for Metropolitan Tea, a large Canadian Tea merchant with direct trade links to tea producing areas. (Go Canada!)
I was sent three different varieties of tea to try out along with a nifty packet of 100 t-sac tea filters. (Note, I did not try out the tea filters as I don't have a full sized teapot. I only have a nifty two cup one, which has it's own built in infuser.)
Their luxury teas are sourced from the Metropolitan Tea Company, whose passion is to provide the finest loose tea, premium tea and accessories the world has to offer. The company stocks a large and varied selection of superb loose leaf tea, including Black and Oolong, Green and White, Fruit and herbal Infusions, Flavoured Tea or Wellness Teas. Most of their teas contain either Fair Trade or Ethical Tea partnership accredited tea.
Ethical Tea Partnership(ETP) - monitor and regulate the living and working conditions on tea estates around the world. Teas showing this sign contain either 50% or 98% ETP content.
Fair Trade (FT) - Promotes increased standards of living for labourers in developing countries. Teas showing this sign contain at least 50% FT content.
Note: I invited a tea-drinking non-mormon neighbour around to help me test these teas out. She didn't want her picture taken, but I will give you her honest opinion, plus my own of that which I tried.
The first tea was the
Yorkshire Harrogate Breakfast Tea (ETP 98% FT 50%)
(I want to apologize ahead of time today for the quality of the pictures . . . my camera seems to be packing in. I've had it for about 5 years now and it's been used every day, so I think it may be time to buy a new one. Sigh . . . )
Said to be a traditional Yorkshire blend of China, Kenya and Indian Tea, and proposed to be a bright and full breakfast tea.
Although it was not first thing in the day Brenda thought that this was a full bodied tea, with a rich flavour that she thought would be the perfect morning cuppa.
Tea Grade: Yumman - Flowery Tippy Orange Pekoe; Kiambu - Broken Pekoe1; Assam - Broken Orange Pekoe
It's all Greek to me, but if Brenda liked it, then that's good enough for me!
The Second Tea was
Rhubarb and Cream (98%ETP)
Said to have an exquisite flavour reminiscent of fresh rhubarb pie. This tea contains luxury black tea, Safflower + Sunflower petals, Jasmine Petals, Blackberry + Lime Leaves and Natural Flavours.
I confess I did taste this one myself, thinking it was an herbal infusion, without knowing that there was black tea in the mix. I thought it was delicious though, with a definite rhubarb flavour that was quite pleasant, and truly not much unlike that of a Rhubarb Pie!! (Except a lot easier on the waistline!) It was almost sweet and most definitely creamy! Refreshing even! I liked! Brenda liked!
Tea Grade: Orange Pekoe
The final tea was
This was a caffeine free tea, said to known to be a great drink during pregnancy, in particular esing discomfort during childbirth! (Who knew!) Archaeologosts discovered evidence that this health benefit was first taken advantage of by native American Indians. Infusions of raspberry leaf tea have also been used for health benefits ranging from the soothing of throat infections to easing leg cramps. Raspberry leaf contains high quantities of Vitamins A, B Comples, C, and E, as well as many essential minerals.
We both found this to be a very robust and full bodied tea, much similar in flavour to traditional black tea. It looked like dried herbs and sticks actually . . . kind of like reeboos tea. Brenda said that she would have a difficult time telling the difference between this tea and her regular cuppa. This would make a great caffeine alternative to regular tea in our opinion, especially if you are looking for a caffeine free choice.
Our Todd has not been feeling well . . . with a sore throat actually. I think I'm going to brew him some of this when he gets up. It might be just the ticket!
Many thanks to Ben and York Coffee Emporium for sending me this lovely mix of teas!
Now, you don't think I'd have someone over for tea and not offer them some sustenance along with their cuppa do you??? Of course not!! I baked some Jam Filled Scones!
These scones are lovely. They can be a bit fiddly to make and they seldom stay together when they are baking . . .
You may even think they're a tiny bit ugly . . . but I can promise you the taste is anything but . . . ugly that is. Perfect for elevensies or afternoon coffee break! (See those bubbles??? There's money in that cup of tea. My mom always says those bubbles meant money, so it must be true!)
*Jam Filled Scones*
A scone with an unusual twist . . . jam in the middle. Perfect with your afternoon cuppa.
300g self raising flour (2 cups)
2 TBS caster sugar
30g of chilled butter, chopped (1 ounce)
200ml of milk, plus extra to glaze (7 fluid ounces)
2 1/2 TBS jam (I used raspberry and blueberry)
Sifted icing sugar to dust
Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7. Line a baking tray with baking paper, or lightly grease.
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Whisk in the sugar. Drop in the butter and rub it into the flour mixture using your fingertips until you have a mixture which resembles fine dry breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre.
Add almost all of the milk and mix to a soft dough, using a fork, and adding remaining milk if necessary. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead briefly to bring it together into a smooth ball. Roll out with a floured rollin gpin to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 3 inch rounds with a sharp round cutter, using a direct up and down motion, without twisting the cutter. Pat out a bit and make a hollow indentation in each, about 1/2 inch from the edge along one side. Spoon a little bit of jam into each indentation. Brush the edges with some milk and carefully fold the dough in half to make a semi-circle, covering the jam and pinching the edges to seal. Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking tray. Brush the tops with a bit more milk.
Bake for 12 minutes until well risen, golden brown on top and on the bottoms. Serve warm, dusted with some icing sugar.
*How To Brew The Perfect Cup of Tea*
It's not really all that hard if you follow a few rules of thumb . . .
- Use a good quality loose leaf or bagged tea
- This must be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature
- Always use freshly drawn boiling water
- In order to draw the best flavour out of the tea the water must contain oxygen, this is reduced if the water is boiled more than once.
- Measure the tea carefully
- Use 1 tea bag or 1 rounded teaspoon of loose tea for each cup to be served, plus one for the pot.
- Allow the tea to brew for the recommended time before pouring
- Brewing tea from a bag in a mug? Milk in last is best
Thursday, 26 July 2012
Look at what dropped through my post box today. I was very intrigued as I couldn't remember ordering anything and it was such a fab little box. Whatever could it be???
(I had a hard time convincing Todd that I hadn't ordered anything you know . . . he thinks I am a magician, as he says I am always turning money into things. Haha . . . NOT! Cheeky man!)
As soon as I opened it up, I remembered exactly what it was and I was happy to be able to tell Todd, it wasn't anything I had purchased . . . but a gift . . . a gift from a fabulously innovative company called Baker Days!
Cakes by post! Don't you just think it's a brilliant idea???? Fabulous really, but does it work???
Is it possible to send a perfectly, beautifully decorated cake through the post without it landing in your front hall all crushed, crumbled or otherwise worse for the wear???
Let's see . . .
Once opened . . . inside there is a fabulous little assortment . . . a lovely and sweet little tin, a gift card, some balloons to blow, a sweet little noisemaker and some candles . . . but . . . let's take a look at the cake . . .
Wowsa . . . what a pretty little cake!!! All nicely wrapped in a breathable cellophane packet . . . and totally personalized too! What a cute little letterbox sized cake!
Fabulous instructions on how to remove the cake safely from the tin, without totally destroying it. This always comes in handy . . . and they worked a gem. Before too long, this is what I was looking at . . .
How very pretty . . . bright and colourful too!! Perfectly petite . . . a personalized, exquisite, mini celebration cake, delivered safely through my letter box and in perfect condition too.
There are over 300 designs to choose from, all of which you can personalize with a few special words or photos, available in 14 different categories . . . from Birthdays to Anniversaries, Graduations to Retirements . . . there is something for just about anyone!
Letterbox sized cakes (3 to 4 portions) are available in no less than 6 flavours, starting at £14.99, including Carrot, Lemon, Fruit, Plain Madiera, Double Chocolate Chip and a gluten and wheat free version. (You can also get medium sized ones, serving 8 to 16 portions, depending on how much of a piggie you are . . . these come in the same flavours and start at £26.99)
I chose the carrot cake, because that is one of both Todd's and my favourites . . . and clearly the cake is for the both of us . . . ahem . . .
But do they taste good??? Let's see . . .
It certainly looks good doesn't it?? It cuts perfectly too . . . and appears to be moist and not dry in the least . . . but as anyone knows . . . the proof of the pudding is in the eating . . .
It's a tough job . . . you know . . . but somebody's got to do it . . .
You can never call me a shirker . . . I'm always willing to volunteer for any duty . . . especially if cake and tasting cakes is involved!!
Mmmm . . . delicious . . . I so loved this carrot cake. Normally store bought cakes can be such a disappointment . . . this one is fabulously delish! Moist and well flavoured, but of course . . .
Baker Days uses only the finest ingredients . . . and it shows.
Now . . . this isn't something I would buy for someone that lives locally, I hasten to say . . . I would just bake my own cake for them, but . . . if you are wanting to do something special for someone who lives a distance away, this is the perfect gift to give!
If the delight I felt from opening it is anything to go by . . . anyone you send one of these too will be outright chuffed to receive one!!
A surprise that easily fits through the mail box! Six delicious flavours!! A design and sentiment, easily personalized and able to fit every occasion!!! Competent and timely delivery!!!! Affordable price!!!!! What more could you want??
I give Baker Days a hearty five stars out of five stars!
I think all of their designs are perfectly delightful! I wish I could send one out to each of you, just so you could see how fabulous these cakes really are!
From their page:
A delicious Bakerdays cake rises to any occasion. Just add a few special words or photos to any of our cakes, the result is truly magical.
Receiving a personalised cake from you is so special, it is like a champagne moment, you will make them feel so precious.
Whether it is a Letterbox Cake, which slips safely through a letterbox, or the larger party cake, choose from over 300 designs and 6 cake recipes. We love making cakes for every celebration and we've made it so easy for you to personalise and create your masterpiece.
When you consider we only use the finest ingredients and that each and every cake comes with its own party pack (candles, gift card, balloons and party horn) we are sure you'll agree they are fantastic value for money from only £14.99 including free UK delivery.Free delivery too . . . you can't beat that! There is not much you can get for free these days!
Many thanks to Biddy and Baker Days for affording me this fabulously delicious opportunity . . . now . . . let me think . . . who could I send one to???
YOU just may be surprised. Keep your fingers crossed!! You just never know . . .