Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Blackberry treasures

Blackberries are starting to ripen on the hedgerows and in amongst vast patches of stinging nettles. So yesterday we put on our walking shoes and took a walk around a big field near us.

 After a conversation the day before I discovered Luke, 9, knew about where a lot of blackberry bushes were but informed me the local kids had no interest in picking them and taking home to their parents or even to just eat.  This filled me with a little sadness which is what led us to make a short trip up the road to pick a few tubs worth of blackberries.

Might not be original but I made an apple and blackberry crumble with some of them and blackberry vodka with the remaining ones.

The crumble started with 
175 g plain flour
75g butter chopped in small cubes
75 g demerara sugar
large handful of jumbo oats

I rubbed these together with my fingertips until it resembled claggy rubble or breadcrumbs maybe

For the crumble filling I chopped 2 large peeled bramly apples and a large cox apple.  I put these in a saucepan with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a a couple of tablespoons of sugar and left to simmer gently until it started to turn pulpy with a few lumps still in it.  

Then I placed this in a pie dish I had and covered with my blackberries and covered thickly but lightly with my crumble mix.  I let the crumble mix fall over the fruit redistributing it evenly but never pressing it down. 
Then I put the crumble in the oven at gas mark 4 for 25-30 minutes ( I forget how long I was doing other things) until it looked like this :o)

Now there is nothing really special or wonderful about this crumble but it is a firm family favourite and can be changed in a lot of ways. The house was divided in their choices of custard or ice cream with this but both work so well :o)

This left a few blackberries over and I remembered the just under half a bottle of vodka someone brought over last Christmas.  So I put the blackberries in an airtight jar with an ounce of sugar and poured over my vodka.  Needed a bit more really but had enough to cover the fruit and shake gently until the sugar mostly dissolved.  For the next week or so I will keep it in a dark cupboard and turn over the jar gently to redistribute everything and then just leave it until nearer Christmas and then will sieve out the berries and re bottle ready for Xmas cocktails.  Of course I will find some use for the boozy fruit too ;o)  It looks a bit unpromising as it is but here is a pic before it went into the cupboard 
It kind of matches my nail colour as well :o)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012


Today there has been a fair bit of bread baking going on While the focaccia was resting etc I decided to make some pitta to go with tonight's lamb we are having.   I started off using Paul Hollywood How to bake recipe. Which I have made before and they came out well.  Only today I decided to do a variation on it.

After the initial first rising of dough I had ready a small handful of coriander chopped, grated zest of half a lemon, grated garlic clove and a teaspoon of Nigella/onion seeds and kneaded these into the dough. 

Pauls recipe then calls for a preheated oven with a stone or baking tray preheated. Being a focaccia loaf had just been put into the oven I decided to try cooking them in a frying pan on the stove.  no oil or anything just a medium heated non stick pan. 

Divided the dough into 6 and rolled each into 3 mm tick oval ish shapes as above and cooked each off for a few minutes on each side.  Hardly took much time.  I placed one in and by time I had rolled next one and placed in the first one needed turning.  Next one Just removed cooked one, turned the next and put new one in.

After removing the puffed up pittas I wrapped them in a tea towel to keep soft so I can grill them later to fill. I preferred doing my pitta this way and will probably do them again like this. 

All wrapped safely up ready for use later.  Wrapped up in our tea towel celebrating the paralympics in London this year :o)

Crackle bread

This was a Lorraine Pascale recipe from her latest book Fast, Fresh and Easy food. And like all her recipes it tasted brilliant.  There is a small amount of wholemeal bread flour which really adds to the taste and texture beautifully. 

My top didn't crackle to well to look like tiger bread or giraffe bread. But the taste and texture were enough to forgive this. I wasn't sure if the 'thickish' paste was indeed to thick and added more liquid.  It's a yeasted mixture of yeast, rice flour, oil, sugar and salt so I think I might of diluted it to much. On the other hand I have had to buy a new oven as mine died. So Could of been many faults on my behalf as to why mine didn't crackle to well. 

Below is a photo of just before it went into the oven with it's crackle glaze. It is certainly going to be used again in our house.  We love Lozza here :o)

Monday, 13 August 2012

Chicken and mushroom risotto

Well that's what it was supposed to be! I bought the few ingredients I needed and happily started soaking dried mushrooms, poaching chicken breast in stock and chopping. Then to my disbelief I discovered no risotto rice.

It was a hot long day and I had dragged Son to village already so I ended up using basmati rice.

Alright it wasn't risotto but it was a recipe from the new book the hairy dieters. By Simon king and Dave Myers. Will try this again as the flavours were brilliant. The whole dish had a rich, luxurious feeling. No small portions, flavours really stood up and sang out loud. Wouldn't of guessed it was low fat or low on calories.

It was that good we forgot to take a pic. Sorry folks

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

raspberry rippled cream filled meringues

Sometimes it's the little simple pleasures that are the best.  Yesterday at the market I was tempted by the smell of fresh English raspberries.  Their aroma just screamed 'BUY ME, EAT ME, YOU NEEEEED ME' my first thought was raspberry ice cream but somehow I wasn't in the mood, strangely enough I used very much similar ingredients for these as I would of done with the ice cream.

The meringues were a basic of whisking up the egg whites adding around 50 grams of caster sugar per egg white and adding a very tiny amount of gel food colouring. I piped them out in shells

Then put them in a very low oven ( gas mark 1/2 for nearly 90 minutes until they came off the paper easily.  I stored them overnight in an air proof container and today we simply whipped double cream with a little vanilla extract and a teaspoon or so of icing sugar and added some slightly crushed raspberries into the cream and stirred though gently.  We sandwiched some together with the cream and indulged with big smiles on our faces.  Simple but oh so very good :o)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Rocket and lemon couscous


Today I realised I had left Nigella Lawsons Kitchen down between a chair and the wall.  I knew we were having salmon for tonight and griddled cheesy courgettes and wasn't quite sure what to do with them until I saw this on page 90.

The couscous is fried briefly in a garlic oil then stock added and simmered and stirred until stock is absorbed. Then heat is turned off and pan covered with a lid to steam.  Lids are very naughty creatures that run away in our house so I cling filmed the top instead. 

After steaming it was simplicity itself to fork through the couscous until it's separate and fluffy then adding lemon zest and juice, spring onions, rocket and seasoning. 

I was surprised actually as Luke loved this despite 'bits' and was a recipe where it would go with many summer meals. Or even with meatballs as suggested in the book. 

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Rosemary sweet potato bread

This recipe was from Mary Berrys one step ahead book and was easily followed and worked out well even with my son 'helping' :o)
In true me style it turned out I didn't quite have enough sweet potatoes and I subbed jarred roasted red peppers for the peppadew sweet peppers that were in the recipe.

We started with mashed sweet potatoes which were cooled and then put into a mixer with rest of dough ingredients.  Although I didn't quite have enough of the potatoes I still loved the orangey colour the dough was. 
After this rose until double it's size it was time to knock down and knead in rosemary and roasted red peppers all finally chopped. And shaped into a giant dough nut shape
After being left to rise again in came Luke who egg washed it and decorated with rosemary sprigs
And into the oven it went for 30 minutes.  It came out a little darker than the picture in the book but was perfectly cooked within we felt
No one flavoured dominated this but were all there but nothing standing out strongly,  Was a very soft tender bread with a soft crust.  If anything we felt a little cheese might improve the flavour and lift it all, but could also wreck the amazing texture.
All in all although it wasn't a WOW bread, it was a very nice bread that would be perfect for a lot of different uses and go with a lot of different meals.  We are going to also try it as base for cheese on toast tomorrow if the hungry teenager leaves us any that is ;o)


It's no surprise to those who know me, but I am addicted to both cooking and cook books.  Just today I could not resist buying 2 new books  and trying a new recipe for sweet potato bread.  I have no shame for these addictions.  But it's about time I started to use these books more effectively.  You see, what I tend to do is unless it is a baking book is to read cooking books like novels and then use ideas from recipes or techniques I have seen/read about.  But now I think I should really start using these books in a better fashion.  So as of today I pledge to create and blog about 3 recipes from books I have per week.

Being this is me I cannot promise these recipes will be exactly what the books have shown me and it may be a pretty lose version of the recipe but I will let you know where I got the idea from at least.

Luke and I are about to step into the kitchen to start on a rosemary sweet potato bread from Mary Berrys One step ahead book. 

First recipe in a new book so hopefully it will turn out ok. We chose this as it looks great and we actually have most of the ingredients, so fingers crossed we will be back with a great looking loaf of bread and tales of our adventures  later tonight :o)