Friday, 29 July 2011
Thursday, 28 July 2011
Makes 8 muffins
Preparation 10 minutes
Baking 15 – 20 minutes
280g wholemeal flour
80g Vanilla caster sugar
½ teaspoon of mixed spice
1tbsp baking powder
1 small cup of raisins
1 large Egg
4 tbs rapeseed oil
Grease a muffin tray
Preheat your oven to 375/190/ Gas X
In a large bowl mix together the flour, , baking powder, salt and spices and raisins
In a large jug whisk together the eggs, oil, and milk until blended.
Make a well in the centre of the Dry mix and our in the liquid. Stir well for about a minute.. no more ..even if the batter is still al little lumpy.
Fill the muffin cups almost full and bake until they are golden and springy to the touch.
Allow the muffins to cool for bout 5 minutes the pan and then transfer them to a wire wrack.
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
However I recently discovered my idea solution. Fish for thought delivers, and the fish was frankly the freshest fish I've seen anywhere and it’s locally and sustainably sourced. It was as though the fish had come straight off a boat and dropped at my doorstep. I can't recommend this company highly enough.
(Shhhh ... I happen to know that they supply some of the absolute A list top chef's kitchen's with their fish too)
So with these fabulous fresh mackerel fillets I made one of my all time favorite recipes: you get two results for one effort – the perfect thing for me as I move house as I haven't the time to faff about and want to eat well all the same! What I love about this is that this combination gets you the extra dish for free. Normally it’s the kind of recipe you need after a busy day at work and you have guests coming for supper the following evening. But I’m using the pate as tonight super with a large salad and a fresh sourdough bread so I’ve very little washing up to do - being shattered it also stops me from dialing for a take out!
The elderflower syrup sweetens the fish, the lemon adds a sour note and the salt picks out the flavour of the mackerel – and all enveloped in a creamy base, with the dill adding a light, fragrant, herbal lift. The pasta is really quick to get on the table as a main dish, ( we ate ours last night) and for absolutely no extra effort you can transfer some of the pasta sauce mix across and – hey presto: the mackerel pâté is literally ready to chill. The pâté makes a superb starter for a supper party of for canapés.
The recipes makes
• Pasta for 4 & pâté for 4
• Or mackerel pasta for 8
• Or mackerel pâté for 8
Preparation time 5 minutes
Cooking time 15 minutes for the pasta
600g cooked mackerel fillets (If baking your own, 600g whole fish yields approximately 300g mackerel, once bones and skin are discarded)
6 tbsp elderflower syrup
Juice of 2 lemons
300g soft full-fat cheese
2 good pinches of sea salt
Fresh ground white pepper to taste
A handful finely chopped dill, plus extra for sprinkling
To make the pasta
Freshly grated Parmesan, to serve
2 Add the Elderflower syrup, lemon juice and soft cheese and mix well. Add the salt, pepper, and dill and give it a final good stir.
3 To serve both pasta and pâté for 4, remove half the mixture – about 350g – and put it into a large cling-film-layered dish and put it in the fridge to set.
The rest will make a good-sized portion to serve 4 people pasta
(If you want all of this recipe to be the pâté, turn it out into 4 cling-film-lined ramekins Leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set before serving. )
4 Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
5 Once the pasta is drained, add a tablespoon of olive oil and stir. Add the mackerel and stir well. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan and extra dill sprinkled over it.
Tips & Uses
•The pâté makes a superb sandwich filler, with a handful of watercress and a squeeze of lemon in a crusty roll, you can have a delicious and easy packed lunch.
You can use Smoked Mackerel for a variation
•Substitute trout or salmon for mackerel – or for an emergency fast supper, use a tin of well-drained tuna with an extra squeeze of lemon.
Tuesday, 26 July 2011
This is the house I am moving out of.
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
I had about 50 phone calls from outraged viewers who knew me. There was nothing I could do (.. but I remember.. and he'd better watch out .. because when I meet him I am going to give him what for!*)
Throughout the Middle Ages lavender Angustifolia was dried and used in religious communities as medicine. The first ever mention on lavender was by musician and herbalist Abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098 - 1179) where she mentions it as having "strong odour and many virtues of the plant. "
There are also references to culinary lavender in some arablic articles at the same time, however in Hildegard's writings she refers to lavender flower wine which was considered to be a liver remedy.
Throughout history lavender has been used in culinary terms but also as a medicine. With a constant connection with royal gardens it was de riguer from the 1400's until 1600s were it was used in much the same way as we use rosemary.. to make jellies and eat with meat. lavender is also a great insecticide and I often pop some in the dog basket to ward off any extra guests.
There are however so many different varieties of lavender that choosing the right one to use in you making or cooking is rather difficult. Pick the right one and you have a delicious light minty sweet perfumed one.
Choose the wrong one and its camphorous and revolting. Well I've had so many people contact me in the past 24 hours after putting up my lavender sugar recipe wanting to know which is the right variety that I have spent a happy morning looking into my photography archives and found some photo's that might make it clearer which varieties to use and which NOT to.. so here is your guide to which lavender to use and what to look for
To make a really good lavender sugar you should use Angustifolia. There are many you can use but the most common you can find are Hidcote, Munstead and Rosea which flower late May, June and July You can see all three of these in my daughter's handful above. The Rosea is pink , the Munstead lillic and at the back is the dark blue Hidcote.
You can see that the stems are much shorter than the intermedia above
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
One of my favourite chapters in Prepped is Lavender. perhaps because I owned a small specialist lavender nursery when I was on maternity leave with my first two children. I grew over 100 varieties and there are still swathes of lavender planted up the drive way on the way up to the farm at my parents house. It's alive and buzzing with bees making honey as a type this. It was romantic despite not being most practical business. It was totally quiet for 9 months of the year and then went crazy demanding every waking moment of my time for 3 months. I sold it about 4 years ago, but I'm still smitten. Elegant full heads of Blue, Mauve, indigo and yes even pink, lavender is perhaps one of the most sophisticated and delectable tastes you can use in cooking, and yet we underuse this fragrant herb. Lavender itself has Chameleon type properties. It is a relative of both mint and rosemary and has the ability to meld the right tones into the accompanying food. Look at the shape of a sprig of rosemary and you will see the similarity in the structure of the leaves.
If lavender was a person then it would be someone who always manages to say the right thing at the right moment. It uses exactly the right tone to suit the dish it is in. the good thing about my recipes in Prepped is that I've worked for so long with this herb that I've worked out the right balance. Too much dominates and too little is not noticeable. It's worth buying a recipe book with perfectly balanced recipes because it is a peculiar herb to get spot on. I know .. it took me long time to get he balance just right, but one of the easiest ways of doing this in sweet dishes id by using lavender sugar.. The recipe is below.
The varieties grown commercially for perfume have very different properties from the Cottage Garden Angustifolia used for cooking, and would be utterly revolting in food. Although what is interesting to note, all the same, is that as a product it is used to add middle and top notes to a scent. This is exactly how I would describe is use in cooking. Lavender overlays a sweet fruity floral mintyness to food in the same way vanilla adds sweetness with out the sugar. It’s really very hard to describe - but trust me. Try it.
What is unusual about cooking with lavender is that is works two ways - with both sweet and savoury, transforming the everyday into something remarkable simply by turning up in the dish. Strawberries and cream become strawberries sprinkled with lavender Sugar. Crème caramel becomes lavender laced crème caramel, and bread is divine with lavender. (But there is trick to getting it right but I am afraid that snippet of information is on Prepped) .. and lavender is fashionable to cook with again. If you don’t remember it being in fashion that is because it was the height of sophistication was actually in Elizabethan times when it was said that queen Elizabeth the 1st refused to sit at a table of food without a pot of lavender conserve to accompany her meal. Cooking with lavender fell out of fashion as the puritans banned anything considered frivolous. I think there are far more interesting things to ban these days, so I think lavender is here to stay.
The simplest way to impart the flavour, which requires some patience, is to infuse it. Lavender infused sugar, milk or cream give imparts a mellow even flavour though out, and can temper the strength overtaking a dish. If you use essence or oil the strength can overpower. Alternately use fresh lavender, which is lighter and more floral that dried. That’s not to say that you can’t use dried lavender. Use half what you use for fresh, as it is more concentrated, and use the freshest dried you can. Do check it is not musty before you use it.
When gathering lavender, the best flavour comes from picking unopened buds. There will still be some around right up until the end of July. Once opened the flowers lose the essential oils that impart the flavour. Pick it on a dry sunny afternoon and dry your lavender upside down, well spaced to allow air around the flowers, in a well aired dark environment. 2 – 3 days is enough to dry lavender picked in this way, and by drying them in the dark you will preserve the intensity of the colour. Store it in an airtight container, out of sunlight. Don;t be tempted to use last years .. you should make a fresh batch each year; if you don’t have lavender in the garden there are many pick our own farms or you could be cheeky and ask a friendly neighbour.
It is always worth checking food allergies with guests before you serve them any food and Lavender is no exception. To be fair it is rare to have a reaction, but its still worth asking.
8 heaped tbs of dried culinary lavender
1 In a 1.5-liter air tight jar combine the lavender and sugar. There should be space left ant the top to allow the jar, when shaken to disperse the lavender evenly. Over the next 2 weeks give the jar a shake a few times. Ideally you can leave the sugar for 6 weeks for maximum strength, but I after 2 weeks there was usually enough flavor to cook with. You can top this up twice and then start a fresh one.
If you are drying lavender from the garden please make sure the lavender is 100% dry before using.
I can highly recommend making Lavender scones - they are divine
Friday, 15 July 2011
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Award winning baker and Guardian food writer Dan Lepard in the queen Hall on West Street His first session is at 10am on breadmaking, followed by an afternoon of cake baking and icing.
Morning: 10am-12 noon, 2 hours From first loaf to sourdough: a breadmaking primer
When you first start to bake bread it’s inevitable that you’ll be thinking about sourdough as soon as the first loaf is cooling. So in this two hour workshop Dan will get you started on your first loaf and your first sourdough in tandem: show you how they relate to one another and how the recipes are interchangeable with just a few tweaks. You’ll look at different flours, show how easily both breads can be mixed and baked for the best crust and flavour, and produce everything from delicate dinner rolls to large wheels of bread for a feast.
Now that men are getting into home baking, it’s no longer only Mum’s job to be the one keeping the cake tin filled at home, but the simplest cake making and decorating can be daunting for anyone. So think of this as your cake making two-step: quick ways to get light and richly flavoured cakes at home, and then how to decorate those cakes simply, yet ‘wow’ everyone. Planning helps, so Dan will take you through getting organised before you start and what to watch for to ensure your cakes are the best they can be. Dan will explain how to make and use different types of icing and buttercream, and the best way to get a simple professional look at home.
2-4pm Cook Creatively for Less
Arthur Potts Dawson
Arthur Potts Dawson - Star of Channel 4’s The People’s Supermarket
A 2 hour demonstration on how to cook creatively!
Arthur is a talented chef, restauranteur, cookery writer and social entrepreneur. His newest business venture, The People’s Supermarket, opened in June 2010. Jamie Oliver recently described Arthur as “the original green chef”.
He will showing you how to make the best use of fresh ingredients, whether it’s the food left behind in the fridge, or the knobbly vegetables no-one wants to buy, or the produce being sold off cheaply at the end of the Farmers Market, or even the glut of produce from your garden. Expect a lively Q&A session at the end when you’ll be able to ask what you should do with all the things you don’t want to throw away!
Arthur trained with the Roux brothers and has gone on to work alongside industry ‘greats’ including Rose Gray & Ruth Rodgers at The River Cafe, Rowley Leigh at Kensington Place, Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall and Pierre Khoffman. He relaunched Cecconi’s restaurant and worked as executive head chef for Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Restaurant.
Arthur created two restaurants described as ‘sustainably aware urban restaurants’, Acorn House and Water House. Arthur’s latest restaurant project is an organic ‘pop-up’, Mrs Painsley’s Lashings,profits go to organic education in London schools.
He is a member of the English Slow Food Association, and a lifelong supporter of organic products and local suppliers.
Bookings for the Demonstrations are now open
These can be made through the Oundle Box Office, either online ; by phone 01832 274734; or in person - 4 New Street, Oundle PE8 4ED
Tickets Breadmaking 10-12 am £12.50,
Cake baking and decorating 2-4pm Ticket price £12.5
Caraway Soda Bread. This bread is one of the fastest baking tricks on the planet. I challenge anyone to take more than five minutes flat to get it into the oven. Make no mistake: the speed of making it doesn’t mean you’re compromising on taste. On the contrary, the pace of its creation should be counterbalanced by the speed to eat it – which is best soon after baking.
Every now and then I like to grab a fast breakfast with friends straight from the school run. For me, it’s perfect timing to throw it in the oven just before I leave the house. Twenty-five minutes later I’m back. The kitchen is filled with the smell of fresh baking and the air with aromatic caraway. As you slice the crunchy crust you will notice that the warm dough is dense. It has a solid satisfying eat to it. Still warm, dripping with butter and smothered in plum jam, it is best served with a good, strong cup of hot tea – and a smidgen of gossip.
Makes 1 good-size loaf
Prep time 4 minutes
Cooking time 25 minutes
Suitable for freezing? Yes, as soon as it is cool from the oven
500g of plain flour
11/2 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1tbsp caraway seeds
1 Preheat the oven to190˚C/gas mark 5 a good 10 minutes before you start making the bread.
2 Sift all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl
4 Turn the bread out into a lightly oiled bread tin.
5 Bake in the oven for approximately 25-30 minutes. Check to see whether the loaf is baked by slipping a knife into the centre. If it comes out clean, then it is done; if not, then return it to the oven for another 5 minutes and check again. When the loaf is baked all the way though it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
6 Serve warm from the oven.
• Soak a tablespoon of dried lavender in warm buttermilk for 15 minutes and add to the dough with 3 tbsp of extra sugar for a sweetened lavender bread.
• Add the zest of 2 lemons and 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds for a lemon and poppy seed loaf.
• Make a savoury tea loaf by adding 100g of raisins.
• Double the recipe to freeze a batch
Since I have posted this a lovely lady Hannah has made a dairy free version on her fabulous Blog www.muddlingalongmummy.com
>Serve Plum Jam:
> Double the recipe and make Scones:
Monday, 11 July 2011
If ever there was a reason to follow a good baker a better loaf of bread has to be it. Last week’s recipe was Dan Lepard’s a simple white loaf. It follows a method that requires a sponge to be made first to make this delicious milk loaf. I asked Dan what the reason for going to the trouble of pre mixing the sponge and he told me that the bread lasts longer and needs no additives, whilst having a far better crumb and superior taste. Well you can’t argue with that,! This weekend as had the opportunity to bake I thought I’d make a direct comparison and check out the extent to which this method works.
I took the same measurements, made one loaf Dan’s way and one loaf on the normal way I make bread. The photo’s say it all. The first photo is Dan’s. It was almost half again in size, the texture was far more rustic and it was markedly fresher and soft the next day... and the second loaf is mine - it was no where near as fresh, and as you see from the photo’s it was smaller and flatter.
Needless to say I shan’t be doing things my way again when you can get this kind of result for allot less kneading!
Dan has a book The Handmade Loaf that I use most weeks which I'd highly recommend getting if you are after a super baking book.
I'll also be going to see Dan demonstrating Bread and Cake making this weekend (16th July ) at the Oundle food festival.
Saturday, 9 July 2011
So life is different all right.. I'm doing the thing that I love, about to renovate a fabulous house and living my dream. However for those of you who have followed my journey it's not been without it's moments, and it's been hard work I can tell you but there is a dash of luck involved and support from my family.
Thing thing that I noticed as I've being busy pursuing my dreams is that almost everyone I have spoken to also has a dream .. some so practical and possible that I want to shake the person and say just do it.. it's such a terrific idea!
Other idea's are just that - dreams .. fabulous moments of head in the clouds fantasy .. but still they are a dream and we must all have one .. for life is should always have possibilities however large or small.
So my interactive linked blog post is this. Tell me your dream in a blog post.. are you already following your dream ? It doesn't have to be a food related thing .. any dream would be fabulous .. Write it down however small or huge and link to this page ( tweet me or email me a link with a a picture if possible ) and I'll add each post here below as they comes in until the end of July. I'll pick my favourite three blog posts and cook you all a dreamy lunch at the end of September in Northampton.. or I can send you some fabulous Rococo chocolates instead if you live too far away.
HERE ARE OTHER PEOPLE"S DREAMS - tread carefully they have been lain at your feet.
The delightful Dom of Belleau kitchen has written this fabulous post about following his dream .. with a seriously yummy tart to go with it. !
I love love Lucy's blog .. her dreams are here, and her post is written straight from her heart.
Here Is my dream. I am on my way again.
The lovely Julia has posted her dreams here
Rachel has started a blogs as part of following her dreams. this post made me smile all the way through.. it's warm and humorous.
I am totally blown away by this lady Rebecca Subbiah's post as she videoed her reply from Chow and Chatter