As I speak it’s getting quite difficult to find flour in the shops anywhere! It’s good news that people are now turning to baking/cooking for the first time or have been meaning to do more but they never had the time. Now we are all isolated we have the time and I hope you have the inclination to give this lemon Swiss roll a go.
I’ve searched my recipes for a cake that used the least amount of flour which, I’m hoping that you may still have in the cupboard from before ‘the situation’. This fat-free sponge uses only 75g. Homemade lemon curd is just delicious and easy to make as long as you have a little patience to stir, stir and stir. A gentle touch is needed or you will end up with scrambled eggs. Of course, I strongly advise you to have a go at making the lemon as it so, so, so delicious but If you don’t want to make the lemon curd then I’m certain that a jar of it could be an ‘essential’ ingredient on your next shopping outing. You can, of course, fill the roll with any other jam such as strawberry or raspberry.
I’m getting hysterically over-excited about my next supermarket trip out, it’s so lovely to be out of the house and even calls for lipstick and a bit of dressing up for the occasion. I’ve even turned to giddy chatting with anyone in the queues (at the required distance of course) just because I can, at last!
This simple pink & creamy rhubarb fool is made with the first picking of the most tender and pink rhubarb. These beautiful stems are a fleeting delight and are just starting to appear around now in my vegetable garden. Later in the season the stems will be tougher & not so pinky (although still delicious to eat) so you only have a short window of opportunity to pick it. Remember to pull the stems away from the plant (gently) rather than cutting them off. Take care also when cooking it as it needs a gentle touch or you will end up with a mush and you will lose the lovely pink colour- you have been warned. I have used Greek yoghurt for a lighter version of the pudding but you can use whipped double cream if you prefer.
Serve with some little homemade shortbread biscuits. Search for my recipe for Lavender shortbread thins and instead of the lavender substitute a small amount of finely ground, edible rose petals to make the prettiest biscuits to serve with this pretty dessert -is that pretty enough for you?
This lightly spiced Moroccan pie but it can easily be made spicier by adding something like mango chutney or a hotter sauce. Pulses can be bland & usually need more additional flavourings than you think. It’s a good dish to make for those that don’t like meat and you can freeze it ahead of time. Handling the filo can be tricky but don’t worry if it all goes pear-shaped you can just use it scrunched up as long as you try to brush the butter between the layers.
I like to serve it as part of a vaguely inspired ‘Moroccan’ meal with grated carrot & cumin salad, cooked beetroot in yoghurt, flatbreads (sweet with honey & fennel seeds or savoury with seas salt & rosemary) etc. Lovely, easily prepared food to share.
These little tartlets look impressive with light puff pastry cases and a creamy filling and, take my word for it, they are quite delicious to eat.
Serve as a starter or light lunch with a crunchy salad and crusty bread. If you are catering for vegetarian for your Christmas dinner these can be served with all the trimmings. The little cases could be used for all sorts of tartlets. Try other fillings such as roasted peppers & tomatoes or caramelized onions just remember that the filling must be cooked before you put it into the cases. Pair your filling with any sort of melting cheese such as Brie or Camembert Continue reading “CREAMY GRUYERE & LEEK & WALNUT TARTLETS”
This smoked trout mousse can be served as an elegant starter or it’s perfect for a light lunch. It can be made with smoked mackerel which is much more economical (and has a stronger flavour) but for a special occasion, the trout is lovely. It’s a handy recipe to have as you can make it a few days ahead, indeed the flavour develops so this is preferable anyway or you can freeze it. Serve with warm melba toasts. Splendid.
When I started writing this post we were basking in sunny weather now it’s a tad cooler and damp…I’m not complaining we have had lots of sunshine in Cumbria this year. I’m planning to enjoy some summery food and this homemade basil pesto really is a taste of summer.
It takes me back to sunny Italian holidays where beautiful food and eating together were really at the heart of family life. Here the homemade pasta itself was very important and was served with just a tiny amount of sauce rather than being flooded with sauce as is more the case here. Indeed it was often just served with oil and parmesan. The key was good quality pasta either fresh or a superior variety. Here we can buy better quality ones such as Barilla or De Cecco made from the finest durum wheat. For some strange reason I’ve often found this in bargain shops such as Poundland, so if you see it you can stock up!
Cook the pasta in lots of salty water in a big pan and don’t overcook it, it should be served ‘al dente’ -with a bit of bite when you test it. to You do need a lot of basil so, if you have a greenhouse, you could make a mental note to grow your own next year. Traditionally the pesto is made in a mortar and pestle but I am using a food processor for ease.
Give it a go and I promise that you too will be transported to sunnier climes.
This CHOCOLATE & MARASCHINO GATEAU is a party pudding, one to impress and it does take some time and dedication to make but, as they say, it’s worth it. I’ve followed my mother’s own recipe (with a few tweaks of mine) which seemed appropriate with Mother’s day coming up soon. It was her take on the famous Black Forest gateau and would always be an impressive ending to her dinner parties. We children were so disappointed if ‘they’ finished it all and there were no leftovers! I hope that she would have been impressed with my effort to reproduce it.
I just have to look at these Halloween Creepy Spiders to make me smile……..and they are fun to make and decorate especially for little fingers. They would be a fun project for the half term holidays.
I always loved (and still do) Halloween and Bonfire night and I can still feel the excitement that I did as a child!
We followed the Scottish tradition of ‘guising’ rather than the more American ‘trick or treating’ – you had to put some effort in before you got a reward! So it was either a song or a dance or you read a poem as this was regarded rather odd in Yorkshire we got away with mumbling a few words that were vaguely poetic before we held out our hands but we did go to town with the handmade costumes! Bonfire night was next on the children’s calender of very exciting things. I know nowadays it is considered risky to have your own bonfire and much ‘safer’ (probably) to go to an organised event but this misses the point. Where is the building excitement of scavenging for wood etc to burn on the fire and then building the fire (I think we had help with this part!), not to mention the anxiety that someone may maliciously set fire to it before the night. Even more important to me was the lovely food that was associated with bonfire night, toffee apples, parkin, cinder toffee, sausages and homemade soup. Given the opportunity to go and see a spectacular firework display I’d rather stay home have a tiny fire, a packet of sparklers and the nice food any day!
Somewhere in between was the, much, more serious-Mischief night. I think this was a Yorkshire custom or at least Northern as I haven’t heard anyone else doing it other than in these areas. Opinions vary as to whether it was the night before Halloween or the night before Bonfire night. When I talk about it nowadays it always gives rise to a fair amount of consternation and tut tutting and a lot of taking the moral high ground. Hm..mm, it was, however, fairly tame and ‘just’ mischief such as taking gates off hinges (putting jam under the bars of your gate usually protected yours if you were lucky), ringing doorbells and drawing smiley faces (only with lipstick) on the round orbs on some neighbour’s gate posts………………..nothing to get too worked up about unless you were that way inclined
Just to get things going I would start with these lovely chocolate spiders….
I loved my recent trip to Morocco. I knew that I would love the food and it met all my expectations and more.
Moroccan food is a fusion of Berber (tagine & couscous), Arab (fruit and nuts), Moorish (pastilla-pastries with meat, eggs or a sweet filling) and Jewish (marqa Hzina, Dfina, Chakchouka)
Generally, it is quite sweet with fruit, either dried; dates and apricots or fresh; peaches, kiwi, figs etc., and a lot of nuts such as almonds, argan, pistachio and pine nuts.
We enjoyed wonderful breakfasts (no need for lunch) with homemade yoghurts flavoured with orange blossom water (who can resist anything made with orange blossom water or, for that matter, rose water..not me). Homemade breads and pancakes were served with goat’s cheese, quince jams and olives. Small dishes of olive or argan oil were set out as well as honey –perfect for dipping into with the lovely bread. Argan oil was a new discovery; this is a rich, nutty oil, made from the kernels of the Argan nut grown in a particular region of Morocco –Essaouira. It is used widely in cooking and for dipping as well as in many beauty & health products. Interestingly the oil production involves only women, working mainly in cooperatives, giving them some autonomy & income in this deeply patriarchal society
Referencing the country’s French colonial past –we enjoyed flaky croissants with almond and honey or pastries with dark chocolate and pistachio nuts…absolutely delicious! And mint tea was usually served with small cakes & biscuits which were more Arabic, often deep fried and then dipped in honey with e.g. sesame seeds or ground almonds.
The most common dish served is the tagine which is a sort of stew or casserole. The tagine actually refers to the traditional conical dishes made of earthenware. Popular tagines were e.g. lamb with quince or dried apricots or beef with prunes & eggs with and are cooked very slowly (preferably over charcoal) with many different spices and then eaten with homemade bread and couscous. We were lucky enough to be served one in traditional Berber home with bread straight from the oven. My favourite (and the one I made in the cookery school*) was a tagine of chicken with preserved lemons and olives with various pepper spices, ginger, turmeric and saffron.
Moroccan cooking is so fragrant with time and great care spent in getting the correct and best mix of spices and herbs. We saw wonderful displays of spices in the markets including saffron the most expensive spice of all. Fortunately, you don’t use much at a time and it was much cheaper than you would buy it here. Most famous of the spice mix is the Ras Elhanout which is a blend of up to 35 different spices including various peppers, cumin, star anise, coriander, ginger, iris root and nigella. Fresh orange juice is available at every food market as well as fresh pomegranate juice, which was delicious. Alongside were street food stalls selling egg sizzling kebabs, stuffed pastilla, harira soup, chickpea baguettes and…….when you are exhausted from looking around a quick sit down with………..even………………………more fresh mint tea. It is really refreshing but is usually served very sweet so we learnt to ask for it without the sugar.
We were never offered any choice as what to eat and always told (very charmingly) that we would be brought wonderful, Moroccan food to eat–and we were.
I was very taken with the Moroccan people, they were kind, gentle and respectful with a measured tolerance…………….we could (should) learn a lot from them. Plus anyone who decorates my food table with fresh rose petals every day should really be cherished.
Autumn winds are making the delicious plums fall from my tree and I’m picking them up as fast as possible as they rain down on my head. Apart from being delicious, I love the idea of ‘free’ food and, even better, free food from my own garden. For me, Victoria plums have the best flavour and are perfect for this Fruity Plum Crumble
Plum crumble has to be the ultimate comfort food and certainly a dish to illicit some guaranteed ‘ooohs and aaahs’ when it is brought to the table. Perhaps this is because the fruit season is short and serving this once or twice a year pudding, signals the changing of the year. Actually, mine isn’t a once a year treat as my freezer is now full of all the plums I couldn’t use -even after making spicy plum chutney & gifting some to friends etc there are lots left! I have either put the prepared plums (stone and halved) straight into freezer bags or cooked and pureed into boxes. My plan is to use the puree to make into a Christmas ice cream possibly with a little brandy or port and crumbled amaretto biscuits.
If you have a tree or know someone who has one, you will need to get a wriggle on and get them picked. Even better you could consider planting your own tree to guarantee your supply for years to come. They are trouble free and have pretty blossom in the spring.