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Category: Favourite recipes (page 1 of 2)

Pumpkin Soup

Our pumpkin crop was a big success this year. Brought on early by the long hot summer our first, and biggest, pumpkin was ready for harvesting in August.

Encouraged by our budding gardener, Finlay, this was our second year of growing these giant vegetables from seed, and it was far more successful than the first.

Keen to show Finlay the benefits of growing his own food we decided to turn some of our later crop into soup. We selected two of the smaller pumpkins as they didn’t look as though they would make very impressive lanterns, and set to work.

We combined two recipes to come up with our final concoction:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 800g pumpkin, peeled and roughly diced
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • Half a teaspoon cumin powder
  • Half a teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 150ml double cream
  • Fresh bread to accompany

METHOD

  1. Gently heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in thick-based saucepan.
  2. Once the oil is hot add the onion and garlic, frying them on a gentle heat until the onion softens.
  3. Add the diced pumpkin to the pan and cook until it starts to soften, about 10 minutes.
  4. Pour the vegetable stock into the pan and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes or until the pumpkin is very tender.
  6. Add the cumin and curry powder and stir in.
  7. Pour the cream into the pan and bring back to the boil.
  8. Remove from the heat and purée with a hand blender.
  9. For an extra-velvety consistency pour the soup through a fine sieve.

    Garlic and onion ready for the pan

Peeled and diced pumpkin

Extra-velvety pumpkin soup

I’m pleased to report that everyone enjoyed their autumnal treat even though our Indian summer prevailed and temperatures were unusually high for this time of year.

The Heat Is On

When the heat is on and we have the opportunity to eat our meals in the garden I often get the urge to invite friends and family over for something to eat. I love it when I stumble across some really quick and easy recipes that make entertaining that much easier when we all live such busy lives.

Recently I found three inspirational recipes that made that move to the kitchen really easy.

Two were published in You Magazine and take moments to prepare whilst the third was published in Country Living magazine. The first has become a breakfast staple, the second a simple summer desert, and the last is an excellent choice for a tasty lunch or light supper.

1) Breakfast Tartine

Spread a generous layer of ricotta on sourdough toast, sprinkle with chopped pistachios and drizzle with honey.

2)Boozy Berry Fool

Pour a glut of Cointreau over seasonal berries and leave for 1 hour (or more). Spoon over crushed meringue and top with whipped cream and fresh mint.

3)Salad Leaves, Saffron Lamb and Pitta Bread

INGREDIENTS

  • 200ml natural Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 150g mixed salad leaves
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 2 red onions, thickly sliced into rings
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 pitta breads
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to season

For the marinated lamb

  • 1 onion, roughly grated
  • 565g lean lamb fillet or leg steaks, diced
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • a large pinch of saffron threads
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to season

METHOD

  1. Put the grated onion in a bowl with the lamb, olive oil, lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Grind the saffron with a pinch of sea salt and mix into the lamb. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Heat a griddle pan or BBQ to a high heat.
  4. Put the yogurt into a bowl and beat in 5 tbsp of cold water. Season to taste.
  5. Place the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan and toast over a high heat, giving the pan an occasional shake.
  6. As soon as they smell delicious remove from the heat and grind to a powder. Sprinkle over the yogurt.
  7. Wash and dry the salad leaves. Rip into easy-to-eat lengths and place in a bowl. Slice the cucumber into half moons and mix into the leaves.
  8. Coat the red onion rings in 2 tbsp olive oil and season. Place on the hot griddle or BBQ and cook for 2 minutes on each side until golden. Tip into the salad.
  9. Place the lamb chunks on the hot griddle pan. If using a BBQ thread onto skewers before cooking. To serve medium rare, cook for 3 minutes on either side. Mix into the salad.
  10. Meanwhile, warm the pitta breads in a toaster or on the edge of the BBQ.
  11. Toss the salad in the lemon juice and 2 tbsp olive oil and season to taste.
  12. Split open the pitta breads, fill with the lamb mixture and drizzle with some of the yogurt. Serve immediately.

Preparation 20 minutes, plus marinating. Cooking 10 minutes. Serves 4.

SIT BACK, RELAX, AND MOST OF ALL, ENJOY X

Indoor Easter Egg Hunt

Stirring from my slumbers yesterday, and realising that it was Good Friday and therefore a holiday, I decided that it would be a real treat to go out for breakfast. One of my favourite venues is our local garden centre where they serve local fresh produce and the most delicious bread.

In anticipation of this tasty treat I quickly dressed, jumped in the car, and headed out with my other half. Arriving in no time at all we were dismayed at the sight of parking attendants directing traffic to the overflow car park. Suspicions aroused we pulled into the entrance and asked why it was so busy. Ahhhh…. said the man in the hi-viz jacket, that’ll be the Easter Egg Hunt.

Collecting eggs in the garden

It seems that Easter has become big business over the past few years and there is every opportunity to decorate your home with colourful eggs, chicks, bunting, bunnies, and baskets, and of course, lovely fresh spring flowers.

Spring blooms in Ikea vase

It was great to see our local garden centre so busy and I joined in by buying some decorative eggs from there vast display.

Easter is a great time of year to be in the garden but the weather can often be unpredictable. To save disappointment an indoor easter egg hunt can be a fun filled alternative. With a list of canny clues to solve and a trail of decorative eggs to follow this can be just as much fun as collecting eggs from the garden.

Easter decorations

Here are some of the clues from last year’s indoor hunt.

Indoor Easter Egg Hunt Clues

Hello boys, we’ve got a game to play

Here’s an egg each to get you on your way

Read this carefully and follow the clues

Just one hint, you won’t need your shoes.

 

Clue 9

  • Number 9 should be easy to clock
  • Look behind the tick-tock tick-tock

Clue 10

  • Number 10 could delay you boys
  • As I think it’s hidden in the cupboard with the toys

Clue 11

  • Are you exhausted yet?
  • As there are only two more eggs to collect
  • Check the side table on you right
  • As the purple bowls could reveal another delight

Clue 12

  • One more egg and the game is won
  • But where from here now this room is done?
  • Look in the hall for the umbrella stand
  • There should be an egg that is to hand.

Well done boys for finding eggs a dozen.

Your prize today is a chocolate fountain!

We did indeed round off the hunt with a chocolate fountain but a fondue is a much more convenient alternative. Both, however,  have the benefit of being accompanied by fresh fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, and banana, or marshmallows and biscuits.

To make Milk Chocolate Fondue

Ingredients

  • 8oz milk chocolate
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • 2 tablespoons kirsch, or a few drops of vanilla or orange essence
  • Fresh fruit, cake and biscuits, for serving

Method

  • Grate chocolate and put into fondue pot with cream
  • Stir well and heat gently, stirring until chocolate is melted
  • Serve with choice of accompaniments for dipping

HAPPY EASTER!

Crunchy Almond & Raspberry Cake

This recipe for Crunchy Almond & Raspberry Cake (with dark chocolate) is my version of a Waitrose recipe card that I picked up whilst shopping several months ago. Spurred on by the Great British Bake Off I have now managed to gather all of the ingredients in the right place at the right time to bake this gorgeous confection.img_8429

INGREDIENTS

  • 175g butter, at room temperature
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 150g Doria Amaretti Biscuits, crumbled
  • 50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 200g raspberries
  • Mascarpone, cream or ice cream to serve

METHOD

  1. Grease and base line a 20cm, loose-bottomed cake tin. Preheat oven to 160°C, gas mark 3.
  2. Using electric beaters, whisk together the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and almonds until smooth and creamy. (In the words of the GBBO don’t overwork the mixture!).
  3. Carefully fold in two-thirds each of the crumbled biscuits, chopped chocolate and raspberries, and spoon into the prepared tin.
  4. Scatter the remaining crumbled biscuits, chopped chocolate and raspberries on top.
  5. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until risen, golden brown and set. (I cooked mine for 65 minutes at 150°C in a fan assisted oven).
  6. Leave to sit in the tin for 5 minutes then lift out and leave to cool completely.
  7. Slice and serve with a spoonful of mascarpone, cream or ice cream.
  8. Any leftovers should be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days and are delicious served chilled. Alternatively, warm in microwave and serve with cream or ice cream and a glass of Disaronno.

TIPS

  • Serves 8
  • Preparation time 20 mins
  • Use a rolling pin to crumble biscuits in a medium/large plastic bag
  • Frozen raspberries can be used but thaw thoroughly and drain excess liquid
  • Use a clean metal skewer to check if cake is cooked; insert in centre of cooked cake and if it comes out clean then cake is ready.
  • Sprinkle cooled cake with a little icing sugar for seasonal look
  • Equally good as a cake or dessert
    Spoon into greased and lined 20cm, loose bottomed cake tin

    Spoon into greased and lined 20cm, loose bottomed cake tin

    Lift cooked cake from tin and leave to cool completely

    Lift cooked cake from tin and leave to cool completely

    Slice and serve as cake or dessert

    Slice and serve as cake or dessert

Serve with mascarpone, cream or ice cream

Serve warm or chilled with mascarpone, cream or ice cream

I loved this cake with its lovely almond flavour, fresh raspberries, and semi-melted chunks of chocolate. Next time I make it I am going to experiment replacing the dark chocolate with white chocolate as I think this will compliment the raspberries even more. Wish me luck and let me know how you think this recipe might be taken to the next level!

For more Waitrose recipes visit http://www.waitrose.com/home/recipes.html

Raspberry Vinegar Marinade

One of my favourite BBQ dishes is lamb marinated in Raspberry Vinegar. This was something I chanced upon when I bought a bottle of Raspberry Vinegar with a recipe attached. Over the years I have modified the original to simplify it and make it my own.

IMG_7781

Ingredients

  • 125ml raspberry wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red current jelly melted
  • 2 tablespoons red wine (optional)
  • 1/4 of one fresh orange
  • fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 lamb chops or leg fillets

Method

  1. Melt red current jelly over a low heat, or in microwave, until soft and stir into raspberry wine vinegar
  2. Add red wine, hand-squeezed orange juice, salt and pepper, and whisk together
  3. Put meat in shallow dish and pour marinade over
  4. Tear orange peel in to small pieces and add with sprigs of fresh rosemary
  5. Cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 3 hours turning from time to time

IMG_7785

To serve remove meat from marinade and cook on preheated BBQ. Serve with fresh green salad and boiled new potatoes with butter.

Tips

  • Source Raspberry Wine Vinegar from your local farm shop or make your own using white wine vinegar and a few fresh raspberries
  • Buy grass fed English lamb
  • As most marinades contain an acid they, together with the food to be marinated, should be put into a glass, stainless steel or enamel dish. Any turning or stirring should be done with a wooden spoon
  • Large joints of meat should be marinated overnight

Apricot & Raspberry Pots

I discovered this recipe for Apricot & Raspberry Pots in the August issue of Country Living Magazine and made this dessert for my extended family last week.  The combination of the raspberries and honey added a sweetness to the apricots and Greek yogurt which was thoroughly enjoyed by the youngsters as well as the adults.

To serve I chose to use my new M&S picnic wine glasses, rather than the Kilner jars suggested in the original version, as I was not planning to transport the desserts further than the garden table.

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 10 fresh apricots, de-stoned and roughly chopped
  • 500g Greek-style yogurt
  • 1-2 tsp icing sugar
  • 2 tsp orange-blossom water
  • 6 tsp orange-blosom honey plus extra for drizzling
  • 250g fresh raspberries, plus extra to garnish
  • small handful of pistachios, roughly chopped

Method

  1. Put the apricots in a food processor or blender and blitz to a purée. Add half the yogurt and 1 tsp icing sugar and whizz to combine. Taste for sweetness. Chill.
  2. Put the remaining yogurt into a bowl and stir in the orange-blossom water.
  3. To assemble the dessert, drop 1 tsp of honey into each wine glass, followed by a layer of raspberries. Cover with a layer of the orange-blossom yogurt, then a layer of the apricot yogurt. Chill overnight.
  4. Garnish with raspberries, nuts and a drizzle of honey.
Puréed fruit

Puréed fruit

Yogurt mixes

Yogurt mixes

First layers

Honey and raspberry layers

Ready to eat

Good enough to eat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handy tips:

Allow more than the 15 minutes suggested to prepare this dessert as the number of different processes and ingredients makes it quite a time consuming process.

Make the day before as assembled dessert requires overnight chilling.

I found that Waitrose sells the the orange-blossom honey and orange-blossom water.

Serves 6.

Chocolate Is For Life

Chocolate is for life – not just for Easter!

Sweeties

Chocolate mints

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can use chocolate and sweets all year round to add decorative details to your home. By filling glass jars, or other decorative objects, confectionary can add colour and pizzazz to your interior.

Quality Street heart

Apart from using for decorative purposes chocolate can be the main ingredient for some quick and easy desserts.

Here are two of my favourites plus a chocolate sauce recipe which can be used hot or cold on anything from fresh fruit through to ice cream, pancakes, profiteroles, steamed and baked puddings.

Chocolate Apricot Trifle fromThe Dairy Book Of Home Cookery

You will need:

  • 1 cream-filled chocolate Swiss roll (or any chocolate sponge cake)
  • 1 medium-sized can of apricot halves
  •  2 tablespoons orange squash or brandy
  • 150ml/1/4 pint fresh double cream
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 level tablespoons sifted icing sugar
  • White of one standard egg
  • 50g/2oz grated plain chocolate for decoration
  1. Cut Swiss roll into about 10 slices. Arrange over base of shallow serving dish, overlapping if necessary.
  2. Moisten with 4 tablespoons of syrup from apricots mixed with squash or brandy. Arrange apricots on top.
  3. Whip cream and milk together until thick. Stir in sugar then fold in the egg white, beaten until stiff.
  4. Pile over apricots and chill.
  5. Just before serving, sprinkle with grated chocolate. Serves 4-6.

Poached Pears With Chocolate Sauce from The Busy Cook’s Book

You will need:

  • 450ml/3/4 pint water
  • 75g/3oz sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 4 large ripe dessert pears, peeled
  • 100g/4oz chocolate
  1. Bring the water, sugar and vanilla essence to the boil.
  2. Poach the pears over moderately low heat for 5-10 minutes, turning them occasionally, until they are really tender. Carefully lift the pears from the syrup and keep them warm.
  3. Break the chocolate into squares and melt it in the syrup over low heat. Beat the mixture well, then simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce is thick enough to coat the spoon.
  4. Serve the pears warm, with the sauce separately.
  5. Alternatively, allow the pears to cool, then chill them. They are delicious with hot or cold chocolate sauce and plenty of whipped cream.

Quick Chocolate Sauce from The Dairy Book Of Home Cookery

  • 75g/3oz caster sugar
  • 75g/3oz soft brown sugar
  • 75g/3oz cocoa powder
  • 300ml//1/2 pint milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 25g/1oz butter
  1. Put all ingredients into saucepan. Stand over low heat.
  2. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Slowly bring to boil.
  3. Boil briskly, without stirring, for 2 minutes (or until sauce coats back of spoon). If a more fudge like sauce is preferred, boil an extra 2-3 minutes. Serves 4-6.

Enjoy!

If chocolate isn’t your bag why not fill jars with a selection of retro sweets. To buy on-line go to the Card Collection’s sweet shop at http://www.thecardcollection.co.uk/collections/all

Happy Easter!

Black Forest Cup Cakes

Another weekend and another excuse to cause chaos in the kitchen.  This time, inspired by The Great British Bake Off, a BBC Food recipe was adapted to create a dozen gorgeous Black Forest Cup Cakes. Instead of using black cherries in kirsch we used more of our homegrown cherry crop, which had been cooked and frozen, and added some plum liqueur.

Black Forest Cup Cake

Black Forest Cup Cake

Ingredients

  • 125g/4.5oz butter, softened
  • 175g/6oz caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 200g/7oz self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 125ml/4fl oz milk
  • 100g/3.5oz dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), melted, plus extra to serve
  • 1 x 360g/12.5oz jar black cherries in kirsch
  • 1/2 tsp cornflour or arrowroot mixed with a little water to make a smooth paste
  • 300ml/10fl oz double cream, lightly whipped

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and mix until well combined. Fold in the milk and melted chocolate.
  3. Spoon or pile the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until well risen and springy to the touch.
  4. Remove the cakes from the tin and set aside to cool on a cooling rack.
  5. Drain the cherries in a sieve collecting the kirsch in the bowl below. Pierce the cakes with a skewer and carefully pour about a teaspoon of the kirsch over each cake.
  6. Heat the kirsch and cornflour paste in a small saucepan until just boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and beat until thickened.
  7. Using a small knife make a well in the top of each cake by removing a disk of the cake.
  8. Pipe or spoon a swirl of cream onto the cakes, top with a few cherries and drizzle with the thickened kirsch. Just before serving, grate over some chocolate.

For more BBC recipes go to www.bbc.co.uk/food or visit http://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk

Cup cake

Summer Salsa

Buffalo Mozzarella With Fig, Pine-Nut And Parsley Salsa

Buffalo Mozzarella With Fig, Pine-Nut & Parsley Salsa

Okay Okay Okay. I know all my recent posts have been about food, but I have spent these glorious summer months making the most of the garden and entertaining whenever possible.  I love menu planning and designing a table setting, using seasonal homegrown produce and a sympathetic colour scheme.

Sunday lunch

Table setting

I found the recipe for this quick and delicious starter in the May edition of House & Garden and tried it out for the very first time at the weekend.  As I was on a tight timescale sourcing the burrata and balsamic pearls was a challenge too far.  Even a visit to a local Waitrose did not prove fruitful and I suspect on-line shopping is the only solution in this instance. With this in mind I used the suggested alternatives of buffalo mozzarella and balsamic glaze, both sourced from Sainsburys. I also cheated and bought chopped parsley.

Ingredients

  • 75g pine nuts
  • 40g bunch of flat-leaf parsley
  • 175g soft dried figs
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic pearls, or balsamic glaze
  • 3 burrata or buffalo mozzarella

Method

  1. Place the pine nuts in a frying pan and toast over a low heat for 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Place in a mixing bowl and leave to cool.
  2. Roughly chop the dried figs and stir in the parsley and pine nuts along with the olive oil and balsamic glaze. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. To serve, place the burrata or mozzarella on a serving plate and scatter over the fig, nut and parsley salsa. Add a few salad leaves and ciabatta bread.

This proved to be a popular and tasty starter that was followed by roast rib of beef and Yorkshire pudding, with roast potatoes, butter roast parsnips,  homegrown peas, carrots and runner beans, and gravy.  Dessert was a choice of homemade cherry pie served with ice cream, or hot chocolate brownie with fresh strawberries & cream. Yummy!

Totally sated we retired to the summer house where I let my attention turn to the design projects which I have scheduled for the winter months.

Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche

I’ve heard it said that real mean don’t eat quiche but I find this tasty tart is a real favourite for the whole family. Served hot or cold with a side salad of Italian leaves it is the perfect pie for summer picnics and parties. Made from everyday ingredients it is an easy dish to make especially if you find you have guests coming for lunch at short notice.

Homemade Quiche Lorraine

Homemade Quiche Lorraine

QUICHE LORRAINE

Ingredients

  • 225g (8oz) plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 100g (4oz) butter
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 small onion
  • Oil
  • 4 rashers streaky bacon
  • 3 eggs
  • 275ml (1/2 pint) cream and milk, mixed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 75g (3oz) grated cheese
  1. Sift flour and salt, rub in butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Mix to a dough with the egg and water. Roll out and line a 23cm (9″) fluted flan. Chill. Trim surplus dough after chilling to avoid shrinkage.
  2. Chop onion and fry in a little oil until beginning to soften.  Add chopped bacon and fry 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Beat eggs lightly and mix with the cream and milk.  Season lightly. Stir in onion and bacon.
  4. Pour into chilled pastry case and sprinkle with grated cheese.  Bake at 400° F, Gas Mark 6, 200° C, for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° F, Gas Mark 4, 180° C and bake for a further 25 to 30 minutes until filling is firm and golden.

If you find that you just don’t have time or motivation to make your own quiche many of the supermarket delis stock an extensive range with a variety of fillings, and once out of the packaging you would never know they weren’t homemade!

4" (100mm) individual quiche

Morrison’s 10cm (4″) individual quiche

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