Thursday, 30 January 2014

Tea brack - a random recipe

Tea brack is a dense fruit cake that is traditionally served sliced thinly and spread with butter. This recipe doesn't really need any additional butter to be fair, as it was a very moist cake. The recipe for this tea brack came form Rory O'Connell's book called 'Master It - how to cook today'. Its one of the latest additions to my ever growing cook or recipe book collection and the theme of Belleau Kitchens 'random recipe' challenge for this month is to make something from a recent addition. By chance I opened the book towards the end and came across this recipe, was a chance opening as there are not many cake recipes in this book...and this book is over 500 pages long!

I have been quite interested in this particular book recently as my friend Charlotte is studying under Rory O'Connell, Darina Allen and Rachel Allen's tuition over in Ireland for 3 months. You can follow Charlottes adventures on her blog, its a fascinating read of what she is getting up to at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Some of the dishes she has been making look so fabulous and her journey to improve her cookery skills is really interesting. Rory O'Connell founded the school with his sister Darina Allen, he has been cooking and teaching for over 30 years.

This tea brack is a huge heavy brick of a cake laiden with fruits that have been soaked in tea overnight; this recipe is a great way to use up left over dried fruits after you have made your Christmas cakes. I always seem to have half a packet of this and a quarter of a tub of that left over, all those bits and bobs can go into this cake. The soaking of dried fruits in tea plumps up the fruits and makes them so delicious, especially if you use a flavoured tea as I did. I used Betty's Christmas loose leaf tea, which added an extra spicy flavour to my brack.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The tastiest fish pie ever! - recipe

Fish pie is one of those traditional comfort food recipes that just ticks all the boxes all the time. It's a dish I never get tired of and when I make this and serve it for supper, or even for big family gatherings, everyone seems to enjoy and love a good fish pie. Even those people who say they don't like fish seem to like it.

If like me one of the household has a sea food allergy you can make this without the addition of prawns or scallops or whatever...if you don't have that issue to tackle the worlds your oyster. I like to use a smoked haddock in all my fish pies as it really adds to the flavour, use an undyed smoked haddock if you can.

I give my fish pies an added flavour by adding mustard to the mashed potato topping, and this along with a sprinkle of grated parmesan really gives it something extra. On this occasion I used a Maille (french) grain mustard.

1 fillet cod
1 fillet smoked haddock (undyed)
1 fillet salmon
1 fillet coley
A pint of cheese sauce
Mashed potatoes seasoned with salt pepper
2 tsp Maille grain mustard
Grated parmesan cheese
1. Make a pan of creamy mashed potatoes to start, I love the Nigel Slater quote from one of his books when he is talking about mashed potato and says to 'add butter until it can take no more'. Once the mash is done add a couple of teaspoons of Maille grain mustard. You can add more to suit your taste if you like more of a mustard flavour.
2. I always cook my fish beforehand in the microwave, by putting the washed fish fillets on a plate and covering with cling film. I cook two fillets at once and they need about 1.30 minutes, depending on the size of the fillets and how powerful your microwave oven is. While the fillets are cooling on some kitchen paper get on with the cheese sauce.
3. Flake the fillets of fish into the bottom of an over proof dish, keep the pieces of fish big. Cover with the cheese sauce and fold the fish and sauce together with a spoon, be careful not to break up the fish any more.
4. Add the mashed potato and top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
5. Bake in a pre heated oven 180C fan for about 20 minutes.
6. Serve with seasonal vegetables; this fish pie will serve 4 hungry adults.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

January 2014 - an update

Unbelievably its been a whole month since I wrote anything on my is a bit of an update...

Christmas was both a relaxed and a busy time that seemed like an endless round of cooking and clearing away them more cooking and clearing away...and in between work, as I didn't take much time off this year.

The time goes so quickly and it really feels like a lifetime ago now, but we had a relaxing Christmas morning and a very quiet low key (just the two of us) lunch. The rest of the day was spent preparing for Boxing Day where we had an American themed lunch of pulled pork, roast ham, mac and cheese, homemade slaw, sweet potatoes and marshmallows etc. To ensure we had a British twist we had the obligatory family trifle, or spiced apple pie for dessert...or both if you were brave enough (some were!)I thought the American theme it would make a change from the usual Christmas fayre and true to form it went down really well with all the guests...we were all too busy eating and drinking to take any pictures of the food.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Spiced orange bundt cake - recipe

This recipe is adapted from one by Paul Hollywood on the BBC food website...I tried this orange, almond marmalade cake at Vivien Lloyd's house recently and that along with making edible crystallised orange peel on the 'making edible gifts day' we had recently, gave me an idea for an adaptation...I have been also sent a gorgeous chocolate wreath by Hotel Chocolat for Christmas and wanted to try and recreate something akin to a wreath shape for Christmas in a cake...

This cake is decadent and inviting, spicy and warm and has lovely Christmassy fragrances from the orange and ginger and spices...just remember to move the bundt cake over to a plate or stand or board BEFORE you decorate it makes life much easier that way.

300g soft margarine
300g golden caster sugar
3 free range eggs beaten
225g semolina
110g ground almonds
1tsp baking powder
3-4 tbsp marmalade
3tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 large orange - zest and juice of
to decorate
150g dark chocolate - melted
2 balls stem ginger - chopped
pieces of crystallised orange recipe here
chopped chocolate flavoured with orange
1. Cream the margarine and sugar in a stand mixer then add the beaten eggs, keep beating to incorporate. Add the marmalade and mix.
2. Weigh out the dry ingredients and spices. Fold this into the batter and add the grated zest of one orange and the juice of the orange too. Mix again.
3. Put the batter into a well greased bundt tin. Bake in a pre heated over of 160C fan for about 40 minutes.
4. Once the bundt is cooled, move it to a board or a plate then decorate with melted dark chocolate, stem ginger slivers, crystallised orange peel and more chocolate orange chunks.

While you drool over this gorgeous cake, I'm off to tuck into my pretty chocolate wreath...hope your Christmas baking plans are going well...if its anything like this household the pressure is on!!!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Boozy Chocolate mousse - recipe

Thornton's (the chocolate/toffee people) recently sent me some of their Chocolate liquer to try and just in time for Christmas.

Its quite a creamy and rather delicious Chocolate liquer that you could put in all sorts of things including hot chocolate, and poured over ice cream if you fancy an easy way to jazz up a few things, but I thought I would try it in a dessert, as well as sampling a glass over ice (its called chefs perks...and it was GOOD!).

Chocolate mousse is not a new recipe and has been around for years in various guises, you can jazz up a chocolate mouse with all kinds of things, vanilla, chilli, ginger, coffee, spices and of course booze. This mousse was dead easy to make and would be ideal to make in advance and wow your grown up guests with. The richness of the dark chocolate offset by the creamy liquer was a really great double act.

The chocolate liquer on its own was really good too...the liquer laced mousse alongside a glass of the liquer on its own would make a great finish to any Christmas meal.

Just remember as this is an alcoholic drink this would not suit children and any designated drivers would need to take care too.

150g dark chocolate (I used Green and Blacks 70%)
2 large free range eggs separated
1tbsp golden caster sugar
125ml double cream, whipped
1 or 2 tbsp Thornton's chocolate liquer
1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water that has boiled and is simmering, make sure the bowl does not come into contact with the water.
2. Once the eggs are separated beat the yolks with the sugar until pale. Add the melted chocolate and mix quickly to combine.
3. In a stand mixer beat the eggs whites until they form peaks.
4. Beat the double cream in another bowl until stiff then add the Thornton/s chocolate liquer (between 1 and 2 tablespoons) and mix.
5. Fold 2 tablespoons of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate, then add the rest of the egg whites and fold again, once incorporated fold in the whipped cream/liquer mixture, gently does it as you want this to be light and fluffy.
6. Serve in glasses with an edible festive gold star or two. Grab a spoon and dive in!

N.B. This post was not sponsored by Thornton's, but they did provide the liquer and the ingredients I used to make this recipe; all opinions on this item are are mine and Thornton's have not tried to influence my views.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Dish of the month December - Nigel Slaters' Sweet potato soup

This sweet potato soup recipe from Kitchen Diaries II (December) is so easy and straightforward to make...take peeled and chopped sweet potatoes season and roast in the oven in some groundnut oil, once roasted, blitz/blend and add coconut milk and re heat...check seasoning and hey presto! This soup is so thick and sweet you don't need anything with it...just a spoon! Just the job for winter and would be a great hit with children due to its sweet flavour.

Sadly this is my last post for 'dish of the month' for the last year myself and Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen have worked our way through Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater. We have had our highs and our lows and our comfy little tweets with Nigel himself along the way.  But mostly we really have enjoyed not just what we have made, but reading the book from cover to cover and seeing what other food bloggers make of Nigel Slaters recipes. It's been great fun and we have really enjoyed each and every entry. Thanks to everyone who has joined us so far.

December is the last month and by the 28th if you haven't entered you've missed the boat. At the end of the month we will do a round up not just of December but a look back at the whole years entires...and we will be choosing our favourites, if you can't wait that long our Pinterest board has everything in one

If you'd like to join us in 'Dish of the Month' you'd be very welcome, this is how to get involved...
  • Make a 'Dish of the Month' from ANY recipe by Nigel Slater
  • Link back to THIS blog OR to 'Farmersgirl Kitchen' 
  • Use the Dish of the Month logo (below) in your post
  • If you use twitter, tweet your post with @Heavenona_Plate OR @Farmersgirlcook and #DishoftheMonth hashtag and we will re-tweet it to our followers AND post your pictures on our special Pinterest board. 
  • If you own a copy of The Kitchen Diaries II please do not publish the recipes on your blog without permission, they are copyright.
  • If you are using any Nigel Slater recipes from the BBC Food website, please link to the recipe on BBC Food rather than publishing the recipe.  Likewise with any of Nigel's recipes on the Guardian website.
  • Only one entry per blog please.
  • Recipes must be added to the linky by the 28th of each month.
And remember to add your Dish of the Month to the linky below this post:

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Dish of the month - November round up

Dish of the month ends in December, by then Janice and I will have cooked our way though Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater...its been a journey that's taken us a year and through a myriad of recipes from both Kitchen Diaries II and other sources. But the golden rule has been it must be a Nigel Slater recipe and you must blog about it.

November saw a good few entries from some lovely people who love to create Nigel Slaters recipes at home and enjoy the inspiration he shares with us through his books and articles online. This round up features a few recipes from 'Eat', which seems to be quite popular, along with several one pot or dish meals, which I just love...after  hard day at work you can't beat a one pot easy and so tasty...and not as much clearing up!

Janice and I would like to thank everyone for joining us in is the round up...don't forget to join in the last month of this challenge by 28th December 2013, where we will pick our favourite...

Until then, grab a cuppa and have a mincer ready and read on for Novembers goodies...and don't forget our Pinterest page that has every recipe made this year so far.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Mushroom and cheese pasty - recipe

This is a lovely versatile recipe that you could serve hot with veggies as a main dish, its great cold and would be just the thing for picnics, small min versions could be made as a starter or for buffets, or even make a large version for a whole family feast.

You might remember I was recently asked, along with some other food writers/bloggers to try to come up with some recipes using Applewood spreadable. Applewood is a range of British cheddar cheese famed for its smoky flavour and added paprika. You can see my chunky vegetable soup recipe with Applewood spreadable cheese here. The 'spreadable' has a distinctive smoky flavour to it, perfect for autumn recipes, and you don't need too much to get that smoky background flavour.

Applewood spreadable is perfect for this pasty recipe as its melts into the pasty mushroom filling, alongside the mushrooms, the brandy cream and mustard the cheese adds to a lovely flavour combination. I used those big breakfast type mushrooms but any mushroom combination would work well.
this made 3 big pasties
1 packet puff pastry
3 or 4 large mushrooms sliced (or you can use small ones)
30g of butter
1 shallot copped finely
1 clove garlic chopped finely
dash of brandy
2 or 3 tbsp single cream
half tub Applewood spreadable (a smoked cheese spread)
1 tsp grain mustard
sea salt
black pepper
beaten egg to glaze
1. Prepare the filling by melting the butter in a frying pan and adding the shallot and garlic, sweat these over a low heat until they are cooked through but are still pale in colour.
2. Add the mushrooms and cook these through still on a low heat. Gently does it.
3. When the mushrooms are cooked add the brandy, burn off the alcohol then add the single cream, you want the mix to be loose but not too runny. Mix together, take the pan off the heat then add half a tub of Applewood spreadable, fold in gently add the mustard and season to taste. Leave to cool.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Joanne Wheatley's (white and dark) chocolate cookies - recipe

Looking for the ideal Christmas gift for a baker or lover of good food? Then I have found the answer...just imagine unwrapping a lovely parcel and contained within is...

a gorgeous tin full of gorgeous homemade biscuits/cookies along with the recipe book that goes with them...and the recipe book is cleverly marked on the cookie recipe page with a little book mark ribbon...taaa...daaa...dear readers I give you Joanne Wheatley's chocolate cookies recipe, from her latest book 'Home Baking'. Yes I am a Christmas present thinking up genius...I thank you!

These scrummy chocolate cookies are simply delightful and the recipe from Joanne Wheatley's second book 'Home Baking'...published earlier this year is easy as pie...Jo won the GBBO a couple of seasons back...and has written two books to date, 'A Passion for Baking' was her first. I have had both of these books to review for some time now, and fair to say have given them quite a good going over...there was the apple and sultana cake, you can see the unbaked cake behind that white loaf below (never made it to proper photograph as was demolished in minutes by colleagues). 

Then there was the raspberry torte...and then my variation of this the blackberry torte...then the cookies, then bread...all were easy recipes and all delicious. 

'A Passion for Baking' is more about the baked side of things while 'Home Baking' covers main meal recipes, alongside baked goodies, like biscuits, cakes, Granola, pancakes, bars and tarts. 

I think the key to Joanne's successful recipes is that she bakes the type of recipes that are straightforward, easy and that would feed a family, tried and tested things made in her own kitchen that taste great, proper homely stuff. 

The recipe for the cookies you can see above is on the next can often find Joanne's books on offer at a well known supermarket...keep your eyes peeled they are a great addition to any bakers collection. Joanne Wheatley has her own blog with some great ideas and recipes and details of what she is up to now, you can follow Jo here.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Sticky gingerbread cake with frosting - recipe

This is a lovely cake for autumn it's moist, sticky and will wrap you in a warming, ginger, spicy hug when you bake it Your house will smell of warming sugary, gingery, golden syrup baking and I guarantee this will give you a winter warming lift. 

My husband loves sticky ginger cakes and when I suggested I make him one he was more than keen to sample the wares. Being a bit of a traditionalist myself (aka middle aged) I had a bit of a brain wave and decided to try out a really old recipe book I have in my collection. It's a Good Housekeeping book from the 1950's, the same one my mum used for years. This is not my mums original recipe book that my sister and I remember from our childhood, but it is the same copy of a book she bought as a young mum some years ago from a travelling salesman. At the time she paid for the book weekly, in shillings until it was all paid for. It's a great book and many of the pages are still familiar to me many years later.

Anyway...I made the traditional Parkin cake recipe from this book...what a cake it turned out to be! A complete disaster, containing no eggs whatsoever, and a lot of oats, this was brick like in texture and hard as a rock, even leaving it in a tin for several days did not help. It looked just like the picture in the recipe book after I had baked it, and all I can think is that as the recipe must have been written in the 50's frugality was still the order of the day and eggs would have been of far more value than to put in a Parkin cake. You live and learn! 

However, when the Parkin gets tough the tough turn to Nigella and that's where this gingerbread recipe comes from. I embellished it by adding frosting and slivers of stem ginger, which made it even more delicious. You can find Nigella's recipe on this website, I would recommend the recipe as a great family bake and a cake with longevity, even after few days a container it was still very moist and delicious.

Here is how I made the frosting...which comes much more highly recommended than an eggless Parkin cake!
120g cream cheese
80g soft unsalted butter
About 300g sifted icing sugar
3 balls stem ginger
1 tbsp stem ginger syrup from the jar
Sprinkle of ground ginger
Sprinkle of ground nutmeg
1. Cream he butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer or use a hand mix. Add the icing sugar 2 tablespoons at a time and beat again until incorporated. 
2. Once the frosting is white and stiff add a tbsp of the syrup from the stem ginger jar.
3. Once the cake is cool, spread the frosting on the top of the cake, decorate with slices of stem ginger and a sprinkle of the nutmeg and ginger powders. 
Grab a fork and tuck in!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Chunky vegetable soup - recipe

A perfect autumnal family dish is home made soup, and when its got a cheesy hit in its heart its heavenly.

I was recently asked, along with some other food writers/bloggers to try to come up with some recipes using Applewood spreadable. Applewood is a range of British cheddar cheese famed for its smoky flavour and added paprika, I have used the cheese before but not Applewood spreadable, which is a soft cheese spread which is new to the market. The 'spreadable' has a distinctive smoky flavour to it, perfect for autumn recipes and this time of year.

I adore cheese in soup but I like it best when the cheese is added to the soup at the point of serving, this means you get the full creamy, cheesy, unctuous hit right there in the middle of your soup and I just love that.

Applewood spreadable is perfect for this as its melts into the soup, no need to add cream or creme fraiche this does all the work for you. You could make this soup with any veggies you have to hand, and use vegetable stock if you prefer. Don't forget to make some cheese toasts to go with the soup, its a perfect combination.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

'Dish of the month' November - Nigel Slaters slow cooked sausages

This is such a simple recipe but something I would never had thought of myself without looking in Kitchen Diaries II for inspiration for Novembers Dish of the Month. Its a recipe for slow cooked sausages by Nigel Slater...November as a month just seems to scream out for sausages.

The ingredients for this recipe are simple and consist of onions, flour, beef stock, some good quality sausages (ours were Linconshires' - brought back from the county by my sister) and...dark ale and brown sugar...I cooked my sausages in Guinness, for the ale part of the recipe...and it turned out to be fabulous.

So perfect for a wet and windy bonfire weekend...served with buttery mash and greens, the flavour of the gravy surrounding the sausages is amazing as the touch of brown sugar sweetens the onions and the ale.

What are you waiting for? Grab a a fork and get tucking in!
Keep reading on to find out how you can join us in Dish of the month December will be our last month after a full year of cooking, baking, eating, tasting and writing al about recipes by Nigel Slater...what an achievement...You can see a pictorial version of where we are since we started in January on Pinterest here, and there have been some brilliant interpretations of Nigel's recipes since we began.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Lemon and blackcurrant steamed sponge - recipe

The clocks have gone back and its well and truly autumn with a touch of winter thrown in...ggggrrrrrr...I'm not a fan of the darker nights and mornings, to be honest I find it all quite bleak. If I had my way we wouldn't bother putting the clocks back at all, I've never got the point. My calendar is already set for the clocks going forward in Spring...bring it on.

The only positives to all this dreary winter malarky is the gorgeous autumn colours of the trees and fauna, a cosy home (if you can afford the fuel bills) and heart warming COMFORT FOODS which, lets face it, is the biggest plus...all those soups and stews and makes and bakes...AND...gorgeous homemade puddings! To be honest I can take or leave cold puddings (cake not included of course) but give me a steamed sponge and I'm is my recipe for a lemon and blackcurrant steamed sponge pudding...

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Beetroot risotto - a recipe for Vampires!

If there's one recipe to make from the grown ups bringing their little ghouls and witches and wizard to your halloween party this year its this beetroot risotto...the colour alone is shouting Dracula's name across the mist ridden moors...

I saw this dish mentioned on Celebrity Masterchef recently as Janet Street Porter made it one week, I wasn't particularly paying attention at the time but made a mental note to have a go at making it myself. Beetroot is one of my favourite veggies and risotto is a firm favourite dish here,
comfort food at its best. The result was good, I just made an ordinary risotto and added fresh local Lancashire beetroot that I had roasted and blended beforehand. The colour will blow your socks of...or entice vampires from miles around...its a risk you take!                                                          

Have a great halloweeeeeeeeeennnn!

Monday, 28 October 2013

Time to get back in the (blogging) zone

Good evening from wet and windy Lancashire...the summer we had this year has been great hasn't it? The chance to sit outside and eat outside regularly has really made a difference and its partly because of the good summer that I have been blogging less and enjoying my 'free time' more. Blogging and writing about food is a great hobby but it can take over somewhat, and I need a life as well as not wanting all the fame to go to my head!

Now the autumn is really here and making its presence felt, its time to get back in the blogging zone and start to write up all those recipes I have made and photographed over the last few months but have been too busy emersed in summer sun to be concerned about anything else. We have also managed to eat out quite a bit in some lovely local places too, and meet up with friends so I have lots of snippets to share on that front too.

And I have been putting a few recipe books through their paces too...more about those very soon...

As well as enjoying avery British summer and even and Indian summer, we also had the good fortune to travel abroad to Turkey again...not the whole country granted but the Turkish Riviera. For two weeks in September and in temperatures exceeding 40C, we communed with the locals up in a Turkish mountain village and ate fresh bread and fresh foods as if it was going out of fashion. I love Turkey for its abundance of fresh foods at relatively low prices and I love to make my own meals while I stay there from whatever is seasonal and the markets have to offer.

This summer has also been great for preserving addicts like myself and I have been busy behind the scenes preserving all sorts from blackcurrant jam (that has knocked everyone's socks off) to gooseberry and elderflower jam, all the way through to plum chutney and tomato chutney too.

In addition we are 'trying' to sell out house and move, to realise our plans for the future, in order to do this we need to the house is in a constant state of tidiness and organisation that would impress any domestic goddess...wish us luck with selling, in this economic climate we really need it!

And I've been busy with the family (new grandchild is on his or her way in April 2014) and my other new found hobbies...I have taken up crochet again and I am really pleased to see so many other food bloggers sharing the same interest too.

More from me very soon...keep watching!