Monday, 28 January 2013

Chewy ginger and cherry flapjacks - recipe

This recipe does not need much of an explanation, other than its a delicious blend of chewy goodness, and also things that have to be eaten in moderation. Born out of a need to use up a box of muesli, oats, Maple flavoured golden syrup we weren't fussed about finishing, alongside half a tub of glace cherries and the same amount of a jar of stem ginger.

You can pretty much add any of your favourite things to this oat base and it will work, however, the hit of stem ginger when you bite into these is so fiery and tasty you won't want to change this for anything!

The trick to chewy flapjacks comes from baking them at a lower temperature and for longer...these are well worth the patience needed. If you like your flapjacks to be more on the crunchie side, turn up the heat of your oven and bake them for less.

These chewy ginger and cherry flapjacks keep well in a tin, and taste even better after a couple of days, if you can keep them that long!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Pink grapefruit and lemon marmalade - recipe

You can make marmalade in different ways but the two most common are using the whole fruit method (where you boil the fruits whole in water and then slice the cooked fruits, minus pips, and add sugar), like this; or where you extract the juice, shred the skin and put the leftovers (pips and fruit innards) in a muslin cloth and boil with the fruit.

The whole fruit version gives a denser appearance and the method for the recipe below gives more clarity to the finished marmalade. Both can be just as good on flavour however, you are more likely to get an easier set with the whole fruit method (in my view).

The main difference for me is probably the denser texture and set in the whole fruit method.

Whichever method you use your friends and family will be delighted with a lovely shiny jar of your gorgeous homemade marmalade.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Making marmalade to competition standard - batch two/three results

This whole marmalade making thing is turning into a full season of 'Breaking Bad' (if you've never watched it please do though it has nothing to do with preserves!).

Batch two and three of the Seville orange marmalade results are in!...Same recipe as last time for batch one but last one was not quite right so batch two had to be better...batch two needed less liquid, less stirring, a better set...

People have been asking me what recipe I am using, I am following Vivien Lloyds recipes from her own book 'First Preserves' and she has a helpful video on her website that is worth a watch if you are making marmalade, the video gives an insight into the content of her marmalade book.

In other news...I've started to get 'marmalade forearm' slicing all this peel, trying to get it the same size and 'thin'...the shred for the Seville category in the national marmalade awards has to be 'thin' but what is thin enough? What is too thin? There are no guidelines I can see other than the thin reference...perish the thought of a judge finding the shred too thick in this category. My peel needs to be thinner and the same thinness! (thinner peel = more pectin = better set)

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Black Forest tray bake - recipe

This Black Forest tray bake was a thrown together affair and I made it up as I went along, I wanted a quick easy cake to give to some of the family yesterday; but it worked a treat and tasted good so here is the recipe...just keep an eye on your baking times...if its shrinks away from the sides and has no wobble in the centre its done.

I used frozen loose berries that I had bought from my local supermarket where they sell them loose, a packet or box of frozen berries will do. We ate this as it cooled after baking...the chocolate and sharp hit of some of the fruits were a nice mix.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Cheesy smoked fish jackets sailing on a pea sea - recipe

This is a great easy recipe that suits all the family, it makes a little amount of fish go a long way and you can turn it into a fabulous tasty dish that suits adults and appeal to children at the same time.

1. Take two large potatoes, clean them, prick them, place on a baking sheet and put in the oven at 160C for about an hour and a half to two hours. Once baked split into two horizontally and place back on the sheet.
2. Take one fillet of naturally smoked haddock and one of cod (my fish was supplied by Delish Fish, their fish is naturally smoked, so no nasties or yellow colour in there). Cook the fish, you can cover with cling film and microwave on 750w for 2 minutes. Or poach it in milk for a few minutes. Once cooked flake the fish, leave it chunky though.
(you could make this dish with a tinned fish like tuna or salmon)
3. Grate some cheddar cheese about 150g will do.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Making marmalade to competition standard - batch one results

My husband has spent most of the day chuckling as I regale him with my marmalade knowledge...

This morning for breakfast I tried a blind test by giving him a taste of 'batch one' Seville orange marmalade from yesterday and some pink grapefruit marmalade from last year (not really a good batch at all, but edible)...he choose the pink grapefruit as his preferred marmalade!!! He thought the Seville was too tangy  But, from a man who would happily eat burgers and pizzas the rest of his life is this a he the best person to be my taster? No!

Yesterdays batch had its flaws...I know what they are but the trick (to my success) is to learn how to correct them...this will be may aim for batch two, which is steeping as I type.

Batch one: Had a nice colour and the peel was a good size and nicely distributed BUT...air bubbles were everywhere! It had lots of them and this was because I stirred it while it was not to stir.
This batch also took a long time to reach setting point...could be two reasons for this...quality of the fruit...or...too much liquid. The ratio of fruit to liquid to sugar is very important and I need to be more stringent in measuring...I didn't measure at all for batch one other than to follow a recipe.

As far as marmalade is concerned following a recipe has to go alongside knowing how to preserve if you want it to be able to enter competitions.
I think batch one was slightly under set, but now I'm not sure what a good set texture wise someone who suffers with 'set anxiety'  and tends to boil the life out of things I'm trying to address my anxiety and I am at risk of undersetting my marmalade now.

Batch two will be made tomorrow I'll let you know how it arms are aching with peel slicing.

But lets end on (below) is the lady who won the marmalade awards at Dalemain last year...(please don't think I might win this as I won't its impossible to with over 1,700 entries; I worked that out ages ago) she won 2 categories and therefore double gold, she's a novice, a home cook not a professional. Two questions (and DON'T Google her, thats just cheating!).

Q1 How old is she?      
Q2 How long as she been making marmalade?
Photo reproduced from Dalemain marmalade awards website

Don't forget to link up to my last post if you are also making marmalade.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Making marmalade to competition standard

Like a lot of people at the moment I'm making marmalade at home, Seville oranges (the ones that are traditionally used for making bitter orange marmalade) are in season now and this season is very short (late December to early February).

Last year I made my first marmalade with Seville oranges I can't remember which recipe I used but it wasn't that successful really, the marmalade was too dark, the peel was almost indigestible and even with my limited knowledge I know that was because I boiled it for too long. After that attempt I thought I should stick with the tried and trusted pink grapefruit, it never fails me...but I now know that using preserving sugar isn't the best option for preserves and you can't just eat pink grapefruit marmalade forever can you?

So this year I'm trying to improve a lot, and improve so much that I want to enter a pot (or two) in to the Dalemain National Marmalade Awards in Penrith (Cumbria) held in early March 2013. I must be mad! After all my marmalade may be edible BUT its not up to competition standard. Oh no! But one thing I learned last year when I spent a day making traditional preserves with Vivien Lloyd at her home, was that good preserving is all about knowledge, practice, the right recipe, practice and FEEDBACK. So I think if I enter then I'll get some pretty decent feedback, as the judges at Dalemain are WI judges, and you can't mess with the WI.
So I'm setting myself a challenge to improve my marmalade and then to enter it into these awards, in what categories yet I'm not sure as there are an awful lot of them...and last year over 1,700 jars were submitted into this competition. Trying to be placed anywhere in that lot will be very tough. No pressure here!  These are the homemade categories, I have discounted those I can't enter and explained why...

Thursday, 10 January 2013

'Dish of the month' January - Parsley Risotto and Marzipan/Berry cakes - a new challenge

If you follow this blog or 'me' on twitter then you will know that I am quite a stalker fan of the recipes and the cooking style of Nigel Slater. My sister bought me his latest book 'The Kitchen Diaries II' for my birthday last October and as well as finding this to be what I take to bed with me every night a really good read, I have also earnestly followed Nigel's BBC programmes 'Dish of the day' in the run up Christmas. 

Nigel Slaters style is the nearest to anyone I have seen on TV that mirrors my own tastes and ambitions about the way I want to cook and prepare food in my kitchen.

So when Janice another Nigel Slater stalker advocate from 'Farmersgirl Kitchen' suggested we both cook our way through 'The Kitchen Diaries II' through 2013 I was there like a shot...I'd already ear marked a few recipes from this book to try as it was...I didn't take much persuasion. 

And so was born...'Dish of the Month'...Every month Janice and I will write about a recipe we have tried from 'The Kitchen Diaries II'...there is no paid (or otherwise) PR involved in this, no prize, no giveaway, the joy comes from trying out new recipes...and here is how to get involved.

If you would like to take part, then:
  • 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 (above) in your post
  • If you use twitter, tweet your post with @Heavenona_Plate OR @serialcrafter and #DishoftheMonth hashtag and we will re-tweet it to our followers. 
  • 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:

I tried two dishes this month PARSLEY RISOTTO WITH PARMESAN CRISPS (above). This was simple to make, not too many ingredients involved and I had them all in stock. I loved the fresh flavours this dish produced. I also used this risotto recipe to give a home to a bunch of parsley I had lurking in the fridge. The parmesan crisps were quick to make in a non stick frying pan and gave the dish and extra strong cheesy boost.

Over Christmas I had also made these MARZIPAN/BERRY CAKES...I'd seen the recipe on TV, its also in 'The Kitchen Diaries II' and thought it was a great way to use up leftover marzipan form the Christmas cake. The recipe is on the BBC Food website.

The cake stand and cover on the right was a gift from Santa, its the most lethal weapon a kitchen can have as every time you pass it you grab one of whatever is sheltering underneath. The cakes made with ground almonds, marzipan and fresh blueberries were delicious!

Janice has made a soup of bacon and celeraic this month, check it out here.

I'm really looking forward to the next years 'dish of the month' recipes especially as the book has such a good mix of main meals, side dishes, fish dishes and baking.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Camembert and cranberry flan - recipe

I'm beginning to think we eat better in the new year than we do over the Christmas holiday in this house...there's more time to think and plan and make things from scratch than when diverted with house guests and the festivities.

I am still trying to make the most of what is left in the fridge and a quiche or flan was always on the cards with the amount of cheese in of today we had in our fridge...some Manchego, Feta, Mature Stilton, Creamy Lancashire, Mature Cheddar, Parmesan, a tub of cream cheese and a round of Camembert. I know the world was suppose to end recently but that cheese stash would put Wallace and Gromit to shame!
As well as all this cheese I had made some homemade (with port and spices) cranberry sauce for Christmas lunch, and as I'm the only one to eat the stuff there was a tub left lurking in the back of the fridge...this was crying out for this recipe.

The flavours of this flan together are fantastic, the runny creamy cheese alongside the spiced and tart cranberry's are a great combination.

This flan is best served warm not hot, as its too runny otherwise and can appear more like flan fondue! (still tastes fab mind you) Here is the recipe...

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Pea and ham soup - recipe

Oh the shame of the inside of a post Christmas fridge...not sure about yours but ours is groaning with stuff, all within date but it needs to be used up, and in January I always try to spend less money on food if I can (it helps make up for what I spent in December, or that is my logic anyway).

The new year ham (second ham as we devoured one at Christmas too) is still alive and well and tastes absolutely amazing, and there are veggies in the fridge and dried stores too that all need using up. So nothing for it...a no brainer of a recipe for pea and ham soup!

This isn't your garden pea variety but made from dried peas that are soaked before cooking. A packet of dried peas costs approx 49p, a carrot 10p an onion 20p and a couple of sticks of celery say 15p, plus the other ingredients from the store cupboard and the ham make this an easy, cheap and filling meal. This would serve 4 for a lot less that £2.

Buy the 'quick soak' dried peas to make life easier.