Pancakes I didn’t make today

But I have done in the past! Blogging this to avoid a repeat of this morning: flicking through umpteen magazines trying to find a recipe and then giving up!!

Oaty Hotcakes (Bill Granger)
You need:
* 185g plain flour
* 1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
* 1 tsp ground Cinnamon
* pinches freshly grated Nutmeg, (optional)
* pinch sea salt
* 1 tbsp caster sugar
* 25g oats
* 375ml Buttermilk
* 1 medium Egg
* 35g Butter, plus extra for greasing

Mix all together and then pour, a ladle at a time on to a hot griddle pan or frying pan. Cook till bubbles appear on one side (about 30-60 secs) then flip over for another 30 secs or so. Serve with maple syrup. Yummy.

Spiced Beetroot and Orange Chutney

I saw this recipe in the Xmas Good Food magazine and thought it looked nice. We also had some beetroot left from the veg box and seeing as we never ever eat it thought it would be a good thing to make. Wrong! You need 1.5kg for it and the beetroot we had only weighed a measley 500g!!! So I ordered some more (for the first time ever) and it arrived today. The finished product looks pretty nice but I haven’t tasted it yet seeing as I loathe the red stuff..!

For about 4 1lb jars you need
1.5kg raw beetroot, peeled and diced into a .5cm dice
3 eating apples, peeled and grated
zest and juice of 3 oranges
3 onions, diced
700g sugar
700ml red wine vinager
2tbsp mustard seeds
1tbsp ground cloves
1tbsp ground cinnamon
1tbsp corriander seeds

Gently roast the mustard and corriander seeds in a dry frying pan until they begin to pop. Lob everything into a preserving pan and bring to a boil. Simmer over a moderate heat until the liquid has reduced and the beetroot is tender. This was supposed to take an hour but actually took more like 3. You don’t want much juice left at the end, it mostly needs to have reduced down. Once the chutney is cooked put it into sterile jars and leave somewhere dark and cool to mature for about a month.

Quick lunch cous cous

Bored of sarnies and determined not to buy something at work again I threw this together this morning and the result was mighty fine.

For one portion of scrummy lunch you need:
1/3 cup cous cous
2/3 cup boiling water
handful raisins
3-4 dried apricots, chopped into little pieces
handful toasted pine nuts
1/4 tsp veggie stock
1 tsp toasted pumpkin seed oil
1/2 tsp moroccan spices
couple of large handfuls of spinach, watercress and rocket salad.

Place the cous cous in a tub with all the other ingredients minus the salad. Pour over the boiling water, mix a little and leave to soak for 10 mins. Serve warm or cold with the salad on the top. Also nice with some fried haloumi or crumbled feta on the top or with some chunks of roasted squash/carrots/parsnips in it. In the summer it’s also nice with roasted veggies and peppers in it too. The combinations are endless!

Vanilla Poundcake

I suddenly realised late this afternoon that we had no cakes again for lunches so decided to rustle up something quick and easy but which would last for the week. After flicking through the Hummingbird book I decided on a simple pound cake. This is a slightly adapted recipe as I had no buttermilk, but it doesn’t seem to have suffered from being made with milk alone.

You need:
330g vanilla sugar (yes really! I know it’s a lot)
120g butter, softened
200g plain flour
1/4 tsp bicarb
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
120ml milk
3 eggs

Cream the butter and sugar till combined, then add the eggs one at a time. Mix well between each egg. Once this is done, add the flour, bicarb and vanilla and milk. Pour into a lined loaf tin (I used a 2lb loaf tin and also made 6 cakes from left over mix). Bake for about 30-45 mins till done. Leave to cool and then enjoy. The outside is very crunchy from all the sugar. Next time I make it I think I will reduce the sugar as it’s very sweet and I think would survive with a little less in the batter.

St Clements Posset

I always make this with both orange and lemon juice and I find just lemon to be too acidic. It’s like the worlds *easiest* pudding but tastes like you have slaved for hours over it 🙂

You need:
1 large pot double cream (600ml or thereabouts)
150g caster sugar
juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon.

Place the sugar and cream into a large pan and bring to the boil. Once it boils, turn down to a simmer and simmer for 3 minutes. Make sure you stir the cream/sugar a couple of times to make sure it doesn’t catch and to dissolve the sugar.

Once the cream has been heated for long enough, pour it into a large jug with the juices and stir. Pour into little serving dishes/glasses and chill for at least 3 hours. Delish. Am toying with the idea of making lavender scented creams in the summer…

Cheese and Onion Sausage Rolls

I adore sausage rolls, and cheese and onion rolls, so the thought of combining the two is pure genius imho. This is another St Delia recipe, taken from her Christmas book.

Defrost one 500g pack of puff pastry (or make your own but frankly life is too short…)
Meanwhile make the filling:

grate 225g cheddar
grate 1 large onion
mix together with 275g fresh white breadcrumbs, 3 tbsp double cream, 2 tbsp mustard powder, 1 tsp cayenne, 2 tsp oregano, salt and pepper. Squish into sausage shapes and leave to chill for a bit.

When you’re ready to make the sausage rolls, roll out the pastry to about 35x40cms. Trim into 3 lengths and lay the filling on the pastry. Egg wash the sides and roll over to seal. Cut into bite size chunks, egg wash again and snip twice in each to let the steam out.

Place on a greased baking sheet and cook for about 20 mins in a moderate (180 degrees) oven till risen, puffy and golden. Leave to cool on a rack and try not to scoff in one go. Mine are currently residing in the freezer waiting patiently for Christmas Day…

Chilli Jam

I can’t believe how easy this recipe is, and how tasty it is too. I think there will be another batch cooking before the end of this year!

This is from Nigella’s Christmas, but a similar recipe can also be found in the River Cottage Preserves book.

You need
150g big fat red chillies (prepared weight so 4 supermarket packets), deseeded
150g red pepper (about 1 fat pepper)
1kg jam sugar
600ml cider vinegar

Put the sugar and vinegar into a preserving pan and slowly heat to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, prepare the pepper and chillies by chopping roughly and removing the seeds and membranes. Then process *very* finely in a food processor. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the pepper and chilli mixture, bring to the boil and then boil FAST for 10 mins. Pour in to sterilised jars and seal. Try not to eat all in one go!

Christmas Chutney

One of my staple gifts to people is to make a mini home made hamper full of goodies. The process for this starts in the summer when we go blackberrying and I make a batch of blackberry jam. This year they’ll also contain (look away now if you’re related to me or teach my son ;-)):

Christmas chutney
Chilli jam
Orange and peppermint cremes
Blackberry jam
Chocolate truffles
Fudge or peanut brittle (haven’t decided yet and it depends on storage/ease to make!)
Christmas biscuits

The chutney recipe I made was maybe in hindsight not the best as it looks very much like mincemest. But it tastes lovely so it can’t be all that bad…

Yet again it’s a tweaked Delia recipe. It should have contained prunes but stupid me got stone in prunes that were a royal pain in the backside to prepare for the pudding so I ditched the rest of the packed. After a rummage through the cupboard for some other dried fruits I found a packed of dried nectarines. Excited by this discovery I thought they would make a good substitute for the prunes. Until I opened them and found them a bit past their best. Not suprising really given that they were sell by August 2008. Oops. A packet of dried pears went similar and I finally settled on the following combination…

You need
300g ready-to-eat dried apricots
350g dried cranberries
250 pitted dates
450g onions, peeled
570 ml cider vinegar
50g salt
2 tablespoons grated fresh root ginger
1/4 grated nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp ground mace
1/2 tsp ground cloves
450g demerara sugar

Lob the fruit and onions into a food processor and blitz till mushy (you don’t have to do this with the cranberries if you prefer lumps in your chutney). Meanwhile heat the vinegar, ginger and salt in a preserving pan till boiling. Add the mushed fruit and onion mix and the spices and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for about an hour. You can tell when it’s ready as there will be a clean line left in the pan when you scrape a wooden spoon through it. Bottle into sterilised jars and leave to mature for at least a month. Excellent served with cheese and cold (fake) meats.

Christmas Cake

I like a traditional, light Christmas cake. Full of fruit, yes, but not too dark and sticky. A lot of my friends rave about Nigella’s black cake, and I admit I like the way she soaks her fruit for ages before hand. But I am not a fan of prunes or treacle or dark muscavado sugar all mixed together. I find the combination too heavy. My staple recipe recipe for Christmas cake is usually a last minute Sainsbury’s one as I can’t be faffed with feeding a cake either. But this year I have decided to try a variation of Delia’s classic cake. I’m soaking the fruit for a week or so as per Nigella and using light brown sugar and golden syrup rather than the suggested treacle. The soaking fruit smells divine at the moment 😉

250g sultanas
250g raisins
300g currants
100g glacé cherries cut in half
50g mixed candied peel
1/8 cup each of brandy, whisky and rum
225g plain flour
½ level teaspoon salt
¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ level teaspoon ground mixed spice
225g butter
225g soft light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 level dessertspoon golden syrup
grated zest 1 lemon grated zest 1 orange

Put the fruit and booze into a clean plastic tub, mix thoroughly and leave to soak for at least 24 hours, ideally a week or so. Stir every so often to ensure all the fruit soaks up the booze.

Soften the butter and then cream with the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then the golden syrup, then the flour, spices, zest and finally the soaked fruit. Mix well and pour into a prepared 7″ square tin (or 8″ round one) and bake at 140 degrees for 4-5 hours. Make sure you place a double layer of baking paper on the top of the cake, with a small hole cut in the top to allow the steam to escape.

Once the cake is cooled, wrap in baking parchment, then foil and store in a cool dark place till you want to ice it. You can feed it if you want but I won’t be bothering.

Countdown to Christmas

Well, it’s begun. The cooking for the festivities kicked off with a vengeance with the start of the annual Christmas cake making preparations.

For a change this year I am also making the pudding and mincemeat. I have never made a pudding before, and have always been put off by the steaming process. But I thought what the heck seeing as we’re hosting Christmas this year…

The mincemeat recipe I am using is a tweaked St Delia’s one. I’ve never really made mincemeat before either and don’t particularly like mince pies it has to be said, but Christmas isn’t Christmas without them, and I do sort of like them warmed up and slathered in brandy butter and cointreau cream…

450g Bramley apples, cored and chopped very small
225g vegetarian suet
800g mixed dried fruit – I used a mixture of Waitrose luxury mixed vine fruits, raisins, sultanas and currants
225g candied peel
350g soft dark brown sugar
grated zest and juice 2 oranges
grated zest and juice 2 lemons
50g glace cherries, cut into quarters
4 level teaspoons mixed ground spice
½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 whole grated nutmeg
1/8 cup each of brandy, whisky and rum (add another 1/8 cup each once the mincemeat has been cooked)

Lob everything into a large, clean plastic tub and mix well. Leave to steep for at least 24 hours, up to a week in a cool place. Stir a couple of times a day to mix and plump up the fruit.

When it’s finished steeping, transfer to an oven proof dish and heat through at 120 degrees for 3 hours. This melts the suet to ensure the mincemeat doesn’t fermet in the jars. Transfer to sterilised jars and leave somewhere cool and dark for at least a month.