Well it has certainly been doing that this past while. What better way to spend incarceration than in a warm kitchen cooking up festive goodies
Last year I made Nigella Lawson's cranberry jam. It was grand but I felt it was a bit stodgy. I like to use it with the turkey, cold meats and cheese as well as on my toast and prefer a softer texture. I also wanted the addition of orange. I always like the flavour of oranges at Christmas so I conjured this up in my kitchen. Nice soft texture and lovely flavour. A little sharpness against the sweetness and a lovely hint of orange. I am looking forward to serving this on my table come Christmas day. Incredibly easy to make and perfect for beginners as cranberries are packed full of pectin so setting is never a problem. Give it a go. It can't fail and it is much much nicer than shop bought cranberry sauces for Christmas. Makes lovely gifts too.
1 kilo /2.2lbs cranberries fresh or frozen
1 kilo/2.2 lbs sugar
Grated rind and juice of two oranges (approx 250mls/1 cup)
500mls /2 cups water
Large heavy based pan
5-6 450gm/1lb jars sterilised in a warm oven
For a smooth jam, place the cranberries in the saucepan with the orange juice and water.
Heat gently until the cranberries just start to soften.
Whizz the mixture in the food processor.
Return to the pot and add the sugar and orange peel.
Heat gently stirring all the time until the sugar dissolves, that is to say when it no longer feels gritty.
Bring the mix to a fast rolling boil for about twenty minutes.
leave to cool slighlty then pot into your warm jars.
You can test for a set by dropping some jam onto a cold plate, leave for a few minutes and push gently with your finger. If it wrinkles it is done. Really you will find you don't need to worry as this will set perfectly due to the pectin content of the cranberries.
If you want whole pieces of fruit just put everything into the saucepan and boil.
Our cold spell continues. It is causing chaos for those who have to travel. This country is used to more temperate winters so we are never prepared for the snow and sub zero temperatures. The fuel bills will be high but the countryside looks magical covered in it's white sparkling coat. The gutters wear long diamond earrings and the mist thrown over its shoulders lends an ethereal quality to the scene. So much prettier than the usual dark clouds and rain.
This is my first entry to the monthly challenge from 'Fresh From the Oven' . November's challenge was set by Maja at Cooks and bakes. Thank you Maja for this challenge. I can't tell you how delicious these are. I have been making my own bread for some years now and I can honestly say I have never produced anything from my oven made with yeast that tastes so heavenly. perfect buttery light soft rolls with a zing of salty cheese. Perfect nibbles for a party at this time of year. I am wondering if a bigger version would make an accompaniment to dinner.
They are incredibly easy to make.
I used Feta Cheese as I am not keen on Cottage cheese
About a teaspoonful is enough for each roll
The cutting out and rolling is very quick
Mine were not quite the right crescent shape but I will correct that the next time and a next time there will definitely be.
Perfect buttery soft rolls with a zing of salty cheese.
I look forward to trying this recipe with different cheeses.
I think this would also lend itself beautifully to a sweet filling should you be so inclined. Perhaps jam or chocolate?
This is Maja's recipe. The only change I made was to use butter instead of margarine. The buttery taste through them was wonderful. Not healthy but wonderful just the same.
Kiflice - Serbian Mini Rolls
500 g all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
20 g fresh yeast (2 tsp instant yeast or 2.5 tsp active dry yeast)
1 tsp sugar
250 ml milk
75 ml sunflower oil
200-250 g cottage cheese (you may use feta or other fresh cheese)
1 egg white (optional)
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp milk
100-125 g margarine
1. Crush the cheese using a fork. Add some salt if it tastes neutral. Stir the egg white in, if the cheese is too crumbly. Filling shouldn't be runny, but thick and compact, thicker than the cream cheese, and pretty salty.
2. For the starter - dissolve yeast with some lukewarm milk in a cup, add a teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of flour, stir to get smooth batter. Set aside at room temperature, or near the stove top, to let the yeast activate and fill the cup.
3. Sift the flour, add salt. Add activated yeast, egg, oil and milk, then combine using a wooden spoon to get smooth dough. The dough seems like too soft and too sticky at the beginning, but don't worry, continue with kneading, and soon your dough should start to separate from the bowl, and thicken. It is not necessary to knead the dough by hands, the wooden spoon works just fine (you may use any spoon, of course, the wooden spoon is common tool for all stirring and kneading works here at the Balkans). Grease the cling film with oil, cover the bowl, and set aside for at least an hour, at lukewarm place, to let the dough doubles in size.
4. Re-knead the dough, divide into 5 equal parts, shape them into balls. Each part should make 8 rolls, so you'll end up with 40 rolls, which should perfectly fit the regular oven pan, if lined in 5x8 order. Flatten each ball by hands over the floury working surface, then use a rolling pin to roll the dough out in a circle, a few millimeters thick. Use a sharp knife to cut the circle into 8 triangles. Take one triangle, stretch it in the air with your hands, to get it extended as much as you can, gently. Put some filling at the triangle base, then fold the edges of the base as shown at pic4, to avoid the filling leak out during baking. Roll. Arrange the rolls at the pan (5x8).
5. Lightly beat the egg yolk with a tablespoon of milk, then brush the top of each roll with the mixture. This is used to prevent forming thick crust, and to improve the color of baked rolls. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds, if you like.
6. Arrange the small peaces of margarine between the rolls, then bake in the oven preheated to 180°C for about 20 minutes. Be careful not to overbake them. Let them cool a bit, be careful as the filling is always more hot then the dough, take a seat in your favorite armchair, and start enjoying the softest cheese rolls ever. And don't think of calories, please :)
This was to be my first entry to a monthly challenge for 'We Should Cocoa' November's challenge set by Chele at Chocolate Teapot Every challenge is chocolate but every month another ingredient is given and we have to conjure up something yummy. I did say was to be my first entry. Unfortunately I have just discovered I am late. I hope Choclette and Chele will forgive me. I have had a terrible month. My 90yr old Mother in law had a massive heart attack. She is as tough as old boots and thankfully is making a wonderful recovery. That said I have been run off my feet looking after her and as I look after my two grandchildren as well the kitchen has only briefly seen me throwing something together something very quickly for an evening meal. However, I have succeeded in organising things fairly well and today is mine. So with apologies for my late entry here is my submission. These don't look as wonderful as they taste. I based the recipe on Vi's Oaties which is lovely in itself and wonderful recipe to have a fiddle with. These were chewy with just the right amount of crunch The caramel in them was divine. With thanks to the Choclette and Chele. for a great idea.
Chocolate Caramel Oaties
4 oz/100g self raising flour
4oz/100g porridge oats
½ level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4oz/100g butter or margarine
4oz/100g soft brown sugar
2 rounded tablespoon carnation caramel/dulce de leche
4oz/100grams dark chocolate broken into small pieces or chocolate chips
Heat the oven to gas mark 4 or 180 c
Grease two large baking tray with butter or margarine.
Mix flour, oats, and bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl put to one side.
Put margarine or butter, sugar and caramel in a saucepan and heat on a low heat until butter and sugar are just melted, stir occasionally, take off heat and stir in the oat mix and chocolate. Beat well with a wooden spoon.
Scoop dessert spoons of mixture up and make into ball shapes and place on a greased baking tray when the tray is full slightly flatten the balls out with the back of the dessert spoon.
Cook in the oven for 15 minutes, when ready remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking sheet for 5 mins before moving onto a wire rack.
Repeat and do the same until all the mixture has been used up.
Anyone who has lived or stayed in Scotland will know all about this plain simple but oh so delicious dish. At home as a child it was served up once a week. Mince and Tatties night was always to be looked forward to. Now, for me, it has become the ultimate comfort food. When shopping at the butchers a pound of mince is always included. My husband calls it Scottish Caviare. Left overs ,if there are any, can be used in a pastie or as known in Scotland a Bridie.
500g lean steak mince
1 large white onion, finely chopped.
Gravy browning (optional)
Sploosh of virgin olive oil
A little milk
1. Put oil in a heavy bottomed pan over a low heat and soften the onions but don’t colour them, add the mince, turn up the heat and stir until all the meat is browned and any lumps are bashed out
2. Now add the milk and let it bubble a wee while to remove the graininess you sometimes get with mince. Then add enough stock to cover the mince and simmer gently for about 2 hours during which time season to taste
3. Don’t let the mince dry out, adding a little more stock or water if necessary. Whilst simmering, you may add a teaspoon of gravy browning if you wish to darken the dish but be careful and don’t put in too much!
4. During the cooking period it is important to skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes and peas
5. I like to add diced carrots to the mince (some add turnips) while cooking, it just depends what jail you did your time in or how your mother made it.
Ingredients for the creamy mashed potatoes:
• 1kg potatoes, (Red Roosters or Maris Pipers work well)
• Good lump of butter
• A little milk or cream
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• Peel the potatoes and cut into even sized chunks.
Method for the creamy mashed potatoes:
. Put the spuds in a large pot, cover with boiling water, a dessert spoon of salt and simmer for approximately 25 minutes or until done
Once cooked, drain them, put them back in their pot and cover with a clean tea towel which will absorb some of the steam
Mash the potatoes ( I use a hand held mixer)adding butter and cream and beating with a wooden spoon or a spurtle if you have one
Serve with the mince and some garden peas
If you want to thicken it a little bit add a little oatmeal. Healthier than cornflour or flour and yet traditional.
I don't make a huge variety of biscuits/cookies. I don't really find the need. Shortbread makes a great base and is so dependable. Quick and easy to make. Endless flavour variations and a lovely light buttery crunchy mouthful. Perfect on it's own with a cup of tea or made very thin to accompany a dessert. The basic recipe came from Rita who lives away up in the far North of Scotland. A proper shortbread recipe.
In Shetland a decorated shortbread was traditionally broken over a bride’s head before she entered her new home.
Shortbread was classified as a bread by bakers to avoid paying the tax placed on biscuits.
The Scottish custom of eating shortbread on New Year’s Eve derives from an ancient pagan ritual of eating Yule Cakes.
January 6th of each year is National Shortbread Day.
8oz/225gms butter 4oz/100gms caster sugar 8oz/225gms plain flour
4oz/100gms cornflourfor a denser biscuit or rice flour for a crisper lighter texture
pinch of salt
Cream softened butter and sugar.
Add the sifted flours and salt gradually and mix well
Turn out onto a floured worktop and knead lightly into a round Roll out and cut into biscuits
Roll into a long cylinder, wrap in cling film and set in the fridge for about 30 minutes then slice into biscuits. Bake at 350F /180.C /160.C Fan/ Gas 4 for about 15 - 20 mins or until golden
Place on a cooling rack and sprinkle with caster sugar while still warm. Makes about 30 biscuits with a small cutter
Chocolate Replace 50gms/2 oz flour with cocoa and/or add chocolate chips. Orange Add grated rind of and orange (this is lovely with the chocolate) Lemon Add grated rind of a lemon Spice Add sweet spice in any combination or on it's own such as cinnamon, mixed spice or ginger.
Use soft brown sugar to give a hint of caramel Add earl grey tea Lavender Rose
The possibilities are endless. Just a little imagination. They can be as plain or fancy as you like.
Great chieftain o' the puddin-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang's my arm.
Address to a Haggis by Robert Burns. Scotland's favourite son. The Bard. We are expected to revere this eighteenth century poet but trust me when it is a compulsory subject to study in Scottish schools by the time you finish you could see him in hell. Please don't get me started on Tam O'Shanter. While having no love of the poet I am a huge fan of the subject matter, Haggis. Up there with whisky it is one of Scotland's finest exports. I was reared on it and love it.. I can of course buy it in this part of the world, but, for some unknown reason they make it with pork. Mutton /lamb is what should be used. Well would you like a beef burger made of pork?.When I am in Scotland I always buy two or three large sausages from a butchers then slice it and freeze it.
This is a much more convenient way of using haggis. I can just lift a few slices from the freezer as required and turn them in the pan. They take on the crumbly texture just the same as the traditional haggis packed in a sheep's stomach. Lovely an spicy it is a taste experience you should not miss. It also makes a wonderful stuffing for steak or chicken
If you are a very brave and adventurous cook you can of course make it from scratch
1 sheep's stomach bag
1 sheep's pluck - liver, lungs and heart
250g beef Suet
salt and lots of black pepper
a pinch of cayenne
150mls of stock/gravy
Haggis Cooking Directions:
1. Clean the stomach bag thoroughly and soak overnight. In the morning turn it inside out.
2. Wash the pluck and boil for 1.5 hours, ensuring the windpipe hangs over the pot allowing drainage of the impurities.
3. Mince the heart and lungs and grate half the liver.
4. Chop up the onions and suet.
5. Warm the oatmeal in the oven.
6. Mix all the above together and season with the salt and pepper. Then add the cayenne.
7. Pour over enough of the pluck boiled water to make the mixture watery.
8. Fill the bag with the mixture until it's half full.
9. Press out the air and sew the bag up.
10. Boil for 3 hours (you may need to prick the bag with a wee needle if it looks like blowing up!) without the lid on.
11. Serve with neeps and tatties.
Me? I prefer the easy route to my favourite dish. I'll leave the hard part to the butcher. Perhaps someday I will have a go.
As a post script I don't usually serve the haggis as shown in the photo. The idea is just to pile it on a plate with creamy mashed potatoes (tatties)and puréed turnips (neeps) but in that form it is not very photogenic so I poshed it up a little.
I received the book 'Bake and Decorate' by Fiona Cairns from a dear friend. It is a gorgeous book. Full of beautiful recipes and pictures with wonderful relatively simple but stunning ideas for decorating her cakes. It makes you want to rush off and create a masterpiece. Well want is one thing and do is another but when I opened the book the page fell open at the Battenberg cake. Oh what a rush of memories. Such a retro little cake. I remembered buying them in Marks and Spencers in the sixties. It was begging to be made. The recipe states it serves eight. Well in this case it served one.
Here is a little useless information for you. The 4 squares in each slice represent the four German Battenberg princes (Louis, Alexander, Henry and Francis Joseph) at the time of the marriage on 30 April 1884 of Queen Victoria's granddaughter Princess Victoria to Prince Louis of Battenberg (1854 to 1921), who would become the grandfather of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. In 1917 Louis changed his surname from Battenberg to Mountbatten.
Battenberg Cake Serves 8 Ingredients
175g/6oz unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the tin
175g /6oz self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
175g /6oz white caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 or 2 tbsp milk, if needed
A little pink (or red) food colour
4 tbsp apricot jam
Icing sugar, to dust
250g /9oz yellow marzipan (or natural if you prefer)
Preheat the oven to 170ºC/fan 160ºC/340ºF/gas mark 31/2.
Lightly butter a 20cm square tin and line the base with baking parchment. Also cut out a rectangle of baking parchment, as long and deep as the tin, to act as a divider lengthways between the 2 colours of sponge.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, or in a large bowl with a handheld whisk, first sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the butter, cut into knobs, then the sugar, eggs and vanilla. Beat until smooth, adding a little milk to loosen the mixture if it seems too stiff. Weigh out half the batter and place the divider down the centre of the tin.
Carefully place half the batter into 1 side of the tin. Tint the remaining mixture pink - it's much better to do this not too exuberantly, so take care - and stir until blended. As neatly as possible, spoon the pink mixture into the other side of the tin.
Bake for about 30–35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the cake springs back to the touch. Remove from the oven, leave in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack. When completely cold, slice each colour lengthways into 2 equal blocks, then trim off all the rough edges.
Warm the jam in a small pan, push it through a sieve, then use it to glue the strips of cake together lengthways, so the natural and pink colours form opposite quarters.
This is Fiona Cairns recipe. The only change I would make is the tin. I think it would be much simpler if the mixture was baked in two separate loaf tins and cut in two. Using the divider is very faffy and requires a lot of trimming. I haven't tried the loaf tin but if you do before me let me know.
I love Grannymar's Blog. She does not have a food Blog but Monday is 'Food Monday' and she always has an interesting recipe. Good old fashioned uncomplicated food of which I am so fond. I love baked custard and when I saw this some time ago I just had to make it. The use of coconut milk instead of cream is lovely. It makes it a very light dessert. It looks pretty and so quickly prepared it would be perfect for a dinner party. I think the addition of a crispy thin shortbread biscuit would set it off perfectly.
Place all the ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth or mix together with a whisk in a bowl by hand.
Transfer to individual lightly buttered ramekin dishes
Place the ramekin dishes in a deep sided tin and place in the oven.
Pour water into the tin to come approximately half way up the side of the dishes.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the custard has just set but has a little wobble.
Present as your imagination takes you.
There is a little malt loaf particular to Northern Ireland called Veda.
My hubby loves it. I have tried for years but have been unable to replicate it in the kitchen. Why? because I could not get the necessary dark malt flours. Well I could have but they only sold in bulk to the bakeries. Even at my most enthusiastic I don't think I could get through 50 kilos of flour. The other day I finally found my flour courtesy of Bakery Bits. A very good website selling flour and all sorts of bread making equipment. All I had was the ingredients on the loaf sleeve and my fiercest critic (Hubby) and the knowledge that hundreds of ex pat. ulster people have been searching for a recipe but with little success (Google told me this) Previous attempts with just malt extract and treacle failed to give the definitive flavour particular to Veda.
I explained to Rhyley what I was doing. The tension in the kitchen was immense as I took the loaf out of the oven and waited for it to cool. Enter Hubby who had a slice slathered in butter while four female eyes watched in apprehension as he chewed. He then uttered the words 'That's it' and watched in amazement as Rhyley and I danced round the kitchen. Success is heady stuff. I haven't had to buy a Veda since. You can just make this with the malt extract and treacle and it will give a nice malt loaf but if you are a fan it takes the malted flours.
I make my loaf in a covered mermaid pan as it gives the bread a lovely soft sandwich texture. It can of course be baked in an ordinary loaf pan.
Makes one small loaf. Oven temperature 200.C/180.C Fan/400.F/Gas 6
Glaze (If desired) A teaspoon of warmed treacle/molasses
Mix all the ingredients together using 200mls of the water. If it seems a little dry add a little more water just a drop at a time. It should be a softish slightly sticky dough Knead for 10 minutes by hand or five in a stand mixer with a dough hook. Form into a ball and place in an oiled bowl covered with cling film Leave somewhere warm to rise for about an hour until doubled in volume. Gently pull the dough out of the bowl onto an oiled work top and dimple out with your fingers to disperse the gas.
Fold the dough over towards yourself bit by bit firming each roll with your thumbs as you go.. When you have a sausage fold it into thirds like a busines letter. Turn it over and tease the sides down and under until you get a cob shape. Place this into a greased 2 lb loaf pan and squash it down until it fills the base. Place the tin inside a plastic bag and leave for 30-40 mins until it has risen again. You will know when it is ready if you very gently shake the end of it trembles a bit like a jelly. Brush gently with the glaze and bake for approx thirty minutes. The loaf will sound hollow when tapped on the underside when it is done. If not pop it back in the tin and bake for a further five minutes and check again.
TIP Oil your hands and the work top when working with the dough. It stops it sticking to you and everything else
This was just an unpretentious supper of ragu pasta of which we all enjoy from time to time.So easy to prepare. I serve it with a little salad and garlic bread and love its simplicity of flavour. This uncomplicated dish however, was pushed into a different dimension using a wonderful three year old Parmigiana from Tuscany. A very dear friend had the big heart to send it to me. If you are used to the supermarket variety of this cheese nothing will prepare you for the real flavour of Italy. My tongue is still tingling two hours later. Heaven on a plate. The rather nice Chianti helped too. Perfect to wash it down with. If you ever have the good fortune to visit Italy please leave room in your case to take home a big chunk of this. You won't regret it.