Many thanks to everyone who checked out the Slow Cooker Challenge and particularly to the seven cooks who made some soup in their Slow Cooker and linked up to the challenge. It seems that soup is not something many people use their slow cooker for which surprised me as a bit of a newbie to this method of cooking. I have to say that since I got this slow cooker (I had one in the 80s but never really got on with it) I've become a total convert and am cooking just about everything that I possibly can by this thrifty way of cooking.
Turkey and Kale Scotch Broth is a healthy Low-Calorie soup brought to us by Queen of the 5:2 diet, my friend Karen Burns Booth of Lavender and Lovage. Karen has lost 13 kilos in the last 6 months following this two days a week fasting diet. Find out more about how she did it and get this soup recipe and many more delicious recipes.
Linzi at Lancashire Food tells us she took a little poetic license with the medieval recipe for Lentil and Vegetable Potage. What she has created, is a lovely thick and comforting plate of soup, perfect for cold winter weather.
Spicy Red Bean Soup is more of a meal than a soup! Deon van Schalkwyk of Food Jam has brought us this huge pot full of healthy goodness, and just how inviting would that be to come home to?
Carrot and Coriander Soup is a very popular combination of flavours and has been shared by Ness at JibberJabberUK. Ness overcame a rather unpleasant experience when making soup in her slow cooker during her student flat sharing days, if you want to find out what happened click through to JibberJabberUK
Red Lentil and Chickpea and Tomato Soup with Smoked Paprika my own contribution to the challenge found at Kaylyn's Kitchen on the Slow Cooker from Scratch pages, so many really tasty recipes adapted for the slow cooker.
Girl Eats World took the opportunity of using The Slow Cooker Challenge to give her the push to make her family's Lentil Soup recipe in her slow cooker. It looks like a really warming and filling dish.
Noble Nourishment has adapted her sister-in-law's Tomato and Basil Soup for her Slow Cooker, sounds like a really good idea and one I will definitely be making as these are some of my favourite flavours.
Slow Cooker Guernsey Bean Jar, based on a traditional recipe given to her by a friend from Guernsey 30 years ago. Sarah has recently been in hospital, but was determined to take part in the Slow Cooker Challenge. Sarah is a very experienced at cooking in the slow cooker, look out for news of her latest e-book at her blog Tales from the Kitchen Shed.
Thanks again for the fabulous entries and remember to come back on the 1st February to find out about the next Slow Cooker Challenge.
Wednesday, 29 January 2014
Sunday, 26 January 2014
|Spinach and Cheese Souffle with Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar|
|Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar|
|Ingredients for Spinach and Cheese Souffle|
The Barber family have been farming and making cheese at Maryland Farm in Ditcheat, Somerset since 1833. In the early days, milk from the farm was sold locally and the cheese made was used to feed the family and farm workers. As time went on, the milk needed to make cheese increased and soon the family were buying milk from neighbouring farms as well.
Today the Barber farms comprise 2500 acres of prime Somerset dairy land and are home to some 2,000 dairy cows. They continue to use traditional ‘cheddaring’ techniques combined with a unique collection of traditional starter cultures for which they are sole guardians, to create a truly typical West Country Farmhouse cheddar.
The Spinach and Cheese Souffle was the ideal vehicle for this strong cheddar, only 100g is used but the souffle still tasted strongly of tangy cheddar. I also used some in a cheese sauce for cauliflower cheese and, again, a little went a long way. I can highly recommend this cheese and will be looking out for it again.
Spinach and Cheese Soufflé
Serves 6-8 depending on the size of the ramekins
200g/7oz bag washed and ready to eat spinach
40g plain flour
300ml/half a pint milk
25g/1oz white breadcrumbs
100g/3 and a half oz Barbers 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar, finely grated
1tsp Dijon mustard
Freshly grated nutmeg, salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs separated
1. Heat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Pierce the bag of spinach in several places and microwave on full power for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes until wilted. Leave until cook enough to handle then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Chop roughly.
2. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour. Cook stirring for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth then cook gently, stirring for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
3. Brush 6-8 ramekins or small ovenproof dishes with melted butter and coat with breadcrumbs.
4. Stir most of the cheese and the mustard into the sauce and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in the egg yolks, then add the spinach.
5. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until forming soft peaks. Take care not to allow them to become dry. Spoon two tablespoons of egg white into the cheese mixture to slacken the mixture then fold in the rest of the egg white with a metal spoon.
6. Place the ramekins in a roasting tin and pour in boiling water to come half way up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 10-12 minutes until well risen and golden brown, but still with a little bit of a wobble!
Serve immediately with green salad.
I made some small changes to the recipe, I baked mine in a single dish as I've put my ramekins into storage due to the work which is about to start on my kitchen. The recipe also stated that you only use 2 tbsp of the egg white, I'm not sure if this is an error in the booklet, but I used all the egg whites and the souffle seemed the correct texture to me. I can't see 2 tbsp raising this amount of bechamel sauce.
|Spinach and Cheese Souffle|
Thursday, 23 January 2014
|Photo Frames by Coppercurls Designs, digital baking elements by Kate Hadfield - katehadfielddesigns.com|
On Monday I showed you a traditional Burns Supper of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties with a few subtle changes. That made a hearty meal for three. Today I'm going to show you how the same ingredients can be stretched to become a pie that will feed eight.
Haggis, Neeps and Tattie Pie
1 small haggis
1 small turnip (swede), peeled and cut into 2cm dice
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
1 pack of short crust pastry sheets or make your own pastry using recipe in the Frequently used recipe page.
100 ml double cream
1. Heat the oven to 200C. Simmer the turnip and potatoes in salted water until just starting to soften, about 5 minutes for the potato and about 10-15 for the turnip.
2. Open the haggis packaging , slice and dice the haggis and cook in the microwave according to the pack instructions.
3. Mix the haggis, potato and turnip together with 1 egg, 100ml double cream and the whiskey if using.
4. Line a medium baking tray with one sheet of pastry, brush round the edge with beaten egg. Add the filling mixture and cover with the other sheet of pastry, crimping the edges of the pastry to seal. Make two or three steam holes in the top of the pie and brush with more beaten egg.
5. Bake the pie for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve sliced with green vegetables, you may also wish to serve gravy if you prefer.
The texture is similar to a Cornish Pasty and I can report that the pie also tastes good served cold, as I had a piece for my lunch today!
2014 is Scotland's Year of Homecoming with spectacular sporting events such as the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup taking place in Scotland. The 2014 Food & Drink campaign is a collaboration between Scotland Food & Drink (the lead partner); Scottish Enterprise; The Scottish Government; Scottish Development International; Highlands & Islands Enterprise; EventScotland; and VisitScotland. All of these agencies are working together to promote Scottish produce, our natural larder during the year of 2014.
There are also many fantastic festivals and entertainment events coming up too, Find out more about the events taking place in Scotland in 2014 at HomecomingScotland.com
Monday, 20 January 2014
You can eat haggis at any time of year but there is a huge peak in demand around the 25th January, the birthday of Robert Burns, Scotland's National Bard. There are Burns Supper celebrations everywhere just now in Scotland and, indeed, all over the world, so why not have a look at Scotland.Org and in particular the Celebrate Scotland pages where you can find out about events happening in Scotland, particularly this year, the Year of Homecoming, 2014.
But back to the haggis! There are many different ways to use Haggis in your cooking and on Scotland.org you will find some restaurant quality recipes prepared by Jacqueline O'Donnel
Dingwall Haggis Bon Bons
and Vegetarian haggis with hisky glazed turnip pearls, straw potatoes with chive and malt cream sauce
Both recipes look delicious, but do recommend the use of a deep fat fryer which is something I do not have. However, nothing daunted, I scanned the recipes to see what I could learn and decided that I would try something just a little bit different.
First microwave your haggis, I read the instructions on the back of the haggis, this involving much squinting and removal of my glasses to read the tiny writing. Normally I would simmer the haggis in water for an hour, but was pleased to see that I could 'deconstruct' the haggis (take all the packing off), slice and cube it and microwave for 9 minutes. I have a top power model of microwave so it only took 6 minutes to heat it through, brilliant!
Second add cream and whisky to your 'neeps' or turnips (Swede), you know the orange one.
I'll be back later in the week with a way to make one small 2-3 person haggis stretch to feed 6-8 people. In the meantime check out the Address to a Haggis in many and varied languages.
Sunday, 19 January 2014
I used my OXO Good Grips mandoline to slice the onions finely and gently sauted them with oil and butter until they were soft and golden. It was only then that I thought I should, perhaps, check out a recipe. I found the ideal recipe at BBC Good Food although I didn't use wine in my soup but replaced this with a bit more beef stock.
I had one pannini roll left over from the Chorizo Burgers so split it, divided it into triangles, drizzled with olive oil and some cheese slices and put it under the grill to brown. The bread was perfect to float on top of the soup and then push down into it, soaking up all the sweet oniony broth.
This is such a simple soup to make and the ingredients are inexpensive and freely available, so I am entering it for this month's Credit Crunch Munch, the blog event run by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla at Fab Food 4 All.
Friday, 17 January 2014
We love to eat fajitas. I buy the tortillas and the fajita spice mix and sometimes also the box of Nachos with their sachets of topping. Sometimes I buy the salsa, sometimes I make it, but I always make my own guacamole and have little bowls of sour cream, roasted peppers, cheese, salad and kidney beans.
When my sons were still at home it was their favourite meal and there were never any leftovers. But now there are fewer of us, so last night there were three tortillas left, enough chicken for one and a few bits and pieces in each of the other bowls. Just about enough for one person's lunch but not really enough for a meal.
As I am not really baking just now, all the bakeware having been packed away for the kitchen work, I have a bit of an overload of eggs. We get our eggs from a colleague of my husband's and half a dozen beautiful free range eggs arrive every Monday. Usually I've used them all before the next delivery but they are starting to stack up. So eggs seemed like a good way to go with my recipe development!
Tortilla Bake (serves 2-3)
1-2 tbsp kidney beans
1 tbsp soured cream
1 -2 tbsp tomato salsa
1-2 tbsp roasted sweet peppers
1-2 tbsp chicken cooked in fajita spice mix
1-2 tbsp guacamole
150g hard cheese (cheddar)
100ml semi skimmed milk
salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Grease a round pie dish with butter or oil. Lay one torilla in the base, add the cooked chicken, place another tortilla on top and cover with the beans, cream, salsa, chicken and guacamole. Place the final tortilla over this. (If you only have two just make a big sandwich).
2. Beat the eggs and milk together in a bowl, season and pour over the tortilla layers.
3. Cover with foil and leave to rest in the fridge for 2-3 hours to let the egg mix soak in.
4. Heat the oven to 180C
5. Grate the the cheese over the top of the tortillas.
6. Replace the foil and bake for 20 minutes until the egg is almost set.
7. Increase the oven temperature to 220C
8. Remove the foil and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the cheese is browned and melted.
9. Serve cut into wedges with salad or vegetables.
Tea Time Treats is a blog challenge run by my friend Karen at Lavender and Lovage, this month it is being hosted by Jane at Hedgecombers and the Tea Time theme is 'EGGS'.
I've already entered on recipe for the 'No Waste Food Challenge' this month but the Tortilla Bake is a leftovers dish so it also qualifies for this excellent challenge organised by Elizabeth of Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.
Food Blog Diary. Cheese is integral to the success of the Tortilla Bake and the theme for Cheese Please, this month, is Comfort Food and Winter Warmers, so I think this cheesy supper dish definitely fits the bill!
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
After the huge success of the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway hosting of #ScotFood when we were top trend in the UK, my co-host @GallowayChilli has decided to launch #ChilliHour a special Twitter Chat to discuss all things chilli! Please join in if you can.
The first #ChilliHour takes place on 20th January on Monday 20 January 2014 at 9 – 10 pm. All you need to join in is to have a Twitter account, and to tag your tweets #ChilliHour.
Follow the host for the very first ChilliHour to see the questions being tweeted out. The host will be tweeting out the questions for the chat, which will be:
21:00 Q1 – Introduce yourself: first name, first part of postcode, your business or reason for joining #ChilliHour (this will always be first question)
21:05 Q2 What is your association with chillies? #ChilliHour
21:15 Q3 Are you a proper chilli head or do you much prefer milder and why? #ChilliHour
21:25 Q4 What is your favourite variety of chilli and why? #ChilliHour
21:35 Q5 Have you any exciting plans for this year? #ChilliHour
21:45 Q6 How long have you been in the chilli business or when do you plan to start? #ChilliHour
21:55 Q7 What are your food and drink resolutions for 2014? #ChilliHour
Photo sharing is welcome throughout the chat – the more the better! Just tag your photo #ChilliHour or use it to answer one of the questions.
22:00 # ChilliHour chat ends – till the next time 17 February where we are looking for a topic!
Tuesday, 14 January 2014
Originally I'd intended to make one of the sausage and croissant rings like the one made by Claire at Foodie Quine. However, my good intentions came to naught and the other can of dough was baked into ordinary croissants.
I cooked the cocktail sausages in the oven making sure they were cooked through. I took them out and left them to cool a little. I unrolled the dough and separated the pieces, spread them with grain mustard and rolled up the dough around the sausages (two cocktail sausages per croissant) and baked for 15 minutes until puffed up and browned.
These Sausage Stuffed Croissants are ideal for lunch and would slip nicely into a packed lunch box too.
I'm also linking up to Daisies and Pie - Lunchbox Ideas
Monday, 13 January 2014
Olympic cycling champion Victoria Pendleton, singer Michael Ball and actress Samantha Bond are among the celebrities competing in The Great Sport Relief Bake Off this month.Judged by cookery writer Mary Berry and master baker Paul Hollywood, 16 celebrities will compete across four shows on BBC Two from today, Monday, 13th until Thursday16th January.
The other celebrity bakers include broadcasters Emma Freud and Johnny Vaughan, Dancing On Ice judge Jason Gardiner, and actresses Jane Horrocks and Doon Mackichan.
Also taking part are Olympic champion long-jumper Greg Rutherford and former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan.
Impressionist Alistair McGowan, former Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton, Harry Potter actress Bonnie Wright, Desert Island Discs host Kirsty Young and singers Rochelle Humes, from The Saturdays; and Jamelia complete the line-up.
Quintessential British pottery maker Emma Bridgewater has created two limited edition aprons for Sport Relief 2014. One of the designs will be presented each night to the winner of ‘The Great Sport Relief Bake Off’ and both designs are available to buy exclusively from Sport Relief official partners, brands-for-less homeware retailer HomeSense, TK Maxx stores,TKmaxx.com and sportrelief.com throughout the UK from January 13th 2014.
There’s been a resurgence in home baking across the nation and the apron is a great opportunity to be part of the baking movement whilst supporting a great cause.
Emma Bridgewater says: “After the success of our Emma Bridgewater range for Red Nose Day we were delighted to be asked to create something for Sport Relief 2014. Our two new aprons feature our signature black and white hand drawn design, encouraging everyone to be a sport and get involved. Whether it’s sport or baking it’s the taking part that counts – but this way everyone gets to take home a trophy.
The team at Emma Bridgewater are very passionate about Comic Relief and I know they are already looking at this year’s Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games too… I personally quite fancy a swimming challenge.”
A spokesperson for HomeSense and TK Maxx added: “We are delighted to be working with Sport Relief and Emma Bridgewater again and supporting the good work that Comic Relief does both across the world and in the local communities where we have customers and stores.”
Since 2002, Sport Relief has raised over £195million. As one of the UK’s biggest fundraising events, Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active, raise cash and change lives. The money raised from the apron will be used to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people –both on your doorstep in the UK and around the world. So join in the fun and games and be sure to grab a limited edition Emma Bridgewater apron before they’re all scone!
Details and Prices:
£12.99 with at least £6.50 going to Sport ReliefApron featured on ‘The Great Sport Relief Bake Off’
I was not paid for this post and am promoting it to support Sport Relief.
Saturday, 11 January 2014
It wouldn't be Christmas without a new cookbook. I was lucky enough to receive two new books, 'eat, The little book of fast food' by Nigel Slater:
and 'Dear Francesca, a cookbook with love' by Mary Contini:
They are both lovely books to read as well as to cook from so it was no hardship to choose a random recipe from one of my new books as requested by Dom at Belleau Kitchen for the Random Recipes Blog challenge.
Nigel Slater won the 'eeny meany miney mo' selection and then I just opened the little book of fast food randomly to find myself at the page for chorizo burgers. The recipe is copyright so I can't share it in it's entirety but there are only three ingredients: minced pork, cooking chorizo sausages, salt and pepper and ciabatta or pannini rolls. Nigel uses more chorizo than pork, my burgers were more like half and half. I simply formed the mix into burgers and fried them with a very little oil in a non-stick pan.
|I made the burgers rectangular to fit better onto the rolls!|
The burgers were really easy to make on a Friday night, when I would usually stick a pizza straight from the freezer into the oven! The texture was nice and soft and the chorizo sausage gave the burgers a delightful smoky piquancy. I will definitely make these again.
I used Heck Smoky Chorizo style sausages, they have a good flavour and softer texture than some chorizo which made them easy to mix with the minced pork. Please don't be alarmed by the Use By date, they were frozen well before that date and defrosted in the fridge overnight before becoming burgers!
@FarmersgirlCook Thrilled to hear this. Thank you. And lovely picture.
— nigel slater (@NigelSlater) January 18, 2014
Sunday, 5 January 2014
Uyen Luu hosts a Vietnamese supper club in her East London apartment where she cooks dishes she learned from her mother, she also holds Vietnamese cookery classes and teaches people from all over Europe. Visit Uyen's blog and find out more about her interests, including photography and film making.
Clare Winfield specialises in photographing food, her work has appeared in magazines and cookery books.
The book has a foreword by Raymond Blanc who met Uyen durng the filming of his television series, How to Cook Well. The introduction goes on to tell of Uyen's childhood an cooking inspiration. This is followed by a glossary of ingredients with alternatives which is always useful.
Chapter 1 - Awaken the Senses, Breakfast
Many of the breakfast recipes would translate well into lunch or even main meal dishes. I particularly liked: Lemongrass Beef or Pork Baguette; Hue Noodle Soup with Beef and Pork, Chicken Curry (see recipe below); Beef Stew with star anise.
Chapter 2 - Feed the Soul, Soups
These are main course soups, full of fish, meat and vegetables including Hot and Sour Fish Soup, Duck Congee and Crab Tomato and Omelette Soup.
Chapter 3 - Sticky Fingers, Snacks
Street food is a major influence on the dishes in this chapter and there some of the tasty bites I liked the look of were Puff Pastry Chicken Pies; Spring Rolls, Sai Gon fresh summer rolls and Sizzling Crepes with pork and prawns.
Chapter 4 - Live Long, Noodles
There are many different kinds of noodles and the dishes in 'My Vietnamese Kitchen' feature a variety of these. Here are my favourites: BBQ Pork Belly Skewers (with rice noodle salad), Stir Fried Beef and Fresh Noodles and Egg Noodles with Chinese Broccoli.
Chapter 5 - Eat and Play, Lunch and Dinner
And so to the main event, I was fascinated by the Fishcakes with Dill which are held together with french baking powder rather than potato, so all that you eat is fish! Fish features heavily with a beautiful Fired Tiliapia with Green Mango and a Baked Seabream both of which I found very appealing. Rich and sticky BBQ Spare Ribs would be hard to beat and a rather surprising Spaghetti Bolognese, included because of the love of Italian food in the new cosmopolitan Vietnam.
Chapter 6 - Happy Endings, Sweets
I love Mango and the Mango Smoothie looks and sounds totally delicious. This chapter also includes Banana Fritters, Creme Caramel and Avocado Ice cream as well as Pandan Cake, coloured with an extract from Pandan Leaves.
The chapters are interspersed with interesting short essays about the Vietnamese way of eating, cooking and dining as well as information about the French influence on their cuisine.
Who is it for? Anyone who enjoys Asian food and would like to expand their repertoire I would suggest you check out Uyen's web site and if you like the recipes she has published there, then you will love this book . Fish, seafood, beef and pork feature throughout the book with a very few vegetarian recipes, so probably not a good buy for vegetarians.
Pros: The book is well laid out, with beautiful, tempting photographs and a fairly wide range of different recipes. The fusion of Asian and French cuisine leads to some really inspired dishes.
Cons: Some of the ingredients may be difficult to source outside a large city, although you may be able to get them online. It would have been helpful to include some information about where to source ingredients.
Ease of Use: While I have eaten curry for breakfast while visiting Malaysia, it's probably not something I would do at home, so I felt that it was easier to ignore the chapter headings when looking for a dish to cook. Otherwise, the recipe I cooked was well laid out and I had no difficulty following the instructions.
At first, I found it quite difficult to get going with this book, I think because of the chapter headings as I've described above. Once I got over this and just looked at the recipes, I found that there were many dishes here that I wanted to make.
The Chicken Curry was one of the best I have made, similar to a Thai Green Curry, with so much flavour and just the right amount of piquancy. I am, therefore, excited and encouraged to make more recipes from My Vietnamese Kitchen.
Chicken Curry (serves 2)
ca ri ga
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 thumb's worth of fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, finely diced
2 large chicken legs, cut into bite-size pieces or 6 whole drumsticks, skin on
3 teaspoons curry powder
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
165ml (2/3 cup) coconut milk
300ml (1 1/4 cups) chicken stock
2 medium potatoes, cubed
1 carrot roughly sliced
4 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
ground black pepper
1/2 aubergine/eggplant cubed (optional)
handful of okra, cut into bite-size pieces (optional)
6 Asian shallots, peeled
handful of mangetout/snow peas (optional)
warm baguette and butter, or steamed rice to serve
Thai sweet basil
Bird's eye chillis
1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Gently fry the red onion , ginger and lemongrass.
2. Once the onion has softened, add the chicken legs and fry, turning often until they're evenly browned.
3. Add the curry powder, stirring well until the chicken legs are well coated. Add the garlic, coconut milk, chicken stock, potatoes and carrot and stir.
4. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 10 minutes.
5. Season the curry with the fish sauce, sugar and a pinch of black pepper, then add the aubergine/eggplant, okra, shallots and mangetout pea/snow peas.
6. Cook for a further 8-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Garnish with Thai sweet basil, spring onions/scallions and chillies. Serve with a fresh, warm baguette and butter, or a bowl of steamed rice.
What I did differently
I used 6 chicken thighs, doubled up the aubergine, potatoes, carrots and the coconut milk. Used a Korma curry paste rather than powder. No okra or mangetout, so I used a green pepper and some green beans. The fish sauce and coconut milk are both key to the flavour of this dish.
My Vietnamese Kitchen by Uyen Luu
Published by Ryland Peters and Small
I'm entering this recipe for Bloggers Around the World, a blogger challenge from Chris at Cooking Around the World blog. This month the country of choice is Vietnam, thanks Chris for motivating me to make this dish and post the review.