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Saturday, 29 October 2011

Blackberry and Apple Cobbler

or rather...Blackberry and Apple Cobble!  I think I should have chosen a shallower dish for this as the cobber pieces all joined together into one big cobble!  It did taste delicious though!

It's the last day of Bookmarked Recipes, run by Jac at Tinned Tomatoes from an idea by Ruth at Ruth's Kitchen Experiments, and I thought I wasn't going to get an entry in in time.  But for tonight's dessert I chose a recipe I had bookmarked in Woman and Home - Dinner Tonight for October.

Blackberry and Apple Cobbler
500g (1lb 2oz) Apples
400g (4oz) blackberries
200g (7oz) golden caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1tbsp cornflour
150g (5oz) self-raising flour
50g (2oz) chilled butter, cubed
100ml (4fl oz) buttermilk
1tbsp demerara sugar

1.2litre (2 pint) greased ovenproof dish

1. Heat the oven to 200C, 180C Fan, 400F, gas 6.  Fill a bowl with water, peel the apples and put into the water to stop them browning. Quarter, core and slice the apples and place in the ovenproof dish.

2. Add the blackberries to the apples and sprinle over 50g (2oz) of the sugar, as well as the cinnamon and cornflour.  Gently stir everything together to mix the apples and blacberries with the dry ingredients.

3. Put the flour in a bowl or food processor, add the butter and the remaining 150g (5oz) sugar, and cut with a knife or whizz until it forms crumbs.  Add the buttermilk and blend until a squidgy dough forms.

4. Scatter clumps of the dough over the fruit - don't cover completely.  Spinkle with the demerara sugar and bake for 40 minues, or unitl the fruit is tender and the cobbler golden.

I didn't have any buttermilk, normally I would use a bit of yogurt in the milk to sour it or some lemon juice, but instead I used an egg and topped up to 100ml with semi-skimmed milk, it rose beautifully as you can see. 

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Friday, 28 October 2011

Hotel Chocolat and Christmas - made for each other!

I was so excited to be chosen by Beth at Jam and Cream to review some lovely Hotel Chocolat goodies. I think Hotel Chocolat do Christmas so well and this Classic Sleekster Christmas Selection Luxe box of Chocolates epitomises just how good their chocs are and how beautifully they are presented.

Forget your dodgy selection box, this is what you want to select to go in your Christmas Stocking.  All this week Mr Farmer and I have been tasting these chocolates on your's a hard job but somebody has got to do it!  I've been making tasting notes and choosing my faves.  Of course you may have different ideas, but there are so many delicious chocolates in here that you are bound to find quite a few that become your favourites too.

Lift the lid and let Christmas out!  That's what it says on the 'menu', there are a total of 16 different types of chocolate in this selection. 

Top choice for us was the Ginger Cheesecake with a thick layer of ginger conserve topped with creammy cheesecake topping all covered in thick milk chocolate.

A close second was the Chilli Truffle, a rich dark chocolate truffle with just the right amount of heat from the chilli hitting the back of your throat, I could have eaten a whole box of these.

There are a whole host of spicy Christmas flavours, gingerbread, florentine, mulled wine, cinnamon, star anise, marzipan and champagne, as well as some simpler chocolate truffles and pralines.

See the Hotel Chocolat Christmas Selection HERE
See the Stocking Fillers from Hotel Chocolat HERE
See the Christmas Hampers, Chocolate Hampers HERE

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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Ham and Parsley Puff Pie

Remember I kept back half the ham from my 'overspilling casserole'?  Well, I made it into a pie.

The pastry is Jus Rol All Butter Puff Pastry, the filling is simply a white sauce with chopped up ham, parsley and grain mustard.  I cooled the sauce before putting it in the pie dish.  Made a pastry collar for the pie dish, brushed with egg wash and added the lid.


I baked it in the oven at 180C for around 40 minutes until the pastry had risen and browned.  

I served it with  roast potatoes, carrots dressed with butter and honey.  I probably should have used either the parsley or the mustard rather than both as the flavours were fighting each other.  Otherwise, it was very delicious.

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Sunday, 23 October 2011

Bacon or Ham Stewpot

There is something about a really messy casserole dish that appeals to me.  Of course, what really happened is that I tried to stuff too much food into my Le Creuset and it leaked out!

If you don't eat meat you could leave it out and it would still be a tasty stewpot.

However I had this gammon joint from the lovely Kilnford Barns Farm Shop and I thought it would be ideal to get at least half the week's dinners out of it.  As I already had Pamela Westland's Casserole Cooking out of the bookcase for Random Recipes last week, I noticed that there was a 'bookmarked' recipe for Bacon Stewpot.

750g (1.5lb) unsmoked bacon, collar or slipper
25g (1oz) butter
225g (8oz) small onions, peeled
4 medium leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tbsp plain flour
450ml (3/4 pint) stock, hot
2 medium carrots, sliced (I used about 10 small/medium carrots)
225g (8oz) haricot beans (soaked overnight and drained)
225g (8oz) potatoes peeled and sliced (I probably used about 2lb, no wonder if spilled over!)
freshly ground black pepper

The recipe states that you should remove the rind and cut up your ham into cubes, but as I wanted to use it for other things,  I cooked it, covered in water, for 20 minutes in the pressure cooker until it was just tender.  I kept the ham stock to make soup later.

1. Melt the butter in a casserole dish and gently fry the onions and leeks until they are soft.
2. Stir in the flour, and add the hot stock stirring constantly.  Simmer to cook out the flour for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the bacon, carrots beans and potatoes (to be honest you could use any root veggies here, add a bit of celery or some butternut squash, whatever you've got, bung it in)
4. Season well with pepper and bring to the boil for 3 minutes.
5. Cover the casserole and cook in a pre-heated oven for 1 1/2 hours.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
6. Serve with a green vegetable.

As I wasn't using the cubed bacon but had the whole joint in the pot, so once it was cooked I took out the bacon joint, halved it and cut half into cubes then stirred them back into the vegetable mixture.

This makes a huge pot of delicious, filling and warming food, which would feed 6-8 people.  It would be ideal for a Halloween or Bonfire Party and, even better,  I still have half the ham which I'm making into a pie and will feature in another post soon!

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Thursday, 20 October 2011

Cracked Wheat Pilaff and Vegetable Curry

It's Random Recipes time again!  This month Dom decided to stir things up a bit and make us connect with other participants in the challenge.  My partner was  Alice of Italian Inspiration and we had to pick recipes for each other!

Random Recipes #9

It was all done with Random Number Generation, and the book that I got was Casserole Cooking by Pamela Westland I was rather pleased about that as I know that there are lots of nice recipes in this book and I love to make casseroles, they are so easy to make and also often better when reheated.

Back to Alice to tell her how many pages there were in the book and she returned with my number, now the page had two recipes on it, but I thought they would actually go rather well together so decided to make both.

Vegetable Curry
225g (8oz) carrots, trimmed and diced
225g (8oz) shelled broad beans
225g (8oz) shelled peas
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp curry paste
1 tbsp wholewheat flour
5 tbsp double cream
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
4 tbsp cashew nuts, toasted

 1. Steam the carrots, broad beans, peas and cauliflower over boiling salted water until they are barely tender - they will cook a little more in the sauce.  Reserve 300ml (1/2 pint) of the liquid.
2. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole and fry the onion and garlic, over moderate heat for 3 minutes, stirring once or twice.
3. Stir in the paprika  cook for a minute.  Stir in the curry paste and the flour.
4. Slowly pour the reserved liquid into the casserole, stirring until the sauce thickens. Stir in the cream and lemon juice.
5. Add all the vegetables to the sauce, stir gently, cover and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
6. Stir in 1 tbsp of the chopped herb and 2 tbsp of the cashews.
7. Sprinkle the remaining herb over the vegetables and catter on the remaining nuts.  Serve with brown rice and tomato salad.

The second recipe is for Cracked Wheat and Spinach Pilaf, this is not a way I've used Bulgar Wheat before, so I was interested to see what it would be like.

Cracked Wheat and Spinach Pilaff
3 tbsp oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
225g (8oz) cracked wheat (bulgar), washed and drained
450ml (3/4 pint) vegetable stock
4 tbsp seedless raisins
1/2 small cauliflower, cut into florets
175g (6oz) spinach leaves, stalks removed 
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp snipped chives
4 tbsp blanched almonds, toasted
tomato wedges, to garnish

1. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole and fry the onion over moderate heat for 3 minutes, stirring once or twice.  Stir in the garlic and fry for 1 minute.
2. Stir in the cracked wheat, cook for 1 minute, then pour on the vegetable stock. Stir in the raisins and cauliflower florets, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
3. Cover the casserole and simmer for 20 minutes, until the wheat and cauliflower is almost tender.
4. Add the spinach leaves, increase the heat and stir to distribute them well.  Serve as soon as the spinach is just tender and the liquid evaporated.  The dish should be just moist.
5. Stir in the chives and almonds, and turn the pilaff on to a warmed serving dish and garnish with tomato wedges, if wished.

This was a fun challenge and the two dishes worked really well together.  The curry was lovely and creamy and the firm texture of the cracked wheat worked well as a substitute for rice.   Both dishes also reheated really well.

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Monday, 17 October 2011

Baked Chilli Chocolate Custards

The plan for the 'We should Cocoa' challenge was to make Chilli Chocolate Ice cream, but I forgot to put the ice cream maker bowl in the freezer soon enough, so had to find an alternative!

I had my new favourite cookbook, Supper for a Song by Tamasin Day Lewis,  out on the counter from making the Pineapple Chilli Jam, so had a look to see what Tamasin had to offer in the way of choccie delights.

This recipe for Baked bitter chocolate custards was ideal for spicing up with a bit of chilli.
Baked Chilli Chocolate Custards
Serves 4

100g/3.5oz dark chocolate
4 tbsp double cream
1 tbsp freshly made strong coffee, cooled to tepid
200ml/half pint Jersey or full cream milk (I used semi-skimmed, was all I had)
4 large egg yolks
55g/2oz caster sugar
1 red chilli, desseeded and finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas 2. 
Warm the cream gently in a pan with the chopped chilli.  Remove from the heat (I have been listening to Mary Berry on the masterclass for the Great British Bake Off) chop the chocolate and add to the warm cream, as the chocolate melts stir in the coffee, then once it has all melted whisk in the milk.

Whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl, then whisk in the sugar until the mixture is pale and creamy.  Pour in the chocolate mixture and fold together using a spatula until evenly combined.

Pour the chocolate mixture into 4 ramekins, dividing it equally between them.  Stand the ramekins in a roasting tin and surround with enough boiling water to come half way up the sides.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until the custards have set.

Remove the ramekins from their bain marie and let the custards cool to warm before serving.

I topped it with some whipped cream. Initially I was a bit disappointed with the look of the custard, but when you break through the hit the rich, gooey chocolate custard with just a hint of chilli heat.  I would probably add more chilli next time, but I am definitely making these again with or without chilli.

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Saturday, 15 October 2011

Pineapple Chilli Jam

Last night, I commented on Lyndsey's blog, Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops, that I wasn't sure whether I would have time to take part in her Sweet Heat challenge.  And here I am with my entry for the challenge!

The deciding factor was the pineapple which I had bought two weeks ago as part of a buy one, get one free offer.  We ate the first pineapple, but I was away last weekend and the second pineapple just sat there looking more and more dodgy.  When I cut the skin off there were actually only a few brown bits which I cut off, but I didn't fancy eating it raw, so in a flash of inspiration I decided that I could adapt the Tomato and Chilli Jam recipe I made in September to make Pineapple and Chilli Jam.

Pineapple & Chilli Jam

1 pineapple, skin and core removed
2 medium red chillis, with their seeds
4 fat garlic cloves
1 thumb of fresh ginger root, peeled and roughly chopped
20ml Thai fish sauce
175g unrefined golden caster sugar
50ml white wine vinegar

Chop half the pineapple into small pieces and set aside.  Put the rest of the pineapple with the chillies and their seeds, garlic, ginger and fish sauce in a blender and blitz to a fine puree.

Spoon the puree into a deep, heavy-bottomed pan and add the sugar and wine vinegar.  Bring to the boil slowly, stirring as you go.  When it comes to the boil, turn down to a simmer and add the diced pineapple.  Skim off any foam that rises to the surface and cook gently for up to 1 hour, stirring from time to time, to prevent the mixture catching and burning.  Scrape the sides of the pot too so that everything cooks evenly.  The mixture thickens as it cooks.

When the mixture seems thick to the stir of a wooden spoon, decant it into a warm sterilised jar and seal.

Store in a larder or cool place, not in the fridge, for up to 9 months.  Once opened keep in fridge.

I had a little taste and I have to say, it was really good even without any time to mature.  You could feel the heat of the chilli coming through the sweetness of the pineapple and the piquancy of the vinegar and fish sauce.  I'm not sure what that fish sauce does exactly but it is definitely a must for chutneys and relishes.

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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Spiced Butternut Squash and prawns with coconut and chilli

We don't have a Sainsbury store near my home.  But I travel about a bit in my work and at one of the sites I frequent there is a Sainsbury's within walking distance and I like to drop in their in my lunch hour.  I picked up a copy of the Sainsbury's Magazine for October as I liked the look of some of the recipes.

I particularly liked this recipe for 
Spiced Squash and Prawns with coconut and chilli:

Serves 3-4
Serve with Basmati rice

2 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 green chillies, finely chopped, plus sliced chilli to serve (I only had red chillies so used these instead)
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp jalfrezi or other medium curry paste (I used Pataks Jalfrezi)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
I had a couple of little courgettes which I also added.
2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
20 large, raw shelled prawns, ideally with tails left on 
juice of 1/2 large lime
2 handfuls of coriander leaves

1 Heat the oil in a shallow-sided pan and gently fry the onion, garlic and chopped chilli for  5-7 minutes, until softened.  Stir in the turmeric and curry paste and fry for a further minute.
2. Add the butternut squash and coconut milk, bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Stir in the prawns and lime juice ans dimmer for a couple of minutes until the prawns are cooked.  Check the seasoning.  Add most of the coriander and serve topped with the rest and the slices of chilli.

 I really can't recommend this recipe enough, it was easy to make and was lovely and creamy.  The recipe says it feeds 3-4, but you could easily feed 6 with this potful.   It would also be a great vegetarian dish by simply leaving out the prawns.

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Monday, 3 October 2011

The Great British Bake Off - Farmersgirl Bakes!

No, I'm not a contestant in the Great British Bake Off.  I am sure I would crack under the pressure and probably swear, maybe even throw my cake at Paul Hollywood and tip my macaroons into Mary Berry's lap.  Well, maybe I exaggerate a little, but I bake best when I have the kitchen to myself, some good music playing and permission to deviate from the recipe on a whim!

I have, however, given in and bought the book.  I got it yesterday in Tesco for a tenner, I used my points  vouchers which makes it feel like it cost nothing at all - result!

I thought I would honour the final of GBBO which will be shown on Tuesday 4th October by baking something from the book.   I needed to make something for the Macmillan Cancer coffee morning we are having at work, it's not till Thursday so it had to be a biscuit that I could put in an airtight tin to keep.

I was taken with the shortbread recipe, which uses cornflour or rice flour as well as plain wheat flour.  I didn't have any rice flour but plenty of cornflour.  The recipe is for Ginger Shortbread, but I have left out the ginger because I didn't have any crystalised ginger so I just made it plain.

I make shortbread every Christmas with THIS recipe, which works well.  It was interesting to see how a different recipe worked.  I will try the variations from the GBBO book another time.  The biscuits were easy to make and baked very evenly.  Looking forward to trying more recipes from the book.

Good Luck to Holly, Jo and Mary Ann in the Final of the Great British Bake Off.  You have given us some fabulous bakes, some nail biting moments and it will be strange not to join you all on a Tuesday evening.

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Saturday, 1 October 2011

Butternut Squash, Feta Cheese and Roasted Pepper Quiche

Last Sunday my friend came over for lunch.  I thought that some kind of quiche or flan with salad would be ideal.  I had already bought the butternut squash, so went off in search of a recipe that would incorporate this.

In the end my recipe is a kind of combination of a couple of different recipes.  Some of the butternut squash flans were made by pureeing or squishing the squash! A bit like pumpkin pie, no texture, yuk!

My shortcrust pastry comes, as usual, from the Avoca Cookbook I have blogged it before HERE  

I blind baked the pastry case and then made the filling as follows:

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 onion sliced
dessert spoon of brown sugar
olive oil
jar of roasted peppers, drained
pack of feta cheese
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
250ml single cream
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 200C, put the butternut squash and two tablespoons of olive oil in a roasting tray and roast until soft and golden brown.
Gently fry the onion in a little olive oil until soft, add the brown sugar and let it caramelise.

Take the blind baked pastry case, put the caramelised onions in the base, add the roasted butternut squash, chopped feta cheese and roasted peppers.

Beat the eggs, egg yolks, cream and seasoning together.  Pour into the pastry case.  

Turn down the heat in the oven to 180C and bake for about 40 minutes or until the egg is set.

Serve warm or cold with salad.

It was very nice, lots of texture and flavour, the saltiness of the feta went very well with the sweet squash and peppers.  The only thing that bugged me was that the filling leaked out of the bottom of the tin, something that hasn't happened to me for years!  Fortunately, I managed to get it out of the tin without too much trouble.

I am also entering this in the October 'No Croutons Required' challenge over at Tinned Tomatoes, the theme is 'squash' and I'm hoping that this counts as 'salad'.

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