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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Raspberry Jam Muffins

I made some more muffins, I used the basic Betty Crocker recipe, the one I used for the Banana Muffins, but instead of banana I used a scant cup of raspberry jam and for the topping I spread on more jam and dipped in flaked almonds.
These muffins are slightly more dense than the Banana ones, but still very tasty, quick and easy to make.

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Monday, 28 November 2011

Lamb Pot Roast with Cauliflower Cheese

Regular readers of this blog will know that I like a good 'one pot' recipe, stick it in the oven and go and do something else while it cooks away itself. 

This is a piece of rolled shoulder of lamb which I marinaded in olive oil, rosemary and garlic for a couple of hours, then seared in the pot. Then I added big chunks of carrots, potatoes (still in their skins so they held together) and some stock to cover the veggies and a tablespoon of my SIL's Apple and Mint Jelly (or any other mint or redcurrant jelly) adds a bit of sweetness.  Stick it in the oven for a couple of hours at 160C.

I served it with cauliflower in cheese sauce.

I have loads left which I'll make into Shepherd's Pie tomorrow

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Saturday, 26 November 2011

Dan Lepard's Sweet Sherry Plum Pudding

In last Saturday's Guardian Magazine, I spied Dan Lepard's recipe for Sweet Sherry Plum Pudding.  I love Christmas pudding so, as Dan Lepard is 'the man of the moment' as far as baking is concerned,  I thought I would give this a go.

The recipe is full of lovely rich dark stuff, butter, muscovado sugar, black treacle, honey, sherry, prunes, currants and nuts (I used walnuts), it is also lightened by wholemeal breadcrumbs and a grated apple. There is only 75g of flour in the whole recipe.

I packed the mix into my large pudding basin for Christmas, but there was a bit of mixture left over, so...
I filled a little ramekin and steamed it for an hour, that was yesterday.  Today, I reheated it by steaming for about half an hour.

When I cut the string and removed the baking parchment and foil , this gorgeous black pud appeared, studded with dark fruits and golden nuts.

It turned out onto a plate rather well and I managed to get three portions out of this little pud which I served with custard.  

As I said, I only made it yesterday, so it hasn't had time to mature, it is packed with flavour, but doesn't taste heavy or stodgy. If this is what it tastes like after a day, I am really looking forward to Christmas Day!

If you would like to make this pudding, the recipe is available on the Guardian Food pages HERE

I'm entering this for Bookmarked Recipes run by Jac at Tinned Tomatoes with Ruth from Ruth's Kitchen Experiments

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Thursday, 24 November 2011

Banana Muffins

I needed a little sweetness in my life yesterday and didn't have a lot of time, so thought that muffins would fit the bill.  There were bananas in the fruit bowl, looking nice and ripe and calling out to be used before the grocey delivery arrives (today).  I thought I'd look and see what Betty Crocker had in the way of muffin recipes and sure enough there is a nice quick recipe for Banana Muffins.

Banana Muffins (makes 12)

2 ripe bananas (1 cup mashed)
1/3 - 1/2 cup milk (I put in 1/3 then needed to add more)
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1 large egg
2  cups plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For topping
30g butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
30g finely chopped walnuts

1. Heat the oven to 200C.  Grease the muffin pan or line with paper cases.
2. In a large bowl beat milk, egg, oil and banana with a fork or wire whisk until well mixed.
3. Mix the dry ingredients together and add them to the milk mixture and combine just until the flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy)
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
5. Make the topping:  melt the butter, add the sugar then brush the mixture over the warm muffins.
6. Put the chopped walnuts on a plate and dip the sticky top of the muffin in the nuts.

I can certainly recommend this recipe, it was quick and easy to make,  the Betty Crocker book gives a selection of options for the basic recipe including Apple and Cinnamon, Chocolate Chip, Cranberry and Orange and Blueberry.  I haven't used this book very much although I bought it about 4 years ago when we visited California.  I think I will have to investigate further!

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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Food Bloggers Unplugged!

There's a new tag in town, it's Food Bloggers Unplugged which has been started by Susan from A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate and I have been tagged by Karen at Lavender and Lovage.

Food Bloggers Unplugged is to help you to find out a bit more about the tagged Food blogger, in this case ME!  So here goes:

What or who inspired you to start your blog?
I started my craft blog in July 2007, Farmersgirl Kitchen followed in August 2007.
I really couldn't remember exactly why I started it and thought that there was a bigger gap between the two blogs.  So I went back to see what I'd said in my first post:

Tuesday, 14th August 2007
First Post: I love food!
Yes, I really love food and lots of different food.  Just as well I like cooking too!

I am going to share some of my favourite recipes here and tell you all about what I am cooking and eating. Maybe some cookery book reviews too, I have too many cook books and have a tendency to do too much reading and not enough cooking.

I think the blog must have had the desired effect as I am cooking more than I am reading now!

Who is your foodie inspiration?
My mum is an incredible inspiration. When I was growing up she was always making something new and different and continues to be an excellent cook.  In her heyday she also entered a lot of baking competitions and would make a certain item again and again until she got it perfect. 

Your greasiest most batter splattered cook book is?
Now I really found this difficult as I don't have one book which I use all the time, there are quite a few which are greasy and splattered!  Anyway, I decided to pick out three and tell you about them.
These are three of the oldest books that I bought myself.
A Taste of the Country by Pamela Westland, I this got out of the library when I was 15, I trailed it in my suitcase on holiday to London and Belgium (it was hardback as well!).  Later I bought the paperback, used it to death and had to buy a replacement.
Cooking in a Bedsitter by Katherine Whitehorn was given to me by my Mum when I went to university and was well used. It is also a very good read, with lots of funny anecdotes.
The complete International Jewish Cookbook by Evelyn Rose was a book I bought in 1978 (I noticed that I had written my name and the date on the inside title page) and cooked from for many years, there are some fabulous recipes in there and I used to be able to live for a week from a 'boiling fowl' bought from the butchers, making it into all sorts of different dishes inpsired by Ms Rose.

The best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it and what was it?
Again this is difficult, I have quite a few foodie memories, but not sure that I could pick one out as the best.  However, the first time I went to another country it was on a family camping holiday to the South of France, it was a huge adventure and for a Scottish girl from a small country village in the early 1970s, I was very impressed by the bounty of the markets and particularly the fresh peaches, which we washed in the fountain by the market square and ate there and then.  I'd never tasted peaches so ripe and sweet.

Another Food Blogger's table you would like to eat at?
How on earth am I supposed to choose without offending all my bloggie friends?
I'd love to go to a dinner with Karen from Lavender and Lovage, Jac from Tinned Tomatoes,  Dom from Belleau Kitchen, Fiona from London Unattached , Susan from A little bit of Heaven on a Plate  and Kate from Turquoise Lemons. So I'll either have to tour round each one or they will all have to come to me.  You see, for me, it's all about the people not the food, a nice bowl of soup and some bread and cheese with like-minded friends would be fabulous.

What one kitchen gadget would you like Santa to bring you? (money no object)
I'd love a Magimix food processor.  My food processor just won't die so I don't feel I can justify getting one. The one I have is a Moulinex which I bought in 1980 and is very basic, but the motor in it must be solid state!

I'm coming to you for dinner, what is your signature dish?
It would have to be Beef in Barolo wine,  I've never actually used a bottle of Barolo, just a nice bottle of tannic red does the job. It's an ace recipe because all the work is done before hand, so you can spend time with your guests.

What is your guilty food pleasure?
I'm not sure I have one...I try not to feel guilty about food, it takes away the pleasure.

Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
I used to work for Donald Dewar MP, long before he became the first First Minister for Scotland. 

And now I have to tag five other Food Bloggers to answer these questions:

1. The Little Loaf
2. Home Baked Online
3. The Baking Addict
4. Chow and Chatter
5. Orange Thyme Blog


Monday, 21 November 2011

Quick Fish Parcels

I know that it appears that I am always either cooking or baking, but sometimes I really can't be bothered to spend hours in the kitchen preparing dinner.  Saturday night was one of those nights, my husband was out at a concert so I pulled together this little fishy parcel from the freezer.

So what is in there?  a frozen fish fillet, a few frozen prawns, a handful of rice, a sprinkling of sweetcorn with a knob of butter on top and some salt and pepper, then you make up the parcel, leaving one end open.  Into that opening you pour half a glass of white wine, then seal it up.  Cook from frozen, you can even stick it all back in the freezer until you are ready to cook it.  Heat the oven to 200C and bake for 30 minutes.

 The rice absorbs the wine and fishy, buttery juices and as you just tip the whole lot onto your plate, the washing up is minimal!

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Saturday, 19 November 2011

Honey Baked Figs with Oranges

Figs were on special offer at the supermarket and, as I love them, I bought a pack of four.  Then I had to think what I was going to do with them!  In the end I decided to split them open,  drizzle them with honey and bake them in the oven.

They were probably in the oven for about 20 minutes at 180C, but I just kept an eye on them so they didn't start to shrink too much.

Then I peeled and segmented some oranges and put them and their juice into a glass serving dish (charity shop purchase!) and put the figs on top.

Served with creme fraiche and a sprinkling of chopped pistachio nuts.  It was a nice light dessert but with the richness of the honey and figs, the creamy acidity of the creme frache and the crunch of the nuts, it was bloody marvelous!

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Thursday, 17 November 2011

Double Bubble Easy Tomato Soup!

Yes, indeed!  It's a double challenge this time because Dom from Belleau Kitchen and Jac from Tinned Tomatoes have got together to run 'Random Recipes does No Croutons Required'.  As these are two of my regular challenges I just had to join in.

There weren't any real instructions as to how to choose your Random Recipe this month just that it should be a soup or salad to meet the requirements of No Croutons Required.

I decided to pile up the cookbooks I own,  which actually mention Vegetarian in the title.  The first three have been well used and, I have to say that, looking at the photograph, rather disgustingly grubby (blush).  However, I have probably had them for about 20 + years so maybe not so surprising.
Gail Duff's Vegetarian Cookbook is a fantastic book and was much used in my 'wholefood' period in the late 70's early 80's!  Rose Elliot is, of course, one of the most popular of British Veggie food writers.  And it is interesting to see that Pamela Westland features, as it was her Casserole Cookbook that my last Random Recipe came from.

So with a bit of random magic,  the book of choice was: 

There aren't actually very many soup recipes in this book, I decided to go for the first one I came to and it was EASY TOMATO SOUP.

And there it is!  A lovely creamy soup of the consistency of the famous Heinz Tomato Soup, rich colour and super quick and easy to warm you up on a cold day.

print recipe

Easy Tomato Soup
Thick and creamy soup, very quick and easy to make.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 350g potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 450g fresh tomatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 400g/14oz tin tomatoes
  • 900ml vegetable stock
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil or parsley
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion.2. Fry for 5 minutes then put in potatoes and tomatoes and continue to cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.3. Add the water or stock and bring to the boil.4. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.5. Blend the soup until smooth.  Reheat gently,6. Serve in heated bowls with chopped fresh basil or parsley sprinkled on top.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4

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Monday, 14 November 2011

Mince Beef Pie - A Family Heritage

I did not get into cooking without some family heritage.  

My Mum in the 1960's

My mother is an excellent and adventurous cook and a competitive baker  (in a Kirstie's Homemade way).
Gran in the 1930's

Her mother used to cut recipes by Elizabeth David from the newspaper.  I know because I have her cookery books and those cuttings fell out when I opened them.

Great Grandfather
On my Dad's side, his maternal grandfather was a baker,

Granny and Grandpa

and his dad, my grandfather, was a butcher with his own business.

So back to the pie!  My mum used to make this pie which she learned from my grandpa, the butcher, she taught me how to make it too.
It is so simple and so delicious and every now and again I trot out this recipe again, it never fails.

Minced Beef Pie

500g mince beef
small onion, finely chopped
salt & pepper
1 egg
3 tsp worcestershire sauce

1 packet of puff pastry, the ordinary stuff will do you don't need the butter puff pastry.

Mix the filling ingredients together (keep a little egg for egg wash)
Roll out just under half the pastry and line a metal pie dish or pyrex pie plate.

Press the filling mix into the pie dish, brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash, roll out the rest of the pastry to make a lid, crimp the edges.  Make two slits in the top to let the steam out.
Bake at 200C for 40 minutes until golden brown.

I served my pie with mashed potatoes and red cabbage baked with apple and red wine vinegar.

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Saturday, 12 November 2011

Dark Chocolate MIncemeat for Christmas

I was struggling with the 'We should Cocoa' challenge for November, just  how should I combine chocolate and apples?  I thought about a chocolate apple cake, stewed apples with chocolate custard, chocolate covered apples. But none of these ideas really appealed.  

However, I was lucky enough to win Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet from The Chocolate Log Blog (co-host of We should Cocoa) and my copy arrived this week.  Flipping through all the lovely recipes and excellent photographs and I stumbled upon a recipe for 'Dark Rich Mincemeat'.  Maybe it was the name that did it, dark and rich conjures up CHOCOLATE to me and it got me wondering what it would be like to include some dark chocolate IN the mincemeat.

I'm also entering this for Vanessa Kimbell's "Let's Make Christmas".

This recipe is inspired by the Dan Lepard recipe.

print recipe

Dark Chocolate Mincemeat
Christmas Mincemeat (dried fruits, apples and butter) with added chocolate.  Inspired by Dan Lepard's Dark rich mincemeat in Short and Sweet
  • 2 dessert apples, peeled, cored and chopped small
  • 300g Dried raisin, sultana & cranberry mix
  • 100g soft prunes, stoned and chopped
  • 250ml stout or porter
  • 1 medium cooking apple, peeled cored and grated
  • 300g muscovado sugar
  • 1 lemon, grated zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 50g butter
  • 3 tbsp brandy or rum
  • 100g dark chocolate
1. Add the stout or porter to a large pan with the grated cooking apple, muscovado sugar, lemon zest and juice.2. Bring to the boil, stiring and simmer for about 5 minutes.3. Measure the dried fruits and other dry ingredients and put in a bowl with the chopped dessert apples.4. Add the dried fruit mixture to the pan with the butter and simmer until thick.5. Remove from the heat, leave until warm and stir in the brandy or rum.Leave to cool completely, then stir in 100g chopped dark chocolate.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: around 3lb

I haven't made anything with it yet, but I had a little taste and it is so delicious!

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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Easy Barbeque Pork Chops without a BBQ!

Long ago and far away, before home computers (let alone the internet!) and when my cookbook collection was counted in tens rather than hundreds, I used to borrow books from the library and hand write the recipes I liked into various notebooks.  I was looking for a nice easy recipe for some pork chops and remembered this one, it is quick, easy and tastes fantastic.

If you look carefully, you will see that it is a Mary Berry recipe, but unfortunately I haven't said which book it is from and as I probably wrote this out in about 1981 I certainly can't remember.  You can always tell a good recipe from the splatters on the page and of course my own 'star' system where I award recipes up to five stars and this is definitely a Five Star Recipe.

print recipe

Easy Barbeque Pork Chops without a BBQ!
Serve with Garlic Bread and Salad or with a baked potato and roasted vegetables
  • 6 Pork Chops
  • 3 tbsp apricot jam
  • 1 clove, crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • good pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 tbsp Tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
1. Put Chops in a non-stick frying pan and heat gently until fat begins to run.2. Increase heat and fry quickly for about 10 minutes until browned all over.3. Arrange in a shallow ovenproof dish.4. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over chops, cover dish with foil.5. Cook at 350F/180C/Gas 4 for about 1 hour or until tender.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Serves 6

Here are the baked chops swimming in their delicious sauce.

I notice that the book says to serve with garlic bread and salad which would be great, but I served it with baked potatoes and roasted vegetables which we certainly enjoyed.

 I do love roasted vegetables and the fact that you just chop them up and throw them in a roasting tin, pour over some olive oil and bung in the oven at 200C for around 30 minutes or until they are soft and singed around the edges.

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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Chickpea and smoked paprika soup

 At this time of year I always have a pot of soup on at the weekend, so I was delighted when Lyndsay at Vanilla and Lemon Drops announced that 'Soup' was the theme for her November Sweet Heat challenge.
 I had a few cookbooks lying around in the living room and one of them was 'Supper for a Song' by Tamasin Day Lewis.  It was from this book that I was inspired to  make the Tomato and Chilli Jam, Pineapple Chilli Jam and also the Chocolate Chilli Custards.  Hmm bit of a theme here?  Not all of that is Tamasin's idea as she didn't have chilli in her Chocolate Custard!

I liked the look of this soup because I knew I had half a bag of chickpeas and also two tins of Pimenton (smoked paprika), the sweet one and the hot one, that my foodie son bought me last Christmas.   You can use tinned chickpeas if you don't have time to soak and cook the chickpeas before you make the soup.

print recipe

Chickpea and smoked paprika soup
If you don't have both types of smoked paprika, just use one, but probably no more than 1/4 tsp of the hot stuff or it will overpower the soup.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, de-strung with a potato peeler and chopped small
  • 2 tsp finely chopped rosemary needles
  • 4 ladlefuls cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 400g/14oz tin tin cherry tomatoes
  • 8-10 ladlefuls vegetable stock
  • to taste sea salt and black pepper
  • a small handful of flat leaved parsley, chopped
1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and add the onion, garlic, celery and rosemary.2. Fry for a few minutes until they begin to soften, then add the chickpeas, smoked paprika, bay leaves, tomato puree and tinned tomatoes.3. Bring to a simmer, then add the stock, season and bring back to the boil.  4. Lower the heat and heat and simmer for 10 minutes.5. Discard the bay leaves.  Blitz about half the mixture in a blender, then re-introduce it to the chunky soup in the pan.6. Tsate and adjust the seaoning, stir in the parsley and reheat if you need to.  Ladle into warm bowls and serve.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: serves 4

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