Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Lemon Marmalade, Carrot Hot-Pot

These two recipes come from FEBRUARY 2012 Good Food Magazine.  I immediately made some Lemon Marmalade as I had bought far too many lemons over the Christmas period and it was such a good way to use them up.  This recipe has produced a lovely, tangy preserve.

Lemon marmalade standing on my newly aquired cake stand

Lemon marmalade

Makes 6 x 450ml jars  

Making marmalade doesn't have to be hard work, and this simple method means the lemons are cooked whole then cut up far less time consuming than cutting them up when raw.The end results are just as delicious and the marmalade can be used in the same way as orange marmalade.

1kg/2lb 4oz unwaxed lemons       2kg/4lb 8oz granulated sugar

1 Chill a saucer in the freezer, ready for checking the setting point of your jam. Wash the lemons and remove the top 'button'which would have been attached to the stalk. Put the lemons in a large saucepan with 2.5 litres water. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan and simmer until the lemon skins are lovely and tender, and can be pierced easily with a fork.

2 When the lemons are cool enougto handle, remove from the saucepan. Measure the cooking liquid you'll need 1.5 litres in total. lf you don't quite have this, make up the difference with water .lf you have too much liquid, bring to the boil and reduce to the required amount.

3 Halve the lemons and remove the pips  reservlng the pips and any lemon juice that oozes out during the process. Cut the lemon peel and flesh into strips, as thick or thin as you iike. Put all of this,including any juices, back into the pan. Put the pips in a small piece of muslin and tie up with string. Add this to the pan, as the pips will aid the setting process of the jam.

4 Add the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring until it has completely dissolved. Boil rapidly for about 20 mins until setting point is reached. Test the setting point by dropping a little marmalade onto thechilled saucer, allowing it to cool for 1 min, then pushing gently with your finger" lf the marmalade crinkles, the setting point is reached; if not, continue to boil and check again in a few mins.

5 Leave to cool for 10-15 mins (this will prevent the lemon shreds sinking to the bottoms of the jars), remove the muslin bag, then gently stir in one direction to disperse any scum (small air bubbles onthe surface). Pour jam into warm sterilised jars and seal straight away.

Afghan carrot hotpot

2 onions, chopped                                            oil, for frying

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped                               1 Scotch bonnet chilli

1cm-knob ginger, peeled and chopped        1 tsp ground turmeric

pinch ground cloves                                        ½ tsp ground cumin                                       

½ tsp ground coriander

600g/1lb 5oz baby carrots, scrubbed or grown-up carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

300g/10oz nakhod daul (yellow split peas)

1 tbsp tomato paste                                        3 large tomatoes, chopped

2 tbsp sour grape juice (or  verjuice) or 2 tsp of white wine with a little lemon juice added

about 500m1/18f1 oz vegetable stock or water

rice, yogurt and pitta bread, to serve

1 Fry the onions in a little oil in a big pan, then add the garlic, chilli and ginger. When the onions have started to soften, add the spices, carrots and split peas. Cook for a few mins, then add the tomato paste and tomatoes. Sprinkle in some salt, add the sour grape juice or vinegar, then add enough stock or water to cover all the ingredients.

2 Bring to the boil, then simmer for 45 mins-1 hr, or until the carrots and peas are cooked through.

Serve with rice,or yogurt and bread

Sharon brought this beautiful sloe gin she had made when she recently came to lunch, it's long gone now! We enjoyed every drop.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Beef Shin Macaroni

Found this delicious recipe in the March 2012 issue of Olive.

Beef shin macaroni

3 hours 45 minutes + overnight marinating


You'll need to order the shin and marrowbone from a good butcher Ask to keep the bone in as it adds to the flavour of the finished dish.

Our butcher produced a beautiful piece of shin of beef

shin of beef 1kg, in a single piece, bone in
onions 5 small, peeled
carrots 5 small, washed
herbs and spice mix 2 sprigs thyme, l sprig rosemary, l bay leaf 1O peppercorns, 20 fennel seeds and 2 star anise, tied in a muslin bag
red wine 75Oml
beef stock l litre
chicken stock 1 litre
beef dripping or oil for frying
smoked bacon 150g, diced into 2cm pieces
elbow macaroni or other small tubular pasta 250g
bone marrow150g, diced
Doddington cheese 15Og (or 10Og parmesan if you can't get Doddington)

Put the shin of beef vegetables and muslin bag of herbs and spices in a large ovenproof pan with a lid. Cover with the red wine, put the lid on the pot and chill overnight.
The next day, remove the shin, vegetables and muslin bag of aromatics. Simmer to reduce the red wine by half its volume, add the meat stocks and bring up to simmering point.
Heat the oven to 150C fan l3OC/gas 2.
Melt a generous tablespoonful of beef dripping in a large frying pan, and brown the shin on all sides. Add this to the pan of reduced red wine and stock. Fry the vegetables and bacon in the same pan until lightly browned then add to the beef. Add back the herbs and spices bag and transfer the pan to the oven. Cook gently for 3 hours or until the meat is tender and falling away from the bone. Take out the pan and turn oven up to l8OC  fanl6OC/gas 4. Remove the bag of herbs and spices and discard. Remove the meat, vegetables and bacon from the liquid then reduce the braising liquor on the hob by half. Skim off any impurities that rise to the surface.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni. Leave it a little more al dente than usual. Drain. Return the meat and bacon to the reduced liquid (discard the whole veg).

Add the bone marrow and half the cheese Stir in the drained macaroni and season. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the surface. Put back in the oven uncovered for 15-20 minutes. To finish, put under a hot grill for a few minutes until the surface is well browned. Allow to sit for a few minutes.

This was so good, and provided four very generous servings.  My beef shin was slightly over the kilo and was a centre cut so very meaty. I have to admit to using a locally produced strong cheddar cheese. I also left the cooked vegetables in.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Apple Skillet Cake

In the Stella magazine which came with yesterdays Telegraph was a pudding recipe by Diana Henry which I just had to try, and it certainly did not disappoint.   We are not great pudding people and because of this I reduced the sugar used by a good half, which I realise would have affected the caramelisation and therefore the taste but it was still plenty sweet enough for us, especially as I served it with Kelly's Cornish Clotted Cream Ice Cream. Yes, we did eat it all in one go, two greedy people.... but Chris did have more than me.  No surprise there. Here is the recipe from the magazine.

Rueben's Apple Skillet Cake

Serves 2 greedy people, four restrained ones!

This is just really a big Pancake, It's based on the one that was famously served in the New York post-theatre eaterie, Reuben's.

 It's not difficult to make but it does require total attention - the sugar can easily burn.

. 2 tart eating apples

. 2 tbsp soft, plump  raisins

. ¼tsp ground cinnamon

' 7 tbsp soft light-brown sugar

. 125m1 (4fl oz) milk

. 3 large eggs

. 60g ( just over 2oz) Plain flour

. about 35g (1½oz) unsalted butter

Peel and halve the appIes, core and cut into thin slices. Toss with the raisins, cinnamon and 2 tabspns of the sugar and set aside. 
Put the milk, eggs, flour and 1tbsp of the sugar into a food processor and blitz to make a lump-free mixure.
Set a 23-25cm (9-10 in.) non-stick frying-pan over a medium heat and melt about 15g (half oz) of the butter. Add the apple mixture and cook gently until the apples are quite tender. Now add a little more butter and pour on the Pancake batter. Let it set a little then start to bring the sides - which should be setting - into the middle, letting the liquid batter run to the edges, as you would an omelette.
Once the pancake seems set enough to turn (about four minutes) sprinkle the top with a tablespoon of sugar and slide it on to a plate. Invert the plate so that the pancake goes back into the pan on the other side. Add a little more butter (slide it underneath) and cook for three to four minutes. You should be able to smell the sugar caramelising.
Now sprinkle the top with 2tbsp of the sugar and invert it, again pushing more butter underneath.
Cook for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle with the final tablespoon of sugar and turn the Pancake over once more. lt should have set right through and be sticky and caramelised on top.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas 2011

 A week or so before Christmas in the early 1980's this little knitted Santa was brought into our village post office on the edge of Dartmoor.  He had been found at the nearby bus stop and it was hoped that if we displayed him in our shop window he would be re-united with his owner.  He was duly displayed until 4pm on Christmas Eve when, still unclaimed,  I couldn't bear to leave him all on his own over the Christmas holiday so he came to sit on our Christmas tree as he has done every year since.  Whatever the tree colour schemes have been over the last 25 or so years he has made an appearance and witnessed the joys and the sorrows of each festive season that has passed since.

In a charity shop a few years ago I found a book called Knitted Toys by Jean Greenhowe, and there he was, a Witty Knit.

Have a lovely Christmas everyone!

Sunday, 27 November 2011


We have been in the fortunate position for about 15 years of having two allotments.  Although it wasn’t our choice to work two all that time ago we were begged by fellow allotment holders to take on another as no-one wanted the unused one and at that time it was feared the whole site could be taken over for development.  It’s meant that we’ve been able to experiment with crops and also give over part of one of the allotments to fruit bushes and even last year we planted three apple trees and two cob nuts.  (The nuts were my husband’s idea, a total surprise to me when they turned up, but we actually harvested 6 nuts this year!).

However this autumn we decided to give up half of one of the allotments as we are getting older and the waiting list is growing longer.  We’ve seen lots of people over the last twenty odd years ‘have a go’ but are the first to admit that it’s jolly hard work to keep a vegetable patch in tidy order and actually see a return for all your hard work and financial investment.

Beetroot, something we have always grown, is suddenly fashionable, cropping up in all sorts of recipes from cakes to roasted vegetables. It does make fantastic chutneys, and we are not averse to lightly pickling them, but  currently our favourite way of using them is in a

smoked mackerel and beetroot pate

dead easy to make and great on good toasted bread, there are only four ingredients.

You need a smoked mackerel, skin removed and checked over for any bones, about 150 grams cooked beetroot, 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and a dessertspoonful of yoghourt.  Whizzed up in a processor, I use a stick blender, it couldn’t be easier.  I have recently seen a similar idea using a can of sardines in oil, draining the sardines well.  This is also very nice, but we actually prefer the smoked mackerel.  We have also used pickled beetroot, but only those that have been lightly pickled by us at home.  If you really like the taste of beetroot in vinegar you could give it a go with a commercial jar, or one of those little packets.

Ingredients ready to be whizzed up

Last time I made this it was a dismal old day and I was feeling in creative mood so  made some crumpets and pikelets which we ate with the pate. They keep for a couple of days, we didn't eat 18-20 at one sitting!

I used a recipe from a book by Linda Collister and Anthony Blake, although I admit I didn't have the cream of tartar called for in the recipe. The cooked crumpets stuck to my crumpet rings, so having done battle and made two batches with crumpets rings, 12 crumpets, I thought I'd do pikelets instead which are free form.  Of course I did not read the instruction which said add more milk to make pikelets!!  Still they all tasted wonderful, totally unlike the rubbery purchased ones even if they would have won no prizes for their beauty.

sweet pickled beetroot
This way of saving beetroot for later in the year is something that Chris is quite fond of, and whole cloves of garlic added to the jar at the same time are a welcome addition.

Simmer together for 30 minutes:-

2cm peeled and crushed ginger
600ml vinegar
200g sugar
2tsp salt
1tsp black peppercorns
1tsp mustard seeds.

Cool and strain the vinegar.  Into clean sterile jars, pack cooked beetroot, we leave them whole or halve them if small, otherwise slice or dice them, and pour over the cooled vinegar. Seal the jars.           

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Such a Lucky Win

After a pretty awful year during which I haven't really felt like blogging I have just won a wonderful book in a give-away by Maureen.  The book by Diana Henry, who writes for the Sunday Telegraph, is called 'Roast Figs Sugar Snow'.

There is just so much in it I want to try, from Onion and Cider Soup to Italian Christmas Chocolate Cake, I'd like to cook just about everything. Wonderful photographs, and lots of text makes interesting background reading to each recipe, there couldn't be a better time of the year to aquire this book.  After Maureen's blog post it would definitely have been on my Christmas list if I hadn't been lucky enough to win it.

Another of my favourite Diana Henry books - Food from Plenty

Saturday, 9 October 2010

From an Old Postcard Album

We've got quite a collection of old postcards, aren't these two wonderful.

 Catherine Hill, Frome, Somerset

The Pannier Market, Barnstaple, North Devon

On the back of this card the writer apologises to the addressee that she won't be there in time for tea today, what faith and all for 2d!