Friday, 19 September 2008

Norfolk Tart

This is a lovely sweet wee mouthful. It comes from the National Trust's book of Tea Time Recipes. These recipes are a collection of goodies that are baked and served in the tea rooms on the National Trust properties. They are always lovely. It is a treat to visit the stately homes and then round off the trip with a cup of tea and something nice to eat in these lovely tea rooms. The amount given is for a seven inch tin. It gave me four small individual tarts. I don't think it would make a satisfactory big tart. I found a recipe giving larger amounts for a nine inch tin. I have both listed

6 oz/175gms rich sweet shortcrust pastry
4 oz /100gms unsalted butter
8 tablespoons golden syrup
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons double cream (or single cream if you prefer)
finely grated zest of 2 lemons

Line a shallow 23 cm (9 in) tart tin with the pastry and pre-bake or bake blind.

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F/200.C. Put a baking sheet in the oven to pre-heat.

3. Gently warm the butter and syrup together in a pan - just enough for the butter to melt but not letting the mixture get too hot. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool a little.

4. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, cream and lemon zest together. Gradually whisk in the warm butter and syrup mixture, then pour the mixture into the pre-baked pastry case.

5. Place the tart on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the centre is set.

Serve warm or cold with ice cream.

For four individual tarts

4oz/100gms golden syrup
1/2 oz/15gms butter
grated round of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons double cream
1 egg.

Method as above.

Rich Shortcrust Pastry

1lb/450gms plain flour
pinch of salt
12oz/350gms butter
2 egg yolks
4 teaspoons castor sugar
3-4 tablespoons cold water

Mix together the flour and salt
Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
make a well and add the egg yolks and sugar.
Mix together with enough water to make a stiff pliable dough.
Knead lightly wrap in cling film and chill for at least 15 minutes before using.

I always make pastry by the pound then freeze in small parcels what I don't use. So handy for another day.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Hallowe'en Soda Bread

I decided to make some Soda Bread today. Nothing unusual about that as it is a big local speciality and has been made in Irish households for generations. It is so quick and easy to make and is a wonderful recipe to corrupt. Today I took a notion to add apple to it. I think the 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' has finally taken hold. That, and the fact I had some cooking apples, lent a hand in this. I also added some cinnamon and then as an afterthought I used maple syrup instead of sugar. The smell of it baking was wonderful. I was amazed at the taste. When I took it out of the oven I could hardly wait to get at it. Warm and dripping with butter I was immensely pleased with my innovation. Such a pity one can't copy and paste taste and smell.

12oz/350gms plain flour
1 teasp bicarbonate of soda
1 cooking apple
1 teasp cinnamon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Handful of raisins
Approx. 1/2 a pint/300mls Butter Milk
1oz/25gms Butter
1 teasp Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda
1 teasp. salt

Greased and floured round sandwich tin

Oven temp 350F 180.C Gas 4

Peel core and chop the apple.
Cook in a covered saucepan with the butter and cinnamon until very soft and mushy.
In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.
Stir in the apple mixture
Add the maple syrup
Add enough buttermilk to form a soft but easily handled dough. It should not be runny.
Knead lightly and quickly into a round and place in prepared tin.
(It is essential you use light hands)
Cut a deep cross in the bread.

Bake for approx 40 Minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Cover in a tea towel while cooling to soften the crust.

Cut a huge piece when taken out of the oven, slather it in butter and enjoy.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Butternut Squash With Pecans and Blue Cheese

On Vi's Pantry there is a challenge running at the moment. Every two weeks someone has to pick a dish from Nigella Lawson's 'Express and then we all cook it and publish our pictures and opinions. It's an interesting challenge making us cook recipes we might not otherwise make. I am a rather plain and unadventurous cook so I don't think I would have made this had it not been for the challenge. I haven't used this particular book very much. It's a different style for Nigella and I have been uncertain about it. Squash would not normally be on my shopping list but it certainly will be again. This was delicious. I made it as a side dish to acompany lamb chops but it is really satisfying and could be eaten on it's own. I would never have thought to use pecan nuts but they were lovely with it. Unfortunately I forgot to add them for the photo. Ah well it wouldn't be me if I didn't forget something. The blue cheese gave it a wonderful richness. A very tasty dish. Highly recommended.

2kg/4lb 8oz butternut squash
3 tbsp olive oil
6 sprigs fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme
100g/3½oz pecans
125g/4oz Roquefort, or other blue cheese, crumbled
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
2. Halve the squash, leaving the skin on, and scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash into 2.5cm/1in cubes - you don't need to be precise, just keep the pieces uniformly small.
3. Place into a roasting tin and drizzle with the oil. Strip about four sprigs of thyme of their leaves (or use dried thyme) and sprinkle over the butternut squash.
4. Transfer to the oven and roast for about 30-45 minutes, or until tender.
5. Once out of the oven, remove the squash to a bowl. Scatter over the pecans and crumble over the cheese, stirring everything together gently. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
6. To serve, tear the remaining sprigs of thyme into small pieces and sprinkle over the top of the butternut squash mixture.

I actually made this in my new Tefal Actifry using the recommended 1 tablespoon of oil. It only took twenty minutes in it so I was well pleased

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Almond and Polenta cake

This comes from Italy courtesy of Carlotta. In the forum I frequent she provides us with some wonderful regional recipes. This is so quick and simple but the texture and flavour is just wonderful. She tells us ' This is a very crumbly cake from Mantua. It's very good eaten with a warm zabaglione or mascarpone cream or while drinking a nice glass of wine....' No culinary tour of Italy is complete without a visit to Mantua. This gastronomic haven is the home of pumpkin tortelli, slow-cooked sauces and some of Italy's finest restaurants. In a historical context, Mantua gained its fame in Roman times as the home town of Virgil, born around 70BC. This former capital of the Gonzaga dukes, who ruled Mantua for three centuries, is one of the most atmospheric old cities in the country.

100 gr flour
100 gr fine polenta flour (in Italy it's called "fioretto")
100 gr sugar
100 gr butter, softened
100 gr almonds, coarsely ground, not bleached
1 egg yolk
grated zest of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
1 small glass of grappa (or sambuca)

Preheat the oven to 170°
In a large bowl hand mix the flour,sugar, salt,polenta flour and butter.
It must look like crumble, a bit like mixing sweet pastry...
Add the almonds,lemon zest,egg yolk and grappa
and mix lightly.
By now you should have a crumbly dough
Put it into a 26 cm tin in an uneven fashion (don't panic, it will spread while cooking....)and put on it some whole almonds.
Bake until it' golden,+/- 30 minutes.
Let it cool and sprinkle with sugar (optional)

It keeps well, that is to say if you can resist eating it immediately, in an airtight container
Don't cut it with a knife but break it with hands.

I did not have grappa or sambuca but used amaretto which was lovely.
I marked it in squares when I removed it from the oven and it broke apart very easily in an orderly sort of fashion.

Honey and Olive Oil Spelt Bread

I love baking different types of bread. It is all the more satisfying when you know the source of the recipe and have confidence in the outcome. This comes from George who is an accomplished baker. Take time to look at her blog. This could not be a simpler recipe using white spelt flour. A lovely soft fresh loaf which is lovely straight from the oven with lots of butter. It makes wonderful toast too. I expect it can be made in a loaf tin with equally satisfactory results if you prefer to make more of a sandwich bread.

Honey & Olive Oil Spelt Bread:

  • 400g white spelt flour
  • 100g malthouse flour
  • 10g salt
  • 1 sachet instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 60ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 300ml lukewarm water
  1. Combine the flours in a large bowl (or free-standing mixer) and add the yeast.
  2. Add the honey, olive oil and 200ml of the water and mix until you get a firm but soft dough.
  3. Cover the dish with a teatowel and allow to double in size.
  4. Turn onto a floured board and shape in to a smooth ball, allow to rise again for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  5. Using a pair of scissors snip a pattern into the top of the dough, brush with olive oil and place in the preheated oven, bake for 30 minutes or until golden and hollow sounding when the base is tapped.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints

I was flicking through my cookery books and spied these in Martha Stewarts 'Cookies' and thought they looked very inviting. She had made a chocolate filling to place in the little indents but I really wanted some caramel too as I love the combination. I had a jar of dulce de leche so I decided to pop that in too. They are a lovely wee mouthful and very quick and easy to make. I made another batch adding cocoa powder to the dough and they were lovely too. I didn't use a mixer as there was no need. If the butter is nice and soft it can be mixed easily in a bowl.


Makes 41/2 dozen

1 cup 2 sticks /8oz plus 6 tblsps unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons corn syrup
Dulce de leche or other caramel if using


Heat oven to 350.F/180.C/Gas4
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together 2 sticks butter , sugar, salt, and vanilla on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in flour, beginning on low speed and increasing to medium high.
Roll dough by teaspoonfuls into balls, and place 1 inch apart on lined baking sheets .
Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and press thumb into tops of cookies to make indentations. Return to oven, and bake until light brown on the edges, 7 to 9 minutes more. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Combine chocolate, 6 tablespoons butter, and corn syrup in a small heat-proof bowl. Set over a pot of simmering water; stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly. When cookies are cool,place a little dulce de leche (if using) in each indent then fill the thumbprints with the chocolate mixture.

How Martha Stewart managed to get 41/2 dozen cookies is beyond me. I managed 28.


Aren't these the most amazing things? I love the ones I got from Wowzio. It's soooo interesting seeing people from all over the world visiting my blog and a picture to show me what they are reading. I love the slide show throwing pictures of past items . Endless fascination. Isn't modern  technology wonderful?

Fish and Chips

What could be nicer for the evening meal but a plate of good old fish and chips. I just love this. I have never owned a deep fat fryer for the simple reason I dislike the smell which seems to cling to everything. It uses so much oil and the straining after each use is just too much hard work. I do however love chips. I purchased a Tefal Actifry which is a wonderful machine. It is pricey but only uses a tablespoon of oil. This makes my chips a fairly healthy affair. They really do taste like deep fat fried chips. Just wonderful . I have never done fish in batter as I get in a mess. I just use crumbs and shallow fry. This was cod loin I used, soaked in buttermilk then tossed in breadcrumbs and fried for a few minutes. So tasty. A really quick and satisfying dinner for those days when you can't be bothered thinking and a comforting meal is what's needed.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Refrigerator Rolls

I seem lately to have done nothing but make rolls. I keep finding another recipe I just must try. These are as light as feathers, easy to make, very forgiving and very rich. They are wonderful when they are just made. I think freezing them would be the  way to go and just using one or two at a time.  I wanted brown rolls so I altered the recipe slightly to accomodate this. I found this recipe through TasteSpotting on a lovely blog by Lindsey on Cafe Johnsonia. She has gone to the bother of giving a step by step tutorial on  making them. It's great for those who are a little afraid of using yeast. It is accompanied by some very good pictures  too. Worth your while having a look.
You really need to have a look at how she forms her round rolls. It is so neat and easy.
Thank you Lindsey

Refrigerator Rolls
(adapted from the Lion House Classics Cookbook)

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour (can use some bread flour)
1 Tbsp. instant SAF yeast
2 tsp. salt

Place butter, sugar and milk in a large, glass, 4-cup measuring cup.
Microwave for several minutes until the butter is almost all melted, the sugar is dissolved, and the mixture is very hot to the touch. (I check it on my instant read thermometer and the temp should be about 140.F because it will cool down once you add it to the eggs.)
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs well. Slowly drizzle the hot milk mixture into the eggs while whisking continuously. The bowl and the eggs should be warm. (110 . F. is the perfect temperature.)
Place the flour and the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. 
Note: this won't work with a dough hook--this isn't a typical bread dough. A paddle attachment can easily handle this very soft dough.
Turn the mixer on low to evenly distribute the yeast.
With the mixer running, add the liquids in a slow, steady stream. When all the liquid has been added, turn the mixer up to medium and let it run for 1 minute. Add the salt.
Keep mixing for another three or so minutes, or until the dough starts to form strong webs as it mixes.
Rub the inside of a very large bowl with oil.
Place the finished dough , which is very very soft, in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Place dough in a warm, draft-free spot where it can rise.
(Test your dough, if needed. It should be strong and stretchy.)
When the dough has doubled in size, sprinkle it with about 1 Tbsp. flour and punch it down. (Don't use too much flour--just enough so the dough doesn't stick to your hand.)
Wrap the bowl well with a few layers of plastic wrap. (You don't want the dough to dry out.) Refrigerate the dough until chilled. It can be kept overnight and up to 5 days.
When you are ready to bake the rolls remove the dough from the fridge.
Sprinkle a little flour over a flat, clean surface.
Roll dough into a large circle and use a pizza cutter or knife to cut dough .
For round, dinner rolls:
Cut the dough into equal pieces. 
For smaller rolls--make 24, medium--16, large--12.
Place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. (If you don't have either of these, don't fret. It's fine to use a plain baking sheet that has been greased.)
Let the rolls rise until double in size. (For speed rise method, place the rolls in a slightly warm oven--about 150 degrees F with a pan of boiling water beneath them.)
(The note in the Lion House Cookbook says they can even be left to rise for as many as 5 hours without any damage being done. Great for a day when it's uncertain when the rolls will go in the oven.)

Brush the tops of the raised rolls with a little melted butter or a beaten egg.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, or until the rolls are golden.


I used 1 cup of wholemeal flour as I wanted brown rolls.

I hummed and hahed about the amount of yeast but added the amount specified.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

No Knead Spelt Bread

This is a really gorgeous loaf. So easy and very light. I didn't realise until recently there was white spelt flour as well as wholemeal but my local health shop kindly ordered it for me. Spelt, or Triticum spelta, has been cultivated for over 5000 years and it is thus one the oldest crops known to humankind. It is a distant cousin of wheat. Spelt has a nutty flavour. The grain is naturally high in fiber, and contain significantly more protein than wheat. Spelt is also higher in B complex vitamins. Another important benefit is that some gluten-sensitive people have been able to include spelt-based foods in their diets. Also, unlike other grains, spelt's husk protects it from pollutants and insects and usually allows growers to avoid using pesticides.This bread is made half wholegrain and half white. The recipe was given to me by Gail who uses spelt even for cakes. She manages a great blog which is worth a look.


600g/1 lb 5 oz Spelt Flour (can be 1/2 white and 1/2 wholemeal)
1 tablespoon of yeast
2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
500mls/17 fl oz warm water (approx)
2 teaspoons Cold Pressed Sunflower Oil

By Hand

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, make a well, pour in oil and enough water to make a stiff dough.

Cover the dough with cling film and allow to double in size.

Turn onto a floured board and shape in to a smooth ball, divide in half and shape each half.

Place both halves into a 2 lb greased and floured bread tin and allow to double in size. Place in oven and cook for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

Oven Temps

Electric - 220C /425 F
Fan Forced - 210C


I used olive oil as that is what I had.

I also added a handful of seeds,eg. sunflower pumpkin and linseed

I dissolved the sugar in some warm water taken from the 500ml added the yeast and left for ten minutes until it was foamy.

I baked it at 180.C fan forced but you know your own oven

I haven't used instant yeast with this yet. It works well with the active dry.

I didn't divide the dough in two. I just plopped it all in the loaf tin.