“Ne’er Cast A Cloot………

…..till May is oot” is an old Scottish saying that means that the weather in Scotland can be very changeable and that it’s a foolish person who will change into their summer attire before the month of May has finished. There’s always a chance that Winter will come back just when you think you’re safe and bite you in the bum. Hey, my birthday is in May and I can recall shivering in Troon in the middle of a snowstorm in the ’80’s while I tried to celebrate it. It’s also an excellent way of introducing you to an old Scots word ‘cloot‘ which means ‘cloth’. We have a traditional dumpling, called a ‘Clootie Dumpling‘ which you wrap in a cloth before boiling it. You can also microwave it, and I have recently been given one, but I think that, for now, the traditional method is probably the best. If it isn’t broken, why try to fix it?

Clootie Dumpling

  1. 200g Self-raising flour
  2. 125g Vegetable suet
  3. 1 tsp baking powder
  4. 125g breadcrumbs
  5. 85g brown sugar
  6. 1 grated apple (no need to peel)
  7. 200g raisins or sultanas
  8. 1 tsp each of ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon
  9. 1 tbsp golden syrup
  10. 2 eggs
  11. 100ml milk
  12. Extra flour, for dusting

Take a large bowl and put the dry ingredients (flour, suet, baking powder, breadcrumbs, sugar, apple, raisins, and the spices) and mix them together. Break the eggs into a small bowl, whisk, and then add the golden syrup and the milk, and pour them into the dry ingredients. Mix it together, adding a spot more milk if required.

IMG_9202

Boil a kettle and get out your largest saucepan and a saucer. Once the water has boiled put the saucer into the pan and fill it up to the halfway mark.

IMG_9206

Take a clean tea towel and dip it into the boiling water. Use tongs or at least something to protect your hands. Wring out the cloth and thickly scatter the extra flour onto it.

IMG_9203

Pile the pudding mix into the centre of the cloth.

IMG_9204

Pull up the corners and tie them securely but not too tight. The pudding needs room to expand. Place it into the saucepan and turn the heat down to, well, I’d call it a lively simmer. Not quite a ‘rolling’ boil, but more than a simmer. Put a lid on to keep the heat in and don’t let it boil dry. Check it every half hour or so and make sure it doesn’t drop below halfway down the pudding. Top it back up with freshly boiled water, if necessary.

IMG_9208

Boil it for 3 to 4 hours and then fish it out. It looks revolting.

IMG_9209

Put it into a preheated oven (80˚C) for about half an hour. It loses the pale colour, dries out, and becomes a burnished brown colour.

IMG_9214

Slice it thickly, and either serve it with custard, or with butter. Oh, and you can also fry it as part of a traditional Scottish cooked breakfast.

IMG_9215

Posted in Breakfast, Cake, Pudding, Scottish | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Posh Nosh…..

Madam et Monsieur, je presents un Vegetable Mixed et le Béchamel Sauce en Croute. Or, as my son called it………..

‘That pie thingy in the oven’.

So, in one swift move, you’ve discovered that my mastery of the French language is appalling, and that my son is a ‘tells it like he see’s it’ kinda guy. Doesn’t really matter, whatever you call this, it’s a very posh looking centrepiece that you can make from some basic ingredients. Just the job when expectations are high and funds are low.

Mixed Vegetable ‘en Croute’

  1. 350g frozen mixed veg (I like the ‘Country’ one as it’s got cauliflower in it, but any kind will do).
  2. Half a large onion, finely diced.
  3. 50g butter.
  4. 1 heaped tablespoon of plain flour.
  5. 350 – 400ml milk.
  6. 500g block of frozen puff pastry.
  7. 1 egg, whisked.

IMG_9191

Start off by making the filling a while before you intend assembling the croute. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the onion, allow it to soften and go translucent (about 5 mins). Add the frozen vegetables and stir fry them until no longer frozen. Add the heaped tablespoon of flour and stir to coat all the vegetables in it.

IMG_9193

Slowly add the milk, stirring well to make sure it’s absorbed. It should be a really thick sauce that will hold it’s shape when you pull it together.

IMG_9194

Let it cool for at least an hour before you roll out your pastry into a rectangle approx 20cm x 30cm. Place the cooked vegetables in the centre of the pastry and slice through the side pastry in roughly 2cm wide ribbons.

IMG_9195

Fold the end piece over and then start weaving the pastry ribbons together, taking first from one side, then the other. Once it’s plaited, paint it with the whisked eggwash to give it a good colour.

IMG_9196

Place it onto a lined baking tray and place in a preheated oven at 200˚C for 40 – 45mins.

IMG_9197

Let it cool for about 5 minutes and then serve it, thickly sliced.

IMG_9200

Posted in Christmas, Lunch, Picnic, Pies | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Now, That’s What I Call……………

…..multitasking. One post – 4 recipes, no waffle.

Oh, all right, but just a little bit of waffle, promise. Imagine the scene…….oranges and satsumas starting to look a bit pass their best in the fruit bowl, so what do you do with them? Make orange curd, of course. Then what can you make with orange curd? Orange Meringue Pie. So curd, pastry, vanilla sugar and pie recipes follow. And it’s a lot of work. Took me 2 days to make this (curd and pastry case yesterday, meringue today). Of course, if you just want a pie, buy the pastry case, a jar of curd and the meringue will take 20 mins, and STILL look impressive.

Vanilla sugar. 

Barely a recipe, just get a large Kilner type jar, fill it with sugar, and pop a couple of used vanilla pods deep into the sugar. In a couple of weeks you’ll have vanilla scented sugar as the vanilla permeates through the sugar, giving your baking an extra depth. Also good when you’re making something like hot chocolate. Oh, and I seem to recall even Nigella saying there were ideal Christmas presents in her Christmas book.

IMG_9174

Orange Curd

  1. Grated zest and juice of 2 large oranges. Or 1 orange and 2 satsumas. Or 4 satsumas etc.
  2. 200g sugar (don’t bother using the vanilla for this, it won’t hold up against the orange flavour).
  3. 125g unsalted butter.
  4. 2 whole large eggs, plus 2 egg whites, whisked together.

Put all the ingredients, except the eggs, into a large glass mixing bowl and place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t toughing the water and Stir until the butter has melted.

IMG_9155

Good grief, yes, a photo of me in action, taken by my daughter. Blame her.

Anyhow, once the butter has melted, take the whisked eggs and sieve them into the orange/butter mix, stirring constantly to avoid the mix becoming orangy scrambled eggs. Sieving gets rid of the glutinous bits from the eggs.

IMG_9160

Keep stirring until the thickens up and leaves a thick film on the back of a spoon. Then you can pot it in a sterilised jar. It will get thicker as it cools as well.

IMG_9170

Now the pastry. We’re on the home stretch now.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

  1. 250 Plain flour
  2. 90g sugar
  3. 125g cold cubed unsalted butter
  4. 1 large egg, beaten

If you’ve got a food processor, place the first 3 ingredients in it and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Keep the motor running and pour the egg down the feed tube and keep processing until it comes together. Take it out and lightly knead it into a ball, cover with clingfilm , and pop it into the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.

IMG_9171

Use it to line a lightly buttered flan dish (I used a 24cm one), prick the bottom, and blind bake it for 10 to 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 180˚C

IMG_9172

Not my best one, but at least you know my photos aren’t Photoshopped in any way. And yes, I could have done with making the sides a bit higher. Oh well, you live and learn.

So, take your Orange curd and put it in the flan case.

IMG_9179

And, finally, the meringue!!!!!

Meringue Topping

  1. 4 large egg whites
  2. 200g vanilla sugar (you knew there was a reason I wanted you to make it!!!!)
  3. 200ml water

First of all, place the sugar and the water in a saucepan and bring it to the boil till it reaches 120˚C

IMG_9176

While it’s coming to boil, whisk the egg whites till they’re in the ‘soft peaks’ stage.

IMG_9178

Once the sugar syrup’s ready, slowly pour it into the egg whites with the whisk still going. Keep whisking for 5 – 12 minutes until the mixture is thick and glossy and holds it’s shape.

IMG_9182

Spoon the meringue over the orange curd and, using a pallet knife, flick it into peaks. By this, I mean place the knife on the meringue and lift it sharply so the meringue lifts up so that it looks like soft billowly clouds.

 

IMG_9184

Stick it under a preheated grill and let the top brown – or at least goldenly glow.

IMG_9185

Posted in Cake, Christmas, Dessert, Preserves, Pudding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summertime, And The Livin’ Is……….

……strawberry.

I’m not really a gâteaux gal. If you look back at the cakes I’ve made, I don’t think there’s one. Anywhere. But I follow a page on Facebook for the Scandinavian Kitchen, which is down in London and so somewhere I’ve never been (but if you live close enough then lucky you), but they posted a photo yesterday of what can only be described as the most sumptuous cake I’ve seen in a long time and I had to comment that, if I wanted a piece I’d have to make it myself. They didn’t post a recipe, so this is my interpretation of what I saw, a kind of Anglo-Scandi cake, using a Madiera sponge cake, sliced with my Ikea ‘Smaksam‘ cake decorating set, and with the principles of a good old-fashioned Victoria sandwich cake. I hope you like it.

For the Madiera cake

  1. 225g butter
  2. 225g sugar
  3. 225g self-raising flour
  4. 100g plain flour
  5. 4 large eggs
  6. Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

You will also need………..

  1. 600ml double cream
  2. 2 tbsp icing sugar
  3. 1tsp vanilla extract
  4. 250g strawberry jam
  5. 200g fresh strawberries

Grease and line a 24cm (9″) loose bottomed cake tin and preheat your oven to 170˚C

You can use the ‘all-in-one’ method to make the cake by placing all the cake ingredients into a food processor and beating them together. Once the oven is hot enough, scrape the mixture into the cake tin, even the top, and bake for 1 hour/1 hour 15 minutes. Check it’s cooked through by inserting a skewer and it comes out clean. 

IMG_9082

I did this the night before as the cake needs to be completely cold – it makes slicing it so much easier, also trying to spread cream in a warm cake just isn’t going to work. It’ll be nasty

Slice the cake horizontally into 3 slices. If you’ve got a steady hand and a lot of confidence use a very sharp serrated knife. If you’re chicken, like me, try to get hold of a thing that looks like a cheese wire, but it’s for cakes. I got mine in Ikea (link’s above in the intro).

IMG_9085

Put the cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract into a food mixer and whisk until thick and spreadable.

IMG_9090

And then it’s just an assembly job. Place the base piece of sponge on a serving plate and spread with half the jam, then dollop on a large spoonful of the cream and spread it to the edges. Put the middle piece of sponge on top and repeat.

IMG_9091

Cover the top and sides with most of the remaining cream, but keep a little bit back. Slice up some of the strawberries and arrange in a circle around the crown of the cake and strew the remaining in the centre of the cake. Now take the remaining cream and carefully go round the top, sort of building a wall to keep the strawberries in place, just so the strawberries don’t slide off.

IMG_9105

Oh, and don’t forget to wipe the edges of the serving plate!!!!

Posted in Cake, Dessert, Lunch | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Tried My Best and Bloody Magazines…..

Okay, so, I managed 4 days (which is still a personal best), but for the last 2 days I’ve had a bit of a migraine, so I’ve barely been on the computer and certainly not updating the blog. Hey ho, there’s always next year. But I’m feeling a bit better this morning, so I decided to look through the new BBC Vegetarian Summer magazine that I bought last week, to see if there’s anything I’d like to cook for dinner today. I suddenly had a flash of deja vu – back to the summer of 2013 to be precise and an identical Lentil Rice Salad with Beetroot & Feta Dressing. So I pulled a couple of other BBC magazines from the shelves and, hey presto, Summer 2015 and Christmas 2015 were both ideal times to have a Veggie Subzi Biryani. Now, I’m all for recycling, but I’m bloody pissed off at this – if I want to read the same recipes again and again (not even new photos) then I’ll save my money in future and just reread the magazines I’ve got. I feel that they’re taking money under false pretenses.

IMG_9080

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Smooth Operator…..

Apparently Smoothies are all the rage. Yes, they’ve even made their was to my small corner of Scotland with a new smoothie bar opening just last week. A lot of recipes include ice to help them have that luscious thickness that’s one of their signature characteristics, but using frozen fruits works just as well. Adding oats to it helps with blood sugars, meaning that the energy you get from this smoothie gets released over a longer period, and minimises spikes in your blood glucose (important when, like me, you’re catering to a diabetic). It can be quite sharp though, so adding something like honey, which has natural antimicrobial properties, means it tastes even better without losing all the health properties you’re also getting.

Frozen Fruit Smoothie

  1. 200g frozen summer berries (strawberries, blackberries cherries etc.)
  2. 2 heaped tbsp oatmeal
  3. 500g Greek-style low-fat yoghurt
  4. 1 tsp vanilla
  5. 1 tbsp honey
  6. 100 ml of milk, if necessary
  7. Sprig of mint (for decoration if you’re feeling fancy schmancy)

Weigh out the frozen fruits, but keep a couple aside for decoration and place the rest into a blender.

IMG_9071

Add the oatmeal and yoghurt and pulse it, pausing occasionally to open it up and mix it back together with a spatula. If you find it too thick then thin it with a little of the milk.

IMG_9074

Add the honey, to taste, and vanilla and pulse again to amalgamate them. Pour into a glass and decorate with the frozen berries and the mint sprig, before bounding out, ready to take on the world.

IMG_9078

Posted in Breakfast, Non-alcoholic Drinks | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Basic Biscotti

And, on Day 3, we have………….Biscotti. When I go to a coffee shop to meet friends, the one thing you’ll never find me drinking is coffee. I detest it (though, oddly enough, I make a mean coffee cake). Seriously. But I will have a hot chocolate and biscotti. Biscotti are hard little biscuits that are made for dunking. It softens them and saves your front teeth. You can change the nuts, the dried fruits, the chocolate…………it’s really a basic recipe that you can adapt to suit whatever you’ve got in your cupboards.

Biscotti

  1. 125g plain flour
  2. 0.25 tsp baking powder
  3. 85g sugar
  4. 75g nuts (I used hazelnuts here)
  5. 100g dried fruits (dried cranberries and sultanas here)
  6. grated zest of an orange
  7. 50g chocolate chips – any kind
  8. 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  9. pinch of salt
  10. 1 tsp mixed spice
  11. 2 medium eggs, whisked

Preheat your oven to 180˚C

Sift the flour into a large bowl and add all the other ingredients EXCEPT the eggs. Mix it thoroughly together until they’re well incorporated. The add half the egg mix and combine. If it doesn’t ‘come together’ keep adding a little more of the egg until you’ve got a soft dough. Divide the dough into 3 and roll them on a floured surface into a sausage shape, roughly 2cm across.

Put them onto a greased and lined baking sheet and gently flatten the top. Make sure they’re well apart as they’ll spread out. Bake for 20 minutes until they’re a light brown then take them out to allow them to firm up.

Reduce your oven temp to 140˚C and, once the biscotti have cooled, you can slice them up, roughly 2cm across. Put them back onto the baking sheet and pop them unto the oven to dry out. This should take about 15 minutes, and remember to turn them over halfway through. Cool them on a wire rack and serve with tea, hot chocolate…………yes, okay, even coffee.

IMG_8775

 

Posted in Biscuit | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Left-over Madness……

Did you realise that it’s actually National Vegetarian Week? I’m going to try and update with new recipes every single day. For someone who’s lucky if they manage to blog twice a month, this is a big undertaking. I’ve tried it in the past, and failed, but fingers crossed, this year is gonna be my year.

So, today’s is a good recipe for using up the bits and pieces that clutter up your fridge – I can’t afford to waste food, I’m sure you can’t either. I was shocked when I watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘War On Waste‘ at how much some people throw away. So the remains of a BOGOF, some half empty packs of pasta and box of tomatoes which was just about to become a science experiment in it’s own right results in……….

Cherry Tomato, Asparagus and Pasta

  1. 250g cherry tomatoes
  2. 1 pack asparagus spears (the one I used had 180g and was art of a BOGOF deal)
  3. 2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil (or just plain)
  4. 250g pasta – any kind. I used tagliatelle and macaroni as I had half packs of both left from previous dinners.
  5. hard cheddar/parmesan style cheese to grate over (tho, if you leave it off then this recipe isn’t just vegetarian, it’s vegan)
  6. Salt and pepper

Start off by bringing a pan of boiling water and salting it before adding the pasta to cook (about 10 – 14 minutes, depending on the type. Best to follow the manufacturers instructions). While it’s cooking, take one tablespoon of olive oil and smear over all the tomatoes and asparagus and place under a pre-heated grill till the tomato skins have burst and the asparagus tips are tinged brown.

IMG_9064Once they’re cooked, take them out and drain the pasta when it’s ready. Toss the pasta in the remaining olive oil and stir through the vegetables. 
IMG_9069

Serve with freshly ground pepper and with the grated cheese strewn over. 

 

Posted in Lunch, Pasta | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘The Thinking Man’s Crumpet?……….

 

Well, it’s more flattering than being the lobotomised man’s crumpet, I suppose……’ Gillian Anderson.

Which is, I suppose, my point. The same word means different things in different countries. I was going to muse on what a crumpet was, but found that quote from Ms Anderson and liked it so much I’ve included it. But what I was going to say was that what is a crumpet in one country is not, necessarily, what is a crumpet in another one. An English crumpet is a “fluffy yeasted tea cakes” (according to Felicity Cloake). A Scottish crumpet is a “soft pancake-like fare but made larger and more thinly than pancakes. They can be spread with butter and/or jam and they are traditionally rolled up before eating.” (according to RampantScotland) . But, as you know, I’m Scottish, so……………

Scottish Crumpets

  1. 2 large eggs
  2. 250ml milk
  3. 200g self raising flour
  4. 100g granulated sugar
  5. 0.5 tsp baking powder
  6. 1 tsp vanilla extract

Sunflower oil, or solid veg fat for frying.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the milk and vanilla and combine. Add the baking powder to the flour then sift it into the liquid, whisking well to make sure there’s no lumps.

IMG_9056

Heat your frying pan, or griddle, to very hot, add a smidgeon of oil or fat and then turn the heat down low. Swirl the pan round so that you get a very thin, even covering of oil. The initial burst of heat before cooling it down seems to help giving the crumpets an even colour and to stop sticking. I have no idea why, but it works, so what are you gonna do?

Use a soup ladle and cook one at a time. Swirl the batter round to give good coverage of the pan and let to slowly cook until you can see the bubbles all over the surface of the crumpet and it looks a little dry.

IMG_9057

Flip it over and just lightly cook the underside. The top should be smooth, the bottom showing the little burst bubbles.

IMG_9059

IMG_9061

Pop them onto some greaseproof paper and give the pan another basting of oil and get on with making the rest. You should get about 10 from this amount.

IMG_9063

I can thoroughly recommend strawberry jam, Nutella, or golden syrup (NOT all three at the same time) when you roll them up.

 

Posted in Breakfast, Cake, Scottish | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Heavenly Pots of Happiness…….

You know how, if you’re on Facebook and you’re of a ‘foodie’ kind of nature, you end up with lots of posts appearing with mouthwatering recipes? Pages you follow are the worse,  but friends also share their recipes and, after a while, it’s almost too much, you can become, well, a little blase about the whole thing. I’m sure this post will end up the same for most people. But I saw this recipe originally pop up on a friends’ page (she knows who she is) and I had an avocado in the fruit bowl, so………..well, you can guess where this is heading. And it was delicious. But it was a bit too rich for me, so, next time round, I added some fruit, and some whipped cream. And it was too fussy. Sounds like the 3 bears – too hard, too soft, and the third time? Just right. I’ll give the original recipe in the ‘Comments’ section if anyone wants it, but trust me, my version is better.

Raspberry Chocolate Pots

  1. 1 ripe avocado, stoned and skinned.
  2. 0.25 cup of cocoa powder.
  3. 0.25 cup golden syrup.
  4. 100g fresh raspberries.
  5. 0.5 cup almond milk.
  6. 1 tsp vanilla extract.

IMG_9045

It’s very simple, just put all the ingredients EXCEPT THE RASPBERRIES into a food processor and blend till smooth. Or you can use a stick blender if you have one.

IMG_9046

You may have to scrape the sides a few times as the avocado can take a while to break up and you don’t want lumps of green through your dessert.

Split the raspberries between your ramekins (I used old Gu dessert pots and this made enough for 3) and pour the chocolate liquid over them. Chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.

IMG_9048

It’s softly set and was given the thumbs up by my daughter and her friend who was here for lunch today.

Posted in Dessert, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments