Camp Fajitas

camp fajitas 2

I only have to hear Van McCoy’s The Hustle and I am transported back to Yorkshire that hot summer of 1976.  The fair came to our local town, Ripon and one evening, as a treat, we went to check it out.  The market square was full dodgems, waltzers and even a big wheel.  The air was heady with excitement, the music and the residual heat of the day.  Girls in their cheesecloth tops and cut off jeans hot pants and the boys watchful with their James Hunt hairdo’s and a packet of JPS tucked casually into capped t shirt sleeves.   The memory stays with me and reminds me of that long dusty hot summer with the school holidays reaching ahead for weeks. Without any internet or electronic games we had to amuse ourselves and there was a lot of playing in the garden, den building, making camps followed by general milling around.

These summer holidays have started off promisingly warm and I am keen for my children to fill their time as I did, mucking about outside, splashing in the river and climbing trees.  One way I’ve found to keep them busy is to get them to cook and campfire cooking has got to be up there as the best kind.  Even the most bored or bolshy child desperate to get onto their phone can usually be tempted by the thrill of the fire and ensuing feast.

These fajitas are perfect for a camp cook out, a doddle to make and seem to keep everyone happy.   You can cut up the vegetables and chicken or depending on their age, get your little darlings to do it for you, I am all for a bit of delegation/child labour.  We made the flatbreads you see in the picture and they could not be easier but by all means buy some if that is a step too far.   Much to my childrens’ disapproval I like to add lettuce to my wraps and if you are particularly carb-phobic you could dispense with the bread all together and fold your chicken and peppers into a large lettuce leaf.

camp fajitas

There are all manner of goodies you can add to your wraps.  I don’t add too much chilli when cooking to keep these family friendly so a drop of two of sriracha is mandatory for me and we always have sour cream or greek yogurt.   I might make a chunky guacamole or my quick pickled onions (August 2014) which add fabulous crunch and tang – the point is that the children love making these to their own specifications.  If you make the bread dough first then this can rise whilst you get on with the chicken and vegetables.  I use my usual bread recipe but on this occasion it only needs one rise before rolling them out.  If you are dong these on a camp fire I find a paella pan or large frying pan the best option.  Cook the filling first then put it on a plate to one side whilst you cook the flatbreads, they only take a few minutes each and this way you can use just one pan.

Camp Fajitas

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions, peeled and sliced

3 large peppers, cored and sliced

2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

2 large chicken breasts, sliced into fairly small pieces

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

A pinch of cayenne pepper (more if you want it a little more spicy)

Salt and pepper

500g strong white bread flour plus a bit extra for rolling out

10g fast action yeast

10g fine salt

300ml lukewarm water

Mix the flour, yeast and salt with the water and combine to a dough.  If you are at home and have a stand mixer use this otherwise knead by hand for about 10 minutes then leave the dough covered for an hour to prove.  Put the oil into your large pan (see intro) and cook the onions and peppers with a good pinch of salt over a medium heat until soft, probably around 20 minutes.  Towards the end of this time add the garlic and cook for a few minutes.  Put the peppers and onions on a plate and cook the chicken in the same pan, you shouldn’t need anymore oil but add a bit if necessary.  Once golden add the spices and a pinch of salt, cook for a few more minutes then add around 100ml of water to create a bit of sauce, check for seasoning.  Put all this onto the plate with the peppers and onions and wipe the pan with a bit of kitchen roll but don’t bother washing it.

Take balls of the bread dough about the size of a satsuma and roll out in a little flour until the size of a large side plate.  Keeping the pan on the heat cook these for a couple of minutes either side until slightly puffed up and browning at the edges.  Put each flatbread into a folded tea towel to keep warm and soft while you do the rest  - you should get about 8 to 10.   Bung the filling back into the pan if it needs warming through and then tuck in along with any extra bits and pieces you have decided on (see intro).

 

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Gooseberry, Strawberry and Elderflower Eton Mess

Gooseberry and strawberry fool 2

My Granny had a kitchen garden, a big old walled space which I thought was heaven.  I adored it and spent hours there as a child wandering between the rows of vegetables, marvelling at the artichokes taller than me, rubbing my fingers on the fennel fronds to release their aniseed scent.  Inspecting the asparagus, picking baskets of peas and snacking on apples and pears when the mood took me.   It has always been a deep held wish to have such a garden and we moved house last year we were lucky enough to find one tucked away.   Overgrown and wild it was but the bones were there nonetheless and I had visions of recreating my Grandmothers remarkable garden.  Ha!  After a mass of reading and learning, a weekend of rotating and what feels like endless weeding I have planted and planted.  Seeds have been started off on the kitchen windowsill or in the green house or planted direct, seedlings bought where my own efforts have failed and donations of little vegetable plants and dahlias gratefully received.

I am delighted with it all and spend hours trying to keep up with the weeds (impossible) and planting various rows of salad leaves to follow on from the ones we are eating now (I believe that is what you do…).  My battle with the slugs is another story altogether.  It is considerably harder work than I anticipated but supremely rewarding.  The first spear of asparagus, eating the first herby green salad with a variety of leaves all grown by us.  There are three tiny plums on a new plum tree, pea pods, baby beetroots, courgettes and beans on their way.

The first fruit picked so far have been wild strawberries and some gooseberries which immediately went towards the fool in this pudding.   With local strawberries winking at me and last weeks elderflower cordial to hand I decided to combine these flavours, the very essence of summer.  The tang of the gooseberries along with the sweetness of the strawberries and floral hit of elderflower are a winning combination and a bit of scrunched up meringue adds texture.

Gooseberry, Strawberry and Elderflower Eton Mess

Of course you can just make the gooseberry fool to have on its own in which case I would use 4 tablespoons of sugar as you won’t have any added sweetness from the meringue.  Taste the gooseberry puree before you add though and remember the later in the season the sweeter these berries will be.

400g gooseberries, topped and tailed

3 tablespoons golden caster sugar

300ml double cream

2 tablespoons elderflower cordial

1 punnet of strawberries halved or quartered depending on size

Meringue (as per the recipe for World Cup Meringue Cake, November 2013 but don’t bother with 3 layers, 1 will do or indeed individual meringues as you are going to break them up anyway).

Put the gooseberries in a pan with the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water and simmer gently until completely broken down.  Leave to cool and then add 1 tablespoon of elderflower cordial.  Put the cut strawberries into a bowl, add the other tablespoon of elderflower cordial, turn them gently and leave to macerate while you get on.  Whip the cream until it just holds its shape and then fold into the gooseberry puree.  Break up the meringues and then mix them with the gooseberry fool followed by the strawberries.  This would fill six glasses similar to the ones you see here but I just filled four and we had seconds…..

 

 

 

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Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower 5

There is masses of elderflower around at the moment and I mean to make as much cordial as I can before it fades and leaves us for another year.  I have mentioned it before but I just love these seasonal treats – so much more special because of their fleeting presence.   Like the wild garlic which is now long gone from the river bank where it flourished only a month ago and all the other delights about to spring from the garden.   You might be able to buy raspberries year around in the supermarkets but do they ever taste better than when picked and eaten straight from the cane, warm from the sun?  Strawberries which can so often be a let down once liberated from their plastic shop cartons yet which carry that unmistakeable scent and flavour of summer when you find one perfect crimson specimen hiding under the leaves of a plant at your feet.

This cordial is floral, fragrant and delicious.  It has the most extraordinarily true flavour of elderflower and is unbelievably thirst quenching and refreshing.  As you will from the recipe it does contain a fair amount of sugar which I admit makes me wince a bit when I put it into the pan – what with trying to cut down on sugar and all that.  The thing is I like to offer my children squash and don’t think they should be limited to water or milk – after all I have wide range of drinks I can choose from!  What I don’t care for so much is the commercial drinks full of colouring, additives and other unpronounceable ingredients.  I may be conning myself but this just seems a little more natural.   You can reduce the sugar a little, play around and see what level of sweetness you prefer and don’t forget it is going to be highly diluted.

Elderflower Cordial

You need roughly 20 heads of elderflower for this but don’t panic if you can only find, or reach 15 or so,  it will still taste delicious.  Get citric acid from health food shops or the chemist.

20 elderflower heads, shake them gently to release any bugs

750g golden caster sugar

750ml water

50g citric acid

1 lemon, halved

Put the sugar and water into a pan and bring to the boil.  Put the elderflower heads into a large bowl and carefully add the sugar syrup.  Add the citric acid and squeeze in the juice from the lemons and add the halves to the bowl.  Give it all a good mix then cover with a tea towel and leave overnight.  The next day pour it through a sieve into another bowl or wide jug squeezing out the elderflower to get every drop.  Decant into a bottle and keep in the fridge.  Dilute as you would normal cordial with cold fizzy or flat water.  You could of course add it to a cocktail too….

 

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New Slaw

New Slaw 3

What happened to good old fashioned coleslaw?  I say good but actually, so many times it wasn’t, sometimes in fact it has been downright terrible.  Limp, greasy, over oniony, short on seasoning, cabbage too big, drowned in cheap mayo etc etc.  Poor coleslaw has hung its head in shame and hidden at the back of the buffet table.  Until now and talk about a makeover – the humble coleslaw has had some sort of sonic reinvention, spruced up and started wearing international couture.  Asian Slaw, Spicy Slaw, Citrus Slaw, Moroccan Slaw – it’s thrown off its dowdy mayo, lost the Cole and got down and funky with the kids.   Spicy, herby, tangy or hot – Slaw can be anything you like as long as it is crunchy.

I love a crunchy salad and regulars to these pages will know I am not stranger to this type of side.  My Christmas Salad (December 2013), the Thai-ish Salad (November 2015), Carrot Salad (January 2013) and of course the Celeriac Remoulade (January 2016) are variations on the slaw theme.   They are all cheap and easy to rustle up, happily retain their crunch for a couple of days in the fridge and will go with a myriad of other things as well as being perfect for lunch on their own (I particularly like this ones with a piece of cold salmon).  There is an added bonus though and its a huge and resounding boom of a bonus.  Children love them.   Who knew that getting raw veggies into children could ever be so easy?  My son particularly likes my Christmas Salad and regularly has if for his packed lunch.   My daughter however adores this gingery, piquant New Slaw the best, told me it is her favourite salad and had it three times this week.

Carrots, fennel, beetroot, cabbage (green, white or red), radish, celeriac, apple, broccoli – any of these work well.  Then do you want a sharp, zingy dressing, maybe spicy too?  Or perhaps a creamy dressing, a little more traditional although I favour yogurt or creme fraiche here over the ubiquitous mayo.  Add herbs, lots of them and seeds are good too.  Sometimes I add dried cranberries or raisins as I love that little burst of sweetness.  Customise your slaw as you please, make your own bespoke version.  We eat one of these raw, crunchy types of salad a few time a week and this one is the current favourite.  Gingery, herby and with a little heat it goes perfectly with barbecued chicken and I will post my favourite grilled chicken recipe in the next week or so.  Meanwhile may the crunch be with you, it is delicious and you can just feel it doing you good.

New Slaw

New Slaw

The other day I didn’t have any cabbage so used more carrots and it was just as good.  Different but just as good and that is the point of these slaws really, add a little more or less of something as you please, make it your own.

3 carrots, peeled

1/4 of a small red or green cabbage, core removed and finely chopped

6 radishes, sliced

2 spring onions, sliced

A thumb of ginger, peeled

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

A small packet of coriander

A small packet of mint

A handful of raisins or dried cranberries (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil, a light one

Juice of 1 lime, you may need 2 depending on their size and juiciness.

Grate the carrots and put into a large bowl with the radishes, onions, cabbage and chilli.  I use a box grater for this rather than an attachment in the processor as I find using this makes the veggies really wet.  Finely grate the ginger, add this to the bowl along with the olive oil and lime juice.  Season and mix well with your hands so that everything is combined.  Chop or snip the herbs over the salad, add the raisins/cranberries if using, mix once more and serve to happy faces.

 

 

 

 

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Wild Garlic Pizza

Pizza WG

Last weekend I fell in the river.  I was keen to clear a bit of it that had got rather clogged up with logs, twigs and sticks after the last flood and had set out, pole in hand, to sort it.  I was leaning right over the river against an old tree stump in order to get the pole into the middle of all this debris when there was an almighty creak followed by a splash.  It seems this particular stump had long ago relinquished its hold on life, was entirely hollow and both it and I fell right into the river.  It was very cold.  I had been accompanied on this mission by Tom who, uncharacteristically for a Springer, doesn’t like water and was now pacing the riverbank anxiously presumably wondering what I was doing.  So, I was soaking to the waist and my boots were full of water but as I couldn’t get any wetter I decided I might as well carry on clearing the river and in fact it was much easier now that I was well and truly in.   Climbing out I found myself on nose level with swathes of wild garlic which is abundant along the bank and decided that is  what we would have for supper.

Each year we are spoilt with this particular foragers’ treat and I have made all manner of things with it, Wild Garlic Pesto (May 2013) and Wild Garlic Focaccia (May 2014) to name two.   I add it to salads, cautiously though it is pretty potent, and chuck into pasta dishes letting it wilt in the residual heat.  This years leaves have been around for a couple of weeks but it is only in the last few days that the white flowers have emerged.

We often make pizzas on a Saturday evening so I decided to see how much wild garlic we could get onto those.  My dough is a simple version of my white bread but with a good slosh of olive oil.  It is a dream to work with and cooks to a suitably crisp crust.   I decided to make my Fresh Herb Sauce (July 2013) with half parsley and half wild garlic which resulted in a pungent fabulously green number to drizzle over some of the pizzas when they emerged from the oven but you could just as happily use the Wild Garlic Pesto.  We strewed the pizzas with torn wild garlic leaves rather as I often use rocket and in fact rocket came into play when the wild garlic I picked had all gone and I couldn’t persuade anyone into the pouring rain to get more.

Pizzas are a personal thing and us such my family put different ingredients on each one – we usually start with a tomato sauce, the same one as used in my Meatloaf recipe (November 2015).  My son keeps his simple with cheese and salami, my daughter will add olives, capers and garlic to hers and my husband and I tend to add a good amount of chilli, mozzarella and lots of greenery when the pizzas emerge blistered and bubbling from the oven.   A trickle of good olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt bring the whole together and I can’t recommend these enough.  They are a world away from wodgy doughy shop bought pizzas and, I tell myself, must be better for us….

Wild Garlic Pizza

The following makes four pizzas which are just the right size for us, two adults and two children but you could happily double the recipe.  Remember you need to allow time for the proving but unlike normal bread, the doesn’t really need a second rise.

250g strong white flour

5g quick yeast

5g fine salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

100-150 ml luke warm water

Toppings of your choice, see above, but probably to include tomato sauce, mozzarella or cheddar, salami or pepperoni, olives, chilli flakes, capers etc

Mix the flour, yeast, salt, oil and 100 ml of water in a large bowl, you may need some more of the water but probably not all of it.  Once it comes together in a dough knead it for 10 minutes by hand or in a stand mixer.  When this is a smooth ball, put a little oil into the bowl to stop the dough sticking and leave in a warm place for an hour or so until doubled in size.  Preheat your oven to 220 and put in a couple of baking sheets to heat up.  Divide the dough into four and roll out thinly but not too thinly or you will struggle to get them from your work surface onto the baking tray.  If you are worried about his roll them out on baking parchment and they can cook on this.  Don’t use greaseproof paper as the pizzas will stick to this, you will never get them off and will have to eat the greaseproof paper along with the pizza, I found this out the hard way.  Add whatever toppings you have decided on but don’t go mad, if they are too heavy or wet you won’t get a crisp bottom.  Carefully take a hot baking sheet out of the oven, sprinkle with semolina if you have some or flour, put your pizza onto this and bake for 8-10 minutes or until cooked, bubbling and blistered.  When it is done I thoroughly recommend torn wild garlic if you can get some or rocket strewn on top or the wild garlic fresh herb sauce.  Each pizza serves 1.

 

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Easter weekend

Onion Tart_

My head is full of recipes.  As usual these ideas are jostling for space and waiting for me to choose them for a mornings experimentation and testing in the kitchen.  It is such fun and something I love to do.  The last few weeks however have been crazily full of other stuff and so a new recipe hasn’t made it to pole position ready for its launch from me to you.   So I thought I’d let you know which of my recipes I will be cooking this Easter weekend in case it helps you with any last minute decision making.

I’ve always followed tradition with a meat (and fish) free Good Friday so for supper this evening we will have my Onion Tart but without the anchovies on top.   A big green salad will be just the ticket with this and I had made some brownies for pudding but they appear to have disappeared…

For Saturday lunch we will have Paella (January 2013) – one of my brothers is a vegetarian so I’ll make a great big veggie version with peppers and leeks.  For the carnivorous amongst us I will serve a separate pan of sizzling chorizo and juicy pink prawns.  Pudding will be Crunchy Apple Puddings (January 2015) which I can make in the morning leaving me cool and calm (!) with just a salad to rustle up to serve alongside the paella.

Crunchy Apple Pudding 3-2

Easter lunch just wouldn’t be right without our paschal lamb and I won’t deviate too far from the traditional course.  Our leg of lamb will be served pink with my favourite, fabulous fresh herb sauce (July 2013) to which I will add a bunch of mint, the perfect accompaniment.   Spring greens and glazed carrots seem a good idea alongside the essential roast potatoes.  My daughter and I are still in dispute about pudding.  A chocolate pavlova is fairly high on the agenda but I’m not sure it won’t be toppled by a rhubarb version which will bring some freshness and zip to an otherwise chocolate laden day.

The Lemon Curd layer cake (May 2013) will be our Easter teatime treat as fruit cakes aren’t particularly welcome chez May and although I adore Simnel cake, my daughter’s nut allergy precludes marzipan from our table.   No loss though as this light and airy, zesty lemon confection is perfect for early Spring and seems eminently suitable for the Easter table.  Should anyone not have space for a slice of cake I’m sure they will fit in a small biscuit and I’m hoping to persuade my children to make these Ginger Biscuits (February 2015) which are beyond simple and beyond delicious.

Ginger Shortbread

Whatever you are doing and whatever you are eating, I wish you a very Happy Easter.

 

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Bread

Bread 1

Is there anything better than the smell of a newly baked loaf of bread?  Bacon is good, doughnuts certainly tempting, roast chicken cosy and reassuring but bread is out there on its own, top of the podium.   Following that first whiff of your freshly cooked loaf the challenge is to sit tight and wait a few minutes until it is ready to be cut.  You know that first slice spread with a generous amount of good butter is going to be just fabulous.  Sink your teeth into it and revel in the extraordinary alchemy of four humble ingredients which together make our daily bread.

Bread tends to get vilified but in fairness it has kept millions of people going for thousands of years in its various forms.  I’m not keen on writing off any food group and for children in particular I think bread forms an essential part of their diet.  It may be the antithesis of all the quinoa, spirulina and sweet potato brownies I see winking at me these days but  I adore bread and would never want to give it up, I just ensure I don’t eat a whole loaf in one sitting!

This is the loaf I make every few days to keep my family supplied with toast, sandwiches, soldiers and the like.  We ring the changes with the odd wholemeal seedy loaf, milk loaf (July 2014), rye, brioche or quick soda bread (April 2013) but generally this is the loaf you will find in our bread bin.  I think bread has a reputation for being a faff but honestly, it couldn’t be easier, a quick mix and then patience whilst the dough rises twice and then a brief spell in the oven and its done.  So, so much better than bought bread and hugely rewarding.  With a simple dough you can rustle up flat breads, rolls, pita, pizza bases – all sorts of easy, cheap treats.

A Saturday soup lunch wouldn’t be half as appealing without a generous, homely loaf sitting on the board at the end of the table and no picnic would be complete without bread in some or other shape.   For a change make focaccia (May 2014) or grissini/bread sticks (May 2015) – children love making any of the above and their delight in their creations easily makes up for the clouds of flour covering your kitchen.   Should there be any left over, make croutons or breadcrumbs for another day.  I find it reassuring that this bread goes stale rather than spookily lasting for weeks before developing a nasty mould as some shop bought breads can.

Make this loaf, I promise you will be so pleased you did.

White Bread

It you have a stand mixer then this will take literally minutes of your time to rustle up.  Before I got ours though I still made this and happily kneaded it for around 10 minutes.  It is a calming way to spend 10 minutes (come on, it is only 10 minutes!) and you will be rewarded tenfold!

500g strong white bread flour

10g salt

10g dried yeast

300ml lukewarm water

Put the flour into a large bowl (or the bowl for your mixer) with the salt on one side and the yeast on the other.  Add the water and bring it all together from a sticky mess into a dough.  Then using the dough hook put your mixer on for 6-7 minutes or knead by hand for 10.  Sprinkle the inside of the bowl with a little extra flour, put the dough into the bowl, cover with a cloth and leave somewhere warm and draught free for an hour.  After this time you will see your dough has risen so punch the air out of it by kneading a couple of times then form it into whatever shape you want your loaf to be and put on a flour dusted baking sheet.  Cover again and leave for a further hour.  Towards the end of this time preheat your oven to 200.  Sprinkle with a little flour and then bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes after which time it should be bronzed and hollow sounding when you tap (cautiously) the bottom.   The base should be beginning to colour, you can always return it directly onto the rack for a further five minutes if you think it needs it.  Let it cool on a wire rack and then dig in.

 

 

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Beetroot and Carrot Cake

Beetroot and Carrot Cake 2

My children have exceptionally finely tuned radars when it comes to trying out new dishes and show particular suspicion if I ever respond “it’s a surprise!” when they are faced with something new.  They will fire questions about ingredients at me but I am used to this now and have a range of ripostes and distracting tactics at the ready.  I’ve perfected acting in a slightly deaf, vague fashion when being cross examined, sometimes I will deflect questions by posing a conundrum so complex, lengthy and bizarre back at them that they will have forgotten their original question or my absolute favourite when faced with a query I would rather not answer, I look intently at the window and ask “is that a badger out there?”.

These discussions and my slippery evasiveness usually come to the fore when a less than popular vegetable has been snuck into something under cover.  I do this in my never-ending efforts to find a way to make each and every vegetable delicious to my treasures.  Rather as it was with this Beetroot and Carrot cake.  Previously a regular kind of Carrot cake had been deemed acceptable so grabbing this particular baton, I decided to expand on the idea and add beetroot to the mix.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I am under no false illusion that by adding any old veg to a cake it miraculously becomes healthy.  There is a sea of treats out there that contain ‘better for you’ ingredients – sweet potatoes, date syrup, wholemeal flour, quinoa or whatever but treats they are.  A cake is a cake is a cake, something to enjoy occasionally but not every day.  The reason I make this one is because I think it is absolutely delicious.  The fact that it contains grated raw carrot and beetroot is a happy coincidence.

My son ate one slice of the first of these cakes but has mysteriously been full whenever offered a slice at a later date.  My husband said he like it but could see why the children didn’t which, in itself, was fairly damning and my daughter simply eyed it as one would a snake.

So to everyone who has tried this cake and loved it (even those who were told the pink bits were raspberries….) I say thank you and to my family I say, never mind, all the more for me.

Beetroot and Carrot Cake 1

Beetroot and Carrot Cake

Grating the vegetables in a processor can make it a bit wet so I tend to do it by hand with a box grater, it only takes a few minutes.

300g carrots and beetroot (untrimmed or peeled weight), grated

250g self raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

150g soft brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

150ml sunflower or vegetable oil, plus a tiny bit extra for greasing the tin

2 eggs, beaten

125g icing sugar, sifted

50g soft butter

200g cream cheese, at room temperature

1 lime, zest and juice.

Preheat the oven to 170 and oil a 20cm tin with a little of the sunflower/vegetable oil and line the base.   Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl, add the salt and sugar followed by the grated carrot and beetroot and mix well.  Combine the oil and beaten egg and add this to the flour and vegetables and mix.  It will be a thick mixture!  Put into the tin, level the top and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before cooling completely on a rack.   Meanwhile for the icing, beat the butter, sugar and lime really well before adding the cream cheese.  It is important that this is at room temperature so it mixes in easily, don’t over beat it as it will quickly become runny.  If it does however, don’t panic, just put it in the fridge until firmed up.  Spread over the cake.

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Rosemary Pannacotta with Rhubarb

Rosemary Pannacotta

No secret that I love a pannacotta – all that silky wobbliness makes them irresistible to me. They are also on of the easiest puds to whip up and the fact they need to be made ahead of time only adds to their appeal.  I love knowing that pudding is already made and sitting patiently in the fridge, a tick on the to do list.

So far I’ve given you Vanilla Pannacotta with Blackcurrants (July 2014), a Summer regular for sure and possibly my children’s favourite incarnation.  Some good vanilla along with the slight tang of the yogurt is heaven and amazing with heady blackcurrants.  You can of course use which ever soft fruits are at the best or indeed the rhubarb that follows with this recipe.  The Cinnamon Pannacotta with Maple Syrup Apples (June 2015) makes me think of Autumn, crunchy leaves, mulled cider and bonfires.

Time for a new kid on the block and this is it.  For ages I have been tinkering with the idea of a rosemary scented pudding.  I couldn’t help but feel that the woody, herbaceous note would work well with a creamy base and in fact a rosemary ice cream is definitely on the agenda come the Summer.  More than that though, whilst I use piles of herbs in savoury dishes I thought I might be overlooking them in a sweet context.

Here we are then.  The rosemary adds a delicate flavour, one of those you can’t immediately place, and works a proper treat with the rhubarb.  I love rhubarb, am always looking for different ways to use it and this is my current favourite.  Heady with orange (actually tangerine) zest and juice it brings a wallop of flavour to the gently, soft pannacotta.

Rosemary Pannacotta with Rhubarb

200ml whole milk

100ml single cream

100ml Greek yogurt

60g caster sugar

A sprig of rosemary around the same size as the one in the photograph above

2 gelatine leaves

250g rhubarb, chopped into pieces

25-35g caster sugar

Zest and juice of an orange (or tangerine)

Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften.  Heat the milk, cream, sugar and rosemary until it just reaches boiling point.  Remove from the heat and add the squeezed out gelatine, whisk well and leave to cool and infuse, stirring occasionally.  Whisk in the yogurt and divide between 4 ramekins or small metal moulds.  Put into the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.   Meanwhile cook the rhubarb with the zest, juice and 25g sugar either in a pan or if the oven is on put it in there.  It doesn’t take very long but I wouldn’t put the oven on just for this.  When soft and juicy have a taste, you might need some or all of the extra 10g of sugar, then leave to cool.  To serve, dip each ramekin briefly into hot water before turning out onto a plate and serving with a spoonful of the rhubarb.  Serves 4.

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Celeriac Remoulade

Celeriac Remoulade 2

I have piles of recipes waiting to be tried.  Stacks of pages torn out of magazines or newspapers waiting in boxes until the right day.   I tried various indexing systems but in all honesty when it comes to finding a certain recipe the usual answer is to sit on the floor surrounded by open boxes leafing through endless pages.  Eight times out of ten I will find the recipe I am after and all will be well but sometimes, occasionally I have to give up on the search.  So it was with a particular recipe for Celeriac Remoulade that I got from a cooking demo last year.   Before Christmas I looked everywhere but it was nowhere to be found so I had to start from scratch.  Not a hardship, it is delicious and fun fiddling around until the right combination is found.

I have served this twice alongside my Slow Roast Pork (recipe coming soon) and Christmas Salad.  The pork and two salads are piled up into a warm bap along with a few dressed green leaves and a good blob of chilli spiked yogurt.  Soft falling apart pork with the tang and crunchiness of the salads is a heavenly combination which seems to please adults and children alike.   After she had eaten this with us at New Year a friend asked me for the pork recipe and has now made it three times which thrills me to bits.  I thoroughly recommend you try it and I will post the pork recipe next week.  In the meantime enjoy this fabulous, crunchy raw salad with some air dried ham and if you’re not on the wagon a glass of cold cider, sensational.

Celeriac Remoulade

If you have a food processor with grating attachment this takes literally minutes to make but if not just use a regular grater and mind your knuckles.  This combination of yogurt and mustard is how we like it, enough of a kick but still child friendly.

1/2 a celeriac, peeled (approx 450g)

1/2 a bunch parsley, finely chopped

4 tablespoons Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons dijon mustard (you can use seedy mustard if you prefer)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

A pinch of salt

A pinch of caster sugar

Grate the celeriac using a processor or grater (see introduction).  Mix the yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, salt and sugar.  Mix together with the celeriac and parsley, I do this in a really large bowl so as to get it all properly incorporated.  Taste for seasoning.  This will serve 4 with a few slices of prosciutto or similar for lunch or 6-8 if you are having it with the pork and other salads in a bap.

Celeriac Remoulade

 

 

 

Posted in Food, Salads, Vegetables | Tagged , | 5 Comments