Cakes and Chutney

Green Tomato Chutney

I know, I know, it sounds as if I have become the embodiment of the WI and will shortly start belting out Jerusalem whilst stoveside.  The reason behind my tweed clad, pearl strung transformation is twofold.

Macmillan Cakes

This morning I hosted a Macmillan Coffee Morning.  You don’t need me to say what an amazing job Macmillan do and I hope all the other events today were fantastic and raised a huge amount.   A big thank you to all my fabulous friends who came and ate cake and bought chutney and biscuits and more cake.

Chutney and Biscuits

At the same time as my baking frenzy was taking place I found the garden full of green tomatoes which are now unlikely to turn scarlet red.  So a plan was hatched, make some chutney to sell in addition to all the sweet goodies on Friday.  I must tell you that whilst surrounded by all this chocolate, sugar, golden syrup, buttercream etc the one thing I have been craving is a cheese and chutney sandwich, the perfect salty savoury antidote.

Green tomatoes

My green tomato chutney will have to wait 6-8 weeks until suitably matured (although initial tasting is very promising) but that should make it tip top for Christmas and meanwhile I will have to rifle around the larder for something else to put in my sandwich…. oh for a red tomato.

Green Tomato Chutney

As with all chutneys you can play around a little with this recipe.  In the past I have used 3 eating apples but also once used 1 enormous bramley.  This time I only had green tomatoes but in the past I have used all green or a mixture of red and green.  Go with what you have.

1.5 kg tomatoes (see above) cored and chopped

3 eating apples, cored, peeled and chopped (you don’t have to peel but I prefer to)

3 onions, peeled and chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 thumb ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

4 cardamom pods, split

100g raisins

400ml cider vinegar

250g sugar

Good pinch of salt

Put everything into the biggest pan you have, bring to the boil then simmer gently for 4 hours stirring occasionally.  It will reduce by more than half and become dark, thick and pulpy with no excess liquid.  You may need a little longer, it rather depends on the size of your pan and the surface area simmering/evaporating etc.   When it is done you should be able to draw a wooden spoon across the bottom and see the base of the pan clearly before it slides back.  Decant into steralised pots, I find it easiest to put these through the dishwasher, label and put away for 6-8 weeks before tucking in .  Makes 5 jars.


Macmillan Balloons

The vanilla and chocolate biscuit recipe can be found in a previous post of mine,  Biscuits du Jour (November 2012)

Cosy Beef Stew and Parsley Dumplings

Anna May everyday Beef stew close

This summer has been fantastic, I have loved the sun, the heat and eating a lot of salads.  Whilst basking in all this however, there was a tiny bit of my happy in the knowledge that come September it might cool down a little and I would be able to light the fire and make some cosy autumn food.

Now, I realise I seem to have dived right into ‘freezing outside, possibly even snowing winter food’ but you know what I couldn’t resist.  It has been months since my last stew (I feel that should have been confession) and it was time for a fix.  Added to that my little boy asked earlier in the week when we would be having stew and dumplings.  Sooner than you think my little treasure I thought to myself.

Here it is and it is a beauty.  Very simple, 30 minutes work tops and then a few hours in the oven.  What you are rewarded with however, far exceeds that brief effort you put in.  Tender falling apart beef, soft carrots, crispy and fluffy dumplings with masses of glistening savoury gravy.  You can then sit around the table, enjoy this with some greens and perhaps raise a glass of good red wine to the fabulous summer of 2013.

Beef and Carrot Stew with Parsley Dumplings

1 kg braising beef, cubed

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, chopped

7/8 medium carrots, peeled and halved lenthways

1 heaped tablespoon plain flour

500ml beef stock

200ml red wine

1 teaspoon redcurrant jelly

Sprig of thyme

A bayleaf

For the dumplings –

100g self raising flour

50g suet

A handful of parsley, finely chopped

5 tablespoons cold water

Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 150c.  Heat the oil in a large casserole (that has a lid) and brown the meat in batches and set aside.  Then fry the onion (you may need a little more oil) until softened.  Return the meat to the pan, sprinkle over the flour and stir it in well.  Pour over the stock and wine and redcurrant jelly, give it a mix then add the carrots, thyme and bay leaf.  Put into the oven for 3 hours.

Just before the time is up, mix the ingredients for the dumplings and form into little balls about the size of a walnut and turn the oven up to 180.  Remove the pan from the oven, quickly (and carefully) check the seasoning and then place the dumplings onto the surface of the stew.  Put the lid back on and return to the oven for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes to crisp up the outside of the dumplings.  Enough for 4.

We followed this with a fabulous custard tart (I know, I know, bikini appropriate food clearly now forgotten) and it made me proud of British Food!

Anna May everyday Beef stew empty


Chorizo, tomatoes and beans

Chorizo beans and tomatoes

Chorizo, choritzzo, schoreetho, however you say it I love it.  That red spicy warmth pervades any ingredients that get in its way and frankly makes most things taste that little bit better.  Usefully it has a great shelf life and as such I often keep it in the fridge and that is how this lunch started out.  Our plans changed the other day and I found we would be home rather than out for lunch and that the fridge was looking pretty bare but fortunately contained a pack of chorizo.   The beans, both runner and French, have been very successful in the garden this year and we haven’t done badly for tomatoes or potatoes.  So following a rustle around I had one of those serendipitous moments when although completely unplanned, the ingredients I had available went together fabulously.  So much so that I made this again a couple of days later with the addition of boiled new potatoes.

Whilst barely a recipe I offer it here in its original form which we had with a lovely loaf of   bread which managed to be both crusty without and squidgy within, a perfect combination.  On the second occasion I added boiled sliced new potatoes to the mix and they worked a treat too so go for whichever you prefer.

By the way, not only does it taste magic but it looks fantastic as well piled up on a white plate – a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy (if that is not a bit cheesy)?!

Chorizo, tomato and green bean salad

180g-200g chorizo (the cooking sausages rather than the thin sliced salami type) chopped

200g green beans, you can use French, runner or bobby or a mixture, topped and tailed

200g tomatoes, halved or quartered

1 tablespoon good olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Bunch of parsley (optional)

Fry the chorizo in a large pan until cooked and a little crispy in places.  Cook the beans in boiling water until just (I mean just) cooked but retaining crunch.  Tumble the tomatoes and beans into the pan with the chorizo, add the oil and vinegar and turn gently until thoroughly mixed and then put on a large serving plate.  Sprinkle salt and pepper and with chopped parsley if you have some.  How quick and easy was that?

Enough for 4.

Chocolate and beetroot cakes


Beetroot and chocolate cakes

I made these before the holidays but didn’t get a chance to pass the recipe on.  My son’s class at school were having a Food Festival and parents were asked to contribute cakes that had been made with a vegetable as an ingredient.  I made these, some little courgette and vanilla cakes and also some blackcurrant and avocado cakes.    The beetroot and chocolate were not only the favourite of the ones I made but also won the first prize out of all entries – the children loved them, even those who professed not to like beetroot (quite a few).   I was delighted and very proud.  To keep me in my place however, one little girl did stop eating her cake the moment she heard it contained beetroot and could not be persuaded to continue with it……

I don’t think it is a new thing baking with vegetables, carrot cake has been around for a while after all, but it seems to be enjoying a boost at the moment.  The veggies do add a delicious moistness to cakes and in most cases reduce the fat content.  Perhaps it also eases our conscience that there is veg in our treats, a cunning way to increase that five a day and I am all for that.

So you could try these because they are maybe a little better for you than the usual chocolate cupcakes or just because they are extremely good to eat.

Chocolate and Beetroot Cakes

160g beetroot, cooked and peeled

40g cocoa

120g plain flour

160g caster sugar

2 eggs

140ml oil

1 heaped tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 180.  Line a bun tin with cup cake paper cases .  Sift the cocoa, flour, baking powder and mix with the sugar and salt in a bowl.  Puree the beetroot, add the eggs and oil and whizz again.  Mix with the dry ingredients, put into the paper cases and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  This made 12 and I had a little mixture over for some mini ones which I only cooked for 10 minutes.