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Today was my first exploration into the ancient and mystical art of pickling.

My first ‘victims’ were nasturtium seeds I’d picked yesterday afternoon for the mound of earth outside the Children’s Plot.

Voila!

Voila! Pickled nasturtium seeds.

Ingredients:

Well washed nasturtium seeds with the stalks removed.

A dried red chili

Good quality pickling vinegar (…I used ‘Sarson’s…)

Method:

Simply finely chop the chili, leaving the seeds in if you’re feeling brave.

Add half the nasturtium seeds to a well washed and dried pickling jar, add the chilis, then add the rest of the nasturtiums.

Fill to the brim with the pickling vinegar.

Screw on the top, making sure it is well sealed, then gently shake the jar for a few moments.

Leave for a month or more to ‘infuse’.

Apparently, these can be used in place of capers on pizza, for example.  Watch this space in a few weeks time as they are sampled.

Enjoy!

Quick and easy stir-fry.

1 comment

Ingredients:

One medium sized courgette, sliced.

Handful of runner beans roughly sliced.

A few button mushrooms, halved.

Three thinly sliced rashers of un-smoked bacon.

Method:-

  1. Pre-heat a little olive oil in a frying pan or wok to a fairly high temperature on an open fire / cooker.
  2. Throw in the ingredients except the bacon, adding a little lemon and dill flavoured olive oil if desired.
  3. When the courgettes start to get a little colour, add the bacon, stirring continuously.
  4. When the bacon is done to your liking, the dish is ready!
  5. Serve immediately.

The whole meal should take no longer than 10 minutes to prepare and cook, and there’s very little washing up afterwards.

Nick 15/09/10

Onion bhajis (15)
Sunflower oil in large pan/wok
5 medium/large onions
roughly 200g Gram (chickpea) flour (or enough to coat onions)
1 tbsp baking powder
4 tbsp garam masala (for a smokier flavour, try 2 tbps tandoori masala instead)
2 tsp chilli powder (increase to taste, or add different varieties of chilli – for a huge kick, try a drop of ghost chilli sauce)
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp dried parsley
Water to bind – approx 3tbsp

Slice onions into thin slices. Cover with the dried ingredients and bind with water.
Heat oil in a large wok until batter sizzles and floats to the top immediately.
Make balls approx 2″ in diameter, and place in the pan 3 – 5 at a time to deep fry, turning regularly until dark golden brown.
Place on a bed of kitchen towels to remove excess grease, and serve with fresh lemon slices and/or raita (a dip made of grated cucumber, dried mint, greek yoghurt and coriander)

Beetroot chocolate cake
250g dark chocolate (I’ve found that 86+ [usually 92] works best)
3 eggs
200g muscovado sugar (cheating – any brown sugar works fine,although not as rich)
3 tbsp honey
40g self raising flour
40g plain flour
1/4 tsp bicarb of soda
25g cocoa powder
50g ground almonds
250g raw beetroot, peeled and grated, with the juice squeezed out (NOTE: wear gloves, unless you want red hands for about 3 days)
100ml coffee
Olive or palm oil for greasing

Topping –
150g dark chocolate
2 tbsp coffee
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 160C. Melt chocolate in a bowl
In a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar and honey until fluffy, and then fold in the dry ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients.
Take a 9″ cake tin, and lightly grease it with olive or palm oil (I prefer palm oil as the cake retains the red colour). Pour mixture into the tin, and then cook for about 1hr 30 mins. Loosely cover the cake tin with foil, and then bake for an extra 20 to 40 mins depending on the texture you want.
Leave to cool for 15 minutes.
For the topping – melt the chocolate in a bowl. Remove from the heat and add coffee, vanilla and honey.
Cover the cake with the chocolate mixture, and leave both to cool and set for 30 minutes.

Blackberry and courgette cake –

Cake – 3 eggs
100g fruit or jam (or 80g cocoa powder)
200g courgette, peeled and grated finely. Be sure to squeeze all juices out before adding to the mix
zest of 1 lemon
100g rice flour
100g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
80-150g of fruit or half-cal sugar
1tsp olive oil – or enough to lightly line the tray

Icing – 100g sugar
2 tbsp strawberries (or 150g plain chocolate)
1/4 tsp creme tartare
1 egg white

Whisk eggs and sugar until soft peaks. Fold in the lemon and courgette, followed by the flour, almond and baking powder.
Half fill a 9″ greased baking tray(lined with olive oil) with the cake mix. Add the fruit or jam, and then cover with the remainder of the mix.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20 minutes, or until golden.

While the cake is cooling, melt the ingredients slowly in a bowl over a pan of water. If creating a chocolate cake, use the chocolate options instead of the fruit – or you could add both for a different flavour.
Whisk for 9 minutes or until stiff peaks.
When the cake has cooled fully, spread the icing over the cake and leave to set for approximately 30 minutes.

Tina’s Summer Pudding.

The all-time ‘classic’ summer dish.

This pudding is roughly based on one done by Delia and one done by Mrs Beeton.

Here its attributed to Tina but inspired by Sara who’d made it the week before.

Summer Pudding before turning.

Summer Pudding before turning.

Ingredients:-

Seven slices of white bread with the crusts cut off.

750g of Blackberries and strawberries, though just about any soft fruit can be used.

150g golden castor sugar.

Method:-

Rinse the fruit under a running tap, then place in a large pan along with the sugar.

Gently heat until the sugar melts and the juices begin to run from the fruit.  This should take between three to five minutes.  Be careful not to overcook the fruit as you will lose some of the fresh flavour and it will start to taste ‘stewed’.

Remove the pan from the heat.

Lightly butter a pudding basin with a capacity of one litre.

Trim one slice of bread to fit in the bottom of the basin, then cut 4 slices in half to line the sides of the basin.  Oerlap them at the straight edge and the rounded side with the rounded side down and seal them well be pressing the edges together.  Fill any gaps with small pieces of bread.

Next, pour the fruit and juices in, apart from about a cupful.

Summer Pudding before eating.

Summer Pudding before eating.

Then, cover the pudding with the remaining slice of bread and place a small plate or saucer on top -one that will exactly fit in the top of the bowl.

Place a scale weith of 1.8Kg -or similar- on the top and leave in the fridge overnight.

Just before serving, loosen the pudding all round using a palette knife and turn it out onto a large serving dish, then spoon the reserved fruit and juice over any remaining bread that looks white.

Cut into slices, and serve with fresh cream.

Enjoy!

The Ultimate Banana Cake (vegan friendly) (Thanks to Ruth for this.)

Serves 8

6 ripe bananas
1/2 cup dairy-free margarine
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup soya milk (optional)
Dash of cinnamon

1) Peel and mash bananas
2) In a separate bowl, mix the flour and margarine until you get a ‘powdery’ texture
3) Add the sugar, along with the soya milk and cinnamon
4) Mix in the mashed bananas
5) Pour the mixture into a lightly oiled tin (use baking paper to ‘oil’ the tin with margarine)
6) Bake at 200 degrees C for 45-60 minutes (or until you can stick a fork in the middle without mixture sticking to it!)

Stewed Rhubarb
(Thanks to Jon for this one)

As much rhubarb as you can find/ want to stew (10 sticks will serve around 4 people)

1) Chop the rhubarb into chunks
2) Add the rhubarb to a pan, and simmer on a low heat for 15-20 minutes (with a bit of sugar to draw the water out). Add more sugar to taste (depending on how sweet you like it)
3)  Et Voila, stewed rhubarb!

Note:
You can stew loads of different kinds of fruit (pears and apples also work well). It’s a good way of using up fruit which is past its best, but still too good to throw away.

Plot Soup.

A closely guarded secret, known only to the few ‘Illuminati’.

One day, these recipes may become common knowledge, but when that day happens, the world will end.

Baked Potatoes

Select small to medium sized potatoes, clean them, wrap fully in tin-foil, put them in an old metal biscuit tin or similar, then place in the fire.

To be sure they don’t burn, its best to keep the tins out of contact with open flames -near glowing coals/embers is the best way. Even better is to place a piece of heavy-duty wire meshing over the embers as level as you can get it so the tins are not in direct contact.

Cook for up to an hour, regularly making sure they are not burning and that they are cooking evenly.

A real ‘art’ to master!

Nick


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